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!!!!
Sandy Edie Hansen
I use this space to "Chat" about things I am working through and learning in my life currently. Join me!