relationships

WORD. What is Yours This Year?

In recent years many people have set aside the tradition of setting a New Year’s resolution. You know, commitments like lose weight, volunteer, quit smoking, go back to school, pay off debt – those well-intentioned ideas that are often abandoned by Valentine’s Day, if not earlier? A Forbes article last year stated that “just 8% of people achieve their New Year’s Resolutions”. Those odds aren’t great.

It’s not that we can’t change. It’s that true transformation doesn’t come from changing a certain behavior.

True and lasting change requires a change INSIDE – a refocusing, and change of heart from the inside out.

One way to refocus is to choose one word or phrase for the year, and allow that to be your focus, or life theme for the next 12 months. Here are some questions that can help you choose your focus:

  • What kind of person do I want to become?

  • In which area of my life do I want to grow?

  • What are some negative themes of the past year that I would like to change?

  • What are my dreams and goals for the upcoming year?

  • How are my personal relationships? Do I have deep friendships? How can I grow in this area?

After some self-evaluation, see if there is a common theme. The word or phrase you choose could be for yourself personally, or it could be a theme for your whole family. Think about how you can apply this theme to every area of your life – relationships, work, goals, family, priorities. It will take some self-reflection, but after a while you will find a word that feels right.

Let this one word or phrase be your focus for the coming year, a filter for making decisions, planning for growth and change, and building relationships.

Some examples Life Themes and how it might apply to different areas:

  • Giving: a theme of giving might inspire a purging of extra ‘stuff’ to give to those in need; giving of more time to friends and family; being consistent in giving to charities
  • Healing: this theme might include mending broken relationships; improved self-care and healthy habits; taking a class or seeing a counselor to heal past hurts; providing a safe home environment for broken people to heal
  • Dream: this might start by simply allowing yourself to dream; perhaps setting some ‘bucket list’ goals; writing that book that has always been inside you; pursuing your dream job

Of course, these are just a few examples. The possibilities are endless.

What is your word, and how do you see that shaping this coming year? Please SHARE your word and your thoughts here -you might inpire someone else!

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Here are a couple of sites to help you get started:

oneword365.c0m

myoneword.org

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There Are No Safe People. There Are Only People Who Are Sometimes Safe.

For much of the past few years, I have scrutinized (okay, judged) people, and then placed them into one of two categories: SAFE and UNSAFE.

I think I have done this all of my life, but it started as a conscious process when I was seeing a counselor and working on healing from childhood verbal and physical abuse. I have always been one who feels deeply and wears my heart on my sleeve. Pair that with poor boundaries and a faulty verbal filter, and I found my raw heart spilling out like so much vomit whenever some asked how I was, looked into my eyes, or just happened to sit or stand next to me. As you might suspect, this method of sharing my heart was not only unproductive, but my intense emotional sharing was off-putting to my friends as well as the total strangers who happened to be within target range. My counselor wisely encouraged me to hold some things close to my heart, to purposely choose with whom I share, and to ask three or four close friends if they would be willing to be my support people during crisis. (Having more than one support person during a crisis is helpful because it is a lot to ask of one person to bear your burdens. It also takes the pressure off of having to rely only on one person to be there all the time, and one can benefit from the differing perspectives and wisdom of each person.) I was also encouraged to purposely choose with whom I share my heart – not everyone is worthy of my story.

Although I am not in crisis mode at this time and have worked through years of healing and growth, I continue to label people in my life as safe and unsafe. I have some great friends with whom I can share the deepest secrets of my heart – my failures, doubts, imperfections – and they love me and accept me and even call me out on my bullsh*t from time to time. These friends are a priceless treasure.

It is fairly easy to tell which people in your life are unsafe. These are the people who do not listen.  They gossip. They judge or criticize when you share your heart.  They tell your secrets, or worse yet, they use them against you. These are the people with whom you share cautiously, if at all.

Safe people are more difficult to find, but once you find them, they are precious.

These are the people who truly listen. They hold close the secrets of others. They listen with and open heart, and do not judge or shame. They do not offer unsolicited advice, and if they do offer advice, it is with love and in your best interest.

They tell the truth in love, and with a dose of hope.

You feel free when you share your heart with them – like you have been released. And they just ‘get’ you.

In the past couple of years, I have hurt and been hurt by those whom I considered the safest people in my life. Recently, many of my main circles of safety have deeply wounded me – these are my closest bosom friends, my dearest family.

My safe people have become unsafe. Or have they?

Maybe they have just become . . . people.

As much as I would like to think that I am a safe person for others, I have wounded others in much the same way.

My safe people have done unsafe things, and so have I.

We have shared information given in confidence that purposely hurt another friend, used knowledge of a painful situation to shame someone and get revenge, did not listen when someone was sharing their heart, and then gave advice that led to even more heartbreak. We choose to refuse to reconcile a broken relationship despite repeated attempts to make amends, refused to take steps to make amends while attempting to manipulate someone into continuing to be victimized, allowed someone to continue to victimize others, and then defended their behavior. Rather than showing remorse and making a sincere attempt to reconcile, we do not take responsibility and own our own behaviors. We offer unapologies such as “I’m sorry you felt way” or “I’m sorry you saw things that way” rather than “I was wrong and I am sorry“.

There is a danger in labeling people as safe.  Because – people. We are people.

And as much as we try to love one another perfectly,  we just cannot.

What happens when your safe person, or people, are unsafe? What happens when we unsafe and cause someone pain. Does that mean we are without hope? Must we look for new safe people – who we will trust until they, too, prove themselves imperfect? And how do we keep trusting, sharing our heart, just showing up, when our safe people have let us down?

What if we stop labeling people safe/unsafe? Maybe people are not only safe or unsafe. Maybe they are just people who are sometimes safe, sometimes not.

Some people who are more unsafe than others, and they may not deserve the honor of your story. There are people who are more safe than unsafe – but they are people, and at some point, they may not be perfect. Because they are people. And so am I. And so are you. So what do you do when your ‘safe person’ lets you down? The rug is pulled out from under you. You have lost your safety net.

What if it is a primary relationship, like a best friend? A sister? A parent? A spouse?

And this is where I find myself today. Hanging off a cliff without a safety net.

How do I move from being a mere warrior to a survivor? How can I be brave and open my heart again? How can I be a safe person for others, and how do I make amends when I have blown it?

Photo credit: D Sharon Pruitt Wikipedia Commons

Photo credit: D Sharon Pruitt Wikipedia Commons

How can I drag myself out of the pain of heartbreak and disappointment to just show up when all I really want to do is run screaming from the room and hide in bed under the covers? I don’t have all the answers, but here is what I do know: People are always going to be messy, but God is always good.

People are always messy.

God is always good.

I would love to write “Here are the steps on how to keep showing up when you’ve been wounded” but I am still thinking this one through.

I would like to hear from YOU. How do you continue to show up and engage when you have been wounded?

When You’re Sick of Yourself

Day 2:For the month of October, I’ve joined over 1600 other writers in a 31 Day writing challenge. You can read more about it and see the participating blogs at write31days.com  Here is the starting page for 31 Days of My Search for Balance: Body, Mind, and Soul. From there you can find all of my October posts.  

For many people, times of growth and change arise from a difficult circumstance – trauma, loss of a loved one, a broken relationship such as a divorce, or a failure such as loss of a job. These circumstances can stop us in our tracks.

Other times, it sneaks up on us. Slowly, over time, discontent creeps in. It can look many different ways.

looking out window

Your dream job has become a chore.

Your relationship, which you were sure would bring you joy, feels empty.

You finally reached your goal, only to find it is not as fulfilling as you had hoped.

People you loved and trusted have disappointed you.

Life isn’t what you had imagined it would be.

You are not living the story you thought you would.

So where do we go from here? We can focus on outside circumstances, we can focus on other people and how they have failed us, but then what? If you’re really honest, focusing on circumstances and other people are the easy road. We have no control, it’s not our fault, and we have no responsibility. We can remain victims. We can be mere survivors. 

How do we become warriors? What would it look like if we were brave? What if we were honest? What if we looked beyond other people and beyond outside circumstances, and looked within?

When you are finally sick of yourself – that is the starting point of change.

When you are just not comfortable in your skin any longer, when your tools for dealing with life seem dull and useless . . . then YOU ARE READY TO GROW AND CHANGE. You are ready to live a better story.

Everyone, if you’re honest, comes to this point in their life – often more than once, as we grow through different stages. If we didn’t ever feel like this, we would never be motivated to mature, to expand our hearts, to develop as a full human. Think about where you were five years ago, or ten, or twenty. Are you the same person you were then? Do you have the same behaviors? The same beliefs? The same approach to life? We are not built to stay the same. To stay the same would mean we are stale, stagnant. And who wants to be stale, stagnant,and boring?

Existential crisis serves a valuable purpose – to motivate us to move beyond victims or mere survivors, and become strong warriors.

So can we stop pretending that everything is great all of the time? Can we admit that we’re all in this together, and that sometimes it is hard to just be a human on this planet? Can we stop putting on the 24 hour smile, the isn’t-my-life-perfect Facebook posts? I’m not saying that we should all walk around in black and profess our every misery. And I’m not saying that everyone needs to hear every detail of our lives the first time we meet them (unless your heart whispers, “They need to hear this”.)

What I am proposing is that we learn to be strong, brave warriors, marching side by side. We fight alongside one another, we march in the trenches when we need to, we build shelter from the storm, and when one is weary, we carry their gear for a while. It might get dirty, and it’s always going to be messy (because HUMANS) but it will be our beautiful, holy, mess.

Jacopo Bassano - The Good Samaritan - Google Art Project

Jacopo Bassano – The Good Samaritan – Google Art Project

Who’s with me? Let’s live a better story together.

Love, KM