Sign up for The Resilient Daughter's Guide To...No Nonsense, No Drama, No Guilt Relationships

No-Nonsense, No-Drama, No-Guilt: The Resilient Daughter’s Guide To…

…Dealing With Someone Else’s Uncomfortable Feelings When You Choose To Change Your Mind

Last week’s Guide stirred up some interesting responses and in particular, I received emails from a couple of readers who told me they were feeling shame for being on the other end of the equation – because they had changed their minds about something and had chosen to say “no” to someone to whom they had initially said “yes.”

“This post hit me hard because I recently did something very similar to someone I cared about and it was me that felt the shame. I had agreed to work on a project with someone and then later changed my mind when it didn’t feel right to me.

At first I wanted to please and help this person so I shoved my gut feeling down and moved forward.

I knew that telling her how I felt, and then backing out, would hurt and anger her, and it did. She eventually forgave me, but I am still feeling a bit of shame.”

I can imagine a whole range of situations in which someone might change their mind – from having coffee with a friend on Saturday morning, to hosting a holiday dinner, to getting married.

So, since last week’s Guide was about dealing with shame, this week I will provide some no-nonsense, no-drama, no-guilt advice on how to deal with someone else’s uncomfortable emotions when you choose to change your mind.

Let’s pretend that you’ve just realized that you really don’t want to do whatever it is that you’ve said “yes” to.

You really, really don’t want to do it and you’re mad at yourself for having said, “yes” in the first place. You’re also afraid.

What will they think about me? They’re gonna be pissed!! What will they say about me?

Step 1: Take a deep breath. Unlock your shoulders (you didn’t realize they were up around your ears, did you). Soften your eyes (this is both a literal and a figurative thing). Take another deep breath.  

Step 2: Understand that when you make healthy choices for yourself (i.e., creating boundaries, saying “no,” stating your preferences, or changing your mind), you will inevitably experience some uncomfortable feelings, at least when you first start (the more you do it, the easier it becomes).

Step 3: Understand that when you begin to make healthy choices for yourself, others may also experience some uncomfortable feelings.

Step 4: Understand that it’s impossible to disappoint, hurt, anger, or let someone else down. The opposite is also true: you can’t please someone else.

Sure, the other person might say: “You let me down, you disappointed me, how could you do this to me!”

What they are saying is that they do, indeed, feel let down, disappointed, and perhaps even angry, but they’re not taking responsibility their emotions.

Step 5: Allow them to have their disappointment, hurt, and anger, but don’t take responsibility for it…don’t let them blame you for it and understand that it’s not up to you to “fix” it for them.

It’s certainly okay to apologize for having changed your mind, but it’s not okay to take responsibility for the other person’s emotions.

Here’s a script you can use and/or modify the next time you want to change your mind about something:

“I should have listened to my gut when you first asked me to be involved with your project, but I didn’t, and that’s not your fault. That said, I have decided that it’s best for me if I back out now. I apologize for not letting you know sooner.”

If the other person blasts you and/or tries to make you responsible for their emotions, follow the steps above and reply thusly:

“I understand that you’re disappointed, hurt, and angry. Again, I am sorry I didn’t let you know sooner. I am working on making better choices for myself after years of being a people-pleaser.”

My own experiences with this have shown me that when I handle it this way (honestly and vulnerably), I am practicing and modeling non-defensive communication.

And that’s where peace and freedom start!

Do you have a situation that needs a No-Nonsense, No-Drama, No-Guilt response from me? Send it to karen@kclanderson.com. All questions will be kept anonymous (names changed if necessary) and answers will be published in future editions of No Nonsense, No Drama, No Guilt: The Resilient Daughter’s Guide To…

You Are Good

The story goes that there’s an African tribe that has a unique way of handling those who do something hurtful or wrong. When a member of the tribe does wrong, they take him to the center of town, and the entire tribe comes and surrounds him. Then they tell him every good thing he has ever done.

Apparently this tribe believes that every human being comes into the world as GOOD, each of us desiring safety, love, peace, happiness. But sometimes in the pursuit of those things, people make mistakes. The community sees these misdeeds as a cry for help. So they band together for the sake of their fellow man,  to hold him up, to reconnect him with his true nature, to remind him of who he really is, until he fully remembers the truth from which he’d temporarily been disconnected: “I AM GOOD.”

~~~~~~~~~~

It may be too late for some (at least in this lifetime), but it is never too late to remind:

Yourself…

Those you love…

Those whom you may be finding it hard to love…

And those who appear to be unloveable…

Even if you do it silently.

preventratherthanavenge

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

~~~~~~~~~~

Dedicated to the place where I grew up and in memory of the 26.

Plus those who’ve been lost since then…and all who have made a mistake no matter how great or how small…all who need to be reminded and reconnected:

YOU ARE GOOD!

No-Nonsense, No-Drama, No-Guilt: The Resilient Daughter’s Guide To…

Handling A Shame Storm

This week’s Resilient Daughter’s Guide comes from a recent experience that really shook, rattled, and rolled my confidence.

Someone I respect and admire emailed to tell me that she didn’t want to be involved with something I was doing. And not only that, she told me after we had spent a good amount of time talking about it and after I crafted a bit of writing that I was really proud of.

It wasn’t a nasty email by any stretch (in fact, she was very kind and apologetic), but I was, by turns, angry, disappointed…and then ashamed.

I felt stung…there was a pit in my stomach, my face was hot, and I wanted to cry.

I did cry.

It didn’t take me long to realize that it was the shame I used to feel when I was little girl and my mother would tell me that she was disappointed in me.

“She’s disappointed in me…and that means I’m a bad girl.”

Bing. Bang. Boom.

That’s what I made this woman’s words mean. In the blink of an eye.

Crazy right?

The anger and disappointment were just cover emotions for the shame.

Just like the mighty Colorado River created the Grand Canyon, the thoughts we think over and over again create deep grooves in our brains until the connection between outside stimulus and what we make it mean becomes nearly instantaneous and automatic.

But here’s the thing: what she wrote was actually neutral. Just words. It was me who made it mean something that felt like shame.

So I sat there and both felt the shame, and observed myself feeling it, at the same time.

That’s what shame resilience is: it’s not about not feeling shame, it’s about feeling it, getting to the root of it, and then asking yourself, “Is the thought I am thinking, that is creating this shame, actually true?”

Is it true that I am a bad girl?

Of course not.

I think most of us have a memory (or five) from our early childhoods, which we associate with our mothers (or fathers) and shame.

The point of this isn’t to blame our parents for having said to us, when we were little girls, that they were disappointed in us.

And it’s also not to blame ourselves for what we made it mean when they said that.

The point is to notice – with sincere curiosity and fascination – how the ego part (aka “the lizard”) of our amazing brains work, the messages they send, how those messages feel, and whether or not they are actually true.

And then…and only then…take action. Or not.

I am sure you can imagine a variety of outcomes to the situation I described.

I could have written back and told her off.

I could have written back and told her “no big deal” while inside it was still very much a big deal that I wasn’t…dealing with.

I could have not responded at all and then acted all weird next time we interacted.

I could have decided that the project wasn’t worth doing at all and given up on something I believe in and love.

In the end, what I did is tell her that while I understood and honored her position and choice, that I’d be lying if I weren’t disappointed. I offered an alternative that hadn’t been on the table previously, with the caveat that I would still respect her choice.

She still declined, very graciously and kindly. We had a couple of back-and-forths and in the end high-fived each other virtually for handling what, for both of us, was an uncomfortable situation.

Sure, I still have a bit a disappointment, but I am not derailed by shame.

Noticing our emotions, how they feel (literally) in our bodies, and what we want to do or say as a result (without harsh judgment of ourselves) is an art and a practice…and it is so worth it.

It is the cornerstone of good mental, emotional, and physical health.

Need help working through a situation involving that kind of “ancient” shame that goes back to childhood? Do you have a situation that needs a No-Nonsense, No-Drama, No-Guilt response from me? Send it to karen@kclanderson.com. All questions will be kept anonymous (names changed if necessary) and answers will be published in future editions of No Nonsense, No Drama, No Guilt: The Resilient Daughter’s Guide To…

121114

This is me, feeling the opposite of shame…

 

{Resilient Daughter/Empowered Woman Project} Anna N.

[Learn more about The Resilient Daughter/Empowered Woman Project.]

~~~~~~~~~~

When Anna (who chooses to remain anonymous) speaks to me, what she says and how she says it is like a soothing balm with an injection of hilarity. She often sounds like she’s on the verge of giddy laughter.

And so when she told me, in that very same tone of voice, about her very early childhood, about how her mother would send her father to her bedroom…

[Go tuck Anna in]…

…when he was “randy” because her mother didn’t want to have to “deal with him,” well, all I could think is, this is the epitome of resilience, right here.

[She didn’t want it to be her…from a very early age I was her confidante and her protector and she put me in a parental role from the get go. So it would fall to me to deal with him, which is, as a parent, just almost incomprehensible to me to even understand that line of thinking.]

Like all resilient daughters, healing was a process, which included a recurring painful story that she told herself (unconsciously) for years:

[It kept showing up in the form of the vaguely abusive boyfriends. Sometimes not even vaguely. You know, boyfriends who were into questionable sexual practices on their own and would say “this has nothing to do with you” but it was weird and I could not understand it.

I did not understand why I kept ending up in relationships with men who were so sexually inappropriate…stuff that I just could not abide…and they just didn’t care. My need and desire for them to show up differently in the relationship meant nothing.

I was also drinking a lot of alcohol at the time, so I had very little true awareness…but rather confusion. I watched the same patterns emerge over and over and over again no matter how I chose boyfriends.]

And those same patterns showed up at work and in other areas of her life, as well.

So what was that painful story?

[I have to take responsibility for this thing that has nothing to do with me. I’m the fall guy. I have to take it. It’s my job.

I’m supposed to be able to take everything on. I’m supposed to be able to change things and do all the stuff. So why does this feel so miserable, why do I keep ending up in situations with people and relationships and men that are just so dysfunctional?]

This seems to an excellent moment to share this Anais Nin quote: “There are very few human beings who receive the truth, complete and staggering, by instant illumination. Most of them acquire it fragment by fragment, on a small scale, by successive developments, cellularly, like a laborious mosaic.” 

As we talked Anna recounted how she started to receive the truth, and to be honest, the way she describes receiving it sounds like both “instant illumination” and “fragment by fragment.”

[I was the financial reporting manager for a company that was going through a lot of change and people just kept quitting and I ended up taking on everybody else’s jobs and they just kept handing more stuff to me like, “Oh, no one else will take care of it.”

And at the same time, there had been a big earthquake and so I was having panic attacks…and then 9/11 happened.

Then I went on a business trip and a friend of mine hooked me up with a friend of hers, and we went out to dinner and he was old. He was like my dad’s age and he looked like my dad and he smelled like my dad.

And then on the way home, he took me to a deserted park and tried to have his way with me and I was trying to avoid him, trying to get away from him. “You need to take me home.” I didn’t know where I was. It was terrifying and then I have this enormous flashback of my dad. I finally got him to take me home and he verbally abused me the whole way back to the hotel: “Oh, you’re just a prick-tease” and “You’re such a vapid little girl.”

It was like a total recreation of what happened when I was growing up.

The waves of memories kept coming and I called my mom and asked her what the fuck happened. “I used to send him to your room.”

And that’s when I knew I needed help.]

And that story? The one where she was telling herself that she had to take it…that it was her job? It led to this:

[I perpetually felt like a fraud. I was constantly anxious. I never felt like I was living in any sort of integrity. I didn’t have real friends. I had drinking buddies. I felt alone because I didn’t want anybody to know how fucked up things were. I was concerned about maintaining some sort of image because of all the people I drank with, I was the only one that actually made any money (not that I had any). I was a manager at a big company and sat in board meetings. Those people helped me look good. Being around people who were kind of in the gutter, so to speak, helped me feel like I was okay.

So it was messy…very messy, very ugly, and very dark.]

She was also enraged with her mother.

[She had lied to me in so many ways. So much of our relationship was built around her lying to keep me close so nobody would ask questions. I was absolutely furious with her.]

And her father?

[I expressed my anger to him in high school, after he stopped drinking. As soon as he stopped drinking, the molestation stopped. He doesn’t remember any of it. He was drunk and thank God, he was gone six to eight months out of every year. I would stay at my grandmother’s a lot…who knows why. At that time, I just thought it’s because I like staying with my grandmother. But now I see it was self-preservation.

Years later my mother told me that one time, when I was about nine or 10, I came home to find my dad holding a gun to her head. He said he was going to shoot her and then shoot himself. I got up on the bed and I took the gun from him. And I believe her on that story because I asked my father about it and he said, “Oh, yeah, I have a vague recollection of that.

I know that he really does not remember what happened.

By the time I was 30 and in therapy, so much time had passed and he had become a completely different person.]

And so Anna grasped, with the help of her therapist, that her life was her responsibility.

[What I wanted most was resolution within myself around all of this. I didn’t want to have a conversation with my parents about it because frankly, it’s none of their fucking business. This is mine. I needed to make peace with it. It wasn’t their job anymore. I am clear about that.]

Now that she knows better, she lives a different, and much better story. But how did that happen?

[The night I decided to quit drinking, I had a vision…I was looking out the window and I had a bunch of beer but I couldn’t get drunk. I was smoking cigarettes and I was having this existential moment. I wasn’t drunk. I was gazing out the window at the sunset and a realization dropped into my awareness…the truth of who I was, was not the way that I was living.

That awareness became my homing device. I was given an understanding that I was not all of the shit that was happening. I wasn’t the emotions. I wasn’t the circumstances. I was something much, much better than that. I was destined for more. And that really became a very powerful sort of focus for me.

During that time I cried and cried and cried and I raged and raged and raged and it felt like I was running through waist-deep mud. There was just so much that had to be dealt with…so much baggage that had come from the way I was living. I was in debt. I was in a job that I hated. And my relationships were all built on lies and fakery.

So slowly, I started making decisions by asking, “What would feel good?” to the me who’s out there in the future – the real me. I would ask, “What does the real me want?” And I started making decisions from that place. And once I stopped drinking, even though there was a lot of mess to clean up, I felt the truth of who I was more and that made it easier.]

And slowly, that old life fell away.

[A little over a year after I stopped drinking, I met my husband and we got married quickly. I knew that if it had not happened the way it did, I wouldn’t be married to him, because neither of us would have been interested each other.]

And at that point Anna decided to get back in touch with her parents, who were divorced and remarried.

[I invited them to the wedding. I wasn’t committed to having any kind of relationship with them but I thought, “Well, they’re my family. I’ll invite them to the wedding.” But my dad didn’t walk me down the aisle. My husband and I walked down the aisle together. I wanted nothing to do with that kind of nonsense.

And my mother, who had been sober on and off, was drinking again and she blacked out at the wedding and said some pretty ugly things. I did not speak to her for a while after the wedding.]

Anna describes herself as a naturally enthusiastic and optimistic person (and she says she’s a lot like her mother in that respect) and so when her mother stopped drinking again she thought it would be a good second opportunity.

And yet…

[I found that she is not that much different…she hasn’t changed. My mother still puts me in situations where I will fail, where I might hurt myself…or have someone hurt me.]

She described a recent visit an incident that showed her that…

[…there’s no evidence in her behavior that she likes me at all. It did not surprise me at all.]

But because she has healed, and with healing comes the ability to set truly loving boundaries…

[What did surprise me was realizing that it’s unusual for anybody to treat me like that now.

I sometimes find myself slipping back into that old role with her and then I remember, “This isn’t my job. This isn’t my responsibility.”

And when I do that, she responds defensively and won’t call me for a long time.]

Anna acknowledges that part of her story was, “I’m going to prove you wrong” and that it served her.

[My parents expected nothing of me. When I was high school junior I my mother told me, “If you graduate from high school without getting pregnant, I’m going to consider that a huge success.” It felt like I was being held down: “Don’t get too big for your britches, who the fuck do you think you are?” You know, the things that a lot of us who are in our 40s and 50s heard. I was constantly fighting against their low expectations. To graduate from college and become a CPA was an enormous thing for me to do.]

She no longer lives her life “in reaction” or trying to prove her parents wrong.

[As I got sober and then married my husband – who’s just this amazing supportive person and who believes in me 5000% –I could see the difference between how I grew up and how I live now. Good Lord, I’m a miracle, a walking fucking miracle! Do you know what I mean?]

Yes, Anna, I do indeed know what you mean.

[I live my life in integrity…I enjoy my life and I no longer think rotten horrible things about myself. I don’t think I would appreciate as much who I am today if it were not for my parents.]

Anna consciously chooses to mother herself this way:

[I create safety for myself. This is really a big deal. I was not safe growing up. Safety is essential to expressing myself and shining my light and doing all that good stuff. I’m committed to making sure that I feel safe. That may look like giving myself time to cry in certain circumstances or asking for something I need rather than just saying, “Oh, yeah, it’s fine. I’ve got it.” I am learning, instead, to say, “You know what, this is what I need to feel safe and to feel okay about what’s going to happen.”]

Anna’s advice for a woman who is struggling in her relationship with her mother/parents:

[Don’t be afraid to walk away. Give yourself permission to walk away if it’s not working. I don’t think there is any greater gift you can give yourself.

The biggest thing that helped me find peace was taking to heart that there is a statute of limitations. You can’t blame your family. You can’t blame your mom. You can’t blame your dad. It’s like once you’re an adult, whatever happened, whatever trauma remains, whatever hurt remains is our responsibility, and nobody else can fix it.

That to me was so powerful.

My parents can’t fix it. They’ve never been the parents I wanted them to be, but now I can do it for myself. It doesn’t matter what they do or don’t do.

How I feel and how I’ve move forward is absolutely about me and my relationship to myself.]

Anna is a resilient daughter and an empowered woman.

[In relationship to my mom, I am able to stand in one place and she does her thing. She comes, she goes, she says mean things, she doesn’t say mean things. And I hold the same stance no matter what. And to me, that feels like resilience. I don’t stop being myself no matter what she’s throwing into the mix.

I used to call her on it and at some point, I realized it was a futile conversation because she’s a chronic liar and will say whatever she thinks I want to hear. When she is available in ways that I feel are healthy and feel good to me, I’m here, and if she’s not, I’m not.]

She’s All That

Anna is a highly successful entrepreneur who defines her own success and understands that sometimes she must destroy things to create something better.

To use “coach speak,” she can “hold the space” like no one else I’ve ever known. I’m not alone in that assessment, having spoken to several of Anna’s clients. One of them said to me: “Sometimes I would spend my hour on the phone with her just sobbing hysterically and at the end, I’d feel so much better and Anna would say, ‘It’s just what you needed and I love you’.”

She has travelled extensively, embraces the lessons each location has to offer, and translates those lessons into her business. She marries the wild to the practical.

She is obviously committed to her own personal growth and is hopeful that even though her own daughter may well end up in therapy some day, that modeling personal growth is the best and most powerful way she can mother.

She is married to a man whom she surprises on a regular basis…and he’s grateful for that.

~~~~~~~~~~

This woman has reframed her past to work for her. It no longer holds her back but is a source of clarity and motivation in her present life. Would you like to release the story that holds you back and tell yourself a new, more powerful one so you can live up to your potential?  

Reframe your past, make good on your future: The Transformational Interview.

Handling Unreasonable, Irrational, Or Downright Crazy-Ass Requests ( From You Know Who)

No-Nonsense, No-Drama, No-Guilt: The Resilient Daughter’s Guide To

…handling unreasonable, irrational, or downright crazy-ass requests from your mother (or anyone, really).

My nearly 50-year-old mother asked me if I’d be a surrogate mother for her and her current much-younger boyfriend, who wants a baby!!

She’s crazy! What a crazy-ass request. At the very least it’s unreasonable…and irrational! What is she thinking??

My head is about to explode. It’s so ICKY and wrong. Not to mention, I just had my first baby and am finally getting my body back. I don’t want to do this! I am so mad I could spit nails.

Now, that’s quite a request, but whether your mother is asking you to have a baby for her or simply to drive her to the store, oftentimes the reaction is the same, so my advice is the same.

Step 1: Take words like “unreasonable,” “irrational,” and “crazy-ass” out of the equation. You’re left with the request.

It’s your reaction to her request, and all the adjectives that you’re using to describe it, that is causing your anger…not the request itself.

Step 2: If you haven’t yet said “no” to her, you are, on some level, considering saying “yes” to your mother’s request. Ask yourself why.

Why would you say yes? 

If you’re thinking, “I don’t WANT to say yes…” ask yourself why you haven’t said “no.” And for every reason you give, ask yourself “why” again and again until you come to the underlying reason.

Step 3: Let yourself have your reasons for saying “no.”

Although it’s not necessary (or preferable) to attach your reasons to your response when you actually speak to your mother, it’s a good idea to write them all down anyway.

Don’t censor yourself. Just let it all out.

Step 4: Practice saying “no thank you” with someone who’s neutral and with whom you feel safe.

Neutral is important here if you’re truly serious about ending the drama. You don’t want someone who’s going to validate and/or stoke your righteous indignation. 

Have the person pretend to be your mother and make the request. Respond with a simple, “no thank you” (without any of the reasons you wrote down in Step 3.

Keep practicing saying “no thank you” until you no longer feel the urge or need to justify or explain it.

Step 5: Ask yourself how you want to feel when you finally do respond to her request.

Do you want to feel calm? Reasonable? Sane?

Align your thoughts with your desired feelings. What do you need to be thinking in order to feel calm, reasonable, and sane?

Step 6: Choose to feel compassion for yourself. 

Don’t heap additional pain onto yourself for having gotten nail-spitting angry. Forgive yourself for your painful reaction. A good way to do this is to simply place your hands over your heart and say it out loud: “I forgive myself for hurting myself with my anger.”

You’re now ready to respond your mother’s request.

If you want to, you can choose to explain why you’re saying “no” but remind yourself how you want to feel in the moment: calm, reasonable, and sane.

Let the reason you give her come from that place.

~~~~~~~~~~

P.S. Got a question that needs a No-Nonsense, No-Drama, No-Guilt response from me? Send it tokaren@kclanderson.com. All questions will be kept anonymous (names changed if necessary) and answers will be published in future editions of No Nonsense, No Drama, No Guilt: The Resilient Daughter’s Guide To…

{Resilient Daughter/Empowered Woman Project} Christine Claire Reed

When Christine was six she nearly drowned in a swimming pool at the Naval Base in Philadelphia.

[Someone dove on top of me. I was immediately outside my body watching it spin underwater. I felt complete and utter peace, as if I were floating in beautiful liquid crystal.]

And then she was out of the water, by the side of the pool, coughing up water.

[“Don’t tell my mother.”]

Her near-death experience is something she consciously chose to keep to herself…to separate herself from her parents.

[I knew something that they didn’t know. I never told them what happened.

It wasn’t until I was about 20 that I realized what I got from that experience…it was spiritual and I was empowered in that moment to be separate from my parents.

It belonged to me.]

There were other things she kept to herself.

[I kept doing that…I kept things secret from them. I’ve been dancing since I was little girl and I had a little basement studio that I hid from them. When they got home I would run upstairs and tell them I’d been watching TV. I had a boundary. Things that were really important to me I’d keep right here (hands over heart)…starting with that near death experience. 

I think that’s what saved my life.]

And then there was the time, when she was nine, and they were violently fighting.

[I thought…these people are crazy and I am not. I am going to be depressed for a long time, but I am not the crazy one and I will eventually be okay.]

And in her teens, when her mother threatened to leave for “the 5 millionth time”…

[…I finally said, “Just fucking go. Either shut the fuck up or leave.]

Her capacity for self-protection showed up pretty early on.

[How could I understand, at nine, that they were nuts and that I was fine?]

And then when she was 19…

[…My mother told me that when she was pregnant with me she had tried to abort me…that she had never liked me. That she thought I was trying to steal her husband. I told her I knew what she tried to do and she laughed and said, “You couldn’t have known…you were too little.”

That statement is packed: that my feelings aren’t legit…that I don’t know my own history.

The old school way of thinking about it is that anything that happens when you’re a toddler doesn’t count…doesn’t impact you. But now neuroscience shows that even womb experiences count.] 

She has struggled with how much to say about her childhood.

[Women are afraid to tell their whole stories because then people will be like, “OMG that couldn’t have happened…that’s too much.” And I think about how I edit myself, tell little stories, and am evasive or hint at things, or use general language.

“My household was violent.” What does that even mean? There’s no real open honest truth in that.

It’s a cover.

It’s shorthand. So why?

I don’t even see my parents.]

Fear is powerful and traumatic.

[I used to live with a day-to-day fear of annihilation…that I could be gotten rid of. Killed. But annihilation is more than “killed.” It’s wiped out of everyone’s memory and off the face of the earth…of never having existed.

My father threatened to kill my sister when she was a baby because he didn’t like the amount of noise she made. He threatened to kill my mother when she’d threaten to leave.

When I finally divorced my parents at the age of 33, I was terrified that he would come and find me and kill me. I hid in my house for a year. I tacked a towel up over the window in the front door.]

The story she told herself, at age 9, about the depression, came true.

[My depression was so bad…I was passively suicidal. I never did anything actively to take my life, but I just wanted to die. I thought it would be nice if I could just fall asleep and never wake up.

I spent all of my 20s and half of my 30s like that…I didn’t express myself. I kept myself repressed. I was constantly sick.

My depression story stole everything that mattered to me.

I gave up everything I loved. Theater. Dance.

My primary drive was simply to be safe with no screaming and no one abusing anyone. That was my bar for living. Super low. As low as the bar goes in Maslow’s Hierarchy Of Needs.

I also need to own the fact that I could be pretty abusive myself.]

Still, there is inside of Christine…

[…A tiny perfect spot that nothing has ever touched and nothing can ever touch and that’s the resiliency. It’s the diamond at the center. In Buddhism they call it the ground luminosity. It can never ever be ruined and it is perfect and strong and represents the eternal capacity for renewal.]

And so even though she didn’t know it consciously at the time, she relied on that ground luminosity to help her tell a different story.

[All that time that I was depressed, I still believed there was something more.

Marcy (her partner of 20 years) thinks that when I drowned I split into two…and later I became aware of it. It’s the split we all have: a higher self and a lower self. I was constantly striving to access the higher self because I was shown that it existed. That’s how the depression story slowly morphed.]

Not all of her stories have morphed. Some are still entrenched.

[Being aware of my higher self drove me to do things like yoga and journaling. I journaled my ass off. Actually writing out the story is different than speaking the story. Speaking it can re-entrench it, but writing it gets it out. So I did that for myself, although at the time, I didn’t know the efficacy of it. Blogging was also significant. It is an amazing channel of healing that most don’t understand.] 

And so now she tells a different story. A story of strength and resilience, not annihilation.

[I am extraordinarily strong and miraculously resilient. I am capable of introspection and of retelling the story.]

And here’s where Christine makes a distinction that blew me away:

[I’ve embedded my abuse story into my life’s work in that I think I had to go through…wait…I didn’t have to go through that stuff. This is tricky language.

I don’t think I chose. I don’t think my soul was sitting somewhere saying, “I want to be abused for 33 years so then I can go help others.”

That’s a load of crap.

Shit happens.

But I have managed to learn how to use what happened to me to feed my work in a positive way. 

I think it was good that I didn’t go into professional theater and dance in my early 20s because I would NOT have had the capacity to take care of myself. I probably would have been injured early on and so I wouldn’t have been able to be a life-long dancer.

So it was important that I stop at that point and then return to it so I could do it in this whole new way. So that I could share dance as a healing, expressive, spiritual art, which is what I think it really is.

It all served a purpose…but after the fact. It’s important to make that distinction. We look back and we give what happened to us meaning and purpose. It is not done to us with the intention of giving meaning and purpose.

The universe isn’t cruel. It’s neither cruel nor benevolent. It just is. But we are meaning-making machines. We thrive on needing stories. 

Believing that the universe was out to teach me something? That’s watered down spirituality.

Energy is energy…it doesn’t have intent.

My baby’s soul vibrated at a level that attracted abuse to it?? No. No. No. That’s so simplistic and it’s cruel.]

Letting go of her story was a challenge.

[We become pretty married to our stories. It’s scary to change even when we desire it.

And we identify with those stories so deeply. We identify with the pained parts of ourselves. We identify with “I’ve been hurt by someone dammit!”

It becomes an excuse…you start to identify with your brokenness so much that you’re afraid you can’t be a healed human. That you can’t be a human with agency who can make a life, right? So instead you just think, here’s my excuse.

I had this whole story that I was depressed and lazy, because I was told daily that I was lazy. So I believed it. But it was a convenient story too.

We’re not responsible for what was done to us then, but we ARE responsible for what we do now. And it’s so easy to use – “it was done to us”– to not “do.”

There’s a comfort in it. It’s not that we’re comfortable with the abuse, but we’re comfortable with sitting in our own crap.

Lethargy and apathy were my friends.]

She finally did “divorce” her parents.

[I remember lying in the tub and thinking I would not make into my 40s. The depression was that bad.

It wasn’t a divorce in an “I’m done with you” way. I gave them a choice. “You need to either do some therapeutic process with me or I can’t see you.” They chose not seeing me. 

For about a year I wouldn’t leave my house because I had panic attacks…I imagined my father coming and shooting me because I was making a choice for myself. I was delineating myself as separate from him. He’d threaten to kill my mother when she threatened to leave…I actually left.]

She was also filled with grief.

[I used to have nightmares about running into them. I’d wake up weeping. Those first years were difficult. But it was less difficult than staying. At least I was no longer destroying myself.]

Christine’s advice for resilient daughters:

[It’s common to deny your story because you desire getting past the pain of it, bypassing the difficult emotions through fraudulent forgiveness and through surface veneer spirituality practices.

So my advice it to deeply honor your story and know that the pain that was created through your experiences is not relative to the quality of the experience, but only to what you felt about it. We’re all so different neurologically so we are affected differently. Something that one person thinks of as minor could scar another deeply. Respect your scars and try not to talk about them in relation to the event that created them.

What matters is what you made it mean at the time…that’s what needs to be honored and that’s what can’t be brushed away.]

Christine is a resilient daughter and an empowered woman.

[When I am dancing I am both practicing and teaching internal spaciousness…that which is capable of holding everything at the same time. It can hold grief and the nurturing love that I did not get but which I deserved. It holds excitement and passion…possibility…horrible, horrific things…it can hold it all and none of it has the power to harm me. I can tolerate and be with anything…this is my greatest power.

If you’re alive, you’re resilient.]

She’s All That

SONY DSC

Christine is the founder of Kintsugi Dance Studio where she teaches creative movement and healing dance and writes an amazing blog at Girl On Fire. “People assume I do all of this to help others. Sure, it helps, but that’s just a repercussion of the work. I do it for me.”

She and her partner Marcy live in houses right next door to each other. This post will explain the brilliance behind the choice they made with and for each other. 

Oh, and she has a most enchanting white cat named Peony Yuki.

Christine has what she describes as a religious “Hindu/Catholic” soul. Praying the rosary brings her great comfort. She has a deep devotion to Lady of Guadalupe (“it helps me to focus on her as my Big Eternal Mother”)

She loves Hello Kitty, glitter, twinkle lights, and tutus. But she doesn’t wear makeup and keeps her graying hair androgynously short. “I’m also very vain…people will be really surprised to know that! I get it from my mother.”

She “eats books” (it was one of the ways I escaped my childhood”) and is fascinated by people who are focused and who go to extremes.

When I asked her what she is most proud of she said, “I don’t take the time to celebrate…I finish something and then I’m on to the next thing.” But later she emailed me and said: “I am proud of being stubborn. I never freaking give up. This is a huge part of resiliency. I might be pissy and hard-assed but I am also eternally optimistic for my own and humanity’s capacity for renewal. I am SUPER PROUD of all the FEARS I have overcome! Silly me. Like the first time I went to a training at Kripalu, I had to overcome a massive number of fears, including leaving my home, traveling on my own, going somewhere I’ve never been, doing something totally new, etc. YAY!”

Learn more about The Resilient Daughter/Empowered Woman Project.

~~~~~~~~~~

This woman has reframed her past to work for her. It no longer holds her back but is a source of clarity and motivation in her present life. Would you like to release the story that holds you back and tell yourself a new, more powerful one so you can live up to your potential?  

Reframe your past, make good on your future: The Transformational Interview.

 

How To Deal With An Overly Negative Mother

No-Nonsense, No-Drama, No-Guilt: The Resilient Daughter’s Guide To

…dealing with an overly negative mother.

I think we all know someone like this, even if it isn’t our mothers. I’m talking about the person who, even if you happen to agree with them on the subject at hand, it’s their hyper-critical, judgmental tone that seems to make you want to disagree (and roll your eyes behind her back).

A client recently told me about a situation in which her mother was being all Judgy McJudgerson about another family member. My client, who has been working on having good boundaries with her mother said,

“While I handled the situation better this time than I have in the past, I still felt very irritated with my mother. I think what bothered me the most was her lack of compassion and verbal spitefulness. She doesn’t always respect me when I tell her that I don’t want to hear about it or that I am not open to discussing the subject. But I felt very triggered. How can I diffuse a situation like that and get her to stop being so negative??

Two things to consider first: 

1. What’s your motivation in wanting to correct your mother and/or “diffuse” the situation? Why are you making that your responsibility?

2. We don’t actually have triggers (that someone else pulls) or buttons (that someone else pushes), all we have is our thoughts (which we get to choose). Your thoughts are that your mother is negative and spiteful. And that is what’s causing your irritation.

Now, that’s not to say that you should just sit there and listen to her if that’s not what you want to do

You are not responsible for agreeing with her…for engaging with her…for correcting her.

You ARE responsible for understanding and honoring your preferences.

You are allowed to have them. You are allowed to not like what you don’t like. Without needing to explain why.

But rather than trying to explain your preferences, or blaming your mother for your irritation, you can manage your thoughts from a proactive place versus a reactive one.

This is the kind of situation that calls for taking action to meet your own desires, preferences, and needs rather than expecting your mother to change.

Your mother gets to be Judgy McJudgerson if that’s who she wants to be. Allow her that.

And you get to…what? Change the subject? Get up and walk away? Say nothing? You choose.

P.S. Got a question that needs a No-Nonsense, No-Drama, No-Guilt response from me? Send it to karen@kclanderson.com. All questions will be kept anonymous (names changed if necessary) and answers will be published in future editions of No Nonsense, No Drama, No Guilt: The Resilient Daughter’s Guide To…

~~~~~~~~~~

“She transforms her own dark into her own light. She sees her private shadows – and loves them. She meets her emotional depths – and owns them. She faces her private fears of separation – and rises above the illusions. She is the source of her Self and she is always in a state of greater becoming.” ~ Molly McCord 

Cuz she’s the boss. (Can I get a “hell yes”!?)

{Resilient Daughter/Empowered Woman Project} Edyn O.

{When the idea for The Resilient Daughter/Empowered Woman Project came to me, Edyn – who chose to remain anonymous – is the first person I wanted to interview. Hers was probably the greatest influence in me choosing to want to develop my own resilience.}

Edyn is truthful and genuine.

She also spent many of the early years of her life lying.

[I had to be a child who had no problems. And so I lied to my mother all the time in order to keep her happy and to please her.]

She lives the both/and concept of “strong back/soft front.” This concept is described by Buddhist Roshi Joan Halifax as the relationship between equanimity and compassion. “Strong back” is equanimity and the capacity to uphold yourself. “Soft front” is the ability to be open to things as they are.

And yet, she used to believe that her relationship with her mother was an either/or: either complete enmeshment or total abandonment.

[She neglected me when I was a child because she was depressed, but when I became an adult, she became needy and clingy and wanted to be part of everything I did. She wanted to be involved in every facet of my life.]

Edyn knows the power of a better story.

[I am not responsible for how she feels. Healthy boundaries serve both of us and our relationship.]

Yet, for years she told herself a story that robbed her of her integrity because she was lying and pretending.

[I told myself that I needed to be good, to please her, that I need to lie to her so she could maintain a facade and be happy. I told myself that I was responsible for how she felt, and that I needed to make sure she felt good. I told myself I was a bad daughter if I wasn’t complying with everything she wanted.]

Edyn is full of authentic joy. Each and every time I speak with her, I hear lightness and effervescence in her voice.

And yet, she knows resentment intimately.

[I was filled with resentment because she wasn’t there when I needed her as a child, and now here she was, suffocating me. I hated it and wanted it all at the same time. I still blame her for my resentment a lot of the time…not in a general way, but I give her credit for it, like she’s causing me to be bad a bad daughter.]

Edyn understands that a truly meaningful life includes feeling (literally feeling…not just the idea of feeling…emotions that are not comfortable.

[I still struggle with the idea that I want a close relationship with her but I don’t always understand how to do that in a way without falling back into old patterns of believing I have to please her and make her happy. But I do my work and I keep myself in a space where I know that I am responsible for how I feel and she’s responsible for how she feels. That has been tremendously helpful for me.]

She’s compassionate. She can also be loud, boisterous, and a bit sarcastic. And she loves all of that about herself.

Edyn knows that her mother was the perfect mother for her.

[Because she was my mother, I became strong and independent. I worked hard and did very well. I am bright and capable. I love that about myself now…and because she was my mother (not in spite of) but because, that helped me become who I am.]

Her mother taught her two important lessons:

[The lesson she taught me on purpose is that I could be whatever I wanted to be and that I should never be dependent on anyone else. The lesson that she taught me, NOT on purpose is that no matter what happens to us, we can create the lives we want. We are not victims.]

Edyn is also a champion at setting boundaries.

[The first major boundary I set with my mother is when I told her, “I want you to know that my relationship with my family has to be separate from my relationship with you, and there are lots of events that we won’t invite you to, but we will let you know when you are welcome.”]

And setting boundaries continues to be her biggest challenge.

[Biggest challenge now? Setting boundaries, resetting boundaries, and enforcing boundaries. And when I don’t set boundaries she ends up feeling angry and frustrated with me…and sometimes I still take on “I’m not a good daughter.” And then I remind myself, “If she’s upset at me, it’s not a reflection of me.”]

She is just like her mother.

[I am often controlling like she is…she tries to control the universe and so do I. We like the same things. We like nice meals, hiking, going to movies. We like to be in charge of everything. We’re both interested in having things be well done, classy, and proper.]

She is also very different. 

[I am independent, strong, and self motivated. She’s not. She never worked and had little ambition. She is afraid of a lot of things while I am risk taker.]

And there are ways in which she is not like her mother, but wishes she was!

[She’s detail oriented…the way she prepares meals, the way she wraps the present, the way she makes the bed. I admire that and I am not that way. She’s thoughtful. I am casual and lackadaisical.]

What Edyn most wants her mother to know:

[I spent my whole life trying to please her (lying) and now when I don’t, it has nothing to do with how much I love her or not, it’s just about me taking care of myself.

I want her to know that, sure, it would be easier for me to lie to her and pretend, but I would be risking my integrity. We might not be as “close” as a result, but I am smart enough to know that I can’t blame her. It’s a choice I am making versus something that is not available to me.]

How she consciously chooses to parent:

[I am available, I talk to my children about everything, I want to know their struggle and pain, and they know they don’t have to pretend with me.

But you know what? I do relate to how she must have felt when I was a kid, because I desperately want them to be doing well. I want them to do well in school, have friends, and be happy for my own benefit. I really see that.

I am more engaged with my kids not because of the way my mother was but because of the child I was.]

Edyn chooses to mother herself this way:

[I give myself space and understanding and unconditional love and approval.]

She is most proud of the fact that…

[The legacy of victimization and pain in women in my family will stop with me…and that was very hard-earned.]

Edyn is a resilient daughter and an empowered woman.

[Resilience is the willingness to continue working on the relationship. It’s so exhausting to do it, and it would be so easy NOT to do it. To say, “Forget it, I’m not going to do it” and what that may look like is going back to lying and people pleasing, or completely shutting your mother out of your life.

Resilience is the willingness to go at it again, to try it again, to keep trying even though it’s so exhausting and exasperating.

Is the pain of not doing it worse than the pain of doing it? Yes because the pain of not doing it doesn’t allow for the growth that is necessary for evolving.]

Edyn’s advice for Resilient Daughters:

[Start taking responsibility for your part/role in the relationship. Your relationship with your mother is not just about your mother – it’s about YOU and how you are in relationship to her. That is something you have complete control and power over. It’s easy to understand intellectually but you really live that and understand it in a way that you can apply it… and it is worth every ounce of effort.

It’s not necessary for you to remove her from your life in order to have peace with her…it’s not necessary for her to pass away, it’s not necessary that you be on non-speaking terms with her for you to be at peace.

The reason most women don’t do the work is because they’re afraid, they’re resentful, and they’re exhausted. I’m not saying that in some cases, that there aren’t mothers who shouldn’t be in their daughter’s lives because certainly there are situations where that is true. But that’s a whole different scenario than cutting your mother out of your life because you’re tired and afraid.]

She’s All That

Edyn is a highly successful entrepreneur.

She is a published author.

Her favorite job (other than what she does now) was giving horseback riding lessons and leading trail rides.

She is married and says that getting married helped her see what a healthy relationship is all about…what a marriage can be and should be.

She actively practices shame resiliency.

She laughs often and freely. Her laugh is infectious.

Learn more about The Resilient Daughter/Empowered Woman Project.

~~~~~~~~~~

This woman has reframed her past to work for her. It no longer holds her back but is a source of clarity and motivation in her current life, and as she moves forward. Would you like to release the story that holds you back and tell yourself a new, more powerful one so you can live up to your potential?  

Reframe your past, make good on your future: The Transformational Interview.

 

 

{Resilient Daughter/Empowered Woman Project} Dianne Daniels

She is tall, poised, striking. She is an image consultant and speaker. She has a confidence that comes from a deep place within her…there’s no shallow facade.

This is my consistent experience of Dianne, whom I have known for at least 10 years.

And if you know her today, you’d never guess that at a young age, Dianne experienced incest at the hands of her father and older brother (both of whom are deceased).

[It didn’t hurt and I wasn’t scared. I’ve heard so many survivor stories filled with violence and shame and other awful things, but none of that was true for me. I didn’t make it mean anything about me.]

After her father died when she was nine, Dianne’s relationship with her mother was one of contrasts and contradictions.

[My mother was both my best friend and my harshest critic. I worshipped the ground she walked on. She could do no wrong. And then I found out she was human and that she didn’t have all the answers…it was partly over time that I realized this, but I think it started when I understood that if I had told her about what happened to me, I am not sure if she would or could have done anything to stop it.

As I grew up, I learned that I better not disagree or say certain things…because if my mother didn’t like you, you were done. She was a yeller and her tongue was so sharp it could cut you to ribbons. She was famous for saying, “It’s my house, my rules. If you don’t like it, let the doorknob hit you where the good Lord split you. Goodbye.” I didn’t want to risk it.]

I felt like I never quite measured up and at the same time, especially later in life, she was proud of me for achieving what she herself hadn’t been able to.]

Dianne used to take a lot of what her mother said personally.

[She said the worst thing I could be was fat, black, and nappy-headed. I was all of those things. Food = love. Whoever got the most was loved the most. So I tried to keep up with my older brother.]

Now she tells herself a better story.

[Inside of me is a stubborn refusal to blindly accept other people’s definitions of who I am. And the world needs that.]

Although she grew up with the black-and-white “you’re either with me or against me” attitude of her mother, Dianne chooses to embrace shades of gray.

[I am more likely to accept someone’s difference of opinion with me without throwing them out of my life. For instance, I have some good friends with whom I have many political differences of opinion. That doesn’t mean they can’t be my friends, it means we have a difference of opinion, and that’s okay. My mother tended to “cut people off” if they didn’t agree with her most of the time – this included her children!]

Like many daughters who have become mothers, Dianne made a choice to parent differently than she was parented.

[I made a conscious decision that my kids could disagree with me if they wanted to.]

(Dianne’s daughter, Ariana, who sat in on the interview, verified this: “She may not always agree with me, but she always respects me.”)

She also consciously chooses to mother herself:

[I do this by being selfish in a healthy way. I grew up thinking I had to do for others before I could do for myself. Doing something just for me wasn’t in anyone’s vocabulary. Now I take classes that I enjoy, just because; I cook and eat food that is not only healthy for me, but also because I really LIKE cooking; I buy clothing that flatters my “right now” body, not the one I wish I had or the one I’m working towards. I chose my latest hairdo (dreadlocks) and I KNOW my mother would have disapproved, but that’s okay – I wanted them.

I choose to support causes and organizations that I believe in, not necessarily what my friends agree with, or my husband agrees with. I have the right to do what I want to do with MY money – and choose where it’s spent.]

Dianne’s advice for resilient daughters:

[You are not your mother! You have a different frame of reference, different experiences, and that’s okay. You do not have to be defined by your mother…or by anything that has happened to you. Also? Mothers are human. They make mistakes.]

Dianne is a resilient daughter and an empowered woman.

[Resilience is being able to define yourself as a separate and independent person while acknowledging your mother’s example and influence.]

She’s All That

dianne Dianne is The Diva Style Coach“an irrationally passionate coach, consultant, and speaker  whose heart’s desire is to help remove the stigma surrounding weight-loss surgery and     empower patients to achieve more than physical weight loss.”

She is married to Aaron, mother to Ron and Ariana, and stepmother to Christopher.

She grew up in Detroit, MI.

She serves as the Democrat Registrar of Voters in her home city of Norwich, CT, where she has lived since 1993.

She says she “came out of her shell” at the age of 12 when her mother took her to a taping of Kelly & Co. (WXYZ-TV in Detroit) and the newscaster handed her a microphone and asked her a question. “I got that microphone in my hand and I wouldn’t shut up.” The question? “How do you feel good about yourself when people talk bad about you?” Even then she was searching for answers to low self-esteem and little did she know she’d be building a business later in life around that very subject!

She loves old houses (she owns and lives in one that was built in 1850) and is known for her trademark high heels.

Learn more about The Resilient Daughter/Empowered Woman Project.

~~~~~~~~~~

This woman has reframed her past to work for her. It no longer holds her back but is a source of clarity and motivation in her present life. Would you like to release the story that holds you back and tell yourself a new, more powerful one so you can live up to your potential?  

Reframe your past, make good on your future: The Transformational Interview.

 

On Desire, Preference + How I Stopped (Am Stopping) Letting Guilt Run The Show

This is one of those blog posts that started off being about one thing and has slowly morphed into something deeper. Much, much deeper.

At first I was going to write about this this thing I do, that I don’t want to do any more, and how I overcame it.

And then, when I realized that I hadn’t really overcome it, I was like, well shit, what do I say now?

(And that’s pretty much why I haven’t blogged in a long time).

So this thing I do, that I don’t want to do anymore: I get tense and reactive (and sometimes downright panicky) when I am a passenger on my husband’s motorcycle (and sometimes when he’s driving a car, but not nearly as much).

All it takes is one little thing, like suspecting that another driver might pull out in front of us…and, at the very least I start flinching and at the very worse I become annoying and controlling.

A few years ago it became a source of tension between us. He’d be frustrated because he thought I was criticizing his skills, and I’d be frustrated because I felt that he didn’t enjoy having me as a passenger and that I was ruining all his fun.

Actually, I was hurt.

It’s not like I ever held him back from riding on his own – in fact, I encourage it.

So why couldn’t he just dial it back when I am passenger? Well, of course he dials it back when I am a passenger, but not to the point where I feel comfortable. It’s the only thing we’ve ever really fought about.

And let me just take a moment and say that I trust my husband more than anyone else in the world. He is a seriously skilled, confident, considerate, aware, intelligent driver/rider who understands his vehicles both mechanically and in terms of what they are capable of doing, and he takes very good care of them to ensure that they are running properly and safely.

He is not a “jerk” on the road.

But all the logic and trust in the world didn’t seem to help.

And so, over the past several years, he has done a lot of riding on his own, and that is fine with me.

Earlier this year he asked me if I’d like to go with him in early September on one of his regular rides to New Hampshire. We talked about it and he assured me that he’d ride conservatively and I assured him that I wouldn’t be tense and reactive.

He rode conservatively and I still wasn’t comfortable. I didn’t enjoy myself and neither did he.

We had several conversations about it. He wanted to know how he could make it better for me and I was starting to realized that there was probably nothing he could do.

It’s only in hindsight that I see the sadness and guilt I was feeling.

When we got back, I thought to myself, “I need to fix this. I need to change my thoughts so I can change how I feel so I can change my annoying behavior. Or maybe this is more of a fight/flight thing? How can I make it so that I actually enjoy the ride (versus just tolerating it)?”

With the help of a colleague I examined the whole thing, had some ah-ha moments, and felt a lot better.

A week or so later I suggested to my husband that we take a shorter ride up to Narragansett, RI, (about an hour from where we live) and have lunch. It was a gorgeous day and I was envisioning a nice relaxing ride and a romantic lunch.

We got about two towns away and I burst into tears…

I asked him to pull over and said, “I don’t think I can do this.” We turned around and went home.

Again, there was incredible guilt and sadness on my part.

That was over a month ago and it’s been weighing on my mind ever since.

Yes, it’s partly a control thing. It’s partly that it’s kind of boring because it’s hard to see when you’re sitting behind someone…and there’s nothing to do but sit there in one rather limited position. And it’s partly a “feeling safe” thing: the only point of contact between me and the motorcycle is my bum on the seat and my feet on the pegs. I am perched on it (whereas Tim has his hands on the handlebars, his legs around the bike…he becomes one with it).

And all of that adds up to the real reason for the sadness and guilt: I just don’t like it.

The sadness and guilt comes from not loving something my husband loves and for not wanting to do it with him, for not enjoying it…and all that I make that mean.

And so rather than just accepting and owning my preference, I was trying to control the way he was riding, I beating myself up for not being able to “manage my fear,” and for thinking that I “couldn’t” do it.

I was making myself wrong over and over and over again.

And I’ve done this to myself in myriad ways since I was a little girl.

And so I am making a vow to myself: I am giving myself permission to not like what I don’t like, to allow myself to have desires and preferences without guilt, and to honor those desires and preferences without justification and without fear of what others might think of me. Or that they might not love me.

Oh, and about the motorcycle versus car thing? Because I truly enjoy riding in his car, it’s much easier for me to manage my mind and thus my controlling back-seat-driver behavior.

Do you allow yourself to not like what you don’t like without guilt? Do you allow yourself to have desires and preferences without justification? Tell me all about it!