I woke up this morning thinking about my reaction to the TV interview and to comments that my friends made afterwards. As soon as I returned from the interview, one of my friends, with all her good intentions, told me in great detail what I had done wrong. And how bad I looked. Twenty years ago I would have been angry with her (yes, we go way back), because I would have thought she was trying to hurt my feelings. This time I knew that she was trying to help. But I still didn't want to hear what she had to say, even though she was making some very good points. I just wanted to rest. I wanted to be left alone. I was pushing myself hard enough and the last thing I needed was someone else pushing me. I only realized this in hindsight, which is why I wrote the last post on perfectionism.
What I realized this morning is that my friend thought she was motivating me, when in fact the opposite was happening. What I realized was that I am motivated differently than most people. Pushing doesn't motivate me. It makes me want to do the opposite or stop doing what I'm doing. Fear doesn't motivate me either. Again, it makes me do the opposite. When someone tells me that I don't have a choice but to do what they are asking, a red alarm goes off in my head. That is the signal that not only do I have another option, but that I better find it because I'm about to betray myself.
So if pushing and fear don't motivate me, what does? Joy and love and kindness and freedom. I work for a boss who is kind, fun, and appreciative. She has never shown any disappointment in me, even when I have been disappointed in my performance. She thanks me for doing my job. She tells me not to work hard when it's a beautiful day out. As a result I am willing to work weekends or drop whatever I am doing when she asks (which is rare.) I am happy working for her. The few times I've had to work with people who follow the theory X style of management--they believe that people are basically lazy and need to be pushed--I have been able to change roles or I have resigned.
When I followed my spiritual teacher, I was attracted by his smile and the love that radiated from him. I hadn't experienced that before, especially not from a man. Years later when his style had deteriorated to something that was more "tough love" I found that I no longer wanted to be around him. I have had plenty of tough love dished out to me over the last five decades. (Not from my mother, ever. Thanks, mom.) Hell, I have been the worst perpetrator of tough love towards myself, from the perfect woman. And frankly I am tired of her.
The same thing with my spiritual community. In the beginning it felt loving and was about celebration. Later on it deteriorated to something more controlling, to appropriate rules of behavior, to judgments about whether people were awake or not. Yuck! If I wanted judgements and controlling behavior I would have stayed in the mainstream.
But I am not in the mainstream and I am not "normal." I refuse to do anything out of fear or because someone is pushing me. I only move towards that which offers joy, love, and freedom. That has been my compass for more than a decade now, and it has never steered me wrong.