Maybe It's You (eek!)
As some of you know, for the last 6 weeks or so, I’ve been going through an intensive life coaching program facilitated by my friend Rebekah Borucki of BexLife, created by Lauren Zander (Maybe It’s You). It’s been super eye-opening, gut-wrenching, truth-building, and awesome. If you’ve ever done such work, I applaud you, because calling yourself out on your bullshit (and then *changing it,* without excuse) isn’t easy (and it’s not something most people do).And because so much of fitness has to do with our mentality, I'd like to chat about some of it today with you.
I’ve learned that I’ve been telling myself some stories that are, quite simply, untrue.
We all do this (one of mine was that I couldn’t write this email, because it’s scary and perhaps too much for an early Tuesday morning, ha!). But, the thing is, the truth is important. We’re all more alike than different. We are all worthy of sharing our messages to the world, creating bigger, better, more fulfilling lives not just for us, but for our entire sphere of influence.
Showing up in authenticity gives others permission to do the same.
Drop the mask. End the charade. Keep it real, most of all with yourself.
Which brings me to an important point:
We’ve all been wounded.
Whether that’s by our family, by our friends, by a significant other, by work, or by whatever else, we’ve all experienced deep hurts, loss, and breaks in trust.
You can stay stuck in that story. Most people do. No one would blame you.
But…is that what you really want? What’s it doing for you? Other than making it feel good to be the victim?
Because if you’re the victim, it means you don’t have to take the next step.
You don’t have to forgive. You don’t have to move past it. You can get comfy and stay right where you are. Everyone would understand. You don’t have to accept it, which feels a lot like condoning the actions of the person who hurt you, doesn’t it?
But acceptance does not mean acquiescence.
When we think of accepting the actions that hurt us, we think what we’re doing is saying, “oh, it’s okay, it doesn’t hurt anymore. It’s fine. What you did was fine. I get it, and I understand it, and I’ll suck up the damage and let it go.” And that feels like a lie, doesn’t it?
That’s because it’s dishonest. The very fact that there is something to forgive means that whatever it was wasn’t okay.
In the words of a friend, “you do not become a doormat to your circumstances simply by accepting them.” Our anger, our hurt, and our confusion are certainly justified. But do they serve us? What are we really doing by replaying the event over and over in our head: releasing it, or repeating it? Replaying it a billion times does nothing but negatively impact our health (mental and physical!).
We all want to experience healing, but for that we need clarity, and clarity rarely comes from a negative place. We do, however, often find ourselves there after injury, especially of the relational variety. What if, instead of stewing in it, we decided to move forward with our eyes wide open? What if it becomes a wakeup call, a catalyst to look deeper? How can we say it isn’t okay, but also stop playing the victim? How can we move forward as a warrior (because we can’t be both)?
It’s tough. Because it means letting the other person off the hook. It means looking at them as, you know, a person, rather than some dark, negative, “all bad” being. Duality (the belief in pure good and pure evil) is both truth and a myth: no one is one or the other; we’re all both. And exploring that has allowed me to reframe a lot of things, realizing I, along with everyone else in the world, have written some inaccurate stories.
Throughout my life, I’ve been involved in three different abusive relationships. At some point in my adulthood, I sought counseling, because I was tired of feeling broken and powerless, like life was happening to me. And throughout our sessions, one of the most helpful tools my therapist gave me were questions: getting to the root of the problems through exploration, helping me realize, like Lauren Zander says, maybe, at least part of it…is me.
I remember one session, after breaking up with someone much like my mother, asking my therapist, “okay, so we’ve identified that he exhibits sociopathic behavior, but what if we’re wrong? What if he’s really fantastic and great with other people, and what if I’m just difficult and an asshole? Then what?”
Wanna know what her response was (of course you do, because it was life-changing)?
“Okay, so what? The reality is, he’s that way for you, no matter what you do or how you change yourself. The patterns exhibited in this relationship have changed how you see the world and how you show up in it. So, even if he’s ‘good’ eventually for someone else, does it matter? If he showed back up, and was completely ‘perfect,’ would you even believe it?”
In that moment, I realized a few things, and they are themes that keep showing back up in my life that act as a springboard to build strength and compassion:
1. No, I totally wouldn’t believe it.
2. It didn’t matter at all.
3. People can be trying their best, have it still not be good for us or the direction we are headed, and still not be “bad.” There are people who love, accept, and trust them, even when we don’t.
4. It wasn’t even really about that relationship, but about other patterns in my life, stemming from me not knowing how to set boundaries and trust myself.
5. There is strength in examining these patterns objectively (or as objectively as possible), and we get to grow from them.
I’m sure you have a few relationships like this as well.
Moving on from there, we discover deeper truths: in my particular case, knowing that my hurt was really about my mother and how I showed up in that relationship, and not about some random dude, I began to realize that I believe a parent’s job is not to always make us feel good, but to raise adults who act in integrity, cultivate deep connections, and positively and significantly contribute to society. Much in the way America is being made great again, despite her actions that would indicate other intentions, my mother did exactly that.
I’d been telling a story with me as the victim and her as this Darth Vader-level villain. She certainly has her damaging qualities, but she still fulfilled her ultimate role as a parent.
Accepting that truth at first felt icky, like I was condoning abuse. But, after the initial gut check, I realized that isn’t what that means at all. I’ve experienced compassion for this person that I was telling myself didn’t deserve an ounce of it. Knowing that I can ditch that narrative without agreeing that that behavior was okay allows me to see the truth: I’m tougher, wiser, and kinder for it, even if the circumstances weren’t good.
We all have this opportunity. We can all grow from our wounds. We can all become stronger, accepting the reality and the lessons and the places they served us, despite telling ourselves all along that all they did was hurt.
I’d invite you to ask yourself, “what if it isn’t entirely true? What if I’m stronger, not despite this thing, but because of it? What if the other person was trying their best? Or, even if they weren’t, what if we got to the point we needed anyway?”
By considering these things, we become more compassionate people. When we hurt someone else, we release the right to justify ourselves. We accept that we’re the bad guys in their story. We get to offer the apology we never got. We get to assist in rewriting a story that we had to rewrite for ourselves all alone. We get to grow stronger and create something new. We get to build real, honest, deep connections. We get to be powerful.
You can’t be a Warrior if you keep playing the Victim.
And we’re meant for more; we’re built for battle.
What stories are you telling yourself? Where can you rewrite to display strength and compassion?