Saturday, October 25

Calmness in the Eye of the Storm, Revisited.......... 10/25/14

          Hi.  I am beat, working long, in-tense hours and spending time catching the World Series----baseball.  All four games played I have taken in.   An important appointment tomor-row awaits me.  I need rest.  So, I am not
writing tonight.

          I'll leave the following, written a few years ago.  At one time it was one of the all-time favorite posts.   Perhaps you were not a guest back then.  For some, it may be familiar, worth a second read.  Here it is:

      It's important sheltering ourselves, when overwhelmed by crushing waves of mistreatment and anger of others. Or when experiencing despair, frustration, self-loathing or negative behavior of others.  That was the case yesterday.

        Al-Anon Family Groups has helped me grow.  An emotional and mental life saver, it is.  For more about this organization, see the foot-notes or here.  As, always, take what you like, leaving the rest. 

         It's easy surrendering our boundaries when intimidated.  This is natural when relating with an angry and/or manipulative individual.  No longer do I please unpleasant people, nor bear the burden of an-other's misbehavior, nor submit to overbearing conditions.  For more about that, you might want to read this

       Yesterday was a humdinger of a day.  Plenty of turmoil, while with a volatile person.  In spite of the turbulence created by this individual's actions, I noticed what transpired within me.   Not my tendency as a kid.  And because then I endured unacceptable behavior, not knowing how to respond or release it, I was a depressed kid.  

        Yes, this now-happy innkeeper was not happy as a boy.  Thank God for personal growth. Because of it I thrived in spite of yesterday's disturbing circumstances.  Years ago, I was taught by authorities---including church, school, parents and older siblings,  I am the fifth out of six children--that others were more important than my needs and feelings.  It was instilled in me the values of others were more signif-icant than mine.  

      Now, I know that is hogwash for my soul, self-esteem and happiness. Understanding the importance of paying attention to my needs, thoughts and feelings is the source of the joy I now have.  Even if we are not aware that we are ignoring ourselves, our spirit and soul demand our attention.  Depression is our neglected psyche issuing a silent scream.  This negative emotion is letting us know we are ignoring ourselves, experiencing an unmet need.

     Though not depressed yesterday, a need of mine was tranquility.  Exercising healthy principles, emotional safety was mine, even when in the midst of an intense drama.  I'll list some of these principles in my gratitudes. 

 1.  I'm thankful for being present when in a crisis.  It's better responding, not reacting. 

      When reacting during an emotional storm, I lose, giving away big chunks of my values.  I am surrendering to the intimidation of manipulators, angry or abusive others.  

          This 's not my response now.  For more about dealing with Emotional Bullies, you might want to read this.  This link provides an excellent article: Words Do Hurt--Stop Bullying From Affecting Your Health. 
          Bullies are more than our image of thugs who harass kids on school playgrounds or in the seamier parts of town.  They can be our adult siblings, our spouse, our boss, among others.  Yikes!
2.  Because my character is stronger, I am no longer rattled when "bad" things happen.
3.  I'm grateful that---with practice---while enduring another person's  emotional maelstrom, I now emotionally step aside. 
     I can pause and decide my response.  This is what police, fire fighters and those who work in psychiatric hospitals do, when facing a crisis.   It serves us when we do.  We can consider our options.
4.  I'm thrilled because of confidence---derived from mentoring and learning healthy principles---disturbing moments are viewed with humor.  I'm thankful for insights gotten when looking through the prism of recovery.  Joy is possible, even while enduring pressure. 
5.  I'm thankful for thriving during moments that once overwhelmed me. 
     Yesterday, it was helpful detaching, while remaining courteous and firm, towards a person who yelled at three different people, including the mailman (poor guy).  She smashed a flower pot, dirt, flowers and all, on the floor, breaking it to pieces, in her living room.  If only she could have been a little more emotional.  (I'm kidding.)
6.  I'm happy that, when I witnessed this emotional meltdown, I was not rattled. 

     The muscles in my face were relaxed.  I spoke in a measured manner.  My heart rate, wasn't too elevated.  Of course adrenaline kicked in----I'm human.  Yet, during the drama, I considered my options, not triggered to accommodate the tyrant I faced.  One was getting out of there, away from that person.

      It's good knowing I'm not a helpless victim.  I've choices.  Doing what provided serenity, during an intense, unpleasant moment, was my priority.  After the episode settled down, I left.  Time elsewhere, enjoying hours free from emotional drama, doing something that nurtured me, was the tonic chosen.

Not Letting Others Affect My Serenity or Joy 

         I'm fortunate that I don't allow others to determine my moods or define who I am.  That's being codependent.  For more about that, you might want to look at this.  When I need the applause of others to feel good about myself, I give them power over me.  Not a good idea.  (Courage to Change, Virginia Beach,  Al-Anon Family Groups, Inc., 1992, 9, Print) 

        I'm thankful that yesterday, when I had an opportunity to do spiritual weight lifting, I did.  For several reps, I calmly lifted the weight of a dramatic situation.  Towards the emotionally intoxicated person, I was compassionate, yet detached.

        I've learned that pigeons do what pigeons do.  I've learned not to sit under a tree that has pigeons roosting in it.  I don't take a pigeon's behavior personally.  Angry people are caught up in their misery.  Many don't  know how to express their needs.  Anger is a tragic expression of needs.  It either alienates, infuriates or freezes those encountering it.

       I'm glad every time I respond to abuse or drama, using healthy, compassionate, assertive principles, I get stronger.  It also gets easier, responding from strength----not fear.  Also, acting this way in the future becomes more likely.

       It feels good, not being manipulated by anger---not caving in to guilt, shame, blame or fear.  When relating with others in a nonviolent way, I'm placing principles above my personality.  Please see footnote 1. 

       My response yesterday, while in a maelstrom of someone else emotional relapse is a huge change.  Abuse I endured as a child. Please see footnote 2.  My nature, before----and now, if I don't exercise the presence of mind which recovery from codependency offers----was passivity.  I'd either become frozen with fear or withdraw and isolate.  Those were two inadequate ways of protecting myself. 

       I once permitted abuse to shower upon me, feeling I deserved it.  I was groomed to believe this.  Now, I know that thought is an outright lie.  Once, I was a doormat.  Yesterday, I got up off the floor. (Courage to Change, p. 361)

      Seeing myself emotionally maturing is gladdening.  Transforming from being emotionally the age of a seven year old when in crisis to that of a mature man in his late twenties (even though I'm older than that) is an improvement.  That's progress, not perfection.  And for that, I have an Attitude of Gratitude. 

How About You? 
What helps you to stay "centered" when you are pushed by the emotional storms of others? 

1. Al-Anon Family Groups is an international organization for friends and relatives of alcoholics, whether this person is actively drinking or not. Click here to find a meeting near you. 

     It is in no way related with Alcoholics Anonymous. This is an entirely separate organization, helping those who have been affected by the effects of alcohol in another. 

    Members learn how to deal with emotional abusers, less than pleasant bosses, intimidators, issues of control, perfectionism, and other problem behavior characteristics often found where others are chemically dependent or emotionally repressed. Al-Anon Family Group (AFG) members learn to clean their side of the street, how to take care of themselves. 

      Even if a person doesn't relate with an alcoholic, attending may help that person recover from passivity, fear, self-loathing. Members learn that establishing healthy boundaries is key for emotional health.  There are open meetings for those who want to learn more about this organization. 

2. "Looking within is essential from the effects of another's drinking [or abuse], for although we may have experienced difficulties and trauma in our formative years, it is actually the continuing reaction to these things that troubles our lives today. Although we may have left the alcoholic [or abuser], we did not escape the turmoil, guilt,  insecurity, rage, and fear we knew in our youth.  In fact, we were suffocating in our own unhappy habits (or emotions), never realizing  that another way, a spiritual way, could allow us to draw  life-giving breaths of hope, friendship, and love. 

    "Awareness does not settle everything, nor does change happen overnight.  Spiritual growth takes  time. Making the "new" [our recovery from less than perfect circumstances] a familiar and comfortable part of ourselves takes personal commitment and the support of help us on our way."   From Survival to Recovery, p. 268. 


Thumper said...


I agree, that yes, it is easy to surrender our boundaries when we are intimidated. Learning how to stay present and respond instead of react are skills that I am working on. Some days and some interactions are easier to handle than others. I've noticed how much freer I feel when I do not try to please toxic and manipulative bullies. Setting boundaries is new for me, but critical to my well being. When I give in to these people, I feel depressed, resentful and angry. Boundaries are a remedy for those feelings.

Pablo said...

Dear Thumper,

It takes practice, but it is worth it, learning to respond, not react. You are getting freed from the slavery of external referenting!

Without exercising boundaries, life is chaos, often at the whim of manipulative others. Kudos to you, for developing your interpersonal skills!

I always enjoy your visits,

The Innkeeper

Quotes from the Posts

"I'm mindful that our thoughts affect the words we use, our words influence our actions, our actions shape our character and our character determines our destiny."

From "My Character Determines My Destiny." To read it, please click here.

"Progress not perfection, is better than no progress at all, especially when we're trying to rid ourselves from unwelcome dragons that dwell within the closets of our soul."

From, "Still Learning" which, within four days, became the most popular post
written. To read it, please click here.

"Worry does not empty tomorrow of its trouble, but it does empty today of its strength"
From the post: "Life Is Not a Correspondence Program." Click here to read it.

"Even though we cannot control our circumstances, we can control how we choose to respond to them."

From, "Handling Stress and Dealing With an Emotional Bully."Click here to read this post.

"Nope, being busy isn't exciting. Boring is good. Because boring is not boring; boring is being healthy, living a balanced life that has serenity"

From: "Do You Know What It Means If You Are Too Busy?" For more, please click here.