Choosing Sides. Who Wins?

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No one.

My daughter was texting me about a problem with her friend. Apparently, there were two ‘different sides’ to the same scenario and the inclusion of a third party (my other daughter), who wasn’t there…but who possesses an opinion.

What’s the point of choosing sides, when as we all know…the truth lies somewhere in the middle or way out beyond the perceptions of all involved (including opinionated observers) in the situation.

We’re all responsible for what happens in our lives, period.

Anger? Time to look within.

You don’t win by being self-righteousness, shaming and justifying your position.

Defending oneself or someone else; no winner there. Blaming? Hypocritical and energy wasted.

The real problem is not addressed when sides are taken (so we feel better about our position). Others who have a chip on their shoulder regarding the offending party (depending on who’s side you choose) can make it messier and more ridiculous than the original issue.

My daughter wanted my input on how to respond to her friend’s long, emotional text messages. It was just heavy, like too many ornaments on the tree.

Reminded me of a conversation with my mother, which involved some ‘old’ stuff. She asked if I really thought she didn’t love her grandkids (uh…yeah, this was from an old argument, which of course did nothing to better anything)…and I said, I didn’t know, but the way she spoke about them at times was disparaging and I didn’t like it.

She replied with “I was just defending you,” as I listened, all I thought was “No.” I told her, “I don’t want you to defend me against them, I don’t ever want to be defended….in any part of my life–it implies a totality that I’m right, they’re wrong.”

It’s draining to think of my story, your story or anyone’s story, in supporting the position we each take in a disagreement or in choosing a side.

All those gyrations serve are in avoiding the real issue, the deeper truth.

Communication in these instances by all parties is problematic.

Whether it’s lying to ourselves first or lying to others to maintain a facade….many people don’t realize they do it, because their intention is to NOT lose.

All human beings are hypocrites. Welcome to being human.

In my daughter’s situation, her and her friend both had justified POV’s about the situation that occurred. They did agree there was a misunderstanding and miscommunication. My daughter apologized and her friend kept going…

She wanted validation in blaming my daughter for the current situation.

How could this end well?

I reflected on my own life, my refusal to defend myself when the circumstances are skewed, because it isn’t the real issue. Choosing sides, right versus wrong, and so on are all…. perceptions meant to validate feelings. Most people don’t purposely set out to do something wrong, but depending on who’s observing … it can become blown way out of proportion to the actual issue.

When we go against ourselves–denying how we really feel, doing what doesn’t serve us, which includes allowing people to walk on our boundaries (cuz we didn’t honor them for ourselves), people please, be the rescuer, insecure and acted in ways to support those patterns…eventually it comes falling down.

That’s the real issue.

It’s inauthentic.

As humans we all seek to be understood, loved and connected.

Choosing sides, shaming another or being self-righteous, will never serve to bring us closer together (personally that’s my cue to exit stage left). Taking responsibility for how YOU put yourself in the position to have had a misunderstanding will lead you to real empowerment and clarity.

It’s hard to be authentic, all the time, but true authenticity is not perfection, it’s owning your shit.

Own where you sold yourself short to create the untenable situation and move on. Staying stuck in the problem, defending yourself, dragging the neighborhood in to decide who’s a better character is useless, you still don’t win.

Seek to be understood when you can, but make sure you’re connected to your own truth, in support of your own boundaries and be kind, as often as possible. No one is a loser or a winner, we’re all just different perspectives depending on our experiences….

And please remember, we’re all human.

 

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Do you need an apology?

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Most of us think, if we just had that apology from someone who has hurt us or done something we deem as wrong, then we’ll feel better.

Is that ever really true?

Of course, it’s lovely if someone takes responsibility for their words and actions, but what impact does it really have on our inner world?

Do we feel validated? Or that we weren’t nuts, thinking the other person’s behavior was out of line….what do we actually get that feeds us, if we’re already taking caring of ourselves?

Recently, I asked myself the question, “Do you need this apology?”

I’d received a text from someone who as of late last year, I’d stopped seeing after a very long on/off, “learned a lot about myself” kind of relationship.

The text was followed by a call; the voicemail he left, stated his desire to apologize for being the jackass in my life. (his words)

At first, I was caught off-guard, but then I asked…did I need his apology? What would it do for me? Uh….Nothing.

Not an angry ‘nothing‘….. more of a resolve for myself. I’m okay, I don’t hate him or feel he owes me anything. I’ve taken full responsibility for participating and allowing his behavior to have been a source of discontent…..or so… I thought.

I found myself in the days that followed with ‘scattered moments’ of a long past scene or a situation, playing out in my mind. Times I had forgotten about, and ones, in which, I’d left myself somewhere else. It was good they came up! I understood to a greater degree, where I was emotionally back then, why I’d been there and what kept me emotionally chained to something, which never really delivered…

I didn’t want to give him hell. I have no idea his current intentions. It doesn’t matter, because nothing he’d say has the power to remove what happened between us.

Back then, I’d lived in the land of potential, listening to promises and some kind of crazy hopeful expectations.

And now, I had awareness, understanding… I’d forgiven myself….and him. A long time ago.

Needing to have an apology from someone is secondary, when we take responsibility for our part.

Accountability is a personal thing, we cannot force others to show up how we want or wait for the day, when he or she wakes up and smell the coffee! NO ONE OWES US. And I mean, NO ONE.

Perhaps, in the movies a proclamation and an apology from the leading man to his beloved for his misbehaving seems to be the cure all to the emotional tension in the audience. We NEED that apology!

I’ve witnessed it when I’ve coached couples, one is waiting for that damn apology and the other may have given it a million times or be reticent to give it! If our mate has apologized so many times, what is it we actually want? What is going to fill that space inside that is clearly NOT taken care of with an apology?  Why do we want to remain a victim to the story in our mind, which holds someone we love as the blame?

And if our mate refuses to cop to the responsibility, because of shame, or its a power struggle…what is really going on there?

We’re the ones to resolve our own feelings inside of us. When we wait or fingerpoint, it takes us away from the connection we have to our own power.  Empowerment doesn’t come from an apology; it comes from within.

This doesn’t mean we should allow someone who loves us to treat us badly.

It means we have to take responsibility for being there (remaining there) in the first place. The excuses, the reasons and everything, which placed us in that relationship. When we understand the dance we do with someone else, which in the case of dysfunction, is to make sure, some of our less positive beliefs about ourselves are proven true…we’re then empowered enough to be set free….whether we get an apology or not.

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A Meltdown.

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There was a time in my life where I could really lose it, cry, wail and dig deeply into the cracks between how I held myself together. Those times happen rarely, if ever, anymore, well….until recently.

I was out to dinner with my kids celebrating my youngest getting a job, leading to the start of her career.

We were driving home, talking about some funny moments from their childhood, and I mentioned this one mom from a particular scenario. I originally met her, when I only had two of my three kids. Our lives would continue to somewhat intermingle throughout their childhood, but we were never friends. She was someone who I had felt never liked me.

As I mentioned her name, my son tells me she died. I look at him incredulously, maybe he’s confused? How would he know and I never did, because it didn’t just happen yesterday, she’s been gone more than a handful of years!?

Memories came flooding back to the earliest of years when I met her in a parenting group, where we both were board members, and I was at her house with my now three kids preparing for an event. I remember her talking about moving, from the town she lived in, to the more affluent one next door.

Other glimpses of the past hit me and I wanted to cry.

I thought, about everything she was missing, all the hopes and dreams we all had when our kids were so young. I had to wrap my head around the fact that, as far as I knew, she never got to ‘right her dreams,’ so many difficult events took place after her move to the town where I also raised my kids…I wondered if she was finally at peace? She hadn’t died in the marriage of that old dream, nor had she stayed in the town where she felt she had finally arrived….and I felt so sad, because I didn’t know the truth. And why did it bother me so much?

There were so many associations I had with other people, how had no one mentioned this to me? And yet, why would they?

As my sadness grew over someone who had really been little more than an acquaintance, I found myself crying over all sorts of loss and all the decisions I made years ago that I now realized I really never forgave myself for the ones, which caused myself and others pain. In the old days, I always appeared ‘so’ together, I knew the truth…I wasn’t, because as it took me years to figure out…no one is all together.

During, what turned from just grieving someone else’s ‘supposed’ un-lived life , I was now in the midst of a full blown meltdown.

Bringing in the whole cavalry of punishing events from the past.

Things, I thought I had worked through, came roaring back. Why did I leave my marriage? What did I do to my kids? What the fuck, why couldn’t I handle it back then–the parts that were insurmountable to me at the time? Look at the mess I made of my life……and blah, blah, blah….

Oh lordy, like a full blown pity party, but it wasn’t. It was a realization. No matter how many times I think I’ve forgiven myself and the rest of the world. I hadn’t in one profound way, in the act of suffering and punishment.

If I could find a hard road, I’d take it…if I could work with commitment and lose while others won–I’d do it, if I could separate myself and have less than the rest of the world, I’d be in. I didn’t deserve ease, goodness or a healthy relationship…..I had to be punished for some perceived wrongs of my past.

This was not a newsflash! I was well aware of it for years, I’d made huge leaps and bounds in moving through it to the other side, but during this meltdown, IT WAS STILL THERE.

What we resist, persists.

Acceptance is what finally creeped in the back door. Accepting how fucked up I felt and that I quite possibly could be the greatest saboteur to the life plans that are currently unfolding at this moment. There was no shoving it aside, forgiving it or blessing it….there was an acceptance that it exists, because it had for years, even before I was married, when I used to be not just a type A, but a perfectionist too.

Acceptance is how we go through, rather than around or hide it. Once we accept it, we can go about our lives knowing a part of us–the darker, twisted part could ‘openly’ go along for the ride too.

The meltdown served its purpose.

As unexpected as it was, it came from a culmination of everything I’d been moving in the rhythm of being kinder to myself; allowing help, serving at the level of freedom and love, soaking into my subconscious a way of thinking and ‘doing’ that I’d talked about, but never really felt.

My whole demeanor had been changing, as I heard from others who had been around me for years; it showed I had been shifting gears inside over a long period of time.

Forgiving, accepting, embracing and bringing ourselves forward even with the understanding, we may not feel we deserve it, is the key to living an authentic life. The shitty shit doesn’t magically go away, but how we treat it, makes a huge difference in our willingness to move out of the comfort zone of crucifying ourselves or beating ourselves up, over decisions we’ve made. It’s only in taking the whole with its fragments, that we find our truth, which leads us to living a life fulfilled.

 

 

 

Forgiveness is an 11 letter word.

Self-forgiveness is an even longer word and for most of us, it takes us  much longer to do. We give our power away daily.

We don’t think we do, but every time we’re disappointed or angry..we have given our power to something outside of us. Whether it is a stranger in a passing car or a job promotion…or a more intimate relationship, whenever we experience those emotions in a situation, where we feel disempowered or have to wait….we’re far from the road.

The road is not really to stop and wait, it is to instead, keep going. When we find we have given our power away, we spend time beating ourselves up.

We get so caught up in the drama of the circumstances, reviewing it over and over in our head…and what conclusion do we draw? Blame.

We blame ourselves and others for what has happened. We think we made a bad decision or that someone else did.

In self-forgiveness it is to remember that we cannot predict how a decision will turn out, we have no control of anyone or circumstances outside of us to bring us exactly what we want, when we want most of the time. So can we go easier on ourselves? Doesn’t it feel better? And when we don’t think of something as a disappointment that encompasses total failure…don’t we keep going in the direction of our dreams?

 

Don’t Hate

We human beings have a thing for choosing sides.

Just because someone doesn’t agree with you, doesn’t mean you have to draw a battle line or change anything.

Accept their point of view.

You don’t have to convince, coerce or hate em’. Just let go of trying to control.

This is a process I go through when I feel a battle line drawn either inside or outside of me.

I don’t hate and if I get angry it doesn’t stay a welcome visitor inside of me… I let go. I am not here to solve all the problems I see with the world and everyone in it, I am here to rock my experience of this life. Let’s face it, solving one’s own problems is sometimes the best opportunity to lay down your weapons.

Sometimes we just don’t know what is best or right. And that is okay. What we do know is how something feels to us through our own perception of life. And all we can do with that feeling is make choices to take action or not. Happiness and change come when we get out of our head and into our heart. When we become vulnerable first to ourselves and then the rest of the world.

Vulnerability is the only true strength, everything else is a posture.

And a posture is empty.

When we have NOT checked into our heart and we are in the midst of reacting, hating, being self-righteous, childish, disconnecting or playing games to win; we are truly weak. We are not in control, but trying to find the magic button. There is no winner when we use these ploys to feed a hungry inner child, who must have been starved at some point along the way.

Awareness is the first step.

What are the thoughts you have most of the time? Angry? Happy? Vindictive? Serene? Most of us have a mixture of those thoughts. And what you find through awareness is the feelings you attach to those thoughts. If you pay close attention you can usually find the thought that leads to the avalanche of negative feelings before it starts its downward slide.

And you can stop it in its tracks in a few ways:

1. Change the thought, realize a thought is just a thought-think about something else.

2. Remember it is just a thought, it doesn’t necessarily require action.

3. Ask yourself where that thought came from, especially if it is a recurring thought. A recurring thought is usually from some misaligned belief you have about yourself and the world. And with deeper awareness, it will probably show you the door back to an early time when that thought first occurred to you. And from that point you can see how that thought became a belief and how you have gone about re-creating it over and over in your life, to prove its truth (this is what we spend time coaching on in my sessions). Once you recognize the existence of it, you can now take different action in the present and create change in your life–no more hatin’.

Hatin’ takes up energy and space.

Some people create a life’s campaign out of hating something in this world.

And all that hate is really a distraction from looking inward at themselves. In essence, you could say this person is bringing the self-hatred outwards to the world. World peace starts with the individual. We can’t expect it on a global scale when there are many people who don’t love themselves and take action against their own well-being.

Lovin’ is a much better goal.

Lovin’ feels like breathing.

It doesn’t take up space and energy like hate.

Love allows.

Love lets each of us be who we truly are and be okay.

No one else can make a judgment about you and turn it into anything, which influences you. You get to make that choice when you always dive into love.

Love with vulnerability is true strength. A disagreement doesn’t become a battle line. You can let the other person win. It is probably the happiest and healthiest thing you could do for yourself or another.

Let everyone have their way. And as you let go of having your way, you find peace. Peace comes because you stop the battle of hate. You laid down your weapons and said “okay.”

You then ask yourself what would “love do” right now?

I find I let go and give it to the Universe….and I get a pretty quick answer, maybe even having what I want from a different source (and that’s totally cool), because I am no longer attached to the outcome.

Hate creates the impossible.

Love creates possibility.

Ego needs all the air in the room and a team of people to say “yes, you are right.”

The heart says “all is well, if that’s what you need, so be it.”

And with the heart you get to discover other things to focus on that bring you what you are putting out there, love. We can’t control others, only our actions and reactions.

You don’t have to personalize another person’s baggage, EVER. You don’t have to get rid of it or react to it; compassion is necessary.

Many people are seeped so deeply in their boxes and suitcases that they have no realization that how they are acting or speaking is based on something that has “nothing” to do with the current moment and the person sharing the moment.

And when that is the case, there is nothing you can do, except to not react.

Why?

If you react, you are helping this person to recreate their past drama and therefore become a part of their play.

And once again, an opportunity is lost for change.

Whenever we hate or put up a wall to changing our stance, we have moved straight into ego. We are not in the present moment. And we usually are not happy.

I vote for the heart each time.

And I will share that the most amazing things keep happening to me.

I carry far less stress than I used to personally and professionally.

I feel more whole, happy (even giddy) and that I do the best I can each day (which is NOT perfect and some days still have sucky parts), which leads me to a way of being that is far more relaxed.

I am able to forgive myself easily and others, because I don’t hold onto what isn’t real (most drama is not from the present moment–its just a recreation of the past–so how could it be real?) and I let go.

I let go often and when I become unattached to the outcome, sometimes I find I get my way.

And if I do get my way, it is much sweeter and feels in alignment with how this Universe works (rather than me pulling, pushing or forcing, which always feels like shit).

I would love to hear how others live from love too, please share. Tracy@13degreez.com.

Please check me out on elephant journal too.

And the day came….

For me to “gently” rip the band-aid off my scab.

What was underneath this old symbol of denial?

My un-lived life; the pain I buried deep within me, things I didn’t want to look at because then I may have to take action and confront myself.

Seemed scary, but when you are settling in your relationships…there either comes a day that you will deal with “you” or a day that has God/Universe come knocking on your door.

Either way, whether you decide to take initiative with your sore spots and uncover the root of your pain or something happens in your life, which creates a crisis making it impossible for you to ignore ….it waits for you.

Of course, the daily general unease you deny and try to stuff in a compartment is always ready to be dealt with, it is just a matter of “when”.

One day those boxes will come flying off the shelf. 

One day your anxiety, those off-kilter responses you have to small things, those deeply hidden memories of pain come to greet you at the door.

You may try an escape hatch. 

You will choose to try to medicate or deal. A cigarette, a bottle of wine, an addiction, maybe running 20 miles or taking yoga twice daily….

Those activities and others can keep your boxes neatly compartmentalized for awhile, but it is an auto-pilot life.

Or it is time to deal; a part of me I’m refusing to admit, see or open up to and I dig into the scab to reveal the wound.

What is the wound?

A story from long ago, kept alive thru patterns of behavior.

I’m not one to invest in my story any longer.

It is sort of a creepy crawler though, one that runs my life without me being aware….as in not being able to see why I say or do the things I do in my life, until I discard the scab.

One day I realized I kept ripping off the same scab!

I’d dig deeper yet. I’d re-visited my stories so many times, most no longer live wires, but yet, still “active”.

It isn’t the story of my being a victim, which I don’t buy into at all. It is how it initialized certain beliefs I have about myself. And how entrenched I’ve been in seeing myself and the world thru this cock-eyed view, which is not true. 

When we’re young, we’re vulnerable.

We get hurt.

Inside our home and outside of our home. 

Smart human beings that we are we develop strategies to protect ourselves from that “hurt”, we try to fit in, slip under the radar, hope no one notices we’re different or that “thing”, that thing, which had gotten us in trouble and hurt us; ranging from abuse, teasing, watching others’ punishment, abandonment, unloved, not liked, being excluded for a multitude of reasons and the cost is…

We re-create this scenario for the rest of our lives, if we’re not aware.  

When I work with people, there is a common thread; a belief they have and can’t see until they start sharing details of their lives with me. I start to see the common thread as they speak, previously invisible to the individual. I see it and ask them about it, in turn an epiphany happens. A handy tool…something has been reflected back to this person in clarity, now there is a choice to continue the belief or take action.

I’m all about action.

Time is wasted in the head thinking about it- just do it and see what happens!

The last time I pulled off the scab, I walked with myself now and as the younger child version of me…

Seeing clearly “why” I chose to believe things like I was unlovable; something was wrong with me…. finding myself alone it protected me from the world….

And yet, who was I to the world? Who was in my relationships?  

I was the person to carry everything on my back, believing I wasn’t worthy for someone to step in and do things for me;, to really be there.

I was the shoulder to lean on, the perfect nurturer, I felt I had to work at being loved and this wasn’t just in my past marriage, but the intimate relationships which came afterwards. It showed up in other personal and professional relationships too.

Wasn’t I enough? Or at some junctures, I was told I was too much. I tried to mold myself into what I thought I needed to be to be loved and not alone.

Bad strategy.

And then I’d tell myself I was okay alone, as I ran and hid.

I know how to do “alone” well.

Is that where I wanted to live? No.

And that is what I did as a kid; I emotionally and physically hid from my family. I never felt emotionally safe or protected. I didn’t feel loved for who I was, just as “me”.

I was never intimidated by anyone; I had to be my own protector.

I was raised with a workaholic father who didn’t protect me, give any real attention… or gave the impression I was anything special; he was highly critical and held me accountable for everything. And it is only a perception.

The perception of a kid.

My Dad has apologized over the years for giving me an image of myself that wasn’t true. He didn’t mean to do it, based on his own childhood, he was doing the best he could.

Forgiveness is a beautiful thing, first for yourself and then another. Sometimes it comes in bits and pieces.

I had to take different action in my relationships, stand when I wanted to run, speak when I wanted to stay quiet, create waves when the water was smooth and truly risk when I wanted to play it safe, because I might lose a very important person.

It wasn’t an overnight success, living from this place of “possibility”. It has taken a long time and there are still days like yesterday, when I peel off the scab.

I share this “story”, because these types of thoughts and beliefs in our memory bank impact us! And who we believe we are from these experiences, is NOT who YOU truly are…

Who you truly are may yet to be discovered, what do YOU like? What makes you feel passionate, creativity, excitement, happy?

What do you like to wear, eat and REALLY do with your time? What is really the truth of a situation for YOU (not the other person), can you try to speak it and not run or clam up?

Opening up to yourself is the greatest gift you will ever receive!

Be kind to yourself wherever you are and know we are all doing the best we can with how we see ourselves and the world.