So. I have stuff to say.
We’ve talked a lot here about the basics of destuckification work.
And about some of the situations that come up where our stuff gets in the way of destuckifying.
Like when people throw shoes at us, something which definitely happens.
(Or when we perceive that shoes have been thrown, which also happens.)
Situations come up, something gets triggered, and then we start disconnecting from the very things that normally help us come back to ourselves.
Here’s what I know.
1. When something happens to set off our stuff — we jump to conclusions.
2. We make it all about us. (“Uh oh, I screwed up again.”)
3. Or we make it all about them. (“Man, people are mean/stupid/hurtful.”)
4. There is definitely a progression … and it looks like this:
it’s all about me → it’s all about them → this actually has nothing to do with me → It doesn’t even affect me.*
* See #10!
5. But the progression is not necessarily linear. It’s not like you finish up with one and move onto the next one for good.
6. Most of us end up hanging out in each of these places some of the time…
7. …and there are a lot of different factors that can contribute to where you happen to be in the progression at any given moment.
8. It’s not at all a negative thing that you are where you are in that moment. It’s just where you are. It doesn’t say anything bad about you.
9. God knows I’m not perfect. And I certainly haven’t mastered this stuff yet. It’s a process.
And a bonus point (an important one).
10. I just want to be clear:
Arriving at the point where someone’s hurtful behavior doesn’t hurt you doesn’t mean that you just let people throw shoes.
You’re totally allowed to stand up for yourself and explain to people why shoe-throwing is not cool. In fact, because you know it doesn’t have anything to do with you, you feel safe and comfortable saying, “Hey, we don’t throw shoes here.”
It’s just that at the same time, you remember that this is about their stuff, that people are allowed to think what they think, and that you don’t have to interact with the ones who are into tossing shoes around.
Let’s have some examples, shall we?
Two examples from my own life from this past week.
One follows a particular kind of situation that’s come up a lot during my life. You can see how — over time — I was able to change my reactions to it because of the work I’ve been doing on my stuff.
The second one demonstrates just how many factors are involved in the ways you might possibly react to a shoe — or a perceived shoe. Even when you’ve done a ton of work on your stuff, some of these can push things way out of balance.
Situation example 1: the non-rejection rejection.
The thing that actually happened:
I was teaching a workshop. A guy got up in the middle and walked out.
What would have gone through my head four years ago:
“Ohmygod. I’m messing up. Not-good-not-good-not-good-not-good.
“I should have explained that last concept better. Is he bored? Is he miserable? Is this the worst thing he’s ever experienced? They all hate it. This is a disaster.”
What would have gone through my head three years ago:
“This is a shoe! A shoe! How dare he? What an ass.
“Clearly he doesn’t get how fantastic this material is. Doesn’t he even know who I am?!?!”
What would have gone through my head two years ago:
“Huh. I notice there’s a part of me that wants to make this about me, but you know what?
“I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that he probably has a perfectly legitimate reason for doing what he’s doing and it most likely doesn’t have anything to do with me.
“I’m definitely allowed to feel uncomfortable about this, and I will see what I can do to get what I need here, because I’m definitely noticing that I’m needing reassurance and comfort.
“I’m going to try and trust that he has gotten what he needs from this experience and that I will end up getting what I need.”
What was in my head this time:
“Alright. I’m sure there’s a good reason for this … and that it has nothing to do with me.”
(And yes, as it turned out, I was completely right.)
Situation example 2: someone telling you how they think you should react to something.
The thing that actually happened:
Someone sent a note saying that I should stop complaining about stuff because my life is at least interesting and could I please shut up already.
What actually went through my head
the other day the day I hadn’t slept, was jetlagged, sick, and had been running around all day with my bags trying to find a place to stay where there weren’t jackhammers outside the bedroom:
“I bet if this person had also experienced abuse, poverty, being assaulted, having nowhere to live, friends killed, vodka bottles thrown at them, witnessing terrorist attacks and any of the other things that I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy … they would LOVE it if someone else told them they didn’t have the right to express their pain.
“Because ‘you have an interesting life’.
“And even if that person was all, ‘Yay me, I have an interesting life’? So what? I’m not that person. Why should I have to be the person who can do that?
“And if this excessively critical person doesn’t like it, why can’t they go read someone else’s blog? In fact, please. Please go away and stop throwing shoes in my space.”
There may also have been some creative cursing in Arabic. Old habits die slowly.
Out of balance? Juuuust a little bit.
What would have gone through my head had I been mostly healthy and rested:
“This person must be feeling really frustrated when they perceive other people not expressing gratitude for what they do have.
“I can understand that frustration. And, at the same time, I also find it kind of weird that someone would actively try to change the way someone else chooses to express herself on a personal blog.
“But maybe that’s not what’s happening here. Either way, their stuff.
“The only part that’s my stuff is my reaction, and if I’m feeling a little hurt or frustrated here, I can work on my own part of this.”
What would have gone through my head had I been in top physical and emotional condition:
Well … nothing, really.
Right. It wouldn’t have even registered.
But that’s not what happened. Because guess what? Things happen. And they bring us out of balance.
There’s just no way we can always be in top form. And anyway, it’s a process.
The thing that helps. Well, one of them.
About six months ago or so, I asked Hiro what the spiritual concept or quality is that encapsulates … well, the thing I’m always working on.
You know, learning how to be the person who doesn’t give a damn what other people think.
And she said it was called sovereignty.
Sovereignty, as best I understand it (and I am not the expert on this even slightly) is the quality of owning your space so completely and fully that you can’t be shaken from being you.
You get to be the (pirate-ey or not) queen — or king — of your own fabulous kingdom. Or queendom. Or whatever.
In other words:
Your body. Your energy. Your physical space. Your emotional space. Your work. Your practice. Whatever else belongs to you. It’s all yours.
You own it. You feel comfortable in it. You inhabit what is yours and you belong there fully and completely.
It’s feeling so safe being yourself that other people’s stuff is obviously just that.
It means having the patience to interact with your own stuff with love, knowing that it’s constantly changing anyway.
And your experience of sovereignty doesn’t step on anyone else’s. It’s something that everyone gets to experience for himself or herself.
Comment zen for today.
This is a big, hard topic. It definitely deserves some follow-up posts to go deeper with some of this.
The usual caveats apply: I’m not perfect, I screw up all the time, I am where I am and … sometimes this place that I am is somewhat more impressive than at other times.
Here’s what is welcome:
- Thoughts/reactions about this process of working on stuff and learning things about how that process works.
What I would rather not have:
I commit to giving time and thought to the things that people say, and to interact with their ideas and with my own stuff as compassionately and honestly as is possible.