As I mentioned in a previous posting, it has become very clear to me that everything I do, I do for myself. Always. I can make up a story that I am doing it due to external circumstances, but when I look into it, I see that I am doing it only for myself. This is a liberating realization.
- Paying taxes
The story is that I pay it because I "have" to. "They make me do it". The reality is that I choose to do it, because I don't want the trouble that comes with not doing it. I do it for myself.
- Doing someone a favor
The story is that I do it for them, and there can be a substory that I "have" to do it even if it is inconvenient for me or I don't want to. The reality is that I do it to either avoid trouble (unpleasantness in the relationship) or because I experience a connection with the person and it gives me joy to do something for her/him. I do it for myself.
- I give free Breema sessions
The story could be that I do it for them, that I am selfless and noble. The reality is that I do it because it gives me so much - both during the session and in connecting with people. I do it for myself.
- I go to an event I don't want to go to
The story is that I go because I "have" to go, it is expected of me. The reality is that I go because I either don't want the possibly unpleasant consequences by not going (disapproval etc) or because I expect to get something out of it. And I have judged this to be more important than the drawbacks of going. Again, I do it for myself.
There is an exercise from Nonviolent Communication that can be very helpful here, along with Byron Katie's inquiry process...
- Make a list of your top ten least favorable things to do
- Write a sentence for each one of these in the format "I have to ... because ..." (this is the story you tell yourself).
- Write another sentence for each in the format "I choose to ... because ..." (this is reality).
- I see that I really want to do it, and the sense of ambivalence is dissipated. I stop blaming circumstances and see that I do it for myself. My attitude changes.
- I see that my reasons for doing it does not hold up, and I stop doing it. My action changes.
- I find another way of doing it that is more aligned with what is comfortable for me. The way I do it changes.