Being People Together

One of the most valuable things we can do is to disengage with the roles we play in our lives – child, boss, parent, spouse, co-worker, etc. – and practice seeing ourselves and others as just people.

Get out of the haze of the morning rush, of what has to get done, of the reactions to what’s not getting done and see these human beings in our lives as complex, vulnerable, sensitive, less than sure people who are trying to figure this all out, too. Just like us.

I’ve never gotten more hugs and kisses in my house since I started practicing this. Being seen as a person is a relief (no matter how little or how big we are).

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This Thanksgiving, Love it and Leave it

tgivingI was inspired listening to Marc Maron’s podcast this morning. Usually around Thanksgiving time he starts complaining and describing the anxieties of the holiday and being with family.

Today he told us he’s really going to try to drop those old, old triggers, resentments, sensitivities and justifications and try to love his family and love being with them.

That was some major growth. It’s one of the fun parts for me of listening over the last few years, really hearing someone work on themselves and witnessing the changes.

So, here’s my take, for you.

Practice loving and leaving it this Thanksgiving.

This is who your family is.

When you get ticked off by your uncle’s comment on politics, or your mom’s, love it and leave it. The conversations from the past might have helped you refine who you are. You may want them to be different, but changing their mind is only marginally useful in the long haul. Just love them, leave it and let them be. Most likely the damage they are going to do to the world personally with their attitude is minimal.

If someone comments on your weight, marital status, health, career for the twelve thousandth time, love it and leave it. They’re undoubtedly hella flawed themselves. They can’t help themselves and deep down they probably want wonderful things for you, but they’re not good at expressing it or seeing your life from your eyes. See if you can say “thanks” and let it be. Thanks doesn’t mean you agree with their words or approach, but they meant to give you something. Love them and leave it at that.

In fact, when I notice how much of the uncomfortable experience from things my family might say is my own making (my reactions are mine, no matter how justified I feel in having them), I often actually get the good information that was in the nudge and even get the love that was embedded in the concern or complaint. It took some work. I needed to be able to love them and leave it first.

And if you want to fight, I get it. Fighting isn’t the end of the world, but if you haven’t mastered loving it and leaving it first, you may take it all personally. Then you’re not going to be very thankful for much, unless people make all gone with that pie you brought and tell you how much they liked it. Then at least you get that feeling when you don’t know if you still really want to be upset with these people. I love making D and Marcus feel like that 😉

Slap Some Truth on ‘Em

proverbI told the truth yesterday to a former client who is six weeks away from her wedding and called me for some support around her fears and concerns.

I asked her how many great marriages she sees around her.

I told her that being married may be the most challenging thing that most people do in their lifetimes. You’re signing up to partner with someone on EVERYTHING in life, where each of you are far from expert in most things you will deal with.

I told her that love is wonderful, it helps, but it is not enough on it’s own to ensure a happy marriage.

I told her that trying to make everyone happy will jeopardize her happiness on her wedding day.

I asked her to share with me what she sees in the two of them that convinces her that they have a chance to make this work.

I told her she may wind up letting some people down and not be perfect and instead need to be human, for her own happiness.

I asked her why she was doing this at all.

These are the things we are often afraid of saying, of hearing, of dealing with. We cross our fingers, we let love leave us in an ambiguous state, we deny reality sometimes, we get caught up in belief. Love is wonderful, I encourage its growth all the time, but do we really need to be blinded by it and not look more closely? The only harm we are protecting ourselves from is that we may see we’ve built a house of cards and that can just be a starting point if you’re willing to look at it, a place to build from.

By the end of the call, with no prompting from me, she was reborn in her commitment, felt clear and more sure that she was with the right man, more trusting of herself than she was when she called me in a near panic and in breakdown. She felt the impact of her fears, shed some tears, saw that she could handle all of this and knew why the man she chose is the man that can take this on with her (and she thinks he’s cute as heck, too). Before we even finished the call, she texted her fiance to apologize to him, explain her recent behavior and let him know how ready she was. Of course he needed no explanation.

She was ready to lead her way into marriage. I had no idea how this conversation would go and no attachment either, but this is the way it went.

It’s not the truth that hurts us so much, it’s the not dealing with it. We are much more courageous and able than we give ourselves credit for. We create longstanding patterns where we let our fears run away with us. When we see more clearly, we give love an even greater chance to find it’s way deeper into our relationships and into ourselves.

Gotta love that Russian ethos… Slapped, huh?

My 5 Year Old Has it Right

After my son Marcus told me I hated him when I told him he needed to stop playing video games this morning, I asked him if I loved him, what would I be doing differently.

He said I would be racing him and playing soccer and games with him.

I get it.

Love lives in a world of full agreement, or a lack of dwelling on the disconnect of disagreement.

When we’re young, before the disappointment of human beings disagreeing with our idea of Eden, our hearts don’t even fathom the possibility of disagreement with our own consciousness. It comes as a shock and HURTS. It feels like love is gone when we encounter disagreement. I still remember feeling like that when I was his age.

The thing is that this is a grave and understandable error and the correction of this error, that disagreement threatens love, is our life’s opportunity. Not just to get it intellectually, but to transcend through it. To really get it. This is our cross to bear, to do the work to return to love, as Marianne Williamson puts it.

Marcus is at the beginning. The unfortunate period where the disagreement rocks us, where it informs our personalities and unconscious beliefs about life. I empathize with him deeply.

And he’s getting the return, too. When he asked me to pick him up in my arms at drop off and gave me 17 kisses and told me he knows I love him, he took courageous action. He inspired me.

The idea that disagreement threatens love (threatens us, really, as we are made of love) – from loved ones dying too soon to not getting the job to not feeling heard to being rejected romantically or even abused – is false, but it hurts.

Love is always here, waiting for you. Getting back to it is the work of our lives. Be courageous.