Musings on Acceptance

As an INFJ, I often feel trapped in life by obligations. There is a constant battle inside of me between what I want to do and what will please others. Upon verbalizing this struggle, I am often told to simply ignore what others want and start following my own heart. But the simplicity of this advice doesn’t save it from being fundamentally wrong in my case.┬áIf I hypothetically abandoned my responsibilities and took off to pursue my own spontaneous desires, I would find myself immersed in guilt and constantly worried about the expectations I was failing to meet. The paralysis of this anxiety would keep me from doing what I love.

What is the solution? Should I give in to the extreme pursuit of people-pleasing just to feel like I am worthy? Or should I abandon my obligation to others and immerse myself in purely personal endeavors? The likely answer is to find balance, which is a fleeting force in my life. This somewhat crazed over-analysis will probably lead to someone telling me that I am taking myself too seriously again. They are partly right for volleying such a criticism. I tend to overthink more than is healthy. I am driven to “think up” the perfect solutions for my plights. I understand the futility of this process, yet unhealthy mental habits can be irrational.

Ultimately, I realize that there is no easy solution for the suffering we face in life. The irrational nature of much of the pain we endure only proves this reality. In the realm of our mind, it’s easy to dwell amongst idealized constructs and solutions. It’s second-nature to imagine the clean and perfect version of a scenario. However, there is a discrepancy between the reality in our mind and the one around us. This cognitive dissonance marks the commencement of suffering. In actuality, life is messy. Imperfection and failure are inevitabilities.

All of this tells me that on some level, I will never be able to please everyone. It’s an even laughable prospect now. There will always be a small part of me that feels stretched, or pressured by outside obligations. This is life, and my grace in the face of such shortcomings influences my ability to be happy. Accepting imperfection and the promise of future suffering enables me to find the ever-elusive balance I need to be at peace. I hope that anyone who relates to this plight can find some shred of understanding in my shared insights.

The (Un) Discovered Country

There was once a Mother and her many children. Together, they lived and coexisted in a large and frightening world. In the beginning, there was only love and appreciation in their relationship. The Mother provided for her children by growing crops and raising animals. In turn, the children were charged with harvesting the crops, domesticating the animals, and above all, loving their Mother. Throughout many great epochs, this system worked and flourished. The children toiled happily to build a life and the Mother provided everything she could give.

Eventually a time came when some of the children wanted more from their Mother. They worked harder in order to prove their worth, and the Mother provided even more. However, She told them, “I am growing old, my children, and I must have your care in order to keep providing. I must have your love, cooperation, and peaceful intentions.”

For a time, the children heeded Her wish. They cared for their Mother’s well-being and reaped the fruits of their labor. However, this system couldn’t last forever. Several of the children wished they could have even more, at the expense of their siblings. They wished to grow strong and powerful. The Mother did not approve.

And so the time came when these few children asked their gracious Mother for more, once again, in order to fuel a war against their brothers and sisters. As sad as She was, the Mother could not deny Her children what they needed. She provided resources such as iron, steel, and uranium. What could these harsh materials ever be used for? The Mother labored at the coercion of her many children and slowly grew weak with each newly unearthed resource.

And so the war began. The children, for all of their self-justified reasons, were killing each other. The Mother weeped for Her losses, and struggled to keep providing. The children were intent on destroying each other, and She was slowly beginning to grow tired of watching the madness. Her faculties were becoming old and worn out. But still, She continued to love. When the war ended, and the remaining children were few and far between, they appealed to their Mother once again. The bloodshed had left them in far worse shape than they ever could have imagined. This time, they wanted food, water, and peace.

The Mother knew that She could provide little in Her terrible state, and least of all peace. This last request was one that the children must discover on their own. And so She whispered again, deep in Her throes of agony, “Even though I am ravaged, torn, and abused, I will always provide for my children. There is a country where you can find sustenance and joy. No matter how destroyed I have become, this country will always exist. It lies not in front of your eyes, my children, but in your hearts. The voyage to this place requires facing your inner fears and imperfections. It is the true voyage of self-discovery. It is a microcosm of greater possibilities.”

The children weeped for their Mother and regretted their foolish behavior. They watched as She slowly withered and could only provide less and less. They were to blame, the children who failed to provide love and nurturing. Distraught, they ceased any standing quarrels and made a vow. They would no longer wage meaningless wars against each other. They would dedicate themselves to their Mother and to finding this undiscovered country of hope and peace.

Why do we live in such madness?