Many say to you, “Don’t be selfish.” And what they mean is, “Satisfy my selfish intent, not your own. I’d be a lot happier if you were doing the things I need you to do in order for me to be happy”. And so, the best gift that you could give to anyone, would be to be a liver of unconditional love. In other words, you’re loving them, even though they’re not loving you because you’re not doing what they need you to do in order for them to love you. – Abraham Hicks
The artist way Week 5 continued: Possibility
It is a good thing, because there is an important subject in Week 5 which I would like to share with you. A healthy step towards our creative selves. At the end, there is a little quiz. If you choose to take it, it would be fun if you could share the results in the comment section.
The virtue trap
What is virtue? I had not really pondered the thought until I read this chapter again. In fact, I rarely use the word in my writing or everyday speech. So I decided to do what I do best: research.
According to Wikipedia virtue is:
a pattern of thought and behavior based on high moral standards. Virtues can be placed into a broader context of values. Each individual has a core of underlying values that contribute to his or her system of beliefs, ideas and/or opinions (see value in semiotics). Integrity in the application of a value ensures its continuity and this continuity separates a value from beliefs, opinion and ideas. In this context, a value (e.g., Truth or Equality or Creed) is the core from which we operate or react. Societies have values that are shared among many of the participants in that culture. An individual’s values typically are largely, but not entirely, in agreement with the values of his or her culture.
Quite a complex definition for this post, however, it gave me a better understanding of how, we will take certain “virtues” and see them as it’s opposite “vice”.
Take selfishness. Until last year, about this time, the word “selfish” had a very negative tone to it. I’ve been called “selfish” at times, and I’ve said to my children: “you are acting selfish! share!” and even heard myself saying “Oh God. He/she is so selfish, she only thinks of herself/himself”.
Last July, I told my boyfriend, that I was ending our 6 year relationship. This after a lot of heavy thought. So much had gone on in my life, and I had lost myself entirely. I was depleted of what makes me “me”, and I had to get out there and be, yes, “selfish”. Not in a way where I think only of myself, yet, in a way where I think ONLY of myself. Because without “self” there is no me for anyone.
Making sense yet?
“We strive to be good, to be nice, to be helpful, to be unselfish. We want to be generous, of service, of the world. But what we really want is to be left alone. When we can’t get others to leave us alone, we eventually abandon ourselves. To others, we may look like we’re there. We may act like we’re there. But our true self has gone to ground.”
What is left is a shell of our whole self. It stays because it is caught. Like a listless circus animal prodded into performing, it does its tricks. It goes through its routine. It earns its applause. But all the hoopla fall on deaf ears. We are dead to it.. our artist has checked out…” p. 98
Looking back, I probably started “checking out” 5 years ago. By the time Christmas 2010 arrived, I was not longer to be seen. I was gone, completely.. except for this little tiny light I could barely see. I was extinguishing.. totally enmeshed in the “virtue trap”, and aching to bloom!
Besides writing a bit for myself, and taking a few pictures here and there, I had abandoned reading, walking, painting, drawing, dancing, singing, seeing friends, and even fighting for myself. I was so afraid of “dissaproval” that I stopped spending money on myself, thinking I didn’t deserve to anyhow. I was “officially a loser”. Today, I do not have those feelings of self-hate anymore. I only wish to continue to do what I love for the love of myself. I want to be selfish! Thus, The first step was admitting I wasn’t happy and moving on to this place, 9 months later, to where I am now.
This chapter, Recovering a Sense of Possibility, is probably where I am at NOW in my life. Exploring, like you have seen in my earlier Artist Way posts, and finding out what Kim likes to do everyday.. remembering what I love to do everyday is even better.
In the past, I was a trapped creative, I destroyed who I was supposed to become, I ignored everything I was feeling, I stopped making things, taking things, buying things, seeing things, and trusting things which made me happy. The “trapped me” dissaproved of painting, it was “expensive” and “why should I paint anyhow? I have better things to do”. Besides, what would my family think if I decided to pursue being an artist as a career. Artists make no money right?
Today, I listen with every part of my being, what I want to do, and when I want to do it. If a little voice inside me says: “Hey you, get up, get out and go take pictures!!” more often than not I listen. That tiny voice is loud now, and I hear is with all my being. – Me!
Are you self-destructive?
This is the question Julia asks at the end of this section. Am I self-destructive? yes, absolutely! I am quite good at it too. Am I willing to risk experiencing being whole, healthy and prosperous? Oh yes!! Taking risks, and fighting fears.. YES YES YES! Moving forward to a better, stronger more self-reliant me? OMG YES!
So why be so selfish?
Because it is time. Even my youngest has accused me of selfishness these past few months. He doesn’t know a mom who looks after herself and her stuff. He’ll get over it soon enough and learn to be the same when he grows up. Love thyself and you’ll be loved I say.
Although, being selfish is considered a vice in most circles, today it is a virtue in my perception. It doesn’t mean, I do not think of others, or do not take care of my children, friends and family. Its just that I say yes to myself more often and NO to others more often. I set boundaries with others and myself, in order not to destroy what I have accomplished these past few months.
Julia Cameron, on p. 101, provides a quiz which I found quite helpful this week. It gave me a window to work with. Do I serve myself, or do I serve others? I invite you to take the quiz and share your results below, or journal about it and let me know the results later if you wish.
The Virtue Trap Quiz
- The biggest lack in my life is:
- The greatest joy in my life is:
- My largest time commitment is:
- As I play more, I work:
- I feel guilty that I am:
- I worry that:
- If my dreams come true, my family will:
- I sabotage myself so people will:
- If I let myself feel it, I am angry that I:
- One reason I get sad sometimes is:
This week (chapter 6) I am tackling a major creative block: money! Hoping to “cash-in” with this chapter. (pun intended)
Love, light and blessings