Because I’m a Pisces!
By: Jessica Burnham
Recently, I was helping my step daughter in her ballet lessons from home. With her competitive nature, comes the desire to always find a way to blame her teacher for bringing her down whenever the going gets tough. I noticed this occur when she first took karate, and now, even with the sport she loves the most, she still does it. In her frustration with a teacher who told her she had not been paying attention, I asked her this question- why aren’t you paying attention? You would think I had just set off a bomb within her mind. Her response was lots of tears and an excuse that I loved- “but I’m a Pisces!”
I was so surprised by her responses! But why should I be surprised? Children are amazing mirrors for us, and they innocently show us the workings of the mind without so much internal manipulation as an adult. Adults are more masterful at hiding their shame and making excuses for themselves. So here was a child already learning different ways to avoid responsibility for not paying attention by actually blaming her inability to pay attention on an astrological tendency.
It brought much laughter to me later. This laughter existing, because we all do it, just in different ways. All of us make up excuses for ourselves in the most complex ways to avoid taking responsibility for our emotions, actions, lack of action, and beyond. Most of the time, we are unaware of it because we have become programmed machines doing it as an automatic response any time we feel discomfort or want to avoid something. How amazing would life be if we could see our selves from the outside perspective, like I could see my step daughter so clearly, and laugh at ourselves rather than allow our mind to hold onto its rationalizations for dear life in pure dramatic form?
Sometimes I think of that scene in the movie Meet the Parents, where Ben Stiller’s character is on the airplane near the end telling the flight attendant that the only way she is going to get his bag from him is if she can take it out of his kung fu grip. His reaction is like the pure manifestation of our mind’s kung fu grip to old belief systems and judgments. How do we obtain the openness and flexibility to be able to confront such a grip on reality? What kind of structures can we place in our life to assist us in seeing ourselves from the observer point of view when we start to go to that place of denial?
In my coaching work with the Ford Institute, one of the ways we do this with ourselves is to write down all of our typical excuses, rationalizations or justifications in advance so we identify what they are from a point of awareness. Once they’re out there, it shifts something and it makes it more difficult to give power to them when we know what we are doing on a whole different level. We recognize as the observer of the mind that this is something we really do; it is not just something someone is telling us they see. There is power in observing from our own awareness. When others tell us what they see, the mind usually reacts discordantly. There may be more resistance, more stress.
From the Buddhist perspective, we have slowly become addicted to the mind’s power and the wheel of karma. There is so much suffering, yet we still engage in the same behaviors that cause us suffering without regard to the deeper consequences- the karmic ones. Reincarnating countless times, until finally our awareness evolves to a level deep enough that we just touch on the surface of enlightenment. Yet our laziness and resignation to the mind’s way of constantly dragging us into the past, into our worries of about the future, and its need to be right pops us in and out what we truly are like a contestant in a pinball game. The lights go on, the noise distracts us, and we give away our power to move in a certain trajectory to wounds that never heal.
Taking the step to acknowledge our weaknesses and make the commitment to become more aware of them is the beginning of liberation. Once we start to question the mind’s addictions and its constant wasting of energy, we start to bring the power back in and see how choice can enliven the soul. The choice to say- I’m not going to react in autopilot today. Let the liberation begin! Namaste.