Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Popularity Contest

I lost that by a landslide this past week. Folks were not a fan of what I had to say, though it was the truth. A truth that I had taken time to carefully mold and shape so that it would land with ease within their minds and hearts. The majority had none of it and instead attacked me personally and directly for simply stating a fact, seeing no need to craft their words with the finesse which I sought. I kept hearing Billy Joel sing about the loneliness of honesty.

I knew before I made my declaration that I was entering stormy waters but after careful thought chose to dive in anyway. Why? Because it seemed important and because it involved children. It mattered to me because in time the children would be the ones to ultimately pay the price, and through no fault of their own. So I stood up and others tried to knock me down.

I won’t pretend it felt great. Hiding behind the skirt of the internet some people can be vicious. Nor will I proclaim that I am so virtuous that I didn’t want to lash back with what I found to be very fitting, insightful and witty comments to the absurdity I faced. My desire to remain neutral and not personal faded a bit each time someone slung words my way.

I knew I was being offered a lesson, one of the hardest ones we humans face- not getting caught up in what our fellow humans might think of us. So how exactly did I accomplish that? Not perfectly, that’s for sure, but that was not my goal. My goal was to bring myself back to center and my place of power each time I began to flounder. I dug deep in my toolbox and practiced what I know to be tried and true.

1-I vented. Getting it out of our head is the first healthy step to moving forward but it is imperative that we don’t stop there or else it’s all just a bitch session with no end. When we don’t move beyond this we keep ourselves trapped as a victim.

2-I focused on the minority of the “responders” that did support me, though their numbers were few.

3-I chose my battles. Some people were so invested in proving me wrong that I could have gone back and forth with them for days, and so I chose to remain mum and in my mind agreed to disagree. Other times I stood up for myself in an assertive fashion by simply responding that they had the right to their thoughts but they were not free to attack me, as I had not done so to anyone else.

4-I reminded myself that those that had a thing or two to say to me knew me not at all and intentionally concentrated on the people around me that do love me.

5-I listened to Mother Universe as quotes appeared in my day. Quotes such as: “It’s easy to stand with the crowd. It takes courage to stand alone.” Who actually said it, Mahatma Gandhi or Rumi, seems to be up for debate but I felt more secure with those wise words than with what was being offered to me via my social media responses.

6-I took a step back and tried to see it from the others’ perspective. I attempted to understand what had gotten them so riled up. I asked myself and those close to me if I could or should have done something different, while holding the space of being open to feedback instead of defensive. I stated, “I’m willing to learn.”  

7-I utilized a technique called Tapping to calm my racing thoughts.

8-My mind continually wanted to replay the events. It was then that I would say in response- No mind, we’re not going there. Let’s pay attention to and feel the beauty that surrounds us instead.

9-I reminded myself that it was not the crisis it felt like.

10-And I did it all again and again.

As the dust settled I wondered whether it was worth it and if I would do it all again. The answer, is yes. I concluded that the only thing I could have done differently was to say nothing at all, but I would not have felt happy with myself if I had chosen that route. I am here for a purpose and a cause and this situation fell under that umbrella. So I did what I came to do- which does not include being popular.

I share this all with you so that you too might know how best to handle the criticisms and judgments of our fellow human beings. And I tell you that I could have done none of this if I hadn’t taken the time to know myself and my truth personally. What I did, through the years and this past week, is what we are all being called to do. I share my path with you in hopes that you shall begin, or continue, on yours.

Be well and happy.

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