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Ya F E E L me?

Now on to the second Great Untruth, as outlined in The Coddling of the American Mind (an amazing book I read and first mentioned in an earlier post):

Always trust your feelings.

[Note: This relates to your emotions, not your intuition.]

Don’t get me wrong, emotions are helpful. Emotions are valuable messengers, revealing what’s going on below the surface, in your subconscious. They illuminate unhealed/repressed/insecure/etc parts of your being.

However, it’s imperative you view them through the right mindset: tools to increase your self awareness and heal yourself. Means to make you even more of a BAMF (bad ass motha you know what). Doing so requires willingness and discipline. It can be all too easy to give in to your initial feelings of anger/envy/contempt/fear/etc. But nope - be stronger than that.

If someone says something says something that rubs you the wrong way, or triggers feelings as resentment or rage, ask yourself:

  • Could I possibly have misperceived their words/intent?

    • Maybe I misheard them, or misunderstood them. Maybe they misspoke, thereby concealing their true [pure!] intent. Did they offend you unintentionally? [Have come across the wrong way? I know I have!] Try not to assume!

  • What can you glean from your emotional reaction?

    • Why did it affect you so strongly, in that way? Did it hit a nerve with you based on some past slight, of which the person is unaware? If so, this is a great opportunity to resolve the issue(s) within yourself

Do yourself - and others - a favor by going that extra step to check your automatic emotional reaction. If you operate off pure [initial] emotion, you’re limiting your self/interactions/connections and dooming yourself to a life of victimization, hurt, anxiety, and ostracism - regardless if these emotions are justified.

And so what if they are justified?

What if the person actually was intending offense? By reacting hostilely and lashing out (as tempting as it can be), you only deepen the divide and nurture the status quo.

Again, try to avoid assumption. If something rubs you the wrong way, respectfully acknowledge your possible misperception. This allows them: 1. an opportunity to clarify; 2. an opportunity to learn and see how their words/reasoning could be misconstrued and negatively impact others. (Wouldn’t you appreciate the same opportunity, if roles were reversed?) This likely heightens their awareness, thereby hopefully bridging the gap, lessening those divisive lines, and decreasing the likelihood of it happening again, to you or someone else. And maybe they stand by their assertion and maintain their racist/sexist/homophobic/ etc intent and view. It is what it is.

At least by responding with love and respect you can rest assured you’re not contributing to the problem. You can hold your head high knowing that by choosing to respond with love, you’re doing your part to soften the divide. And don’t get me wrong - sometimes you need to show a little fire to emphasize your point; but if you’re all flame and fury, you’re only exacerbating the situation.

A great principle to live your life by is the principle of charity: interpret others’ statements in their best, most reasonable form, not in the worst or most offensive way possible. The ease with which you do this shows how solid within yourself you are. If it’s still challenging - time for some self reflection, amigo.

And while you’re self assessing, try not to label emotions as negative or positive - they’re just emotions! Like, I said, they’re tools to help you become happier, healthier, and stronger. Means by which to become S O L I D.



Choose not to be harmed - and you won’t feel harmed. Don’t feel harmed - and you haven’t been.
— Marcus Aurelius

I’m a big fan of stoicism and Marcus Aurelius.

Don’t let others control your mind and cortisol levels. There will ALWAYS be offenses and offensive content (especially online!). Good news! It’s not up to you to right every [perceived] wrong, and school those with whom you disagree. (How easy would it be for them to change your mind? It’d likely be just as tough to change theirs.) As we strive to lessen hatred and heal divisions, we must all pick our battles and ignore some of what we see, and just carry on with our day - if only for your own sanity’s sake!

Shine on, babes.

xx,

-w-





BEING KIND > BEING RIGHT
Images by Brooke Richardson Photography

Images by Brooke Richardson Photography

Have you ever been talking with a group of people, and someone in the group starts spouting off a bunch of facts that aren'ttttt exactly true, and you feel compelled to set them straight? Or they start wildly embellishing a story, and you feel the urge to offer the, you know...TRUE version? Or maybe you're arguing with a friend, and they really messed up and dropped the friendship ball, and are getting defensive and combative when you call them out on it.

I don't know about you, but in situations like these, my hunger to be right is POWERFUL. They're wrong, and the world needs to know. 

I am practicing being kind instead of being right.

The more I learn about life, the more I realize how inferior being right is to being KIND. Kindness trumps all. However, it should be noted: Kindness doesn't necessarily mean nodding agreeably when someone is spewing inaccuracies that could be harmful/hurtful to others/lead them astray in a significant way. But if your friend is regaling others with her tale of being up front at the Beyonce concert (when in reality she was sharing binoculars with you in the nosebleeds), what's the big deal? Does it hurt anyone? Why embarrass her in front of others, just to set the record straight?

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Not all truths need to be voiced

What's more important is to focus on what's causing that person to act the way they're acting, and say the things they're saying. Why do they feel the need to bolster their credibility/image/etc? Are they feeling undervalued and depressed? Are they bumming about a rejection, in their personal or professional life? Are they insecure about their worth? Or in the example of them being a less than ideal friend, what led them to make that mistake? 

Open-minded people don’t care to be right. They care to understand. There’s never a right or wrong answer. Everything is about understanding.
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It can be really tough, but oh-so-more rewarding to check your ego and anger, and dig a little deeper. Dissolve your anger with kindness, compassion, and empathy. At least try to understand why they did what they did. If you do, it's actually a win win: It encourages a more peaceful and effective solution, which discourages repeat occurrences. If you can tease out the root of the problem, you can be the friend they need, and likely prevent it from re-manifesting (as suppressed, unresolved issues often do). 

xx,

-w-

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IT'S NOT ME IT'S YOU
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Even if you're genuinely the sweetest person alive, you've felt frustrated by another person, right? Or you've gone after something sought by others, like a job, or a house...or even a parking space!

Let's say you and someone at work are competing for an opportunity. There is only one spot available and you both have your sights set on it. 

On a basic level, what is your need here?

Spoiler alert: Your need is NOT for the opportunity itself. Depending on what the opportunity is, your need may be for financial security. It may be for growth and progress. It may be for acknowledgement of your hard work. That particular opportunity is a vehicle, or method, for fulfilling that need.

So ask yourself: Is there another way to get your need(s) meet without this specific opportunity? 

YES!

You could get a promotion or an award. You could even change jobs or branch out on your own. You could find another source of income.


The point here is:

No two people’s needs are ever in conflict. Only the strategies for getting those needs met are in conflict.
— Neil Strauss

 

Reflect on a recent conversation that could have gone better, or a conflict you experienced. Maybe you're battling with a significant other, or a friend, or a boss, or a customer service representative. Strip away the rest and drill down on what your common, basic needs are. Maybe it's the need to provide a cohesive, stable environment for your kids [spouse]. Maybe your needs are to feel supported and heard [friend]. Maybe you need to feel valued and trusted [boss]. Maybe the needs are efficiency and reparation [customer service rep]. 

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Focus on those common needs and remember: at our core, we all have the same basic needs. What varies are our ideas for how to meet those needs. Some seek validation through fancy possessions and high socioeconomic status. Some look for love in toxic relationships. Some think hoarding what's "theirs" [time/money/ideas/energy] is the only way to ensure there's enough for them. Some of these methods work, and some not so much. Some are harmless, some are harmful - to self/others. Whatever your method is, try to choose one that serves the highest good. So let's do our best to remain open and empathetic to others as we navigate life and work on getting those needs meet. 

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Negative feelings come from unmet needs.

Anger could stem from a need for respect that isn't honored. Confusion could signal a lack of communication and honesty that are needed. Impatience could be from a need to be understood. Or lezbereal - maybe you're just friggin' HANGRY and need some F O O D!

Strive for internal and external awareness, and look for ways to meet those mutual needs. If you're ever in doubt regarding just what those needs are, do your best to communicate with an active ear and an open mind. If possible, eliminate assumptions and seek confirmation from the other person/people. Put down the gloves and halt the hostility. Sometimes opposition/competition is unavoidable (e.g. vying for a job, or spot on a team, etc) but at the very least, identifying those needs helps you relate to and empathize with the other(s). 

One love,

-w-

F O R G I V E N E S S
Images taken by Abbey Armstrong Photography  Images edited by Brooke Richardson Photography

Images taken by Abbey Armstrong Photography

Images edited by Brooke Richardson Photography

Forgiveness means giving up all hope for a better past.
— Lily Tomlin

Think about the last time you were physically hurt. You likely did something to address the pain, right? Popped an aspirin, threw on a rad Power Rangers Band-Aid (because everyone knows cool BandAids are more effective than regular, boring Band-Aids). Even if you try to avoid medicine, you probably took some measure to ease the discomfort (cold washcloth/rest/essential oils/etc). How long did you wait to do something about it?

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In her book You Are A Badass, author Jen Sincero brilliantly articulates the power of forgiveness. She highlights the distinction between how we typically treat physical pain as opposed to emotional pain. As she notes, we're typically very proactive and quick on the draw to banish our physical pain...even if this involves the initial discomfort of pouring stinging disinfectant on an open wound or powering through getting stitches. We're motivated to do it right away, because we're intent on our ultimate goal of R E L I E F.

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They caused the first wound, but you are causing the rest; this is what not forgiving does. They got it started, but you keep it going. Forgive and let it go, or it will eat you alive. You think they made you feel this way, but when you won’t forgive, you are the one inflicting the pain on yourself.
— Bryant McGill

However, when it comes to emotional pain, we're apparently down to see just how much torture we can endure, wallowing in our "guilt, shame, resentment, and self-loathing, sometimes for entire lifetimes." Ring any bells?

Holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.
— Buddha

We prolong our misery by clinging to our ill feelings. We do this by badmouthing our boss/fantasizing about telling our overbearing mother-in-law where to stick it/pondering the many reasons our enemies are wrong and the many reasons we're right. As Sincero points out, we relive our worst moments over and over and over instead of letting them go. Doing so, we pick at the emotional scabs, thereby refusing healing and preventing the pain from subsiding. 

Reminder: Forgiveness is a process. A choice you have to make over and over, until you’re free from the negative feelings.

I'm sure this isn't the first time you've heard this. We all know we should release our resentments and let that shiz go. It's one thing to know it - it's another to do it. And I can completely relate. I'm definitely not immune to the self-inflicted pain by clinging to past wrongs others have done me, particularly the big whammies. Through effort and mindfulness it's become much easier, but I still have my moments. Rarely do the negative feelings immediately dissolve upon deciding to forgive. They can linger, sometimes re-surfacing after you thought you'd fully released them. Depending on the severity of the wrongdoing, forgiveness is usually a process. A decision you have to make repeatedly. Be patient with yourself and know it's okay if you occasionally get sucked back into the angry/hurt vortex - all that matters is that you find your way back out. 

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When someone does something wrong, don’t forget all the things they did right.

We all have our own stories of people royally screwing us over. It's life. We've (unintentionally or otherwise) done wrong by others. Here's what I remind myself to make the process easier:

  • Being a human is hard sometimes, and a little grace toward someone goes a long way. Hurt people hurt people.
  • I'm so grateful for the forgiveness others have extended to me. Who am I to withhold it from others?
  • it's friggin' EXHAUSTING to hang onto hurt/anger/resentment. 
  • Empathy, understanding, and compassion dissolve anger/guilt/resentment. I always try to understand why the person did what they did - every time, I'm able to trace it to fear/insecurity/hurt the other person is feeling. This immediately reminds me of our collective humanity, and effectively softens my heart toward them. This doesn't mean you condone their actions, but it allows you to empathize, accept the situation, and move onnnn.
  • People fight battles we know nothing about.
  • Jumping to conclusions and automatically assuming ill intent often proves wrong. Allowing the person the benefit of the doubt is usually the best tactic. If possible, communicate with the other person to express your concern and provide them with a chance to explain themselves. 
  • It's often not about you. Step back and be honest with yourself: Are you allowing your insecurities to color your judgment? 

IMPORTANT NOTE: This also applies to self-forgiveness!! Be kind to yourself! Forgive yourself for your own indiscretions and slip ups, and be patient with yourself as you work to forgive others. 

xx,

-w-

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