Sunday’s Reflection (Thought of the Day)

from Codependent No More by Melody Beattie:

The people who look the most beautiful are the same as us.  The only difference is they’re telling themselves they look good, and they’re letting themselves shine through.  The people who say the most profound, intelligent, or witty things are the same as us.  They’re letting go, being who they are.  The people who appear the most confident and relaxed are no different from us.  They’ve pushed themselves through fearful situations and told themselves they could make it.  The people who are successful are the same as us.  They’ve gone ahead and developed their gifts and talents, and set goals for themselves.  We’re even the same as the people on television: our heroes, our idols.  We’re all working with approximately the same material — humanity.  It’s how we feel about ourselves that makes the difference.  It’s what we tell ourselves that makes the difference.

Reaction vs. Response: What’s the Difference?

Well, quite simply, the difference is everything.

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If you envision a body of water, and it’s deep enough, then a reaction would be akin to the surface of the water.  It’s constantly rippling, moving, and changing — it’s rather chaotic.

Whereas the depths, the water down below, is calm, stable, and quiet.  This would analogous to a response.

When you think about where each comes from, there’s another facet of this analogy.  A response requires depth, patience, and diving down into the calmness of being.  A reaction is quick, unpredictable, and uneven.

It is always better to respond when you find yourself in situations where a quick reaction is the easiest.  Sometimes a reaction is required — but overall, the goal should be to get to a place where a moment of calm… then a response, is your automatic go-to.

Letting Go of the People Who Can’t Hear You

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There are many, many things to learn in life — lessons abound in this wonderful playground.  Some lessons we get, early on, and we don’t need any further reminders.  You know, the simple ones.  Brush your teeth.  Look both ways before crossing the street.  Put on underwear.

Others, well… we take our time.  We may have to be hit over the head a few dozen times before we get it.  Before it clicks.  And we can’t even get too comfortable then because those lessons can sometimes unclick on you.  The lesson I’m talking about today may be one of those.

And yet, I think it’s quite a special one.  Because I don’t think everyone gets this one.  And it is:

Having the wisdom to speak to those who can hear you.

See, funny thing about this thing we call life.  We come into it essentially all on our own, and when we leave it, we leave it all alone.  And during the in-between, we have this urgent desire to fill it up with the poignancy and meaning only another human relationship can bring.  We are fundamentally social beings.  We must be careful and aware of the real danger of codependency — but there is a healthy measure of person to person interaction we are compelled, no fervent, to seek and maintain.

Naturally, those who are around us and closest to us in our childhoods and immediate surroundings seem to fit the bill.  Even as young adults, when we are braving our first shot at independence away at college or in the work force, we make connections and build relationships with those who just happen to be around.

This is perfectly normal and natural.  But…

A staggering majority of the people we encounter, hang around, love, and live with won’t be able to hear us — not really.  This is especially true if we’ve always felt like the odd one out in these social structures (deeply at our core).

Again, I don’t think everyone gets this particular lesson in life.  Many people are happy to just share their time with those around them and they don’t ever have the isolating experience of not feeling heard.  But then there are those of us who do.

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So this is for you, my friend.  If you’ve often felt that you have something to convey, express, or share with the people in your life, but they just aren’t interested — it can become a very discouraging and disempowering experience.  Until you realize that those people, those particular people, may not be the right ingredients for your life.  Ultimately, you get to concoct your life.  You get to dictate your time here.  You have the final say.

And it’s hard.  Believe me, I know.  Letting go of important people in your life, or those who you’ve had important shared experiences with, can be one of the hardest things you face.  It doesn’t mean you kick them to the curb, it doesn’t mean you completely shut them out… no, it’s more about picking and choosing what to share, and with whom.  You let go in the sense that before they weren’t able to hear you, now they don’t get to hear you.

If your time here needs to be spent doing a specific something, don’t deny that.  Don’t repress your beautiful self because those who happen to be around can’t hear what you’re saying.  Save your energy, and moreover your time, and stop trying to “reach” certain people about the things that truly matter to you.

There’s more than one audience out there. The first step is to fully recognize when you’ve been speaking to the wrong one.  So… stop.  Gather yourself.  Honor yourself.  And honor what it is you have to say.  Because it’s important.  And then find the audience who can hear you.  They’re out there, I promise.

Why I Tarot

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Tarot.  (deep sigh)  There are a lot of misconceptions and judgements that come up from just mentioning the word.  In fact, I lost followers on Twitter after sharing a Tarot youtube video I’d made.  Most people don’t understand it.  Most people think it’s fortune-telling.  And almost everyone thinks it automatically associates you with the world of the occult.

And yet, Tarot is an incredibly practical, down-to-earth tool for me that is neither of those things.  I don’t think it has anything to do with “fortune telling” or “psychic powers;” but rather I believe it has a direct application to intensive self-study and introspection.

If you’re familiar with Jung and depth psychology, you’ll recognize certain characters in the Major Arcana (that is, the main deck).  These are the universal archetypes that people either adopt as their own or manifest in their surroundings.  These are teachers.  You learn so much about yourself by “doing the Tarot,” and alternately about those around you.

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The High Priestess, for example, is the second (technically third) card in the deck who beckons you to your inner voice.  Your calm waters of knowing.  Your depth.  Your dreams.  The gentle waters, rippling and lapping against a deserted shoreline, at midnight, tell you a secret.  That is the High Priestess.  She will show up for you when you need to know.

This is the metaphor, the symbolism, the Tarot presents us.  To study ourselves as much as others.  To connect to something just beyond the reach of words and not quite falling into the category of conscious thought.  The major Arcana represents our journey here on Earth, in many ways, starting with card zero (technically the first) the Fool.

And if we distill that down, then understanding the Tarot is a way to understand our time here.  And that’s why I Tarot.

The Difficult Journey: How to Stop Seeking Validation from Others

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So… this one can be a doozy.  Most of us aren’t even aware of the ways in which we persistently seek validation from others.  How do you address a problem you aren’t even aware that you have?  With some simple questions, of course..

So, let’s start here — a simple yes or no will help you to determine if this is or has been a problem for you,

Do you find yourself regularly displaced outside of your own experience, wondering and guessing at what another person is thinking/feeling?

Do you stop before you even start on new endeavors or projects because you are anxious over how others will perceive them?

Are you always or often the first person to say, “How are you?” or “How was your day?” to those closest to you?

Do you only show certain aspects of your personality, such as favored interests or hobbies, to carefully selected people in your life?

After a success, accomplishment, or major life event, is one of your first thoughts about how you want to share this news?  And if so, does the thought give you any level of anxiety?

If the answer was yes to any of the above questions, you may suffer from an unhealthy need to seek validation from others.

So where does this need come from?  What’s it about?  While there are innumerable books and resources designed to answer those questions, you first must understand that the need to seek is but a symptom of a greater cause.  Essentially, we are dealing with a lack of self-confidence.  You’re not confident in your voice, your truth.

One of my favorite speakers/writers on this topic is a woman by the name of Lisa A. Ramano, who runs a prolific Youtube channel, in addition to being the author of several self-help books.  She deals primarily with the issues faced by adult children of alcoholics (ACoAs) and I highly recommend watching some of her videos if you have abuse in your past.  You can find her Youtube channel here.

But even if your problem isn’t an abusive childhood, you may still suffer the effects of low self-confidence.  Here are my practical steps to stop seeking validation from the outside world and instead provide spirit affirming validation to and for yourself.

  1. Get OFF and stay OFF “Validation-book,” aka Facebook!  Yes, yes, I know — how can I ask such a thing of you?!  But I’m not.  You are asking this of yourself.  Because today, you’re going to start doing things for yourself.  This is a great first step.  Unfortunately, social media has programmed us to believe that every second and facet of our lives must be shared, when in fact it doesn’t, and actually it shouldn’t!  If you need to use it for business or because you manage a group or page, fine, use it.  But only as a resource or tool.  Do your stuff.  Then get off.  And stay off!  Anyone who is a real friend has other ways of contacting you and they will if they need to.  Just start by taking a break.  Go on, you can do it.
  2. Stop judging and critiquing yourself so harshly.  I know, this is much easier said than done.  But a very simple way to start this is to acknowledge the moment when you mess up, or say something you probably shouldn’t (or eat something you probably shouldn’t… hello donuts and sweets), and immediately and unconditionally forgive yourself.  See, those of us who suffer from incessant validation seeking have a really hard time of being kind to ourselves.  We need someone else to tell us it’s okay.   Someone else to forgive us.  Or say that donut won’t go to our thighs.  We know very well what we ought and ought not to be doing.  It’s time to allow yourself to be human, mess up, and move on.  Try it.  Take a deep breath, say “that’s okay,” and move on.  Next.
  3. (And this comes from Lisa A. Ramano, but it’s a good tip and one I have to share)  Do things for yourself, and solely with the intention of pleasing yourself and no one else.  If you want to do something fun or exciting, go do it!  Then tell no one.  Shut the front door.  If you want to pamper yourself and get a mani/pedi, do it!  And tell no one.  If you want to write that book and finish your outline or rough draft, do it.  And don’t tell anyone. It doesn’t have to remain this way forever, obviously, you can and should share good news.  But the point is to not have to shout something from the rooftops when it’s good enough to enjoy and savor by yourself.

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Ultimately, humans are social creatures and need other people to live fulfilling and enriched lives.  But the need for a balanced sense of self and a solid foundation of confidence, in yourself, as an individual, is paramount.  Validation begins within, and while there’s certainly nothing wrong with allowing and accepting feedback from others, we must realize we are the ones living this singular life, for and by ourselves first.  The ultimate and final verdict on anything in your life necessitates your leveled, balanced, and confident voice alone.  We must start there.