Sunday, October 5, 2008

The Fixer

February 08
Now and then, as I forge ahead with the daily routines of my life, I find myself wondering how it is that I haven’t yet collapsed into an exhausted, pitiful heap. I always have too much on my plate. Also I'm a "fixer." Meaning that I’m always trying to pick up the pieces for everyone. I just want everything to be all right.

This has caused me to muddle through situations with a certain amount of bravado, which I’m sure, helped to create perceptions about me that up until very recently, I felt were completely untrue.

For example, a few months ago my good friend Donna and I were discussing a particularly sticky situation when she said to me, "You are such a strong person Rita, I’m sure you can handle any problem that comes up." I started to laugh a little. "Why are you laughing," asked my always-supportive friend, "don’t you realize how strong you are?"

That wasn’t the first time I had heard that conclusion. Quite a number of people have made some casual and not so casual remarks about my supposed inner-strength as well as my physical stamina. Even after a recent shoulder injury one of my yoga teachers remarked on my speedy recovery. "Well I’m still a little sore," I said weakly. "I’m actually taking it easy today." "Really," he remarked incredulously, "you seem pretty strong to me."

What I’ve always thought about myself is that I’m very good at hiding stuff—probably from years of Catholic school, or growing up in a loud and big Italian family. I also hate being embarrassed, so I over-achieve and over-compensate to avoid any possibility of humiliation. Was my practiced stoicism being misconstrued as strength? Or, could it be that in my muddled haze, I had not been seeing a clear picture of myself? Could they be right? Maybe I wouldn’t end up a pitiful heap after all.

I began to observe other people. I noticed quite a few who define themselves by the drama that always surrounds them, and then there are those that think being a victim is the way to get people to love you. Some like to belittle in order to feel superior, while others charge into the world with way too much audacity, a sure sign of insecurities ahead. This is not to say that I don’t recognize myself in each and every one of the aforementioned traits. But I do know that my yoga practice has helped with the ongoing task of removing many of my masks. It has also helped me realize that each new day is another opportunity to bravely choose not to define myself, or let myself be defined, by negativity in any form.

And so it is that my perceptions have begun to shift. Maybe it’s not that I’m hiding things, maybe I’m simply handling them. It could very well be that what others perceived about me is reality. And I can certainly deal with that.

Embrace your power…

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