Love the One You’re With

Dearest Readers,

How much time do you spend wishing someone you love would change? Just a little bit. Or a lot. If he/she would only do this differently or do things the way I do them. He/she would be so much better that way! Or so much better off. Wouldn’t they? According to me they would. Because I know best. I know what he/she needs to do.

For most of my life I’ve lived with this Voice of Judgment in my head. It’s been a long haul to rid myself of it and still it comes back, like an old friend (or a bad rash), trying to drive the bus of my life, trying to dictate my relationships with others.

What I know from past experience is that this particular part of me gets fired up not because I’m an unkind and judgmental person but because I am feeling unsafe or vulnerable in some way. This part of me has been my protector, my defense against intimacy, my excuse to remain an outsider, different and therefore superior.

So I usually need some self-care first. Send reassurance to this part of myself. Take gentle and kind actions. Self-love and self-forgiveness are in order. And then I need to remember that just as I am not perfect neither is anyone else. And as I walk this Healing Path and gain the kind of humility required to own and accept my humanity I start to become a part of my fellow humans rather than apart from.

A friend of mine is currently struggling with a situation and my temptation is to tell this person what to do. Because I know what’s best, see? I know the answer and this person should do what I think is right. Right? Wrong. So how do I deal with this? What do I do with the temptation to control, to judge, to dictate?

A quote by Thomas Merton, a great writer and a monk of the last century, has been my steadfast guide:

“The beginning of love is to let those we love be perfectly themselves, and not to twist them to fit our own image. Otherwise we love only the reflection of ourselves we see in them.”

Isn’t that beautiful? And juste. I just love it. It’s been so helpful to me. Let someone be exactly who he is. Let her be herself. If I try to change him to fit me that means I’ll only love him when he becomes more like I am! Ridiculous. And so true.

This doesn’t mean that I can’t make helpful suggestions to her if she is struggling. I can offer him support and encouragement. I can provide her with experience, strength and hope. I can respond to him with compassion while pointing out alternative routes. But I cannot do any of this if my motivation is to “twist” or control or change. It’s not my job.

Inspiring Message of the Day: My job as a friend is to let my friends and loved ones be exactly who they are. I will trust that the path each person is on is exactly the right path and I will let Higher Guidance do the steering.

Silent Recognition

Dearest Readers,

After two months on the road I am home (sweet home) and it feels great to be here. Yesterday afternoon after completing the cardio spurt I committed to last year I looked out at the mountains, deep green with summer life, and said to myself, “Man, I love this place.”

When I flew home the other day I had a long layover so decided to take the Canada Line into Vancouver to run some errands. After a fruitful shopping session I headed back to the airport to spend the rest of my time chilling in the departure lounge.

On my way back inside the airport I witnessed an interesting exchange between a guy heading in my direction and a guy heading in the opposite direction, for the trains. This is the conversation that took place:

Guy Heading for the Airport: Are you going downtown?

Guy Heading for the Trains: Uh, yes.

GHFTA: I have a Day-Pass and I don’t need it. Would you like it?

GHFTT: How much do you want for it?

GHFTA: No, nothing. You can have it. It’s good for the whole day.

GHFTT: Oh, okay. Thanks. Thank you.

GHFTA: You’re welcome. It’s good for the whole day!

As the GHFTA and I walked inside I was tempted to say something to him. I wanted to acknowledge his generosity in some way, you know, validate it for him. It was on the tip of my tongue to speak, to say the words, “That was really generous of you.” He stood right in front of me, the escalator carrying us down together.

I kept silent.

Why? Was it fear? No. I’ve been afraid to speak out in such situations before but this time it was something else that held my tongue.

Humility. Both his and mine.

First of all, his: The GHFTA didn’t do what he did for recognition. He made the decision alone, he took the action alone and he alone would receive the benefits of such kindness.

And we all know what those are, don’t we? A sense of satisfaction at having done something decent. A feeling of righteousness without the “self” in front. Integrity, increased self-esteem. All good stuff.

Okay, secondly, mine: The GHFTA didn’t need me to make his action count. Who was I to interfere? “That was really generous of you.” No duh. That’s why he did it.

Don’t get me wrong. As an Inspiring Coach I’m all about validating our successes, however small. But by keeping my mouth shut I was acknowledging my own insignificance in the situation. I was the Silent Witness, nothing more.

This action not taken on my part was inspired by the GHFTA’s own humble gesture. He didn’t need me to make his day. He’d already done that for himself.

Inspiring Message of the Day: Am I the kind of person who needs to make everything about me? Today I will be the Silent Witness, allowing other people to have their moment in the spotlight without my interference.

Let Him Be

Dearest Readers,

If you happen to be spending time in the company of someone who is in a bad mood what do you do? Do you immediately ask her what is the matter? Do you try to compensate for his grumpiness by becoming overly cheery? Do you act like nothing is wrong and behave normally? Maybe you turn sour, too.

No doubt I’ve responded in “all of the above” ways over the course of my life. I’m certainly sensitive enough to venture the question, “Are you okay?” but I’m also anxious enough to turn into a Chatty Cathy in order to lighten the situation. Often I will choose avoidance. It’s the easy way out. Or I’ll take on the negative energy and ‘bang’ I’m in a bad mood also. I’m a good codependent that way.

But I’ve changed. Or, more aptly, I’m constantly changing. Willing to try the new behaviour. Willing to do it differently. Willing to evolve.

I was recently dining with a couple of friends, one of whom was behaving in a most sullen manner. I didn’t feel it was my place to say, “What’s the matter?” although in hindsight I probably could have. My anxiety was rising steadily and I could feel the yakity-yakker itching to get out. I could also feel my anger brewing and foresaw myself joining my friend on his gloomy island of despair.

But I didn’t feel despairing. I felt grounded. So why should I go there? I shouldn’t.

So guess what I did? I breathed, relaxed, and I let go. Let him be. I don’t have to take him on. Let him have his feelings. I don’t have to take them on either. Perhaps his own anxiety is causing him grief. I’ve been there. I’m not there now. I can be present with him in his state without altering my own.

Kind of a miracle. Kind of radical. The temptation to somehow alter the situation was overwhelming. “I’m uncomfortable and I gotta make this different. I can’t handle this I gotta change it.”

No, I don’t. Breathe, relax, let go.

It wasn’t long before this man’s own spirits lifted and the atmosphere changed. Not my doing, folks. I was too busy Be-ing.

Inspiring Message of the Day: Today I will not let another person’s mood alter my own. I will stay grounded in my own Power unswayed by what is happening around me. I will breathe, I will relax and I will let go.