How To Stop Owning Other People’s “Shit”…


Empathyzoo_n
WARNING: I’m going to use the word “shit” a lot in this piece. I like this word because it gives you a clear image of the steamy pile of issues we’re all dealing with on a daily basis. So, from now on when I say “shit”, what I mean is, issues, past, wounds, hurt, pain, boundaries, belief systems, political perspectives, the sum of personal experiences and the unconscious of our “self” and others. I hope they change the definition for “shit” in the dictionary soon. You will also see me quote “self” a lot in this piece. The reason is because our “self” is all relative. Meaning, that our “self” and how we see it, is in constant flux, the way we identify it and with it is constantly different. So, I put “self” in quotes and separate from “your” and “our” so that you can separate a little from the concept and put “self” into a different perspective. You should read this aloud with your friends and turn it into a drinking game. Take a shot every time I write “self” and “shit”. Oh, and make sure to air quote them in the aloud reading. You’re welcome. Let’s get to it!

We have been told, often times, people and situations we encounter are mirror images of ourselves. It’s been said that the things we see and experience are merely reflections of the sum of our “self” back to us. I agree with this, but I think it’s being misinterpreted. People around us are only reflections of our “self” in the sense of your inner self. So, you need only pay attention to your inner feelings and voice in these interactions to gain insight into your “self”. This is the only true reflection happening. Often times, I believe others have interpreted this to mean that the way others treat you or the things about them that bother you are keys into your own “shit”. This is simply not true, in fact, it’s quite the opposite. The reactions, emotions and judgments that others have towards you are plain and simply the sum of their own “shit” (see definition above).

We find our “self” (drink!), owning other people’s “shit” often. If we feel that we’ve hurt someone’s feelings or offended them in some way, we will own that. As children, we are taught to say “I’m sorry” if we have hurt someone’s feelings. So, in that sense we have been programed to own others feelings. Should you be sorry if you hurt others feelings? Well, let’s take a look at the definition of “sorry”.

Sorry_def

In a sense, “sorry” is used to convey how you are feeling about someone else’s “shit”. So, yes, I suppose it’s OK to be sorry for them in that respect and feel for them that they are feeling a certain way. What we do not teach children is the difference between owning your actions and owning others feelings. For example, if Timmy hits Sara over the head with a book, he should be sorry for that action. If Sara is upset because Timmy didn’t notice her new dress, he shouldn’t necessarily be sorry. Those feelings are due to her own experiences, those are her feelings alone to own. Can Timmy be empathetic towards Sara? Sure, and if he ever wants to be successful with women, he should be! So, if Sara is crying because Timmy didn’t notice her dress and expresses this to him between sobs, perhaps instead of saying “I’m sorry” he could say “I empathize with that”.

There is a big difference between owning someone's "shit" and owning your actions, it's important to know the difference. It took me many years to realize this. So, I found myself struggling with friendships and relationships because I was simply taking on too much responsibility for their "shit". You have to allow others to have and own their own "shit" and you need to recognize your own coming up. Can you empathize with them? Yes! One of my favorite lines I love to say is "You don't know their story". If we took the time to understand other's stories, we could recognize when their "shit" comes up better. So, when you come into a situation where you've offended someone or hurt their "feelings", try to understand where they are coming from instead of being "sorry".

Stop Owning Other People’s “Shit”:

1.) Stop being a scientist: It's not your job to dissect someone's response towards you. Stop spinning your wheels wondering WHY they are acting the way they are. If you are sincerely feeling empathetic towards them, ASK them about their feelings. The answer you get may still be blaming, in that instance you can sympathize, but keep in mind that the root of their feelings truly has little to do with you and all to do with their "shit". Let it go!

2.) Recognize the difference between being sorry and being empathetic: You should most certainly make an effort to empathize with someone. To understand their story, to experience those feeling with them and NOT to experience guilt or sorry feelings BECAUSE of their feelings.

3.) Catch and release: When feelings of guilt or sorrow arise from someone's reaction or feelings around you, remind yourself that you cannot own other people's "shit". Ask yourself if you’re simply taking on someone's "shit". Remember sometimes our own "shit" is in fact to take on someone else's "shit". Recognize when it's happening. Catch it quickly, allow it to run its course through your emotions, release it.

4.) Practice: Use uncomfortable situations to practice. Is this truly YOU causing someone to FEEL this way or is it their own "shit"?

5.) Take Breaks: Sometimes, we just need emotional breaks from life to reevaluate. Spend time in nature or with animals. Use this time to reflect on your own "shit". Better understanding our "self" helps us to better understand others. Spending time in situations where we do not have to navigate the reactions of others helps us to put our "self" back into perspective.

6.) Remember: It's not always about you. Most of the time, it's about them.

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If You Think You’re Pretty


When I was 10 the coolest thing around was the roller skating rink. If “coolest” didn’t show my age I’m sure the skating rink bit did, but then again I’m a slightly out of touch on what’s hip with the kids these days, so maybe cool is still cool. I guess I need to have some kids so I can know what’s cool again even though parenthood inevitably makes me uncool with both my friends and kids alike. The skating rink always smelled of stale popcorn and sweaty teenagers, but I loved it. My mom would take me every weekend for months. Until one of the “punk teenagers” pushed her and she broke both her arms, yes both her arms! My father nearly killed the kid, like seriously. You don’t know my dad. Anyway, getting off topic here. I so desperately wanted to be one of the cool pretty girls. I wanted to dress like them and talk like them and be picked first for the couples skate. Unfortunately, I was a frizzy red headed slightly overweight tragically fashion challenged very loud and awkward little girl. Need more of a visual? You know that little girl in a bumble bee outfit tap dancing for like homeless dudes in the “rain” video by Blind Mellon? Yea. Pretty much like that. Look it up, early 90’s, tragic little girl, just like me. What ever happen to them?

Anyway, None the less, try I did, to fit in with the pretty cool girls. One such desperate attempt to be a cool girl was made up of a plaid skirt, knee high socks and a button down shirt. Maybe I was channeling my inner Britney Spears. Anyways, I clang to the only other girl in the rink near my age thinking strength in numbers. She was a foul mouthed too short for her age gum in chewing confident runt. I wasn’t sure where all that confidence was being created in that bite size little body. We skated into the bathroom where the runt pulled out a small bottle of liquid from her even smaller training bra. She held it to her nose and inhaled “want some?” she asked pushing it into my face. It smelled like my dad on a day he forgot to use deodorant and compensated with what he called “foo foo juice”. I wrinkled my nose and turned away to cough saying “Why would I want that? You know that’s men’s cologne, right?”. The runt started rubbing the cologne on her neck laughing at my ignorance “Yea, I know it’s cologne doofus, I like to smell like men have been all over me”. I decided I was OK with not smelling like men had been all over me, that seemed like something I wasn’t cool enough to pull off and people would just think I’d lost a fight with a skunk. The cool older boy that worked Saturday’s playing music and making announcements came over the loud scratchy speaker “Ok kids, it’s time for snow ball, girls on the left and guys on the right! You know the drill, once around then rink and then grab a new partner”. I nearly fell on my butt as the girls put away their lip gloss and ran screaming out of the bathroom to line up against the wall. I hated snow ball. It was my most dreaded part of the night, I like shoot the duck or fast skate, those only took skill.

Kid

Snow ball took coolness and being pretty and thin. It was kind of a stupid name, I always thought, because it made no sense at all. Now that I am an adult, I think some sick 40 something dude made it up and laughed hysterically at these unknowing teens happily running out to participate in “snow balling” each other. Ew. I just threw up in my mouth a little thinking about that and the scent from the rink came rolling back to me. Anyway, here I am on the wall of shame waiting for anyone to ask me to skate but even the dirty stinky boy passes me up for the girl next to me who puts out her hand without extending her arm and making a face like she was sucking on a lemon. Even the stinky boy passed me up. The runt had already been around the rink with three boys as I stand pathetically against the now empty girl side wall. I think about skating back to the benches, where at least I can appear not to care with the other SMART rejects that didn’t even attempt to stand on the wall. The runt comes over and does some fancy toe turn to rest up against the wall next to me since she was so tired after skating with so many boys. Bitch. Anyway, she goes “Why haven’t you skated with any boys” and I’m like “I dunno, maybe I look silly in my knee high socks, like maybe they only look cool when you’re not in roller skates, or maybe I should have smelled like men have been all over me or maybe…” she finally looked over at me and took a break from making google eyes at the boys passing by. She tilted her head smacking her gum and chewing like a new born cow.

She looked absolutely puzzled by what I was saying and I thought perhaps I needed to explain further my concern with my knee high socks, but she looks at me and starts talking so I don’t get the chance, “If you think you’re pretty, you’re pretty” she said in a high pitch squeal before skating off with boy number four. I felt like I had been hit with a sludge hammer. I repeated what she said to me, out loud, as she faded into the dark strobe lights of the romantic snow ball skate. “If I think I am pretty, I am pretty?” I asked out loud. What the hell does that mean? What do my socks and my scent have to do with how pretty I am? Until that moment it actually legitimately didn’t occur to me that anything like that would factor into how pretty I was. Not only did these things not factor in, but being pretty never even really occurred to me. Like, sure the boys weren’t asking me to skate, but it legitimately never occurred to me that it had anything to do with whether I was pretty or not. So, I rolled my silly socks down, turned my back to the rink and decided I was pretty. I decided I thought I was pretty that night, then I didn’t care if anyone asked me to skate. It’d just discovered this major secret, that I was pretty. So, I starred at the wall through the whole Whitney Houston song and counted the lines, for each line I repeated, “I’m pretty”. Seriously, I was 10 and this actually happened.

So, here I am feeling really good about myself and doing positive affirmation (before I knew what that was) and do you know what happened? Actually. Nothing. No one asked me to skate, but I strolled off that skate deck like I was a model on a run way and I did not give a shit. That felt really good. So, maybe it didn’t matter if a boy asked me to skate. In fact, I didn’t even bother getting up for the next “Snow Ball” skate. I waited until the skilled skating challenges and I won a trophy. I wish I could say that night changed my life. I wish I could tell you I didn’t struggle with eating disorders or seeking unhealthy attention, but I can’t. All I can say is, when I think back on that night, I think about the life long struggle I have had to get where I am today and that is empowering. One day, I hope I can meet a frizzy red headed slightly overweight tragically fashioned challenged very loud and awkward little girl and tell her “own that shit”. Because one day, none of this will matter and the fact that you are brilliant like no other will matter. I’ve had my fair skates with boys now that I am an adult, and it’s not all that great. Although, the affirmations followed me through life, so I guess I have something to thank that little smells like lots of men runt for.

Telling The Truth… It’s Ok


Lately I find myself telling the truth a lot more about myself. It’s as if something switched in me and suddenly I really have no shame about who I am. Including, who I was and who I am trying to be. Granted, some of these conversation have been flowing from wine and totally nonjudgmental company, but still. As I prepare to launch my woman’s empowerment “movement” where I plan to teach other woman how to become and continue to be empowered. I guess I reached a point when I decided that sometimes, you have to tell the truth. You have to get down to the nitty-gritty with people and let them see the downright ugly scary truth about you. Because the truth is that none of us is perfect and we’ve all made mistakes. I can’t put myself in front of a bunch of women and tell them I can empower them without letting them in on the fact that I myself have been where they have been. I’ve drank myself into black outs over waiting on a TXT from a guy. I’ve talked myself out of jobs I felt I didn’t deserve. I lived in bad neighborhoods, I’ve been robbed and maced and jumped and left to die.

I think it’s important that we tell someone the truth. I think it’s important that someone hears you say all of it. Someone that you feel safe with and know that will love you no matter what. Because before we can move forward to being empowered we have to truly understand how we got where we were before and understand how to get to where we are going now. Everything matters. People will say that actions speak louder than words, well that may be true, but people haven’t always had to figure out how to pay rent or try to feed their children after losing their job. See, the thing is we all love to sit up here on our pedestal and talk down to all the minions below us. Spewing out judgment on their life choices and what I like to call “Life Forces” because I don’t care what anyone thinks, there will be a time in your life when you don’t have a choice. Life will force you to your knees and you’re going to have to put on your big girl panties and do whatever life says. However, there is a way out and it can be taught. When you’re ready to learn, it will come to you in the form it speaks most to you depending on your situation, but you have to be ready. You have to be ready to be honest.

In the meantime, I mean, fuck it, try to let that shit go. Ultimately, we are all going to end up bug food 6 feet under once life is done with our physical body. Now, maybe you believe in some kind of after life, personally I believe our energy lives on, but just not in a physical form. Scientifically, everything is energy and everything and everyone is the same no matter what bad choices that key board made in its life, it’s no better or worse than you are. Think about that for a moment, maybe with a glass of wine. If you believe that someone will judge you in your new form once you’ve left this one, well even then there is room for forgiveness as I understand. So, basically what I am getting at is, I feel like I need to be totally honest with myself and with others if this is going to work. This being, empowering other women. So, perhaps that is why I find myself launching my truths onto complete strangers, or maybe it actually was the wine. Although, I still find myself letting go of these truths, completely freaking out inside and then realizing that the world continued to spin after. Not only did the world continue to spin, but someone else in it felt just a little less judged and a little less guilty of their own “shit”. Here is the truth, everyone, I mean everyone, has their own shit. We have so much pressure to be magazine perfect or leave it to Beaver accomplished, we hide ourselves.

We hide the parts that are “less than” the mistakes that are “not good enough”. We hide them and we burry them and we don’t talk about them, hoping one day maybe they will no longer be truths to us. The crazy thing is that while you may believe that “actions speak louder than words”, maybe you’ve never had to act the way someone else has because life hasn’t presented you the opportunity. Well, good for you. Aren’t you a self-righteous so and so? Judging someone from way up there on the “I’ve never had to make that personal choice” chair must feel good. Maybe the opportunity has presented itself and you did make the “right” choice, so you feel even more powerful in your “I have been there and I made a better choice than you” chair. Well, good for you. Aren’t you a self-righteous so and so? Remember that the “opportunity” looks different to all of us based on our own “shit”. So, the lines of right and wrong take on new meaning for us all.

I realized, maybe too late in life, that the moment I judged someone I became a hypocrite. More often than not, when I criticized someone else’ path, I found myself on that exact same path later in life. Well, aren’t I self-righteous so and so? Today, I know that we are doing the best we can in this crazy and all to often unforgiving place. So, as I cringe at some of the truths I’ve told lately, I also embraced them. Something made me brave. Maybe it was the wine. Maybe it was me getting ready to release my own shit so I can help other women release theirs. Maybe it was the wine. Maybe it was feeling close enough and secure enough to confide. Maybe it was the wine. Maybe it was coming to terms finally with who I am, and being totally OK, no, proud of that. It was probably the wine.

The Truth About Turning 30


  • 995019_10152164777718179_64491131_nChina Bathroom

    The whirlwind of traveling to China, turning 30 and family holidays has finally come to an end. There are a few interesting common grounds I’ve learned to be true with travel and age. One being that you cannot possibly understand your true perspective on things until you have actually been there, no matter how much you think you know. I guess that might be a confusing statement, let me explain. When I was in my early 20’s I was absolutely dreading turning the big 30. I felt like my life would be over in certain ways. My ass would never be as firm, I would forever loose the chance of becoming a super star and the reality of my internal clock would start to click. With the knowledge I felt I had in my early 20’s, all of these things became truth in my reality at the time.

    In planning my most recent trip to China, of course I researched culture, food and clothing in order to assimilate as much as possible. As much as a 5’8 white redhead could at least.  I wanted to make sure I didn’t offend anyone, so I did not blow my nose in public, avoided public bathrooms, prepared to stick out like a sore thumb in crowds and packed sensible shoes. I strapped myself into my seatbelt on the airplane, grabbed the inflight magazine and prepared to start my long awaited and well researched trip. Once I opened the magazine I found a section that was all about western culture. Since I had just done so much research on their own culture I was curious to see what they had to say about ours. Here are just a few things the magazine had listed under corresponding photos that helped to illustrate their point.

    1.) “People in the US like to travel alone.” – This was coupled with a photo of a white male setting up a tent in the middle of nowhere and yes totally alone.

    2.) “On Memorial Day, many people in the US like to buy stationary”… Um?

    3.) “People in the US like to enjoy outdoor activities in their time off, like camping, hiking and Frisbee” – I suppose this one could be true enough, if not a generalized statement.

    It was in this moment that I made a horrible realization. Could it be that all of those “truths” I had read about the Chinese culture could be as ridiculous to them as these were to me? Yes. Yes, it could be true and was! Need to blow your nose in public? Please by all means do what you need to! Sensible shoes? Only if you count the 6 inch stilettoes that the girls wore EVERYWHERE, including on the steep steep great wall walk. All Asians are thin and short? All Asians are as diverse as we are. Public bathrooms are a disgusting sight better left unused? Actually, for the most part this one was true.

    My point you ask? There is simply no replacement for experience. In my experience so far, being 30 is amazing. I think my ass actually might be slightly tighter these days due to the decrease in alcohol that it was used to holding. Lost dreams of being a super star? Eh, I guess that depends on your definition of fame. Just last week my niece’s neighbor asked me for my autograph and not on a credit card receipt. Biological clock ticking? I’ll admit my uterus does start to hurt at the sight of adorable children, but I now know that these days child birth at 35 or 40 isn’t totally out of the question anymore.

    So, in 2014 I hope to make more discoveries through experience. Perhaps one day I will be able to set some of the records straight, but more likely you will prove me wrong with your very own experience and perspective. On that note, I will leave you with the last wisdom my Grandmother provided me during our traditional “what would you change about your life?” conversation on her birthday “Don’t get married and travel more.” Perhaps, I will have to let you know the experience outcome of the first suggestion in about 6 months.

    Happy New Year