A rant that's been building up

Ignore Yourself

For years now, there’s a rant that’s been building up inside me – something I’m so fed up with that I can’t even stand myself.

It goes like this: I get together with my best friends for a day or two together – a wedding, a christening, New Year’s. I love these people, but they really piss me off, too – that’s why this rant has been building up, because I don’t want to tell them how pissed off I feel.

A party develops, and after a few drinks or (in my home state of Colorado where it is legal) tokes, the party organizes into a few huddles of conversation.

The huddle conversation is always the same: someone brings up something that’s “up” for them – a relationship issue, a life challenge, a problem. The very educated, worldly, experienced, wise, discerning people in the huddle listen with open hearts, and then offer scintillating reflection. Insight ensues, the subject of the conversation has a “breakthrough” about themselves, and the future is thereafter sunny and bright. Repeat.

I get pulled into these conversations, offer scintillations of my own, and even sometimes bring in what’s “up” for me. Blecch. My fault.

These conversations make incremental changes, impressive for ordinary people but not up to my standards. The future, in my opinion, remains unscathed.

I’m so sick of this pattern I could puke. But I also really, really love my friends – they are amazing teachers, authors, entrepreneurs, global changemakers. They are capable of huge contributions. They are incredibly courageous, loving, truthful, insightful, loving. By most standards, they are making huge contributions. But they could be doing so much more.

My life partner and soon-to-be wife, Amber Lupton, taught me one of life’s most important lessons, and it’s true for you, too: whenever I am frustrated with people, that means there is a gift there for me to give. This is a hard one, because when I’m focused on frustration, then everyone seems like an idiot for not already receiving the gift I have to offer. It seems like they wouldn’t want this gift, and anyway I don’t want to give it.

But she showed me how to feel bigger than the frustration, and offer the gift, which is what I’m about to do. She showed me how I’m responsible for giving the gift, even if it seems like it won’t or can’t be received.

Here’s the gift: ignore yourself.

My dear friends, be done with the “transformation” game. You are transformed. Stop wasting your time fascinated with your personal feelings, your ideas about love and sex and work and life. Stop tinkering with your worldviews, your belief systems, your models.

None of that is ever going to make you happy in any sense of real happiness. That process of self-involved mind-masturbation has no end, except to completely disappear at your death.

Stop meditating your reactions to life and your intimate partners as if they were truth. Stop trying to avoid, change, protect, sustain, inhibit, deal with, solve or judge your emotions. Just feel them. You will never solve your feelings.

Let your body be your body. Feed it intelligently, move it around to keep it healthy, give it medicine if it’s sick, circulate the natural sensations of pleasure and pain without inhibition, but let it be your vehicle, not your being.

Your self-meditation is killing me, and you are literally selfishly withholding your gifts from the world by pouring all this energy into your obsessive fascination with yourself.  Forget yourself, ignore yourself.

The thing to ignore is your self-image, your ideas about who you are and how you look to others, what offends you, what you like, what you hate. The thing to pay attention to is life itself, this.

The thing is, you are all unicorns! You are DONE DONE DONE with your transformation. You can’t get more transformed! And transformed people are really f**king rare! So please, make this final little step to notice that you’re done, and let’s get on with some super-interesting, fun, important stuff like, say, updating the world’s education system, creating world peace, making art out of necessity.

Sure, whatever, stuff will come up – you’ll get upset, you’ll have a health thing, family stuff. OK, but just deal with that in a few minutes of your awesome, focused consciousness, free of any sense that it is truly important or meaningful like it used to be. Stop pretending you are not grown up.

Don’t make these inevitable indignities of embodiment into your life.

We don’t have much time. We are all going to die – that fact alone should make you serious about what is worthy of seriousness, and humorous about all the rest. But we really, really don’t have much time to guide humanity through our transition to whatever is next. We have enough time, if you get your head out of your ass, beloved!

I love you so much, and I’m so pissed off, I could scream! Ahhhhhhhhhh!

About the Author: Nathan Otto

Nathan Otto collaborates for a better world by engaging leaders for better, more effective leadership. He is the co-founder of Holometrics, a strategic consulting ecosystem and technology company which scientifically measures organizational alignment with key objectives and values. He is the founder of the Safe Conflict Project, a global strategic effort to create a world free from war. He is the co-author of Give Peace a Deadline: What Ordinary People Can Do to Create Peace In Five Years.

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  • Mark June 17, 2013

    Good thing to be pissed off about: our selfing. And, of course, only our selfing could be angry at our selfing. It is an illusion anyway, as is time. As is the world.

    The only thing time has no impact on whatsoever is truth/love/happiness. There is no hurry needed about that. And to act as if we are on the brink of losing something valuable *if we don’t* [fill in the blank], is just more pandering to illusion.

    There is, however, a DECISION to make in every moment. Do we attend to and extend truth/love/happiness or do we continue struggling in the mire of illusion, as if anything we do, anything we care about, and supposed changes we make will make any difference whatsoever? As you say, it doesn’t.

    That has ALWAYS been what the choice has been between. It always will be. And only one of those betweens is real.

  • Alex June 18, 2013

    Hey Nathan, I’ve been working with just this insight around relationship and love, and working to coach others into it as a practice. With love there is a big, shiny incentive to not make the “inevitable indignities” of emotions and upsets an embodiment of your relationship… to essentially recognize that humans have human stuff come up but that you nobody says you have to make that stuff “important” in your relationship.

    When you recognize that those things don’t matter compared to love, surrendering them is simple and pleasurable.

    Gelia and I are living this and I’m working to help others wake up to it as a possibility.

    …I haven’t fully stepped into this in my relationship to my self however!

    I think that part of what keeps us fascinated with “working on each other” at parties is that we get a degree of pleasure from playing in that space of emotion-meets-intelligent-application-of-spiritual-insight, and we’re done being fascinated by it yet.

    Be patient with us. I do believe we are quickly getting there.

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