I hope you have a wonderful family full of supportive, loving and intelligent people. And, if you do, please know - I’m jealous! I’m jealous because my family is full humans - opinionated, flawed, and sometimes stupid people. And included among those stupid people are some bullies.
Mind you, they aren’t your run-of-the-mill schoolyard jerks who kick your shin and take your lunch money. These bullies are lovely-looking, usually very-nice people, who hand you a cocktail and then tell you how you don’t know enough, aren’t good enough, and basically suck. I have left many encounters with these bullies, dumbstruck and shaking my head, wondering how I ended up feeling so awful after such a nice party.
Part of my personal growth has included a good deal of work on standing up to people who would like to make me feel small - including the bullies in my family. My evolution has involved dissecting the encounters I have with them, translating the seemingly “helpful” comments on my life and explaining why I feel like shit afterward. At some point I decided to start standing up to these people both in my head and in real time.
At first it was horribly scary… my voice trembled, my knees were wobbly. I began to say things in response to the veiled insults such as, “I disagree,” or “Excuse me, but how is that relevant?” and other conversation halters.
I’ve gotten better at simply refusing to tell certain people about the details of my life, they aren’t safe enough to be trusted. I’ve based my interactions with them on how they ACTUALLY show up for me.
Case in point…
This morning, a distant cousin who has political views that are opposite of mine, shared an article on social media that made my blood boil. I have been fighting with said cousin, in my head, ever since.
I have crafted a thousand well-researched opinions. I have cut and pasted all the facts that I could to support my point. I have even thought about unfriending my cousin.
Ultimately, however, I choose not to engage.
The decision not to engage came from a conversation we had in KeyHolder, Robin Breckenridge’s PIVOT series - a course on repairing and restoring relationships. (Which, by the way, I highly recommend! Just as I highly recommend simply meeting Robin. She is fabulous in a thousand ways!) In our PIVOT session two weeks ago we talked about setting boundaries with the people in our lives based on the ways they ACTUALLY show up for us. This is essential - most of us have boundaries based on what we would LIKE to be true.
Once a boundary is set, it is then up to ME to act accordingly. It is my job to not engage, disclose, or set myself up to be hurt. The other person will do what they will do and it is none of my business. My behavior is the only thing I can control.
My cousin is wrong, and mean, and in an outer relationship boundary where I put jerks that I will not allow to invade my life. This person is not someone I want to invest in and the relationship is not one I care to invest in. If we didn’t share DNA, my cousin wouldn’t be on my radar, nor would I be on theirs.
So I chose to not engage - to type nothing in response. I choose to let my cousin be wrong, and mean, and not a person I invest in.
I control who gets my time. I control who gets my energy. I control who gets my very valuable and very limited fucks. And when I am standing in my power, fully content with my choices, I am my best self.
This, my friends, is badassery.
So, what do I do when I do care and I must confront my bullies? Well, that’s a subject for another blog post. Stay tuned!
Are you giving the bullies in your life more time, energy - or fucks - than they deserve? Inspire others in your hive (and yourself!) by leaving a comment below making a pledge to engage - or disengage - how it best suits you!
Dr. Corrine Rogers,
Holy shit you guys, I committed the absolute cardinal sin of the liberal nation. It pains me to even admit it to you…. I didn’t vote Tuesday.
I intended to vote, I researched the candidates, I considered the millage for our district. I imagined myself walking into the middle school, smiling at my neighbors and casting my straight party ballot.
When I woke up yesterday, however, this socially involved, well-informed woman, forgot all about voting day. I had my coffee and began to think about my day and then I looked at my schedule.
This was my first mistake.
You see. I usually look at my schedule for the next day before I go to bed at night. The night before I assumed it would be a usual Tuesday. When I looked, I saw that I had scheduled someone an hour earlier than my normal start time. I jumped up, got dressed, threw some food and my water bottle in a bag, made sure the dog pooped and flew out of the house right on time.
Then I drove down the street and saw the political signs in the yards of my neighbors. Holy shit, I forgot to vote!
I quickly thought about my day. I live about 45 minutes from my office. How could I find a window in my day to drive back home and vote and then get back in time for my next commitment? I couldn’t!
Then it hit me… the Shame Wave!
What had I done? How could I have forgotten this duty, this action that is so precious and important to me? What kind of horrible person forgets this and doesn’t make it a priority?
Later I perused Facebook and saw the wonderful women in my life, the ones who inspire me, encourage me and support me, positing photos of their voting trophies, the beautiful sticker that proves they made it to the polls and made a difference. I saw a SheHive post asking what number we were in line at the polls, a way of encouraging conversation and sharing in the joy that is using our voice in our state. Another Shame Wave crashed. I slumped and then I remembered my beloved teacher, Brene’ Brown.
Brene’ studies shame and resilience. If you have not read her work, stop reading this NOW and go watch her TED talk! It is the best 20 minutes of information you will hear, perhaps, ever. She lets us know that shame is the root of all hurt, struggles and emotional challenges. She also lets us know we are not alone and we can heal our shame when we share our secrets with those safe enough to hear them. In a beautiful talk she did with Oprah, she delineated the difference between shame and guilt. She teaches that guilt is the awareness that we have DONE something wrong, we have made a mistake.
Guilt can be a wonderful teacher, it shows us our errors and allows us to change. Shame, however is the belief that we ARE something wrong. It is a comment on our character and is not something that we can change, it is a rotting wound that cannot be healed.
It’s also a big, fat, fucking LIE.
I am not wrong, I am not flawed. I made a mistake. I overbooked my life (again). I didn’t look at my calendar last night. I didn’t put the election date on my calendar, I slept a little longer than usual, and probably 50 other mistakes that stopped me from casting a ballot. This does NOT get to have any reflection on my character.
I sat for a few minutes with this new awareness. I thought about my life the last few weeks. I admitted to myself that I am not doing a very good job of taking care of myself. I’ve been over-scheduled, under-nourished, lacking in fun and just plain out of alignment with my goals.
I spent some time breathing and letting this sink in. Yes, I didn’t vote today. Yes, I’m a good person. Yes, I have something to feel guilty about, lack of self care and priority focus. But NO, there is no need for the Shame Shit Storm. That ends now. You may have seen my post in The SheHive thread, I said some of this there.
I invite you dear woman, to examine what you are currently feeling the Shame Shit Storm about. I invite you to see that guilt is about your choices, which likely need some tweaking because NONE of us is in balance, NONE of us have it correct. I invite you to see that there is no place for shame in your self talk.
You are not wrong. You are not broken, or damaged or unworthy of love, healing and belonging. You are whole, and in process and perfectly imperfect.
Welcome to the club!
Corinne Rogers, PsyD, LP
P.S. Want to share your story about guilt and shame? Leave a comment below! Who knows who you might inspire!