The agony of admiration

I watched the rest of Stranger Things on Netflix last night and squirmed as pantomime Russians tried to get a bunch of kids to talk. Had I been in the chair, there would be no need for extracting fingernails or injecting a truth serum for the worst form of torture I can imagine is to sit still while others pay me a stream of compliments.

This was what my spiritual mentor Marion asked us to do yesterday at her cabin in the wilds and it felt like utter torture. I can’t even tell you what nice things were said about me because I didn’t want to hear them. My palms were sweaty and I just wanted to run off and disappear into the undergrowth.

And I wonder why my kids keep putting themselves down and press their hands over their ears whenever I tell them how awesome they are.

On reflection, it seems so ridiculous. Why should it be so hard to accept compliments? Why not just lap them up, smile sweetly and say ‘thank you’? Clearly there is more work to be done here.

As part of the exercise I had to say nice things to the other women in my spiritual mentoring group. That was easier, but still hard. I felt a bit foolish as I was doing it and realise that I hardly ever tell the people I love what I really think of them. It should be as natural as falling off a log and I know this is something I need to address.

We also had to concentrate on one area of our lives that needs improvement and imagine the best case future. I started with money, as I always do, but it lead to me saying that I want to finish my novel and start writing TV and stage scripts again.

I have penned 22,000 words of my novel and have countless scripts floating on the cloud. I stopped working on them because I came to the conclusion that I am not good enough. I realised yesterday that this is probably not true. I could be good enough if I put in the effort and not even trying feels like a cop out.

Marion asked me to identify a memory linked to my belief that my writing is rot. I went back to the time my English teacher Mr Kinnemont accused me of plagiarising a poem I’d written. I swore blind it was my own work and was furious when he then marked it as 8/10. He didn’t believe I was capable of writing anything that might be published and for some reason, I agreed with him on an unconscious level.

I could feel the shame, disappointment and anger coursing through my body as I relived this memory. My goodness, teachers have such an important job – one false word and they can crush a child’s dreams. Later on at school, I had a lovely English teacher who suggested that I send my stories to a publisher, but by then, I’d decided I was a failure and ignored her.

Now it’s time to rewrite the story and get creative again. I can’t complain that I don’t have the time, because all I need to do is watch a little less TV – although I will finish Sally4Ever on Sky first because it’s absolutely hilarious.

Oh and finally, I did my Zen And The Art Of Business talk on Friday and it went well…or at least I think it did. Nobody fell asleep, walked out or looked at their phone, which I took to be a good sign. It seems odd that somebody as manic as I should be talking about anything to do with Zen, but one thing I’ve learned on this spiritual path is to expect the unexpected. I wonder what’s going to happen next?

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