A lot of us tend to find ourselves in the same old emotion-charged scenes over and over again. We get cast as the same roles repeatedly and then assume the corresponding emotional stance. There’s the irresponsible crazy one, the perfect one, the bad one, the slutty one, the disappointing one, etc. The crazy thing about it is, we’re the ones deciding to play it. It’s something deep inside us that thwarts us into a role. But we don’t have to.
For example, imagine you are very excited to share news about a recent accomplishment. You share this with a parent and they immediately tell you about something they accomplished. Here are a few roles you can play:
• The never-good-enough child that just can’t win, “No matter how much I achieve, it’s just never enough. They don’t care about me or my feelings.”
• The uber-successful businessperson that takes time out of their busy day to spend with their silly old parents, “They’re a bit out of touch but it’s cute when they try to impress me.”
• Or, the super-close-friends-with-my-parents person, but they’re competitive over-achievers, “I’ll never win at anything, they’re so smart and perfect.”
It’s not that our role is not influenced by real factors around us but the majority of it comes from something inside of us. A belief we still hold somewhere very deep inside ourselves will be triggered, and suddenly we are placed in this very old and familiar context, like a stage and lights rendered around us in an instant. These roles are old and confusing: they conflict with our current understanding about ourselves and the tapping on this old wound tends to offend us.
The next time you’re in a situation that brings you back to a familiar role, stop and decide not to play it. Take a step back and rethink the angle. Try to assume that the person who triggered you meant you no harm at all. As an exercise try to see it as the opposite of whatever you thought they meant by saying it. If that doesn’t work, try to remind yourself that you have no idea what goes on in people’s minds and therefore whatever you think they meant is probably a total misinterpretation. Next imagine yourself as calm and loving, and remind yourself about who you really are. No one can touch that. If you feel you’re not being treated the right way, it’s unfortunate but do not assume the role. Stay in your place. If you don’t understand their motivation, let it go. Could be anything.
If it helps, begin to take objective mental notes about the conversation so that you can talk about it with a friend later. Emotionally check out so that you can study it from a bubble of objectivity. When you feel that someone is intentionally trying to hurt you don’t let it penetrate, just observe it from inside your protected person as though a scientist observing an experiment. If you can, redirect the conversation toward something else.
When we spend many years with people it can be hard to recognize it when they change and we tend to return to patterns and rhythms that are set over time. You don’t have to return to any pattern or rhythm and you don’t have to play the same role. It just takes staying connected to your self and being open to seeing old situations and relationships from a different angle. You’d be surprised at how your vision of others will change as you get older. When you shed old selves and grow to know and love yourself, it’s almost as if you can see new facets and layers to others. You grow more compassionate and you appreciate the humanity of even the unkind: there’s something almost sweetly sad about every bristle and thorn.
In truth no one controls who you are except you. No one can make you feel sad or worthless or stupid or unloved, as long as you love yourself. Make a commitment to protect yourself, to cherish yourself, and to always remember who you are. You are nothing but who you decide to be. Be great and be loving.
Happy Sunday everyone… xox Sarah