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?
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).
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!