“Wake yourself up to how you live your life wanting credit. It’s exhausting. We use people to raise our own self-esteem but it only lowers it.” -Byron Katie
Spiritual leader Byron Katie spent years in a deep depression before waking up one morning and realizing that all her problems were in her head. She developed a simple system she calls The Work to help people understand and overcome the way their thinking creates all the things they don’t want in their lives. Change or eliminate the thinking and the problems disappear.
The quote at the top of the page reminds me of myself. On this journey of sexual abstinence I have begun to uncover things about myself like the fact that the less I feed my gigantic ego (especially with sex and male attention), the smaller it gets. I was using men to make me feel better about myself and, as Katie says, it only made me feel worse. That’s because you can never find what you need outside of yourself. You have to go within. Everything you need lives there.
The wanting credit part applies to me, too, because I have become known as a generous and giving person. What a lot of people don’t know–and what is shifting, thankfully, as my ego shrinks–is that my charity came not from a pure heart. I did things for others with the expectation of return, if not from them then from some divine source. I believed you get what you give and that’s why I gave.
That return could come in the form of recognition, applause, monetary gain, favours “owed” to me. When I gave, to me that was putting money in the bank to be withdrawn at a later date. And heaven help the person who didn’t return my good deed when called upon. They risked being cut off completely…and would probably never understand why. Or, in many cases, even care or notice!
Since I stopped feeding my ego with sex and male attention, many wonderful things are coming to light. I am feeling true love for myself for the first time and the pure desire to give just because it feels good. I want to help others achieve their goals and I am happy to do so anonymously.
In the recent past, the idea of giving without recognition seemed futile to me. I had disdain for people like Mother Teresa, if you can fathom that, because who but a crazy person would give of themselves and ask for nothing in return! I realize now that I was the insane one because the gift of giving exists in itself. It is an ego-free sharing love and connectedness to God and my fellow human beings that is the essence and source of true happiness.
I began this journey of sexual abstinence with the goal of finding a way to connect with a man on a level that is more than purely physical and that is not about feeding my ego. I am amazed at how quickly I am finding the joy that exists when you don’t give in to every impulse, when you practise patience and extend good will, and truly listen and connect with the person in front of you whomever that may be.
I am already looking at the girl who got texts from different guys at 2 o’clock in the morning and wondering how she could value herself so little that she thought that was okay. Because that girl doesn’t seem like me anymore. That girl was somebody else, someone who just needed to learn how to love herself. And not in the way we are taught–like looking in the mirror and saying you’re beautiful; I did all that. I’m talking about loving yourself the way God loves you: in spite of all your imperfections; quietly, gently, and unconditionally.