Keeping Score–The Perils of Progress

There are days when I wake up feeling like the world is truly my oyster. These are days when my mood starts out at good and just gets better, when all the colors of my life look brighter, when all the flowers smell sweeter, and I am noticing one compelling piece of evidence after another of the magic of being alive on this planet.

And then there are days when I seem to start out wanting to pull the covers over my head and it just goes uphill from there. I notice only the things I don’t like. I struggle and strain against the conditions or circumstances of my experience and I feel afraid or sad or worried or frustrated. I conclude that my life is a mess. I feel like I’ve been left behind or like I’m stuck where I am when I want so much to be somewhere else. And worst of all—I am royally pissed at myself for feeling that way. Nothing I want seems to be coming fast enough and so I start to worry about what will happen if it never comes? What if this is it?

And so in the midst of all this fretful me-bashing, I ask the Shower Team: “Why am so afraid of nothing changing? How can I be at peace where I am when I so don’t want my life to stay the way it is?”

To begin, there are some questions in response to your question. What conditions would you need in order to feel safe? What conditions would you need in order to feel comfort? Or joy? What needs to be, in order for you to look at you and feel good? Feel at home? Who or what decides your worth? What are your criteria for judging yourself a success or for judging your life a successful or happy life? How will you know when you have achieved this worthy, happy, successful, joyful life you want?

You continue to believe that you need this or that to change in order to feel complete or to feel that you’ve accomplished the level of success or fulfillment or abundance or connection that meets whatever standard you are accepting as the one that applies to you. You are believing that you must prove yourself. You are believing that there is a panel of judges or one supreme judge somewhere evaluating your progress and that you will be rewarded or punished in one way or another for the extent to which you carry out some task or mission or even to the extent to which you manifest some dream.

What you are doing is practicing conditional love. You are saying to yourself . . . I will love you, contingent upon your satisfactory progress toward the determined goals. I will grant you temporary approval or temporary affection, provided you are moving forward at an acceptable pace, provided there is sufficient evidence of your following through and making an appropriate level of progress. But understand, that this approval or affection or acceptance that has been granted to you can be suspended without notice at any time if your performance begins to suffer in any discernible way.

This is the kind of ‘love’ that you are offering to yourself. And this is the reason why your relationship to yourself so often feels so shaky and so unstable and so insecure. You are constantly looking over your own shoulder, constantly keeping score, constantly tracking and monitoring yourself—and constantly ready to take disciplinary action when you judge yourself to be falling down on the job or not meeting any of your established performance standards.

What we so want to encourage you to do instead, is to see and to find your way to the belief that you cannot fail. You cannot screw up this life you’re living here . . . because no matter where you find yourself, no matter what conditions you may be observing or experiencing, the You that sees and knows you from a broader perspective, can ONLY feel unconditional love and approval and acceptance for you. There are Universal forces continually offering you such an expansive and powerful stream of adoration and approval and appreciation that you can’t even imagine it.

The You that is always connected to that stream always approves, always offers love and support, and always waits for the you that is here banging around in all this variety of experience to somehow remember that you cannot get it wrong, that no one who is connected to All That Is is judging you, that there is nothing you must do . . . nothing you must accomplish . . . nothing you must prove . . . in order to receive the love that is yours to feel, whenever you can stop holding yourself back from it.

Unconditional love is perhaps the most difficult thing for you to grasp from your physical perspective because so much and so many conspire to persuade you that love only comes as a result of your lovable actions. What you seldom truly understand is that the “love” you are believing comes to you as a result of lovable action is not really love at all. It is payment for services rendered. It is an exchange—you do this for me and I will reward you with my approval or affection. That is as far removed from real, genuine, unconditional love as it gets. You do not require your children, fresh from the womb, to behave lovably in order for you to hold them in your affectionate, appreciative embrace. You love your pets even when they behave badly. And yet you still hold this belief that you are only as lovable as your behavior or your progress or your attitude.

The Universe offers you truly, eternally unconditional love. The You who is connected to All That Is offers you truly, eternally unconditional love. You see yourself as flawed and lacking and needing to be better. The Universe sees you as perfect just the way you are. You see yourself on a mission to prove your value and to push yourself to achieve some arbitrary standard of excellence or to reach some imagined next rung on the evolutionary ladder. The Universe sees you as a divinely complete being having a joyously expansive experience that is yours to create in whatever way you choose. When you understand this, when you begin to remember and to receive this knowledge and to feel it flowing into your awareness, then you can begin to release the fears you have about this condition or that condition changing or not changing, about this connection or that connection needing to be or to be different.

When you understand how unconditionally loved you are, then you can begin to live your life from a truly perfect place of peace and you can begin to create your experience with the kind of joy and anticipation and expectation of fulfillment that is your true legacy as the blessed, beloved children of God, of Source. of the Universe that you all are, no matter what kind of magic—or mess—you think you are making.


Is it just me, or is it taking longer and longer responses for me to really get it? It never ceases to amaze me the lengths that often seem necessary for me to hear—and believe—the message that I am fine just the way I am. The skepticism and/or amnesia around that topic is truly astounding. But in those moments when I manage to remember it or hear it—and if I’m really lucky—feel it and believe it . . . what a sweet sweet gift it is. It’s a gift that keeps on giving . . . and that gives me the blessed relief of feeling—for the moment—unconditionally complete.

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About Dan

Published novelist, poety, essayist, photographer and college educator. Visit me at www.firstadream.com.

Posted on May 24, 2007, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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