Tuesday, June 17, 2014

We're No Longer Living in Caves

Some will say that what I'm talking about here doesn't exist in their life. They've evolved out of it or never felt it, never thought like this, nor associate with people like this. They may say that anyone who thinks like this or knows people like this, brings it upon themselves for being in such a circle of mentality.

They won't need this post.
But I'm going to be honest here, and talk about two things that exist in the world, jealousy and insecurity. We see something, we want it -- it's not a nice feeling. It's close to either anger or depression, depending on how you react to it. It's easy to be happy for someone when good things happen to them if you like them and they're your friend, but if it's someone you don't know or if it's more of someTHING that you wish for yourself or your family, that could make it harder to high five that universe that's smiling on this person right now.

Why is there jealousy? Years ago, during a Sociology 101 class in college, our professor told us there is a biological need filled by every human behavior. When we studied jealousy, envy, coveting, what we learned made sense. Our textbook explained that in cave-dwelling primitive times, physical assessment and determination by others about others, was necessary to weed out any threats to our well-being and survival. We had to guard our offspring, make sure we populated. We had no Whole Foods to run to for our mastodon meat and we needed to fiercely keep our meat provider for ourselves. We had to watch and guard and whatever else we needed to do so that we could stay alive and multiply.

If another person was considered a threat to this, our brain put us on high alert. Guard guard guard! The possibility of losing our life partner was everything. When a woman needed a man to bring down a mammoth to feed her children, she had to watch out for any risk. When a man could lose the caretaker of his children or the source of his offspring, it was a threat to his lineage. All so Paleolithic and club-thumping, I know.

But that was jealousy's purpose: protection. Do we still need jealousy now? We still have it. Jealousy for some is closely tied to insecurity, painfully making them question their abilities. For others, it runs along the same vein as loss of social position, no longer being Top #1 and tumbling down out of  choice offers and status. Then there is the straight out covet. We want it, prizes, awards, looks, money, status, title, accolades, power, IT. Do we still need to feel envy? Because it's there, rearing its head, instinctively.

Is our biological evolution flawed in this area?
With awareness, can we change the instincts that fly to our brains faster than our ability to talk it through. Rather than being scared or sinking low because our minds tell us someone is better, we can reprogram that millions-of-years-old behavior and wipe out that message that shouts threat threat threat
If we all aspire, do the work and put in the time, then we can't help but get better at anything we do. I know that for some, that thought provides little comfort – the fall back is to resist change, because change is work, and look how easy it is to be led by trigger emotions and blame it on circumstance, situation, other people. Unfairness. Even if it is true.

If you've made it this far in this post, let me take the words out of your mouth, What the heck brought this on? I'm writing this for myself as much as I'm writing it for anyone reading it. Right now, I'm battling with the insecurity of seeing parents pulling out all the stops for their kids this summer. Caribbean vacations, thousand dollar camps, backyard parties with catered menus, day adventures that run in the hundreds of dollars. I can't do this. Each of my children have their dreams, and the years go by with time shrinking the chance to ever give them what they hope for. The oldest has talked of Hawaii since he was five. After the middlest saw the shores of Sanibel Island on a PBS kids' show, he'd share the exact types of seashells he'd look for. And my youngest, asking for Disneyland, meanwhile, his height inches closer to my 5 foot 5 inch frame. I feel the visceral sting of not being able to set the stage for memories and a childhood that I imagine other children will have, that when compared to the flat memories my mind tricks me into believing will be my children's -- some days, it does me in. My shoulders droop. A not so nice dialogue runs through my head. 
I've made a decision, that this instinctive thread of jealousy and insecurity that live on a specific strand of Neanderthal club-wielding DNA is not going to win. As if I haven't evolved in two million years.
I don't have a cave mind and if I need meat, there's a Whole Foods eight minutes away.
"A flower does not think of competing to the flower next to it. It just blooms." - Sensei Ogui
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  1. I don't believe for a second that your three would trade your joy and love for more sparkle. I know that isn't what you mean, as I feel the tug for a bit more pizazz as well. Love the flower quote! I have to go get some groceries now...candy...lots of candy!

    1. Andrea, you are so kind. You know, my thinking brain tells me that but my DNA Neanderthal gene clenches... I want to give them everything. Thank you. xo

  2. Holy cow. I can't even believe that the thing you are insecure about is the thing that I most admire in you!!! I'm not sure my kids will come home to a huge Happy Graduation sign on our driveway (they enter through the tiny front gate anyway). I'm not sure there will be these amazing helium balloons welcoming them. And the pride - the beautiful beaming pride! That is worth far more than anything material. Waste no more minutes on insecurity, my friend, because you are a HEROINE of a parent to me.

  3. What Lady Jennie said. And:

    There are times I have felt envious of you and your life. A few things make this OK for me:
    1. You are so dang nice and genuine, I can't help but feel happy for you about the good things you have and share.

    2. I remind myself that I could have made different choices. I remind myself that if I really do want some things to be different in my life, I've got choices today and every day in front of me that can shape my future days.

    3. I remind myself that everyone--no matter how fortunate they may appear--has had to choose some things over others. None of us get to have it all. And we all have hurt and regrets.

    My ex-husband takes our son on a tropical vacation every year. I haven't felt able to afford one of any kind since we divorced. But even in our humdrum, stay-at-home summers, I know I give our child some things his father can't. They aren't visible and I can't really take pictures of them, but I remind myself (often!) that they are probably more important and will last long after his tan has faded.

    1. Oh, Rita, I am so HAPPY I know you. Friend. Thank you!

  4. I battle this daily. It's healthy to admit to feeling a twinge of jealousy and covetousness - so many don't, and resort to anger or the mean "I hate her" reaction when we meet someone who has what we want.

    I want everything for my children - everything I can give them and everything that you can give yours and everything that every movie star, Kardashian, and king can give theirs. But it's not love, all this excess. Love is what we give to our kids every day - the care, the time, the simple fulfilling of needs and the listening to their plans. When I take time to consider that, I stop looking at what others have and the jealousy goes away.

    1. That's it, Andrea. Coming clean, confessing, losing the weight of it: it changes the ugly nature. I have what I have... and I give it to them with my whole heart. THANK YOU.

  5. You know what's really funny? I have the money. I can do all those things and more, and I do many of them. Yet, I find myself jealous of the successes you have in writing so openly, deeply and profoundly. I can't do that and be as successful at work. I'm trying, desperately, to grab at bits I can manage along the way, but I can't accomplish all that and keep everything else going too.

    I think your kids are going to look back on all of the amazing words you have written for them, and be far more grateful than they would be for the spread you put out at their graduation party.

    1. Thank you, Cheryl. I work at changing my mental dialogue... but I want to give them their dreams. Each one, has their dreams. Thank you!

  6. What a relevant, pervasive and eye-opening post. We are all guilty. The J word. It can eat us alive when our hearts fall out of focus. (I may have to share this post with my youngest son to help shed light on "keeping up with the Joneses," his 16-yr-old tendencies having fallen into that snare).

    The flowers. Let's remember the flowers! Love that.

  7. I so feel this way sometimes! I complain to my husband all the time about how I am just not doing things as amazing as I see on the internet. When I think about it though it really is the small simple things that our kids will remember. I really enjoyed this!

  8. I can understand why you would feel this way, but your children have always exuded happiness and confidence. I can't imagine that they would ever trade in their best mom in the world for a chance at some bling and a suitcase in an airplane.

    I know you already know this :) And I don't have to tell you that fun family memories don't require a heavy paycheck. You are FUN, AWESOME, EXCITING MOM to your kids, Alexandra. They love you so much for it. XOXO



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