This morning I remembered that I'd dropped the ball on getting back to someone about meeting up. My sister-in-law's friend recently moved up here, and we emailed almost two months ago, saying we'd get back in touch in late September to make plans.
But neither of us did. And it was nothing personal. It's just that life happened. Distractions happened. I went in and out of forgetting completely and then remembering but not reaching out because of not being available yet or not having clarity on my availability.
And remembering to contact her this morning, and finally emailing her back about meeting up, comes at the perfect time for me. It makes me laugh. It even soothes my soul a bit. It's like one of those "aha!" moments. Why?
Because there are a few people who I haven't heard from who either said they'd be in touch or who I left messages for that have not yet been returned. And I was starting to make up stories about it. Not for each of them, but for a couple of them. I was starting to take it personally and/or starting to make character judgments or assumptions because of their lack of communication. And that's not really fair. Because here's the thing: we all do this. And although sometimes it can indicate something about someone's character or an unhealthy relationship dynamic, sometimes it really doesn't mean anything other than that life gets busy and distracting, and sometimes we forget.
Sometimes it's not personal. Sometimes it is. Sometimes it's a conscious choice. Sometimes it's not. Sometimes it's about priorities. Sometimes it's not. People get busy. People get distracted. People forget. People drop balls. And sometimes that feels shitty. But sometimes it's okay.
I just love that this happened today because it was like one of those real life examples of that saying about how what we don't like in others is what we don't like in ourselves (or something like that). And I don't like it when I drop the ball. I'm usually really good about following through, especially when it involves others. I usually either do what I say I'm going to do or I let the person know it'll be a bit longer or that I can no longer do what I said I'd do....
Oh, but as I type that I recognize that if I'm being totally honest, then this isn't the only thing at play for me in this situation. In fact, the main thing is probably a childhood wound around rejection and other kids not wanting to play with me. Even though there's plenty of evidence to support that others do want to "play with me," this old childhood wound still wreaks havoc from time to time. And I'm working on it. Admitting to it here feels helpful, like a form of releasing it. And a way to gently hold myself accountable to not let it get the best of me.
I didn't expect this blog entry to go there. But here we are.
So, what's this blog entry really about? It's about not taking things personally, having compassion, and also having the courage to look at what's underlying our painful thoughts and feelings. Is the painful thought and feeling really because of what's currently happening? Or is some old trauma or wound influencing how you perceive what's happening?
This kind of self-inquiry is so important for optimal well-being and personal growth, and for having healthier, happier relationships--both with others and with yourself!
So I invite you to ask yourself those questions next time you catch yourself taking things personally or making up stories about others.
Another helpful tool is the Judge Your Neighbor worksheet, from Byron Katie. You can download a free pdf to guide you through a process of self-inquiry, questioning what's really true, and releasing yourself from the bondage of painful thoughts and feelings. Get it here. You can also just identify one painful thought and do "The Work" (Katie's 4 questions at the bottom of the worksheet) rather than going through the entire worksheet. Depends on what's bothering you and if it has anything to do with other people in your life or not.
If you try it out, let me know how it goes.
That's all for now!
Something interesting happened on Saturday. Instead of going to a concert, I ended up at a bookstore.
Over a month ago, I'd bought myself a ticket to go see India.Arie, one of my favorite singers. A lot of her songs feel like music therapy to me and have helped me through many tough times. So, when I saw she was going to be in Edmonds, just a short drive for me, I was a YES.
This wasn't just any ticket purchase, though. Originally it had looked like there weren't any tickets left, like I had missed my chance. But then, I checked back another day, and there were just a couple of seats available. It was meant to be! Or so I thought....
Fast forward to this past weekend. On Friday night, I got back from a week in California, where I met my newborn niece and spent a lot of quality time with family. The next day, Saturday, I thought I'd be going to this concert in the evening.
But when it was getting closer to the time to go, the truth was that I didn't feel like going.
And I didn't feel like making myself do something I didn't want to do, especially something that was supposed to be fun, something I though I'd be happy to go do. My body was just saying no. Loud and clear. It didn't make sense, not really, but I had to listen.
It took a little while, though, to fully listen.
First I made myself get ready to go out. I put on some nicer clothes, found some earrings, re-applied some eyeliner, thinking maybe if I got ready to go and got in my car, then I would want to go. Maybe it was just about getting myself out the door! That does happen sometimes...
So I got myself out the door and into my car. And within a couple of blocks, I still didn't want to go. I thought maybe I'd just go grocery shopping. Woo hoo! But that's not really what I wanted to do with my Saturday night. I considered just making myself go to Edmonds, but then I felt another no in my body, so I turned right instead of left. I knew where I was going now, and it wasn't to the concert.
I drove to Third Place Books in Lake Forest Park.
And it felt good.
That clarity of decision and freedom of choice felt good. Invigorating, even.
I'm sure some of what felt so good was what felt like saying "you're not the boss of me" to my concert ticket. ;-)
That freedom of choice felt so good, it almost felt worth the $70 I'd paid for the ticket I wasn't going to use and was too late to sell!
And then I walked into Third Place Books, was surprised and delighted to hear live music playing and to see a bunch of older folks partner dancing. And then it felt totally worth it.
I got a cup of tea and sat down to enjoy the music and dancing. I thought about how much I'll probably really love being a senior citizen some day. And I thought about texting a friend to see if he wanted to meet me there, but wasn't sure how long I'd stay. So I just enjoyed my tea, the music, my silly thoughts, and the dancing. And then I walked around the store, looking at all sorts of things while still enjoying the music.
I hadn't done anything like that in a long time. And I do believe it was the best choice for me that night. And that's part of why it felt so good. I followed my feelings. I listened to my gut. It didn't need to make sense. I just needed to trust myself and see where that took me. And it resulted in a really unexpectedly delightful Saturday night.
Of course there are times when we really do have to do things we don't feel like doing. That's part of life. But this wasn't one of those times. So I'm glad I didn't force myself to go to that show. Who knows? Maybe something bad would have happened on my way there or back? Or maybe I just wouldn't have had as good of a time.
One thing is for sure: I wouldn't have experienced the kind of magic that comes from letting go of shoulds and instead going with the flow. It was so entertaining and so much fun. I felt free and alive, instead of like a prisoner to my original plans.
So, I'll wrap this up and just say that listening to your body is important. Choosing what's authentic, what's really true for you and in alignment with your greatest good, with your true desires, is important. Even when it comes to things that seem little, like what to do on a Saturday night, our choices shape our lives.
I've been thinking a lot about "choice" lately, so perhaps all write more about it some time. But for now, I choose to end this here and to leave you with an image that made me laugh on that night: when I realized what kind of tea I was drinking...
Some days are harder than others.
Some are a piece of cake.
Some days I'm tired of the struggle.
Some days there's no struggle at all.
Some days it's hard to smile.
And other days the smiles just won't stop.
Some days I'm crystal clear on why I feel I how I feel.
Some days I'm not.
And when I'm not so sure, I've learned to ask.
"Is this mine?"
Some days I feel pain that isn't even mine.
I'm so sensitive.
Some days I try to avoid or numb my own...
Some days I face it head on, and with open arms.
Some days I dive fully in to feeling it all,
remembering that the only way out is through.
Today was a day that started off with sadness,
so I softened into it and asked if it was mine and then asked what I needed.
What I needed was to move, to sweat, to work out to work it out, to move the sadness, that energy, to move it, to transform it.
I asked what I needed after that, and what I needed was to take action, to move in the direction of my dreams by working on a meaningful project. And so I did, and with that, I found peace.
Some days, there's a feeling of sadness and restlessness that comes from not doing the things I know I need to do, the things that are most important to my wellbeing and my life's purpose. Today was one of those days, but I shifted it. And so can you.
Every moment we have the freedom of choice, the freedom to choose.
What will I do?
What will you do?
Does this get me closer or farther away from what I want, from how I want to feel?
What choice(s) will you make today to find more contentment, more peace, more satisfaction, more fulfillment? What will you choose to get where you want to go, to feel how you want to feel?
Today, this is one of the choices I've made-- to write this and share it here with you.
Now it's up to you to decide, to choose, how these words affect you. What's the gift you can take from them today? Or do you not need this today but want to stash it away for another day?
Some days we need messages like this.
Some days we don't.
Some days, reading something like this would feel boring or annoying, maybe even cause your eyes to glaze over--maybe not even getting this far.
But some days this is just what we need, to help us remember the truth of who we are--of our power to choose and create what we want--and to accept the ups and downs of the path that we're on.
Rebecca Clio Gould is a Certified Sheng Zhen Teacher and Holistic Wellness Coach. Her specialties include self-love, embodied joy, women's sexuality, spirituality, surgery preparation, and trauma recovery. She is also a Supreme Science Qigong Instructor, Essence vs Form Coach, and Award-winning Author of "The Multi-Orgasmic Diet: Embrace Your Sexual Energy and Awaken Your Senses for a Healthier, Happier, Sexier You."