In my mind, there is a place I call ‘the dark place’. It’s a place that can provide great insight even though it’s not an easy or comfortable place to visit. I call it ‘the dark place’ because it’s where I go to find answers to the questions that I’ve been trying to answer for a long time.
Since I started this self-help/therapy journey as I call it, there have been three questions I’ve been trying to answer in a way that I can truly work with. Here they are with the answers that have come to me over the last week or so:
How do I write in a way that’s not playing ‘the blame game’?
Answer: By not assigning ‘blame’ to anyone for what they said or did. This means I will say this was said or done to me, and I reacted to it in such-and-such way because of where I was at in my life physically, mentally, and emotionally.
This answer then led to this question:
How do I address what was said and done to me without speculating on a person’s motives or intentions?
Answer: By coming right out and saying I’m not going to speculate on a person’s motives or intentions behind what they said or did because that’s not knowledge I have in the first place. An individual person is the only one who can say why did or said what they did, and they’re responsible for their own thoughts and feelings as to why they said or did what they did. Just as I am responsible for how I respond to what they said or did.
These questions and answers led to this question:
Why do this in writing and not in person?
Answer: From the time I was a kid, all the advice columnists I’ve ever read like Deary Abby, Ann Landers, Dr. Joyce Brothers and a host of others have always advised people to write down their thoughts and feelings in response to other people’s words and actions. This is done in order to get everything out in the open without any interruption or any kind of pushback. For a lot of people, talking about their thoughts and feelings, and experiences, especially those that are painful or are different than another person’s isn’t easy. A fair number of people in this world don’t take difficult emotions or experiences very well, or they tend to get their back up first instead of just listening and taking time to process their own emotions.
A while back I saw a clip from the Apple TV show ‘Ted Lasso’ (it’s about an American who goes to England to coach a British soccer team, or football club as they call it across the pond there). In this clip, the main character Ted Lasso (played by Jason Sudeikis) is in a pub telling a story about a sign he saw in a school once that said, Be Curious, Not Judgmental’. It’s a mantra of the show (along with the single word ‘Believe’). But the phrase, ‘Be Curious, Not Judgmental’ said so much to me. Because I’ve always felt curious more than anything I realize that curiosity can keep me from being judgmental, and has all my life. Curiosity to me means being open to other experiences, thoughts, and feelings even when they are difficult and painful. I believe curiosity is born from conscience, empathy, compassion, and love. Being judgmental I believe is living by a very rigid set of rules that can kill curiosity and bury conscience, empathy, compassion, and turn love into hate.
I know I can rant-and-rave with the best of them, and get down-and-dirty, too. I stand by that because sometimes I believe it’s needed to get people’s attention and it’s also honest. And honesty and truth are more important than trying to walk on eggshells worrying about someone not taking your truth and honesty very well. I’ve spent too many years appeasing people when I shouldn’t have done that at all. And I’ve responded to people by freezing or fawning over them when I shouldn’t have. Most of all, I’ve spent way too much time worrying about what people will think of me than living my life.
I’ve struggled to write this out for quite some time in the hope I could get it right. It’s not perfect but then nothing is in life no matter how much some people pursue that or try to force it onto other people. To those people I say this, ‘Be Curious, Not Judgmental.”
This is yet another moment of clarity that has changed me for the better. And I hope it helps anyone reading it understand themselves, and learn how to heal and love themselves in return.