Archives for posts with tag: don’t drink the poison

Not for consumption. Do not take internally.

Seriously; human beings can be mean, callous, insensitive, rude, inconsiderate, and yes, even deliberately hurtful. Don’t drink the poison just because it’s offered to you. 🙂 It can be quite difficult in the moment, when we’re feeling the emotional sting of something mean, cruel, hurtful, or just factually incorrect (based on our own also very human recollection), to remember that it isn’t actually personal at all; those hurtful words are a reflection of the thinking (and values, and intent, and practices) of the person saying them. Nothing to do with you, actually, unless you accept it, and internalize it, and make it your own. Why do that? Let it go.

We’re each human. Each having our own experience. Each writing our own narrative in our heads, cobbled together from our recollections, assumptions, expectations, values – and things we think we understand, about which we generally know far less than we assume we do. Even when we’re certain? Even when we’re “quite expert” in the field? Yep. Maybe especially then. We’re human. Thinking errors are built right in. I’m just saying, it’s very likely for any one of us that we are far less correct than we tend to assume, far more of the time than we’d ideally want to be, and waaaaaaay too willing to attempt to force our assumptions and thinking on others without even asking the simplest clarifying questions.¯\_()_/¯

…We could do better. I mean… I know I could.

recommended summer reading

I sip my coffee and let the day begin. Nothing fancy about it, although it feels very different. My workstation is in the dining room, and my fingers on the keys “feel loud”. I’m temporarily “kicked out” of my studio due to a leak my Traveling Partner spotted Friday (I’m damned glad he did!), and although we’ve gotten that fixed, there is some damage that needs repair, and some mold remediation required, too. Rather not sicken myself working in a potentially unhealthy environment, so with my partner’s help, a temporary workstation is set up. Homeowner stuff. :-\ It’s hard to grouse about it too much; it’s one of the things I signed up for, right? Taking care of everything that ever goes wrong? Yep. That’s on us now. LOL Fuuuuuuuuuuck.

Friday, when we spotted the damage being caused by the leak we later identified, was much harder. Paintings were damaged. I wept. There’s still a weight to the grief of that piece of this situation. It’s possible those paintings will have to be destroyed. 😦 The pain of it comes and goes, but seems mostly behind me, now. (I’m at the “paintings are just things” stage, this morning…) To get through it, to process the enormity of the emotional ache, I’ve spent rather a lot of time this weekend meditating on non-attachment (and how many of the things and experiences we become attached to in life serve only to cause us pain – because of the attachment, itself). I found it helpful, and rather more obvious, after all, that seems reasonable, when I do feel so much hurt. Letting go of some things is far easier than letting go others. Just being real.

I sip my coffee and contemplate all the many things I’ve let go of over a lifetime – often with considerable emotional resistance, sometimes because I’ve been literally forced to let them go by circumstances. I think about the pain of loss, and the relief involved in letting go of attachment. I consider how very many of life’s most painful disappointments feel that way because of the sudden severing of some unnoticed attachment to a thing, person, experience, or outcome. I wonder at the slow progression of healthy attachment toward unhealthy attachment that sometimes occurs in a relationship. I replay things my therapist has said about non-attachment, and practices useful for avoiding becoming “fused” with someone else’s emotional experience. The pre-dawn darkness slowly becomes morning light, and a new day. I finish my coffee. There’s a day ahead, and it’s time to begin again. 🙂

Where does this path lead?

*addendum and a wee follow-up note: I’m fully made of human. I really struggle with this one, like, nearly every day. Avoiding the pitfall of taking other people’s words, or experience, or emotions, personally – becoming attached to the feelings that causes me, and fused with someone else’s emotional experience is a shitty way to treat myself. So, I really work on this… a lot. Tons of new beginnings. Tons of self-compassionate reminders. A lot of moments to reflect on handling life more skillfully, and more comfortably. My results vary. That’s why I write about it. 😉

I am sipping my morning coffee, considering the walk I am eager to want to take. I’m “not there yet”. lol My muscles ache from pushing myself, already. I’m not bitching about it, and I’m not unhappy over it. Sore muscles are muscles working a bit harder, doing more things that need done, and becoming more capable of more work. Consistency is a requirement for forward progress; if I skip the walk today over sore muscles, I don’t make as much progress toward my goals, nor as quickly, so… at some point? Walking. I’m not looking forward to the walking itself, although I’d like to. I am in pain. The walking helps the pain in my back and my neck (osteoarthritis), but is less helpful with the bad ankle that has to support the weight. Without walking, the weight remains an issue. With the walking, the ankle is an issue. I’m not saying it as though this is an unsolvable conundrum, either, just saying that these complications are part of my experience. 🙂 There’s a metaphor here…

It’s a journey with a lot of steps.

We become what we practice. Emotionally and physically. There’s not a lot of room to argue on this one. Are you hot tempered, easily frustrated, quick to react, and tending to fall back on negative feedback and criticism to communicate your needs? Well, that’s the person you become, over time, in a fixed and rather predictably unpleasant way. Are you tender-hearted, prone to tears in the face of negative feedback, (whether or not it is accurate or well-intended, or useful at all) particularly when it comes from someone whose opinion you value? Same slope; you become more of who you already are, and what you choose to do with the toxicity of the world around you, because it is what you practice. You may get called a bitch when you demand that your agency be respected, or when you insist on not being interrupted in a meeting, but that lack of boundary-setting? It’s a practice, too.

…Also? Don’t be a dick. Don’t be a bitch. Don’t call someone names, either; how about we start there? Speak gently. Be clear, and also honest. “Stay in your lane” in the sense that not every opinion you have actually needs to be shared (particularly with regard to your aesthetic, and someone else’s appearance). Check your assumptions – a lot of them are wrong (the science is in on that) – and practice deep listening, instead of waiting for your turn to talk.

Does it sound like I’m venting aimlessly, about commonplace bullshit we all seem to engage in, if not regularly, then once in a while? Well… then I’ve failed to communicate clearly. I’ll try again…

Your words matter. Use them with care. If you are communicating with someone you say you love, communicate with love – real love, using words and tone that make it very clear that the love is first and foremost in your mind, rather than some momentary frustration. Our bitterness, our hurt, our anger – once shared, it’s out there. Shared with emotional force, and absent the love that may be part of our experience, it causes real harms, real doubts about our affection, and can undermine that love we cherish so much.

Don’t let the sun set on a treasured relationship without saying something encouraging, supportive, authentically affectionate – the smallest moment of authentic appreciation and praise can change the color of an entire day. I am fairly certain most of us share negative feedback with cherished others almost every day… imagine the crushing weight of all that criticism, all that negativity, the constant pressure to raise oneself up from beneath the weight of it… Let’s not do that. Let’s handle our words with greater care, ensuring that we take more time for what is positive and uplifting that we do for things we see as problems needing correction.

I challenge you to practice even a 1 to 1 ratio of (authentic) compliments and (sincere) encouragement to criticism and requests for change. I hope you find that incredibly easy (and succeed) – because people need more love and encouragement than that, and as starting points go, it’s a bare minimum for success. I promise you that if you are only sharing negative feedback, that’s all that is being heard. That sounds like a pretty terrible experience to be on the receiving end of, just saying. Use your words as a force for good in your life, use them to lift others up, to encourage what is positive in everyone you meet.

A lot of people may grow up in environments in which very little positive feedback is shared, or the positive words are hollow superlatives about qualities they can’t control, and no attention given to the whole person. People coming from that place may not know how to give authentic positive feedback, and may genuinely not understand why it is necessary. They need to see it done, to feel it, before it will be something they can easily practice themselves. Is that someone part of your life? Be open to explicitly telling them what you need to hear – without excuses, or a need to justify yourself. It’s okay to need what you need, and it’s also quite okay to ask for it. 🙂 “I need you to say something nice to me right now.” may feel weird to say, but it is one place to start. 🙂

We’re all so human. There’s so much stress and hostility in the world right now. Our culture feels so toxic. Be someone who understands there is work to be done, and recognize you can do some of it. Be someone willing to do it. Be the change we need. Speak gently. Be encouraging and kind. Soften your tone. Be trustworthy. Be honest without being mean. Let small shit go. Don’t drink the poison offered to you. Don’t offer others poison.

Don’t like the world as it is? Be part of what changes it. We become what we practice. Practice being the person you truly most want to be. Every choice, every interaction, every day. Sometimes you will fail (I know I do); your results will vary. Practice more. 🙂 Be that better version of yourself, because you choose it, and it matters. Other people may not make these choices – don’t drink the poison they offer you, and walk your own path. 😉

It’s time to begin again.

I spent Sunday in the studio. It was lovely. Music, paint, and chill creative time – an investment in self. New work drying, waiting to be seen in sunlight, and a beautiful recollection of time well-spent. “Being a creative” – probably true for any sort of artist, really – is quite possibly the most precious and “important” part of “who I am” that I could ever think to share; it’s how I tell the stories I don’t have words for. It can’t actually be taken from me – by anyone.

I’ve been in some shitty relationships, and gotten tangled up with some human beings who did not actually have my interests in mind at all, and did not mean me well – but only one of those, ever, has dared to lay an angry hand on my art work. Her existence as a human being colors the way I feel about new relationships, sadly, making me very cautious, indeed. Generally, human beings I have been emotionally involved with have been pretty uniformly respectful of both my creative process and the resulting work. Not that one; it is clear that the behavior is willful, deliberate, and intentionally chosen for maximum cruelty and manipulative power. While that sucks completely, and causes me real pain, I know something she has not yet learned; tit-for-tat nastiness does more emotional damage to the person doing it than to the person being treated poorly. The damage to me amounts to only as much as I permit. Non-attachment is huge here. Having learned that lesson a very long time ago, there’s no reason to interact with her at all. (In keeping with my own admonitions “don’t take the bait”, I am careful not to allow myself to be baited.) Certainly I’ve no interest in game-playing or “pay backs” – what a waste of precious limited life time that would be.

Work in progress, not yet completed, inspired by an X. “Toxicity”.

Walking on from something as dear to me as my art work, when I know it is in the hands of someone who will (or has) destroyed it – and who I have clear confirmation has that potential, because she’s already damaged some of it (and won’t return the rest) – is uncomfortable. It’s hard. No lie. Is all that beautiful work lost? Maybe. It may be that I will have to handle it with a civil stand by, at a later date, or criminal charges, or a civil lawsuit, certainly, it is not necessary for me to “take care of it” myself. For now? I have other things to do with my life, and no interest in being emotionally manipulated. I let it all go. I walk on. I spend delightful leisure hours in my studio, painting new work.

I hear from my Traveling Partner late in the day. We talk. I feel wrapped in his love. That’s a story I will tell on canvas, in colors and brush strokes, for the rest of my life, and it is one that brings me great joy.

So much love it regularly spills onto canvas. 🙂

Pay backs are bullshit. Don’t be tempted into playing that game; you’ve already lost once you allow that toxic mess into your thinking. Stay on your path. Be the person you most want to be. Don’t become a thing you despise because you feel hurt or angry. (I know, I know, there are verbs involved, and your results may vary.) Transcending the willful hurts delivered by another can be incredibly difficult, but… every time you do? You demonstrate the beauty of your fundamental humanity. Taking that “high road”? You show the quality of your character – to everyone. What that person so invested in hurting you thinks about you (or says) is irrelevant, to you, and to the world; they have shown who they are. Let them have their skewed world view, and walk on. “Being right”? Not as important as your life. You don’t need to defend yourself to others, or “prove” a point. Life your life. Live it well. Treat others well. Be kind. Be true to your values. Let go of whatever you have to, in order to break the chains that bind you to another by anything but your own choice to be with them (ideally because you mutually meet each other’s emotional needs in a positive supportive way, that encourages personal growth and nurtures you all).  Just my thoughts on that sort of thing. It works for me.

Another day and week begin. A satisfying weekend becomes a new work week. Clearly, it is time to begin again. 🙂

 

 

I’m thinking this weekend I’ll “take a cleanse” – an emotional cleanse. A heartfelt, welcome moment to detox from the poison filling my day-to-day consciousness (because it is also filling my internet bubble, rather unavoidably, because – like so many people – I care about stuff) seems a bit overdue. I won’t care less. I’ll just set aside the news cycles, set aside Facebook (note to self; this requires actually logging out of it, and also just go ahead and temporarily uninstall it from your handheld, it’s just easier that way), log out of social media accounts, update my home pages so that I get only my blog, and a search tab. That’s step one.

Step two in any good cleanse isn’t just about what I’m not putting into my face holes, it’s also about what I am putting in my face holes. It’ll be a grand opportunity to hike, weather permitting, or read actual books, paint, bird watch, chat with friends… It’s not as if there is some shortage of activities to indulge my senses in real life. I’ll make a point of getting good rest, good nutrition, and getting plenty of exercise. I’ll exercise my brain with content that really challenges my thinking in new ways. I’ll learn. I’ll grow. I’ll heal.

It isn’t that I don’t care. I’m sure not less involved, or taking less action. It’s necessary to really care for the woman in the mirror, or I won’t hold up for the long haul, and may become, over time, progressively more reactive, less rational, more emotional, less reasoned – and there is a balance to be struck. We become what we practice.

It's a good day for practicing effective practices.

It’s a good day for practicing effective practices.

What are you doing to take care of you? What are you practicing? Today is a good day to make each choice count, and to become the person you most want to be. 🙂

It’s a quiet stormy evening. I’ve gotten most of my laundry done, bringing it in warm and dry from the laundry room between rain showers. Between loads of laundry I’ve spent time meditating, as storm clouds and passing showers crossed the view out the patio window. I enjoy seeing the sky, a horizon, a view, and so placed my favorite cushion for meditating just there, where my view of the park beyond the patio is unobstructed.

Potted miniature roses drenched by passing showers don't seem to mind the rain at all.

Potted miniature roses drenched by passing showers don’t seem to mind the rain at all.

Tonight had been planned for love and loving, but love had other needs, elsewhere, tonight. Love isn’t always easy, and needs considerable investment in respect, in consideration, in compassion, and yes, even openness and reciprocity. I’m sure I’ve never felt truly loved in their absence. (That’s why they are my Big 5 relationship values!) Still, I don’t feel any lack of love for love’s lack of proximity tonight. I feel heard, cared for, respected, valued – I feel wrapped in the comfort and warmth of a strong partnership, signal boosted with clear communication and explicit expectation setting. I find myself feeling compassion (his are complicated circumstances), and hoping very much that the evening goes well for my tested traveling partner; his relationship building skills are considerable – love still requires that everyone involved make an equal investment of heart, and will, and effort. No one human being can hold an entire relationship together alone. There are so many verbs involved…mindful loving uses many more of them than I had imagined (and I still have so much to learn). Listening deeply is a practice worthy of practicing – and then practicing more; I’ve learned so much more about love in the silence between my words that gives my lover room to be heard, than I ever did in one moment of something I said myself. Still; verbs. It isn’t enough to wait to talk. It’s the listening that counts, and doing it skillfully requires more than a little practice.

Listening deeply is like looking at something distant, requiring attention, focus, engagement and presence; this is not a picture of branches.

Listening deeply is like looking at something distant; it requires attention, focus, engagement and presence. (This is not a picture of branches.)

The television is off. No background slide show, no cartoons or animation, no favorite series or new hilarious YouTube video, science documentary, or nature show to pull my focus from the quiet evening. I am giving myself my time and attention. There is music playing, but that too is subdued; jazz (‘fusion’) tonight, bass heavy, relaxed, complex, rich, and joyous, and turned down low enough to feel the quiet of evening nonetheless – the sort of easy, inspiring sounds that apparently compel considerable overuse of adjectives and adverbs – the musical equivalent of poetry, but the sort of uplifting simple thing easily remembered and happily shared.

Too many words. This is too many – isn’t it? Is it? I’m not sure. I think I’ve gone a tad overboard here, just now, but I feel content and filled with warm joy and a feeling of security. It’s pleasant – and I don’t feel quite this way very often at all. It’s the security, I think – a sort of calm strength just beneath the surface of the contentment and joy. It’s nice. I’m sure I ‘worked’ to get ‘here’…but I didn’t plan it, or seek it out, I’ve been busy on other practices, other verbs, other concerns in life. Maybe that’s the point of what I am saying tonight; I didn’t chase this down as an outcome. I simply arrived here. Practicing good basic self-care, treating myself truly well, practicing practices that build emotional resilience and self-sufficiency, learning skills that support my emotional balance – whether I am home alone, out in the world, or faced with a moment of someone else’s drama – each incremental change over time has been a step on a journey that brought me here. ‘Here’ is very nice, I must say…and it’s enough.

One moment of many. I am here. I am okay. This is enough.

One moment of many. I am here. I am okay. This is enough.

Today is a good day to enjoy what is – whatever it is, however much it can be enjoyed. Today is a good day to learn from what hurts. Today is a good day to watch storms pass over head, and to recognize the difference between ‘climate’ and ‘weather’. Today is a good day to take a step back from the world, and listen deeply in a quiet moment.