Every few weeks, someone signs up to do sessions with me because they are experiencing suffering when it comes to a romantic interest.
I will never, ever be the same after doing The Work a decade ago on men.
In a good way.
You should have heard my original worksheet, not only on men in general (that was interesting to be so general and broad and totally prejudiced) but on men I was dating.
One of my biggest Ah-Ha moments came when I realized….I was a total “love” addict. I mean serious junkie for that flourish of adrenaline, excitement, contact, attraction.
Since someone I worked with recently was almost obsessively concerned with the whereabouts, the emails, texts and conversation history with a woman he knew….
….I thought I’d take a look today and these repetitive beliefs about others.
About that One Other. “My” girlfriend. “My” boyfriend. “My” spouse, partner, husband, wife, lover.
And when they aren’t doing what you want them to do.
My client had this Judge Your Neighbor worksheet, already filled out, when we began our session (some words and notions changed slightly just to keep everything completely anonymous):
I am outraged because she is ignoring me since we broke up. I want her to call me, text me, be open to getting together, and maintaining our friendship. She should return my calls. She shouldn’t shut me out. I need her to contact me. She is selfish, bitchy, unpredictable and cold. I don’t even want to get ditched by a potential love interest again.
He also had thrown in there a few self-critical judgments, like that he shouldn’t be thinking about her and there must be something wrong with him, for having these thoughts and feelings in the first place.
I then recognized, as the client was speaking, that he could be talking to me.
A man I dated had once called me many months after our strange and volatile encounters together, kind of off and then on and then off again. He said “Hi! How are you?” and I had said “why are you calling me?” and he said “because we’re friends!” and I said “we are not friends” and hung up.
Remembering that incident, I heard the voice of this dear inquirer client, and took in his worksheet.
And then, I took a look at a quiet little stressful thought floating in my mind. This thought can cause a lot of problems, I have found, if you really believe it.
I should be nicer.
Nice means carrying on a conversation past the point when you’re done, nice means smiling, nice means saying yes, nice means being friendly, nice means being open, nice means saying hello, please, thank you and have a good day. Nice means caring, being of service, helping, being interested.
Is it true that I should be these things?
Of course not. But it also doesn’t mean I should be against these things!
How do I react when I believe that I should be nice, and I notice that sometimes I feel these things in a genuine honest way, and sometimes I do not? How do I react when I believe I shouldn’t be nice?
Nice-ness comes and goes.
If I believe I should be nicer or shouldn’t be too nice, then I feel stifled, nervous about falling off the Nice Wagon or climbing on it and not being able to get off!
With these thoughts, I notice that other peoples’ feelings are super important. Other people might get hurt, other people might cry, other people might get angry….if I am not nice. Other people might get smothering, clingy, and assume I care if I am too nice.
With these thoughts, fear and anxiety enter the room. I feel like a fake. Holding things in.
So who would I be without the thought that I should be careful about being nice or not nice EVER?
WOOHOO! Can you feel the freedom?!
Things become clear. Things become slow. If I don’t know what my answer is when asked a question, then I don’t answer yet. If I know, then I say “yes” or “no”.
Without that thought, I feel very, very kind towards myself. I feel gentle to the other person as well. There is no need for niceness to happen, or not happen. There is something alive, sweet, powerful and loving, right here inside, no matter what someone else’s reaction.
“What is love? Take a look at a rose. Is it possible for the rose to say ‘I shall offer my fragrance to good people and withhold it from bad people?’ Or can you imagine a lamp that withholds its rays from a wicked person who seeks to walk in its light? It could only do that by ceasing to be a lamp….and a tree gives its shade to everyone–even those who seek to cut it down….[but] think how the rose, the tree and the lamp leave you completely free. The tree will make no effort to drag you into its shade if you are in danger of a sunstroke. The lamp will not force its light on you lest you stumble in the dark. Another word for love is freedom.” ~ Anthony De Mello
The turnarounds for me are that a code of behavior (called Nice or Not Too Nice) is not necessary. Being present feels open, unknown, yet solid.
I love that man who challenged me, who asked to talk, and my discovery of my “no” in that moment.
No rules, no expectations, no demands, no resistance, no pushing, no commands. The truth coming up, in that moment, out of a quiet freedom.
Back to remembering what it’s like to not know anything. To not be addicted to love, attention, being appreciated, being praised, being liked.
No need to be clever, full of knowledge, pious, or good.
What a relief.
“When the great Tao is forgotten, goodness and piety appear. When the body’s intelligence declines, cleverness and knowledge step forth. When there is no peace in the family, filial piety begins. When the country falls into chaos, patriotism is born.” ~ Tao Te Ching #18
Much love, Grace