Has anyone upset you lately? When I get rattled, generally it’s by folks who:
1. Blame others (and won’t change themselves)
2. Judge & criticize (and won’t change themselves)
3. Use anger & superiority to cover fear (and won’t change themselves)
There’s a theme, I know.
Here’s one way to fix their wagon. Close your eyes for a sec and imagine the last chucklehead who left you miffed. Sad. In a funk. List the first three qualities in them that really get stuck under your craw.
Go ahead. I’ll wait.
So, as you’ve probably guessed, the dreaded list you & I just compiled is . . . a petite mirror of ourselves. Embarrassing, I know. I especially hate my bogus Holier-Than-Thou shield. OY. I want peace on earth!
Hold the phone; I just said hate. That can’t have a happy ending.
Here’s an example of the mirror at work in our home. One day, my son Spencer nervously informs hubby, “The computer is doing something weird.” Bill’s face tightens as he darts toward the PC to begin CPR. “Who downloaded the blah blah blah? Who was eating pretzels in here? Who dragged this icon out of the dock?”
I walk in, hoping to ease the tension. “Take a deep breath, hon, you always figure it out.” This strangely adds fuel to the fire. “It’s always ME that has to fix everything! No one else bothers! Now it’s $1000 down the drain!” I start to quietly fume.
I feel awful for Spence and tell him we should give Dad some space. I slam the door behind us (ahem) as I plot my recourse. I have my ad nauseum list of complaints at the ready – “Bill, you react in anger, but you’re really just afraid. Afraid that the PC’s broken. Afraid it’s your fault because you can’t fix it. But you blame everyone else instead. You’ve been doing the same dang thing for years. Over the car. The boss. Why do you always react this way? Why won’t you change? You’re hurting the boys the same way you were hurt! Why won’t you stop the cycle?”
So how’s this a mirror of moi? Where do I refuse to change? I continue to overreact to his overreaction, as I always have. I insist that HE change because I’m afraid that I can’t change myself. I’ve been doing the same dang thing for years. I hide my feelings under anger. I punish him for my out-of-control fear. I’m afraid I can’t be okay unless HE does ‘better’ (aka he conforms to my wishes.) Talk about controlling. I hurt my boys when I overreact, blame and criticize Bill for my same shortcomings. Why won’t I stop the cycle?
(BTW Bill fixed the computer. And he apologized to Spence afterward.)
I recognize Bill’s pain because it lives in me, too. (I often ignore this.) When he gets upset, I feel vulnerable and my inner fifth grader takes control. Oh snap.
She’s a defensive finger pointer (“he started it.”) She lists his faults and uses criticism to throw the spotlight off her own glaring issues.
“I am NOT that immaturity, that callousness, th-th-that humanness!”
Clearly, I’m rather mortified by my flaws and I’d much prefer to chuck them out onto Bill. I’m better off making peace with the immature scuz-bucket BS (belief systems) that are within me.
*Spoiler alert* – this is a lifetime effort. Fond as we are of “quick and easy,” there appear to be no short cuts. Sorry.
The scoundrels we rally against give us accurate feedback about the denied pain and unfinished business in ourselves. The more we plug our hearts to the frazzled fifth grader within, the more she pops up. Either:
1. We’re surrounded by nincompoops who won’t change!
2. We’re denying our inner toddler or teen, who just needs radical acceptance.
Personal power is . . . behind door number 2.
When someone’s BS makes me want to hurl, it’s my own rubbish in hiding. If I can find the common ground between us, I can find compassion for us, too. It’s my response-ability to be honest with myself and FEEL. If there are waterworks that have been stifled, let ‘em rip.
When my old crap comes up, again and again, and I feel pathetic because I can’t get it right, I step away from the self-battering ram. Punishment is a clear sign that the freaked-out fifth grader is at the helm. Ignoring her just reinforces her motto, “it’s me against the world.” Aw.
The inner critic, perfectionist or judge is just a little kid who’s been hurt. Humiliated. Abandoned. They’re in sore need of love. Warm milk. Chips and dip. Invite them in. Listen to the old BS that has them scared silly. Bear witness to their pain.
To further sooth ourselves after a hit and run with a painful mirror, think about the people who inspire us. Make a long list of their stunning qualities. These are us, too. Phew and YAY! The mirror swings both ways. Every time we celebrate someone else’s awesomeness, we’re witnessing our own.
Each time we can welcome in the pain we’ve cast out, we are a little freer. When we love it all, the way our soul Loves, we’re aligned with our divinity. Our joy. It’s more available to us all thanks to that sassafrassarassa mirror. Touche universe.
So shine a light on those dark places. Accept them with understanding. A group hug. It’s been a harrowing road. Honor your whole self truthfully. Lovingly. In whatever mirror that toddles by.