As soon as I had put on my workout shorts, Dharma hopped onto my pad and began to giggle. I felt a little self-conscious, I know my legs are on the thin side, but I soon learned that he wasn't laughing at me, as much as he was laughing at the preposterous notion that I actually thought we were going to engage in a physical workout! "Irwin," said the master, "today, we are going to learn how to conquer ourselves. And for that, we need mental strength and agility." I replied, happily. "Thank goodness, Dharma! You know I'm not very athletic...even though I try to stay fit." We had a quick but healthy protein shake for breakfast and as soon as we drunk the last of it, my lesson began.
Conquering ourselves begins with knowing who we are. Oddly enough most frogs, and I dare say most humans, don't have a clue as to who they really are. Often our self-image differs greatly from how others see us. I know I like to come across as strong and confident but the truth is, like many others, I don't always have an easy time knowing how to act around others or how to make decisions that are best for me. This can cause success and happiness seem very elusive. As Dharma explained it to me, this is caused by inner conflicts; when the mind has a tug-'o-war with itself.
As living entities in the 21st century, we can struggle to find our true path; we are pulled in many different directions. it can feel like everyone else knows better than we ourselves, who we should become. Some may be our well-intentioned relationships; parents, friends, relatives, co-workers, bosses...and a few might be role models that we've adopted, both the good and bad ones. Finally, we all have all those nagging voices in our heads telling us what we should, or shouldn't, do, say, and think. Yep. The mind of the average human or frog is a very busy place! And just like going to the gym, working out our inner "kinks" takes practice and lots of hard work. But the Dharma Frog assured me that it'll be all worth it. I trust what he says.
Some of the more common inner conflicts humans face are good vs. bad; no, I don't mean evil bad but little stuff like playing hooky when you should be working. I grapple with this one all the time...should I goof off and go for a swim, or should I sit at my keyboard and get some work done? Another conflict that arises in most everyone is, "Have I set the bar too high for myself?" This often means that if we don't reach that goal, or dream, will we feel disappointed in ourselves and unable to forgive our shortcomings. The third most common inner-conflict is, "What kind of leader am I? Am I inspirational and motivational...or super-driven to WIN at all costs?" This conflict can range from leading a team at work, to how you coach your son's little league team. Does your parenting style encourage your children to win or simply to do the best they can, whatever the outcome?
My wise teacher has given me three relatively simple ways to conquer ourselves; to quiet those fears and doubts that prevent us from living our true and happy life. They may be simple, but that doesn't make them easy! Anything worth doing takes a little hard work.
The first one is: Grow Up! You may think you are already a grown-up, but there is a big difference from living in an adult body and living with a mature mind. Being a true grown- up means being happy in your skin, mastering your emotions, and living a happy, relatively stable and balanced life. Until you can master your emotions and become happy and contented with who and what you are, not much else can change. Growing up, then, becomes the single, biggest hurdle any of us has to face. Next on the list is Go easy on the role models and mentors. We run into problems every time we put someone up on a pedestal and say, "I want to be just like him/her." Let's be realistic, no one is perfect...not even Dharma Frog, although he does comes pretty close! It's best, my teacher advises, to stick with specific goals and attributes that you aspire to, rather than wanting to be exactly like someone else. Be you and the best version of you. Stay clear of unattainable goals. A goal of "being as rich as Warren Buffet" or "being able to boss around loads of people" around like ....I'm won't mention any specific names here... but let's just say those goals will never serve you well. And, lastly, Identify those voices in your head. Spending time with yourself is a great way to learn who you are. Are those YOUR voices? Or are the voices of people from your past? Understand those voices and where they are coming from. Get to know them and understand them. In time, you'll be able to conquer them. When those voices are vanquished, you'll be more comfortable with your behavior. This will, in turn, make your decision-making easier; your decisions will reflect who you truly are. Dharma Frog has told me that when I learn to conquer myself, I'll be able to look in mirror and see (and LOVE) the real me and not some made-up compilation of other people with their thoughts, aspirations, hopes, and dreams.
Rest assured that no one has everything worked out all the time. The best that any of us can hope for is to do our best each and every day. Before Dharma hopped off for his next appointment, he remembered to give me his wise proverb for the week, "Tadpole, the frog who conquers others is strong. But the frog who conquers himself is mighty. When you stick to controlling your own thoughts and actions, you won't feel the need to control others. Taking care of ourselves is a full-time job."
I poured Dharma a cup of his favorite tea and while he sat sipping it in silence, I rushed into my bedroom to take off my athletic gear. Pretending to be something I'm not, like a frog who enjoys working out, won't help me to help me grow up and discover who I am. After Dharma left, I sat and pondered everything he said. But now it's time for me to get going and try and be more of my authentic self. And that just MAY require an afternoon nap...and I'm OK with that.
Thanks for reading and I hope you'll come back tomorrow. Until then, I wish you