Another title for this chat could be "This explains so many things!" Attachment theory. I had heard the term before, but never really looked any further until I saw the book “Attached” recommended in an Instagram post by Danielle LaPorte. What happened after reading it was nothing short of feeling like a 20 ton weight was lifted off my back.
Though much of my life, I have been able to operate as a strong woman. I would say I’m resilient, driven, high energy, some would say “sassy” and I love to learn. Then, there is this weird thing that happens when I am in a relationship that is like I am totally derailed from my usual self. I feel unsure, always worried that my partner is going to walk out at any moment, that I’m either not enough or too much in some way and basically unwanted. I emotionally clutch and grab at the relationship… “Are you upset with me?” “Are we okay?” My insecurity goes off the chart and I kind of lose myself in an attempt to be what I THINK my partner wants – even though they didn’t say it that way.
For the most part, I just kind of figured I was sort of “crazy”. Like this was some fatal flaw in me that I just couldn’t for the life of me seem to get past. I’d be this strong, empowered woman at work or out in the world, yet in my relationships – I’d be scared to death, stay in bad situations, morph myself into what I thought would make things okay for my partner and in turn, for me.
THEN, I read about how attachment styles that are formed when we are infants can have a huge impact on our adult relationships. The very first story given in the introduction of the book, about a woman who’s “vitality gave way to anxiousness and insecurity in her new relationship”, I started thinking maybe, just maybe I’m at least not the ONLY crazy chick after all.
Over the years I have stayed in some pretty horrible relationships waaaaaay past their expiration dates and I always thought I was simply weak or too scared. What I’m learning is that this can actually come from a very basic instinct to connect – at all costs, amplified by an anxious attachment style. Shifting our thinking from “Does he like me?” to “Is this someone who is capable of giving me what I need in a relationship” is like turning on the lights after groping around in the dark for decades!
To someone with a more anxious attachment style, a partner who is unavailable in any way (emotionally or physically, etc…) feels like a threat to the relationship. Early reassurance will cure the anxiety, but ignore it and it will get bigger and louder and it will take much bigger reassurances to tame that activated attachment style. Then the self-judgement (and sometimes other judgement) will go into high gear. We will label ourselves as “needy”, “wrong”, “too emotional”. But research findings support the exact opposite. Getting attached in relationships for humans means that our brain becomes wired to seek the support of our partner. If our partner fails to reassure us, we are programmed to continue our attempts to achieve closeness until our partner does. THIS. EXPLAINS. EVERYTHING, all the way back to my 8th grade romance!!!
The positive aspect of the anxious style is that you actually DO have a unique ability to sense when your relationship is threatened, and even a slight hint that something is off-kilter will activate your attachment style. Those with the anxious style are VERY vigilant to changes in other people’s emotional expressions and have a higher degree of accuracy and sensitivity to other people’s cues than is typical.
HOWEVER, because of this sensitivity, they may tend to jump to conclusions very quickly and this can lead to misinterpretations. If we can just sloooooooow down a little bit we will have an uncanny ability to decipher the world around us. So all those times that I sensed that the relationship was in jeopardy in some way, I wasn’t necessarily “wrong” or “nuts”, but when I was told that I was – I started to distrust my feelings in bigger and bigger ways. AH-HA!
So, how can you use this knowledge to coach yourself if you feel some resonance with anything I’ve said here or have a partner who does…
Here are the basics of effective communication:
So I had just completed reading the book and was feeling more clarity than in a very long time. I was sort of thinking about my upbringing and why I might have developed an anxious attachment style. My parents had given up the idea of having a third child long ago and my mom was approaching age 40, my dad age 50 when WHA-LA! They got the news that I was coming into the world.
When I think about what might have gone through my own mind if I were at age 40, with my youngest child about to graduate from high school and my life would be pretty easy-peasy soon – but wait! You’re pregnant! I am betting that even though I felt very loved once I arrived, there were likely some high emotions streaming through my mom and into me prior to my birth.
Out of the blue, an intuitive healer I know, Amy, messaged me and asked if I would be willing to test out something she is finding in her work. I hadn’t communicated with her in a long while and she wanted to see if she could reveal my core wound and help me in some way as a result. Of course I signed up instantly for that!
Her first question was to ask me if I was the oldest child. I told her actually I was the youngest – by a really big age gap (18 years after my sister was born). She was getting a reading that perhaps the pregnancy was a bit unwanted. Hmmmm! Then she said – “That’s it, that’s what it’s all tied back to for you… feeling like you were unwanted.” She went on to say that I may have many times found myself in self-fulfilling situations, where I sought out relationships where I wouldn’t feel 100% wanted as a result of this original belief. Seeking proof. Oh boy. That has a familiar ring to it.
BOOM! Amy nailed it. That is the exact situation that sends me into orbit in a relationship. If I feel unwanted it’s like “Danger! Danger! Will Robinson! Must connect! Must fix!” Now, as my coach Joy reminds me, it wasn’t me specifically my mom was not wanting, but the IDEA of a baby at that time. It’s not me personally – the world and I wanted me to be born. Amy certainly confirmed in a very timely manner exactly what I was starting to come to see. Confirmation! Eureka!
Can your attachment style be changed? The answer is certainly yes, AND it requires making the choices to move to a more secure attachment style. I know first hand that our styles are malleable, because I have witnessed a huge change in Don from the time we started our relationship to now. I would have a strong guess that he was avoidant style back in the '90's when we met and got married and now he has made choices in how he wants to feel that have caused his style to be much more secure. I am coming to believe that the key to everything, is making a choice about how you want to feel and then continuing to make it a priority. Don is a great first hand example of this.
So here are just a few things all this has opened up for me:
Just like learning anything that sheds new light on something that seems out of place in our lives, it carries a huge sense of freedom and peace to understand why it’s been happening. It then empowers you to create as you go forward. Beautiful.
Here is a FREE on-line test you can take to see what your attachment style is and also your partners: http://www.attachedthebook.com/compatibility-quiz/
P.S... My coach Joy Miley and I are working on developing a retreat workshop for women on the path! More details in the next few weeks. Our ETA is late March. Stay tuned for updates!
So the Instagram post above from Danielle LePorte saying halt all relationships until you read this book got me curious. I can say I certainly agree with the recommendation above, “Attached” by Amir Levine M.D. should be required reading if you have any relationships in your life – EVER!
It’s a book about feelings, backed up with scientific data about attachment theory and how it impacts us as adults. As I read about how it’s actually okay to need reassurance from your partner, how it’s not “needy” to have needs and that our ability to step into the world on our own most often stems from the knowledge that there is someone we can count on in our corner (it’s called the dependency paradox), I stood up and said “AH-HA! This completely explains my whole relationship life since birth!!!!”
The book describes the three attachment styles: anxious, avoidant and secure. Notice the use of the word STYLES. This is because none of the systems we use are “wrong”, right, good, bad. They are simply coping systems. Strategies we learn from a wide variety of factors. It’s just how we learn to respond and what sets off our system. Which means we can totally learn other ways of coping if we choose to.
This information, written by the way, as if the author had possibly been monitoring my relationships as a science experiment since at least the eighth grade, was presented in a way that never caused me to feel like I am high maintenance, or as I often feel… crazy for my anxious attachment style. In fact, just understanding how & why I go on what I call “RED ALERT!” in relationships actually makes total sense due to some meanings I have put on things since early in life.
Reading this info got me to thinking about my coach - Joy. She has never ever made me think I was “wrong” for how I feel. It’s quite a gift. That feeling that someone will hear you, reassure you, help you re-frame and encourage you to feel what you feel… amazing and transformative. It’s like behind the scene’s support that has given me the ability to tap back into my courage and step back out into the world & show up more fully in my light.
So often we are quick to tell others and ourselves “Oh, you shouldn’t feel that way" or "Stop feeling that way!" which is NOT encouraging! Instead if we just open a window and offer a possible light that might not have been in view to the person – so they can feel their own power and supported enough to take their own initiatives, rather than trying to fix it for them - it can have a huge impact. As I recently heard Martha Beck say…”There is a big difference between saying ‘here is the way and I’m going to show it to you’ (while that can be powerful…)’I’m going to help you know that you can find a way’ is a very different feeling.” It helps us feel more SANE as well as safe when we have a secure base of support and reassurance that isn’t telling us we need to be other than exactly how we are.
Finding your tribe, those who can be available, not interfere-but provide support and encourage you is what helps us to be more empowered. By relying on someone, we become more independent… there’s that paradox! Learning that it's okay to rely on others can be quite a challenge if you have a limiting belief that it is "weak" or "needy" or you oughtta be stronger than that. All untrue.
My anxious attachment style has been highly activated the past three years or so. My long-time steady support/reassurance system went through a huge change which sort of forced me to rely more or differently on some of the members of my tribe, & even find new members like Joy - since a big piece of my support system felt very unavailable. This unavailability caused me to operate pretty much on “RED ALERT!” 24/7 for about 34 months. It also had me thinking I needed to try to NOT rely on others and only myself more. No wonder I have felt cra-cra and like I was derailed from my usual self. I’m telling you – this book has given me amazing awareness into my systems in relationships. Go. Get. It.
So once we are aware, Joy tells me we have to accept. I’ve heard this from mentors and other life coaches as well. Rather than trying to tell ourselves we “shouldn’t” feel what we feel – accept that we feel that way. It’s the only chance we have to make a different choice in our behavior. Our way of being is just our M.O., a learned style. With awareness and acceptance – looking for the benefits in our style, we can then practice other styles as well by choosing to, rather than being on auto-pilot.
When my relationships feel threatened or uncertain – my anxious attachment style kicks in and it’s nearly impossible to calm it down till things feel safe. One thing that can help us feel safe is to know who has our back and also having someone else’s back is a very empowering feeling. Give it a try. Who can you show up for in your life and let them know you believe in them? Who can you give a boost to by simply loving and accepting them?
I have mentioned my coach Joy in my Sandy Chat’s numerous times in the past two years. She is launching a new website today that is super cool! Check it out here!
Next time - more on attachment theory and what it means for those with an anxious style as well as ways we can upgrade our systems to more "secure". I have a living example in my life that it is possible to radically change your attachment style! More next time.
What’s in my ear right now… Hey Ahab
Great gospel-ish/blusey song with an awesome message. Plus, c’mon… it’s Elton and Leon Russel.
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.
If you read the title of this chat and thought it sounded silly, you might want to hang just a second. Every relationship is a dance. We are dancing around energetically and someone’s energy is typically in the lead in the relationship. I was recently reminded of this in re-visiting a couple of Harriett Lerner books as I wanted to release some of my own resistance and blame I was feeling toward the behaviors of a few other people in my life. Unless you are an enlightened master, you probably think other people “should” be different somehow and if they would just change – then you could be happier. It shows up as blame, criticism, judgement, gossip... you get the idea.
“The more we get focused on the other person’s behavior, rather than our own, the more stuck we become.” When we are spending a bunch of energy ruminating on how the other person needs to be more available, or kinder, or more honest, or appreciative, or different in some way - conveniently, we have no time left to examine our own role in things. When we vilify them, we have just put our self in the role of VICTIM. Additionally, reacting to others is not exactly an empowered place to hang out, if you get my drift.
Over time, this focus on the supposed wrong-doing or what we deem wrong-mindedness of others leads pretty quickly to being reactive rather than responsive. There is a huge difference between reacting and responding. We can get so over-focused on the actions or words of the other person that we go into constant reacting based on these evaluations of others we make. The antidote to evaluating is to simply observe – without judgement. It’s simple, but far from easy.
So perhaps you have a family member who said something and you got triggered at the family dinner. You have a choice to make in that moment… imbalanced reaction? Or! Balanced response.
To be in a state that allows you to stay clear with yourself in situations that may traditionally trigger your emotions to fly into reaction instead of responding, the best thing to learn is the difference between evaluating and observing. While this sounds ridiculously simple, it is amazing how quick we are to jump to evaluation.
Let’s go back to my example above of a family member says something that triggers you at the family dinner. Check out these statements and see if you can distinguish between those that are evaluation and those that are observation…
#1 – First of all, no one makes you mad, that’s a choice you make in your reaction. To make this statement an observation it would be more like “I noticed that I felt angry when I spoke to Aunt Betty.”
#2 – The label "aggressive" is an evaluation – not an observation. An observation without evaluation on this would be: “Betty hit Bob in the face.”
#3 – “Complains” is an evaluation. To some other people Aunt Betty’s communication may not seem at all like complaining, so this is an evaluation statement.
#4 & #5 are both observations. No evaluation or judgement calls made, just the facts.
You can see that to truly observe is pretty darn tough! It’s staying completely in your own lane and observing so you can identify and express your OWN feelings. Creating a story or an evaluation of what others think, how they feel, how they will respond, and what all that means is a STORY that prevents us from actually examining what it is WE ourselves feel.
Just 2% shifts can lead to a huge change in our emotional state. If we try to observe just 2% more or evaluate just 2% less – I guarantee you will feel lighter and more empowered. If we find ourselves getting sucked into a pattern in a relationship (and we ALL do sometimes) of thinking the other person needs to change in some way, it signals that we are evaluating rather than observing. Just notice when you’re doing it, without going into any self ass kicking. It’s information, not something to shame yourself about.
What is a hard one for me to learn is that is really about noticing when I've slipped into an emotional place I don't want to be, and then just spending less time there. Recover FASTER. It's not about NEVER doing it again. You WILL slip, you WILL find yourself in old patterns emotionally. Just notice when it happens and choose again rather than believing some unrealistic notion that you will never ever slip. It's called being human.
As Marianne Williamson says… “The ego says – once everything falls into place, I’ll feel peace. The Spirit says – Find your peace, and everything will fall into place.” Focusing on what someone else needs to do or how they need to be different is how we avoid feeling our own feelings and this just slows things down on our path.
The other thing that slows things way down is taking responsibility for how other people feel. We can never really know how someone else feels, and we make a ton of assumptions/evaluations in this way. Trying to manage another person's experience of us or anything it energy wasted. Replace guessing how someone else feels with questioning how you YOURSELF feel. Use that energy to name your OWN emotion, rather than taking responsibility for what you are evaluating the other person to be feeling.
My therapist Joy reminds me that sometimes we end up on the same emotional level as someone else through energetic cords and it’s not where we want to be. We can end up reacting to the other person's emotional state if we don't stay awake. If there are two people, one is happy and in a high emotional state and the other is depressed or low – someone is going to move up or someone is going to move down in how they feel, it just depends on who is the most committed to their own emotional state.
Other people don’t need to change in order for us to be happy. We know this intellectually, yet if you’re honest you will catch yourself evaluating more than observing. Letting go of how we think others “should” be is super empowering and it opens up possibilities because it gets our eyes back on our own paper – the only place we have any control.
I’ll close out with a quote Joy reminded me of this week by Carl Jung. “Your vision will become clear only when you look into your heart. Who looks outside, dreams. Who looks inside, awakens.” When we look outside to others or conditions as the reason for our hurt or anger or even for our happiness – we will suffer because it gives our power away. Take your power back my friend. Decide how you want to feel and let everyone else off the hook.
Some books referenced in this Chat:
The Dance Of Anger by Harriet Lerner, Ph.D.,
Non-violent Communication by Marshall B. Rosenberg Ph.D.
Balance Your Conflict by Dr. Jody Janati
In the course of a day it’s estimated that a human makes about 35,000 decisions. Kind of a shocking number isn't it! Some of these will be made on auto-pilot or habit and all of them will be made to meet a need that we have.
Simon Sinek, author of some powerful books and a great Ted Talk, says knowing your WHY is the key to fulfillment. Quite often we don’t even stop to consider our why, but when we get honest with ourselves – in many cases we are not doing things for the reason we think. When we know our WHY, we make different and often better decisions.
Tony Robbins says the why for everything we do is based on one of six human needs. Whichever need is most important to us will drive our WHY and our decisions. Meeting the needs of the spirit lead to personal fulfillment. Those two needs are defined as: the need for growth and the need for contribution.
Robbins says that if something meets three of the six needs, we will become addicted to it. One of the things we often get addicted to is actually our problems. Having problems can meet the need for certainty because it's a known pattern, Variety - we can have a new problem endlessly. Significance - having a problem can give us significance and attention for sure. Connection and love - because we can use our problem to hot wire a connection with others who will feel love or pity for us.
So back to understanding our WHY... it can sometimes be camouflaged. Let’s try an example…
Someone asks you out to lunch. You don’t really want to go because you are swamped and you are feeling overwhelmed by your to-do list. You now have a decision to make and you will make it depending on the need you most feel driven by: some of the possibilities include... (a)Say yes to meet the need to be liked and accepted by your friend, or (b) Say no to meet the need to complete your tasks and stay home. (c) Say yes to meet the need to connect with another person, or (d) say yes to meet the need to avoid the conflict or guilt your friend will toss your way if you say no. When we combine not being aware of our WHY with not having boundaries, we will do a lot of things because the think we "should".
When we do something because we “should” versus because we want to, the outcome will be very different. The intention will be “pure” when it’s what we want to do, and a bit cluttered if we do it out of guilt, shame or fear. Long-term, saying yes when it’s not what you want to do, leads to blame and resentment. Both of which indicates we are making someone else responsible for our feelings.
This is exactly why Pema Chodron and Brene’ Brown both say that the most boundaried people are the most compassionate. Because when we know our WHY, we stay out of resentment by saying yes only when we really want to.
If you hit a patch where it seems many people are wanting something from you; a decision, an answer, and action, a favor – it’s time to ask yourself “how am I creating this?” Typically, when you are feeling pulled and tugged on by the wants and needs of others who are old enough to care for themselves, YOU have trained them that YOU will take care of their needs.
A lack of boundaries or the ability to say what you want for fear of being disliked or disapproved of, will train others to depend on you to get THEIR needs met. And when you finally get to the point that you no longer wish to be in charge of making things okay for others – they are going to push back. Hard. Heck, I have taken push-back for answering “maybe” instead of yes to something someone wanted me to do! Those who want us to be what is best for them are not going to like it when we say no. Don’t expect them to approve of your decision to make yourself a priority. Not. Gonna. Happen.
But it’s not their expectations that are the cause of our feeling pulled to supply or soothe their emotional needs, it’s our own lack of willingness to say “No, I’m not able to do that for you.” Or "I don't know what you should do - you've been dealing this for a while now, what ideas do you have to solve it?" When we start to feel resentment about what others want from us – it’s a good chance that our WHY is the need to please, to be accepted, to be liked or appreciated and that our boundaries are weak or non-existent. The giving we are doing isn’t a “clean” contribution, but instead motivated by our own need for love and connection or significance.
Here is something to consider… everyone in our lives are either adding to or subtracting from who we want to be. We too, are doing the same for other people in their lives. If we have fallen into a pattern or habit of over-giving or taking on the responsibility for how other people feel (which is impossible btw), we fear we’ll be seen as selfish if we stop doing that. Here’s the deal… a truly selfish person would not feel guilt for saying no to others. They would be too self-focused to bother with feeling guilty.
Guilt – re-framed – is just an indication that you care. Thank you to my therapist Joy for that insight!
When you first start to give yourself permission to listen to your own WHY, to what you need versus putting everyone else’s’ needs at the front of the line, it may seem that many people are wanting you to be different than you are, want you to change back and give them what they’ve come to expect from you – putting them first and abandoning yourself. You just gotta ride that storm out.
And at first it may sound silly, but you may not even KNOW what you want if you have been over-giving or codependent. You've been so busy trying to anticipate the needs and wants of others that you may not even have clarity on what it is you want. This is normal, don't panic.
An important thing to consider... is the person who is giving you push-back adding to or subtracting from who you want to be? Here’s a great way to tell; are they adding to THEMSELVES, or are they simply waiting for you to care for and add to them? Are they adding to who THEY want to be or become? If they are, they have something to offer and give to add to you as well. If not, there’s a very good chance they are diminishing your best self.
When we are only looking for what we can GET in a relationship, it's probably because we don't have much to GIVE. Adding value to others is only possible if you first add to yourself. Doing things like personal growth, loving yourself, learning to have self-compassion all lead to having something to GIVE in a relationship. What do YOU bring to the relationship? You can only bring what you first give to yourself because you can't give what you don't have.
Of course, there is always a certain degree of compromise we all must make in any relationship – that’s a given. When it starts to feel like you are over doing it on this, it’s time to check your boundaries and very importantly – your WHY. Is your compromise out of love or out of fear?
Terri Cole put it this way in her Boundary Bootcamp…”You have to learn that you don’t owe everyone everything. You DO owe yourself consideration first.” This is a hard thing to get used to if you have some codependent tendencies (we all do, just to what degree is different)… You are not responsible for other people’s feelings. You actually have zero control over how anyone will experience you and your decisions. You could shower someone with appreciation and if they are not in a receptive mode, they won’t hear a bit of it. You have no control over how anyone processes you or your decisions because they have their own story line going before you ever arrived on the scene.
You ARE, however, responsible for YOUR feelings. If your WHY has been people pleasing or avoiding conflict, it’s going to be super challenging for you when others don’t like or approve of your choices. Hang in there because this is a beautiful opportunity to stand solid in yourself, trust yourself, and be there for yourself. It’s hard, no doubt about it, and yet… that’s what brings about true healing and growth. When you love yourself and everyone in your life enough to take responsibility for your own feelings, then, you are free.
Authenticity. Having the vulnerability to be true to ourselves and knowing who can we trust with that is important to be clear about. When we have lost our identity to some extent through say, being co-dependent, or a major life change, or not having boundaries, etc… finding it again can be confusing and knowing that not everyone can be trusted with your vulnerability is a painful lesson. I’ve learned a powerful lesson recently in sorting this out.
Brene’ Brown refers to “Marble jar friends”. She says that trust is not created through grand gestures, but instead through very small moments. It’s those seemingly small moments where we choose to support someone, stick up for them, be there for them, honor them in ways that aren’t necessarily huge and obvious – that is where trust is built. Those moments where instead we choose to be mean, disrespectful, share secrets - are where trust is reduced. If you reflect on your own life, I'm sure you feel a certain way about certain people due to some small gesture - either positive or negative, that meant something to you, that stuck.
Dr. Brown says that your list of people whose opinions matter to you needs to be a very short list. To be on that list for her, you have to love her for both her strengths and her struggles. Her belief is that no one should have more than two people on this list and the important thing is to not discount these friends on that short list, to gain the approval of those who are not on the list.
Who would be on your list? Who accepts you for both your strengths and your struggles? Who, when someone tries to gossip about you to them, shuts it down? Stands up for you? You can see why this list is short! The quote at the start of this Chat by Jay-Z is a great one because it takes a huge amount of strength to stand solid for someone rather than hot-wire a connection with the person gossiping. When you aren't confident or secure or don't have good boundaries, it's unlikely that you will stand up for someone when you aren't clear about what you stand for.
I am currently studying a really eye opening course on boundaries with powerhouse Terri Cole, LCSW. Her version of the marble jar is what she calls your “V.I.P. section”. This has been a VERY eye opening course and I highly recommend it to pretty much all humans. Boundaries are something it seems we all struggle with. One of the exercises I have been giving a lot of thought to this week is the idea of gaining clarity on who are the most important people in my life.
As part of this work, we are asked to list also those people who are non-VIP’s who feel entitled to take up space in our VIP sections. When I really drill down into this, it’s clear that those I have the most drama with, the most confrontations with, the most angst about are in THIS section or feeling entitled, but not actually important in my life! They seem to feel that they should be considered most important, yet are not. This sense of entitlement is not the part I can do anything about. It’s my own boundaries with these folks that I have power over.
How often do you go out of your way for, try to manage the experience for, accommodate, give the benefit of the doubt to people who, in the end, won’t ever feel like it’s enough? How often do you find yourself EXPLAINING yourself to the people in this category? Hoping they will understand you or your motives, or your reasons for what you did or didn’t do? Here’s what I am going to do about this in my own life… STOP EXPLAINING MYSELF!
What we are really doing with these attempts is defending, being insecure and hoping like hell they will understand, love and accept us. Here’s the thing… they very likely will never, ever love and accept us as we are. And that’s okay.
I’ve started thinking about this like the rings on a tree. The inner core are those that you value their opinions, they are important in your life, maybe two or three people. They have shown through multiple small acts that they honor you, support you – even when you are uncool. The next ring on the tree are those you love and care about, you value them and you don’t expect them to be like those in the inner circle. They might not get to hear ALL your deepest, darkest stuff yet they are important in your life. Perhaps there is a third ring, acquaintances, co-workers, people you care about and love – but it’s not like the first two rings. Then outside the tree, beyond the bark of the tree, that’s where those who feel entitled to be in the inner circle need to be.
What we tend to do, is neglect those in the inner circles and get distracted by those who feel entitled. That’s because the entitled crew tends to be loud. Loud with victim mentality, drama, making you responsible for their feelings, blaming you, pointing out your errors and mis-steps. They may even try to build a case against you with others – aligning people on their side to say you are “wrong” in some way. These folks need to get NONE of your time and attention because these people are UNSAFE for your emotional health. This kind of person can drain you of your energy in seconds. Not to mention your self-confidence… if you allow them to.
This is where boundaries come in. Knowing what is and isn’t o.k. for you. You don’t have to be mean, nasty, or even yell to set a boundary – although at first you might. Simply stating your request of what you WANT can be polite, kind and clear as well as said with love. The catch is you must first get clear on what is and isn’t o.k. for you.
My big trap is that I am hell-bent to get the other person to understand me, to accept me. The likelihood of this is minuscule at best. I jump so quickly into explaining myself when someone comes at me with drama or victim-mentality it would make your head spin. This is exactly what they want. To engage you in a conversation where you are on the defensive and embolden their victim position on the drama triangle. This may not be intentional on their part, just a bad emotional habit pattern. It is unlikely though, that they will be the one to try and change that pattern. They are perfectly happy with the way it works.
Superiority, the need to be “right”, competitiveness, all take over and in an instant I am charged with negative emotion and determined to “win” the conversation. Brother.
Well, I’m going to try a new road. I know I will still fall into the explanation pattern as I practice a new pattern – and that’s okay! What’s important is that I stay aware that I’d rather feel empowered than defensive and that will require me to remember who is in my VIP section or a “marble jar friend” and who is not. Those whose opinion matters to me and who is important in my life is who I want to give my energy to. Wasting my energies to try and make it okay for those who are determined for to NOT be okay – is a waste of time for both of us.
Being Authentic does NOT mean EVERYONE gets to know your story, your truth. That’s something that is earned through trust, love and showing up for you. The only person who must OWN your story… is you. Once you do that, boundaries, VIP’s, and a release of the need to explain yourself all fall into place with ease. Who is taking up space in YOUR "V.I.P section" due to THEIR feeling of entitlement and YOUR lack of boundaries? The answer can change your freakin' life!! Thank you Terri Cole Boundary Boot Camp!!!!
This picture is Taz (the dog) in what I guess you could say is his T.A.O. pose… Transparent, Authentic, and Open. It’s a Martha Beck term for living in integrity with yourself and it means to "know what you know, feel what you feel, say what you mean and do no harm". It’s a philosophy I have attempted to live even more in my role as a leader in 2017.
Whether you find yourself in a position of being a leader through a chain of events or by your own drive, or both… there are many lessons within that can show you a great deal about yourself. My own path to leadership is not unlike others in that I didn’t get there alone. Without a support system of some type it is really difficult to fully show up in a way that will make it clear that you can lead others. No one arrives to their current point in their life without the help (either intentional or through opposition) of other people.
A really interesting lesson I have had the opportunity to experience is having the majority of my main support system... removed. Death, terminations, endings leave you with a lot of choices to make on your own that you may have come to rely on your support system for back-up to insure you were either on the right path or that even if you screw up, someone would tell you “it will be okay!” The Divine has a funny way of showing up disguised as your life as they say. These huge challenges come along and you have to decide if it will make you, or break you. With a big shift in the dynamic of your support system – the challenges throw you some major curve balls.
The deaths of family members and my main mentor – all happened within a short period. When I found myself with a choice – step up or run away and join the circus… I had to make that choice pretty much moment to moment, most days, for a couple of YEARS! My confidence was in hiding. I’d pony up each day, go to the office and do my best impression of a confident woman. For half my life, I had relied on my support system – people I could bounce things off of, get perspective from, check-in with to see if I was on track. When that is suddenly removed you realize that you had been gaining a good percentage of your confidence from that support. It is that knowing there is another human on your side who accepts and understands you that we all probably take for granted. None of us becomes who we are on our own. Pretty much every person who touches our lives has a part in who we choose to become. Ultimately, we each have to determine for ourselves who we will be – yet that road is lined with hundreds if not thousands of people who contribute in some way to that sum total of who we become.
This need to be understood and accepted is probably a part of what blogs like this one are about! No wonder there are over 3 MILLION blog posts per day on the web!!! We all have a need and desire to be understood, heard and accepted. To perhaps know we are okay in some way. It's interesting too because to put your story out there, is vulnerable and there is certainly the chance that there will be those who disagree, oppose or want to hurt you because of it. A paradox!!!
So, I felt I was kind of out there, unprotected, vulnerable and while there were still a handful of people who made it clear they supported me – it was a new set of VIPs to a certain extent. I set out to be even more “T.A.O.”… Transparent, Authentic and Open in my life, especially at work. I wanted to uplift others, help people be their best selves, facilitate growth and be transparent. What I have learned about this - is that everyone is not able or willing to handle that framework.
In Spiral Dynamics it is indicated that about 80% of people want to avoid conflict at all cost, and want to be told what to do, how to do it and follow rules or guidelines. So not everyone is ready or capable of a more open, empowered structure obviously. One thing I feel I missed in my attempt to be more T.A.O., was that it doesn’t mean you show up as everyone’s "buddy". T.A.O. can potentially be seen by some as a license to take shots at you, think you are weak, and can actually ENABLE poor behavior in those who think T.A.O. means they get to know every detail of your life. But I also know why I went this route… my main support system was gone who had supplied me with the knowing that I was accepted, understood, loved – so I thought if I made friends with everyone, I could regain some of that component that I now realize, only I can ultimately supply for myself.
I used to make the statement which was taught to me by my trainer for Jazzercise instructor training… “When you start teaching – you are at about 20% comfort level and in the training program, we stretch you out of your comfort zone by 80 - 90%. Our plan is that when you leave the training, you will settle back somewhere higher the 20% and less than the 90%.” Difficult lessons stretch us and if we are open to them and have a desire to learn and grown, we won’t stay in that difficult part forever – yet we will be more afterward. Stretched. But you gotta do some work in order for that to happen.
My new mantra!
The combination of my efforts to be T.A.O. and the temporary demise of my confidence was a perfect storm that lead to some painful lessons that I am very, very grateful for now. My lessons are many, here are a few on my list right now…
So now for the expectations part of the lesson. My expectations of myself include: personal growth, transparent, honest, solution focused communications, doing what I can to help others who want help, self-love, self-respect, self-compassion and to own my own emotional shit - a.k.a...responsible for my own feelings and experience.
I feel that we really can’t expect from others, anything we aren’t expecting of ourselves. So I guess knowing what I expect of myself makes it clear what I expect from others:
Knowing what you expect of yourself, makes it really clear what you expect from others. Once you know this – boundaries, confidence, love AND leadership happen pretty much automatically. I’m not saying that I meet my own expectations 100% of the time! That’s what being human is all about for God’s sake! But knowing what I’m aiming at and what I expect from others sure makes it possible and likely that I will rise higher to a new set point each time I slip. Others in your life will slip too. It's what we all do AFTER the slip that determines who we are. Period.
So… what do YOU expect of yourself? We must all BE what it is we want to see in the world. Do you find that you don’t enjoy what you are noticing is showing up in your life???? Time to check-in with yourself. You are creating your experience with the focus of your thoughts, 1000% of the time. I recently heard Esther Hicks say “You have to unscramble your own energy before you know what to do.” Figure out what you appreciate, what’s working well, what you want to experience. Then BE those things, yourself.
Being understood, accepted, appreciated by others – all contribute to our confidence. If you don’t believe me, try going through a day or two without it. Many people in our world feel this way every single day. They feel rejected, misunderstood, judged – simply for being who they are. My experience at finding my way through those feelings certainly gives me empathy for those who live much of their lives feeling this way.
When it feels like that rug of being accepted and understood gets ripped out from under you, you get to learn to give those things to yourself. Then… you are FREE because you no longer are dependent on another to supply you with what we all must give to ourselves. You are free, and so is everyone else in your life. I am honored to get a chance to try and learn this for myself.
Drama. Ugh. It’s a life sucker. Is it the full moon last night? Is it something I’m doing that seems to be drawing it into my experience? Did I somehow get tele-ported back in time and I’m in Jr. High again???
I always wonder when it’s going on in a kind of steady pattern around me – “How did I get here? How did I attract THIS into my experience?”
Sometimes drama is just choosing to see things in a painful way. It's a pattern of behavior that happens when you don't pay attention to your emotions when they first come up and then they mushroom through overactive thinking. Drama is making someone else responsible for your own feelings and it doesn't express REAL feelings. That's why they call it drama - it's an act.
I've felt on the receiving end of drama recently and my strong guess is that it is showing up to help me learn how to have and honor my own boundaries because I am letting someone else put the responsibility on me for how they feel AND I am then doing the same thing back to them in return as a result of the drama they laid on me. Crazy eight.
It’s not the conditions or the person who creates the drama in our lives. It’s our own choice of focus that fans the drama embers into the flames of Jr. High bullshit. What if instead of amping ourselves up about a person’s behavior, choices, or conditions – we looked a little closer and asked “What’s REALLY going on here???”
My favorite system or sort of how-to for questioning my own drama is The Work, by Byron Katie….
Usually, just the first question will be enough to slow down my high speed drama thoughts and the story I am making up in my head. It’s really the MEANINGS we put on things that causes our suffering.
Here is a super simple way to figure what's really going on... state out loud "I feel ____________". Name what it is you are feeling because we humans often have no idea how we actually feel. Sounds overly simply, but just naming the emotion is a drama reducer because it forces us to dig down and get real.
Follow up the answer to how you feel with another question: “What am I REALLY seeking with this story I’m telling myself?” Might be acceptance, being seen, being understood, being recognized, being included/loved.
Once I answer this question with brutal honesty, with this drama/victim story I am telling myself… I am FREE! Because once I know the answer, I can give it to MYSELF. Whatever it is I am trying to get from someone or something else, I can just give it to me and now everyone is free. When I think someone needs to give/do/understand/change in order for me to be happy, well, I am screwed. Prepare for BIG drama if this is the mental outlook you choose.
So let’s go even one step deeper… What is REALLY going on here? What am I seeking? Now notice... what are you are expecting or wanting someone to do or be a certain way or give you a certain something. Are they actually CAPABLE of giving you what it is you are expecting??? For example, let’s say I tell my friend that I need them to understand me. What I’m REALLY seeking in their APPROVAL. This is not actually something we need and the person may not be able to give it. If I can take that info and realize that I can give MYSELF approval of me – not only am I then free, so are they.
So often we are seeking something deeper than what it appears on the surface. Usually what we are looking for is what we are refusing to give to ourselves. We often replicate this inner refusal by seeking something from a person who can’t or won’t give it to us – we play out our relationship that we have with ourselves in every other relationship we are in with others. Often what we are seeking is approval, because we don't approve of ourselves.
This is why that even when we get the approval of someone, it's not sustainable. What we must do to really be happy in life is to fill OURSELVES up to overflow and then spill out into others with that fullness. When we don't, we have to go back to that same well of other people over and over again because we aren't filling the void ourselves first.
So! Once you see the REAL deal on what you are looking for or from another, the next step is to just love. Love yourself, love the other person, love the situation or condition. Love, not as a way to GET something, but because it feels good to love. Do it because it’s who you are.
Love & place your focus on what you appreciate. It's really human and easy to focus on the people and things in your life that are drama filled or skewed to the negative. Gently pull your focus back to the people and things that are solid, feel good, and make you feel SANE! Even if it seems 80% of the people in your life are trying to stir up drama or even making YOU the villain in their drama... focus on the 20% that aren't. Be gentle with yourself and breathe.
Drama can feel like energy, like your making something happen - but your energy can be used in a way that feels a whooooole lot better! Remember that you are a spark of the Divine and you don’t need anyone or anything to be different in order to fan that spark in to a flame. When we use our energy to fan our own spark, now you've gotten down to the core of what is REALLY going on here.
Sandy Edie Hansen
I use this space to "Chat" about things I am working through and learning in my life currently. Join me!