When I worked in organic food I believed in the produce I was selling. I knew that it had come from a good place. I knew that the people who grew it had integrity and really cared about what they were doing. I still believe that to be true.
Somewhere in there, though, I put my trust in a set of ideals and deep down I felt like that choice would somehow be enough to make me happy. Like I wouldn’t need to worry about anything after that. I realised after many years that it wasn’t working for me. It didn’t change how I was feeling, even after 12 years of doing ‘good work’. I was surrounded by great people who were (and still are) driven to change things and work for the benefit of the world.
But there I was, burning out. I went from job to job within the same world, gained expertise in local food and really knew my stuff. I believed wholeheartedly in what I was doing, but couldn’t escape the misery I was feeling. The work was easy to believe in, because it ticked all the boxes for me: community, people working together, spreading the message of healthy, chemical free food; taking responsibility for the state of the planet.
So, how could that have been bad?
It wasn’t bad, of course, but there was something missing. What went wrong for me was that I put too much trust in the system I was part of. I thought it was all I needed. I felt that people would look after me and I would leave suffering behind. I ended up feeling hurt and resentful, unworthy, yet somehow superior. Messed up, eh?
I have fallen in and out of love with trust over the years. I have been hurt and even abused – as I believe everyone has to some extent – but I always regain my trust of others. I don’t like to hide my feelings from people; I speak about what hurts and also about what is beautiful. I have suffered greatly from an overactive imagination, which has helped talk me out of countless opportunities and possibilities. I also judge myself and others, but I am slowly learning to live with that and see that it’s not OK to judge. When I am judging, I will never meet that person in openness. I have a lot to lose when I am Judge.
Being over-reliant on others and my ideals, I lost sight of my responsibility for myself. I hadn’t grown up – and without knowing it I allowed the responsibility of my actions and decisions to rest on others’ shoulders. I blamed others when things went wrong for me, because I put too high an expectation on friendships, work relationships and the outcomes of my work.
Now, almost 2 years after making a conscious decision to take responsibility for my existence, and experiencing both the tough challenges and the bliss of what that’s like (more details in future blog posts), I have changed the source from where I act in the world. I am slowly learning to trust my Nature, by spending time in open, wild surroundings and connecting with the landscape, just as I did as a child. This helps ground my trust, helps take me out of judgment and into unity. How does that happen?
I see that the very land and planet which supports me has no judgment, allows me to be who I want, whilst all the time being its own full potential. This helps take doubt away. This may sound facile, but it makes much sense. Ideals and beliefs are a lot less tangible than the world around me. To me, this openness is Nature’s most powerful resource, not timber or diamonds, oil or even food. My arguments, my opinions, which I consider so important, fade away when I spend time in Nature. My problems, including blame and long held pain, feel insignificant when I spend time alone in Nature. The Earth, without which I would not exist, is completely supportive of me. Like a parent, I suppose, and I know I can rely on that support. The rest is up to me. I am solely responsible. That perspective blew my mind. I learned to create space, to slow down and stop, actually seeing where I was at, for once. Just watching my life, as if from outside myself.
Of course, I still have purpose and drive to change things and to contribute, but knowing I am entirely responsible for my own well being, including what has happened to me and what will happen to me, I know that I can now approach family life, the work I do and my creativity using my own inner resources, rather than relying on others’. About time.
If you’re feeling disconnected, like the world is broken, and people are messed up and we’re not going to make it (and that may very well be the case), then talk to someone about it. Make yourself vulnerable. Don’t hide behind your long held beliefs. They will not support you in growth.
When I ask ‘how are you?’ and I receive an automatic ‘yes, I’m fine, thanks’, accompanied by a deflective smile, I want to ask ‘what are your biggest fears?’ or ‘what is it you hate?’ or ‘what is it you really love?’
I want to get past the pleasantries. Tell me how you really are, not some preprogrammed answer. Tell me what you think stops you from enjoying life. Then we can get to the truth, those emotions which lie underneath, protecting some long held, painful hurt. Tell me why you think you hate other people. It’s not the truth but it’s a way in. The truth lies under that. We can do this for each other.
I spent about three decades there. Lying to myself, getting pissed off with other people and situations, when all the time I was just building defensive structures, in the form of judgments and accusations to protect my hurts. “They did this because they are like that.” “They are inferior to me because they don’t have the great insights I have.” Feeling inferior. Afraid. Alone with my negative thoughts. I was like a child, trying to protect myself, operating from survival mode.
To me, this is the core of disconnection; from ourselves, others and the planet.
How can we get past the outrage, past the surface, that armoury, trained to fight back at the hint of ‘attack’?
Let’s talk. Let’s go deeper.