Lesson 27 - Focus on relationship, not results
We have nothing to prove, nothing to perform, and no standard to achieve
In today's audio we're leaning deeper into acceptance and softening the idea of measuring our 'performance' here in the course.
When we're suffering from a painful habit, we want relief from that suffering. So the energy we bring to try and stop or change those habits arises because we want to suffer less.
The vulnerability lies in this: the emotions that lie underneath this desire can create a lot of demands and urgency. You may feel this as tightness, tension, rigidity, and judgment.
It can also show up as you near the end of a course as a need to measure and to take account of your 'performance.'
You may be holding onto unconscious beliefs or ideas about how you thought you 'should have done.' Those beliefs can be under the surface, showing up as feelings of agitation, anxiety, or frustration.
There may be a feeling of pressure to clean up your emotional, psychological, or spiritual house so that it meets a better 'standard' - especially now that you've taken this course.
In a performance, what matters is how we 'do' - how well did we measure up? What did we conquer, or make happen? What results did we achieve?
While a focus on results and 'measuring performance' may be helpful in, say an athletic event, it's a terrible way to care for our hearts, and this includes the process of healing, growth and change.
Author and wisdom teacher Wayne Muller says it like this:
“Accepting who we are is a practice of non-harming. Sadly, much self-help literature contains seeds of harm: We are urged to remake ourselves into someone who will be spiritually or psychologically acceptable, and that acceptance is conditional on our performance in the areas of therapy, growth, or meditation.
We are still not accepting ourselves unconditionally, just as we are in this moment, with a full and joyful heart. A more merciful practice begins with acceptance. It begins with the assumption that we were never broken, never defective.
By surrendering into a deep acceptance of our own nature—rather than by tearing apart who we are—we actually make more room for genuine, rich, merciful, playful growth and change. If we feel our fundamental strength, creativity, and wisdom, then change is not frightening at all. Things simply fall away when they are ready, making room for the rich harvest underneath.”
What helps me soften the 'performance' or achievement mindset is shifting the focus from results to relationship.
With relationship, we move from trying to 'shape and mold' a better 'us' into presence, into tend and befriend: caring for whatever arises, for whatever is here.
And with relationship, there is no need to create a better here - this 'here' has all the opportunity and gold we need. So if here is caring for our sadness, we relate to that. If here is caring for agitation, we relate to that. If here is despair, we relate to that.
Of course, we can turn, "How am I relating?" into a performance, too, where we want to measure how 'well' we're doing.
Ah, it helps to bring in some humor - for the performance mindset can be so strongly ingrained in us!
Today I invite you to ask yourself, when a sticky situation arises, "How can I relate, rather than measure? How can I care, rather than perform?"