In the last decade I have seen a huge pendulum swing in my interests and hobbies. One that I never could have anticipated or even knew existed. From a hyperactive, fun loving social butterfly to a curious, introverted obsessive. The former led me to a desire to travel which subsequently led me to the latter.
Yet both ends of this intriguing spectrum actually boil down to an underlying behaviour which is my issue with authority and control. Ask any of my ex-girlfriends, I can be difficult to get along with, especially if I feel that someone is attempting to exert power over me in some way. I batten down the hatches and shut myself off completely. No one is getting anywhere near me.
Upon taking on Elite Life Coach Tony J Selimi back in 2013 we kept uncovering certain behaviour patterns that kept leading back to that sole issue. I attribute my lack of acceptance of authority as a direct result of my dad dying when I was very young. It was as if I wouldn’t care enough about authority given that it didn’t care enough about me. That seems to have been my attitude.
My childhood was a happy one. I played out as much as I wanted and had ample freedom to enjoy myself. However, things kept popping up that made me question so much about what we have been taught. When I was 9 years old I was in the Yorkshire Dales with my family and having spotted a field a sheep I asked my mum where they came from. After a split second of hesitation she said that God made them.
Now, I wasn’t expecting a dissertation on evolutionary biology, I was just trying to distinguish between humans and animals as we are both living creatures yet are so different in our make up. This uncertainty made me think that maybe all this Church going business that I had been exposed to every Sunday morning may just well be nonsense.
Later on in childhood I kept questioning the validity of school. Our teachers were constantly telling us that we had to knuckle down and work hard in order to get a job upon leaving. We were also told that we wouldn’t see the regular trouble makers on our commute into work everyday.
My understanding of the working world was that you’d have to be there until 5pm instead of 3.20pm like school. And that it would be less social because it was a more serious proposition. Socialising was the only reason I went to school in the first place. Without that I just wouldn’t have bothered. So adulthood was having a very difficult time selling itself to me even though I was steadily heading towards it.
And thus it arrived. I had been in office work for barely a year when one of my friends commented one morning that we’d have “40-odd more years of this”. This sent alarm bells ringing in my head. Naturally, the need for security quashed any desire for a life led solely by hedonism. So I carried on working until I said that enough was enough and that it was time to see what life really has to offer.
A backpack was at the top of my shopping list which I filled up and boarded a flight to Australia. What started out as a fun-filled experience of travelling and socialising, quickly turned into an isolated and lonely situation. One by one, my social circle had disbanded and I was still there, in a floundering relationship and a stressful job, feeling so cut off from everything.
Little did I realise that I was entering into the infancy of the independent phase of my life which I am still in if I am being completely honest with myself. Before going to Australia, I had no responsibilities. I was living at home and my only bill was for my mobile phone. The rest of the money was geared toward my social endeavours.
Today, having moved back home a few years ago following a relationship break-up, I still feel as though I am figuring out this independence thing. Despite being debt free and having money in the bank, I am still unsure as to the next step in my working life. I know that I cannot work solely to feed self interest so I am certain that I want to do work that is meaningful and financially rewarding in equal measure. That, I am sure, is when I will feel ready to step fully into independence.
On a quest to figure out what work I want to do I am actually on a quest to figure out myself. To develop self awareness and identify the authority from within. Upon returning home from Australia and going self employed as a Personal Trainer my quest was survival. It was on the forefront of my mind and I had to work non-stop in order to meet that need.
Having fared pretty well in the work arena in the last 7 years or so, what I thought would scratch that itch really hasn’t. A good income, money in the bank, debt free. All the things I craved when I started out. If I was offered then what I have now then I would have jumped at it. Yet having accomplished what I set out to, it is still not enough. Even if it was millions, it wouldn’t be enough. Therefore that tells me that the lack doesn’t exist in the physical things that I have, or don’t have, technically speaking. The lack resides within me.
Since going self employed those 7 years or so ago I have been obsessed with accumulating knowledge and information. Growing up I never thought I knew enough but it didn’t matter then. All of a sudden I am entering a completely new phase of my life whereby I had to make my own way in this world meaning that knowledge became my new vice.
Seeking knowledge has led me down so many paths that I have lost count. Yet the main thing that I am seeking is meaning. Therefore I am delving into many fields including the sciences and ideology. I am one of those curious beings that wants to know how we got here and why.
One book that I am currently about half way through answers so many questions for me. Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari. A book I will no doubt mention in many blogs to come. There is so much from that book that I want to share and right now it is the origin of Buddhism, founded by Siddhartha Gautama.
Confused with how discontent he was despite his seemingly good life, he went off to figure out why. What he came to realise is that craving is the source of discontent. No matter what natural laws may throw at us, we can learn to feel what it is like to experience it as opposed to craving the alternative.
The same goes for pleasure seeking too. Whilst seeking pleasure we may fear its loss and also chase greater intensity in that pleasure instead of just experiencing it for what it is. I didn’t really know anything about Buddhism until reading that and I can certainly see a lot of logic to it. Given that I am currently trying to figure out gratitude and contentment then Buddhism is certainly something that I can get some answers from.
The idea is that by constantly craving we are creating suffering. That suffering is merely a state of mind based on craving something that we see as pleasure or trying to avoid some kind of pain. I crave knowledge and information because I have never felt smart enough. This feeling of ‘not something enough’ has its roots in shame.
What I am struggling with in comprehending Buddhism is the idea of always been content. I struggle with is because I crave growth and personal development. However, without growth I wouldn’t feel as though my life has any meaning and I would be bored. I cannot help but think that desire and craving is part of our human nature. We are designed to evolve and keep our genome going.
Whilst listening to a podcast interview of Dr John Demartini he was saying how we will always have desire and that even the desire to get rid if desire is still a desire. This makes sense to me. What I noticed is that there is another pendulum at play for me. Assuming that one side is desire and the other side is contentment then I would willingly admit that I have been fixed on desire for quite some time now. Thus creating the self-imposed feeling of suffering in the form of future based anxiety, which, in my opinion, subsequently holds me back from fully embracing independence.
As a result of being so focused on my cravings and desires I am ignoring the things in my life that I do have such as good health and Economic opportunity as examples. I can’t help but think that being so rooted in desire prevents me from trusting myself in my journey and truly getting the most out of life.
And isn’t the ability to trust oneself the main underlying principle of true independence?