I’ve been like a “Lazy Susan,” as Mark Nepo describes it, “offering only what others wanted or needed or felt most comfortable with.” (The Book of Awakening, Sept. 17).
Here’s how Nepo puts it:
“What I didn’t realize was that more and more of who I truly am was being hidden, and that showing only the part of me that others found acceptable was not being true to my self. Over time, I became a spy with my deepest feelings and beliefs. The cost eventually was a subtle, but ever-present spiritual suffocation.”
“Darn, that’s me on the Lazy Susan,” I thought as I read those words. “No wonder I can’t breathe.”
For years, I have duped myself into actually believing that I was hiding me for your sake. That it was for you that I revealed only part of me.
I caught myself doing that just the other day, for example. I was meeting with a potential client. Because I am good at sizing people up rather quickly – the consequence of years of working with all kinds of people in all kinds of circumstances – I realized that I was speaking with a fundamentalist Christian, one who held deeply religious but, too often, unexamined views of all things spiritual. Views that I, too, tried to hold myself.
As he talked, I was talking to myself: “Be careful what you say. Better hope he doesn’t visit your website, or Google your name, or find all those things you’ve written for the Huffington Post. If he knows you’re “the voice of the spiritual but not religious,” he’ll label you a liberal…a church hater…unChristian…even an heretic.”
I reached up and felt for my unity pendants.
He was still talking.
I was politely listening, nodding where appropriate.
I felt the unity pendants. They were safely hidden from his sight underneath my shirt.
“Whew!” I thought. “If he saw those, he’d really be offended.”
You see? I’m the perfect Lazy Susan, am I not? I can spin myself around and be for you just what you need. I have learned to keep my opinions to myself and, for the longest time, I’ve convinced myself that what I was doing was being more Christian…more benevolent…the more enlightened thing…that, by keeping me from you, I was protecting you from me.
You want to know the real truth, however?
I hid myself from you to protect me.
I have lived with such a heavy fear of rejection…so an overwhelming anxiety that, if I wasn’t careful about how much of me I let you see, I might lose your business. That if I let you see me, you might reject me…judge me…talk about me to others…ruin me.
So I am the perfect Lazy Susan.
Some of you reading this are, too. Which explains why you’re still reading this.
I’ve grown weary of this game. Tired of playing hide-n-seek. Sick of telling myself that I am the benevolent one and that, by spinning around on a spindle top, I am serving you and your needs. Meanwhile, my soul is suffocating.
The real truth is, my spinning — your spinning — is the consequence of fear, the precise opposite of faith, too. I hide — you hide — not because I want to save others, but I do so to save myself. Not because I want to avoid offending another but because I’m scared shitless of being judged by you, rejected by you. Something goes off in my head and warns me, “Better hope this person doesn’t know who you really are, or never finds out, or they won’t like you!”
I am hardly as enlightened as I’d like to think I am.
I cannot tell you how many times I’ve been around Christians and I’ve made sure my unity pendants were tucked under my shirt, out of sight.
I hate myself for hiding.
I am more Christian today than ever. But I am also more non-Christian than ever, whenever being Christian is reduced to a label, as it still is today by far too many Christians. I am also a Buddhist, a Muslim, a Hindu, a Jew, and at one-and-the-same-time, I am none of these things, too. When is “I am” enough?
“I love all religions,” said Mother Teresa, “but I’m IN LOVE with my own.”
There is wisdom in that distinction. Which is why I’ve adopted Mother Teresa’s motto as my mantra.
Why can’t the judging stop?
Maybe it’s because everyone is spinning. We’re all hiding ourselves from ourselves.
How may you be you without being the Lazy Susan to everyone else?
1. Raise your awareness level. Know whenever you are about to step up and onto the Lazy Susan.
2. Do not judge yourself.
3. Just stop the madness and step down.
6. Now, breathe again. This time deeper.
7. Release your fears.
8. Feel trust replacing the fear.
9. Relax, my friend…
10. You are standing inside your real self.
You have just taken one of life’s most important steps…
The step into yourself. Your authentic self.
Which explains why you can breathe.