Woodwork and self-work

I spent the better part of my weekend morning sweating it out either at home or in crowded furniture markets in the blazing heat. We’re still not completely settled in — there’s some furniture we need to buy and some fixing up in the kitchen that’s awaiting an expert touch. And so, I’ve been rather busy, as my absence from this blog can testify.

So anyway, this weekend, I got back hot and weary, only to see my beloved family sprawled over the sofas under the air-conditioner, all of them busy on their respective smartphones. I sat down to take a breath, and began thinking out aloud: “Did I make the right decision with the double shade leather-finish? Should I have ordered the scratch-proof teak instead?” No one responded. After trying to get some attention for another few moments, I lost my temper and blew up in my typical tantrumy way. “No one cares… I’m the one doing all the work… You’re not interested… I do all the donkey-work here… You have no contribution to this home… I have so much pressure…” Screech screech. Blah blah.

To a trained psycho-babble expert though, it would have sounded like: “I’m the martyr, I’m the victim, look at me, listen to me, poor me, poor me, poor me.” 

Luckily, due to a short session with an Osho-sanyasi last week, I suddenly remembered something in the midst of my drama. “All negative behaviours and subconscious reaction patterns are an investment. We expect something back every time we indulge in those behaviours. They reward us with something,” he’d said.

In my case, my martyr syndrome was a typical attention-seeking tactic. I made everyone else look like a villain having a ball at my expense because I felt overworked, wronged, pressurised to perform at a superhuman level. But that was my own perception, of course. No one had ordered me to go buy furniture or get the car’s license plate fixed. I wanted applaud for doing something unasked for. I wanted ‘going-beyond-the-call-of-duty’ recognition for work that I’d have done anyway.

I don’t take on the world’s workload because it asks me to. I do it because it defines who I am. It is in my nature to give, to do, to be there for, to delve into the details. I cannot hold it against others if I am simply being true to nature.

The other thing he’d said was: “Let go of old subconscious negative behaviour patterns. You may have needed them at some time in your early childhood but you don’t need them any more. Become aware when you’re falling into the default pattern, and let it go.”

So I did.

I recognised a behaviour pattern for what it was, and I realised I didn’t need it any more. I didn’t need attention, because I’d given myself a good dose of it. I didn’t need applaud because I could pat myself on my own back. I didn’t need appreciation because I knew how valued my work was to everyone in my life, most certainly myself. Most certainly to my God.

The next morning, I called the furniture maker to say that I’d changed my mind about the look of the new bookshelf I’d ordered: I wanted the scratch-proof teak after all. And I am going to enjoy it more than anyone else.


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