It is truly incredible to me the power of some stories (especially one I’m going to mention today experienced by moi), and how deep they run and how intensely they stick.
Especially if they haven’t been seen in the light but stay down in the underworld, half hidden from consciousness.
Today I’m talkin’ about the Story of Nicey-Nice and it’s flip sided neighbor Argh-Aggressive.
What is up with that auto-pilot Be Nice and Seethe Inside thing?
Here’s what I mean by auto-pilot.
A few examples:
A) Person starts talking to me. They talk, talk and talk some more about their terrible aunt who is evil. It’s the fifth or tenth time I’ve heard about the aunt. The story is the same. I remain quiet, even though my stomach hurts. I do not say “you know, I’ve heard you speak about this so often, I don’t ever want to hear it again, you complaining ninny.”
B) Person asks if they can enroll in the program I’m teaching for free. I don’t let them know that it actually cost me, then, to have them in the program. I would be paying for them. I say yes, even though I don’t feel good or right about it.
C) Person sends me gifts in the mail, leaves presents for me in my car, drops items for me into my bag at work. I don’t say “what’s with the gift-giving slightly stalker weirdness, can you please stop?”
D) Person tells me I’m unfriendly because I don’t smile at her and say hello in the morning. I don’t want to, I just want to focus on the project I’m hired to work on. I don’t tell her “I won’t be doing that.” I say “hi” for awhile but then give up.
E) Person asks me if I want to go on a boat ride with him and his dog. That sounds horrible. I don’t say “no, I get seasick and I’m not that into pets”. I feel guilty for not being into pets. I don’t answer his emails.
F) Person starts showing me their photos of their vacation and turns out there are about 5000 of them. All landscapes. I don’t say “I’ve seen enough, thanks.” I keep looking and nodding but thinking when the hell will this be over.
G) Person asks me to teach them everything I know about marketing and promoting and growing my business over lunch. I think about the thousands of dollars I’ve invested in learning what I know for the past three years and how huge this request is. I say “sure, we can do that sometime” but I won’t ever do that.
You get the picture.
And then the worst situations for me when I’ve been Not Authentic, shall we say, have been with men on dates, in relationships, when sexual encounters were a possibility, or underway.
There’s a moment.
The feeling that I want to go more slowly, or stop, or that I don’t like something is clear.
But I never spoke up!
Some time ago, before the Sexuality teleclass began, I was reading over the curriculum (which is awesome, by the way). I loved zoning in on this way of being Nice Outside Annoyed Inside, and looking again carefully, without hacking myself to bits for having done it.
The way I used to be, I frequently said nothing in situations where I felt conflict or concern.
After doing The Work on a few of these more intense situations…
…I realized that I wanted the person who did something objectionable (in my opinion) to change so that I could be more comfortable.
Otherwise, I might have to speak up, tell the truth about myself in that moment. Horror of horrors.
The truth that was “I don’t like that! No thank you! Stop! Ewww! Really? I feel afraid, I’m angry, I’m nervous.”
I had great fear that if I did speak up, the person to whom I was speaking might feel hurt, and then hurt me back, and then I’d feel hurt.
So let’s question that thought today. The idea that it might be safer to keep quiet, or safer to speak up, and uncertainty about both.
Is that true that it’s safer to keep quiet? Or safer to speak up?
Rats. I don’t know. Wait. Yes. I actually do think something’s true. It feels safer to keep quiet. Yes. But I should speak up, dang it. Help! I don’t know!
How do you react when you believe NOT telling someone to stop, or that you don’t like what’s happening, is easier and safer?
How about when you believe it’s better to sock-it-to-em and tell it like it is?
I’m nervous, agonizing over right and wrong. I’m terrified.
Who would you be without the belief that speaking up is better…or keeping your opinion to yourself is safer? Without the belief that either one is right or wrong?
I’d relax and trust more. I wouldn’t be so suspicious of what’s going to happen in five minutes, or tomorrow.
Wow. There would be no future.
I’d say what I really think, with a sense of clarity, even love.
I wouldn’t believe I have to put up with things, allow things to happen without saying how I feel. I wouldn’t think I have to scream to be protected. I’d honor myself, as well as the other people. It would be exciting!
Turning the thought around: Telling the truth is safer.
It saves a whole lot of time.
I think of how many relationships dragged on and on in a certain unsatisfying way because I didn’t tell the truth. Like I was clinging to being likable, and avoiding hurt.
What if instead I stepped out on the ice and skated, being freely who I am, and THEN saw who showed up to play with me?
That sounds much more fun, much more real. It’s more solid, genuine, deep, kind, loving.
I’d notice how much I love honesty and clarity from others, whether they are more soft-spoken or direct. I notice how openness, calm, kindness and sharpness are all beautiful elements of great conversation.
And I love myself when I’m honest with ME, not trying to pretend I like stuff I don’t like. That’s the most important of all.
“To discover our autonomy is the most challenging thing a human being can do. Because in order to discover our autonomy, we must be free from all external control or influence. This means that we must free our mind from all that it has collected, all that it clings to, all that it depends on.” ~ Adyashanti
I find there is a place beyond all turnarounds, where there is no concern for safety, but no urgency….a sort of waiting, maybe a true silence, that is deeply genuine.
Real feelings coming up in the moment. Feelings that say “get away from me” or “be quiet” or “no I don’t buy you begging me to help you mediate your arguments with other people” or “slow down” or “I’m leaving” or “quit bossing me”.
But falling back, not being silent because you’re so terrified of being disliked or hateful, but instead relaxing with the sensations….this goes beyond all strategies for what-to-do next.
It’s like no strategy is necessary. There’s just the truth, awareness of what you’re feeling along with connection with the other, honest connection.
“Patience has a lot to do with getting smart at that point and just waiting: not speaking or doing anything. On the other hand, it also means being completely and totally honest with yourself about the fact that you’re furious. You’re not suppressing anything–patience has nothing to do with suppression. In fact, it has everything to do with a gentle, honest relationship with yourself….This suggests the fearlessness that goes with patience. If you practice the kind of patience that leads to the de-escalation of aggression and the cessation of suffering, you will be cultivating enormous courage.” ~ Pema Chodron
There is no safer. It’s an illusion.
Just be you, without any requirement to fix, help, appease, diminish, change, switch, improve you or anyone else.
Now that’s a wonderful practice. We can call it Beyond Safety.
Beyond Nicey-Nice and Argh-Aggressive and all that flip-flopping.
I notice that in this realm, there is no forever suffering.
It’s only about being gentle, honest and kind with yourself. You.
Not worrying so much about hurting others (although you do care about them) but focusing on honestly being with you. Loving yourself. Not slapping away your fury or fear.
Taking your own hand, with such sweet tenderness. Telling the truth.
All you need to do is remember to be gentle and honest, with yourself. The rest will take care of itself.