Run and Cry

Have you ever been in a situation – such as visiting with relatives (or dealing with collaborators, or etc) – where your head is ready to explode?

I’m sure you have.

Here’s the thing: It’s nothing wrong with them. They are who they are. You are who you are. Nobody is going to fundamentally change.

This is true even when they’re good people who are well intentioned (as the relatives I’m currently visiting are). This is true when they are not so good and not so well intentioned.

It is universal. It has nothing to do with the rightness or the wrongness of anyone involved. Yet so often we tend to make it about that. “They’re wrong and I’m right.” It makes your ego feel good but never solves the situation. Yes, I tried that for many years. Nothing changed.

In this conflict between “who they are” and “who you are,” generally what ends up happening is one of two things:

1. You “suck it up” and try to adapt. That strategy is one I’ve been familiar with many times in the past. All too many times I would subsume who I am and what I want for myself to the needs of others. Relatives, family, collaborators, kids. While I’m a strong personality, I also have a very strong streak of wanting to please others. When those came into conflict, the “wanting to please others” would often (usually) win.
2. You make them “wrong.” I’ve done this too, usually when I reached my breaking point in any situation. I would just get to a point where I couldn’t handle “playing the good girl” anymore, and so I would decide that “they” (whoever they happened to be at the moment) were “wrong.” Once I brought that attitude into the relationship, things went downhill…. fast. Worse, it’s easy to feel guilty after doing this, and then make yourself “wrong.” So you end up with a whole buttload of “making people wrong” and nobody wins.

There is another way.

In my work with Core Analysis – i.e. using intuitive methods to get to the bottom of who we are at our Core – I found out that I’m highly “internal.” (It wasn’t a surprise). What this means is that my relationship with myself is  the most important relationship. I need lots of alone time to think, to process, and to work on where I’m at.

For external people, this is bizarre. External people benefit greatly from being in relationship to other people, and not as much from “going inside.”

I can be by myself for days in a row – and be VERY happy with it! Someone who’s external (like one of my daughters) would not do well with that.

The conflict mounts

When I go visit relatives with my family, it’s full-on. It’s round the clock people, people, and more people. It doesn’t matter whether they’re the nicest people in the world – being an internal person, I get burnt out. I get exhausted. I get frustrated.

The point here is that each of us is somewhere on that internal-external spectrum (and similarly, there are a number of other spectrums) – and quite often when we’re in a situation – not just with relatives, but in any human situation – attempting the “suck it up” solution in the name of getting along – we end up exhausted. That often leads to the next phase, which is the making them wrong phase. Like I said, it’s all downhill.

The pressure release

This morning I was just about at my breaking point. I was going to snap at somebody or start the downhill trend. So I decided to go out for a run. Despite the cloudy day, I wore my sunglasses. I could feel tears coming on.

In the past, I wouldn’t have let myself cry in public (even with sunglasses!). I would have still been in the “suck it up” mode, trying to adapt to a societal norm that says it’s weird to be out in public, running along a suburban street, with tears running down your face. Well screw that!

So here I was, running down the tree-lined streets in gray, windy Madison, Wisconsin, letting the tears of angst and frustration flow. After I got over the first minute or so of “feeling like a freak” (a feeling that’s quite normal for me by now), I felt an incredible release.

I ran faster. I let more tears flow. I ran up a hill at a speed faster than I have in over a year. And by now, the frustration was spent. There were no more tears.

Why don’t we take care of ourselves?

Social norms.

Most of us are so caught up in “fitting in” that we subsume our health, our mental well being, and even our spiritual well being for the sake of avoiding negative judgements or conflict. (Or, alternatively, just cynically avoiding all such situations where we might be exposed to this kind of challenge).

It’s c-r-a-z-y.

Why do we do that? I for one am sick of doing that. I won’t do it anymore.

That’s why I found myself running down that street with tears flowing – and ending up feeling better than I have in weeks!

That one emotional release that I allowed for myself – in public – was better than meditating every day (which I do), journaling (which I do), regular exercise (which I do).

Nobody should try to “fit in”

The bottom line is that we are all hardwired – at our deepest Core – for certain tendencies. Most of us end up quite often very far out of alignment with that, and it’s usually in situations with other people. When we end up chronically out of alignment, it results in health problems. It results in relationship problems. It results in anxiety and bitterness. It ends up in unhealthy anger and blame (or worse, victimization). Some people spend their whole lives in these states. What a waste!

We are not here having this human experience to try to “meld ourselves to fit in.” No, we are not.

We are here to live our lives authentically self-expressed. We are here to align with who we are and look at the magic that happens when we do that.

It’s a shame that society often gives us just the opposite message: suck it up, fit in, do your homework, work hard, be nice, get good grades, and all that bullshit.

It really is bullshit, and I for one won’t do it anymore. My goal is to be able to have relationships with people where I don’t go down the route of “fitting in” and/or “making them wrong” – but instead, simply be myself – even if that ends up with me running on a public street with tears running down my face, looking like a madwoman.

I am shedding the notion that fitting in is useful or healthy. (It’s not).

My challenge to you

My challenge to you is to join me. I challenge you to look at your life, identifying areas where you subsume your personality in order to “fit in” or “avoid conflict.”

Then ask yourself this question: “what is the cost to me of continuing to do that?”

Once you realize the true costs, I think you may decide that you want to stop doing that. Because for most of us, those true costs are simply too great.

Let me know how it goes!

9 thoughts on “Run and Cry

  1. Hi Morgan, great post! Sometimes we need to release all that tension, wonderful you were able to do that by running and crying. I myself am battling the desire to “fit in” and “avoid conflict”, it has drained me to the point I’m totally burned out. At one point I found myself standing in the freezing rain with my sunglasses on, crying, having a phone conversation with the person that I so much had tried to be on the same page with. It doesn’t work. A coach is now helping me take control over my life, find back my values and stand for them. Stay in your strength, don’t let others deviate you from it. Cheers! Monique

    1. Hi Monique – that desire to fit in and avoid conflict can be toxic and draining. (Spoken as someone who did that for years of my life!!)

      I am so glad that you got some external help with this – because often, when it comes to trying to fix these things on our own, it is like trying to do brain surgery to oneself. The results are often not pretty!

      Keep up the healing, and let me know if there’s any way I can help.

  2. I am an extroverted person but I’m still recovering from recently spending a few hours with my family as a group (who I haven’t spent time with in about 8 or 9 years).
    First a “hangover” feeling that lasted a couple days. Then panic attacks. And serious ongoing exhaustion.
    Mostly a LOT of self-judgment.
    For me, this is not about being around people. This is about feeling judged, and feeling like I hurt people just for being who I am.
    In my family, we are raised to take the blame for the suffering of others. I just have to hear about someone’s suffering and get the slightest hint that they feel it is my fault (“We sure do miss you. Why do you never come to see us?”) and it confirms something I already believed about how I am a bad person.
    This self-devaluation is the real cause of the burnout.
    My years of separation from my family (and many other people from my past) is not because I am avoiding them. It is simply that I am not going out of my way to try to please people who are unhappy with me.
    Slowly, I have come to understand that *who I am* is not the cause of other people’s suffering.
    Their suffering around me is caused by their expectations of me.

  3. I am an extroverted person but I’m still recovering from recently spending a few hours with my family as a group (who I haven’t spent time with in about 8 or 9 years).
    First a “hangover” feeling that lasted a couple days. Then panic attacks. And serious ongoing exhaustion.
    Mostly a LOT of self-judgment.
    For me, this is not about being around people. This is about feeling judged, and feeling like I hurt people just for being who I am.
    In my family, we are raised to take the blame for the suffering of others. I just have to hear about someone’s suffering and get the slightest hint that they feel it is my fault (“We sure do miss you. Why do you never come to see us?”) and it confirms something I already believed about how I am a bad person.
    This self-devaluation is the real cause of the burnout.
    My years of separation from my family (and many other people from my past) is not because I am avoiding them. It is simply that I am not going out of my way to try to please people who are unhappy with me.
    Slowly, I have come to understand that *who I am* is not the cause of other people’s suffering.
    Their suffering around me is caused by their expectations of me.
    But, until I really embody this understanding, these encounters are miserable for me.

    1. Their suffering around me is caused by their expectations of me.

      Wow, that nails it! It is not about you, it is about them!

      But most of us make it about us, and internalize what started as someone else’s problem. It’s really a shame when that happens, and can take years of “deprogramming” to get rid of that habit.

      It sounds like you’re on the right path 🙂

  4. So true. It can change with age as you care less about some of this stuff. If I hear a favourite song playing at the supermarket I will sing and dance to it if I’m in a good mood. The realisation I have had recently is how much I judge or ‘should’ *myself*. Whether this is internalised from society or family expectations, it doesn’t matter. I ‘knew’ it before intellectually, but this is deeper. Now I am seeing when I do it and a self-compassion has kicked in. While it is easy to feel ‘the victim’ about what others ‘do’ to us, it is harder to see (and change) what we do to ourselves and that self-relationship is vitally important. Being gentle with oneself and letting go of many self-expectations is so freeing.

    1. Hi Kathy, oh man, this self judgement thing is BIG. Kicking the self-judgement habit is a very difficult thing to do, but it is one of the most powerful things we can do if we want to advance in life.

      Like you said… being gentle with yourself is KEY!

      Thanks for sharing!

  5. Oh my gosh, do we all have the same reaction! I have named my inconsolable breaking point from severe sadness or over the top frustration, “cleansing cries” and they happen generally on my bed, at my computer or while driving. Then I stop whatever I was going to do (if possible, sometimes I guickly teach that class then continue) and either take a long walk in the woods or a long swim. It has been awhile thank goodness, 2009-10 were a bad years. I firmly believe that it takes two to tango and we are just moving on different planes and not intersecting. I was always different so why should it be different now that I am an adult?

    1. Thanks for sharing your experience Elsa! It is so important to simply realize when a situation with two people is “not a fit” and be willing to walk away!

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