“Defense is the first act of war.” ~Byron Katie
Picture this: Fifteen friends gathered in to a mountain home walking distance from the beautiful town of Breckenridge. This weekend consisted of good friends, tender touch, deep laughter, cozy fires, hot tub under the stars, delicious meals, movie on the big screen, time in nature and some heated arguments.
I’m a social being by nature. I enjoy talking and am often lively and vivacious and I can be shy and timid and have a hard time speaking my truth and as such can then assert myself in a way that seems forceful, harsh, and is often misunderstood. Being with large groups of friends stimulates me, pushes my edges, nurtures, and simultaneously drains me.
I thrive in alone time, feel rejuvenated by deep sleep, and enjoy the contemplation and peace that comes from solitude. I also relish the contrast of being with many others and observing the ways in which we relate, react, defend, assert, challenge, listen, or disregard people in subtle and not so subtle ways. Through you, I better know my boundaries.
A theme seemed to arise this weekend that many of us discussed at length. I notice that I am creating circumstances in my world where I share a point of view, my perspective, and others immediately begin to defend, or tell me why it is not that way, or how else I could look at it.
It’s little more than unsolicited advice. It sucks. I don’t want your analysis of why I should change my world view to agree with yours. I actually just want to have my view and have it be respected. My perspective is not a threat to your view. We each get to have our own.
Consider Byron Katie’s quote: Defense is the first act of war. When someone states their perspective, thought, opinion, do you habitually defend? In my experience, that is often the first act of war. I wasn’t attacking you. If you noticed, I was just saying what I felt, saw, thought, heard.
I want to contribute. I want to be of service. I want to share my perspective from time to time and increasingly more so as I find my voice and write.
The more I talk, the more others seem to shove their world view down my throat. Often, their sentence starts with, “Well, No.” They are actually telling me my world view is a no.
“Authentic listening is simply the giving of our undivided attention to another without imposing our personal agendas, something that might take a little practice. It is the generous act of giving someone the space to be exactly who they are and exactly who they are not. ~Katherine Woodward Thomas
When others tell me their opinions, I might share what I have read, or where I relate, but I never tell someone they shouldn’t have that view.
I am in the inquiry of what makes us sometimes feel threatened by another’s perspective.
I don’t need to be fixed. I don’t need to be told the way things are. I understand, probably as well as you do, why things are the way they are, at least from my world view, and that’s good enough for me.
Now, I’m not saying we can’t share information and have lively debate, but I am saying that one shouldn’t start a sentence directed toward another with, No, that’s not the way it is, or you shouldn’t feel that way, when it is indeed how I feel.
I seemed, this weekend, to have a lot of people getting in my face giving me their opinion. This weekend someone gave me their opinion, which was that I seemed to have a lot of opinions. Ironic, isn’t it?
That’s all good and fine if the person can see we are on a level playing field, each doing the same. I have mine. You have yours.
When you get in my face to tell me you think I have lots of opinions, well, that’s your opinion.
It’s classic pot calling the kettle black, yet it happened over and over and the one pointing their finger at me didn’t see the three pointing back at them.
In this holographic universe, we are all truly just meeting ourselves.
We project so much onto others, and think it is the way they are.
Everyone has to show up with 100% responsibility as cause in the matter, or we’re just deluding ourselves.
I grew up terribly shy in school. Admonished at an early age for always having my hand raised and knowing the answer, I remember the way Ms. Quinn, who I loved, looked at me when she said, Rachel, keep your hand down, give others a turn.
Shame coursed through me. I remember the hurt and regret I felt that I was so bad, so awful, so out of line by sharing myself so fully that it repulsed her. It was then and there that I promised myself I would never assume someone wanted my love, attention, affection or opinion. I would shut up about it.
For years after, I never raised my hand, never shared out loud at school and surmised that I was stupid.
Slowly, I am finding my voice. I am opening up and singing out loud. I am saying what I see, feeling what I feel, and validating myself that I am allowed to have my feelings. I am how I am. I don’t have to change for you.
It’s a double edged sword that our greatest gifts stem from our deepest wounds. My passion is what people share they love about me. It also is what repulses people when they feel the energy of my assertion.
My deep insecurity and shame for taking up space, is the great power I now have to be powerfully present, and captivate.
A girlfriend reflected to me this weekend, as I was in tears about my struggle to show up and be well received that it’s possible that the way I trigger others could be the medicine I carry.
This weekend, a friend and I got into a fight. I shared an opinion I had. He shared his. We were like two adolescent kids claiming alpha status.
The next day, we attempted to resolve our issue.
With two friends as witnesses he had about 5 solid minutes to share his perspective. I listened, in silence, while he told me everything he thought I did to him.
Feeling misunderstood, hurt and like his world view was far from my intention, I stayed steady and gave generously of my listening while he shred me to bits. (that’s how it felt.)
Then, it was my turn to speak.
He promised to listen.
He kept interrupting. He kept defending. Then, before I’d said a minute’s worth, he realized he needed to get ready for the hike, he got up and started to walk away.
I was incensed. I had let him bend my ear to the tune of my lacking and then he left me there, stripped naked emotionally, with no space or grace for me to be heard.
I said, “I feel disrespected.”
My other friend, the witness, began to attempt to get me to change my view. This infuriates me. Why do we try to change others? Is it our discomfort? Can we not let others feel their emotions? What will happen?
I resisted, angry now. No! I am angry! He gave his word, he reneged, now he’s leaving, he shred me with witnesses and walks away with no resolution and it’s unfair.
My friend backed down, okay, you’re right, you can feel angry about that.
He came toward me and asked to hug me, he came too close and began to put his arms around me.
I yelled, NO! I don’t want to hug you now. I am angry!! I am angry!!
I grew up angry. Looking back, I had every right. For years, I shunned my anger, pushing it down, and back. I showed up only with a smile and laughter and if I was mad, I ran to hide.
Today, I am friends with my anger. Learning to give her voice, to listen to her, to side with myself, that my anger is telling me something, it’s my guide post that something isn’t working for me. It’s how I don’t get abused anymore.
I let her say, out loud, with witness, I’m angry!
She doesn’t have to hide anymore. I a done with allowing you to tell me how I should feel. I am done with others attempting to change me. I am who I am.
I’m fed up with the world praising positive, light, emotion, and reacting to and judging anger. It is my right to set my boundary, not be touched by someone who I feel did not honor me, and to feel anger.
This is the path to healing. If we allow ourselves to feel our feelings, they come up to be released, we can name our truth in the moment, have honest, authentic connection, experience the power we have to impact people and make choices for love.
It is healthy to feel our feelings, it’s how we heal.
When we repress and deny, then we have to face it over and over until we finally bow deep to the wisdom that resides within that bubbles up in the form of fire. Fire warms. Fire is power. Breathe fire. Love fire. Own your fire and then let it ignite the world.
In the end, it’s alright. I am not angry anymore. I still love my friend. He still loves me. In fact, we have more of that pearly shine to our relationship because we got messy and rubbed the grit.
In the end, we don’t love because of what people do for us, we love because we are love.
We don’t have to earn it. I can be bossy, opinionated and aggravating, it doesn’t change my value. In fact, consider, it’s the medicine I carry.
“The greatest problem of communication is the illusion that it has been accomplished.”~George Bernard Shaw