Tuesday, September 30, 2008

letting people be who they are

Mountain goat in Glacier National Park
Copyright (c) 2007 Wendee Holtcamp

"Fortune favors the audacious."
-Desiderius Erasmus

I am sitting outside in my backyard and it's an absolutely glorious sunny day, no humidity - amazing for Houston - it's just gorgeous today. This morning my daughter had minor outpatient surgery to have her ear tube removed that was put in there when she was a toddler. Normally they fall out naturally but this one didn't so she had to have it removed. She did great. She's back home now.

I'm working on my Louisiana pine snake article and catching up on feedback to the journals from my Online Nature/Environment Writing Class (next one starts Sep 20!). I love the journals, because my students come from all over the world and it's so interesting to read about everyone's neck of the woods. In their Outdoor Observation Journals, I have students observe and write about the sights, sounds, smells, and even the feelings they have (touch, but also emotions) that come as a result of being outside. I always find it interesting how no matter how far away they get - in a nature preserve or park - it seems they just can't escape human development all around. Even those who hike out miles away and sit and do the journal will still write about the sounds of an airplane overhead, or dogs barking in the distance, or helicopters, or smell cigarette smoke of someone nearby. We are part of it, connected to it, but we don't always respect and care for it.

On another note, I've been reading in this book about the "three gets" of Al-Anon. I don't attend Al-Anon meetings but am very familiar with codependency issues, as many people raised in chaotic and dysfunctional homes, as I was, have some of these traits. I have dealt with a lot of it, but it's a process! Anyway, so these are the 3 gets which I just found really interesting:

1. Get off your partner's back - basically stop responding to what they are doing, suggesting things, trying to change them, and let them be themselves and do their own thing.
2. Get out of your partner's way - don't give advice or negative feedback. You make your partner's behavior none of your business.
3. Get on with your life - deal with your own issues.

These would seem to be pretty tough sugestions if you're in an active relationship especially if the partner is an alcoholic, addict, or has other big issues! But one thing I have found really interesting is the statement that every person has the right to exist exactly as they are in the world. And when we let go of our wishes and expectations and get on with our own lives, sometimes the things we want come to us naturally. Sometimes we have to reach out and let the person know how much we care, but ultimately we have to let go of the illusion of control and let people be themselves, and let them know who they are is ok. And of course, we also have the right to choose our response to that person's behavior. Maybe we want to end the relationship or friendship or put it on hold. We can state our preferences, but often people tend to say the same thing over and over...which typically does not do much good and often has the opposite effect because the other person sees you're not really serious because you say you don't like it but you continue to tolerate it! All I know is that letting go and letting God is way easier said than done. And this is one of the favorite pieces of advice I've gotten about love, "Love the other person more than you love yourself."

Another thing I've read is that part of the problem with the world is that parents try to change kids: Don't be angry. Be nice. Don't lie. They give the message that part of their natural humanity is "bad" when all these things are natural parts of human behavior. As Debbie Ford wrote in her latest book, when can that tendency to lie help someone? Maybe for a little kid that you're telling not to lie ever ever ever, it might actually help that kid to lie to some stranger at the door, or in a chat room. Things are not always so black and white.

I also got this in my daily email thing:

Accepting people as they are is also transformational. For years, a man tried to get his elderly mother to stop complaining. One day he gave up trying to change her and accepted her faults. This experience of unconditional love opened her heart to the point where she stopped condemning herself and others. If there is some area of your life that you are seeking to change, first practice acceptance. By acknowledging where you are and giving thanks for the good that you have received, you will release an energy that will transform you and your present circumstances. - Douglas Bloch in Listening to Your Inner Voice

If I ever went back to school, I think I'd want to become a psychotherapist. I love psychology!

And last but not least, this is just too funny! It has like a 2-second ad followed by a cartoon thingie. From Salon.com


Carrie Wilson Link said...

"Make your partner's behavior none of your business." I can't tell you how helpful that is!

Unknown said...

Cool! There was more to that whole thing as sometimes making it none of our business is a temporary thing so that we can disconnect from the cycle the partner can get into. But it's definitely an interesting concept!! :)

Anonymous said...

I'm just curious what book you got the "three gets" from? I do attend Al-Anon but haven't run across those particular sayings yet and am interested in reading more.