It can come in many forms – a partner leaving you, a friend betraying you, an unjust complaint being made about you at work. These are just a few that people have told me about in the last year. It always left them shaken. When we don’t see it coming and someone we’ve trusted is involved, then we can be deeply shaken and left doubting ourselves. How we feel about the other person has changed and our self-confidence has been dented.
If this has happened to you then there is something you really should be aware of, and there is something I suggest you do. The two go hand in hand.
It’s not ok for another person to do you harm. But know that the other persons actions are about them not you.
If they have been out of integrity, unkind or deceitful then this is how they have chosen to deal with whatever is going on within them. Their own feelings, beliefs, assumptions and fears have driven them to ‘look after themselves’ in such a misalignment way that it is at a cost of harming another. They may be intentionally harming, or they may be lying to themselves by pretending they’ve done nothing wrong.
Either way it is not something you did that has ‘made’ them act that way. They have been unable to communicate or act with honesty and integrity because of their own fears and insecurities. If you take it personally then you are setting yourself up to suffer more.
When we feel someone has wronged us it’s very easy to get into the blame game and this is a vicious circle. There is a fight about which one of you in the more wrong. A more constructive and healthy way to approach this is that each of you take 100% responsibility for your own actions.
Is there anywhere that you have lacked integrity? Be truly honest with yourself and own it if you have.
You may find yourself thinking ‘yeah but I only did that because they did x to me’. What the other person did is their responsibility, what you did is your responsibility. Acknowledge it, to yourself at least – ‘yes I lashed out at them because I was feeling insecure and hurt’.
Let that realisation soften you and humble you. We are all trying our best and sometimes our negative emotions get the better of us. Do you need to make amends? What new learning can you take away from this self-awareness? Can you have more compassion for yourself? Can you find compassion for the other person who also has their inner struggles? This doesn’t make what they did ok, it’s about you not carrying the poison of resentment within you.
As part of your reflections on your part in what happened you may conclude that you really didn’t do anything untoward to lead to this situation. Let that help raise your confidence and your self- belief. Sometimes another person’s actions are completely unprovoked. Again, their actions are about them not you.
The relationship or friendship may be beyond repair, but part of you taking 100% responsibility for yourself is not holding onto poisonous emotions. Compassion is the key.
Suggested reading: ‘The Four Agreements’ by Don Miguel Ruiz and ‘The Big Leap’ by Gay Hendrinks
Brene Brown says it best when she tells us that we can’t selectively numb. If you numb your difficult emotions you are also numbing your joy and gratitude. So often we don’t even realize that we are numbing. Those habits that help you ‘switch off’ from life’s pressures are often what’s numbing us.
When I became comfortably numb
When I was 26 I started living by myself for the first time, having always shared my abode with many people. I loved my home and painted it beautiful colours. But I felt extreme unease at being alone. I went out as much as I could, but I couldn’t go out every night. When I stayed in I turned on music and the tv to distract me. Solitude felt like loneliness and loneliness ached. Soon enough I started smoking joints in the evening, which I hadn’t been at all interested in before then. I’d roll up before the anguish set in. Inhale, ‘take the edge off’, and think ‘oh look even the adverts are interesting now’. It got the hook in me and became my avoidance technique of choice for a couple of years. It didn’t make me feel better. My mind felt groggy. I didn’t feel in control of my habit, it seemed to control me.
Ignoring something doesn’t change it; instead there is an increased sense of discomfort or pain.
Eventually I realized that the crutch that helped me to adjust to living alone, was actually preventing me from really enjoying my home and my life. So I threw the crutch away and faced the silence. The very thing that I was then avoiding – spending quiet alone time, connecting to my feelings and thinking deeply about my life – is actually something that now nourishes me immensely. Facing whatever you are avoiding can be a powerful up-leveler and can take you to places far greater than you can even imagine.
You’re numbing techniques might be so normal to you that you don’t even recognize them as an avoidance of anything. You know when you come home and pour yourself a big glass of wine – but you do that automatically most nights.
Or out of habit you pick up your phone to scroll through Facebook several times a day. Of course doing these things at times is no real harm – but our lives are meant to be ‘switched on’ and engaged so we are living a quality existence. It is always worth asking yourself if there are difficult emotion such as loneliness, or a dream for a bigger life that you don’t think is possible.
Maybe you’ve just been pushing too hard and are oscillating from stress to switch off. I’d recommend you check out my vlog Avoid burnout – flow with the low for guidance on getting back in balance.
Let’s address the smaller numbing habits. So what step can you take today to become more ‘switched on’ instead of ‘switched off’? Being engaged and present enhances the quality of any experience.
You could phone a friend instead of having a Whatsapp exchange? Real connection is invaluable.
Cook something from fresh ingredients instead of throwing something convenient in the oven.
Read or research something that inspires you?
Your shift might be limiting your social media time to particular slots in the day instead of them infiltrating every quiet moment.
What if you sense there is a bigger avoidance going on? The bigger the avoidance, the bigger the growth opportunity!! If want to proactively up-level is it time to work with a mentor to help facilitate meaningful change? What change would you love and what sort of mentor or teacher can help you get there?
I love to support people to move from self doubt to listening to their heart and what its calling them to do, feeling supported, confident and taking actions that inspire them. You can book a complimentary ‘discovery session’ with me here today to start the empowering journey. You’ll know after one session if it feels right for us to work together more.
Life is meant to be enjoyed. If you have slipped in to ‘comfortably numb’ then one decision and one action can switch you on and turn it all around. Enjoy!