Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Appreciate the Bad Stuff

Today you're probably not going to like me very much. Because today is "Appreciate the Bad Stuff Day." Yes, you heard it right - I want you to think about the things in your life that have been the most challenging. This means they are probably the things you learned the most from. When we are shoved out of our comfort zones we have no choice but to act instinctively. There's no time for pondering, hemming, or hawing. There is only action and at the hardest of times, you were likely stuck between two lousy choices. Maybe you didn't even have a choice. Maybe someone out there made a choice for you. Maybe you're still living with the after shocks and it seems nothing will ever be normal again.

If that's the case, this post is extra important for you to read. Because today we are not seeking a solution to the problem. We are seeking your truth. What is the core belief that is stopping you from moving forward? For many of us, it is the belief that we are not good enough. And the pain comes from that fountain of fear.

While it may seem torturous to look back on life and re-examine the things that hurt the most, remember - you are safe now. It is in the past, nothing is going to bring it back. If you keep seeming to stumble on the same type of problem over and over, chances are, the universe is trying to tell you something. I believe until we accept whatever lesson the universe is trying to teach us, we will remain in a loop that forces us into the exact situation that brings the most difficulty. Lessons come to us organically and without us consciously seeking them out. We have no power to decide what lesson gets sent our way or how it's delivered. We can only control how we react to it.

One example of this for me is my difficulty dealing with male bullies. I grew up with a big, ogre-like bully making my life suck every morning at the bus stop. I had buried that memory deep under layers of crap, far out of sight. Then I met Jacob. He's a bit of a giant. And he's loud. And pushy. And triggering as hell. It's taken me years to get used to the fact that although he's big and loud, he's not a bully. He's not trying to hurt me, he's trying to help me and sometimes he has to yell to be heard. Because, apparently, I am stubborn. (Of course, I'm also always right but that's beside the point.)

Also - being with Jacob has forced me to toughen up. I know if he were weighing in he'd say I'm still not tough but learning to fight back to someone of his size and volume has taken time. Now I can hang in and not freeze up, go to Anxiety Land, and hide. I can yell if necessary - and sometimes, it is necessary. Because we're humans and we're going to fight sometimes.

It's also taught me how to deal with male bullies at work. Occasionally I get a guy - usually a father of one of my kid clients - who thinks he can push me around. With "men" like this (and I use the "" because real men don't threaten, bully, or intimidate) I used to freeze up. I would just sit on the phone and take it as they yelled about how evil their Ex-wife is or how the kids have no respect for him and it's my job to make them.

The last time that happened was over the summer. Oh what a douche canoe that guy was. Typical alpha male, bullied and abused his ex-wife and children, decided to try it on me. After leaving me numerous inappropriate voice mails, I finally picked up the phone when I saw him calling. When he started ranting I cut in and informed him that I was not calling about whatever his ex-wife does. I was calling to talk about the children. When that only served to make him angrier and his voice rose several decibels, I decided it was a waste of my time to even bother with this fool. The old Erin would have stayed on the phone and taken the abuse. The old Erin would have probably cried after that phone call.

This Erin - the one who stayed present and didn't get sucked down into his toxicity - simply stated, "Sir, you are way too aggressive for me. This phone call is over. Do not contact me again."

And hung the hell up.

Because sometimes, the lesson we're supposed to learn is when to cut our losses and move on. I was brought up not to quit. To stick things out even when they're hard. The lesson I deeply needed to learn was that sometimes, quitting is the right thing to do. Walking away, disengaging from negative situations, takes a certain amount of guts. It is not the easy thing when every cell in your body is screaming, "ATTACK! ATTACK THE SCUM BAG!"

The lesson I finally learned was how to stand up for myself and cut off a bully. It may have taken me over 20 years to learn it but I got it now! And you can rest assured, I am grateful for that lesson.

It takes courage to walk away - you can do it!

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