I’ll just jump right into this one.
I’ve been in an emotionally taxing situation in one of my personal relationships. I’ve had all the feelings – anger, sadness, hurt, guilt, and even shame. It’s been a bit of a bugger, I can tell you. I may love witnessing and helping others work through their junk, but that doesn’t mean I actually enjoy working through mine all the time. Sometimes, I’d rather crawl in a hole with a live cobra. I would also love to claim that I don’t have junk to work through anymore, that I’m somehow more evolved than that, but I would be handing you a stinking pile of BS. So, I’ll keep it to the truth instead: sometimes I hate doing the emotional heavy lifting that healing requires.
Still, I recognize that doing the work around my emotions, staying present in relationships, and walking through the tricky, mucky, muddy spaces, is important. One of my core beliefs as a human being and as a professional healer and coach is this:
We reclaim bits of our Selves and integrate our experiences of Life when we do the work.
That doesn’t mean I’m pretty about it, and it doesn’t mean that I don’t fall back into old, maladaptive coping skills when I’m doing the dirty work. I do. For instance, in the midst of this situation, I found myself trying to have a party with my favorite maladaptive coping skill family. Let’s call them the ButIt’sTrue Clan: Justification, Rationalization, and Blaming. Every time I got too close to information that hurt, particularly if it brought up guilt or shame, I found myself rationalizing my position and justifying my feelings. When I bumped into feelings of anger or pain, I dove into blaming. I abandoned my Self by jumping into bed with the ButIt’sTrueClan. Here’s the corresponding core belief:
We abandon Self by invalidating and denying our ownership of our thoughts, feelings and behaviors – Our Experience.
Here’s what I mean: Every time we move away from the immediacy of our experience (the thoughts, feelings, and behaviors happening in the present moment) by EXPLAINING ourselves, whether silently in our own mind or out loud to another person, we lose some of the power of Self’s truth in the moment. The present truth. When we justify, rationalize, or blame, we walk away from Self and give some or all of the responsibility for whatever is going on to another person or event or even to a past version of ourselves. We GIVE AWAY OUR POWER in the name of COMFORT. To repeat: We abandon Self by invalidating and denying our ownership of our experience.
The tricky thing about the ButIt’sTrue Family is that they usually include at least part of the truth. Hence, their name. For instance, if I’m late for a meeting and feel bad about it, rather than just taking my seat and getting ready to participate, I might be compelled to tell the facilitator that traffic was backed up on the highway, that I worked late yesterday and being late today would prevent overtime, or my husband made me late by taking a long shower. While any of those might be entirely true, it’s not necessary information unless an explanation is requested. It’s a justification that takes a little sting out of my discomfort. That little sting is a bit of my Experience, and so it holds a bit of my Power. Learning to own our thoughts, feelings and behaviors, including our lateness and how that lateness makes us feel, is a part of healing, which is a Warrior’s journey. We reclaim a bit of Self every time we do that work
Partnering with the ButIt’sTrue family in relationships with other people is pretty common for lots of folks, and it’s damaging. Easing away from justification, rationalization, and blaming in our communication with others is an important facet of the healing process, but there’s an even deeper level in my opinion. Like I did in the situation I described, we often justify, rationalize and blame when we’re the only person in the room. Difficult situations arise in life, and these situations can be accompanied by difficult thoughts and feelings and may even include some less than fabulous behaviors on our part. Learning to own every single bit of our experience builds up our power quotient and takes us closer and closer to full integration.
Last night, I reread some of what I’d written about my current situation. I realized how much space was taken up by my explanations. The ButIt’sTrue family members were running amok. As an experiment, I went through and deleted every justification, line of rationalization, or bit of blame that I could find, and I reread what I wrote. As I sat there reading my feelings without their corresponding wordy fluff, I felt a surge of energy. I won’t tell you it was delightful. It wasn’t. Some of that energy cut into my heart and shook my guts. I cried. It was uncomfortable but I recognized it. It was MINE. My Self gave a whistle and those feelings, those experiences ran right to their owner. I felt the Power.
Am I advocating owning every single thing in the world? No. Own what’s yours. Discard what’s not. Practice searching for the wisdom to know the difference between the two.
Here’s a little meditation (based oh-so-obviously on the Serenity Prayer that is commonly said in 12-step meetings around the globe).
May I have the clarity to see my own BS and the courage to own it,
The healthy boundaries I need to block the BS that doesn’t belong to me,
And the wisdom to know the difference between my stink and the stink of the Other.