Archives for posts with tag: feeling heard

There are no shortcuts available in life, not really; everything that feels like a successful shortcut is probably a lack of understanding of the options available in the first place. Just go with me on this one, and also accept that we’re each making the rules – and drawing the map, and writing the narrative – as we go along on this journey. I’m pretty sure of myself on this point, which does nothing to validate whether I am correct, it just speaks to whether I am likely to be acting on these assumptions (and I am).

No shortcuts – there are verbs involved, and I don’t use all of them equally easily. When I allow others to dictate to me which verbs are available in the first place, and set limits on how and when I can use them, it can definitely feel liberating – and like a shortcut – to use a verb not on the ‘official list’. 🙂

Another reminder – to me, myself, but here if you need it – we’re all making this up as we go along; mistakes, successes, highlights, bloopers, heartfelt emotions, embarrassing moments, every bit of every detail resting on the foundation we give it. If I choose to build my experience on negative self-talk, boosting the volume on negative bias, and allowing my fears and doubts to lead the way on this journey it will be a very different one than it tends to be when I choose differently. It can be so incredibly difficult to remember this in a difficult moment. Like last night.

Perspective over coffee.

Perspective over coffee.

A simple errand taking advantage of a special offered to military veterans turned into an exercise in frustration that began with the heat of the day, and the inconvenience of the destination. Problematic circumstances complicated things; I left the office later than I needed to, traffic was much worse than anticipated and the public transit system was facing serious delays. When I reached my destination, still feeling positive, although rather tired and in a lot of pain, I found myself faced with business practices that put me at a disadvantage, and I came face to face with my arch-nemesis Frustration. (I’ve mentioned it before, but if you’re new here… I’m seriously not wired for frustration, and it’s a problem. My disinhibiting TBI and the common human experience of frustration do not play nicely together.)

I managed my emotions pretty comfortably for the circumstances. Although I walked away feeling on the edge of tears, I managed to hold things together and do the adult thing courteously. Trembling and in a lot of pain, I headed back into the heat and made my way home feeling more frustrated than I needed to (the errand wasn’t essential – part of the frustration, actually, was the wasted time), and more pissed off than felt comfortable. I could see how the scenario would likely play out. I’d hold back tears, gritting my teeth all the way home, rationalizing the experience and dismissing my emotions until I felt like I wasn’t being heard, and I would begin feeling disconnected from my experience, and once sufficiently overwhelmed by my utter disregard for my own feelings, I would likely crumble – perhaps in the shower – and cry for a long time until I was exhausted from that, collapsing into an unsatisfying sleep plagued by nightmares of futility and helplessness… Only… I do have choices…

In my darkest moments, I find value in asking myself 'dark relative to what?'

In my darkest moments, I find value in asking myself ‘dark relative to what?’ It helps to let small stuff stay small.

I figured I’d try some of the new things I put so much practice into, instead of re-hashing the same old emotional shit storm, and blowing the entire evening. On the way home I emailed my traveling partner (who is out-of-town for the weekend) and shared the experience in simple terms. I was honest about my feelings without projecting the experience into his. I owned up to feeling angry in simple terms, and didn’t make it personal (it’s just an emotion). I kept it simple, and didn’t ask for help, or encroach on his time – there wasn’t anything to do about it, and already the experience was in the past. I made a decision not to continue to do business there, myself – I didn’t feel valued as a consumer, and the business is not conveniently located, so that’s an easy win for me, and I felt ‘heard’ (by me), cared for (by me), respected (by me) and supported (by me). I got home and made choices that looked like shortcuts (like nutritious calories fast, rather than a long cooking process for a hot meal), but were really only different choices, ones that maximized my ability to continue to treat myself well, in the shorter amount of time available. Later in the evening, my traveling partner followed up with a phone call, hearing me, caring for me, and showing his support, too. No tears. No tantrums. No drama. No exhausted restless night. No nightmares. Practice, and good self-care for the win. 🙂

Perspective is a really big deal - we see what we are looking at. Limiting our vision, limits our options.

Perspective is a really big deal – we see what we are looking at. Limiting our vision, limits our options.

Last night could have gone so differently. I’m taking time over my coffee this morning to consider how differently, and why it went so well. Choices matter. I have so much power to change my experience, right in the moment. Emotions are powerful, so much so that they don’t always lead well. Reason has her place in life. I didn’t understand how much less tug of war there is between emotion and reason in a life built on mindful practices, and good self-care. It’s not the sort of thing that’s easy to explain in words. The unfortunate commercialization of mindfulness tends to promote these ideas in a way that suggests a fad…there are so many voices being raised that shout into the wind about the value of being mindful, the din sort of fades into the background. That’s unfortunate because nothing has worked for me as well as practicing mindfulness, practicing meditation, practicing good basic self-care…all completely free, available for the taking literally anywhere, and effective on an order of magnitude that makes monetization irresistible for the business savvy primate looking to stand on a taller pile of bananas. It happens to me too…I get excited about how well this is going for me, and I share eagerly, and then wonder…can I profit from the sharing as well as from the practicing? The answer is, I think, actually ‘no’ [for me] – and not because it isn’t possible to make money selling mindfulness to people (who perhaps don’t realize they can get there for free) – it’s totally possible to do that (just Google mindfulness, you’ll see).

The mindfulness being sold commercially isn’t that thing that is working so well for me; it’s a product that looks very similar, packaged and marketed for appeal, that has some potential to put real people on a more mindful path, potentially, with practice. There are verbs involved, though, and paying the money doesn’t change the need to actually practice.  There’s the disconnect; when we buy a product we’re rarely expecting to also do the work. We bought it, shouldn’t we have it? Mindfulness very definitely doesn’t work that way; no amount of money spent reduces the amount of practice required. While I could profit from selling a mindfulness product of some kind… it wouldn’t truly be this thing that has done so much to improve my own experience; that’s not for sale, and I also can’t withhold it from you. Mindfulness is free for the taking – it just requires practice. 🙂

Finding the lasting value in perspective and good practices.

Finding the lasting value in perspective and good practices.

I will admit that once it was clear that practicing mindfulness was easing my day-to-day symptoms, and potentially even improving my wellness, I bought a few books (more than a few) and read a lot about this experience, this path, these practices; educating myself was  worthy, and I was admittedly still looking for ‘shortcuts’. Where some new ‘shortcut’ seemed to be working out well, it was a matter of honest practice, an effort of will and intent with a lot of verbs involved, and had I known where to look, the information was available for free all along. I’m just saying – it’s the practicing, and you can do this – your choices, your intent, your will, your vision… your life. This isn’t about ‘being right’ about mindfulness, for me. I’m not making any rules for you, or ‘showing you the way’ – I’m just practicing, taking care of me, and sharing my experience is one practice I use, for me, to maintain perspective, build resilience, and tidy up some of this chaos and damage.

Perspective is a big deal; the spiders in life are not actually as big as they sometimes look.

The spiders in life are not actually as big as they sometimes look.

I remember being ‘lost in the wilderness’ with my PTSD, desperate for any voice of hope, no idea where to turn, what questions to ask, or what books to read, and feeling so lost. I write hoping my words can be a lighthouse in the stormy darkness of some heart, now that I know it is possible to reach a safe harbor, within. (With the challenges I have with my TBI, that heart is often my own – I come back often to these words.) Still…I guess what I’m saying is that the practice is still your own, whatever you choose to practice. I’m not really interested in selling you on these ideas, I’m just living my life, and sharing some small piece of my experience along the way. It’s still my perspective. Your results may vary. 🙂

Today is a good day to begin again. Head where you are headed. Be who you most want to be. Walk your path eyes wide to wonder and delight, and if you fall, fail, miss, slip, or pause… just begin again. Lead with love; it’s a good place to start.

Turns out the toughest posts to write, for me, are those on mornings when my heart soars and I want to wax poetic about love. It’s a lovely morning, although I am a tad groggy and my brain is still sort of wandering here and there, and revisiting the lovely evening I shared with my traveling partner over coffees, dinner, and tales of adventure. I would happily overshare graphic romantic details without a thought for discretion, writing endlessly only about the ‘hearts and flowers’ of love and loving… certainly it is worthy subject material, always, and generally prominent in my thoughts on mornings such as this. I do prefer not to write too close to the boundary between joy and total loss of respect for the privacy of others dear to me, though… so, perhaps best to move on to other things?

Modern love

hello, Love

…And there’s the challenge, for me, this morning; what other things could I possibly write about on a morning like this, besides love? It was a great evening, in the company of someone dear to me, and just about perfect in every possible detail. Right at the moment I feel I could sit here smiling softly, wrapped in love, forever. “Forever”, unfortunately, isn’t actually a real thing for a mortal lifetime, and there’s much to learn, and experience (and endure) on this journey that is living. Perspective is a valuable handhold when something goes sideways later and life tries to knock the smile off my face – it may happen, it sometimes does. 🙂

tending the temple of my heart

tending the temple of my heart

Sometimes the hardest hits to my balance come on lovely days like this one. I go out into the world wearing this soft smile, wrapped in love, and don’t realize I’ve ‘let my guard down’ and am not protecting my heart from casual hurts, or have not taken care of my longer term need for balance and resilience by maintaining good practices. Feeling awesome, and feeling in love, sometimes results in taking my state of being for granted and letting good practices slip – because I already feel so good. It’s a mistake worth avoiding with mindful self-care. My day-to-day needs for good self-care don’t go away because I woke up feeling amazing, and feeling loved. There’s still pain to be managed. There are still chores to be done. There is still a budget to be watchful of (and far greater risk of poor impulse control when I feel wonderful). Meditation is still key to building resilience and balance. A healthy diet and appropriate exercise are still needed to maintain good health and promote longevity. Love doesn’t change any of that. Love mostly just feels good…and although I like putting love at the top of my ‘to do list’ (particularly adult romantic sexual love), love doesn’t wash the dishes, make the bed, or make sure I stay on goal with my budget (yeah – it definitely doesn’t help with that last one at all).

love's skills are varied and wondrous, but not always practical

love’s skills are varied and wondrous, but not always practical

Love is the most fantastically wonderful distraction from getting things done! 🙂

"Cherry blossoms" and thoughts of love...there's a metaphor there, somewhere...

“Cherry blossoms” and thoughts of love…there’s a metaphor there, somewhere…

This morning I sip my coffee and think about love’s demands – and the consequences of the actions love can drive. Impulse control issues can result in leaving work too early, or too often, or just sitting staring into a spreadsheet, thinking thoughts of last night, or some night to come. Love can derail my good practices, or find me becoming emotional cling wrap to hold onto any scrap of those lovely sensations just a while longer. Love’s playground becomes a proving ground for my growth over time; am I more easily able to stay on track with work, with planned activities, with other things that urgently matter to me? Am I able to maintain good practices in the face of romantic wonder? Am I grown up – or a little girl doodling hearts and flowers on the back of my notebooks? There is room in my heart – and my experience – for that little girl to remain safe and loved, but it’s also important that she not call the shots in my adult day-to-day experience.

"You Always Have My Heart"

“You Always Have My Heart”

Living alone, I am grateful that I am not particularly at risk of small relationship challenges spoiling my afterglow, that’s one obstacle to love’s delights that I am content to do without; I have enough work to do right now taming the adolescent lover within, and convincing her to do her chores. lol

Impractical, wonderful, sometimes adolescent - more than enough.

Impractical, wonderful, sometimes adolescent – more than enough.

Today is a good day for love – and for making sure things get done in spite of loving. Today is a good day to recognize that while it may feel like ‘love is everything’ and ‘love is all I need’, truly love doesn’t do her share of the dishes, make the bed, or vacuum, and the practical things in life need practical attention. There are verbs involved. It’s also a good day to treat people well, from this loving place; love is a nice way to improve the world.

Another morning. I’m irked about small things, but woke early and spent an hour meditating and finding my way to a sense of calm acceptance and general contentment. It’s nice to be able to reach for it like a cold cola on a summer day and find relief. Practice. Practice. Practice.

We are each having our own experience. Surely the decisions made by asshats in black robes are not the product of viciousness, hate, and disregard for the fundamental humanity of others. It’s always far more likely a product of short-sightedness, inexperience, lack of perspective, and sure, actual cognitive shortfalls that are inevitable in the population; we are not all equally gifted, or equally willing to serve mankind well. Even judges and lawyers are having their own experiences, likely quite human ones.  I wonder what it must be like to go to work every day knowing the decisions you make will affect millions, and that a poor choice might cost many lives and change the face of the entire culture for the worse? Do Supreme Court justices wake up in the morning and think “today I will make the very best, wisest, decision I can make to better the lives of the people of this nation”? Or…do they just sort of…go to work?

Sometimes a little bit is quite enough.

Sometimes a little bit is quite enough.

Second espresso. Drinking them straight this morning, in a lovely stainless steel espresso demi-tasse cup I purchased decades ago, in Germany. It is a moment of exquisite satisfaction to enjoy the espresso in this cup, that was selected with such care as an addition to a growing collection of demi-tasse cups and saucers I had begun in my early twenties as a distraction from the horrors and stress of my life. This particular cup and saucer are as close to ‘indestructible’ as anything I own. This morning, that is meaningful, and I savor that quality quietly, as day breaks.

I am thinking about ‘truth’ and ‘reality’ and the way we use words to define our experiences, both physical and emotional, and our rather unfortunate willingness as human primates to deny each other the opportunity to be accepted for the experience we are indeed having, independent of each other.  It’s a pretty unpleasant thing we do to each other, actually. I see it a lot.  I’ll share what I mean by relating a conversation I recently overheard, that appeared to be between lovers.

Man (sharing plans for the near term future) “This will be fine. I’ve updated the budget. Now that you’re back to work, we’re in a good place for this. We’re wealthy!”

Woman (in an irritated contradictory tone) “I don’t agree.”

Man “You don’t agree?” (looks hurt and confused, concerned that plans are now derailed)

Woman “We’re not ‘wealthy’. I don’t agree with that.”

The discussion continued for a few more minutes before they went separate ways, clearly hurt, angry, frustrated – neither of them seemed to ‘feel heard’. Small wonder, really. Most people don’t seem to grasp the idea that it isn’t appropriate to disagree with a subjective emotionally based value statement that an individual makes about his or her own experience.  It’s just mean and rude, and pretty dismissive.  It’s easy to lose our way on that one, too, because disagreeing regarding a factual matter is appropriate, and often needful. “Wealthy” isn’t a factually defined term. It’s an emotionally defined term based on the speaking individual’s personal identity, how they feel about money, their perspective and experience with having, versus not having, and how much room they feel they have in their budget. It’s very personal. I’m sure there are incredibly rich people in terms of cash flow, real estate holdings, offshore investments, and capital in savings, who do not define themselves as ‘wealthy’ at all. Why would I think that? I know one.  I also know people who barely get by on a part-time job who feel incredibly ‘wealthy’ because their financial needs are comfortably met much of the time and their emotional lives are comfortable and nurturing. They view ‘wealth’ differently. There is, however, not a damned thing to disagree with.

This is not a discussion about wealth. It’s a matter of words, and words matter.  A ‘feeling of wealth’ is very subjective and doesn’t really have much to do with money. Any time a person flatly contradicts the emotional value statement of another person’s subjective experience, the person being contradicted feels rejected, dismissed, denied, misunderstood, and ‘not heard’. What they are being told is that their experience doesn’t count, or isn’t valid. That’s a pretty shitty way to treat another person. I work hard these days not to do that particular thing, and instead choosing to really hear what that emotional value statement is actually communicating.  It takes practice.

We each have our own subjective experience with ourselves, and with the world.  I myself feel incredibly injured by the recent SCOTUS decision regarding corporate personhood and the rights of corporate persons to deny me my rights as an actual person. It’s a big deal. It’s also highly subjective; most of my male friends and associates don’t have the same emotional experience with regard to the particular decision I am referencing. It is difficult to describe the additional hurt I feel when I try to talk about my experience in terms of emotional value statements; the lack of shared understanding quickly gets in the way, and I often find myself, once again, feeling dismissed, isolated, invalidated, overlooked, misunderstood, or straight up rejected and denied understanding at all, because of attempts to disagree with my emotional experience. That sucks.

Are you doing it, too? I catch myself now and again; I’m working very hard to root out this particular petty evil from the way I treat others. Is there a chance I’m not being clear on this? How about another example? Let’s use ‘beauty’ instead of ‘wealth’.  Imagine that you have a dear friend, or lover, or family member – someone you really care about in a positive way – and imagine they are horrifically disfigured from an acid attack that left their face badly scarred. You’re hanging out and your family member says, in a moment of great delight – maybe trying on clothes, or preparing for a fantastic night out – “I’m so beautiful!” Do you disagree with them? I mean, even in the privacy of your own thoughts – do you hear yourself saying “Um, but… no, not really.”? Are you that person? The utterly subjective nature of beauty being what it is, and then on top of that the utterly subjective nature of our individual experiences, and how we identify ourselves, and define our experiences… how could you? Rationally, logically, you wouldn’t have a leg to stand on – because ‘beauty’ is not a rational logical construct. It’s an emotional value statement. The person saying they feel beautiful gets to make the call on that – not you.  You’re your own person, of course, and you can have a different experience.  Disagreeing, though? Entirely inappropriate, and actually quite cruel, mean, and the sort of petty nastiness that makes the world less emotionally safe that most of us would like it to be.

I’m definitely on to something here, and a new bit of path opens before me. It’s part of The Big 5, too, isn’t it? I think this one falls under the heading of ‘Respect’. When we respect each other’s subjective emotional experience there is an opportunity to feel more profoundly nurtured, accepted, heard… that all sounds wonderful.

It's a good day to reflect.

It’s a good day to reflect.

Today is a good day to listen well, and with my whole attention. Today is a good day to respect the experiences of others, and to value their teaching. Today is a good day to respect each other’s fundamental humanity, however different we are. Today is a good day to respect my own experience, and understand that no one really can ‘disagree’ with my emotional value statements, or my feelings; they are mine and can’t be argued with unless I choose to allow it. Today is a good day to recognize that we all want to be heard.