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“What people think” can be my kryptonite. When I’m working my tools, I am in the flow of my life, barring the usual life challenges that arise from time to time.
And, like most people–things happen that throw me off game. Perhaps it’s because I’m not taking the necessary time for self-care. Perhaps it’s because it’s an errant week and the stars are not aligned. Who knows? Whatever it is, the old patterns arise and I find myself going back into caring what other people think.
When it comes to change, there is usually one thing that is your kryptonite, that diminishes your superpowers. While you’re in the process of change, there’s this in-between place while we’re still figuring it all out that can be like straddling two worlds–I invoke the metaphor of one foot on the boat and one foot on the dock. When it comes to your kryptonite, one foot is on the dock and it’s the “old you” getting sucked in by the “old pattern.” Another foot is on the boat, wanting to set sail, knowing that something bigger awaits but feeling uncertain about whether the boat is actually seaworthy.
Declarations in the face of kryptonite can be powerful. Here are a few that I’ve made, related to fears or old patterns of limitation that I’ve had:
Happiness isn’t selfish.
It is a courageous thing to bypass the drama and snarck and willingly embrace happiness in a world that is just jumping to sell me on yet another problem that I could spend money to “solve.”
It’s not faking anything to embrace happiness, even if I don’t have all the cogs figured out just yet.
You make these declarations to yourself while you navigate that in-between space of not knowing what awaits you on the horizon.
Truly happy people don’t have everything figured out, and they don’t pretend not to feel emotions like anger or judgement or sadness. They resist buying into a collective consciousness that is, at times, hell-bent on martyrdom, drama, victimization, and bonding over negativity and putting others down rather than something that connects us positively and builds each other up.
Kryptonite + Courage
This is the great thing about kryptonite–when you really face it, it turns out that it’s just a basically pretty fake looking green stone used as a prop on the movie set of an equally as fake story about a superhero.
What’s your kryptonite? What do you notice causes you to shrink?
And perhaps more importantly, what’s your declaration?
A few years ago, I began a practice that would radically alter my life: appreciations.
I stopped assuming that people in my life knew how I felt about them.
I stopped assuming that someone knew that I valued their time, their work, their input.
I stopped assuming that the cashiers or the sales workers on the floor didn’t need to hear my sincere thank-you, because after all, it was “their job.”
I stopped assuming that the people I randomly interacted with who had beautiful smiles or a fun outfit knew that they looked fantastic.
I stopped assuming that the mothers who were taking care of kids walked with a belief that of course they were good mothers, of course they were doing a great job with their kids.
So I stepped into a practice of appreciations.
It felt incredibly strange at first–oddly, my biggest fear that kept me from wanting to make the appreciation was a fear that the person was thinking I was kissing up or just trying to get something out of them. But I tried it a few times and noticed how the person’s face would just light up entirely (usually), and I liked that moment of connection. I grew up watching my Dad chat up cashiers–he would always ask how much time they had left at work, and ask how they were doing in such a sincere way, and I noticed that it made it such a nice experience.
Working with the Challenge Day organization has reinforced this all the more–co-founders Rich and Yvonne encourage people to ask strangers, “What are you grateful for?” or “What’s your biggest dream?”
Asked with a simple, casual and conversational tone, these needn’t be questions that are “too deep” for everyday conversation, but rather quick questions that can inspire this little hit of connection between people.
Who’s the first person you would like to acknowledge, and what would you like to say? Do you notice a difference in your day if you make interactions with the more “casual relationships of your day,” like cashiers or service staff, more personal?
Click to tweet: Practice radical and abundant appreciation.
It can be so easy to assume that we are the only ones struggling, the only ones who are trying to carve out a space for ourselves and then being met with challenges.
While the voices that tell us that we are alone/the only one might not be the same as those that directly criticize us for not doing/being/having more, I think it all comes from the same place. At the end of the day, the internalized messages that we are not doing/being/having more are about separation–separating ourselves from others–and the messages about being alone, that other people’s outsides are an accurate reflection of their insides, are also about separation.
Recently, I had a rough day. It had been a rough couple of days, compounded in part because I’d thrown out my neck the week before and it kept aching and spasming and I was not really sure what was wrong or why it was not responding to ice, heat, aleve, etc. I had a doctor’s appointment scheduled but couldn’t get in until Thursday. Then I had a phone call that left me feeling drained and depleted and sad, and I noticed that the old story of not-enoughness was starting to play in my head.
I decided to get out of the house.
It was then that I toddled into a nearby Paper Source and spied a package of self-adhesive mustaches. Here is how The Brain reacted:
That would be fun.
You can’t get those.
What would be the point.
Waste of money.
But wouldn’t it be hilarious?
What if you bought them?
What if you walked around in them while you were still at the shops?
You so have to do this.
You’ll feel like a total fool.
That’s not true–you actually don’t give a shit. It would just be silly to wear a mustache. Do it!
— And with that, a smile crossed my lips and I knew that I was on to something. I bought them and tried on the first, The Hollywood. I liked it. I hopped into my car and drove down the highway heading back home, and was laughing the whole time, feeling more rested and restored.
All of it practice–practice in noticing what I needed in a given moment. Practice in seeing resistance to that crop up and practice in diving in. I simply could not take myself seriously any longer.
The resistance that crops up for us in these moments is the most pernicious of all–that to forcibly make myself do something other than wallow would mean I’m being “fake,” or that it’s “fake” to embrace happiness in this way.
I try to just notice how that is another piece of separation, and that when I’m choosing to step into something, it usually doesn’t feel good right away. At first, it usually feels forced until I find my rhythm with it.
What’s powerful is when we make a choice to change what we’re doing, anyway–despite the heaviness of that voice.
It’s a fine line–someone could just as easily read this post and accuse me of trying to push people to not be where they’re at–but that’s not what I’m getting at. I’m getting at an experience of noticing where we’re at, being in it for awhile, accepting it, even embracing it, and then noticing when the conditions seem right to release that and let go.
Can you give that gift to yourself?
After all, if it’s truly not yet time to let go, it won’t release.
We can all lighten up just a bit. We needn’t take all of this so seriously. There are bad days to be had, and for every one of them, there’s an adhesive moustache right around the corner.