We were talking about the relationship between shoe throwing (people saying hurtful things out of nowhere) and sovereignty (the state of not giving a damn what people think because you are the king or queen of your life).

And there were lots of things I didn’t cover — little bits and pieces for the gravy pan, as Andrea says.

So we’re having leftovers tonight. A bit of this and a bit of that. A sovereignty casserole. Or something.

Making the distinction between internal and external.

Like with anything else, there are two area that need attention when shoes (real or perceived) are being thrown.

There’s the internal:

  • Thoughts, feelings, reactions, energy. Working on your stuff. All the work that happens “in the soft”.

And there’s the external:

  • Systems systems systems. The actual steps you take “in the hard” to make changes in real life.

Example: I’m on email sabbatical.

This works very well for me because my inbox is well-known for being a place where shoes get thrown like crazy. It’s apparently part of being internet famous.

So I do the internal work of clearing out stucknesses and meeting myself where I am. I find out what I need to do to feel comfortable and safe being me.

And I also have external systems — my pirate crew. The First Mate answers all my email and the bosun moderates blog comments, keeping me safe from internet shoes.

However …

When you’re not in sovereignty, external systems can fall apart.

Sovereignty, again, is the quality of owning your space.

It’s feeling so safe being you, that you can’t be shaken from yourself.

When the sovereignty thing isn’t happening, we get shaky. And shaken.

It’s obvious how this affects our internal stuff. But our external systems can also suffer.

Back to my inbox example: If I know that going in there means stepping directly into the path of flying shoes, why would I do it?

I wouldn’t. And normally I don’t.

But last week I was all kinds of tired, confused and jetlagged. I needed an important piece of information that had apparently arrived by email. I felt stressed out and impatient. And anxious. So I broke my own system.

I didn’t wait for my gentleman friend to come home so he could get it for me. I didn’t ask someone on the pirate crew to retrieve it for me.

And I walked right into a shoe-storm. What seemed like dozens of them.

I promptly logged out and reminded myself that my systems exist for a reason. To take care of me.

Your most important job? Take care of yourself.

Because when I’m looking out for my physical and emotional well-being, I can do my best work.

And when I’m depleted and exhausted, it sucks for everyone.

My external systems — just like my internal practices — keep me grounded so that I can keep working on the sovereignty thing.

It all comes back to taking care of yourself. And safety. And finding ways to access that canopy of peace.

One thing that helps: knowing your triggers.

It’s crappy and horrible when things set you off. And it’s also all information for the big Book of You.

So you take notice and learn what you can about the things that keep you paralyzed.

And you come up with your escape plans beforehand.

For me and my HSP self, it’s loudness that sets me off.

So — even when not staying in a place with jackhammers outside the window — I need earplugs (check!) and music (check!) and …?

And the knowledge that when a situation reaches a certain noise level, there is no negotiation. I have to get out.

It means I need to know enough about my reactions to be able to say “this is too much”.

It means my gentleman friend has had to learn what a no-I-must-leave moment looks like.

And that’s why I’m not allowed to drive a produce truck.

Running away from the jackhammers to our favorite cafe in Berlin brought a brief interlude of piece.

Until some sort of impromptu parade came marching down the center of the street, complete with accordions, saxaphone and trumpet.

It was kind of like being in a film by Emir Kusturica. Only louder and more piercing.

Even with my earplugs in, my fantasies about hurling tomatoes at them grew stronger and stronger, until the only thing stopping me from rushing them and pelting the band members with rotten vegetables was the total lack of available produce.

I wanted to run them over with a produce truck.

I wanted to grab the guy with the tin can by the collar and scream “THIS IS NOT MUSIC!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

We come unglued. Well, I do. Hi. And that’s exactly when I get tempted to become the shoe-thrower. When external situations — triggers — are setting off the hard.

Sometimes we perceive shoes and then throw them in return.

This is what turns us into accidental shoe-throwers.

Someone asks what is — for them — a perfectly legitimate question. About our rates. About how we work. About what we do.

They’re so into their own stuff and their own hard that it doesn’t even occur to them that their question really feels like a shoe on our end.

Like they’re questioning our worth or our very essence.

We see a shoe and we hurl it back.

But it wasn’t a shoe. At least, not in that person’s mind.

And now we have two inadvertent shoe-throwers.

Or three.

Carina asked in the comments last time:

What do you do if you -– through accident or a hard day or because you’re used to have that shoe thrown at yourself by others -– throw a shoe at yourself?

There’s this Buddhist concept of the two arrows. The first arrow is the hard thing that happens and the second is you beating yourself up about it.

In other words, you feel so crappy about Shoe #1 that your reaction to it is Shoe #2. Thrown in your own direction. It’s the extra shoe.

“How come I can’t just remember that this isn’t about me?” is an extra shoe.

“When am I going to stop reacting to all these damn shoes?” is another one.

So yeah. Not fun. It’s also not a big deal. I mean, hell, I don’t know anyone who doesn’t toss shoes at himself once in a while.

The flowers: they just kind of belong in the sovereignty casserole.

My friend Andreas has this marvelous story about flowers.

We were reminiscing, and found ourselves talking about various times in each of our lives when we’d come to an impasse. A tight spot. An ending. A stuck.

No options. Or the perception of no options.

The last time Andreas was in that spot, he was down to his last 12 euros.

So he spent all of it on flowers.

And he said, “By the time they wilt and lose their petals, things will be better. Or at least different. But I hope better.”

And they were.

Sometimes any reminder is useful. That this too shall pass. That things will get better. That shifting and changing is the nature of things.

Including your relationship with sovereignty. Including your relationship with shoes.

I am going to buy flowers. And by the time they wilt and lose their petals, things will be better. Or at least different.

But I hope better.

Comment zen?
We all have stuff. We’re all working on our stuff. We try and keep that in mind when we respond to each other. It helps with the shoes.

The Fluent Self