I Really Don’t Want To Do What I’m Doing
Chapter Seven from Joywords
by Frank Mosca
"People say things like (and feel accordingly): 'I don't want to go to work, but I have to.' The truth is the opposite. You don't have to go to work but you want to. The reasons you believe you HAVE to are actually the reasons you want to.
'We all do things we don't want to do. It's part of life.' The truth is that nobody does anything they don't want to do. All things considered, they'd rather do whatever it is than not do it. Life is only doing what you choose. The rest is what happens. You are psychologically incapable of choosing or consenting to do something you don't want to do....As long as you don't lie by believing that you were lying to yourself you will see what you really feel and want, and how you always act for what you are for."14
One of the most common complaints humans make is the one that says, "I don't want to do this." They say this even as they do whatever it is that they are doing. This is also usually accompanied by sighs, moans and other bodily and verbal signs that they are discomforted by doing what they are doing. For some their unhappiness grows apace so that they then come under the heading of being "under stress." People point to the environment, the job, the boss, the guy's wife, his kids, etc., etc., all as "stress" factors in his life that are somehow "causing" him to have high blood pressure, an irritable bowel and high cholesterol.
By now we can see an emerging understanding of how these pseudo-causal relationships are attributed because no one is clear enough to really see that we are the sole arbiters of how we are going to experience ourselves, not our fellow humans or any aspect of the environment, i.e., "Life is only doing what you choose. The rest is what happens." In the next dialogue, we will explore, thanks to Ronnie, some of the dimensions that this assumption of "I don't want to do what I am doing" can take.
SO, RONNIE, GET A LIFE WILL YA!
Ronnie was a tall, stocky young man of about twenty one; he came from an Italian family that was a bit better than middle class and had managed to move out of the "old neighborhood" to a somewhat better suburban setting. While his older brothers had begun to make their mark in the world according to their parents' expectations, Ronnie, the youngest, seemed, both to himself and to his parents, to be mired in adolescent immobility. His mannerisms, dress, speech, all seemed to proclaim that he did not want any part of the "hard work, nose to the grindstone" version of life that had been exemplified in his father's modest rise to prominence as a local lawyer/politician.
He had come through a college counselor who recommended that Ronnie see me, since he was dropping out of school and faced an unwelcoming atmosphere at home because of this "precipitous" action on his part. Ronnie felt squeezed. He had the attitude of angry cynicism that manifested in a highly critical joking manner, all of which hid his basic fear of being judged inadequate, wrong, purposeless, and a loser by friends and family. Yet, he could immediately become very engaging and was obviously wanting a way out of his unhappiness.
F: So, Ronnie, how can I help you?
R: Well, Joe, up at college, said that you help people with their unhappiness, so I guess I'm looking for a little bit of that help.
F: What are you unhappy about?
R: A bunch of stuff, girls, a job, my father, but most of all I just really feel down. It's a feeling I've lived with for a number of years now and it's really sticking in my gut at the moment.
F: What specifically are you feeling down about?
R: Well, you know, I dropped out of school and my parents, particularly my dad, is super pissed at me; there's tension all the time and like I just sit in my room sometimes wanting to punch the walls, I get so torn up about this business of being a loser.
F: Do you believe you are a loser?
R: (smiling). Yeah, I know, I shouldn't think that way, hah.
F: I'm not sure what "shouldn't" might mean, but do you?
R: Well yes and no. That is, sometimes I say "fuck you all you people," but like, inside, I feel really bad about being in the situation I am in, like a big, good for nothing pile of shit feeling.
F: What about being in the situation you are in is so painful?
R: Well (smiling again) there it is. My friends are doing well in school, looking forward to med school, law school, corporate jobs, you know really moving ahead. My brothers are like burning up the world with their success and here is Ronnie broken down by the side of the road with his finger up his ass. I mean, I'm like a real cafone, you know, a jerk. You're Italian right?
F: Yes, I know what that means, but even if all around you seem to be doing well according to their understanding, why are you unhappy with what you are doing now?
R: Well that's it, right. I'm doing exactly nothing now. I'm supposed to be looking for a job, but everything's slow so I haven't had any luck and my dad says he's not going to help me because I don't deserve his help. So it's like nowhere'sville for me at this time.
F: So, again, even though people around you, are highly critical of you and your decisions about life, why are you distressed by that?
R: Geese, I don't know other than what I just said. I mean the bad feelings just seem right there in the middle of all this crap.
F: And what are you afraid it would mean about you if you were not upset or unhappy about being who you are in the situation you are in?
R: (real pause as Ronnie hunches over onto the nearby desk and focuses himself on what he has heard, smiles). Hey, that's like a lawyer's question, you know, like my brother Al would say. But I got the drift of it. Yeah. You know, so shit, I don't feel bad? Come on.
F: Is bad how you want to feel?
R: Where would I get off not feeling bad about it?
F: If somehow magically I could make you feel any way that you would want to feel about it, then how would you want to feel?
R: (Smiles). You mean like Prozac or something? Well, look, if I could feel a way that I wanted to feel then yeah, who wants to feel like shit?
F: Do You think it would mean anything about you were you to feel okay about yourself even in the face of the disapproval of others then?
R: Well, it's like I said, where would I get off feeling okay about this, with everyone upset and everything?
F: Are you saying that somehow you wouldn't be an "okay guy" if you didn't feel bad about yourself?
R: Right, right, kinda like a real uncaring character not to be concerned about what others feel, you know?
F: So, are you saying that your way of making sure that you are not an uncaring character that doesn't give a shit about other people, is to create all the pain of feeling down about the situation you are in?
R:(stops with his face set in a look of surprised introspection). I never had that put to me that way before. So, yeah, I do feel kinda like I have to be in a shit place with myself. When I'm in my room that's one of the things that really gets me pissed, is like who proclaimed me the "designated loser" of this family. It's like "Ronnie's role" since day one, you know.
F: Do you want to feel those bad, down feelings then?
R: To be honest no, I don't.
F: So what would it be like, right now where you are sitting to let them go and feel differently? Can you go inside and test that out?
R: Feel good about it? So...(he looks up to the ceiling and leans back in the chair as if in search of some sense of himself inside and after a bit responds, smiling). Holy shit! I did actually feel different about it. Yeah, but right now as I am saying it, I kinda lost it.
F: So go back and get it.
R: (takes some more time). Son of a bitch. I got it back again(smiles). So, yeah I could be okay with that.
F: You really feel that way in your gut, is that true?
R: Yeah, I'm being straight. I didn't think that's what was going to happen when you asked me but, baboom, then there it was (smiles and laughs a bit).
F: Great, just take a moment to really revel in feeling and knowing that.
R: (spends some time). Hey, this is okay, I mean, this is new and it's okay.
F: So, then, how do you feel now about the situation you were describing a moment ago?
R: Better, much better. I guess what bugs me now is more my dad. You know I just can't be anyway that's good for that man. I mean I can't stand to be in the room with him, sometimes I hate him to the point of exploding, you know?
F: What about the way your Dad is with you is so exasperating?
R: What's the big deal, I mean. So, suppose I don't want to be a lawyer like Al or a doctor like Vinnie. So fucking what ( turns red in the face) he's got to treat me like a dirtbag because I'm a little confused right now about things? I mean fuck him, that's what!
F: Are you saying your father is being a way he ought not to be and that by doing so he is making himself a way that you can't love him so that's why you hate him?
R: Fuck, that's another lawyer's question, but yeah, you are right, who the fuck is he to be who he is?
F: Is he not being just the way he knows to be, given his upbringing, his beliefs and feelings as he applies them to each moment that he lives?
R: (taking his time, thoughtfully with the question) Ah ha. Yeah, so I guess he is, but fuck him anyway!
F: Are you saying that you don't like him?
R: (smiles) Yeah, you might say that's a reasonable conclusion from what I just said.
F: And is it okay not to like your father for being ways that you don't want him to be?
R: (radical change in emotion, turns slightly away with eyes downcast and welling up with tears) Ah shit, yeah, I mean no, I mean why the fuck doesn't he like me. I mean I really do want the guy to love me. What the fuck is so bad about me anyhow, tell me that?
F: Ronnie, I am sure that you do want him to love you and accept you in the ways that you want that; but if your father, with his reasons for being the way he knows to be, can't extend that kind of love or caring to you now, what about that is so painful?
R: It's like I said, I wonder what the hell is lacking in me that he doesn't like me?
F: Why do believe it means anything about you that, again, given the way your father believes and feels, that he doesn't like you?
R: (composing himself and straightening up in the chair) Ah hell, guess what, you're right. He's the way he is and I tried my best to be his fair haired son, but I guess the slots were already filled by Al and Vinnie.
F: And if you were not upset about this, what do you think that would mean?
R: (pauses but for a moment). Hey (smiling), I'm hip to it already. I guess I feel if I don't get all bent out of shape that means I don't love him and won't try to change his mind about me.
F: And how do you feel now about that, about him?
R: Better, better. Yeah, it's good. I didn't think coming in here that any of this would happen, but yeah I'm definitely in a better place with this whole thing.
F: So is there anything else?
R: (smiling broadly now). Hey, Francesco, you got a job for me?
F: No, but why do you ask?
R: 'Cause I sure hate what I am doing now, you know, a little bartending, a little construction, mostly a little nothing. I guess what's left is that I really don't want to do the petty shit that I am doing now. It bugs me that my friends are all positioning themselves for the kill in life and I am embarrassed to even run into them now.
F: Well, what do you mean when you say that you don't want to do what you are doing now?
R: Hey, like I said, it's bullshit work. I don't like it and I don't want to do it.
F: Well, you just got through clarifying that it's okay not to like what you don't like, but don't you have your own reasons for doing what you are doing now?
R: Sure, of course, I don't want to hold up in my room with my father in the house. So it's good to at least be out during the day, or at night, even in the bar; at least it's work, so that it doesn't look like I'm rotting on the street corner with my lowlife friends.
F: So, then in doing what you are doing you are serving your own purposes at this time, isn't that true?
R: True, so?
F: Why do you think you have to be unhappy about that by saying that you don't want to do what you say you have good reasons to do?
R: Well, because I don't want to do it, that's why.
F: And what are you afraid would happen if you were not unhappy about doing what you are doing at the present?
R: (Pause again, then smiles broadly) Ahhhhh, Yeah, the same old shit again. That's right. It's like if I was okay with it, then I just like sit in it and not do shit about it. You know, like I got to bitch and moan to keep myself aware that this is not my life's vocation, right. Shit, I don't want to do that.
F: So then why do you think you would?
R: Well, I don't, I mean I won't.
F: Is it okay to be happy and still not like what you are doing and know that you prefer to do other things and will pursue doing them in the best way you know how?
R: (smiling). Yeah, sure. It's not even that I'm really so bummed out by what I am doing. It's like I'm "supposed to be" 'cause it’s like not "worthy" of me, like my mother puts out at dinner.
F: How are you feeling about what you are doing?
R: Hey, Francesco, it's cool, I'm okay. I don't really have a direction right now but, you know, I just really like hanging out and reading serious stuff, Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, you know the heavy weights. I don't know where that gets me, but hell it's what I like.
F: And is it okay to not know your direction right now and at the same time be happy as you explore whatever possibilities come up in your life?
R: You got it. That's the truth. And I feel it. Thanks.
F: Ciao bella Ronnie. Enjoy.
Everyone will be happy to know that eventually Ronnie got a job; that job enabled him to return to school locally and pursue studies in Russian Literature, a strange vocation for an Italian boy from New York, but an adventure of a lifetime for Ronnie.
HANGING OUT WITH WHAT YOU WANT: LETTING GO OF CONDITIONS ON YOUR LOVING, SO THAT THERE IS NO "IF YOU LOVED ME YOU WOULD BE THE WAY YOU ARE SUPPOSED TO BE SO THAT I COULD LOVE YOU."
From this dialogue we can observe some things we already know about the legitimacy of liking and not liking and how that is different from the pain of anger or hating. We can see again that true compassion is knowing people are doing the best they can AND knowing this in no way disempowers us from pursuing what we want with vigor. We don't have to be burdened with feeling bad about the way people perceive us or want us to be. We can let them have their vision of us and still love them even when we don't like them. We can certainly feel totally free to act on our own understanding of our best interests even when that brings responses of outrage and indignation from others who "know better" than we what is "good" for us. So the issue of self-trust, again, gets exposed for the true nature of what we could come to know it means: that I cannot be "bad" or "wrong" for me, meaning that I have to be unhappy about what I am doing or about the outcomes of my efforts in the world.
Ronnie could let his father be who he is and surrender the pain of hate; he could let HIMSELF be who he is and surrender the pain of self-loathing and he could be happy with whatever it makes sense for him to do at any given moment and surrender the pain of doubt about his motivation to go after what he wants in life. Loving is just another word for Happiness which is just another word for Freedom. In several dialogues you have seen and will see the question of meaning of either our or another's love. What we could know is that we truly value others freely giving their love to us. Loving derives from xaris in Greek, caritas in Latin, all of which means a gift, that which is freely given.
So often we may find ourselves in situations with people where we fear the loss of their love, when, as we explore our beliefs, we clearly see that what we call love is not at all what these people are offering, but only their version of love conditioned by all kinds of expectations and demands deriving from their beliefs of unhappiness.
Knowing that, we can revel in our freedom to offer our gift of love to another who might be freely and unconditionally welcoming of it and willing out of their loving freedom to return their own reciprocal gift of love; but that in no way means that we do not want what we want in a relationship. We are perfectly free to pursue our preferences as to how we want to be related to and what conditions we will find congenial to remaining in a relationship. In short we are free to love whomever we please, however we please, whether they are the way we want them to be or not; whether their love for us is relatively unconditional or laden with conditions.
SINCE OUR LOVING IS OUR FREE GIFT, IT IS NOBODY'S BUSINESS BUT OUR OWN WHOM WE BESTOW IT UPON OR FOR WHAT REASONS WE MIGHT DO SO. Thus, Ronnie can, by letting go of his demand that his father be any particular way, dispense with hate and allow his loving if that's what he wants, no matter how his father might not be willing to reciprocate. That in no way means he is surrendering his desire that his father be the way he wants him to be. It just means he doesn’t demand/require it for his own happiness, that’s all. That's the wonder of love. No one can stop you from loving them, no matter how they may despise you or reject you. Your love is the joy of your happiness and, as has been so often repeated, you can never be wrong for doing what you do. SO, LOVE WHOM YOU PLEASE, AS OFTEN AS YOU PLEASE, IN WHATEVER WAY YOU PLEASE. ENJOY YOUR LOVE!
LOVING THE YOU THAT IS DOING WHATEVER IT IS DOING!
See how wonderful it can feel to be really okay with whatever you do. Only if you believe there is some agenda you need to accomplish in order to be happy will you hold on to your misery about what you do in the moment, as a kind of "pledge" to somehow force you to "get to" what you "really" want to do. Only when you attain that, or do what you say you must do will you allow yourself any happiness. To do otherwise would be endangering your stated motivation to get out of this "shitty" situation that you don't like. Again, take a piece of paper, or gather with a friend and review what you are actually doing and how you feel about it. If alone, write out your hopes and desires for yourself, all the things you would love to have in your life. Now focus on what you are doing and if alone, use the Option questions in the spirit of the dialogue to follow your belief trail.
See how much of your discomfort and unhappiness you can trace to the fear of feeling okay about your present activities, lest it sap your resolve to get to some other place. As you are able to surrender those feelings and become more and more comfortable with your present life, then turn your attention to the things that you desire to do. Notice how, without the pain of fearing you won't have what you say you MUST have, you can range with ease and pleasure over all the items that seem attractive to you and truly feel good about wanting those things. Free from the tension of anxiety over not having them, see how they take on a different light and meaning for you. See what dimensions of those things become clearer or change. You may be even quite delighted to find that without the obsessive or compulsive quality to your wants, that some of them simply disappear and anything that really appeals to you remains. There may be a wonderful rearrangement of your wants and desires in the absence of the pain of believing that you don't want to do what you are doing, because admitting that you do want to do what you do now bears no ill promise of making you in any way less intense about pursuing a greater and deeper understanding of what you might be wanting in the future.
by Frank Mosca
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