I’ve been seeing a lot of those posts on Facebook, where a person apologizes for loving their life too loudly, and reassures everyone that it’s not actually perfect. They explain that they tend to focus on the good for their own benefit, but then they might rattle off all the things that suck to assure others that they are not trying to make anyone feel guilty. Continue reading “When Your Good Life Makes Others Feel Guilty”
It’s crazy how much this topic makes my heart pound and my stomach clench. My body was betraying me when it all went down yesterday and it has done it every time I think about it since, most especially as I try to relate it all to you. Obviously there are some things to DIG IN to here for me. 😉 Continue reading “One Bag of Tricks = One Thankful Stranger (and a whole lot of emotion)”
I have been dealing with a family that I assumed was normal and was trying to be compassionate with. It turns out they are sociopaths with no conscience. 😉 How can we be compassionate without being taken advantage of? – A Facebook Sistah
Ah, boundaries come to mind first.
Compassionate doesn’t mean sacrificial. Compassion includes yourself. It means seeing beneath another person’s behaviors to the pain or fear or (tragic) attempts to meet their needs. It means choosing to see them with empathy, to understand what brought them to this place. And sometimes it means compassionately saying “no” or “I love you and I’m not okay with this” or stepping away, removing yourself from something that is hurting you or others.
Even “sociopaths” are human beings with a long history of hurt or fear and no other tools, still doing the best they can, even if that’s not very wonderful at this point. Whether it’s your job to help them or simple love them is the question. if it’s not your place to help them, it is still compassionate to walk away…without judgment or labeling, or anger, or throwing more pain into the mix. But just simply, with love, saying “no more”.
There is probably a lot more to the work we get to do in situations like this. Things to DIG IN to. Empathy to practice. Hurt and expectations to examine. Judgment and reactions to release. But I think, for most of us, establishing boundaries that allow us to do that work comes first.
Recently a video has been going around YouTube and Facebook of a very angry dad responding to a very angry daughter by using a gun against one of her possessions and eliciting some very angry responses from everyone.
I wasn’t going to reply to this at all for a few reasons, 1) I don’t want to perpetuate anger (which is why I’m not linking to any external sources) and 2) it didn’t feel right.
But I’ve been asked enough times – and prodded a few times to react – that I’m going to do my best to respond.
Here’s What I See
I only watched for a couple minutes – partially because my internet was just too slow and partially because it brought about so much sadness that I saw no purpose in continuing.
I can only reflect on what I see and what it triggers within me and what this circumstance is allowing me to learn.
So that’s what this is – my perspective and what I’m learning.
The very first thing I saw was the anger in that young girls words. It broke my heart to see the bitterness and resentment that came bubbling through her actions and words. Anger and bitterness like that takes time to develop and I could sense the pain that’s been festering and my heart ached for her.
I don’t see her as arrogant or bratty or selfish or out-of-line or disrespectful.
I see her as a human being with some deeply painful wounds and some painfully unmet needs and without the tools to move forward into resolution.
Anger is what happens when all other means of thriving have been shut down. Anger becomes the only viable means of survival. It doesn’t “just happen” and it’s not what happens when healthy alternatives have been nurtured and it’s not what grows when love flourishes. Anger is a place filler…it takes up space where something else is void.
The next thing I saw was pain, fear and desperation in the father. Parents don’t act out of anger because of love. They act out of love because of love. Anger comes from fear – fear of losing the last shred of hope you had, fear of what others will think of what his daughter said, fear of doing it wrong or not coming down hard and what conventional wisdom tells us that will mean.
And fear like that perpetuates the very thing we’re afraid of. From fear we make desperate and tragic attempts to turn things back using the same means that got us to that place.
But that doesn’t make me angry at him.
I know his anger perpetuates her anger.
I know anger shuts down communication and growth.
I know his love, patience, open heart, ability to listen deeper than his daughter’s actions to the source of her outbursts and willingness to meet her where she is is what will heal their relationship.
So why would I respond to him with the very thing I am disturbed to see in his responses – anger?
Why would I respond to the adult in a way that I would not respond to the teen?
Why would I perpetuate their sadness in my own life?
I see two hurting people without tools to touch that place within them that is aching, without tools to convey that pain to one another, without tools to find each other outside of the outbursts, the words, the triggers they are experiencing and the things they might need to unlearn together.
I see two aching hearts in need of deep love and connection, in need of validation, in need of autonomy and trust, in need of laughter and fun.
I’ve responded out of anger in the past.
I reacted to a father in a parking lot who threatened his daughter with abandonment and the wild woman in me was triggered bad and I said my piece without a shred of peace.
I saw the shock in his eyes. I saw the wonder in his daughter’s eyes. And for a moment I sat in my righteousness.
But that was my fear and ego speaking through me and not my love.
My heart began whispering within minutes what I needed to hear – compassion. First for myself and the fear and anger that had been triggered in me, compassion for the outburst that I was not proud of.
Then compassion for that father and all the things I wish I had said instead.
It’s hard to know when and how to respond. It’s hard not to simply “react”.
But again and again, Life is teaching me compassion…patience…empathy.
I cannot judge a person when I can first touch them with compassion, when I see them as human and capable of love and deserving of love and in a place so in need of love. When I recognize we all do the best we can with the tools we have. When I recognize anger and righteousness is a pretty limited tool.
I CAN disagree with someone with compassion in my heart. I can offer alternatives without judgment – although it’s hard. But I can rarely help anyone when anger takes over.
This is what this situation is allowing me to learn – Who I Am and how I can take one step closer to what I want that to look like.
True understanding is found through compassion. – my Yogi teabag
For some godawful reason, Northern Michigan has confused August with a season to get cold.
Coming from Nevada, it makes no sense to my body to wake up shivering, but I do love any excuse to make hot tea in the morning.
There’s just something about it, the routine maybe…filling the teapot, lighting the stove, warming my hands by the flame and then with my hot mug. Sipping until it’s cool enough to drink. Slowing down. Not jumping into my day.
I also love my Yogi tea nuggets of wisdom, just a tiny phrase to meditate on while I roll my hot mug between my cold hands. This morning’s wisdom was the one above.
It’s been a word on my tongue a lot lately.
And how often it’s lacking in our words, our thoughts (judgments), our reactions (especially the knee-jerk kind).
When I am connected to compassion I see deeper, feel deeper, connect to others and to Truth deeper.
When my focus is not on compassion I’m absorbed in my own thoughts (judgments), my own reactions, my own sense of victimhood, my own ego.
But compassion takes me out of those things.
Camera + Compassion + My Son
In case you didn’t notice I’m taking a lot of shoddy photos with my phone lately.
I haven’t mentioned it to anyone but my other camera isn’t in the best shape right now.
A couple weeks ago, I took it to the pool and in an effort to keep it dry wrapped it in a towel. Not knowing this and while I was back at the RV, Zeb picked up said towel and my camera fell several feet to the cement.
Thank goodness for an already residing sense of compassion.
I didn’t see the look on his face when it happened but I saw the look when he came up to tell me. It was a mixture of remorse and uncertainty. He knew how much I loved my camera, love to take photos, loved to capture expressions and moments from funny angles. And in my less-than-compassionate moments, he knew that my initial reaction could be the knee-jerk variety.
“Mom, I’m really sorry. I didn’t know your camera was there and I picked up the towel to dry off and…well, it fell and Dad has been trying but it’s not taking pictures now.”
But in that moment, I was fully connected to my own Truth, my own wisdom, my own Bigger Picture.
I was centered and felt content. And so my reaction was one of compassion.
“Really? You’re not upset? Because Spirit in the Sky was playing on the radio when it happened and I thought for sure it was an omen that you were gonna kill me,” he said with a grin. My son, he’s a funny one. 🙂
Don’t get me wrong…I felt my own disappointment and sadness over losing something I love.
But I felt a stronger sense of compassion for my son’s disappointment and concern for me.
But Compassion Isn’t Really The Answer
Okay, I really don’t believe compassion is the answer, even if the word is on my tongue a lot lately.
I didn’t take it in stride because I wanted to be compassionate. I didn’t keep my perspective because I focused on what would be the most compassionate.
I was compassionate because I already felt that deep sense of Connection within myself.
And by already being connected to my own Organic Wisdom, I could see with compassion. I could see that he cared deeply for me. I could see his worry. I could see that it was only a cheap lens that broke. And that it was just a camera anyway, a thing. I could see that I hadn’t even been taking many pictures lately. And I could even see my own accountability: I had wrapped it up in a towel and not told anyone after all.
Compassion didn’t allow me to see or understand those things. Being able to see those things without the fogginess of my emotions or knee-jerk reactions allowed me to respond with compassion.
And because hindsight is all a beautiful thing, I can see just how nice it is to only have my cell phone to take pictures – convenient, lightweight and good enough to capture the moment, save time in editing and get back to what really matters. 🙂
We live in an adult-centered, anti-child world where mistreatment of children is considered, not just appropriate, but preferred.
At best, kids are considered loud, messy and exhausting.
At worst, they are considered inherently “bad” and in need of training, which is usually doled out in the form of mental, emotional or physical abuse.
It’s true that children are the only group that is still boldly and legally discriminated against. They are the only people who are legally allowed to be hit, stolen from or held against their will. There is even a movement to ban the “brats” from public places based on nothing but their age.
Think about any of these sentiments said about a particular race and you’ll see my point. It is a very anti-child society we live within.
Of course, all of this instills in children a belief that they are less than, broken or bad. And unless they heal that belief, because children are the only oppressed group who will outgrow their oppression, it’s a belief they will continue to carry into their unoppressed adult life and inform every choice they make, including the treatment of the next generation.
So, we are essentially creating an entire culture of broken, hurting human beings for generations to come.
And I keep hearing so many parents complain about this and the so-called “brat bans”.
We are all appalled and offended when someone speaks condescendingly, assumes a child’s guilt or otherwise passes judgment on them based on their size.
But how many are doing anything about it?
If you want the anti-child treatment to change you’ve got to come out of your hiding places and start talking about.
Not just on Facebook.
Not just on your blog.
You need to start speaking up. At family reunions. At the grocery store. With your best friend. With strangers at the park.
You need to grow some cahones and start creating real awareness by speaking your Truth.
You need to live with Integrity.
Last week I got the opportunity to ask an older gentleman to drop some anti-semetic remarks he was making in front of us.
This was a strong, opinionated man who never backs down. He’s the kind of man that constantly makes racist, classist or sexist remarks and is used to winning arguments. The kind of man no one even bothers arguing with anymore.
I knew all of this going in. I’ve seen how people will sit uncomfortably and listen as he makes these remarks and not say a word, because they don’t feel it’ll help. They all looked pained as they shrug their shoulders and ask “What can I do?”
But I live by my own integrity.
And according to my integrity, all people should be treated with honor and respect and compassion. Even this man who was making anti-semetic remarks.
So with respect for him, I clearly stated that I was uncomfortable with his remarks, explained why and stated that I would appreciate them not happening in front of us.
Because I spoke with respect, not anger or fear, he did what no one had ever seen him do before.
He apologized and said he hadn’t looked at it that way.
We then went on to have a nice conversation for several more hours.
The One Rule To Speaking Your Truth
It doesn’t work when you speak from a place of anger or fear.
It doesn’t work when you fight or demand or criticize.
People shut down when they hear your anger, or feel attacked.
But people hear Truth.
Truth is not angry. It’s not fear-based. It’s not judgmental.
And real Truth comes from a place of love. It comes with compassion and acceptance and gentleness. It doesn’t back down or hide.
And it speaks volumes louder than anger.
If we want to change these anti-child views…if we want to promote respect and love, compassion and kindness…we get to speak out while we set an example of what respect, love, compassion and kindness look like.
We get to live our Integrity out loud.
(And really, if you’re speaking with anger, are you really living your integrity?)
Change doesn’t happen by complaining about it.
Keep this in mind: the reason these anti-child (or racist or sexist or any-ist) sentiments make you uncomfortable is because you’re not living according to your own beliefs, your own integrity, when you don’t speak your Truth.
You’re sacrificing your beliefs to “keep the peace” (what peace?). And that’s uncomfortable!
To live with integrity means to take your authenticity and your Truth out of its box and into the world.
What do you know as Truth? What is holding you back from speaking your Truth with compassion and respect for everyone involved?
Because if you see the abuse and hate occurring towards children – or anyone else – and you do nothing about it…or you increase it with abuse and hatred of your own, whose really to blame here?
A lot has happened since I experienced my perspective shift toward receiving.
I’ve experienced such an incredible insurge of insight and experience in the matters of support, creating tribes and the intertwining acts of creating our worlds.
There is no separating these exchanges from Who We Are. We give. We receive. We shine.
Sometimes the exchange feels big – an A-ha moment that rocks your world, the purchase of something that brings beauty into your life, a new commitment or change.
Sometimes it feels pretty small – a tip left for the waiter, a smile to a stranger, a phone call from a friend.
But more and more I’m recognizing one of the greatest gifts to give or receive IS the most simple: Our presence.
Holding Space + Vision With Our Presence
My Visionary Mom team is wrapping up this month and I can undoubtedly say the women I’ve come to love on this team will be a part of my life for some time to come. We’ve laughed and cried, voiced our anger and fears and victories. We’ve shared advice, resources, tools and ideas with each other to help accomplish our dreams.
But it’s come to all of us in the past few days that perhaps the greatest gift we’ve given to each other is not so tangible.
We’ve created and held sacred a wide open space for one another to Be, to dream, to discover and to create.
But even more incredible is what is held within that space:
A vision of “Who You Are”.
This is such a gentle, careful thing. Without expectations or attachments, we just hold in our hearts an image of the other person – an image of strength, of beauty, of authenticity, of the incredible women we are.
In my darkest hours or deepest and messiest challenges, it was this space and this vision that moved me through.
When I felt I lost my hold on my own light, my own vision, my own strength, I was reminded that they were holding it for me. It never went travels from me, because those around me never let it go.
The Opposite is Also True
The space and image we hold for someone can be freeing and empowering for them….or it can be incredibly limiting.
We can hold an image of someone that is negative: an image of brokenness, of unhappiness, of pain, of being wrong.
Or we can hold an image based on our own expectations, based on what we want or think is best but that does not resonate with the other person.
And that image can shape their beliefs of Who They Are, what they are capable of doing and where they are going.
It can feel just as slight as an affirming image, so much so that we don’t realize we’re doing it.
- She’s never happy.
- Oh, he’s just like that. That’s just the way he is.
- They are always wrapped up in drama.
It doesn’t matter if we feel it’s true. It’s still constricting.
We do this with more than just labels, though; we do it with our expectations, with our limiting beliefs of what is possible and with our fears.
- I don’t think he’ll follow through.
- Here we go again….
- You’re not being practical.
- But you could be hurt!
In the same way an affirming or positive image never travels far from me, a negative image never travels far either.
Your ideas of Who They Are are always there to be accessed, remembered and absorbed by them.
And the closer you are to that person – a parent or child, a lover, a close friend – or the more vulnerable a place they are in, the more your image of them will have an impact.
What Are You Holding?
In the past few weeks, I’ve have been more consciously holding space and vision for those I know and love or with whom I come in contact.
With my son, whom I tend to worry about. With my husband, whom I tend to help too much. With my mom, my friends, my clients.
Sometimes the shift is incredible: Zeb has felt the freedom I’ve created by holding that space and vision for him and he’s flourishing in it. (Yes. It was only my fear that was holding him back before.)
Sometimes the shift is in my internal processing: I feel freedom, compassion and wisdom in my own course of action when I’m approaching life without these limitations.
But even if the only thing to shift is our own perspectives, we’re still on the right track. Because our perspectives shift everything. 🙂
I’m Holding This For You.
My intention with this blog is to promote my message of Being Organic.
I talk a lot about what that looks like in my own life, but I have no idea of what that will look like in your life.
Some of my Truth – organic learning, organic living, minimalism, authenticity, unconditional compassion, autonomy – will resonate with you. Some of it won’t. And that’s okay.
I don’t need to know Who You Are in order to hold a space and vision for you.
I just need to know one simple truth:
You are wise and wonderful. And you shine best when you remember that.
I’m holding space here for you, a vision of that in you. You are welcome to access that space and that vision anytime you need to remember. 🙂