This is a really long post where I coach myself out of anger and into fear; covering many vulnerabilities and odd thoughts. Uncensored.
Warning: incredibly long post with a hell of a lot of vulnerabilities and code-names in use. Please be incredibly careful in any comments to double-check your meaning and how you express yourself; this is a major aspect of my insecurities and I’m posting them here in the hope that others can use these tools to help themselves.
Nearly every link is to The Fluent Self, which is a truly wonderful blog full of amazingly helpful tools.
Exams are looming, the house is getting tense – three of us with exams, one finishing her Masters portfolio… tension is running high and that sense of urgency is tugging at my every move.
This is not a good time to be reminded of how little people respect other people’s time and space.
I remember a day when “in a minute” meant.. “in the next minute or two”.
Or do i?
Has any parent said “just a minute” and then taken a minute? Has anyone ever said just a minute, meant it AND followed through with a concrete action to match their promise?
Or is everyone guilty of this lie; this deception. Actions speak louder than words and I’m at the end of my tether with this maxim that sociolinguist Grice investigated in 1975. The four maxims of speech which mustn’t be violated: quality, manner, quantity, and relation.
I wrote about this in my dissertation, and although not many people know about them academically; if you ask someone a question, you expect honesty.
Maybe it’s just me – if you ask for the time and I lied; it would probably annoy you a bit. If I said the price of something was low and it was high; you’d probably wish I hadn’t lied.
Why is the maxim of honesty so important in some aspects of life – work or the law, yet not in relations with friends and family?
If you were one minute late to work, even if you were a minute late A LOT of the time; I think you’d be let off.
To say you’d be somewhere in a minute and still not be there 25 minutes later probably wouldn’t go down so easily. Especially not if it’s your pattern; if you do it a lot.
This is especially upsetting when I’ve been told to wait for a minute – meaning that I believe I can’t start anything long-term because you’ll interrupt my work and since I asked you to come in; I wouldn’t be able to complain. So wasting that 25 minutes waiting; especially when I’ve exams to revise for, class plans to draw up, books to read and so forth upsets me.
Similarly to saying you’ll be somewhere at a time – I head to the meeting place at that time, and then find out you’re still in bed.
Is this a disease of the youth of today? How can we be on time for work yet put the people who mean something to us through so much? How can you value your boss’s schedule more than your loved ones? And why lie about it?
And this is where I notice the hurt, the monsters, and remember to engage in the conversation. I step outside, having waited 25 minutes for no reason. I walk back to the bus stop as my friend is still in bed. I sign offline when she was an hour late at coming online. And the void is there; that space where I can see the hurt, rather than just feel it.
I see that fear called kitten, cowering in a feeling of unsafety; and step over to give her some milk.
I look around for the systems; those things in place to keep me feeling safe, wherever I am. A lot of these have arisen from tools mentioned at The Fluent Self; such as the Hello Day exercise, knowledge about Safe Rooms and the V Formation, or general destuckification basics. However, I have my own in place – the knowledge that opening the window, having a dance or taking a moment to centre can resolve the external anger to reveal the pain beneath it.
Calm Me: You look scared and hurt. What are you feeling?
Kitten: Betrayed. Worthless. Obviously not deserving of someone’s time; or their honesty. Humans lie in order to manipulate. I’m confused as to why someone would choose to manipulate someone they’re supposed to consider a friend/family.
Calm Me: What are the causes of these feelings; how do they arise?
Kitten: I’m worth less than whatever took that 25 minutes, that lie-in or that hour of lateness. I’m obviously not worth their time. There’s a lack of respect – that forgetfulness that I have a life to live; I have to use my time effectively. Time is Precious.
Calm Me: Where could this forgetfulness have come from?
Kitten: They could be engrossed in their work; but then say “not now”. They probably had good intentions, but actions speak louder than words and all three people in these situations do it ALL the time.
Calm Me: All the time? Are you sure love? Can you think of examples?
Kitten: Yes.. although some had good reasons; like the water pipe bursting is a good excuse(*) for being late. But some of the others don’t seem to have any reason.
Calm Me: What about their own state of mind?
Kitten: Everyone has a responsibility to be aware of their state and to make decisions in accordance with it. If I’m in a bad mood or busy, I say no to intrusions or tiring aspects of activity.
Calm Me: I can see you feel really strongly about this. What can we do to make these behaviours less like thrown shoes?
Kitten: Never trust people again. They’re all liars and mindless – never taking a moment to see how they are, to consider what they’ve just given their word to do or taking into consideration the reasons people have asked for their help at this moment.
Calm me: Ooookay… I can see you’re in a space of “all about them”. Let’s take a step back and focus it back on us. This is our REACTION to someone else’s Actions. We’re only responsible for our side so how can we put a system in place to change this reaction?
The Next Steps
Calm Me: So we’re hurt, betrayed, distrusting, confused and feeling useless/worthless and scared. How could we, for example, tackle confusion?
Kitten: … Ask them why they did it?
Calm Me: And if they were confused?
Kitten: Be more specific?
Calm Me: Maybe change the wording – “hey, can we do this at X time BECAUSE I need to do y by Z time”?
Kitten: Or check before leaving the house that they ARE at the space before I go there to meet them?
Calm Me: That’s it.. And for the other situation?
Kitten: Put a note saying ‘great, but please let me know if you’ll be late as I need to use my time effectively?’
This sounds like a lot of work.
Calm Me: It does. How can we make this less work?
Kitten: Just have shitty expectations?
Calm Me: … … …
Kitten: -sigh- I don’t know. I still vote for never trusting people again. It’s so much easier.
Calm Me: Do you really want to cling to all that negativity and have it brought up every time you ask someone to do something with you?
Kitten: We could stop asking people. Just ignore them all.
Calm Me: We’re not making progress here… -looks around for a new system tool; hoping to find a negotiator-
Enter the Negotiator
Calm Me: Wow, you look a lot like a kit-kat doing Shivanata. Oooh.. I see. Shivanata. Unravelling the patterns of hurt and stuckness.
Negotiator: -nods- I see a lot of statements up there ^. Are they true? What is true?
Calm Me: Kitten? When we were reading last night, what did we see?
Kitten: “We often hear people say: This world is ruthless and if you want to survive you must become ruthless too. I humbly disagree with this contention. This world is what we have made of it. If it is ruthless today it is because we have made it ruthless by our attitudes” – Arun Gandhi, NVC, 2003.
Negotiator: So… what is true? What’s also true?
Kitten: These are old feelings.
Calm Me: And where are they from?
Kitten: The past. It’s different now?
Kitten: I’m in a safe place. I have a lock on my door. Now is not Then.
Negotiator: What else is true?
Kitten: I’m not defined by that feeling of worthlessness anymore. It’s no longer insinuated that I am in fact a disappointing excuse for a human.
Negotiator: Indeed. You’re surrounded by compassionate people who love you, and you know that you bring a huge amount of worth to their lives. Everyone automatically has a minimum worth, in my book.
Negotiator: You always had worth. Deal with it. Now what else is true?
Calm Me: I live with nice people? Safe people.
Kitten: …who won’t hit us or call us names or tell us how stupid [or worthless] we are.
Negotiator: That’s true. What else is true?
Kitten: We’re able to think for ourselves. Freedom of speech. Except not.
Calm Me: Still limited, but not completely shot down for having alternate views..
We have the tools! We find the tools.
Negotiator: What else is true?
Kitten: We have the tools to deal with this.
Negotiator: That’s a good truth.
Calm Me: I like that one.
Negotiator: Me too. So which tools?
Kitten: I don’t want to say; else it may take away the power.
Negotiator: Okay, let’s use code names.
Calm Me: SILENT RETREAT! -runs away-
Negotiator: -smiles- haha, yeah. And?
Kitten: Books. Worlds of imagination to dive into and those special manuals.
Calm Me: and mindfulness- meditation or reiki.
Excited Me: and Shivanata!
Kitten: W00t w00t, dat is da sound of da pol-ice!!! W00p!
Negotiator: Great. So how can we set these up to best support us?
Kitten: Metaphor Mouse? And.. plans. Treasure Maps and Finding Clews! -runs off to grab colouring pens-
– – – * * * – – –
So, Calm-now-Excited-Me and Kitten are off to make a new system:
The Lighthouse system of Emblazing Penguin. Or something.
What systems could you use? What’s true? What statements of untruth dictate your life? Do you keep your word?
(*) Here, excuse is used as it originially meant “a reason to be excused” – it is NOT derogatory or negative, but neutral until placed in context. Here, it’s positive – it’s a valid reason thus a positive excuse.