When I was growing up, mum used to say “when the chips are down you find out who your true friends are”. Well, as my chips fell this year, I was reminded of this. As we form and forge friendships, we rarely take into consideration whether it’s for a reason, a season or a lifetime. We start out simply getting to know one another.
What I’ve come to accept in my 50th year on this planet, is that rivers beautifully symbolically represent friendships to me. Some run deep and stretch back forever, while some are as short and shallow as their tributaries. Some get redirected by the force of nature, and some dry up. And some only discover their true capacity amongst great adversity. Whichever the case, friendships really are either for reasons, seasons or lifetimes.
While the last few years have been bloody tough for me on a number of levels, in context, my life in general has never been smooth sailing. Some say that’s what life’s learning is all about!. What makes this year a bit more poignant is that once again I’ve been confronted with matters of the heart and the harsh reality of realising a friendship I thought was deep and of a lifetime wasn’t.
Every day deserves your full attention
I appreciate the key learnings from this lesson, and now accept that people aren’t always who I think they are and that’s ok. In itself, this has been revealing and liberating all at the same time. Losing a friendship I thought would last a lifetime, learning a prospective colleague shouldn’t be touched with a ten foot barge pole, and that my credibility and network has been used without my permission, all took its toll. As I’m still practicing the art of self care and tuning in to my intuition, my body generously made choices on my behalf post haste and forced me to rest during August and September and most of October, therefore avoiding another massive healing crisis.
Key learnings for me to stay healthy
My journey so far has taught me that worry is a thief without honour and will rob us blind if we let it. So worrying over the loss of friendships is futile, let alone getting caught up in what people think about me. I’ve come to accept that lifetime friendships are often only navigated on a needs basis, and known to just a few. And everyone comes in to our lives for a reason, a season or a lifetime.
Reflect on tough times and interpreting the learnings, my “ahh huh!” moments now bring peace and contentment. Coming around the other side of these experiences, I feel like I’ve done my Masters on letting go of any sense of certainty, bar death and taxes. And the best part of my development to date, is that I know I stand strengthened in my vulnerabilities, and for this I am truly grateful.
My Island Home (photo copyright Bronwyn Clee 2011)
A little while ago I got a beautiful message on Facebook from a friend I’ve not caught up with for ages, nor really ever had a lot of time face to face with actually. It touched my heart that she reached out to check in with me, and very generously offered help if I needed any. Considering we’ve not spent a lot of time together, I automatically started to reply with the intention of a ‘thanks but I’m fine’ brief message.
What started out as a kind response in a quick reply, rapidly (more…)
Yesterday I spoke with my beautiful girlfriend I have known for about 33 years. We live in different states, and don’t speak often, though when we do we always manage to pick up where we left off. We have enough history, trust and integrity to allow us to do so. And having loved each other this long and weathered many storms we acknowledge how very grateful we are to have what we have. In a moment of personal pain yesterday morning, I turned to her as she has with me over the decades and poured my heart. And do you know what she did? She reminded me:
How very OK I am.
How very brave I am.
How very normal I am within my ‘weirdness’.
How very funny I am.
How very loving I am.
How very thoughtful I am.
How very not responsible for everyone else’s problems I am.
How very generous I am to others and now need to be to myself.
How very wise I am to give myself time out.
How very good it was for her to get that call from me and not the other way around.
As I shared with her my “I know I don’t fit in mainstream and that I’m pretty weird” she confidently and respectfully challenged me to reframe that statement into “I choose not to fit in mainstream”.
Both of us graduated from the School of Hard Knocks and The University of Life and have cut our teeth and earned our strips in doing so. Her wise words took me back to what I know to be “Practical Wisdom” and affirmed for me what no one else could have done in that point in time.
I love you Tracey Mutch! I can’t tell you how grateful I am. Your friendship is worth it’s weight in gold and I thank you from the bottom of my heart.
Heart in hands artwork by Bronwyn Clee
How many people do you know who behave in such a way that it leaves you in a state of shock and confusion? Being in a situation where grown ups revert to inexplicable behaviour can be distressing and time consuming and take you right off course.
Knowing what to do in these situations is critical, as your response/reaction can either eleviate or escalate the situation. Here’s my old school GPS for creative conflict resolution
Observe what’s happening and give yourself time to respond rather then react.
Remember that you are not responsible for someone else’s behaviour and that you can not make anyone do/say/think anything.
Assess the situation. Become and observer and do a quick risk analysis, remembering to ‘do no further harm’.
Save your sanity
Make a conscious decision on how to proceed without participating in the conflict. You may choose to simply remove yourself from the situation. A few deep breaths and a statement such as: “I can’t have this conversation right now” sometimes works or respectfully acknowledging the other person but not buying into to the conflict is as equally as powerful. More importantly, avoid behaviour that will damage your dignity and self respect.
And finally, you could try asking the other person if they are ok. This can be a bit daunting, so if you don’t feel confident doing it, don’t. However in my experience, sometimes just asking a caring question can help defuse conflict and tension.
The bottom line is, no two situations are ever the same and all we can ever control are our own thoughts, feelings and behaviours.
Slamming doors and silent screaming Parts IV & V
My intention of writing this blog in a series of 5, was to break down my tips for you to avoid overwhelm and allow time to process change. The trick of it is I’ve had a few challenges myself in the last few months and have been busy avoiding overwhelm and processing change myself while living an authentic life. Yes that’s right, my life is not smooth nor is it perfect, and yes, to coin a phrase, walk my talk and talk my walk. I don’t know how not to now because for me to live an authentic life, I must depend on my own moral compass.
Which is what my previous post on this topic was really all about. To give yourself permission to change negative self talk and take it one step further and reset what you remove, we need to rely on core beliefs to guide the process. However, most people don’t stop and reflect on what their core beliefs are, or whether the birth of them lacks legitimacy, hence my reference to them sometimes being bastards. (In this context I’ve drawn on a dictionary definition of bastard = something that is spurious, irregular, inferior, or of questionable origin)
As a starting point to help you figure out what a core belief might be, here’s three statements that indicate a core belief of “I’m not good enough”
- “When I am complimented I feel awkward, uncomfortable, uneasy …………….”
- “When I don’t get invited to a social event that friends are going to I feel left out, unloved, rejected…………….”
- “When people say hurtful things about me I feel humiliated, unlovable, angry…………….”
And three statements of the opposing belief: “I am good enough”
- When I am complimented I feel humble, appreciative and accepting.”
- “When I don’t get invited to a social event that friends are going to I can choose to invite myself, or accept that whoever made the decision to not invite me has every right do so.”
- “When people say hurtful things about me I feel surprised, but don’t take it personal. I know that only hurt people set out to hurt people”
Can you see the glaring differences informed by opposing beliefs?
So,my suggestions is to encourage you to give yourself permission to interview your belief system and by that I mean ask yourself some investigative questions, like:
“Why do I believe what I do? Who told me I can or can’t do something? Why does that person’s opinion matter so much”.
Cold hard facts here are believing what other people say or think about you, is not your business. It’s theirs. What you say or think about you though, now that’s your business. I repeat “what other people say or think about you, is not your business. It’s theirs. What you say or think about you though, now that’s your business! Can you see why it’s crucial to investigate your beliefs, as they inform your self talk and your moral compass.
Walking the talk and talking the walk is one thing in theory, and another all together in practice. If we don’t love and respect ourselves, it’s very difficult for us to ever accept anyone else doing so. I believe the keys to doing this well involve:
- Being kind to yourself each and every living moment. It serves no one for you not to be.
- Setting small goals and finding an accountability buddy (someone you trust, respect, admire and hold in high regards) and ask them if they could support you to achieve your goals
- Giving yourself permission to love, approve, respect, accept and forgive yourself
- Practicing the art of making mistakes, and owning and learning from them
- Growing an attitude of gratitude and express 5 things daily you are grateful for and instantly reduce your stress by 25%
My first blog in this series, focused on two simple strategies that when applied have a profound impact on how we think, feel and behave. In Part II I kept it relatively simple with sharing 1 key concept to help reduce ‘noise’ that often gets in the way of change. In Part III I took it one step further and encouraged you to reset what you remove. This final blog is all about questioning your beliefs and threading it all back full circle with the emphasis on being kind to yourself.
Let’s face it, we are all unique individuals with one shot at this gig called life, and there are at least 10 million people on this planet who would swap places with us in a heart beat.
I am committed to living a life of growing attitudes of gratitude and being grateful for all of the first world problems we have and invite you to join our gratitude community on facebook
If you are anything like most of us, you are drawn to wanting to live a better life. Over the last 20 odd years, I have had plenty of opportunities to reflect deeper on what a better life would mean for me, and surprisingly, it doesn’t include (more…)