Friday, January 13, 2012

New Year

I am not really resolutions girl, but I do like the idea of a new year and a fresh start, and I believe in the importance of making necessary changes. I don't really make a list of those changes, but I like to start out the year with some guidelines that I hope to follow. This year I was fortunate to have come across two articles which pretty much did the work for me.

The first was from the love issue of Shambhala Sun (which I had picked up the day after a break-up without realizing that it was the love issue). There were many excellent pieces in the issue (if you have not checked out this magazine yet--do) but one small, half-page bit of writing stayed with me. In the article “Showing up for Your Life,” Pema Chodron talks about how important it is to fully experience pain and to work through it in order to grow and become more capable of dealing with it in the future:

On the path of meditation, you are training your mind and body to end up in the same place. To do that, you need the discipline of openness, which quite simply means showing up for your life. Showing up turns out to be very fertile, tender ground. You find that there is an increase in your curiosity, inquisitiveness, and interest in what’s actually going on. You discover a shaky, tender quality of vulnerability that threatens to overtake you. But if you take it in small bites, if you don’t have a plan of getting the shakiness over with once and for all, you may find it’s workable.  

I am someone who deals with emotions as they come up, mostly because I am incapable of patience and I have the need to talk about EVERYTHING, but I like the idea of consciously staying present.

The other article is simply called “10 Ways to Love Others.” Though there are indeed ten, the first eight are what really spoke to me:

1. Tell them about their brilliance. They likely can’t see it and they don’t know its immensity, but you can see it, and you can illuminate it for them.

2. Be authentic, and give others the gift of the real you and a real relationship. Ask your real questions. Share your real beliefs. Go for your real dreams. Tell your truth.

3. Don’t confuse “authenticity” with sharing every complaint, resentment, or petty reaction in the name of “being yourself.” Meditate, write, or do yoga to work through anxiety, resentment, and stress on your own so you don’t hand off those negative moods to everyone around you. Sure, share sadness, honest dilemmas, and fears, but be mindful: don’t pollute.

4. Listen, listen, listen. Don’t listen to determine if you agree or disagree. Listen to get to know what is true for the person in front of you. Get to know an inner landscape that is different from your own, and enjoy the journey. Remember that if, in any conversation, nothing piqued your curiosity and nothing surprised you, you weren’t really listening.

5. Don’t waste your time or energy thinking about how they need to be different.  Really. Chuck that whole thing. Their habits are their habits. Their personalities are their personalities. Let them be, and work on what you want to change about you—not what you think would be good to change about them.

6. Remember that you don’t have to understand their choices to respect or accept them.

7. Don’t conflate accepting with being a doormat or betraying yourself. Let them be who they are, entirely. Then, you decide what you need, in light of who they are. Do you need to make a direct request that they change their behavior in some way? Do you need to take care of yourself better? Do you need to set a boundary or to change the relationship? Take care of yourself well, without holding anyone else in contempt.

8. Give of yourself, but never sacrifice or compromise yourself. Stop if resentment is building and retool. Don’t do the martyr thing. It helps no one and nothing.

I know that I will fail in some degree in my quest to follow both of these articles (just today I totally fucked up # 3), but I also know that if I can put these principles into action that my relationships both with others and myself will just get better. If that is all I get out of 2012, I will be a happy girl.

10 Ways to Love Others
 Showing Up for Your Life