It's Happening Around Me, Not To Me
Yesterday I relayed a story to my therapist about an upsetting & recurring pattern that is once again playing itself out in a close relationship of mine. At some point in the story he stopped me in my tracks to remind me of this truth:
"What she says and does doesn't affect your day-to-day life, Lauren. Her words and actions only affect you if you allow them to."
Boom. Yes. #Truthbomb dropped.
It's taken me years (and a shit ton of therapy) to begin to grasp and apply this concept consistently. It's pretty much the polar opposite of everything that was modeled and taught to me for the first 30+ years of my life, and undoing the damage of decades of bad messaging? That takes time. (And, as the above exchange would suggest, it also takes occasional reminders.)
I left my therapy session feeling pretty damned good- enlightened, but also empowered to take decisive, healthy action in the situation I'd brought to the couch.
And then? The universe decided to present me with an immediate opportunity to put my renewed resolve into practice. Over the next few hours I allowed myself to get swept up in a cyclone of reactivity. I accepted the invitation to a conversation where I not only felt the need to speak my truth, I "needed" my truth to be validated. I not only needed to be balanced and boundaried in my responses, I "needed" to somehow ensure that he acted with balance and boundaries too. I "needed" to defend myself. I "needed" to prove my point and in doing so, disprove his. I "needed" him to see the light and agree with me. And all the while, as the conversation continued and the tone and tenor got worse, not better (big surprise there, right?), my therapist's words kept ringing in my ear:
"[His] words and actions only affect you if you allow them to."
Eventually I stepped out of the eye of the storm, and got clear with myself. The only person I am responsible for is me. I can't control what he says or believes or does, but I can control whether I let his words and actions hold power over me. I can release "needs" that are dependent upon another person, recognizing the truth that:
I am the only one who can give myself what I need.
And so, this time I stopped myself in my tracks. I said goodnight and bowed out of an unproductive conversation. I asked myself what I needed most in that moment, and then I gave it to myself: Peace. A book and my bed. Deep and restful sleep.
Fast forward to this morning.
As I got ready for work, I again asked myself what it was that I needed most. This time the answer was meditation- to begin my day calm, centered, and at ease. So, I pulled up one of Rebekah Borucki's 4 minute meditations and gave myself the gift of mindfulness. And in doing so, I received another gift. A timely and serendipitous reminder of where other people end, and I begin. And because we all need reminders sometimes, I wanted to share that gift (that came in the form of a mantra) with you: