Are you ever tempted by a saunter along victim street? Or a meander down martyr lane?
It can be a seductive path and personally I find myself there more often than I would like. Just the other day I bemoaned to a friend: ‘She asked me and I really couldn’t say no’.
What I really meant was this: ‘I was afraid that if I said no that she would think less of me’.
It’s the same when I say ‘I haven’t got time’ for something. What I actually mean is ‘I’m choosing to spend my time doing other things’.
Finger pointing can be pretty seductive… She never listens. He's always thoughtless. Righteousness feels so goooooood for that fleeting moment. And then not so much. Blame and shame aren't effective human motivators. They trigger that abhorrence we all have of being controlled. So we're left with disconnection and more frustration. The thing to be curious about is our own side of the street. Where do I sometimes not listen? When am I unintentionally thoughtless, either with this person or others? Cleaning up our own side of the street rather than demanding that someone else picks up their broom. #sundaysoulbite #theirstreettheirbusiness
It’s the same when people say they’re “stuck” in a particular job. The truth is, for better or worse, they’re choosing to prioritise stability and financial security over other things.
The trouble with these seemingly innocent statements is we swiftly drop responsibility for our predicaments squarely on the shoulders of some one or some thing else. In doing so we abscond from taking any action and merrily go on our way muttering under our breaths about how ridiculous/unfair/annoying it all is.
Over time, as we continue to tell ourselves these half-truths, we become jaded. We feel paralysed and stuck. Or worse, under-appreciated and resentful.
Owning our own situation demands that we hand in our powerless badge. It requires us to step up and tell ourselves the truth about the choices we’re making. To recognise when and where we’re hiding, pretending that our hands are tied.
Respecting yourself enough to gently but firmly call out your own BS isn’t easy.
Our minds are ingenious creators and story tellers. Which is brilliant when you're penning the next Pulitzer-prize novel or holding court at a dinner party, and not so useful IN EVERYDAY LIFE. My two go-to questions when I find myself stressing and ruminating over a particular situation: *What are the stories? *What are the facts? For example~ Stories: "I stuffed up that presentation so badly. It was so obvious I was so nervous. I should have known the answers to those questions, they were so basic. They must think I'm a moron." Facts: I presented to the Board today. I felt hot and had a knot in my stomach. They asked five questions; I answered three and said I would get back to them on the other two. See how much less charge the truth has? We can always deal with the facts. The unbearable anxiety comes from the overlay. The stories and the judgements of our own making. Gently teasing out the truth is the path to peace. #sundaysoulbite
If you’re thinking as you read this, ‘I can really see how my friend/mum/significant other does this but in my particular case, it doesn’t apply and really, truly my hands are actually tied …’ go deeper. Challenge your perspective until you find that point where you did make a choice.
Where you decided that you would honour one particular obligation above all else. Where you elected to prioritise one value even if it meant letting another be on the back burner for a while.
It might not have felt like a choice at the time but in reality it must have been because as adults, we are very rarely ‘forced’ to do things.
Every day we make decisions that create the lives we’re leading and as tempting as it might be to distance ourselves from that, the sooner we accept it, the sooner we can make decisions that align with what we want.
We’re able to identify what is driving our choices and we can change that – if we choose.
It is as terrifying – and liberating – as that.