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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

When Familiarity Breeds Contempt

I have a very good friend who is extremely intuitive and emotionally aware. I like to talk to him about his perceptions on life because he is very aware of the insanity of human beings.

I ran a couple of scenarios by him that had just occurred to me. In both of these scenarios, I was simply trying to live my life and be a good human being. In both these scenarios, the people that I love the most launched counter attacks. Neither of those counter attacks had their desired effect.

In one, I simply withdrew. In the other, I told my would be attacker, that it was ok-rather than fall on a sword and act like a victim and launch a new "counter counter" attack.

And so I found myself asking my intuitive friend, just why it is that the people who profess to love us the most-treat us the worst sometimes.

And once again, I heard those familiar words from my intuitive friend. It had nothing to do with you. It never does.

The people most familiar with us, take far greater emotional liberty with us. Often they transfer their emotional state onto us over the most simple and benign things. If in fact you point out that out to them, they will will entrench themselves in a defensive posture, pleading their case and further entrenching themselves in that faulty "victim" logic. People take everything personally you see, they want and thus they believe-that somehow you have victimized them. They want you to understand that. To believe as they do.

Thus you have a situation wherein one party has assumed a victim role. You are thus feeling like a victim as they launch their "how could you do that to me?" victim attack on you. For you to respond to that in some emotional continuum is insane.

Evaluate the situation honestly. If you are in fact partially to blame, make it as right as you can without diminishing others. Bestow the love you would like to receive even as they diminish you.

That is very hard to do. Sometimes the best we can do is withdraw and not cause any further damage or refuse to participate. Sometimes, we can love those even as they are transferring all of their negative emotions toward us.

Unconditional love is a commitment to love. It requires the dissolving of old victim belief systems and an understanding that people are just trying to live their lives. It is never personal, even when it is delivered by those who are most familiar with us.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Cleaning Up Your Side of the Street

For most of my adult life as a public servant, I helped people sort out their personal lives. Solve problems as "Sully" used to say on "Third Watch." Problems like domestic violence, child abuse, runaway kids.

It's hard to do that sort of thing without witnessing a couple of common denominators over and over again in thousands of dysfunctional relationships. Here then are my observations.

The vast majority of people I know are simply unconscious. They adhere to a belief system and an ego that believes it is right and rarely do they re-think their positions, if ever. Thus they are willing to engage in judgmental and one up behavior as they try to impose those beliefs on others. I was one of those minions.

Family dysfunction can only be lessened when one of the parties in a dysfunctional relationship terminate their role. This usually occurred after some major catalyst. Outside intervention by counseling, family, or the police/legal system rarely did the trick by itself.

The degree or severity of the problem was usually always proportionate to the degree of dysfunction existing among the parties (usually adult) involved. Children of dysfunctional adults tend to cope in several ways ranging from- withdrawing (perhaps completely) and becoming submissive or lacking self esteem; to anger, rebelling, or running away; to getting involved in premature relationships (looking for replacement love) and/or failing to complete school. Many choose the one catch all solution-alcohol or drug abuse.

The children of dysfunctional adults are hostages. They are powerless to intervene and they don't know the solution. They cope somehow.

The beautiful part of policing is that you see these manifestations in all of their emotional glory or aftermath. You are not a licensed counselor espousing theory with two calm and rational adults in some controlled office environment with a few textbooks and a degree hanging on the wall.

I was one of the lucky ones. I figured all of this out. My working with dysfunctional people helped me figure out my own dysfunction. I know where it comes from and why. The problem, just like my problem on the street, was that you cannot get the unconscious participants to self examine. You have no control over your exterior world. And if by some miracle, you sort it out, all that you can do is take responsibility for your role in all of those relationships. Make amends or as some of us call it, "clean up your side of the street."

I've been putting the finishing touches on that this past month. My journey and my healing process are just about over. I am going through my most difficult relationships, and one by one, I am taking responsibility for my role in those and "putting them to sleep."

This is the most operative thing I can say here. Under no circumstances, can you attach culpability for those dysfunctional acts committed by those you are making amends with. You will run into a wall of unconscious denial. This is a lonely path. Your purpose is not to re-ignite the same old dysfunctional behavior. To do so, would be complete failure. Your purpose is to recognize that part of your behavior that was wrong, make no excuses for it or point out someone elses's role, and accept responsibility for it.

This is an undeniable part of attaining real emotional healing. It is not easy. Some of the people we hurt or damaged will not be responding with open arms. And that's ok. In fact, that is a part of the reason we had dysfunctional relationships with them to begin with.

Cleaning up your side of the street is completely selfish. It has nothing to do with healing those we damaged as much as it has everything to do with healing ourselves.

The epilogue on all of this is that we must be realistic. People can harbor and ultimately die clinging to all of those faulty beliefs. They may not have an ounce of forgiveness in them and that too, is ok. Sometimes the best we can do is try not to engage in any more dysfunctional behavior. Often I find myself simply withdrawing from a relationship when I have tried communication and it has failed. That has occurred several times. You simply can't expect conscious behavior, open communication, or instant credibility in a relationship that you have helped damage. Credibility in those situations is often beyond repair and irretrievable.

Manage your expectations and do the deal. Clean up your side of the street.

Friday, October 9, 2009

"Oh... So Very Rare"

I have heard two different versions of the story I'm about to tell. It is not original and if I could give credit where credit is due I certainly would. It is a wonderful story and it fully captures the essence of what real emotional freedom and happiness are all about. I hope I tell it in a way that does the story justice.

In fact, I thought of this story when I heard the wife of a famous hotelier and casino owner being interviewed on a television program once. She said that her husband believed in a "rich kind of freedom as opposed to a poor kind of freedom."

Unfortunately, emotional freedom, does not come in those labeled varieties. It is doubtful she would understand this. At any rate, our story...

Many years ago there was a man named Tom who stumbled onto a quaint Mexican village situated on the gulf of Mexico. He loved the village and it's friendly people. He loved the sun and he loved to fish. At night he would eat and laugh with friends, sing and dance until the wee hours of the morning. Life here was simple. It was fun. He could fish during the day and sell his catch at the market and make enough money to enjoy his life. And so this was what he chose to do.

A year or so after he settled into the village, a friend from the United States came to visit. He was a businessman. He loved to fish as well. Tom invited his old friend to accompany him fishing.

They rowed out to a secret spot about a mile off shore. There in Tom's secret spot, in only an hour or two, they caught three giant yellow fin tuna. They returned to the little village's marina and sold the catch for enough money to live and enjoy Tom's adopted lifestyle comfortably for a week. The man's friend was overwhelmed at how little time they had spent fishing and just how far the money would go.

Tom's friend had an idea. He said, "Tom, I've got an idea. Why don't you get a bigger boat, one that will hold more fish? That way you could catch more fish and make more money."

Tom replied, "Yes and then what?"

"Well, the boat would have a motor, you could get to your spot faster, catch more fish and make more money."

Tom replied, "Yes and then what?"

"Then you could buy more boats, hire employees and catch more fish, and make even more money!"

Tom replied, Wow! And then what?" His friend said,

"Then you could buy the cannery and the market, avoid the middleman, and sell all of your own fish and make even more money!"

And Tom said, "Great and then what?"

"Well, then as you got older you could retire and live happily ever after!"

And Tom said, "That sounds fantastic-what would I do once I was retired?"

His friend pondered what Tom might do then. "Well he said, after you retire, you could sing and dance and be happy with all of your friends."

Tom thought for a moment and replied, "I do not have the responsibility or the worry that comes with all of those things. My life is simple and carefree. I sing and dance and love my friends. That gives me great happiness and I enjoy my life just as it is now. Why should I work so hard to enjoy that which I have found, to try an attain a retirement goal that I have achieved already? That does not make much sense to me."

This is an excellent story that illustrates the gratitude of an emotionally free human being that has found happiness and is living his life exactly as he wants. Tom's friend is emblematic of the greed and wanting that is so much a part of our culture. Our culture covets those that forever want and seemingly acquire happiness and we are rarely satisfied even when we have plenty. Rarely do we express any gratitude as we go about our forever wanting lives. Think about that next time you are at a cocktail party or anywhere else (including work) for that matter. Listen for gratitude, I think you will find it, "oh... so very rare."