Wednesday, July 30

Gratitude, Entitlement, and Uncertainty ............ 7/30/14

      Tonight, I am introducing a new contributor to the inn.  Please welcome David F.  He is a life-long Bay Area resident, hailing from Palo Alto.  Thank you, David, for sharing your journey towards having greater gratitude!


      Currently my life is in a greater state of turmoil and uncertainty than it has been in a long time.  I’m homeless (well, crashing in a friend’s back room), have minimal income and savings.  The direction forward is not
clear at all.

      But for all that, I am not trembling in fear or retreating into despair.  In fact, I am emerging from those things, feeling lighter and more optimistic than I have in quite a while.

      For the last few years, my life was small.   I felt like a prisoner in my own “home," chained by self-imposed obligations to a needy yet powerful person.  I tried loosening the bonds, partially loosening them only to find them tightened elsewhere. At last an incident occurred slugging me in the gut.  It was intolerable.  With the help of friends, one practically ordered me to end the relationship. Another sat with me as I made the call in which, like Alexander the Great, I cut the knot.

      Am I grateful? I know that in such times, I am told to expect feel such an emotion. I do feel lighter, seeing more possibilities. But not all my problems are traced to this one problem. The seeds from which it grew were planted long ago.  There were advantages: I had grown lazy, irritable, indulging in fantasies of “if only” and “what if” and “someday.”

     I grew up in a family that once had money. We expected a certain standard of living as our due.  I learned this even when I knew a sense of entitlement was a castle resting on sand.  Instead, I accepted the idea I was to be the hero, the backbone of the family.  At the same time, I was given no guidance how I was to accomplish this. I learned I had no useful skills, my intelligence and creativity only meant I had my head in the clouds, making me a hopeless daydreamer. Yet, I tried doing the impossible, going down trying would at least show I was noble and worthy.

     What a bag of garbage!

     Unfortunately, a sense of entitlement is the enemy of an attitude of gratitude.  If a reliable car, a fulfilling career, or chances to travel or learn are my just desserts, then why feel thankful?

      Of course these expectations and amenities to life are not due to me.  To have them, I must work.  I realized I have skills people find useful.  Subverting these abilities by over-volunteering to a “worthy cause,” I did.   Or worse, I became the willing “servant” of a charming abusive person.  When I realized the situation was abusive, the chains were in place.   I did not budge.  I believed leaving the unacceptable situation would have caused disaster, regardless of the steep cost to my soul.

       Now, I am out of the latest version of this cycle. But, I cannot rest on my laurels: there is a lot to do as I rebuild my life.  Nothing will come automatically.  I must find a way of serving in this world that fulfills rather than drains me, bringing appropriate (not extravagant) prosperity. I am widening my circle of supportive friends (abusers need not apply).  I am purging deep-seated bodily fear of attack and criticism from others.  Such persistent anxiety has me still walking on eggshells even as the scars from my most recent living situation fade.

       As this new life emerges, a true attitude of gratitude will replace the sense of entitlement that led to  resentments and disappointments.

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Quotes from the Posts

"I'm mindful that our thoughts affect the words we use, our words influence our actions, our actions shape our character and our character determines our destiny."

From "My Character Determines My Destiny." To read it, please click here.

"Progress not perfection, is better than no progress at all, especially when we're trying to rid ourselves from unwelcome dragons that dwell within the closets of our soul."

From, "Still Learning" which, within four days, became the most popular post
written. To read it, please click here.

"Worry does not empty tomorrow of its trouble, but it does empty today of its strength"
From the post: "Life Is Not a Correspondence Program." Click here to read it.

"Even though we cannot control our circumstances, we can control how we choose to respond to them."

From, "Handling Stress and Dealing With an Emotional Bully."Click here to read this post.

"Nope, being busy isn't exciting. Boring is good. Because boring is not boring; boring is being healthy, living a balanced life that has serenity"

From: "Do You Know What It Means If You Are Too Busy?" For more, please click here.