Friday, June 4, 2010

The Power of Words

One of the first steps towards sanity, as I discovered in early recovery, was to not take things personally. I've blogged about this here. I was forever attributing motivations, agendas, words, actions to all kinds of harmful intent. Truth is, I discovered it wasn't them: it was ME. I was projecting my stuff onto those "out there." (If you haven't read The Four Agreements, let me hasten to give it a plug. It's kinda New Age woo-woo, but there is much wisdom in it if you will open yourself to the messages within.)

Anyway, one other thing about taking things personally: aside from the fact that it is a very human, understandable, and forgivable thing to do, it does seem we are much more prone to doing it when we are hurt or angry at someone. For instance, say I'm pissed off at my friend Heather (yo, H-Bomb!) because she is a Libertarian who likes Rand Paul more than she dislikes him. This is hanging on in my heart even though I know she's a smart chica who has Lupita, who loves her yob, LOL. But then, say, Heather posts on Facebook that Obama is a sneaky snake oil salesman who is no better than George W. Bush in his handling of the BP oil spill fiasco--in fact, it may even be worse than Bush's handling of Katrina. Now Heather knows I felt Bush botched Katrina and that I luvs me some Obama. So I am, because I am already of the mindset that Heather has 'tude, gonna get pissed off. What she said is an attack on ME and my wonderful President. How dare she???

Meanwhile, Heather is like, "Wut?"

Yesterday I blogged about a pattern in my life, one of geographical cures and leaving people who are significant to me before they can leave me, due to abandonment issues I have. This was a pretty huge breakthrough for me in terms of understanding some of my past behaviors. When I was wrapping the post up, I was of two minds: I was marveling over how fortunate I'd been in not repeating that pattern yet again and feeling regret over all the people in the past I've hurt as I let that pattern play out, over and over. I was walking on air after realizing this because it means Tigger doesn't have to play this game no mo'....

Unfortunately, that post was read by a person I did very much hurt in the recent past and read what I said as "YOU are a bullet I dodged." I have written her an email explaining that no, that is not at all what I meant. And for the sake of clarity lest someone else misunderstand, I have now added to the post that she dodged that same bullet, as well as Chelle, because that is what I meant. But really, I was talking about ME. ME and MY dumb behaviors. ME and MY bad choices and acting out and stumbling through life only half aware of my own motivations and not understanding that yes, Tigger, my actions have consequences that involve real people.

So if I have anything to say today, I am reminded of the power of words. People carry their own lifetimes of experiences to everything you say. I'm thinking of my friend Ted, and how there's a quote on his FB page about our worst fears arising from being misunderstood, or something to that effect. You can apply that same idea to conflicts between nations or to conflicts between individuals--because these all arise from misunderstandings, if you boil all the bullshit away. We all walk a path strewn with mixed and conflicting perceptions. I struggle with this every day. ("Did they really say that? Or is this coming from me?")

Lately, I have tried the strategy of just asking before deciding. "Did you mean..." and trying to stay open to the idea that maybe it's just my dumb ass whose perceptions are off.

It has saved me a lot of heartache, but not all heartaches. The other lesson of today is a reminder of how there are always consequences to actions. Things I did a year ago are still biting me in the ass.

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