With or For?

It’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to…

We have celebrations all the time. Birthdays, special events, parenthood. But when do we learn to distinguish between celebrating with someone and celebrating for someone?

To illustrate with an example at an early age, let’s take a birthday party. The poster child celebratory event! If all the children in attendance bring gifts, they are celebrating for the child. If all the children split a birthday cake, they are celebrating with the child. And when they take home a loot bag they are again celebrating a special event with the youngster.

From these seemingly innocuous early occasions, we teach children the sensation of being happy for someone and showing your joy by bestowing a thoughtful gift on them…hopefully without the expectation of something in return although it is well known that birthday parties are expected to provide attendees with compensation in the form of fun and goodies.

And so from that early age we teach our children that they are entitled to a measure of someone else’s joy. That they can expect a share of someone else’s bounty. We teach them not to celebrate FOR someone, we train them to expect to celebrate WITH others.

Expand that to participation ribbons and various other ways to ensure children ‘don’t feel left out.’ The thought is noble, but the message is that we don’t celebrate the successes of others if it hurts our feelings to do so. We train our children instead to expect the winners to tone down or divide their glory because the non-winners are unable to celebrate FOR their win thus must be given the rewards too, celebrating WITH the winner.

Take this into adulthood and you have envy and entitlement. Children who attended birthday parties for the loot and the entertainment rather than the excitement of watching a friend open the gift they carefully selected turn into adults who manipulate others in order to gain a share of the target’s time, energy, resources, or material goods. Children who got participation ribbons watch in petulant resentment as the first place ribbon of a promotion goes to the winner but there is no distribution of the pay raise amongst the other participating applicants.

Sharing our joys is a natural part of our programming and celebrating with others gives us a sense of connection and validation.

But how much of the meaning in celebrating for someone gets lost in the emphasis of putting on a real show for the guests compared to reinforcing the connections between those guests and the celebrant?

We could claim that we are showing compassion toward the non-celebrants when we give them loot bags and pony rides and bouncy castles. But in reality, we miss the chance for them to feel compassion for the birthday child! That sense of connection, or sharing emotions, goes both ways; compassion isn’t just about understanding when someone is struggling and passively giving them space in your psyche to ease their suffering. Compassion is also about sharing the exquisite pleasures of joyful success and admiration.

When someone wins a race, a graceful loser doesn’t need a participation ribbon, they need to have compassionate connection with the winner to feel respect for a good game. This concept gets often lip service in sports and disservice in the other aspects of our lives, where losing isn’t learning, it’s burning. The winning team ideally celebrates with each other while the losing team celebrates for the winners.

Celebrating for someone allows them to own their special occasion and feel the elation of being celebrated. Celebrating with someone divides those feelings amongst all participants and knowing which is appropriate is a matter of maturity and discernment. Yet, subconsciously the birthday child often feels the unfairness of how their party winds up being about the guests, not about them.

Behaviour Blame Shifting

An exit strategy

Receiving a no, with or without explanation, can lead to a battle of wills as the person seeking to meet a need attempts to obtain it from someone who is not offering to do so.

Leave judgement behind and forget about wrong and right. In the Moment, there is no such thing. There is only need and satisfaction. This is how the defense of temporary insanity arises, when the emotional monster overwhelms a wise mind for a moment and seizes control attempting to overcome an obstacle in the way of an unmet need. Needs are valid, but forcing someone to meet them against their will is not.

When you remove the lense of judgement from evaluating behaviour, and accept that unmet needs are the driving force regardless of your personal opinion on the veracity of the need, then you will be better able resist attempts to dominate your will since emotionality and judgement are not part of the operations of a wise mind.

But resistance is necessary when your boundaries are at stake, and understanding your needs and boundaries gives stability to your defenses.

Some people will try to smash those walls, breaking themselves in the process. They may go to great lengths, driven by uncontrolled thoughts and emotions, to bend you to their objective. They may become someone they don’t even recognize in their efforts to make you into what they need.

And then they’ll blame you.

Upon reflection, in a convoluted way it is your fault. You did not follow the script in their head and they responded to your failure to meet their need. Your boundaries drove them to greater heights attempting to scale them. If you hadn’t been so strong in the face of their desperate need, they would never have gone to such lengths to win you.

Understanding this rationale will allow you to recognize how and why blame shifting happens thus letting you accept it without defending yourself, justifying your boundaries, or arguing how you actually did nothing wrong!

What you did was watch as a scaffold was constructed right outside your door. You listened as the rope was strung. And you waited as they mounted the blocks telling you you’d put the hangman’s noose outside your boundaries. Telling you if you don’t let them in they are going to die. Telling you they are in distress and only you can fix it. You didn’t stop them from building their own downfall. Because you held your boundaries, you were to blame for letting them hang themselves. Using Fear, Obligation, Guilt, and shame they shroud the scaffold in a FOG smokescreen and convince you it doesn’t exist and your walls are to blame for their distress.

We are not truly responsible for the actions, thoughts or feelings of another and our own past emotions have no relevance to the presence. We are not obliged to stop them burning their own bridges or jumping under busses. We do not need to surrender to their needs any more than they are required to meet our expectations.

Back to our WWF friends. They have a need. It is to earn money. They are exploiting an opportunity to connect with potentially vulnerable targets, in an effort to redistribute wealth. The need is real but the ends do not justify the means. In fact, were these Scammy Sammys given the opportunity to put their energy toward a legitimate enterprise, their obvious wits and flexibility would make them incredibly successful. Leaving judgement aside and meeting them with curiosity, you develop compassion for the situation they are in while also recognizing it is not ok to take advantage of people.

And they are aware. They know exactly what they are doing and take pride in a job well done until they feel judged or ashamed. Although we often hide the truth from ourselves, we all know what we are doing. We all make choices. We all have moments of clarity where we sit inside our wise mind and hate what our monsters have made us do. Then we either embrace change…

Or we shift that hate onto the person who made us look in the mirror.

“Look what you made me do.”

Emotional Distancing

Not from others. From yourself. To protect your Eternal self from the influence of the short circuit between emotions, thoughts, and who you really are at your core.

When an emotion comes calling at the door to your mind, it does have the right to be there. Emotions are essential to survival and provide information, sensory data about the environment. They must be accepted and welcomed with curiosity, even affection, because they are childlike in their simplicity.

But keep your thoughts and behaviours at a safe distance because emotions can be contagious and acting with them, giving in to their impulses, is unproductive for your core self. Treat your emotions like a toddler, one with story upon story to share with you but much of their information is filtered through a blurred lense. Don’t reject or abandon the toddler when they give you misinformation. They are doing the best they can.

Striking up a conversation with unpleasant emotions is a necessary challenge. Discomfort fuels the drive for growth and tells you there are changes you need to be making in the moment. Chatting with your fear, trading blows with your anger, or consoling your sorrow are the only ways to get to know them. Understand them. Ease their dissatisfaction. Balance them.

Each emotion is a valuable indicator of your present situation. Synergy created them to nudge us into action, not into judgement. Engaging with emotions provides Datter so long as a feedback loop of thoughts and associations doesn’t trap you in the past or fling you into the future.

That’s why it’s important to keep your emotions at a healthy distance. Then you can ensure you maintain function in the Moment by listening to what your emotions have to say and then allowing them to be on their way and not take up residence in your mind.

The Paralysis of Hopelessness

It’s ok to wallow.

To sit within the vacuum of hopelessness looking out with dull eyes at whatever surrounds you.

Hopelessness is a feeling. Feelings are not right or wrong, they are a sensory response to the present social environment. Hopelessness arises from a lack, an imbalance, from dissatisfaction.

No matter how plush and inviting or harsh and grating the environment, hopelessness is a valid response to an absence of something essential to your purpose, your survival.

Don’t judge the feeling with thoughts of how things could be worse. Don’t shame the feeling with thoughts of how others would appreciate where you are so you have no right to feel down. Don’t invalidate the feeling with thoughts that you should be happy.

In that Moment, hopelessness is your feeling. Simple as that.

Greet it with compassion and curiosity. Embrace it. Hello Hopelessness, what can I do for you in this moment? What brings you here today? What have you got to say for yourself?

And in the vacuum of silence and stillness which accompanies hopelessness, listen very carefully.

Trust the silence. Sometimes it will whisper, other times roar. But it will never lie to you.