Tag Archives: Emotion

Baggage Fees for People…

13 Mar

Whatever life takes away from you, let it go.  When you surrender and let go of the past, you allow yourself to be fully alive in the moment. – don Miguel Ruiz

This is true whether life has taken from you your life savings, relationships (toxic or not), possessions, emotions, or people.

In our capitalist society, we grow up with the illusion that whoever amasses the most things – wins!  In addition to material things, we hold emotions and experiences, and keep them forever (even when it is not good for us!)  Sometimes I think we are like the TV showHoarders” with the amount of intellectual and emotional baggage we drag behind us.  (If you do not think you are “packing” baggage, think about how often you serenade friends with the same litany of a past hurt…)

The analogy of baggage fees for emotional baggage hit me the other day at the airport as a fashionista was unloading her luggage on to a baggage cart for an upcoming flight. She was aghast when the agent assessed her with hundreds of dollars in “extra” baggage fees, and I realized that this same situation could work well with the invisible baggage we all insist on bringing with us.

Think about it for a minute – why do we need to bring a “steamer trunk” full of childhood pain along to a family picnic?  The answer is that we DON”T!

Imagine if we could visualize the baggage that we and everyone else bring along when we go out?  Picture this hilarious scenario:  People at a picnic surrounded by masses of steamer trunks (full of crap), garment bags (with clothes that no longer fit) , sports equipment (long worn out), golf bags (with mismatched clubs), garbage bags (filled with discarded papers), and suitcases so old they need duct tape to stay together.

It would be the most bizarre scene from “Hoarders” (people who discard nothing!)

Baggage fees for people?

If we were forced to pay fees (which we do unconsciously) for each unnecessary piece of baggage we brought the world economy would restart in a minute!  The world would change for the better in two ways:

  1. People would carefully pack only the luggage they need to take on a journey and discard the rest (we would all be more emotionally healthy!);
  2. Those who wish to remain emotional “hoarders” would contribute financially for the privilege!

The emotional baggage we carry is invisible, yet we drag, push, and pull way too much of it along like some sort of badge of honor.  If it were real, some of it would smell bad, be oozing out of its containers, and some of it would be so dangerous as to alert the “HAZMAT” team (hazardous materials).

We do not realize that life could be so much easier (with great fitness benefits to our emotional health) by discarding, recycling, reframing, and forgiving the things we lost in the past and that life took from us. Things we thought we need to keep might actually be costing us unconsciously by holding on to them.  Clear out your storage locker and your mind of this clutter and make room for new emotions and wonderful experiences today. (Related post: New Math – Subtraction can add Years to your life!)

We need to take inventory and streamline our journey forward by discarding the worn out and out-of-date from our lives!

Starting today, I am going to work to discard the waste, and watch what bags I pack to go out tonight.

If it is more than I can fit into a small purse – it is tooooooo much!  If I go out and drag along a few extra steamer trunks (out of habit), I will ask my friends to collect baggage fees at the table.  What do you think?

Have a great (baggage free) week!

Carol

Don’t take ANYTHING Personally…

21 Feb

The Four Agreements a book by don Miguel Ruiz, and the Four Agreements Companion Guide outline an incredibly powerful philosophy that can revolutionize one’s life.  My insightful daughter gave me the first book as a gift when she was only a teenager and I was still married to her father.  At the time, I took a lot of criticism and verbal abuse personally, and The Four Agreements gave me solace and started me on the journey of not taking anything personally (the Second of the Four Agreements).

Now, almost 8 years later, I am in a better place, happily single, and optimistic about whatever adventures lie in my future thanks in part to the teachings of don Miguel Ruiz and the Four Agreements.

Agreement #2: Don’t take ANYTHING Personally

For me, this is THE single, most difficult agreement to master – and the one that allows me the most freedom and solace.   When we realize that other people’s behavior has NOTHING to do with us and is not our responsibility, it allows us to be truly ourselves.  We should not take anything personally whether it is POSITIVE or NEGATIVE.

This is not easy to do, especially if it was ingrained from an early age to do just the opposite!

I grew up learning to take everything personally whether it was from family, friends, strangers, or even strangers who cut me off in traffic.

My mother is now over 80 and is a master of taking everything personally.  I recall many occasions where she would remark that she couldn’t understand why a friend would treat her so poorly and intend to hurt her.  When I tried to console her and tell her that it might simply be a matter of circumstance or misunderstanding on someone’s part, she would chide me by saying “of course she meant to hurt me – she does this on purpose!”

I also remember many times coming home from school and talking to her about some family occurrence (she was one of 9 children) that seemed to be blown out of proportion.  I remember my cousin choosing to attend another church (heaven forbid!) and hearing  “O M G! can you believe that my niece left the church?  How can her mother allow her to do that to her?  I don’t know what I would ever do if one of  you kids ever did that to us!”  And so it went… every time anyone, me, or my siblings did something of which my mother did not approve the response was the same:  “How could you/they do that … to me?”   At the time I simply observed and was confused.

Personally, none of my choices or behaviors ever had anything to do with my parents, yet they took every move personally.  I cannot imagine making a decision about my life and having to consider how everyone in the world might react, especially when it is not about them.  When I realize that I believed what I was taught, I can understand why it is hard to NOT take things personally.

Despite this realization, the second agreement is difficult to put into practice – but I am determined to make it work! Today don Miguel Ruiz posted:

Write this agreement on paper, and put it on your refrigerator to remind you all the time:
Don’t take anything personally.

So I did, and in a matter of hours, I had to stop myself three time from taking things personally. Here’s what happened:

1. A potential contract on hold:

I received an email from a company with which I am a candidate for an upcoming contract  (I interviewed with them twice last week.) The email said that the company has decided to consider a few internal people for the position before moving forward with me.

My gut first reaction:  I felt that I might not be qualified enough or that I did not make a good enough impression on the recruiting manager (who I only spoke to once).  It felt like it could be a personal slight against me.

Reality:  The hiring manager does not know me. The decision to consider internal candidates has NOTHING to do with me. It is NOT personal!  If the company decides in a few weeks to move forward with me, again it is not personal to me.

2. Email from my father:

My father sent me an email in response to photos I sent of my newborn granddaughter, ignoring the photos but saying how I am hurting my mother by not renewing ties with a toxic relative.  He cited religion as being the reason I need to go back to fix the relationship and said that whatever caused the rift should be ignored as irrelevant.

My gut first reaction: This felt like a personal affront.  My first reaction was to think that “there is nothing I ever do or not do that is good enough for my parents.  Unless I follow their edicts exactly, they will always reject me.”  The accusatory words and religious “guilt-mongering” from someone I love further made it feel personal.

Reality: The email is not really about me at all.  My choice about whether to embrace a toxic relationship is my choice and it has nothing to do with my parents.  It is purely an extension of the childhood “how could you do xxx TO US?”  and is a pattern.  It’s not personal.

3. A kind gesture from a stranger

Someone let me go ahead of them into the single merge lane in a construction zone; an act of small kindness.

My first gut reaction: S/he let me in because of all the times I have let others in. Maybe s/he liked my smile and realizes (?) that I am a good person.

Reality: This was NOT personal. When someone does a random act of kindness their behavior is purely a reflection on them, not me.

These were three minor events where my “gut reaction” (my ego) was to take things personally.  It takes conscious thought to overcome this tendency – especially when it is part of our family behavior.  With effort, we CAN overcome the old programming that causes us to take things personally.

Remembering not to take ANYTHING personally is a hard thing to do…
but mastering it brings power, peace, and freedom!

What do YOU think?

Have a great week!

Carol

Gaslighting – A message to Women from a Man: You are not “crazy”

12 Jan

I seldom write a column that purely features another’s post, but today is an exception.  I came across the following Huffington Post article and it resonated so well with me that I have to share it with you.  It is called:

A message to women from a man:  You are not “crazy”

A few excerpts follow below…  I am intrigued by the article for a couple of reasons:  1. The author (from his name and photograph) does not seem to be of Western descent which makes his candid (and true) observations even more relevant and powerful based on traditional views of women outside of the west; and 2. I have no idea why it would take another male to tell me that I was never crazy (or why I ever believed that I was crazy when males I loved needed a scapegoat for their bad behavior.)

Here’s an excerpt from Yashir Ali’s post:

A remark intended to shut you down like, “Calm down, you’re overreacting,” after you just addressed someone else’s bad behavior, is emotional manipulation, pure and simple.

And this is the sort of emotional manipulation that feeds an epidemic in our country, an epidemic that defines women as crazy, irrational, overly sensitive, unhinged. This epidemic helps fuel the idea that women need only the slightest provocation to unleash their (crazy) emotions. It’s patently false and unfair.

WOW – OMG – holy crap!!!  And I say that in all honesty!

I do not have a litany of male relationships in my past on which to draw (my father, a 23 year marriage that ended in divorce, a 5 year relationship, dates here and there) – but all of them (and I’ll include my mother here) – told me that I was overly sensitive, irrational, and crazy should I ever address or question what my heart told me was bad behavior.  The statement above confirms what I always thought but never dared to speak:  emotional manipulation is about the sender and their need to cover for bad behavior.  It really has nothing to do with the receiver!

What is it in “our” (at least my) female DNA that reduces and diminishes powerful business women (like me) to a whimpering mess when a significant male in our personal lives repeatedly tells us we are crazy?  Why do we believe things about our person as being true just because someone we love spews vitriol at us?  We are forces to be reckoned with and have taken our places aside men in the professional world – and thrived! – yet we are reduced to tears (and accept the treatment) in our personal life by males who we would easily challenge (or report for abusive behavior) if we met them in business.

Why do we so readily give away our power, override our intuition, and accept lies from people when we fall in love?  More and more I believe in the adage:

Love IS blind!

Another excerpt:

And the act of gaslighting does not simply affect women who are not quite sure of themselves. Even vocal, confident, assertive women are vulnerable to gaslighting.

Why?

Because women bare the brunt of our neurosis. It is much easier for us to place our emotional burdens on the shoulders of our wives, our female friends, our girlfriends, our female employees, our female colleagues, than for us to impose them on the shoulders of men.

It’s a whole lot easier to emotionally manipulate someone who has been conditioned by our society to accept it. We continue to burden women because they don’t refuse our burdens as easily. It’s the ultimate cowardice.

Whether gaslighting is conscious or not, it produces the same result: It renders some women emotionally mute.

These women aren’t able to clearly express to their spouses that what is said or done to them is hurtful. They can’t tell their boss that his behavior is disrespectful and prevents them from doing their best work. They can’t tell their parents that, when they are being critical, they are doing more harm than good.

Do me a favor, read the article here,

A Message to Women From a Man: You Are Not “Crazy”

and let me know what YOU think.

I feel relieved to know that I am not alone with the emotional manipulation of my past, however, it pains me to know that it may be so prevalent that it might be an epidemic!

I wonder if we attract dysfunctional people into our lives… and whether there is hope for the future.  I can only speak for myself but I know that I am hypersensitive to anyone who walks, acts or in anyway resembles my exes.

What do you think?

Carol

Caring FOR someone versus Taking Care OF…

3 Nov

Have you ever discovered new wisdom by simply taking a close look at words in a sentence?  This week I stumbled upon the subtle difference is the word term “Taking care of” and “Taking care for” someone.  When we have children, we take care OF them until they are able to take care of themselves – and hopefully this coincides with adulthood!

However, when we are talking about independent adults, we can only take care FOR them!  What I mean by this is that we can give loved ones our well-intentioned advice, our love, and our caring, but only they can take care OF themselves.  Behaviors are always the responsibility of the individual (unless rendered incapable such as someone confined with Alzheimer’s or other affliction).

Our job is to take care OF ourself – our well-being, our feelings, our own happiness and no one else can do that for us (nor should we expect them to do so in the world of healthy relationships!)  I realize that in my co-dependent former relationship with the father of my adult children, there were unrealistic expectations that we would take care OF each other.  Now in a healthy emotional state, it is clear that our relationship was doomed from the onset – we can only ever take care OF ourselves and hope that in a loving relationship someone cares FOR us.  When we expect someone else to take care OF us – we will never be happy.

Today, I do not expect nor would I ever want anyone outside of me to take care OF me!  It is my responsibility to take care OF me, and if someone in my future comes along who would care FOR me (i.e., love me as  a partner not as a co-dependent taker), that will be an interesting and unexpected surprise.  But no matter, taking care OF myself is number one and will always be.

One snippet I read some time ago stated that we need to keep OUR cookie jar full (in other words satisfy our own needs) first before we care FOR others!  Too often (especially as women) we are taught to make sure that everyone else’s needs are satisfied first and there is no one left to take care when we need anything. We need to take care OF our needs first – similar to the safety announcements on airplanes that say “put on your own (oxygen) mask first BEFORE assisting others.”

Just some food for thought.  Take care OF yourself, and then take care FOR others.  (Not the other way around!)

Wishing you a happy hump day (Wednesday)!

Carol

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