“The young artistes would show up with zippers on their boots, motorcycle parts dangling from their ears, and dark passion straining their souls. Few were pleased by their initial assignments: hours and hours of drawing straight lines and circles.
“What is this, kindergarten?” they’d grumble.
The professor, would respond by examining the lines they’d drawn. “Hmm,” he’d say. “Are those straight?” Then he’d point at a circle and go in for the kill. “Is that actually round?”
I mean, you try it.
After a lifetime of drawing,most people still couldn’t draw a perfect circle.Most beginners don’t even come close. This isn’t a problem; it’s why God gave us erasers. The problem—and the crucial point the Professor wanted to illustrate—is that most would-be artists overlook the ripple in their “straight” lines, the lumpy perimeter of their so-called “circles.” And if you don’t see it, you can’t fix it.”
Most of us can tell at a glance when a line isn’t straight or a circle isn’t round—unless we’re the artist. The same goes for assessing our own “performance” in life: Accurate information becomes amazingly elusive. The last thing we want when we’re feeling chubby is to know our actual weight. When we’re overspending, we avoid our credit card statements like bird flu. And anytime I’m procrastinating, reminding me of my to-do list turns me from a peaceful computer-solitaire addict into a snarling, fire breathing, burger eating, beast!
Of course, avoiding reality doesn’t keep us truly ignorant—just vague. We try to blur the lines just enough to make our flaws effectively invisible, but on some level we’re still aware that they’re there. We let ourselves know just enough to know that we don’t want to know. Psychologists call this denial.
While I try not to live in the land of denial myself, I am a frequent visitor. So I can tell you from experience that if you’re feeling nervous about some part of your life while avoiding any hard facts related to it, you’re due for a tiny intervention in your head.
Think of the binge eater saying, “I’m a hundred pounds overweight,” the drunk admitting, “I’m an alcoholic,” the plastic surgery junkie acknowledging, “If I get one more facelift, the sides of my mouth will meet in the back and bisect my head.” Now consider an area of your own life where you feel pronounced uneasiness mixed with a desire to avoid specifics. With that area in mind, fill in the following blanks. Honestly. (This is how I normally go about it!)
Here’s what I know is true, even though I wish it weren’t: _________________________________________________________.
Here’s what I really feel about it, even though I don’t want to: _________________________________________________________.
Note that this information, in and of itself, was a colossal bummer.and Guess what? I panic.
And then I reflect.I begun to Challenge my idea of flaws.working hard to turn the mountain back into a molehill.Gave my flaws a workout 😉 Don’t hide your supposed flaws. Realize that flaws are part of perfection. also remember constant sulking and lamenting won’t solve the problem, remember that naming something gives it form, or even power.
Many people will tell you that rejecting your present situation is the way to create positive change. You may notice that these people achieve virtually no positive change themselves. That’s because, paradoxical as it seems, the best way to improve your situation is to accept it. Unconditionally. Warts and all.
Rejecting our failures is the reason that denial exists and that most of us never learn to draw. If it’s unacceptable for you to be as chubby or poor or sluggish as you are, the truth is sheer horror. You become a walking version of Edvard Munch’s painting The Scream, hands clapped to your ears, mouth open in a continuous shriek. Yet lots of people think this kind of self-loathing is “motivational.” If you’re one of them, please join me in the following thought experiment.
1. Think of something virtuous you haven’t been able to make yourself do: consume only green smoothies until you lose 20 pounds, keep a strict budget, finish all your work on time, what have you.
2. Now feel the anxiety of believing you must do this undone thing. Really rev up the intolerance. Hate on your fat thighs, your weak will, your laziness. Insist on immediate, total, permanent change. Scream at yourself.
3. Notice: Do you feel more or less inclined to fall back into your bad habits? Do you feel more or less like eating, spending, or stalling? And by the way, how happy are you?
4. Designate the next ten minutes a time-out from life—a little vacation you’re going to take for the sake of this experiment. Release your anxiety, self-hatred, and nonacceptance. You can have them all back in a jiffy, but right now, as writer Anne Lamott says, just leave everything lay where Jesus flang it. Say to yourself, “For these ten minutes, it’s all right to be as fat as I am,” or “For these ten minutes, it’s okay to be in debt.” If judgment and criticism arise, tell them to take ten.
5. Next, drop your resistance to your emotions. If you’re angry at yourself, tell yourself, “It’s okay to be angry.” If you’re scared, say, “It’s all right to be scared.” You don’t have to like these feelings. But let them be as they are.
6. While accepting your outward truth (what’s really happening) and your inward truth (what you’re really feeling), notice how tempted you are to indulge your “bad habits”.
Me being quite over weight myself can vouch that after the above said “exercise” , I wanted a go at a butterscotch pastry, full cream and all!
LEARNING TO DRAW:
I made as many mistakes as they did, and it was no big deal. I’d take a hard look at an imperfect circle I’d drawn, then erase a lump and smooth out the curve.Before long my lines became almost perfectly straight, their circles damn close to circular.
There is an approach to life that allows you to meet every day this way, to see errors calmly and address them quickly. Buddhists, Sufis, and eaters of crunchy granola have called this approach radical acceptance. It entails dropping all self-hatred and resistance, and continuously accepting everything that happens, without cruelty or condemnation.
“But,” you may be thinking, “if I accept everything as is, I’ll lose my motivation.” Oh, really? Have you ever totally accepted a baby or puppy? What motivated you to play with it? Have you ever fallen in love, totally accepting someone who totally accepted you? What motivated you to spend time together? The answer, my friend, is love. And nothing in the world is as energizing.
“Don’t worry,” the professor would assure them, “the sooner you make your first 5,000 mistakes, the sooner you can move on to the next 5,000.” Then we’d all have a hearty laugh—because taking horse tranquilizers would have been illegal—and keep on drawing.