The Importance of ‘ME’ -just me!

     In this morning’s Express/News I read a column by my favorite ‘advice’ columnist – Carolyn Hax – who sends advice to people – advice which can be transferred to many of us even if we’re not in the life-position of the questioner.  Carolyn relates a sad tale of a woman who was married (even though she knew at the time this was not a good fit and she admits this was a ‘ . . huge mistake’) for four years and now when she dates, she finds characteristics of her former husband in her dates and feels a huge ‘NO!’ sign go up before her like a red flag and she can’t seem to shake this.  Carolyn gives good advice suggesting that her earlier relationship was as if ‘ . . she dived into the deep end of pool without knowing if she could swim and now when she dives in all she can think about is the last time she dived in and sank like a stone’.  And, then adds this little gem:  “ . . please find you before you go looking for someone else”.  

        I thought, “Wow!  How many people plunge into a situation, experience failure, and then hang onto that failure for the rest of their lives?”  So, how do we ‘find ourselves’ enough that we can let go of these mis-steps and get back to living fulfilling and comfortable lives?  Some thoughts occurred to me and I’d certainly like to have your reaction to and responses to these thoughts:

    *“Our dependency makes slaves out of us, especially if this dependency is a dependency of our self-esteem.  If you need encouragement, praise, pats on the back from everybody, then you make everybody your judge.” -Fritz Perls.  All of us know people who cannot function without the praise or approval of others never realizing that at some point they will probably want to decide for themselves the degree of their self-worth.   Successful parenting means ‘freeing’ your children to live happy and productive lives while deciding for themselves what level of achievement is desirable.  Helping them to evaluate themselves will allow them to ‘walk with’ and ‘work with’ others knowing all the time that they are not dependent on approval from their bosses, directors, principals, or department heads. Should you believe that you cannot function without the praise of someone else, you will indeed remain a slave to that person.
    *“I’m OK; You’re OK!”  This piece by Thomas Harris was popular from 1967 when it was published and lasted for two years on the Best Seller List.  Harris identifies four life positions:  1) I’m OK; You’re OK; 2) I’m not OK; you’re OK; 3) I’m OK; You’re not OK; and 4) I’m not OK; You’re not OK.  Those living in the first of these do not need continuous pats on the back from others – they have learned that they’re OK without that.  Those who remain needy of that praise from others, start in the life position of “I’m not OK . . “.  And, referring back to Hax’s advice to her writer, we might want to find ourselves as someone who knows ‘I’m OK!” and I will live my life is such a way that I can recognize others’ OK’ness as well.
    *“The Gestalt Prayer”.  This little piece expresses the idea that it is by fulfilling their own needs that people can encourage others to do the same.  When we enter into relationships knowing that our own needs are met, we can concentrate our energy and efforts toward appreciating the reality of walking with someone with no need to become dependent upon us. When people find each other from this life position (“I’m OK; You’re OK!’), it’s beautiful.  The Gestalt Prayer (Fritz Perls:  1969): 
I do my thing and you do your thing.
I am not in this world to live up to your expectations,
And you are not in this world to live up to mine.

You are you, and I am I,

and if by chance we find each other, it’s beautiful.

If not, it can’t be helped.
(Fritz Perls, “Gestalt Therapy Verbatim”, 1969)
    *“On Marriage” by Kahlil Gibran.  So, let us look once more at the advice of the author of “The Prophet’ who tells us regarding one of our most important relationships – marriage that we must stand together, yet . . . well, let him speak to you:
                   On Marriage
 Kahlil Gibran
You were born together, and together you shall be forevermore.
You shall be together when the white wings of death scatter your days.
Ay, you shall be together even in the silent memory of God.
But let there be spaces in your togetherness,
And let the winds of the heavens dance between you.

Love one another, but make not a bond of love:
Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.
Fill each other’s cup but drink not from one cup.
Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf
Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone,
Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music.

Give your hearts, but not into each other’s keeping.
For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts.
And stand together yet not too near together:
For the pillars of the temple stand apart,
And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other’s shadow.


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