I am looking forward this week to the monthly meeting of the Loss of a Loved One support group which I facilitate, as well as the kick-off to a new ten week class for Women in Transition through Womansage. As the life coach for these programs, my brain is gearing up to lend a hand. I know that life has thrown these women some curve balls. I know they are often nervous, scared, and excited to begin their self-actualizing journey. As my ideas come into focus, I recall some of Kathy Guzman's thoughts in her article I found online, "Against All Odds" in which she points out:
To stand alone in the sunny meadow - facing the sun and living a peaceful existence while there are stones being thrown at you from the shadows - is a test of courage and fortitude that we must all be prepared to experience. The actions that others take are out of our control... Sometimes, in our own stillness, we can find the strength to push through - without scars and nightmarish recollections - but rather with dignity, pride and the certainty that sticks and stones are just that -sticks and stones - and they will not dent the armor that is our true character.
Her words take me back to the 1970's when Dr. Eric Berne's "I'm Okay-You're Okay" ideas were just becoming popular. For some months I flew to Sacramento to a place called The Frog Pond for weekend classes to master Dr. Berne's skill set. In one class the leader was talking away when suddenly a student stood up and screamed, "You don't know what you're talking about! You're a fake, an imposter! I have wasted my money taking this program!"
We class members were dumbfounded. We'd never before seen such behavior! As we looked more closely at the shouter, we noticed that he was wrapped from head to toe in white muslin. Across his chest was huge glittery sign that read: Certified Crazy Person. We glanced to the leader to see his reaction. He was laughing out loud. It was a gag!
They were illustrating a new interpersonal skill; that when people say mean things (sticks and stones) we must learn to REFRAME their toxic behavior and turn it around.
We must negate their power. We can secure our armor in place by discounting whatever horrible thing has been said or done. That stunning role play has stayed with me across the years. When my clients are hurt by the verbal jabs from others I remind them to reframe it, to find confidence in their own dignity. It is one of the techniques for becoming mindful; taking control of our reactions and emotions so that we are not blow away by others. Eleanor Roosevelt used to say, "Remember no one can make you feel inferior without your consent." She understood that we must take control of our feelings, instead of simply reacting. You know the blindsides will come, of course they will, we live in the world. They add to our education and strengthen our character. It is in these moments that we grow and come to understand who we are, and how important it is that we center ourselves to live in peace. We are far tougher than we may realize. I would love to hear about your strength in adversity.
My best, donna