A time of reflection. A time to cast the mind forward and the glance backward. A time to reset my intentions and to consider where my intentions have fallen by the wayside. How have my actions missed the mark? I am good with the practical, with the mundane, even with the technical. But relationships… they can trip me up.
I am a recovering codependent. I have a weakness for otheration. When slightly stressed, when emotions run high, when my tank runs empty I fall into bad habits. I even fall into the habit of thought that “I should be better than this, I should be better by now, I should, I should, I should.” I am even codependent with my expectations of myself. (More on this later.)
I have some tools to use when I am in a difficult relationship. These relationship difficulties can arise due to my own shortcomings, or can be “inspired” by the behavior or character of others. While much of what I think, feel, say or do comes from my own version of reality; sometimes my reality is influenced by relationships that have not transformed for the better; relationships that are still mired in the past. And, really, some people are just hard to deal with. Couple a difficult person with active codependency and you can have a mess. I want to meet people where they are and I want to remain true to my healthier self. This can be complicated.
I have to separate my outlook and opinions from the responses and actions of others. I use some techniques found in yoga. What are my tools? I shared some of these the other day at an InTheRooms.com meeting. My tools are the qualities of friendship, compassion, appreciation and loving indifference.
Friendship in this series of qualities refers to people who are easy to be with. People who are close to you. When they are having a good day and you are having a good day – there is nothing more simple, easy and fun than being with such a person. That doesn’t mean that this person is always easy to get along with; it is those times when the love is fluid.
Compassion refers to those moments in a relationship that are uneasy; vexing, sad, with suffering or grief. It can be a problem that seems to have no resolution, that they bring up over and over and may inspire frustration in you. Look, instead, with compassion. Just witness this conversation, be with this person. Notice your own judgement and set it aside.
Appreciation is tricky. Perhaps there is someone in your life you may be a bit jealous of; acquisitions, accomplishments, looks or character. Perhaps some other quality that sets you in competition or inspires envy. Rather than dwelling in comparison perhaps try appreciation. Be happy for their success, their effort, their news. Their achievement or other “better”ness is not a condemnation of your own. It has nothing to do with you. There, indeed, is room at the top (whatever form that takes for you) and they are not stealing your oxygen. Consider appreciating them for what they bring to the world.
Loving indifference is the quality of “letting go with love” that we hear about in the rooms. We don’t have to remain in connection with people who are toxic to us. If worldviews or language or behavior is detrimental to our wellbeing we can let go, we can leave, we can have a ready phrase such as “I hear what you are saying. I disagree and I am going to let it go at that.” And excuse yourself. The person may even be distasteful, odious or antagonistic. S/he may even object to being turned down or avoided. Let go, remove yourself with love. And have a way to soothe yourself when you do.
A friend or family member may move between two or more of these categories. It is good to note it and to note your own feelings about this. Assumptions? Expectations? Resentments? Do they influence your ability to see things as they are? How is your own emotional and spiritual condition at the time you make the assessment? (See section above.)
Now to yourself. To myself. Am I treating myself as a friend today? With compassion? Am I achieving some goal that I wanted to and am I able to appreciate that rather than denigrate it? Am I being or feeling “unlovely” today? Is my attitude and behavior a little toxic with others and (VERY importantly) with myself? Can I apply one of the four attitudes to me?
I have been fairly successful in recent months in using this sequence with others. Less successful but steady in my practice of addressing my internal monologue, my friendship with myself using these four qualities. My intention is to continue to practice and to have my facility with this process increase in the coming year.