If there is one thing that I can share with you this Holiday Season that has made a huge difference for me in dealing with my family and loved ones is really understanding the extent to which I have been driven by the desire to be HEARD, ACKNOWLEDGED, and LOVED.
And if I am honest with myself , it really comes down to the fact that I’m an acknowledgment junkie at heart. Just about everything that I do or say is rooted in this existential narcissistic need. It is this need that has me, do the right thing, show up on time, smile at the right moments, say certain things, not say other things, accomplish great tasks, achieve levels of success and on and on. On the flip side it also the need that is responsible for me feeling “not good enough,” less than, and at other times has had me become passive aggressive, angry, and shut down.
I’ve actually distinguished 2 characters that have emerged in this dynamic… “Shasheen the Great” and “Shasheen the Horrible.” I’m either feeling the love or not, and in both instances the places that it takes me don’t really serve me at all. Somewhere in there is Shasheen. (More on that in another post) Each one of these characters are highly sensitive and show up in response to the feedback that I get from my environment. Its pretty amazing to watch. The pendulum can swing from one end to another by sometimes the simplest comment, gesture, or lack thereof. That’s what’s going on the inside.
On the outside I’ve developed strategies to keep the expression of these personalities in check. But man it’s a lot of work and I’ve done a lot of work, read a lot of books and taken a lot of seminars that have told me that its an inside job and how I need to be the source of my own satisfaction, love, and acknowledgment. While I continue to move in that direction, being around loved ones and especially family can immediately turn me into a narcissistic needy and sensitive little child if I’m not careful. Its truly amazing!
One of the things that I’m most grateful for this year is that as a coach, consultant, and my work in the Pink Elephant Project, I’ve had the privileged of being let into so many lives and so many situations which have provided such an incredible reflective mirror for me to see for myself how the dynamic that I have experienced has been playing out in the lives of others. And from the seat that I sit in, I’m here to report back that you that I’m not alone and if any of this resonates with you, you’re not alone either.While its great to have this awareness, the real freedom for me has come from stepping out of my own narcissistic needs and recognizing that:
What that says to me is that at any given moment, what I’m needing from a conversation and interaction is exactly what the other person is needing as well. It really makes things kind of crazy when you think about it…all of us needy souls running around LOOKING to others for the same thing that others are LOOKING for from us. On the other hand, when I keep this in mind it does give me great insight and provides me with an incredible amount of compassion and understanding in the dynamics that unfold in those uncomfortable moments when dealing with family and loved ones.
The challenge that I’ve found for myself time after time is that when I don’t get what I want, I’m not willing to give what it is that the other wants. Or the other version is that I feel as if I’ve given over and over again and have not received anything in return. It feels frustrating, disappointing and at some point I end up shutting down or lashing out. It’s the good ole Fight or Flight response. Its as if I play the game of being HEARD, ACKNOWLEDGED or LOVED as if it was some kind of Zero Sum game. When I get honest with myself, in most cases everything I’ve been asking for is right there but I’m not hearing it or experiencing it because its not being delivered in a way that I want it to be delivered.
I heard once that as human beings we behave as if we are the directors of some incredible screen play and that we get frustrated and angry with the cast on a regular basis for not following their lines. The problem is that in most of the cases we’ve never given the cast the script. What I typically do is tell them what I don’t want rather than what I do want or how I want it. Interesting, huh? What I have found is that if I can keep this dynamic in mind I can really approach all of my interactions with the ones I love with a much greater compassion and understanding and avoid getting tripped by the triggers that have been set off in the past.
The question that I have for myself that I will pose to you: During this Holdiay, knowing that all it IS that your family and loved ones want…. is to be HEARD, ACKNOWLEDGED, and LOVED….who will you be able to provide that for and who are you unwilling to provide that for. The bonus question: For those whom you are unwilling to do that with… WHY? Is it because you don’t feel HEARD, ACKNOWLEDGED and LOVED by them?
Hmmmmmm….? Processing that one right now…
And don’t be shy…bring the Pink Elephant Promise with you, read it again, and share it with the loved ones in your life. You have a vested interest in strengthening those relationships as do they. The holidays may not be the appropriate time to have some conversations but by Observing what’s going on in your head, being responsible for your interpretations of your experience, and setting the stage with the Pink Elephant Promise my hope is that you are able to take your relationship with the loved ones in your life to the next level.
As I continue to do the work I look forward to sharing with you what it is that I’m learning. So grateful to all of you. Wishing you, your family and loved ones a beautiful and loving Holiday Season! So much to be Grateful for!
From the heart
Would love to hear your thoughts and if so moved please feel free to repost!