I Lost Ten Pounds!

This post has nothing to do with weight loss. The scale is not even in my bathroom anymore. It never had anything nice to say. This post is about a conversation I had this week with a sweet friend. I would describe her as a divine gathering of stardust. She is the kind of person that the moment you meet them you just know they are special and you want to know them more.

Anyway, she asked how I knew to start this blog. That was a fantastic question. The truth is, I wanted a place to tell the truth. I wanted a place to gather my thoughts and observations about my life experiences. I also wanted to talk through some of these things with a community of people.

I was never concerned with how many people actually read my words. I just wanted to lose the weight of the thoughts in my mind. When I share a truth about life experiences, it feels like another pound of pretend is off my back. It feels like “well now that’s out there” and I am free from pretending like it’s not part of my story or part of what I value.

Elizabeth Gilbert opens her memoir Eat, Pray, Love with the quote “Tell the truth, tell the truth, tell the truth” I get it now. I get that telling my truth has nothing to do with you and it has everything to do with me. I am a bit more free with every truth I tell.

We live in a culture that shames our scars. We are expected to be fine or okay all the time. These expectations are devastating for a lot of people. Life is hard for us all in one way or another. No one gets out without a few scars. Too many of us spend so much time adjusting our images to hide our scars and our stories to make them more palatable to the masses. I have no desire to be palatable and every desire to be real.

My husband’s poppa asked me early on in our relationship “You are real, huh?”

Yes, I am real, I’m messy, I’m scarred, I’m held together with string, I’m confused most of the time, I think rodents are particularly funny, I would only eat pizza if I were single, I love with an exhausting intensity, I care so much, and I’m beautiful.

Love.

 

This Goes Out To My Enemies.

In trying to please all, he had pleased none.”
Aesop, Aesop’s Fables

You can travel the world
But you can’t run away
From the person you are in your heart
You can be who you want to be
Make us believe in you
Keep all your light in the dark
If you’re searching for truth
You must look in the mirror
And make sense of what you can see
Just be
Just be – DJ Tiesto

I believe if you are living your life honestly, you will inevitably piss a few folks off in the process. It’s just the way it works. We are all built differently. However, I’ve always thought the idea of enemies was a bit narcissistic. I can’t believe that anyone would think of me enough to consider me an enemy. If they do, I suppose I’m better off not knowing.

I know that I have thoughts, opinions, and values that some people don’t agree with or even feeling strongly the other way. If I went out of my way to hide or pretend I didn’t feel the way I do, parts of me would shrivel and fester I would end up not liking certain parts of me because other people didn’t. I would feel bad about myself all in service of getting another person to like me. I would do this without considering the real question: Do I like them? 

I believe denying your own thoughts, feelings, and beliefs is an act of self harm. 

For much of my twenties. I ran around trying to make everyone else “happy” without consideration for how I felt. And, it was a miserable mess. It’s confusing because you end up sharing time with people you’re supposed to like or you want approval from and you end up feeling bad about yourself (of course I did!). This should have been a clue to consider what I want and need.

Like I’ve said a million times before, humans are wired for social connection. It’s normal to feel bad if someone doesn’t like me. But, just because I feel bad (or guilty) does not mean I need to change who I am to get their approval. I can take a deep breath and remind myself that life is long (hopefully) and liking myself is much more important than another person liking me.

Some people argue that this is a selfish way to live. I strongly disagree. When we are happy and whole we are much healthier, kinder, compassionate, giving, patient, and loving. If we are not living our lives honestly, we are resentful, cruel, jealous, hateful, and angry. Living life honestly makes you happier and this has a ripple effect on the world around you.

Happy people make other people happy. And people that are hurting, hurt other people. 

The magical thing that happens when you recognize this, is that you start to surround yourself with people who like you for you. And, you are able to establish healthier boundaries with people that don’t like/approve/agree with the way you live your life. This does not give you permission to be cruel to people that live their lives differently. In fact, denying love, care, affection, compassion, and connection in an effort to get people to agree with you never works. We covered this in post Conditional Love.

Each  of us are constructed beautifully and uniquely and some of us fit together nicely and some of us do not. It’s like when you’re putting together a puzzle and you try to shove two pieces together that don’t fit: it doesn’t work, it looks awful, and it messes up the rest of the picture. So, live honestly, find your tribe, trust yourself, and know that sometimes you’ll try to shove the wrong pieces of the puzzle together.

“She had blue skin,
And so did he.
He kept it hid
And so did she.
They searched for blue
Their whole life through,
Then passed right by-
And never knew.”

Shel Silverstein, Every Thing on It

Please, Stop Telling That Tired Old Story.

“We accept the love we think we deserve.” 

Stephen Chbosky, The Perks of Being a Wallflower

“I’ll never be happy”

“No one will ever love me”

“I’m too broken or messed up to be lovable”

“I can’t do that”

“I’ll never get that job/promotion”

“I’m not smart enough”

You’re right. If you keep believing these things you will make them true. This is not so much about the Law of Attraction (aka, The Secret) as much as it is about self-fulfilling prophecy.

We all have scripts written out that exist in our minds related to what is possible and what is not possible for our lives. Whether we know it or not, we operate according to these scripts. For many of us, these scripts were written when we were very young and often written by other people. Maybe we watched our parents trudge through life resentful of their positions. Maybe we were told by someone(s) that we were not good enough. Maybe a teacher told you that you were not smart enough. We know the human mind is attracted to negative messages more than positive ones. And, once the message is in our mind it is locked in tight.

The trick is to first see the script you are working from. Why do you believe you can’t find love? Because you made mistakes? Because you don’t look like a supermodel? Because you don’t make six figures? Those are all ridiculous excuses that have nothing to do with whether or not you deserve happiness. (clue: if you disagree with me you are probably holding on to a script for dear life). All humans are flawed and make mistakes and yet we are still deserving of love and compassion.

Some people are even willing to say what they are really afraid of: Because I don’t want to get hurt. Well, if you are living person you are going to get hurt – that is absolutely inevitable. How would you prefer to get hurt? Living a life you choose or working from a tired old script filled with “you can’t phrases” because that hurts too.

We often act in ways that elicit a response from others that reinforces our script. What do I mean by this?

Example script: I am never going to find love.

What happens next:

  1. You never even try to get into a relationship
  2. You choose a partner that treats you poorly and stay in that relationship
  3. You get into a relationship and convince the person they are an idiot for being with you (you’re too good for me, you’re cheating on me, you don’t love me)
  4. You get into a relationship and push the person away or keep them at a distance (resist vulnerability, act dishonestly)
  5. You get into a relationship and treat the person poorly (abusive, mean, cruel, defensive, jealous, cheat)

Then, the relationship ends and “See! I was right, I am unlovable!” And, I’m not shocked your script played out just as you anticipated.

I could run through the same scenarios related to employment, opportunities, education and happiness. Sometimes in therapy we refer to this process as “begging for your own misery.” As an adult, you are now able to rewrite your script. Yes, the old scripts will linger around and you’ll still hear them and feel the need to follow them. This gets easier and the noise from the old scripts will quiet down. They may never go away but you don’t have to follow them anymore.

What is the biggest difference between people who are happy with their lives and people who are unhappy with their lives? The people that are happy in their lives operate from a script that involves happier stories. It is not that their lives are easier, it is that their perceptions of their lives are different. This was highlighted in the post That Was A Hell of A Day. Be careful very about what you tell yourself about your life and possibilities because it will most certainly come true.

“This led me to a study of expectancy theory and self-fulfilling prophecies or the “Pygmalion effect,” and to a realization of how deeply imbedded our perceptions are. It taught me that we must look at the lens through which we see the world, as well as at the world we see, and that the lens itself shapes how we interpret the world.” – Stephen R. Covey

Okay, Maybe I’m Embarrassing Myself A Little.

“So many female friends of mine feel like they have to be overly gracious and nice to compensate for their ambitions, because there’s this sense of having to swap one form of femininity for another. And honestly? Not every woman is warm. Not every woman is friendly. And they don’t have to be. Some women are reserved, some are biting, and some are mean. Humans are weird creatures. There are a whole lot of different personalities.” – Maddy Foley, 6 Backhanded Compliments Every Ambitious Woman Is Tired Of Hearing

In the last week, I received some interesting feedback related to my reactions about Donald Trump being elected President. I’ve heard things like I’m overreacting, I’m embarrassing myself and I’m not operating at my best. These comments are coming from people that clearly do not know me very well or know me at all. If you do know me, you would know that social justice runs in my veins. It also runs in my family. My grandmother is an avid fighter for social justice and my grandfather had planned to go into politics before my biological grandmother fell ill.

I’m a woman and women are allowed to be angry, pissed, frustrated, rage filled. We are also allowed to say fuck. If this makes you uncomfortable – it makes you uncomfortable but I will not compromise my values or shrink to fit into some mold.

That being said, I am also in love with my life. I am hosting a Thanksgiving Celebration with friends and family this weekend. One of my best friends is driving in to spend time with us. I plan on seeing some Harry Potter movie that I know nothing about. ESPN will be doing Game Day here on Saturday and I can’t wait for my brother to get to participate in that.

You see, I can be a fighter for social justice and go to work and love my friends and family and laugh and cry because I’m fearful for the people I love. It’s just all so complicated being a human.

What follows was the original post which I think captures this complicated woman stuff in a little more detail.

A few days ago I was reading an article about backhanded compliments made towards women and I encountered the above quote. I think it is perfectly written and it captures an experience that I have long struggled to articulate. I don’t have to be nice. I don’t have to smile. I don’t have to be friendly. If you can accept that I’m a complex person and not a Stepford Wife, I think you can get what I’m talking about.

Let me back up a bit. I believe being kind and compassionate are healthy ways of interacting within the world. In fact, pages of research support living a compassionate life. And, it simply feels better for me to go through the world with as much kindness and compassion as possible. However, there are days and situations where I just can’t be kind and kindness is not indicated.

If I were able to adapt Foley’s incredible string of words to better fit me, I would add: all the time. I think that I try my best to be good, nice, kind, warm, and compassionate. Be that as it may, it is impossible (and ridiculous) to set the expectation to be that way all the time. There have been times and there will be times when I am reserved, cold, and biting. It is part of being a complex human being. 

I’ve been in a number of  situations where I needed to be “biting” to get what I needed, or what a family member needed, or what a friend needed, or what a client needed. In those instances some people had no trouble calling me a bitch. I don’t believe I’m a bitch. I believe that saying that, is a way of trying to shut me down or shut me up. Frankly, if you do feel like I’m being a bitch, I’m not too concerned. I don’t know a woman that hasn’t been called a bitch, so I’m in good company. 

I really struggle with the sweet and quiet aspect of femininity. I identify as a woman, and feel it is absolutely impossible for me to be sweet and quiet on a regular basis. I would explode and, more importantly, it would mean living dishonestly. For this aspect of my personality, I’ve paid social consequences (e.g., been called a bitch, told to be quiet, asked to shut up, been threatened by men, been called butch, told I don’t know what I’m talking about, and openly mocked). I find it extremely hard not to be resentful of people that want me to “be quiet“. It feels like you are trimming away at parts of who I am. At this point in my life, I have much less trouble distancing myself from people that don’t appreciate these unique and integral parts of me.

The idea that women must be kind and warm all the time is absurd. No one is warm and kind all the time. Even more, some women are never sweet and kind. It is how they are put together. This does not make them bitches or bad people. If I’m being completely honest, I think “mean women” (aka, strong women) can be wonderfully intimidating. Sometimes, I am jealous of their ability to speak up and speak out about things without the (noticeable) incessant worrying related to perception.

So, Maddy Foley, thank you for your words. You gave voice to thoughts I’ve had for a long time.

Love.

Baby, They Ain’t Gonna Change.

“Stepping onto a brand-new path is difficult, but not more difficult than remaining in a situation, which is not nurturing to the whole woman.”
Maya Angelou

The season finale of Sex and The City had me so angry. Namely, Mr. Big had an awakening. He realized that, after all, he was in love with Carrie.  And, he rescued her from the mean artist ballerina guy. All the viewers received the message: If I wait this out they’ll change for me. 

NO!

I loved that show. I lived on that show. I wore out my VHS tapes watching that show. That finale was a bag of BS! (well, now the show is 20 years old and quite dated)

In many ways, I’ve dedicated my life to the belief that people can change. I know that with a lot of hard work, improved insight, self-awareness, loving support, and on occasion, a damn good therapist (sometimes medication) – you can absolutely change your life. Let me also mention, it takes a lot of humility to employ all the necessary components to set your life on a different track.

This post is dedicated to the people waiting on a certain person in their life to change. “If they just change/realize/see how much I mean to them.” Please stop doing that. Your sweet life is too short to waste waiting on another person to do anything to make you happy. If they wanted to change, they would. It is that simple. It is also that hard to grasp. We like to complicate things as a way to avoid the truth. If a person wants to change their life, they will change their life. There are stages of change but we can talk about that on a different day.

What if I leave and I never know if they could be the person I need them to be?

My response: Are they the person you need them to be right now? No? Have you told them what you need and nothing changes? Yes?  And they still didn’t change? ….

It’s that simple.

I use the phrase comfortably uncomfortable a lot. This means that your current situation is not what you want it to be, but you are too scared to do something different. So, you stay thinking, praying, and hoping that it will change.

Truth: your situation will not change unless you do something different. Your happiness is your responsibility and no one else’s.

Sometimes you have to shake up situation and step out for awhile. Let the person know that your words and actions are consistent. You need (and deserve) certain things from a relationship and if the other person can not give you those things, you need to not be in that relationship. Then, you need to follow through on this statement. The more you threaten someone that you’ll leave if they don’t give you what you need, the less they trust your words and the less you trust yourself.

This does not mean you have to end things, but you do have to make the situation uncomfortably uncomfortable to see if that brings about change. Sometimes this works and sometimes it does not. The best shot you have is to align your actions and your words. If you say this is not working and do nothing but complain, the other person simply stops listening to you. Truthfully, the situation might be working just fine for them, so why would they change?

I can tell you for sure what does not bring about change: badgering someone, threatening them, texting/calling incessantly, begging or crying for them to pay attention to you, name-calling, telling friends and family, and airing your troubles on social media.

It boils down to this: Tell the person what you need and pay attention to what they do, not what they say (talk is so cheap my loves). If they don’t give you what you need, you have a choice to make: accept the relationship as it is or change your situation.

Love.

“Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.”
Rumi

My Dream Crushing Gremlin.

“Anyone whose goal is ‘something higher’ must expect someday to suffer vertigo. What is vertigo? Fear of falling? No, vertigo is something other than fear of falling. It is the voice of the emptiness below us which tempts and lures us, it is the desire to fall, against which, terrified, we defend ourselves.”
Milan Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness of Being

Aim high? Shoot for the stars?  No thanks, I think I’m fine right where I am. – The Gremlin in my head

Recently, I’ve noticed my an increasing tendency to crap on my own dreams. I am definitely the first to say, “it’s not going to work out” when an opportunity presents itself in my life. It seems that the more excited I get about potential opportunities, the louder the gremlin screams stop. That mean little gremlin voice really likes to speak up when faced with an awesome opportunity. That little shit.

I want to be better about this.

I know how self-defeating it is to shut down my own hopes and dreams. I think “would I say that to a friend or family member?” I wish the answer were no, but it depends. We talked about how I try to prevent future problems and save people pain (a futile and cruel practice) by highlighting what might go wrong in “Happiness Terrifies Me” . Overall, I think I try to be a supporter for those I love. But that little gremlin just gets going, “Don’t get your hopes up because what if it doesn’t happen” and sometimes this spills over into my relationships. That little shit.

What if I fail?

Interestingly, I am not too afraid of failure. I’ve “failed” at lots of things in my life and magically, life kept on going just fine. And, because of my job, I know that people talk badly about each other all the time and it is usually not personal. But, I am still a human with feelings so what other people think and say does affect me. And, the gremlin likes to use other people’s opinions as evidence that it’s not worth it to try.

For example, when I share a hope or dream and someone suggests that it might not work out that way. Or, when something good happens and someone I love can’t be happy for me, the little gremlin screams, “See! I told you it wasn’t a good idea and they agree with me!” Literally, one person might suggest that I take the safe and predictable road and ten others may tell me to go for it and the gremlin convincingly uses the one person (that I may not even like) as evidence to back down. That little shit.

The Revelation.

The mean little gremlin voice is just trying to keep me safe (in a rather crappy way). The gremlin is a firm believer in staying put where things are safe and predictable. I need to stop arguing with it or trying to convince it that it’s safe to take chances. Because it is not safe to take chances and the little gremlin is right, things might not turn out the way I hope. Maybe I should stop calling him a little shit? Maybe I need to thank the little gremlin for its concern. I think we all have little gremlins that want to keep us just where we are, We know what to expect here!” – Says The Gremlin. However, if eventually I want be somewhere else or do something different, I need to step out and take chances. The gremlin will probably never be a supporter of change but that’s his job. I get it.

“We are all failures- at least the best of us are.”
J.M. Barrie

That Was A Hell Of A Day.

“What you see and what you hear depends a great deal on where you are standing. It also depends on what sort of person you are.”
C.S. Lewis, The Magician’s Nephew

For many of us, what we choose to see and how we choose to tell our stories makes all the difference between believing we have an overall good life or an overall bad life. The problem is, we may not always be aware of how we are narrating our lives. Let me present you with an example of the same day told two different ways

First Scenario

How was your day?

Listen to this shit, my tire blew on the way to work and I couldn’t find the insurance paperwork for forever. Then I called my husband and of course he didn’t answer right away. He offered to come help and I was like, “Like you know what you’re doing with a car! Get back to whatever you were doing and I’ll call them myself.” I finally got a hold of the wrecker and you would not believe how long I had to wait for them. I was like “Fine, like I have a choice.” I was in such a bad neighborhood, too! Some creepy dude pulled up behind me and came up to my window so  I cracked the window and yelled at him to go away. I refused to make eye contact with him. Weirdo. The wrecker got there and took his sweet time reminding me a donut wasn’t safe. Like I’m an idiot!

Then, I finally got to work and my boss looked at me like she was annoyed I was late and I thought to myself, I bet you can’t wait to write this on my review. Then I could hear Carol in the next cubicle rattling on about how I’m always late. I stood up and looked her dead on. She shut up.

Oh and then the husband called, he had the nerve to ask how I was. I said “Fine, no thanks to you!” And then! I got to daycare to pick Chelsea up and the lady that is supposed to watch my kid said that Toby bit her. I lost it. I told her that I was going to pull Chelsea out of there if it happened again.

I got home and the husband was sitting in his chair not doing shit, like always. I just shook my head with Chelsea in hand and headed towards the kitchen. Of course, Chelsea screamed throughout dinner. Can you believe, Ted wants another kid. He doesn’t do anything to help with the first one. Anyway, I got to go. The kid needs a bath and Ted “wants a hug.” I know what he wants and he’s not getting sex tonight. Bye.

Second Scenario

How was your day?

Hey! Thanks for checking in on me. My day was full of adventure. Do you have a minute for me to tell you what happend? You do? Awesome.

So, my tire blew and I called Ted. He offered to come help me, but I know he’s busy so I called the wrecker. They said it would only be 30 minutes! That’s pretty quick. Then! A nice guy stopped to help me out. Some people can be pretty great. I thanked him and told him that help was on the way. The wrecker made sure the spare was on and reminded me to get it fixed as soon as I could.

I made it to work in pretty good time given how eventful the morning went. And, then my boss came up to me to say she was glad everything was okay. I really appreciate her support. Oh Remember Carol? I think she’s still struggling. I could hear her talking about me being late, but I shrugged it off, some people seem to want to find things to be upset about. Then Ted called and I thanked him for reminding me about the roadside part of our insurance. Where would I be without him?

When I picked Chelsea up from daycare Susan said that Toby bit her again. I checked her arm and there wasn’t a mark. It didn’t even break the skin. I know she loves those kids and Toby is going through the biting stage. Bless his mom’s heart!

Ted was relaxing when I got home and I gave him a kiss and thanked him again for his help. Guess what? Chelsea still hates peas so the dog got a mouthful of treats tonight. I’m gonna get her in the tub and then cuddle with my husband and maybe make another baby.

Can I give you a call later this week to see how you’re doing?

Great.

Thanks for listening.

Can you tell what made the same day different?

Love.

“I believe I am in Hell, therefore I am.”
Arthur Rimbaud

Guest Post! It Is All Gray: Debating On Social Media.

Author: Bryan Worthington

“We become not a melting pot but a beautiful mosaic. Different people, different beliefs, different yearnings, different hopes, different dreams.” – Jimmy Carter

Have you ever gotten into an argument or had a strong reaction to world or personal events? No? You may not be a human, go make a doctor’s appointment.

For those who have had a strong emotional reaction to comments or posts made by a friend, relative, or a forgotten Facebook acquaintance, I want you to try something: step back. Not literally (though that may be needed in some cases), but try to view the situation from different perspective.

It seems like everybody knows that his or her opinion is absolutely and unquestionably right and when someone challenges our idea of what is right, we have to tell them why they are wrong, right? Everything is either right or wrong and somebody needs to win. What if, no matter how black or white something looks to you, it’s actually a shade of gray based on a person’s upbringing, religion, socioeconomic status, race, or any number of factors that you know nothing about.

What if, instead of having a reactive response of yelling and trying to make that person think the way you think, you slowed down, validated their perspective, and responded with compassion?

Over the past couple of weeks, a lot of people have posted their opinion on social media regarding world events. Some of these points of view are helpful and some are hurtful. It is hard to be compassionate to someone saying hurtful things, but this is when it is most important. I mostly let posts on social media slide, but after seeing meme after meme perpetuating the same hurtful information, I could no longer remain silent. I immediately thought of things to say that would hurt or shame the other party. I wasn’t going to open up on facebook and lose an argument.

But then:

1.) I slowed down – I remembered that I was not responding to a bad person, I was responding to an opinion that differed from mine.

2.) I validated their response – This person was not necessarily wrong, I was not necessarily right. I found the common ground of our disagreement and worked from there.

3.) I responded with compassion – It is hard to get into a name-calling fight with someone who is being kind. It is also more likely that the other person will listen to what you have to say.

Being compassionate and kind to someone’s point of view does not mean you agree with them. You have to remember that they are coming from a place of strong belief and experienced life. Even members of the same family, where it would seem people would share perspectives, often do not.

Most of the time your best bet is to mind your own business. It’s almost never about you, anyway. Ask yourself if it’s worth it to engage? Which issues are worth it to engage (e.g. racism, misogyny, homophobia, but this list is not exhaustive)? I have an obligation to be mindful that as a heterosexual white man, I have privileges and a platform that must be used to promote social justice. How can I engage while respecting their perspective? If you can’t let it slide because you feel you have a moral obligation to respond, try to be kind in your engagement.

“Luke, you are going to find that many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our own point of view” – Obi Wan Kenobi

 

Dear Trump Supporters.

“Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing
and rightdoing there is a field.
I’ll meet you there.

When the soul lies down in that grass
the world is too full to talk about.” ― Rumi

Love is the number one value on my list. The biggest barrier to living a life I love is fear. I attempt to choose love over fear every time I am faced with a decision. I literally pause and think, “Am I choosing Love or Fear right now?” I think I am getting better about choosing love. I suppose it is my life’s work.

There is a concept in therapy called “parts work.” It helps people understand their feelings by separating them into different parts. When asked to describe the part of me that embodies Love, I visualize a relaxed woman wearing a comfortable cotton dress. When I visualize Fear, she is an anxious, frazzled, chain smoker, sitting in a dark corner looking suspiciously at passersby.

This past week has been fraught with images and messages of fear. In some ways this fear is justified. Horrible things are happening all over the world all the time. However, I refuse to live a life guided by fear. Even in the darkest times, I aspire for a life motivated by love. I firmly believe that love is the most powerful force in the universe. For today’s post, I felt compelled to do my best to distinguish between love and fear.

“Don’t give in to your fears. If you do, you won’t be able to talk to your heart.”
Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist

Love Versus Fear

Love is contagious.

Fear is contagious. 

Love is you can.

Fear is you can’t.

Love is open

Fear restricts.

Love is vulnerable.

Fear is guarded.

Love is amazed.

Fear is unimpressed.

Love is satisfied.

Fear is ashamed.

Love is peace.

Fear is war.

Love is hopeful.

Fear is disgusted. 

Love moves forward.

Fear screams stop.

Fear is jealous.

Love is trusting.

Fear is resentful.

Love is forgiving. 

Fear is suspicious.

Love is honest.

Fear is deceitful.

Love is courageous.

Fear is panicked.

Love is inspired.

Fear says it is not worth the risk.

Love is excited.

Fear is exhausted.

Love is grateful.

Fear is entitled. 

Love is listening. 

Fear is arguing.

Love is flexible.

Fear is certain. 

Love says, “You’ve got a lot to learn”

Fear says, “You know it all.”

Love is interested.

Fear asks us to hate what we do not understand.

Love is adventurous.

Fear tells you to hide.

Love encourages you to show the world who you are.

Fear is unimaginative.

Love is creative.

Fear says if you try you might fail.

Love says if you fail, try again. 

Love encourages you to try new things and talk to different people.

Fear tries to protect you from things that are not dangerous.

Love is the acceptance of human imperfection.

Fear is righteous indignation.

Love is curious compassion.

Fear says it is best to leave words unsaid.

Love says I want you to know how much you mean to me.

And The Winner Is

Love is always worth it and love always wins. Fear never even leaves the gate.

Love pulls the reins from the frazzled chain smoking lady in the corner and says “It’s okay, I got this.”

Love. 

“Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.”
Lao Tzu

I Hope You Don’t Take This Personally.

“The same way that you are the main character of your story, you are only a secondary character in everybody else’s story” – don Miguel Ruiz

“2. Don’t Take Anything Personally
Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.” – don Miguel Ruiz “The Four Agreements”

The first time I read The Four Agreements I thought it was complete new age garbage. I spent a few more years doing my job and living my life. And then I happened upon the book again. The second pass differed from the first. The concepts Ruiz spells out in the agreements resonated with me this time and now I frequently refer to the text. I encourage you to read the book.

The four agreements are as follows:

    1. Be Impeccable With Your Word
    2. Don’t Take Anything Personally
    3. Don’t Make Assumptions
    4. Always Do Your Best

All the points he makes are relevant and applicable in our lives, but Don’t Take Anything Personally transformed my life. He proposes that what people say or do to you has everything to do with them and nothing to do with you. Each person goes through life on his or her own path shaped by their values, history, perceptions, faith, expectations, health, and etcetera.

I encourage you to spend one day just listening to people around you. You will find that people will talk about politics, faith, family, work, money, stress, hopes, and dreams. Some will be cynical and some will be hopeful. The people around you will show you who they are if you pay attention.

Maybe during this exercise one of the people in your world will give you advice or feedback. You have options when this happens: believe them entirely, believe some of what they say, or believe none of what they say. Take a moment to decide if the feedback they are providing is useful to you or not. If not, politely let it go. This applies to the feedback we receive from the people we love the most.

This agreement requires us to trust ourselves. However, when consistently told to listen to our parents, our teachers, our pastors, and our supervisors, trusting ourselves can be challenging. This is your life and only you know the best way to live it consistent with who you want to be.

I think when I am feeling my best I am able to step back and see how this agreement works. The internet is a faceless bully factory and some people feel the need to spread their misery around. When I am at my best, I know that mean people are usually the ones scared and suffering. I think it’s hard to not take it personally when people are unable to be happy for me when I do well or when they say “I told you so” when I struggle.

The times that I have acted cruelly were times when I was not happy in my life. I know that when I treat people poorly, it is because I am not taking care of myself. When I feel compelled to convince someone that “I’m right” or I get defensive about a topic, I am not trusting myself and my life experiences enough not to need their validation.

I try to remember that we are mirrors reflecting our own hopelessness or hopefulness onto the world around us. It is my favorite agreement and the one I struggle with the most.

Love.

“If someone is not treating you with love and respect, it is a gift if they walk away from you. If that person doesn’t walk away, you will surely endure many years of suffering with him or her. Walking away may hurt for a while, but your heart will eventually heal. Then you can choose what you really want. You will find that you don’t need to trust others as much as you need to trust yourself to make the right choices.”
Miguel Ruiz