Thursday, January 26, 2017

Coming into your own

This year I vow to feel the refreshing liberation of taking responsibility for my own happiness. It took time, but I may be finally coming into my own. 

A realization I have made is that life's lessons are unfortunately terribly cliched. And everyone has already talked, written, and theorized everything to death and beyond. But the true magic is in experiencing and coming to realize the enlightened truth for yourself. Give yourself time to experience life in all its forms. Be a part of all experiences - good, bad, and the ugly.
 Herman Hesse and many other wise souls have already advocated this philosophy.

As much as I would never wish anyone to go through ugly/bad phases in life, the terrible truth is that ugliness reveals the stark clarity of so many truths. Everything gets distilled and viewed through a sharp prism of reality. It makes you realize what is worth living and all the many many things/people/circumstances that are unworthier than a speck of dust. 

Live for yourself first. Never be dependent on others for affection, love, or happiness. Find ways to bring yourself happiness. Only then are you equipped to reflect and shine that positive light onto others.  There is much joy in spreading joy, but you should first cultivate it within yourself to enable the distribution. 

Learn to love yourself first. Everything seems to fall into place once you are able to find value in yourself. If you are unsure of your worth, don't expect anyone else to affirm it for you. Nobody ought to, and nobody will. The peace and joy that come from embracing and realizing your own worth is priceless. Consequently, when you come into your own, and live your life in accordance with your true self, you invite only kindred souls into your sphere. Those that see your true self may choose to love you for who you truly are. 

Nothing is unconditional, most specifically, love. All relationships - friendships, filial/familial, marriage - are based on a contract of giving something and receiving something in return. If the balance is upset, the relationship crumbles. 

If "Y" is expected to be received in a relationship, but you are unable to provide it, accept that it will always be an imbalance, a void, a bitter hollow. You cannot fill it or substitute with a million different types of "Xs, Zs, As, Bs, Ts, Fs, Ls, Rs, Ws or Qs". You will only end up weary and scraped raw from your efforts. 

Romance exists only in fairy tales. Life is about multiple contracts you make with the people you meet. Some contracts fail, some are successful. It has nothing to do with your innate self, and everything to do with the terms of the contract. Therefore, don't hesitate to know what you want, and demand what you want before committing to give anything to anyone.

When you are considering doing something "right" for the sake of upholding a principle that essentially involves shooting yourself in the foot - pause. It's okay to be self-preserving in such a scenario. Never try to do something "right" when you are sure to suffer the consequences alone for the rest of your life. If you don't stand up for yourself, no one will. Self-sacrfice and martyrdom must be reserved for truly significant issues. 

Self-actualization is empowering and beautiful. Do not ever shade it in negativity. 

Accept that life is unfair. The world is chaotic and ruthless. Selfishness is intrinsic to the very rhythm of this universe, and in every breath of survival. Embracing this reality, boldly exercise your right to actualize your self, to strive for your own happiness, to demand and go after what you want, to find meaning and worth in your own self. You may not be successful all the time or in every measure, but that's okay. It's better to strive and fail in some ways than to conform, contort and mold yourself to a version of "who you are supposed to be".

Give the ever-judgemental society in which we live the metaphorical middle-finger by living true to yourself, by reveling in the contentment of such an honest existence. Internal resonance is music to the soul.

Expect nothing from others. Instead, expect and extract everything from within your own vast reserves of self.


Anonymous said...

Neeraja - my apologies if I sound judgemental, but your post seems to entwine and tangle a lot of self realization concepts and the very act of being self centered.

To achieve self realization, one must first go through the process of self awareness. Self awareness comes from selfless action. Finding happiness without depending on anyone is a great concept on its own,but finding that happiness while you do a selfless act is what would constitute self realization/actualization. While, I do believe that if you dont love yourself ,you cant love others, however, putting yourself first will never bring self realization.

Neeraja said...

My basic contention is no act is truly "selfless" or unconditional. This sounds Ayn-Randish, but I have come to realize that self-actualization is indeed a "self-full" act. Self-centeredness always has a negative connotation that is unwarranted. Self-centeredness at the ruthless cost of someone else's happiness is different from putting your needs into focus, taking care of yourself and loving yourself first.

I do understand and believe that there is joy in giving without explicit expectation... and in that sense, it's not truly self-less
"There is much joy in spreading joy, but you should first cultivate it within yourself to enable the distribution."

Often, being "selfless" (always pushing your needs to the back) is antithetical to self-interest or self-preservation, both of which are critical for survival, which is fundamentally selfish. Many times, survival is about a gain in your favor, which is a loss for someone else - that is the equation of life. We can argue over the semantics of these terms, but an act that gives you nothing in return (not even satisfaction or joy) is slowly corrosive to your soul.

I have spent most of my life being "selfless" (not considering my needs), and feeling guilty for the losses of others because of my "gains". It has led to poor choices that were detrimental to my self-improvement and survival, and also affected my ability to give. I didn't achieve self-realization through it.

To each their own, of course

This video explains it better: