I don’t discuss people-pleasing much anymore. Not much new to say about the subject. Right? Maybe not.
Either external, internal, or a combination of both forces motivate our behaviors. When we do what we do to please others, it’s called people-pleasing. People-pleasing isn’t right or wrong. Often, by pleasing others we’re at least initially striving to please ourselves. We hope that by doing what we think other people expect or want, they’ll like us more, not abandon us and ultimately we’ll get what we want.
We may get what we want for a while depending on our finesse in carrying the people-pleasing behaviors out. If we people-please in a needy, groveling, extraordinarily annoying way, our people-pleasing behaviors will tick people off and drive them away.
How do you feel when someone attempts to please you, but the delivery is so obtuse, annoying and grossly irritating that it overrides the actual act of receiving what you want?
Presentation is everything.
Delivered with diplomacy, perhaps a charming joke, smile or a favorite latte along with a quick exit and lack of annoying and endless chatter can make the person attempting to be pleased, pleased. And well pleased at that.
Many people out there in the forefront of society have learned to be therapeutically correct.
While people have falsely accused me of coining the word codependency and even if I had, which I did not, doing so would not make me proud because when we hear the word, it doesn’t tell us anything. It’s an obtuse and awful word.
Words should sing, dance. The sound of them should transmit something about what the word means.
Codependency does none of that. You have to go through the pain, agony, victimization, self-hatred and subsequent years of recovery before the word means anything. Then we’re still not entirely sure what it means although we have a sense of what it means to us.
Even a monkey (well maybe not a monkey) but most people have a good idea of what therapeutically correct means. We can deduce, based on the relationship between that term and politically correct that neither is something we should aspire to be. Being therapeutically correct implies we’re doing something we believe we should to make others think we’re emotionally and mentally healthy whether we are or not.
Being therapeutically correct is a people-pleasing thing, but we’re attempting to please a large and sometimes unknown group of society instead of a specific human being. Being therapeutically correct isn’t a good thing. It lacks integrity, gives false appearances and keeps us doing behaviors that don’t work and ultimately hurt other people and us.
With pride, I can say that although maybe someone else used the term therapeutically correct before I did, I never heard them, read it, or have been made aware of it. I gave birth to a phrase (or was used by the Great Creator of All Words, Ideas, Things, People and Stories) to bring it into being.
It doesn’t matter that it hasn’t caught on because I like the what the term communicates. Most of us know that people-pleasing isn’t therapeutically correct. But the question this blog presents is, are we doing it (people-pleasing) or not?
Sometimes people-pleasing is in the best interests of our relationship – whether that relationship is with an employer, colleague, friend, lover, family-member, spouse or someone we do business with. It shows that person we care. However, if we’ve given the behavior that much thought and then decided to do it with awareness anyway, it’s probably not people-pleasing in the negative sense.
The tough thing about codependent behaviors is two people can do the same thing and one person is behaving healthy and the other – not. Codependency is a list (our own) of behaviors we do to survive. Codependency protects us until we learn other ways to take care of ourselves.
Codependency isn’t a bad thing. I’m not saying that to take away stigma and sell more books. Well, maybe to take away the stigma that can accompany that awful word.
Now, to my point and the point of this blog. I’ve missed writing to you these past months when I’ve spent most of my time redoing my websites (with a friend) or creating new ones: www.MelodyBeattie.com, the home site; www.MelodyBeattie.net and the Healing Gifts Shop, the grief site; and www.MelodyBeattie.org, the site that goes with the miracles book. That (missing you) is why I’m extending our time together in this blog. I know all things that have a beginning have an end and I’m trying to postpone the ending by taking side trips and avoiding making my point because that’s when this story ends.
It’s good to be back, and I will now get to the point. As those of you who have been swapping healthy behaviors for codependent ones know, when we change it often ticks people off. Codependents are temporarily convenient to have around. They cater to us, put us first, take care of almost our every need, and if well-trained learn to do it magically – without us saying a word.
It’s like having a genie in a lamp or bottle, even if it’s an annoying one.
When the genie no longer does what we want, isn’t at our beck and call, and the magic lamp no longer works, first we try to make it work, then we get upset. Remember the stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, and so on. Losing someone who caters to our needs qualifies as a loss.
If you read the introduction to Codependent No More, the first book I wrote about codependency, you know that I decline the role of guru or expert. I continue to decline any such pedestal. My only aspiration is to write in a way that speaks to some.
While there are many books on how to write, there aren’t many on how to handle success.
When I wrote as a journalist, I was invisible. I liked it like that. My words counted. My story mattered. Then codependency happened and people shined the light on me. While I side-stepped it as much as sanely possible, some public appearances became an important part of my work.
Whether it’s journalism, authoring a book, or restructuring a screenplay, I consider my writing service work. While I matter, so do you. You’re important to me. I enjoy being gentle, kind, and nice to you. Most of you, anyway. At book signings, I watch for people who deliberately position themselves to be last in line. It’s a red-flag thing that I won’t go into deeply now but it makes all sorts of warning signals go off. But for a long time, I still spoke nicely and kindly to that person, even though he or she was manipulating and in some cases, stalking me.
The more public relations for writers has become an internet thing, the more interactions with my readers has increased. That means, theoretically, more people are positioning themselves at the end of the line. When the proverbial light came on and I tired of being kind to people who positioned themselves last in line, when I tired of overriding myself and stopped treating the last person in line any differently than anyone else and became honest with them instead, it surprised them and me.
Unhealthy people-pleasing means overriding our deeper desires when we spend time being nice to someone when what we really want to say is “bugger off.” Our people-pleasing no longer pleases us.
Sometimes not pleasing others can really please us, although it may take some time. But usually it immediately leaves the person on the other end of the non-people pleasing interaction disappointed and surprised. People didn’t get what they wanted and they don’t like that.
In those sticky interactions, someone will be displeased. We can override our desire to tell someone to bugger off and continue to treat them the way they want us to and then we’re the person who’s displeased. Or we can stop people-pleasing and let the other person be unhappy.
When we first stop people-pleasing, we may feel uncomfortable initially as waves of false guilt and uncertainty ripple through us. We may wonder, “Did I just say that?” Plus we need to deal with the aftermath of other people being angry and upset. Afterburn, I call it in a book. Not to worry. Afterburn will pass. Awareness of what it is helps and ultimately we will be pleased by as much as sanely and reasonably possible, saying and doing what pleases us – whether that includes pleasing others or not.
But people we stop pleasing aren’t pleased with us anymore.
Integrate this. Write it on your hand, if you need to. Stopping people-pleasing isn’t an emotional thing. It’s math. Two people. Each wants something that conflicts with what the other wants. That means one person will be happy. One won’t.
Who’s the happy person going to be?
If we want to keep our job, and the person we’ve been people-pleasing is our boss, we may want to find a diplomatic and sane way to cease unhealthy people-pleasing behaviors. We have to weigh consequences. What do we really want – our paycheck or the momentary pleasure of denying the person what he or she wants?
Deciding to people-please in some situations may not be unhealthy, if we’re aware of and take responsibility for our decision to please someone else. But doing something that causes us to feel unhappy for a long enough time ultimately becomes unhealthy too. In other words, start looking for another boss.
Recovery is an inside job.
Much as people – and that includes publishers, people who interview me for media purposes, or writers who interview me for information for their books – want me to give them rules for what’s codependent and what’s not. I won’t. The list doesn’t exist. I won’t because it defeats the purpose of recovery, which means learning to trust ourselves instead of trusting someone else including me, another author, or even a therapist about what we should or shouldn’t do – although getting information helps.
We are the only person who knows what’s going on inside us. We know why we do what we do once we let go of denial and strive to be conscious and aware. We know if we’ve taken responsibility for our behaviors and choices. This means we’re the only person who can decide if what we’re doing is unhealthy, right for us right now or not.
Even in glaring cases of what appears to be codependency, if a person chooses to survive with codependent responses to the environment, that’s not necessarily unhealthy unless it becomes a way of life.
The only true test for whether a behavior is codependent or not is: Are we overriding ourselves? Do we want to say something that pleases us and stop saying what the other person wants to hear? Have we begun to override our desire to speak our truth in favor of pleasing someone else, and doing so no longer pleases us?
Who’s going to be displeased? The other person? Or us? If we’ve habitually pleased others instead of ourselves, we can reasonably expect people we stop pleasing to feel surprised, disappointed, and then angry when they don’t get what they want. It’s how people are.
You’re strong. You can weather that anger, surprise, and disappointment storm.
Remember, it’s nothing personal. It’s math.
Here’s a bonus. When we stop people-pleasing, people will know we’re someone they can trust because we speak our truth. When we’re nice to someone, it’s because we want to be. We like them and we like ourselves.
It’s good to be back.
PS: I remember my commitment to write some book reviews; I haven’t forgotten. I’m not going back on my word. I just needed to warm up first and take time to say I miss and love you. Just not the stalkers and those who deliberately position themselves last in line. Book reviews to follow.
That’s how stories begin, right? People talk about the night and the weather. The truth is, I’m sure it was dark because it happened at night, but I don’t believe there was a storm going on — other than the one inside my heart and house.
I’d been married then for almost ten years, or was it nine? It could have been on my honeymoon, because other than having our children, things in our relationship didn’t change. From the moment I said, “I do” I knew something was wrong but I didn’t know what it was. He said it was me. I didn’t trust him enough. I didn’t believe him when he told me every Sunday that it took him six or eight hours to go from newstand to newstand trying to buy a paper.
Oh, suspicious me.
I was working a program of recovery for myself. It told me to take my inventory, so all it took was hearing something like that from him to trigger my all-time favorite feeling: feeling guilty.
I hoped we’d achieve intimacy, grow closer through the years. But from Day One of our marriage the journey we took was of two paths getting farther and farther apart. I admired his goals, or what I thought his goals were: being a chemical dependency therapist, helping others stop using drugs and drinking. My hope was that our marriage would be about more than him and I. I wanted our marriage to mean something to the world.
Then one Sunday at church, the minister made an announcement. That evening a man would be speaking about a subject, something involving codependency — whatever that was — and something about the second surrender that happened to people trying to work on themselves.
I don’t remember much about that dark and stormy night except the church was packed and one sentence spoken by a stocky man stood out — stuck in my mind. “If the marriage is dead, bury it,” he said. The words resonated through my mind. A light went on about a dream I had in which there were two coffins next to each other — I was in one and my husband was in the other although we weren’t dead individually; we were very much (in the dream) alive.
“That’s what that meant,” I thought. “Instead of counting the days until he dies from drinking (he could help others but not himself), I should probably get a divorce. It would be a much more loving thing to do.”
That started or triggered awareness of an even larger journey I had been on for a while, one that resulted in me understanding that whatever was wrong with the women in family group at the treatment center where I worked as a family group facilitator was also wrong with me. I vowed if and when I understood how to heal from it, I’d write a book about how WE –not the other person — could get better.
Every year for five years, the goal went on my new goal list until I wrote a book entitled “Codependent No More.” I joke about this but I mean it when I say my only dispute when the publisher, Hazelden, who graciously gave me a $500 advance wanted to use the above title. Although brilliant for marketing purposes and rather catchy, how about something along the lines of “Codependent Not As Much” or as others suggest, “Codependent Once More.”
I thought the book would likely sell about as many copies as my first book had. Nine hundred. I wrote that book not to make money, but to share what I’d learned about helping myself. Yes, that’s the subject — helping myself, not the other person, feel better.
It’s interesting how one person’s life and one sentence spoken can change our lives and set it on a new course. That’s what happened to me, one dark and stormy night in Stilwater, Minnesota.
The man who spoke those life-changing words was Earnie Larsen.
If anyone quietly and in a spirit of service began the codependency recovery movement, it was Earnie who did it.
I received an email yesterday that Earnie died at age 71 from pancreatic cancer.
Some people’s lives symbolize a coming of age or rite of passage. That’s how it was with Earnie. He lived in Minnesota, but started an idea that spread like a California wildfire.
Has that much time really passed? Yes, Melody, it has. In a strange way, my vision for my marriage — that it would be used to help others — did come true, just not the way I wanted. But then that’s how most things unfold. I like being surprised though, but the surprise about my marriage really hurt. I wanted two things: to stay sober and have a family.
I was granted my first wish. Like I told the children at the time I divorced their father, “We’re still a family.” I specifically told Shane, “You are not the man of the house now. Your job is to be a child.”
He did until 1991, when he went skiing, fell, hit his head on a mogul, knocked his brain stem loose and then died in less time than he took for me to type this sentence.
Family is something that has slipped consistently through my hands. After Shane’s death, I tried to convince my daughter that we’d still be a family. She didn’t buy it.
Although we have our times of being extremely close along with mother-daughter issues, we were a family. Are a family. Only we weren’t a very happy one for quite a few years. I miss my son and Nichole misses her brother.
But in that convuluted way dreams have of coming true, the genie did come out of the bottle and grant my second wish. Over the years, as I’ve written book, built websites and tried (sometimes harder than other times) to surrender not the second time but over and over and over, I discovered that I do belong to a family — the family of the world. There’s you, and you, and then you and you and you. I may not know you’re names, but you’re all my sisters and brothers. We may not always agree, but then what family members do? Underneath it all, we have a deep, abiding love and respect for each other. At least I do.
Is it just me or are a lot of people passing lately? Earnie, did I tell you that your what you did for changed me, and then helped me touch others? If I didn’t tell you back then, I’m telling you now.
Your work saved my life.
I know there’s a special spot for you up in heaven. We’re not an easy lot to devote ourselves to as we can be needy, clingy, and expect others to have the magic at times. I’m sure that’s how I acted when I was around him. He graciously took time to speak to those who stood in line to thank him, and he looked people in their eyes. His beautiful wife Paula helped him. My heart goes out to her. I’m glad she married such a good man.
It’s not really goodbye Earnie. What this blog is about is saying, “See you later.”
Love and much thanks,
a grateful reader
It’s not so much the addresses I need anymore, the physical street location of where people live. With E-mails, tweets, navigation systems, people-finders, and all the rest, the act of finding a person’s home ranks low on priority lists, especially in Los Angeles where distance apart is measured in hours it takes to get there, not miles.
The phone numbers aren’t that important anymore either. For one thing, talking on the cell phone while driving is illegal. So why would I need to keep charging and finding that itty-bitty phone when I could talk on my regular phone when I’m at home? I agree with the law. With changing radio stations, digging in my purse, drinking a coffee, and God knows what else, where’s the extra hand to turn the steering wheel? That’s with two artificial discs in my back that make it a challenge to turn full around, which the law says I must do, when backing up?
I can say not with pride, but humility and embarrassment that I don’t twit (or is it tweet) while driving but that’s only because I don’t know what twittering means, except when I lived at the Blue Sky Lodge by the drop zone when I was getting my skydiving license and my roommate Andy (and jumpmaster) woke up every morning threatening to get a gun and shoot all the birds that twittered him awake the moment the sun lit the sky. That’s the only twittering I know. Oh, and sometimes I’ve heard the word “twit” used as a disparaging adjective to describe an annoying person who lacks common sense. (Or did I get the vowel wrong?)
Anyway, none of the above is the point. We’ve made it through the majority of the holiday season intact. Nobody I know died or killed him or herself (or anyone else). (I’m referring to the actual Holy Day, not the year.) People I know didn’t go overboard with commercializing this season. They embraced the true meaning of the holiday and instead of plying people with gifts they put in the garage until their over-active conscience lets them either re-gift them, hoping they don’t confuse the giver and give the gift back to that person, or finally become able to throw the useless, unwanted thing away — many people this holy-day season helped out families who didn’t have a roof over their heads, or people sick with a terminal illness who faced not only losing a home, but also anything to eat because they have a virus that many people point and claim is God smoting (smiting?) them with due to their sexual preference instead of telling the truth: sometimes people get sick.
My address book is important and I need it because it is how I keep track of my appointments (if I can find it). I know many more technologically savvy people than me keep appointments in gadgets, then complain when the gadget falls into the toilet or they lose it somewhere and need to start over, from scratch. I admit, for the whole world (or at least the five people who read my blog) that I use an old-fashioned day planner – the big bulky kind. The reason for that and for another revelation I’ll make is that, like an overweight person who continually sees him or herself as fat even though they’re now thin, I still think of myself as dirt poor even though I make enough money to pay the bills. However I still not only buy the big, bulky, inexpensive day planners, I buy the ones where you have to write the days of the week – and the dates – in by hand. I know, I know. Read your own books, Melody. You deserve a nice day planner. But who takes advice from themselves? I’ll barely take it from anyone else.
I need my day planner. It’s bulky, full of chicken-scratching I can barely read, and I have to write in the days and dates and I still can’t remember that rhyme, “Thirty days hath ….” I still don’t know which months have thirty and which months have thirty-one days – except for December. I think it has thirty-one. Either way, we’re now at that time of the year when I need my address book and day planner for important reasons.
The older I get, the more attached to rituals I become. One that’s important is the one that happens now. After Christmas, but before New Year’s Day. I reach into my wallet and dig out the four dollars and ninety-five cents (plus tax) for the new pages and insert them into my day planner three-holed notebook.
I then write in all the days and dates of the coming year in the appropriate spaces, hoping I don’t get them wrong. If I’ve made appointments for the New Year, I enter them in the right place.
Then comes the spiritual part. I look through my names, phone numbers, and addresses. Now you may think, “That’s no big deal.” But it is, to me. Looking over the list of people, phone numbers, and addresses triggers a personal inventory. Is there a name in there, someone who makes my heart flutter but I don’t have what it takes to tell the person how I feel about him, or ask him for a date because I’m clinging to that saying, “If a man loves a woman, he’ll come and get her – no matter how far he needs to travel, no matter where he needs to go or endure?”
It’s a lovely romantic illusion I cling to that prevents me from having to become involved or even go on a date – the very idea of which is artificial and I abhor.
Then I come across the numbers I don’t need to transfer because that person (and this year it wasn’t “person” it was “those people”) died this year. They aren’t here anymore. The line is disconnected. Someone else lives where they lived before. This has been a brutal year when it comes to death. People have been called to the portal and jumping to the other side in record numbers and I’ll freely admit that I’m using the tool of denial. Some years the losses are too much to take, at least all at once. So I pretend that I’m “busy working on a book or web site and when I have time, I’ll call that person and talk to him or her again.”
But that isn’t true. I can’t call them on the phone. I can communicate with them on the other side – when I’m ready to admit they’ve passed. But please, let’s gloss over that. I don’t want to cry. (Note to self: work on denial about loss; be aware you’re going through the stages of grief regarding those five, six, seven, eight, or nine names.)
The worst though – the numbers that do the most damage to my soul – are the ones I see and my gut get tight. Angry, resentful thoughts flood my mind. That person did me wrong. Maybe they betrayed me, at least from my perspective. Or they borrowed money from me then forgot it (the loan) and me (I was their best friend until it became time to pay). Something happened that created one of those nasty, spiteful, and to my way of thinking justified resentments that turn, over time, into grudges. (Note to self: Let your resentments go.) I don’t want to become one of those curmudgeonly old ladies that walk around shaking a cane at people, snarling at dogs, and making mean faces at little children. That’s what happens, you know.
Can we talk? No, not you, dear reader. I mean “me.” Mel, you’ve learned a few things over the years. Some aren’t true, and I’ve had to unlearn them or learn them a new way. Some are truth. Many people say that resentments don’t hurt the other person, they only hurt us. NOT TRUE. Resentments can hurt the other person, and they hurt us too. They’re damaging little buggers who grow and get bigger every year. They block our creativity, diminish our ability to love others and ourselves, and get in the way of good things we’d like to give, receive, and do. Then why is it so hard to let go of them? They’re nasty things – the thoughts, feelings, justifications, and the litany of what that person did to wrong me stick to my psyche like glue.
I may not be able to remember the name of that actress, the one I like so much. Or I can’t remember the name of the author of that particular book. But when it comes to resentments and my “who done me wrong list,” suddenly my mind develops a clarity that could get me a spot on the Tonight Show. I come into equal standing with Memory Man. I’m gifted in my ability to recite every detail of what a particular person did or didn’t do to me, why, and when, and why they deserve to bear the wrath of my resentment and bad feelings.
It’s always the longest list in the book, although this year it’s a nose-to-nose tie with the category “people whose deaths I deny.”
The title of this blog, for those of you who may have forgotten (I honestly do not know if I have five readers or ten and I don’t keep a counter here) is: Living in the Mystery. That term describes a way of living that’s been drilled into me by life and circumstances. It’s about trusting what I don’t know, trusting what hasn’t happened yet, and realizing the sheer nonsense of having hope.
I’m aware that the last statement may have jarred you. I’m aware that my name is often linked to hope. But hope is cheating. Hope says, “If I just close my eyes and hold my breath today, tomorrow will be better.” Faith? That’s something entirely different. Faith is brave, Superman kind of stuff. Faith says, “I’m present for this moment. I clearly understand that right now is as good as it gets and I’m able and willing to surrender to and be at peace with that. I trust that this moment is perfect – no matter how I feel – and even though I may not understand how anything in my life will play out. But that’s okay, because I do not concern myself with tomorrow because tomorrow doesn’t exist. The only thing that’s real is now. This moment. Not today, mind you. We can live our entire lives one day at a time, holding our breath, and waiting for tomorrow to come. Present moment living says I’m right here, right now, and like it or not (it runs about 30/70 percent—the liking and not liking it), this is what I get. It’s Life and I’m me. Yes, we have the power to change things – but not by sitting on our sofa, hands folded, waiting for tomorrow and our dreams to come true so we can finally be happy the way we unrealistically think other people are.
Present moment living isn’t for the faint hearted. We hurl ourselves into each moment, feeling whatever comes our way, dealing with what comes up (except for those deaths that right now are too much but if we’re absolutely honest we know the person has passed, we can’t call them on the phone, they’re on the other side. We just don’t want to cry, not now. We’ll save it for later. Maybe it’ll help me create a scene in a script or a moving paragraph in a book but I don’t want to say goodbye or see you later yet.)
Living in the Mystery, trusting what I don’t know, my day planner? Melody, what are you talking about? The best inventory-taker workbook I’ve ever encountered is the address book in my day planner. As I go through the ritual of re-entering each name and number (if the person has passed dial 1-800-HEAVEN). See who answers the phone. Ha!
Who do I resent? That’s the most important list. What grudges am I holding, what wrong-doings (to me of course) am I clinging to, relishing? Which bad thoughts am I harboring, possibly hiding, even from myself?
The address book doesn’t lie.
In all my years in recovery, or attempting to consciously walk a spiritual path, I’ve found only one way to successfully treat resentments. It’s by getting even. (Not really, that was a test to see if you’re paying attention or just skimming this blog, waiting for it to end.) The only way I’ve learned to cure resentments is to ask God to bless the person I resent whether I mean it or not and obviously if I resent the person, I don’t mean it. I want God to smote (smite?) the person at least half as much as God has smitten me. What I honestly want is for God to teach that person his or her lessons. Yes I know I’ve used this line before but it’s a favorite. “Judgment is mine, sayeth the Lord,” my daughter said, “but I sure envy His job.” Sometimes, so do I – especially concerning the names on my resentment list.
But there’s real magic in that old recovery saying that tells us to pray for those we resent. That doesn’t mean pray that they see the light, pray that they see the error of their ways, pray they realize how much they’ve harmed us, and then let them, for the first time in their lives, actually make an amends to us and finally admit what they’ve done wrong. It means pray that God rain down, pour, blessings on that person, make him or her happy and fill the person with joy and peace. Let that person realize abundance – win the lottery if he or she plays. Win a big one, too. Or at least win at bingo and not have to share with ten other winners. Every time that person’s name or the situation passes through my mind, pray good things befall that person and that they stay out of harm’s way. Then take the exercise one step further. Pray for blessings on the people that person loves, too.
It’s spiritual ditch-digging. Hard work. It’s taxing and it hurts. But one day – and I never know when that day will come – I find myself meaning it when I ask God to bless that person. I’ve dug the ditch. The resentment is gone. Now I can bury it.
Not so ironically, the barrier or block to what I’ve been unsuccessfully attempting to do also disappears. It went to that special place, wherever in the universe that resentments, blocks, and barriers go – the spiritual junkyard. What do you know? My Higher Power is blessing me too and what’s even better is that I feel so peaceful, I don’t notice because by practicing this exercise I’ve been allowed to live in a State of Grace.
With all its nasty twists and turns, and keeping in mind that nine out of every ten people are untrustworthy, lie, will steal or commit fraud, and acknowledging all the other negative things that exist, Life remains a rich, blessed gift. See! See! I could tell you what he or she did wrong to me, but I can’t remember the name of that movie that would fit here perfectly. Wonderful. That’s one word in it. Oh, yeah.
It’s a Wonderful Life. Happy New Year, all.
Thank you, friends and loyal readers. Thank you, family. Thank you, people who will become friends but I haven’t met yet. Thank you, names in my address book. Thank you, people who have passed. Thank you, people who have not yet been born but are on their way (Congratulations – and you know who I’m talking to).
Thank you, Higher Power. I call you God.
Thank God that I only need to change address books once a year.
Some of you may have read about my complaining when I jumped through all the Google hoops so that I could have NetFlix for an advertiser on my grief site at www.MelodyBeattie.net. I really wanted movies — and the ease that Netflix makes it possible to rent and return them with. Then, after hoop-jumping, NetFlix turned me down.
I was bummed.
I’ve learned something over the years. Twenty publishers rejected Codependent No More. Six months later, one changed its mind.
I wanted to work at a daily newspaper. Every week for almost six months I went there, begged for a job as a reporter, and got turned down because I didn’t have a college degree. Then one day the phone rang. I got the job.
When I apply for advertisers, I try to be discerning. I look at advertisers not so much as a way to make money on my sites, but as part of a service. If one turns me down, I think about it. Do I really want this advertiser? How important is it to me? If it’s a so-so situation, I let it go. But if it’s someone I really want, I write a letter, ask them to rethink their rejection, and plead my case. After complaining about my rejection by Netflix, that’s what I did with them. Without a doubt, I wanted them. About that much, I felt clear. So I wrote and told them how badly I wanted them and why.
Today I received an email from NetFlix. They changed their mind. I now have them as an advertising affiliate. I’m thrilled! Movies helped me so much when I fell into the bottomless pit of grief. I couldn’t read. It required a part of my mind that didn’t work. But movies helped me heal. Some people are the opposite; Life isn’t one-size-fits-all. But I wanted NetFlix for people like me who couldn’t read books but liked to be told stories by watching movies that spoke to their hearts.
It also helps me remember something that occurred when I was in treatment for chemical dependency. As part of the program, I had to inventory myself — the good and the bad. The latter was a breeze. Finding anything good about myself? A huge challenge in 1973. Finally the clergy person who listened to my inventory list came up with one good point he saw in me: persistence is what he called it. (Maybe what he saw was obsession?) I hung onto that asset for years.
I still do.
For many of our defects, all we’ve done is cross a line. Take a few steps backwards, or redirect the energy and it becomes an asset. It’s not that we have to change ourselves, we only need to make a shift in how, when, why, and where we apply our energy.
The trick is (for me) that I have to be brutally honest. It has to be something I really want and the desire needs to come from my heart. My motives need to be clear. Unthought, random obsession doesn’t work.
If you want something — really want it — and you know why and your intentions are good, go for it. Could be the universe is testing you. Or maybe the rejection was computer-generated. It’s hard to know exactly why.
Know yourself. Know Life. Then be true to yourself. Take some of that obsession. Turn it into persistence and passion. Then go after what you want. The defect becomes power.
Good luck. May the Force guide and be with you. Let me know how it goes. (The only place this may not work is in relationships.) If there’s a person you really want to be in relationship with, you may need to change your tactics or you’ll drive him or her away.
Be more subtle. Don’t just know what and who you want. Learn to dance with the universe.
Take those defects and turn them into assets. Surrender to what is. Going after what we want shouldn’t substitute for denial or refusal to surrender to reality — right now. Throw in a little “letting go.” Then see how it works.
It’s one recipe for getting what we want from Life. Bah, humbug to that saying, “Be careful for what you ask for because you might get it.” If you get what you want, good for you.
You’re learning to tap into essential Power and align with the Plan for your life.
That’s it for today.
Melody Beattie from Desert Hot Springs, CA
No, I’m not blogging about housework. That’s an ongoing thing. I remember once, right after I married the children’s father, when I began counting the number of times I’d need to vacuum, do laundry, cook dinner, go to the grocery store, and so on if I lived to be eighty years old. I got so tired from looking at the list that I hired a housekeeper, even though I was dead-butt broke. Back then, you could get someone for $20.00 a week. (That really dates me, doesn’t it?)
I have an assignment about work on your true home, the house for your soul, your spirit — where you really live. It’s a short blog and a short exercise, but an important one. I’d like each of you to name your favorite thing about yourself and your favorite thing about life.
My favorite thing about me is my flexibility. I can adapt to change with great ease, whether it’s a change in plans, a lifestyle change, or a rite of passage I’m going through (although I wasn’t flexible when it came to losing my son). But usually, I’m extremely flexible and can handle change with incredible ease. My favorite thing about Life is that it’s alive, but yet is doled out in 24-hour chunks. The Universe we live in isn’t just (and this is MY opinion, not necessarily the Truth) rocks, dirt, trees, mountains, and water. It’s like a living play — vital in its response to me and the events it brings. It not only listens, it talks back.
What are your favorite things about Life and You?
I’ve been contemplating this blog for a while. I want to post it before Thanksgiving, as it doesn’t seem appropriate to talk about pain on a day devoted to gratitude. So I’ll get it up before midnight (where I am).
PTSD. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Many of us have heard that term. Often, we associate it with soldiers, people who have seen horror played out before their eyes day after day. Sometimes the war we fight that leaves us with PTSD isn’t a political one though. It’s not a war between countries. It’s a private war. Life, our path, whatever force in the universe creates personal tragedy — can leave us reeling from the effects of PTSD and with no idea we have it.
It’s Saturday night, almost eight o’clock. My heart begins to race. I pace. A fountain of … of something bubbles up from my solar plexus. I feel afraid. I might be at a play, sitting with a group of friends, or at home alone and this, this thing just rains down on me out of nowhere and seemingly for no reason.
Most of us have heard the phrase, “Everything happens for a reason.” There are two ways to interpret that. One is that there’s a spiritual reason for everything that happens, and that the event is an important part of our destiny. The second interpretation is that there’s a cause and effect for everything that happens, and that even those things that don’t appear to make sense do — when we have all the information about what the cause actually is.
The cause for the fear coming out of nowhere, the Saturday night anxiety that often turns into panic in my life is that my son was killed in a ski accident and I received the phone call about it around eight o’clock on a Saturday night.
The Saturday night terrors is the most obvious effect of PTSD as a result of losing my son. There are many other ways, confusing ways, PTSD affects me and can affect us after a loss or traumatic event. After one of the books I wrote, Codependent No More, hit the bestseller list, I began doing speaking engagements first around the United States, and later around the world. It caught me off balance at first, but I adapted. I was dirt poor still, that first year, as writers get paid after the fact. Sometimes I’d have to buy a dress, carefully wear it to speak in, then quickly return it when I got home. Wrong? Yes. But there wasn’t any money to buy an appropriate dress. I’m sorry I did it, but I never hurt anything. (There I go, justifying.) It was survival. This night, I was at a speaking engagement in Portland, Oregon.
The people putting on the event put me up in a beautiful hotel with white carpeting, and a beautiful white bed spread, and an invitation to help myself to the contents of the mini bar. I chose a small container of cranberry juice, only to find that I either had to suck out the entire box of juice at once, without taking a breath, or the crimson juice would flow nonstop, like gas siphoning out of a car, and stain the carpet, the spread, or something else in that luxurious room. I chose to drink the container without breathing. I was out of my league, running around the room, trying not to make a mess.
Then, when I got to the event, I walked out on the stage. I looked at the audience. It wasn’t a group of fifty, or one hundred, or two hundred people. Five thousand people had showed up that evening to hear me talk. I felt some anxiety, said a quick prayer and asked God to use me to love the people, opened my mouth, and a good time was had by all — including me. Being in the midst of 5,000 people didn’t phase me. Then. Before Shane’s death.
Now, being in a room of twenty people causes my heart to race, my breath to quicken. A feeling something like fear comes over me. I didn’t understand this new phobia that had set in until I stumbled on the information somewhere that phobias such as fear of crowds is a normal part of PTSD after a sudden loss. One more validation that what we feel — who we are — is normal. Our normal.
The list of the way PTSD affects us is long, and I don’t have room to include all the symptoms here. But for each of you who have lost someone, or had an unexpected tragedy, or maybe have a history of holidays where instead of eating the turkey, a drunken parent threw it across the room, or broke all the dishes, or mom sat in the bedroom and cried because dad went out and didn’t come home and all Mom ever wanted was a family and a loving, happy holiday, know that you probably have your own list and it’s normal — for you.
Thanksgiving is a day of gratitude. We can even be grateful for coming from homes plagued by the disease of alcoholism. There is a positive side to (God I don’t want to use this word but I’m going to anyway) codependency. We hold up under stress better than most others. When they fold, we get the job done. We have a strength, a resiliency unknown to people protected and coddled all their lives. We can handle it — whatever it is. We might not like it, but we deal with it. And we deal with it well. Many of us become leaders, once we make peace with our past.
It’s easy to look around and think that almost everyone but us had a happy childhood, has a happy marriage, or has a life relatively free of deep pain, loss, and PTSD. The truth is, people who have been through trauma, people in unhappy marriages, and people with far less than perfect childhoods make up the majority, not the minority, of the population.
You are not alone. We are not alone. You are not different, a freak, nor are you someone who doesn’t fit. You are the norm. Your leftover pain from your past, with those bubbling cauldrons of panic that rise up in your gut, seemingly out of nowhere on Saturday nights or on holidays, is normal too. It’s your normal.
We’re filled with so many illusions about life. By the time they’ve been shattered, we — like the Velveteen Rabbit, usually have all our hair rubbed off and we’re old. Old but wise. Old but compassionate. Old but real.
Finally, we’ve stopped looking for some event or person to make us whole and complete. We’re not looking for anything.
We’ve learned to love.
For that, we can be truly grateful.
The day will come when we’ll see what we can’t see now, understand what doesn’t make sense today, and know the perfection in the path we’ve walked. White light surrounds our destiny, from the second we’re conceived, through our first breath, until our last. It just hurts like hell sometimes.
Breathe. Then say, “Thank You.”
Happy Thanksgiving everyone, even if it’s not as happy as you want. Should anxiety, panic, fear, or a sudden surge of pain and sadness well up inside you, do your best to relax into it. Where did it come from?
Only you can answer that.
I cannot count the number of times that: arguments, problems, delays, difficulties, anger, and other unpleasant situations have been caused by one thing, and that one alone: foggy or unclear communication.
Sometimes, it’s the person doing the writing or speaking who isn’t clear. For instance, I may assume (no I will NOT use that trite saying about assume) that someone has information he or she doesn’t have and that I’m adding to it, when in fact the person does not have the basic, foundational information. So when I add to it, they don’t have a clue what I’m talking about.
On other occasions, I overlook the basic journalism premise of the five W’s: who, what, when, where, and why. For absolute clarity, add a sixth that begins with “h” and include how.
I may be in a hurry and include only parts of what someone needs to know, or I clump three thoughts into one. Someone reads it, scratches his or her head, and goes, “What in the world is she talking about?”
Sometimes the person erring is the listener, the one on the other end of the communication. It does take a minimum of two people to communicate. Even if we’re talking to ourselves, we need to listen to what we say. But often we may jump to conclusions. We’re busy, in a hurry, we skim the surface of what we read or heard, make another …. assumption (I’m still not going to say it) and run off in left field in a tangent only to find out that while we may have needed the exercise, all the running and jumping was an unnecessary waste of time and energy. We listened wrong. We didn’t hear right. Or we used what my ex (now deceased bless his soul) used to call “selective hearing.”
Selective hearing is when we hear part of something. That part usually triggers an emotion — fear, hurt, anxiety. Or an assumption. (No. I will not say it. Too many people have used that tired saying about what happens when we assume for way too long.) So when we listen selectively, we hear only that part connected to an emotion, and nothing else. Maybe it triggered low self-esteem, or an issue we’re dealing with, trying to work through. For whatever reason, what we hear is not what was written or said. We took a piece of information and went off running into that field again. Unnecessarily.
What can we do to improve communication? Here are a few easy ideas.
1. Make notes beforehand of the important things we want to say or include. Details. For years, people have been saying that God is in the details. So is clear communication.
2. Take notes during the conversation. What was said? What was agreed upon?
3. Repeat yourself once, to be clear. “Sorry to bother you, but I’d rather take your time now instead of wasting it later. Was that 4:00 p.m. tomorrow, or Friday of next week?”
4. Slow down. Be present. If you have your cordless phone next to one ear, you’re texting on your cell phone, and then as soon as you complete the text you move to your computer and whip off an E-mail, you may end up with a mix up. Or two. Or four.
5. Avoid blame. Would you rather argue to maintain your righteousness, or resolve the problem? Sometimes a neutral, “I’m sorry for my part in this miscommunication,” can bring welcome peace to an agitated situation unless you’re into your drama addiction, in which case you’d likely rather argue anyway. You may want to suggest the possibility that it could have been you who either communicated or listened wrong, although you’re not certain. You’re not giving away all your fragile self-esteem but you’re giving the situation the barest possibility that although it’s never happened before, you may have been (cough) wrong. And if it was your fault, you’re sorry. Even if it wasn’t your fault — maybe the communication demons scrambled words or Mercury went retrograde or something else occurred — you can still be sorry that the communication problem and any resulting secondary problems happened. You know you’re growing when you prefer to make peace, not war. If we can’t make peace with people who are our friends, loved ones, or people we do business with on a regular basis, what are the chances of us doing it with complete strangers? Minimal, at best. But — that’s an assumption, and we all know what assuming does. Which is why I’m not going to say it.
On the other hand, this is an article, sorry a blog, about communication. I’ve now referred four times to some elusive thing I’m not going to say. While many of you know exactly what I’m talking about, it makes me look like a donkey to think everyone who reads this knows what I mean, even if I don’t say it, which means I’m not communicating clearly in my blog on clear communication. Quoting someone, “Oh, bother.”
6. Six ideas make a good number of suggestions for solving a problem. So I’ll end with this one. If a communication problem created a secondary problem and people feel angry, hurt, or upset and one of those people happens to be you, deal with your emotions first before attempting the next communication. If that means putting your hand over your mouth, lying and saying “Oh, someone’s at the door can I please get right back to you?” and then letting that string of epithets roll out of your mouth where nobody can hear them, regaining your peace, and calling the person back after releasing your emotions, chances are good that any communication that occurs now will be better than if you had attempted to talk while in the heat of emotion. Get centered and clear, calm, peaceful — be that loving and lovely person you truly are — first. If nothing else, do it for selfish reasons. Many of us are extremely busy lately. It will save you from having to make another call later to make amends. It’s also a good spiritual practice. Emotions do not have to control us or our communication.
We all make mistakes. Well most of us do. I know a couple people who said they haven’t, but I think they were wrong at least once: when they said that. Life is precious. Time is valuable. So are our relationships. Talk clearly. Listen clearly. If that should not happen, resolve the issue as quickly as you can.
Oh, alright. I’ll include it.
7. Don’t assume. Since I began consciously walking a spiritual path, I’ve heard said, as many others have when someone says, “Well I assumed…..” The other person clears his or her throat and says, “You know what happens when you assume. You make, and then they break the word into syllables: an ass/ out of u/ and me/. Ass-u-me. Get it? Thought you would.
I truly despise that saying.
How about this? Let’s just do the best we can and strive for clear communication.
Have a good day and if you can’t do that, have a day. We never know when it might be ours or someone else’s last. Enjoy the gift of life and communication.
P.S. Watch for the blog coming soon on PTSD – Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and how it impacts many of us and our quality of life.
P.P.S. — I completely forgot that the reason I wanted to write this blog on communication is that a previous blog talked about moving blogs to another spot. I communicated incorrectly. I’m not moving this blog. It’s here and I plan to keep it here. But a duplicate of it is in Google for any of you who are Googlitarians. Googlites? Googlers? Anyway, you can read it either here or there, but Living In the Mystery is staying right here which is all I really wanted to say.
This is just a short post to let you know that I’ve managed, with the help of some generous folk who shared their knowledge (rather one generous man) to import my blogs from my other blog site. After wrestling with it for a few hours, I stopped doing the same thing over and over (even though it didn’t work), wrote down the error code, and sought some help. Voila! There it was — the solution in black and white. And to make things better, the solution offered worked.
Part of this is to let you know that I’ve imported the blogs and comments from the blog site at www.MelodyBeattie.com/blog to http://melodyavatarblog.blogspot.com/ at Google. I haven’t blogged at Google much (as any visitors there know). The other part is a reminder to those of you who have, hmm, tendencies similar to mine and continue to do the same thing repeatedly even though it didn’t work the first, second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, and my do we get obsessive. Sometimes I’ll bring that number up to twenty, thirty, or forty times.
Reminder: Here’s a rule of thumb. If you try it three times and it doesn’t work, stop. Get some new information. Ask for help. Perhaps read the instructions? Try something different but for the love of God and all that’s Holy, stop doing what doesn’t work and do something else.
Ahem. More a reminder to me than to anyone else. Not really a post; more of a post-it note to keep in sight.
Have a good one!
So often we think of distractions as being something negative but that’s not necessarily true. Sometimes, when an event pulls me away from what I’m doing (or trying to do), it’s because that event has the next piece. It holds a lesson I need to learn to move forward.
Then there are those times we need to learn to distract ourselves. There were times after my son’s death when I felt like I’d fallen into a bottomless pit of pain. At the end of the fall was a nothingness death, like I was willing myself into an autistic world of pain. The emotions, the grief, the hurt just got to be too much. That’s when I began to learn about the positive side of distractions, and that I could distract myself. Understand, I’m not talking about going into permanent denial. I’m talking about a coffee break from the real world.
Shortly before Shane’s accident, I’d begun going to kinesiology. For those not familiar with the practice, it combines chiropractic care with homeopathy, NLP, and muscle testing. I may not be getting these terms exactly correct. But I believe NLP is neuro linguistic programming, a way of muscle-testing the body, or “talking to it” to see what it wants next — what bones it wants cracked, if there’s an emotion that’s stuck (or three of them), or something else holistically that the body needs.
When chiropractic care is done that way, you don’t need to spend half an hour under a heating pad to relax the muscles to get the bones ready to adjust. By talking to the body and finding out what it wants done, it’s ready to allow those bones to be adjusted (or cracked). Neuro Linguistic Programming is a way of identifying a blocked emotion, naming it, it’s origins, current trigger, what lesson it’s part of learning, and then releasing it, all in a matter of seconds. After a while, a person can blow through ten to twenty emotions in one twenty-minute session.
You learn to identify, go to that vibrational level, feel it, release it, and then go on to the next emotion. Emotions stop becoming such a big ordeal. We push through them. Bap. Bap. Bap. What’s next? To muscle test, you hold out your arm. The doctor thinks of a question, asks the body (bypassing our conscious mind). Then the arm stays strong or goes weak, depending on whether the answer is No or Yes. Fascinating process but is it snake oil selling? Well, the emotion that came up and wanted a homeopathic remedy days before Shane’s death? Deep, overwhelming, heart-breaking grief. I looked at the paper the chiropractor gave me to accompany the homeopathic remedy my body said it wanted. This is nuts, I thought when I read it. I’m not feeling any grief. Until three days passed and Shane went skiing and never came home.
It’s as though our souls know what’s coming next and some therapy works at the level of soul consciousness. There is a point to all this information, I promise. As time passed and I continued to use this holistic therapy, one event that came up — a Lifestyle that my body requested — was The Law of Humor. I’d stopped laughing some time ago. Apparently, there’s a universal law (I don’t know where the codes are hidden or who wrote them) that says we either laugh or die or get sick. The Universal police give us a consequence if we don’t let up on our pain. That’s when I learned about distracting myself.
Sometimes it could be as simple as going to a movie, although that can backfire. At times I’d find myself watching a movie about a child’s death and end up crying harder after the distraction than I did before. Then I learned to make it even simpler. Rent the movies I knew would make me laugh. I may lose a few readers here, but the Earnest movies make me laugh, especially Earnest Goes to Jail. I giggle as I sit here writing, thinking about some of the slapstick scenes. That’s what I’m talking about.
Another way to distract ourselves is to consciously use the other side of our brain, the rational side, the part that deals with numbers, logic, and facts. I began doing crossword puzzles. They’d pull me out of my fall down the emotional death well. Or I could do something like wear different colors. Black attracted me much of the time. It also pulled me down. By wearing another color, I figuratively and literally lightened up.
Going into another room, taking a shower, going to the hardware store are all things that worked when I needed to distract myself. The hardware store? Yup. It reminded me that there’s a practical way things in this world work, a way to make sense of things. That comforted me. I can smell the sawdust even as I write these words, and how good that smelled to me.
Each of us need to experiment to discover what works for us. There will always be something that we can afford that will get us out of the emotional side of our brain, or make ourselves laugh. The humor may be on the dark side, but a dark laugh is better than none.
There’s also PixiePit, an online scrabble game you play on the computer with people all over the world. Cost? $12.00 a year. Affordable to most people. Watch out for games that harvest for personal information. Also avoid the online casinos. You’ll win like crazy when you play for free, but I’ve known people who won so much playing for free they began playing for money. That’s when they started losing thousands of dollars. Then they lost thousands more trying to recoup their losses.
Find safe distractions, ones that don’t bring harm to you or anyone else.
When we don’t distract ourselves is when worse accidents or events tend to happen: physical abuse (abusing someone else or letting someone abuse us); emotionally abusing someone; finding a negative distraction, one that will change our mood. It’s better to know that there is an area where we do have some control. Most of us like to feel some sense of control in life and that’s a normal, appropriate reaction.
Intentionally distracting ourselves from pain, taking that coffee break from reality, is one way to do it. People say that God never gives us more than we can handle. I haven’t found that to be true. I’ve been overwhelmed by events and found myself plummeting down that bottomless pit.
Any good ideas? Feel free to share in comments. Numbers games, jigsaw puzzles, I’m not one for jokes but some people like those too. But it’s hard, people complain, to switch my mood. I know we don’t have an on and off switch, but it’s something we can learn to do and we’ll get better at it with practice, especially when we see that it works and gives us a little relief.
If you’re going through a difficult time, better to learn to distract yourself than get tagged by the Universal Police for breaking the Law of Humor.
No situation is so grim that we aren’t allowed to laugh, giggle, or even get to a belly-rumble or roar. It’s not disrespectful. It doesn’t mean we don’t care. It means we care enough about ourselves to want to stay alive. Even if we don’t (which I didn’t always), we can act as if we do.
Eventually the desire to live on this not-everything-has-a-happy-ending planet will return. We’ll be someone new. We didn’t ask for it. We don’t have to like it. Neither of those are rules. But we do need to learn to laugh at ourselves.
It’s the Law.
That’s all for now from Living in the Mystery
by Melody Beattie
I’m still amazed at how old behaviors can crop up and sabotage me or minimally make me completely miserable. One of the sneaky little devils that creeps in, in many shapes and forms, is Black and White Thinking. Let me explain what that term means to me.
First I want to preface this Post with how easy clearly identifying another person’s shortcomings is while glossing over my own. That could be why some recovery programs suggest taking our own inventory, although taking other people’s makes recovery much more fun — for a while anyway.
Black and White Thinking is a brother to All or Nothing. For instance, if I can’t pay the entire bill, I won’t make any payment at all. Men are often guilty of this. I don’t know why but it seems to be a male thing. Women are more prone to see clearly here and make payments while men will patiently wait to win the lottery instead of making monthly payments on a bill.
My All or Nothing (or its brother Black and White) thinking lately connects to work. I have to get ALL of this project done before I can move on to the next thing. Then people wait. I feel guilty, get stressed. I lose the energy and feeling of the other projects I’m doing. In self-defense, some of this comes from writing books. I’ve not been able yet (and I’ve written eighteen books) to write a book and do anything else but the bare essentials. That includes: breathe when I have time. I can hear and be distracted by the sound of someone else breathing 500 yards away. To write a book, I need absolute concentration and focus. Nothing short of that will do.
But now I’m working on finishing two web-creating tasks: making The Gift Shop for The Grief Site, and a new site at www.MelodyBeattie.org. On that one, I’ll announce a book to be released in November: Make Miracles in Forty Days. I’ll also devote part of it to codependency and a workbook coming out next year related to Codependent No More. I’m thinking a forum where we could discuss issues (not that we still have them) might be helpful. Yes? No? What do you think? I truly care, although I don’t want any of us staying stuck in our, “I’m a sick, hopeless codependent.” We can work on issues and still align with our essential power. See — there’s that Black and White thinking again. We don’t have to go around publicly identifying as codependents anymore. Some things we can keep to ourselves or share with a trusted few.
Changing the subject, it’s a small site and I think I’ve learned to do all the tasks involved with putting it together so I won’t have a learning curve. The publisher has prepared all the information on the new book release. I don’t want to give too much away, so writing will be minimal there.
I also have a screenplay that I need to be editing now. I payed for and enrolled in a class at ScreenwritersOnline.com, a site that guides and teaches me, and for now replaces deadlines. It also gives me what they call in the industry. (I like using that phrase, the industry. It helps me feel like a professional in the screenwriting biz, a goal I’ve had since I began my writing career in 1979.) Problem is, I should be working on all three things at once. Obviously, I can’t. I can do only one thing at a time.
Recovery programs suggest First Things First. I’m familiar with that phrase. But what do we do when three things scream, “Me. Take me first?” Get stressed? Come down with pneumonia, like I did? Maybe there’s a different and better way. What if it didn’t have to be all or nothing? What if I could walk and chew gum at the same time? I could devote half the week (three days) to working on web sites, and the other half to editing my screenplay and starting the next one I want to write (and that I’ve paid for the class for help, support, and notes to write it in)?
Sounds like a Plan. I recall, right before getting sick, thinking I can’t take all the obstacles and problems anymore. It’s too much, too hard. Everything feels like crawling over broken glass; everything I’m doing involves a grueling learning curve. How to get a YouTube Video to open automatically. Don’t worry. You can shut it off if you like. But for effect, I wanted to a) create a small movie for the Gift Shop; and b) have it automatically open when you redirect to the Store’s site — redirecting being something else new I needed to learn.
Everything has been hard and vying for my attention. This morning at 3:00 a.m. I broke through on two obstacles. But what if, just what if I did something else innovative and new, like letting go when I get stuck instead of repeatedly doing over and over something that doesn’t work?
I might be on to something, although I’m kidding about letting go being a new concept. People have written about that subject for a long time.
Isn’t it amazing how well the basics work?
I know what some of you are thinking. I despise that phrase, too. It’s actually supposed to be a recovery joke. “Wanna know how to make God laugh? Tell Him your plans.” That sounds so mean. It’s good to have goals, as long as we’re not overly attached to them. Who, me?
I’m going to give this a go or a while. But I think (and the idea occurred just this moment while writing this Post): What if I prayed each morning for specific guidance about what I’m supposed to work on that day, and then trusted my intuition about what I hear?
Hate to repeat myself. But isn’t it fantastic that the basics work?
Reminder to self: May not have to take the All or Nothing or Black and White routes to reach my goals. Maybe I can do two different things in the same week. I’m not writing a book. That reminds me of something else I forgot to do: write a goal list of what I want and need to get done.
Second Reminder to Self: Write goals.
Third Reminder: Remember to stop thinking about praying for guidance and actually ask. Also stop thinking about meditating and spend some time — even if it’s five minutes – in meditation. Talk to my Higher Power and then listen to what He, my guardian angels, and the Universe have to say. Prayer and meditation. Seems like I’ve heard about that somewhere before too.
It just might work. Whoa! Wait a minute. Now I’ve got, 1-2-3-4-5-6-7 things to do? Did I just make Life harder? How am I ever going to get them …. Melody, for the Love of God and all that’s Holy, stop it! Let go and breathe.
Yours in recovery,
Melody BeattieAuthor of Language of Letting Go