Monday, March 23, 2015

The Irony of Self-fulfilling Prophecies, and Skiing

I’ve never skied before. I’ve never broken a bone, either. For some reason, I got it in my head that the first time I go skiing I will break my leg. I was young when I first thought that, and never forgot it. In fact, it became something I believed, and because of that I never tried it. I was convinced that the first time I ever break a bone it will be while skiing. Ergo, no skiing.

I’m a firm believer in the power of thought and the resulting idea of the self-fulfilling prophecy. What I fear most is what I will attract. What I give my most thought and attention towards is what I validate and bring to me, both what I perceive to be good and what I consider bad. I got early lessons in that.

Some of them I actually learned.

The ones that I did learn from were my ‘proof’ of the power of my thoughts and attention, and gratefully I managed to keep those teachings in mind during other situations where I was struggling to execute the concept. I may not have always fully succeeded, but I managed to not fall as far down as I could have.

I suppose I’m a bit of a pleasure addict. When I like or enjoy something, I want to totally immerse myself in it and never leave. Some people can eat a few Hershey Kisses at a time and be good. Not me; I’d eat the whole bag in one sitting. Yes, I’d take the time to savor each one, but I’d enjoy each and every one of them until they were gone.

I’d be the one at the party who needs to be asked to leave.

--Or told. (Hints don’t work with me.)

The influence of our thoughts and words include the things we say and think to ourselves. One would think that someone like me, who spouts the concept of positive thoughts, words and actions at every chance I get would understand the full scope of that?

Nope.

(Well, I do now [insert self-deprecating-but-no-longer-angry laugh here]).

You have to love those ‘A-ha!’ moments, those moments when something is finally clear. You can be struggling with something in your head for so long, and when you least expect it you finally understand or see it all at once. Those moments can bring a smile to your face and a weight off of your shoulders—or, when the light finally dawns you end up on the receiving end of a self-inflicted dope slap (“I could’ve had a V8!”?)

I guess because I never gave myself the chance to break my leg skiing, I had a belief about self-fulfilling prophecies without actual field experience. Apparently, I needed that field experience to navigate my thoughts lately—lately as in the past couple of years.

(I should have gone skiing.)

We all know the adage, “be careful what you wish for.” It is not just about wishes; it’s about preferences and fears, too. It’s about what you think and feel and say.

I have enjoyed getting older (hence the tiara every year). I began working on actively doing what I wanted to do when I grew up (obviously, I decided not to wait until then!). I started taking steps outside of my comfort zone, trying more, doing more, being more. I went too far in some areas, and had to rein myself in a little more, but I was happy with me, what I was doing, and what I was learning from it all.

--or, at least, what I was aware of.

On my 39th birthday, I realized I was looking at 40 and something about it was bothering me. I couldn't figure it out, because I knew it wasn't the age. Then, it dawned on me: it had to do with my writing. I'd known I was a writer since I was in elementary school, but I denied it for a number of years because of the self-doubt I'd allowed based on the influence of outside sources. To appease my ... soul ... I started saying that I wasn't going to seriously write until I was 40, when I had more wisdom and knowledge under my belt and had a career that supported me, because I didn't want to be a struggling writer. I set a deadline, without even realizing what I was doing. 40 bothered me because I wasn't published yet. That year I got busy and published a couple of articles online. (Thank you, Internet.)

I promised myself then that I would start being careful with my self-talk.

One recent step outside my comfort zone was getting into a relationship. (If you are reading this, you probably know how that turned out--remember what I said earlier about being the one who needs to be asked to leave?)

Self-fulfilling prophecies both suck and are as funny as hell when you are unaware until after the fact that you set yourself up. When I was younger, my greatest fear about being in a relationship was being cheated on. What happened? I was cheated on. That was a lesson I needed to learn twice before the understanding of the power of my thoughts (and subsequent choices, patterns and re-actions) set in.

Sometimes, I need to be hit on the head, hard, to learn something.

I say that a lot.

(Remember what I just said.)

I’m not against relationships at all. They can be absolutely wonderful. But I don’t need one. My future plans were never dependent on a partner. If I have one--good; if I don’t, that’s good, too. (I wrote my acceptance speech for my first Oscar [Best Screenplay] almost thirty years ago, and not one line in it acknowledges ‘my wonderfully patient and supportive husband’. I updated it a couple of times since then and never once added that in—even when I was married).

That is probably a telling statement. (We can talk about that later.)

I’m not the type of person to get lonely—I enjoy my own company too much. (Don’t worry; I have plenty of other issues.)

I remember thinking and talking about break-ups before this latest relationship. (I love hindsight.) I had actually said that I would rather be the one dumped than be the one to end it.

Hellooooooooooooooooooo?!

Yes, I’m laughing at that, and myself.

I had been the one to end my two previous relationships; it wasn’t what the other person wanted, and I was aware of that. I was honest and up front about my feelings and did not leave anyone hanging, but I hated knowing that I was hurting someone else.

Well, this time … I got my wish?

(I could’ve had a V8!)

--it gets better, too!

(Actually, I still feel that way. But my thoughts should have been that if I was thinking about the end of a relationship, that it would be mutually agreeable. Like in Nora Ephron stories.)

Remember when I said I had other issues? I believe I may have complained about my lack of ‘fucking patience’ before (once or twice).  I’d even said I was ‘unteachable’. But I learned a lot more about fuckingpatience, love, expectations, partnerships, and a few other things after this last situation.

(Remember here what I just told you to remember earlier.)

This last situation was hard on me. And surprising because it had to do with a relationship—the one thing that didn’t matter to me as much as other things. I hated even admitting that. My pride took a severe beating here because I resented that something I considered to be relatively low on the food chain took me down harder than other issues that I’d experienced that I felt should have affected me more, like family illness and death. How could this one insignificant (by comparison) thing hurt so much?

(Ready for the dope-slap?)

“But I learned a lot more about fuckingpatience, love, expectations, and a few other things after this last situation.”

Because—like I’ve said so many times before:

Sometimes I need to get hit on the head, hard, before I learn something.

FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCK!!!

Here I was, aware of (and grateful for) what I’d learned, and still resenting how I learned it. Why did that lesson have to be so fucking painful? Was that really necessary? I was rubbing the sore spot on my head—

Sometimes I need to get hit on the head, hard, before I learn something.

A-HA?

From now on, I will try to be a little more open to learning--or a little less resistant to certain things. I will watch my self-talk, even if I think I'm joking. And I will never, ever, proclaim myself to be unteachable about anything. It hurts my head too much.

So, what am I going to do now?

I’m making plans to go skiing next winter.