When it comes to dealing with challenges in relationships of any kind, some of you have been taught to practice patience, tolerance, and forgiveness. Others have been taught to take a stand, say no to abuse (of any kind) and part ways. So which one should you do? Hopefully you have heard me teach that there is a time to practice each of these tactics but the trick is knowing which one and when. Do your best to FIRST practice patience, love, and so forth. And when you’ve done all you can but things are simply NOT changing or improving, it’s time to write that “letter” (or email) and walk away.
Here’s a personal scenario for me that comes up once in a while, but please remember that because I play a unique role and literally have so many hundreds of relationships (students, family, viewers, clients, employees, etc.) my situations are a bit more extreme than most and may not apply to you in exactly the same form.
Anyway, I feel a deep love and respect for everyone. Most people can feel this, appreciate it, and comment about what a patient, gentle, and loving person I am. But then . . . it can happen that one of these same people hears me say something they don’t like and can quickly turn their respect into mild or major judgements.
So what can I do about this—especially since it can happen with any one of my hundreds of relations? The answer is for me to change what I can and accept what I can’t. In my case, I take preventative measures by telling people around me in advance that if they ever get triggered by me, to keep in mind that I have a playfully wicked sense of humor. So DON’T take me too seriously when I am joking. Next, I try to remind everyone that I am busy beyond measure (even when sleeping). So it’s not uncommon for people to perceive this as being short when I need to get moving and get things done. This is simply me being focused and clear, but they might see it as me being too intense for them. If these reminders don’t work and a person decides to misinterpret my words and/or actions as being unkind in any way, I then suggest that they talk to me about it so I can apologize and explain what was really happening. But if none of this makes any difference for them, and they are simply intent on having a negative opinion of me, it’s time to turn and walk away. I don’t care if it’s a partner, a student, or my own child. Labels or titles such as these (brother, sister, etc.) must NOT hold us hostage to unhealthy relations. So I have to recognize and own that I have done what I can to help the person or situation and need to now accept what I can’t change. All of this is exactly what I teach and advise others to do so in their relationships. Only the details are a little different—as they always would be from person to person.
Now here’s the tricky part: Technically we all have people in our lives who have judgmental opinions of us. They might love us overall but they might simply not like the way we dress. Is that worth walking away? Probably not. Walking away should only be done when the situation feels a bit too traumatizing and/or possibly has reached an impasse. For example, if the other person goes a little further and makes it a point to humiliate us in front of others for the way we dress, it might be time to say goodbye—especially if we tried talking to them about it but it does no good.
In my own life, however, I interact with so many people. Some might want to become employees, others might want to be friends. But since my time is so limited, the more involved people want to be in my life, the more I need them to be evolved enough to be pretty clear, healthy, understanding, and responsible so that we can spend most of our time moving forward instead of wasting time walking on eggshells. For example, if a person misunderstands my humor and we spend too much valuable time with me apologizing, it will not work for long. The same is true if they are soooo fragile that instead of allowing me to be quick when I share a list of things that need done, their reactions end up dragging the pace of everything down to their speed—which is a passive-aggressive way of them trying to control things. This too will not work.
All of this is a natural part of human relations. And this will remain the way it is as long as people remain unhealed and irresponsible. And if it happens that this gets too out of hand and the others involved simply cannot adapt to maintaining their love and respect—even if it means also accepting the way I am or the way I do things—it’s better for them to move-on, instead of stuffing their feelings and pretending to still like me. Yes, it’s okay to notice something about someone that might not be our style or preference. But if someone wants to call themselves a “friend” of mine, then love and respect MUST prevail. I simply don’t have time nor interest in nurturing relations with people who pretend to love and respect me but continually harbor judgements about me. I certainly have walked away from a few significant relationships purely on the reason that the love and respect they once had, shifted into negative opinions they would not let go of. You might want to consider if and how some of this shows up in your own life.
In general, people are constantly tempted to shift from love to fault-finding—especially when we allow ourselves to become complacent in our relationships—and it’s okay if they do. But don’t call me a friend if you do that to me. I know this might sound a bit idealistic . . . and maybe it is. But I love the idea of keeping judgements in check. We can differ in opinions but we can also hold that aside as though it’s one dead leaf on a beautiful green tree. We can focus on the love and beauty of the tree or we can focus on the dead leaf. But don’t say you love the tree if you are pouring poison on it to kill more of the leaves.
Love & Light,