Men + Myself + God

Month: September, 2012

The Art of Receiving

by P. Braithwaite

When I was a kid, I’d cry when people sang happy birthday to me. Every year my immediate family and one or two of my childhood friends would gather around my parent’s kitchen table (the same one they have today) and sing happy birthday. The trick candles would be flickering, the Carvel cake would be melting, and me — the birthday girl– I’d be crying my little eyes out.

To this day I can’t articulate why: it was something about everyone looking at me that made it unbearable. I felt embarrassed and overwhelmed. Something about the praise made me want to run and hide.

Maybe, even then, I had an intrinsic sense of unworthiness.

Don’t feel too bad for me: the compromise was that they could sing to me, but I’d stand in another room where I could hear them, but couldn’t see them. The wall between us made it a little easier to deal with.

I’ve never been good at receiving.

In most interactions I feel I’m really good at giving. I show up and act as the problem-solver and the motivator; however, I get very uncomfortable when it’s time for me to receive. I bristle at compliments and deflect kind words with self-deprecation and sarcasm. I’m not in love with criticism, but at least I can deal with that. Criticism is somehow easier to swallow than praise.

I’m not good at standing in the vibration of other people’s love. It feels like an obligation. I find myself thinking that if they see this wonderful thing in me, it’s only a matter of time before I somehow eff the whole thing up. Praise automatically feels like obligation/pressure.

At first I thought this was okay. I figured that my deflections were just keeping my ego in check — I don’t want to become one of those people who suck up all the attention in the room. If I started accepting praise, I might become addicted! I might need it to be happy. Yep, best to avoid it all together.

As I’ve gotten older (and done some inner work) I realize I was kind of working against myself. Not owning the goodness keeps me feeling small. It keeps me hiding, covering myself. It keeps me from living my loudest, brightest and best life.

It can be really hard when what we think is humility/modesty/positivity is actually our egos working against us. Most ego trappings are like blind spots — we don’t seem em until we accidently crash….

So, for me, blogging is a revolutionary act. Teaching is a practice in radical expansion. Being seen, sharing myself with others and allowing others to receive me…allowing others to appreciate the experience of knowing me is something that might be the work of my life.

Everyone wants to be loved, but some of us have to learn how to receive it.

What are you working on learning today? Let me know…


Am I “righting” the “write” book?

by P. Braithwaite

Almost a year ago to the day, I started this blog because an agent told me I needed a platform to sell my book.

I was fully committed to this theory that how a man sees god will help inform us about his romantic relationships. I still believe that. I still feel fascinated by that.

But lately I feel that there’s something else I should be writing.

When I was working I my thesis, I actually slashed 90 pages so that I could write the book that really wanted to come out, and boy was that an arduous process. Writing a book-length project is like giving birth (I imagine). It feels like there’s a living thing inside of you that you have to literally push out. You try Deep breathing, you type one word at a time, but the labor pains persist.

And then, when you’re done, you have this thing — this amazing tangible evidence that you exist in the world.

So here I am, almost 3 years pregnant with this book, and I’m suddenly not sure that it’s truly the book I’m called to write. It begs the aged old question: how do you know when to let go?

I’m asking the universe to give me a sign. Perhaps Tim Tebow can jump out of a cake and miraculously become available for a God interview with me. Or maybe it will be something more subtle, but I do know that there’s a work inside of me. I also know that this blog is an important part of uncovering the book inside.

I’ll just keep breathing and pushing out these words. Clarity will come. It always does…

The Key to Self-Awareness is…

by P. Braithwaite

Ironically, I completely fudged my posting schedule and released today’s post yesterday. This mistake seems to fit with today’s topic…

Lately I’ve been over myself. I’ve been praying and meditating and forgiving and writing AND, although I do see a marked difference in my life, I still get kind of irritated when the same issues crop up over and over…

It didn’t hit me that this was problematic until I was talking to one of my friends about self-awareness. She mentioned that she was struggling with her meditation practice, her diet, and her own sense of discipline. The level or frustration in her voice was making me tense, and I blurted out, “you’re so self-aware, but you are too hard on yourself. Maybe you should work on cultivating compassion before trying to make big changes in your life.”

And there it was: my own big statement smacking me in the face; Beckoning me to take my own advice…

“without compassion,” I added, “self-awareness is abuse…”

Can we truly be self-aware without compassion? Without the ability to be gentle with ourselves, to love and massage our sore spots — self-awareness (knowing oneself) is nothing more than another way to stunt and sabotage our growth. Our strict “commitment” to self-awareness unwittingly pushes us into a police state where we are criticizing our behavior and berating ourselves for missing some imaginary spiritual mark.

We might know ourselves, but what good does it do us if we hate/berate the person we know? That intense/aggressive energy radiates outward, and before we know it, we’re no longer living from our center. We’re going thru the motions — eating the veggies and reading the books –but we’re not connected to Source.

Compassionate self-awareness leaves room for humanity. It gives us space to falter, to fail, and to eventually grow. Often, on the spiritual journey, folks fall into the trap of perfection, but the goal of self-awarness, as I see it, is to embrace our humanity — to get down in the mud and find beauty in the dirt underneath our fingernails.

So today, as familiar anxieties crop up and procrastination rears its head, I am trying to understand that compassion is a key element of my spiritual journey. Much like I find ways to be firm but loving with my students, I must be firm yet loving with myself.

Everyday I become intuitively more aware that compassion, unconditional self-love, and lavish non-judgmental attention and are the only ways to enlightenment. Everything else — the meditation, the Ayurvedic diet, the yoga and reiki — are tools that can easily be misused to perpetuate basic unconsciousness if we don’t stay lovingly present to our humanity.

And even when we fall short, meditation teaches us that the power is in the moment of course-correction. The power isn’t really about staying on course, it’s about coming back to the breath, the source. It’s about returning to the energy of compassionate self love.

Hope you enjoy my extra post this week! How do you cultivate compassion for yourself? Share your secrets!