The situation is neutral — it only becomes a positive experience or a negative experience according to the energy you impose upon it.
The circumstance is neutral — it is your perspective that turns it into a mess or a blessing.
Whenever I consider the power that one experiences from allowing the situation to be neutral, I am reminded of Nelson Mandela. In fact, as I was writing this Note, I learned that he had a quote taped to the wall of his prison cell: “I am the master of my fate. I am the captain of my soul.”
I have a small example of my own. This happened a few years ago. After throwing the 2nd wheel bearing in two days on our trailer (our home), and after being stranded on the shoulder of Interstate 35 north of Kansas City for a couple of hours, and after a mechanic arrived and chained the axle with the damaged wheel to the other trailer axle, I was pulling the trailer with only 3 of its 4 tires on the ground, and I was prepared to be really freaked out. Actually, I was well on my way to being freaked out. Oh my god! This is terrible!!
Then I decided to change my perspective. Why be freaked out? Was there something inherent in the situation that required me to be freaked out? Driving slowly, pulling my disabled trailer, I decided not to be freaked out. I decided to try gratitude instead.
Just like that, a situation that had been fraught with tension and anxiety became a situation filled with gratitude and curiosity. Just like that.
I am the master of my fate. I am the captain of my soul.
Here’s one thing I know about shame: IT’S NOT YOURS.
You only have it because someone gave it to you. It’s what we tend to do with shame — we pass it on. That’s what the person who belittles another is doing, he’s passing on the shame he was given. Like a hot potato, someone tossed it to him, and he’s tossing it on to someone else.
But there’s something better to do with shame than pass it to another. Send it back to where it originated. Say, for example, that you were given shame by (you were shamed by) your minister or priest. Do you send it back to him? Probably not, since, as you know, it wasn’t his to begin with. He got it from someone else before he gave it to you. You cannot know where the shame originated — every “gift” of shame you’ve been given has its origins in the murky mists of long ago. But you don’t need to know where it originated. You just need to send it back.
How do you send it back? It’s actually simple. When you get that icky feeling of shame, you recognize it for what it is, and you say: “This is not mine; it was given to me. I send it back to where it originated.” Maybe you’ll feel inclined to imagine it somehow going back — such as a smelly vapor flowing away. That’s fine, but you needn’t imagine anything. Just send it back to where it originated. Make the statement and send it back.
If you dance with shame a lot, you might find yourself sending it back many, many, many times a day, at least to begin with. The more you send it back, the less of it you have. If you’re diligent with sending it back, you’ll feel the results pretty quick. Keep it up. Send it back every time you feel it. Send it back so you don’t have to live with that icky feeling. Send it back so you don’t toss it onto someone else.
I know it’s been a long time since Tenacity Notes #229, but things happened.
The first thing that happened was autumn. I was staggered by the beauty of the far northland. Possessed by it. Stunned. I could do little, other than be awed. Then Lena, my feline companion of 20 years, died. While not unexpected, her death was stunning in its own way.
But in spite of all that, I found myself thinking about shame.
Perhaps you know someone (or your own self) who tends to belittle others; someone who is judgmental of others; someone who is arrogant; someone who seems paralyzed when faced with a decision; someone who says one thing but means another — who’s words and energy don’t match; someone who explodes in rage; someone who blames others for their problems; someone who is overly nice.
Chances are better than good that such a person knows shame. I was going to say such a person indulges in shame, but that statement has to wait until I discuss a thing or two I know about shame. Later.
“Guilt is just an inside-out way of feeling good about yourself by saying how bad you feel, and I don’t have any time for it. Taking responsibility is something different.” ~ Dan
We move from good to better. We move from success to greater success.
Some of us focus on what is wrong, on what we haven’t done right, and we hope that our negative focus will spur us to do better. But we’re much more likely to do better if we allow ourselves to HAVE what is GOOD, if we can acknowledge what is right in our life or in the situation.
And a corollary – I am good enough. It may be true that I could do/be better, but it is also true that I am good enough. Truly.
If I am good enough, I have the heart to be better. If I am truly good enough, I am encouraged. If I am not good enough, I am only discouraged.
Another corollary – you have nothing to prove.
Did I tell you that I’m learning to knit (better)?
Many of you wrote to me about my attempt to love someone I cannot love. All of you said something on the order of: the one you cannot love is an aspect of you.
I understand that to mean that the one I cannot love is a mirror; that if I look at the quality I despise in her, I will see a quality that I also carry.
Well, (hem and haw) that’s true. No question about it. Even if her action may be an action I wouldn’t take, I can clearly identify some essential quality behind or beneath her action as something we share.
Then it must follow that if I am to love her, I will also love myself!