At the close of 2017, I am realizing that I have spent a good portion of my life, my energies and my thoughts, trying to avoid having others see me as any of the words in the title of this post. I mean – if people thought I was crazy, stupid or wrong, etc... – they wouldn’t like me and I’d be alone! Right?
Here are a couple of the paradoxes in this lifelong effort at attempting to manage the way others feel about us –
"There is nothing wrong with you!!!!"
There is another quote from that book that applies here: Acceptance breeds confidence. But NOT the acceptance of others. It may seem like that builds our confidence, but the truth is that the only acceptance that builds confidence – comes from you - toward yourself. Acceptance of ourselves is enhanced when we can be comfortable with who we are rather than always trying to manage the view others have of us. It is exhausting, have you noticed? “You need to accept yourself before you wreck yourself.”
No matter how good we are at managing our outward image, other people are going to form opinions and judgments about us – based on their own relationship with THEMSELVES. If you can’t be who you feel you truly are with some people – those are not your people!! And doesn’t that just make sense? When you emit a clean frequency of who you are, you are going to match up with those who are also on that same wave length. When we muck up our frequency with trying to be who we think others need or want us to be in order for them to be comfortable (conditional love), or being "perfect", etc...then we are going to match up with others with mucked up frequencies. AH-HA! This explains so much doesn’t it!!???!!!?
If we try to conform to please others, it makes them weak. They depend on the conditions being just right by you doing your tap dance in order for them to feel good. Now you are relying on others – who are not on solid emotional ground – to feel okay about yourself. You can see how wobbly this scenario is.
When we focus on management of the feelings of others toward us, we lose our own connection to ourselves, to the Divine. It’s not anyone else’s job to accept you. It’s yours. And here is yet another interesting paradox – those who don’t accept you… help you to learn to accept yourself, if you choose to receive the lesson in it rather than remain in the victim role.
So, what if I AM crazy? Sometimes stupid? Even “wrong”? Then welcome to being human. I am also logical, intelligent and “right” much of the time along with a zillion other qualities. Just like every other human on the planet. What if being a little crazy is what makes me happy? Or propels me to the next level of excellence? What if being a little stupid causes me to learn and have a thirst for knowledge? And what if being “wrong” is what teaches me to have compassion for myself and for others when we temporarily go off course? What if my low self-esteem has what has given me the drive to push myself to do better, be my best, study self-help to the point of saturation?
It’s all okay. It’s all exactly how it needs to be. Rather than kicking my own ass for the energy spent on trying to manage what others think of me I can now choose to use that and what it’s taught me and add a new phase, a new way for the next part of my path. I can learn to care about how I feel and let go of some of my attempts to manage what others feel.
Four years ago when my brother Larry died, I had a clear awakening that I needed to be true to myself, love myself, and remember to be who I am going forward. I’ve had ups and downs with trying to stay on that path and many of the downs have been due to me putting other people’s expectations on myself. I’m the one doing it, no one else. Staying awake is serious business and just like healing, it is NOT linear, it is NOT a straight steady upward motion. Giving myself the grace to let it be whatever it is and not judging myself for being further along the path is a big part of the lesson for sure. It's interesting, giving myself grace to feel what I feel is probably the hardest part of all. Hmmmm....
I think the best way to sum up being okay with what got you to this point and being open to what you may want or need to take you the rest of the way is in the Brene’ Brown quote below. When we come to the point that we realize that we can't manage or be responsible for how other people see us, we can finally give ourselves permission to be just as we are. Unravel. Love and be who you are - without judgement, because it just might take you home to yourself.
This Michael Jackson lyric has been in my mind all week long. It’s really a powerful thought if we are open to it – everything that pisses us off about someone else… is just another part of ourselves that we have disowned in some way. Every other person, their behavior that triggers us, is just another part of ourselves.
It’s much harder to read the label on the bottle from the inside. In other words, it’s a whole lot easier to spot the projection in another person than it is to see in ourselves. Just this week I witnessed someone snipe defensively with blame at another person, and then within minutes – do the same exact thing they had jumped the other person for doing and they never caught it that they were repeating what they had just minutes earlier criticized. When we can become awake and aware of our own shit – it’s really quite entertaining!
The holidays are upon us and this means we may be exposed to family members that we don’t see all that often or maybe we see them regularly. Family can certainly bring up a wide range of emotions! In this scenario, the realization that relatives are literally, genetically, “just another part of me” can help us let them off the hook and in doing so, let ourselves off the hook emotionally as well.
Sometimes other people simply show us what or who we DON’T want to be. No need to judge, blame, point out their faults. We can instead just observe. Notice. And choose another route. I’m not saying you will be able to do this 100% of the time, but even 51% of the time means you are empowered and staying on your own side of the emotional street where you can actually make a difference.
If you consider the example of Jesus… he looked past the things we humans label as “flaws”, shortcomings, wrong-doing. His example of seeing only the light in everyone is really what leadership is about. Leaders look for potential, the positive intent, what’s “right” about people and their positive aspects. By doing this they bring out the best in others and also in themselves. And when they see that a person or situation is not living up to it's potential - they do what they can to help move things in that direction.
This sounds so much simpler than it plays out! What we stumble on is the fact that in order to look for only the positive aspects in others – we’d first have to do that same thing towards ourselves. We zero in on what we deem unacceptable about others because that is exactly what we do to ourselves. We talk about our “flaws” our shortcomings, how our bodies are unacceptable in some way, what we aren't great at, how we don't measure up, bla, bla, bla.
You’re going to hear yourself either mentally or verbally weighing in on the “flaws” of others in the next couple of weeks. I know this, because it's part of the human condition. Just know that is as normal as apple pie. The unfocused mind has a biological thing called “negative bias” and if you aren’t focusing your mental state, your survival instinct of negative bias is running the show. Seeking out what’s the worst in people, situations, and yourself. If this sounds like a horrible way to live, consider that most of the world operates without focusing their perspective. This means that most of the world is running on negative bias. Looking for what is the worst in themselves, other people and situations.
When you hear this chatter, don’t try to stop it. It's simply information for you – just notice that it’s happening. You might just be repeating a pattern of behavior or response from your past unconsciously and unintentionally. Terri Cole suggests that you ask yourself three questions:
1. Where have I felt like this before?
2. Why is this dynamic familiar to me?
3. Who does this person (or people) remind me of?
You might also ask yourself – this behavior in the other person that is getting to me... 4. Where do I do this same thing? The tricky part is that the reason for this question is NOT to blame yourself or be a martyr or a victim. It is to see what possible lesson is being served up for you in this person or circumstance. I know for me, recently I felt as though the other person was pointing out all my shortcomings, even telling me how I oughtta be different. When I took a breath and looked at it, I knew that I had actually not only done that same thing to that person – but it’s EXACTLY what the chatter in my head towards myself looks and sounds like much of the time. The lesson, quite frankly, is almost always that you need to love more. Either yourself, or others, or most likely...BOTH.
I don’t make new year’s resolutions. Probably because I am constantly test driving new ideas and personal growth stuff on myself 24/7, 365 days a year! I very recently had some dark days and the level of that darkness was matched by an equal level of clarity and realizations on the other side of it. What I can see clearly is that what I most need to give myself, is also what I most desire to give to others a window into seeing within their own journey…
So, it’s Christmas. The celebratory season of the birth of Jesus – who provided the ultimate great example of making the choice to just love. To focus your view (and mind) on the positive aspects and the love of us. We certainly strive as human beings to give this to others, and I am asking you to also (even more importantly) give it to yourself. Focus your gaze on what is amazing about you, the gifts you were given to share, like your smile, your love, your light.
I recently heard Fr. Richard Rohr explaining why we light trees for Christmas – “to show that everything, even the trees, are lit from within and full of light.” Give yourself the gift this season to let your light shine. Big and bright for all to see what is within you. This will almost automatically focus you on looking for the light in others. And if you look – you will find it, because it's there in all of us.
I heard this quote above on a recent episode of Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday. Eckhart Tolle was talking about acceptance and how we create our experience. Sometimes we don’t really want to think we have created or drawn our current circumstances to us, but if we accept them as if we had chosen them, then we can be free.
In the last edition of Sandy Chat, I was exploring the idea of how we often believe that if someone else or conditions would just be different, then we could be happy. I’ve been super convinced in my own life that if the person I loved would just wake the hell up – life could get back on the path I had planned out! I mean, can’t they see how much better things would be if they just changed or did things MY way??!???!!
I’ve invested major amounts of self-righteous energy into “schooling” the person whom I happen to feel needs to change so I can be happy. Especially when said person used to “get it” in my opinion, and seems to have ceased doing so. I can attest that this is a very draining way to live even though the fire and passion of self-righteous anger can trick us into thinking we are making something happen due to the invigorating jolt it provides. Ultimately, this approach wrecks a relationship as well as takes an energy toll on the person in the self-righteous stance.
You may have heard the line that some women marry for potential. They become hell-bent to change their partner and force them to live up to this potential ideal. Women are not the only ones who take this path BTW. When this happens, I’m sure it doesn’t start out as an attempt to kill the spirit of the person who is deemed in need of change, yet that is what it ultimately can do. What we are saying when we resist what IS or who a person IS – is that this thing or this person is not okay as they are. And furthermore, my happiness is impinged due to you being who you are. Ouch. This is not the intention when we try to “help”, it’s just the message that comes through in most cases.
The result can go a couple of ways when we try to get someone to be other than who they are… (1) Anger, blame, heels dug in, resistance. Or (2) Withdraw, conform, wilt, go along on the surface. But what I notice is that even taking route #2, often ends up at route #1. Resentment builds when we feel we cannot authentically be ourselves – either because someone is telling us who we are needs to be different, or if we ourselves don’t make a choice to be who we authentically are. Those who choose to conform to the wishes of someone else that they show up differently in the world or in their relationship, create a need to rebel, even lash out in painful ways at the one they see as their “oppressor”, when all the while, it is a self-created scenario.
Those who kowtow to someone else’s demands that they change have a roll in this dysfunction for sure. Yet the person in this role is often so busy blaming and feeling victimized that they don’t consider their own responsibility in the dance. Insecurity and low self-esteem can cause a person to conform to demands that they be different – even if those demands are not made by someone else, only assumed or created due to taking responsibility for how we THINK the other person feels about us.
Yes, I have been the persecutor in this dance in relationship before and still am sometimes today. Self-righteousness feels powerful for a moment, but it’s not Empowered. Power comes from fear, Empowerment comes from love.
I have also placed myself in the opposite role, of victim, in the dance sometimes. As the one who needs to change according to someone else. This role can’t last forever if you have even a teeny tiny morsel of self-esteem because resentment will ensue and you will either overtly or covertly try to take your power back in the relationship. Either through an out-right aggressive action or a via a passive-aggressive attack. One or the other will be on the horizon if you spend too much time in this role.
There IS another way and the great news is that it starts with YOU! No matter what role you are currently in. Plus you don’t need anyone else to change in any way for you to empower yourself. Allowing ourselves to be who we are, authentically – not as a rebellious act – but out of love, and dropping the blame of everyone and everything outside ourselves is the way through.
When we don’t accept OURSELVES as we are, love ourselves, see ourselves as enough – there is about a 100% chance that we will draw a relationship into our lives that reflects this back to us. The other person will agree with our own view of ourselves on some level. They will tell us that we need to be different in some way – the same story we tell ourselves internally.
If we can find ourselves, love & accept ourselves and BE ourselves, not who others expect us to be or cajole or nag us into being – there is about a 100% chance that we will draw to us a relationship and people who will also accept us as we are.
You see, when there is someone in your life who seems to always want you to change or be different than you are, there are two things happening…
1. This is exactly how the person leveling the judgement at you feels about THEMSELVES.
2. On some level – you agree with what they are saying, that you DO need to be different in some way.
Relationships have this beautiful way of always showing us something about ourselves. It’s not about what the other person is or isn’t doing that is the lesson. Your empowerment lies in looking within – so hard to remember when self-righteousness feels so dang GOOD!!! Rats!
Yeah, believe it or not, you can drop all the “schooling”, the nagging, the requests for someone else to change and choose to just love them. This puts the ball back in your court because it means you will have to get to know what truly is and isn’t okay for you. The responsibility for having boundaries for yourself and also for your own happiness will set you free to be your authentic self. It is possible to love someone and know not to be with them in a relationship. No one has to be “wrong”.
If you really think you can force another person to change, consider how hard it is to make a change in yourself. You might want to drop five pounds and decide you need to change your diet. This can be a huge difficult task!!! So if we have this much of a challenge making change in OURSELVES, how the hell do we think by demanding change in another person that they will be able to or capable of it!?!?!? Shaming yourself doesn't work to create change, so why would it work when we aim it at anyone else!???
Are humans are capable of change. YES! Because we WANT to change. Through either pain or love we choose to make a change. Rarely do we change because we are shamed into it. Tony Robbins says that to change we must get leverage on ourselves. The pain to stay the same must outweigh the pain of making the change. He also says that what causes people to feel motivated is progress.
Here is what I am learning most recently… When someone gives you the freedom to be who you are or better yet, the space to figure out who the hell you are – no matter what it means for them, THAT is real love. I have been on the giving end of this kind of love for sure, but to be the receiver... I’m not sure I’ve ever fully allowed myself to experience this before. So sometimes I probably don’t fully even know what to do with it or how to trust it. My low self-esteem stuff can actually cause it to bring up guilt to have someone love me in this real way – to want my happiness, even if it doesn’t include them. It's interesting because the guilt is about wondering if I am worthy of this kind of love. Then I try to remind myself that this is the love that is available to ALL of us when we are connected to the Divine. It's very beautiful and an amazing gift.
What is also amazing about this is that being given the freedom to be who I am, no matter what , seems to be causing us BOTH to grow in our own way. When you are a "fixer" or like to have control, letting go of the outcome can be phenomenally hard work, yet it's the only way through. Letting things unfold and releasing the outcome sounds super simple and it's one of the hardest things I've ever tried to learn to do. Coming to this point in this relationship has been far from easy AND I wouldn’t change anything that has happened, because it’s what it has taken to get here in my reclaiming myself and wake the hell up.
Will I still feel the pull of the heat of self-righteous passion and telling someone how they need to change in relationship with me? Of course! Will I be tempted to wilt and conform when I fear not being accepted or rejected? Yes. You can count on it. It’s not like you graduate and get a certificate that you’ll never ever slip back into old patterns. That’s not the point. It's can I spend LESS TIME THERE? Can I recover faster? That's the "goal".
The feeling I have experienced in a relationship that the other person WANTS me to be who I am and learning to stand on my own two emotional feet there, inspires me to want to give this to other people as well, because it feels incredible when I let it in.
Sandy Edie Hansen
I use this space to "Chat" about things I am working through and learning in my life currently. Join me!