Wednesday, August 13, 2014
keeping the peace
“Worry less, smile more. Don’t regret, just learn and grow.” ~Unknown
The day finally came when my heart was strong enough to speak up.
I had spent many years trying to be the calm, sensible one. The one who would try to rationalize my sister’s behavior just to keep the peace.
For years the strategy was to keep everything in its place and accept what was said, done, or requested. The day finally came when the weight of accepting the burden was too much to bear.
No amount of talking would convince my sister that I was being reasonable. It had to be her way. It had to be acknowledged that I had somehow erred when in fact it was her very own thoughts that had caused her pain.
So, no more, I decided then and there.
“I am done. We are both far too dysfunctional to be in each other’s lives. I wish you all the best… You can blame me…This is what I want.” With those words I gave up on our relationship.
The feeling of freedom rose. The confidence from finally taking a stand was a trophy I now held proudly. “Well done!” I cheered. I no longer had to deal with accusations. Hooray! I was now in charge. I was the creator of my life.
Then, ever so slowly, it started to shift. Ever so gently the doubts crept in. Old scripts started playing. The mind was reverting back to old default programs.
We had both suffered as children. Our parents had been abusive in many ways. We never told anyone what happened in our home. We believed we had to protect our parents.
I became the surrogate parent. We both accepted that our parents did not know any better, doing to us what had been done to them. We allowed them to continue in our lives as adults.
I had to find help to get through the flood of emotions that threatened to drown me. Among the consolations was the fact that I still had my sister. Nobody else understood what we had gone through.
Now, however, I began to doubt my bravery. My sister and I were supposed to be there for each other until the very end.
I worried that I had made a terrible mistake. My view of who I was had shifted. I was no longer the savior. I was no longer the protector. I was no longer the one who got along with everybody.
I saw myself as abandoning my sister. How could I have been so mean? How could I just end it like that? I was a terrible person!
The pain was intense. The anger, the hurt, the bitterness all began to choke my life. Overwhelmingly, they tortured my soul.
Years of resentment buried began to rise up like icebergs slowly breaking the surface from their depths. The feelings, once anchored to my core, were now exposed to reveal infected open wounds.
I cried. I screamed. I read. I meditated. I yelled. I punched. I got angry. I journaled. What was wrong with me? I had always held it together. To witness myself unravelling was terrifying.
Dark and ugly thoughts plagued me. Driving was now an opportunity to vent. I was safe in my car; I could blast my horn, I could utter every imaginable swear word, and I could find fault with every driver’s technique.
I was a person possessed by anger and looking for a way to punish.
My daily meditation seemed to go nowhere. I connected to the universe. I begged for help.
I had persevered with the early morning practice for months when one morning I suddenly realized that my sister was no longer the first thought of my day. That was new. Then ever so slowly, other thoughts began disappearing.
There was a gentle loving energy helping me to create new thoughts to replace the old. I was okay. I am okay. Everything will be okay.
It was an inexplicably subtle process that I was convinced was not working when, on another ordinary day, I realized I was waking up okay.
Realizations began emerging. It was fair for me to end the discussion. No amount of talking was going to change my sister’s mind. Years of role-playing had created an expectation that I was to be at fault.
By speaking up I was positioning myself as a priority. I was no longer willing to rate myself last. I deserved better and I now saw that I had made the perfect decision for me.
Another realization soon came to mind. “You can blame me.” Those were the words I was most angry about. Those words came out of my mouth. I was mad at myself. I was mad that I had given my sister a reason to ignore her role in our story.
That had always been my go-to solution. Take on the blame to keep the peace.
When that was done, everything would go back to the way it was. We could live a fantasy life of closeness, all the while not realizing that I was slowly breaking my own heart.
This was the lesson I was now being shown. I had to learn to speak up when I did not agree. I had to learn to take responsibility for my role in allowing it to be that way.
I had wanted my sister to love me, and to make me feel important and needed. For this I had paid an expensive price. My sister, I realized, played her role to perfection in allowing me to wake up to this truth.
A few weeks later another realization came to mind. Silently, we had both blamed each other for parts of our pain. We were two damaged souls trying to live our lives with massive wounds in our hearts.
We could not give each other what we did not have. We did not know how to love each other without the past tearing open the old wounds.
I realized that I was not a terrible person for making a decision that was in my best interest. No one should be given an automatic pass into your life, regardless of their title.
It is actually a privilege that should be honored and treated with respect. The lesson may be painful, but if you find some way through the hurt, a better future awaits.
Each new morning brings a little more light. The universe continues to coax me to take another step away from the ledge of my past. I realize that the heartbreak I felt was a dissolving of me into a million tiny molecules before the gentle re-sculpting of those atoms into a more open and peaceful me.
Is it time for you to speak up? Is it time for you to find the courage to say “No more”?
Everyday behaviors that you may not be conscious of are the little things that make a big difference.
Unconscious toxic behaviors push people away from each other. We’ve witnessed the devastation these behaviors cause – to relationships, to personal and professional growth, and to the general well-being of both the individual behaving negatively, and to everyone in their life.
Let’s be honest – we’ve all acted in toxic, damaging ways at one time or another. None of us are immune to occasional unconscious mood swings, but many people are more evolved, balanced and aware, and such occurrences happen only rarely in their lives.
Whether your toxic behavior is a common occurrence, or just a once in a blue moon phenomena, it’s critical for your long-term happiness and success that you are able to recognize when you’re behaving negatively, and consciously shift your mindset when necessary.
Unfortunately most people don't "wake up" and realize these toxic behaviors are pushing everyone away from them until they personally experience some kind of major trauma that makes them actually change their perception and the way that they think.
. These are twelve most common toxic behaviors that most people are unconscious of
Being envious of everyone else – Don’t let envy (or jealously) get the best of you. Envy is the art of counting someone else’s blessings instead of your own. There is nothing attractive or admirable about this behavior. So stop comparing your journey with everyone else’s. Your journey is YOUR journey, NOT a competition. You are in competition with one person and one person only – yourself. You are competing to be the best you can be. If you want to measure your progress, compare yourself to who you were yesterday.
Taking everything too personally – People are toxic to be around when they believe that everything happening around them is a direct assault on them or is in some way all about them. The truth is that what people say and do to you is much more about them, than you. People’s reactions to you are about their perspectives, wounds and experiences. Whether people think you’re amazing, or believe you’re the worst, again, is more about them. I’m not suggesting we should be narcissists and ignore all feedback. I am saying that so much hurt, disappointment and sadness in our lives comes from our taking things personally. In most cases it’s far more productive and healthy to let go of other people’s good or bad opinion of you, and to operate with your own intuition and wisdom as your guide. (Read The Four Agreements.)
Acting like you’re always a victim – Another toxic behavior is persistent complaining that fuels your sense of victimization. Believing you’re a victim, that you have no power to exert and no power over the direction of your life, is a toxic stance that keeps you stuck. Working as a life coach with people who have suffered major trauma in their lives but found the courage to turn it all around, I know we all have access to far more power, authority, and influence over our lives than we initially believe. When you stop complaining, and refuse to see yourself as a helpless victim, you’ll find that you are more powerful than you realized, but only if you choose to accept this reality. Hoarding pain and loss. – One of the hardest lessons in life is letting go – whether it’s guilt, anger, love or loss. Change is never easy – you fight to hold on and you fight to let go. But oftentimes letting go is the healthiest path forward. It clears out toxic thoughts from the past. You’ve got to emotionally free yourself from the things that once meant a lot to you, so you can move beyond the past and the pain it brings you. Again, it takes hard work to let go and refocus your thoughts, but it’s worth every bit of effort you can muster. Obsessive negative thinking. – It’s very hard to be around people who refuse to let go of negativity – when they ruminate and speak incessantly about the terrible things that could happen and have happened, the scorns they’ve suffered, and the unfairness of life. These people stubbornly refuse to see the positive side of life and the positive lessons from what’s happening. Pessimism is one thing – but remaining perpetually locked in a negative mindset is another. Only seeing the negative, and operating from a view that everything is negative and against you, is a twisted way of thinking and living, and you can change that.
Lack of emotional intelligence & self-control – An inability to manage your emotions is toxic to everyone around you. We all know these people – those who explode in anger and tears over the smallest hiccup or problem. Yelling at the grocery store clerk for the long line, screaming at an employee for a small error she made, or losing it with your daughter for spilling juice on the floor. If you find that you’re overly emotional, losing your cool at every turn, you may need some outside assistance to help you gain control over your emotions and understand what’s at the root of your inner angst. There’s more to it than what appears on the surface. An independent perspective – and a new kind of support – can work wonders.
Making superficial judgments about others – Don’t always judge a person by what they show you. Remember, what you’ve seen is oftentimes only what that person has chosen to show you, or what they were driven to show based on their inner stress and pain. Alas, when another person tries to make you suffer in some small way, it is usually because they suffer deep within themselves. Their suffering is simply spilling over. They do not need punishment or ridicule, they need help. If you can’t help them, let them be.
Cruelty (or lacking empathy and compassion) – One of the most toxic behaviors – cruelty – stems from a total lack of empathy, concern or compassion for others. We see it every day online and in the media – people being devastatingly unkind and hurtful to others just because they can. They tear people down online in a cowardly way, using their anonymity as a shield. Cruelty, backstabbing, and hurting others for any reason is toxic, and it hurts you as well. If you find yourself backstabbing and tearing someone else down, stop in your tracks. Dig deep and find compassion in your heart, and realize that we’re all in this together.
Lying, Cheating and cutting moral corners simply because you can – Your actions define who you are, not what you say or think. Cheating is a choice, not a mistake, and not an excuse! If you decide to cheat, and you succeed in cheating someone out of something, don’t think that this person is a fool. Realize that this person trusted you much more than you ever deserved. You can be bigger than that. Don’t do immoral things simply because you can. Don’t lie or cheat. Only you have to live with yourself so its actually easier to be honest with yourself and everyone else. Do the right thing you can find your inner peace. When you lie, cheat, or steal you have to go into denial in order to believe you are a good person at heart. You're not fooling anyone but yourself when your actions do not match what you say you believe. Integrity is the essence of everything successful.
Hiding your truth – People cannot connect with you if you’re constantly trying to hide from yourself. And this becomes a truly toxic situation the minute they become attached to your false persona. So remember, no matter what age, race, sex, or sexuality you are, underneath all your external decorations you are a pure, beautiful being – each and every one of us are. We each have light to shine, and missions to accomplish. Celebrate being different, off the beaten path, a little on the weird side, your own special creation. If you find yourself feeling like a fish out of water, by all means find a new river to swim in. But DO NOT change who you are; BE who you are. Don’t deny yourself, improve yourself. (Read The Untethered Soul.)
Needing constant validation – People who constantly strive for validation by others are exhausting to be around. Those men and women who get caught up in the need to prove their worth over and over and over, and constantly want to win over everyone around them, are unintentionally toxic and draining. Be aware. Know this. Over-attaching to how things have to look to others can wear you out and bring everyone else around you down. There is a bigger picture to your life, and it’s not about what you achieve in the eyes of the masses. It’s about the journey, the process, the path – what you’re learning, how you’re helping others learn too, and the growing process you allow yourself to participate in.
Being a stubborn perfectionist – As human beings, we often chase hypothetical, static states of perfection. We do so when we are searching for the perfect house, job, friend or lover. The problem, of course, is that perfection doesn’t exist in a static state. Because life is a continual journey, constantly evolving and changing. What is here today is not exactly the same tomorrow – that perfect house, job, friend or lover will eventually fade to a state of imperfection. But with a little patience and an open mind, over time, that imperfect house evolves into a comfortable home. That imperfect job evolves into a rewarding career. That imperfect friend evolves into a steady shoulder to lean on. And that imperfect lover evolves into a reliable lifelong companion. It’s just a matter of realizing your current idea perfect doesn't exist, let perfectionism go. We can only experience our ideas of perfection for brief moments so that is why it is so important that we stay aware and appreciate those short moments. It is important that we avoid living in denial and that we're conscious of our habitual thoughts. We do not need the ego or unconscious behaviors dictate our actions.