When something goes right for us…
‘I have a new client.’
‘I’ve been asked out.’
‘They want to publish my book.’
‘I’ve been invited to the party.’
‘I’ve been promoted.’
‘1000 likes of my video.’
‘My child came top of the class.’
‘My team won.’
…it’s interesting to consider how that piece of information slots into our view of ourselves.
These successes can feel amazing of course. Who doesn’t want that validation? That moment of personal triumph and positive attention? They’re awesome!
But the problem with these ‘mini-rewards’, as I call them, is that they maintain the myth that one day, through enough of these validations accumulated, we will be whole, complete. We will finally be ’someone’.
When we believe that we are something other than intelligence, consciousness, aliveness, love, when we believe that we are a separate, isolated, incomplete then of course we look to these rewards for affirmation that we are ok. From a place of lack or a feeling of not being worthy, valid or enough, these ‘mini rewards’ are a lifeline. They are the sign that we have value and purpose, that people like us, that we are good and whole.
And as a result of that, these rewards keep the whole vicious circle of lack in place. They maintain and justify the search for wholeness while hiding the fact that wholeness is what we are.
For a brief second or two the search is over because we feel good, validated. But then almost immediately the search is on again. Because these rewards have provided momentary confirmation that the search is heading in the right direction. A temporary relief of ok-ness.
We are looking for home but we don’t know we are home already. We don’t realise we are trying to find wholeness in a film of lack and separation where it can never be found.
So, we have no choice but to lurch from one reward or affirmation to another. And in between the rewards are the rejections, the indifferences and slights. These press every button of lack in our being. They are like torture. So, we are more and more desperate for the mini rewards. The search for them dictates our words and actions. Or we give up altogether. A learning of helplessness that there is no escape from the sense of lack so why bother.
It is a lifetime’s game of ‘Snakes and Ladders’. Going up the mini ladder of reward and sliding down the snakes of rejection as though we could ultimately win the game. Or storming off. Or giving up. But the game isn’t real. It is just a creation of a mind that is mired in illusory separation. The only way to ‘win’ is to see that there is no game at all. The only way to beat the system is to see that the system is held in place by every belief about ourself.
The exciting thing about the mini-rewards (and the losses, rejections and failures) is that they show over and over and over again what is happening. The lurching of the roller coaster, its tremendous highs and crashing lows, is showing the roller coaster. And when the roller coaster is really seen it can just be watched. It no longer drags our entire being along with it. It is no longer life and death.
As we see this pattern more and more clearly, we come to realise that:
Praise and rejection are the same thing.
Success and failure are the same thing.
First place and last place are the same thing.
Being proposed to and being left for someone else are the same thing.
Our children getting the prize and our children not getting the prize are the same thing.
3 million likes and zero likes are the same thing.
What is that thing?
Information. All of it. Information.
It is not personal. It says nothing about ‘us’. There is no controlling self that is being approved or rejected.
But nevertheless, it is information. Information about behaviour, words and actions and how they are received. Valid information. Precious information. Information that can inform an intelligent system in the way that animals and plants adapt, learn and flourish in their environments. Information that can guide the mind body in the direction of its greatest talents and aptitude. Information that can continually deepen the intimacy with the world. Information that evolves expression, originality and impact.
When information is not taken personally (especially the information that only looks personal) then there is an openness to it. It is observed clearly and cleanly, integrated, acted on perhaps or dispassionately let go of.
It is real time. It is reality. It is intelligence in action. And this system of ours, this intelligence that we really are, thrives in reality.
And as for the mini-rewards? Well, they are still awesome of course. What’s not to love about a win…? 😁