Thursday, March 29, 2012

Brown Outs II

One of the more frequent justifications for Brown Outs that people give is, “I don’t want to anger her/upset him/hurt them.” The challenge is that, in some situations, there certainly are wise reasons for utilizing my power in a gentle fashion. We can all think of circumstances with a boss or employee, a child or a grandparent, a friend or a teacher, where throwing around all our power would not achieve our intended outcomes. However, what about those circumstances where I pull back my power because I am refusing to honor my own values, refusing to require others to respect my decisions? My experience is that, when I make such a choice, my power is not being conserved but denied.
If I do not respect my values and beliefs, why should others? “It’s okay. You can crap all over what I hold most sacred.”
If I don’t honor my own decisions by maintaining my course, why should you? “No, no, no: feel free to step right in and circumvent my choices. After all, your life and journey is far more important than mine.”
When I experience pain over what I perceive as disrespect and choose to say nothing about this, what am I communicating to myself and to others? “Go right ahead and keep on doing what you are doing, saying what you are saying. My perceptions and experience have no value whatsoever … and, anyway, I have no right to my feelings!”
I have (to me, anyway) an annoying habit of constantly saying, “Sorry,” whenever I do or say something that I think might have crossed or inconvenienced you in some fashion.  Part of this can be attributed to manners and seeking to be sensitive to others. But – b-u-t – some of it is a tacit profession that you and your welfare are far more important than my life or my Self.
In the past, if you were hurt with me, I wanted to know it so I could either explain or ask your forgiveness. I think this is a healthy response, by the way. However, the Not So Healthy response was that, if I was hurt with or angry at you … well, that was an entirely different situation, as my feeling were pretty much always irrelevant. So much for relationships based on mutual honesty and respect, eh?

What happens when, in owning your power, you choose to behave in ways that anger or otherwise hurts the feelings of one of your close buddies or a family member?
Question: Is his hurt feelings with you the litmus test for the wisdom of your choices? While you regret his hurt, you have a responsibility to live your life according to your faith, beliefs, values, etc. He doesn’t have to like it but, if he wants to maintain a healthy relationship, he will respect your choices, as you will want to respect the fact that he differs with you. Or you can pull the plug on your power, yield to his preferences for you, and live in a Brown Out.
For a very long time, I took responsibility for the emotional responses of others. If Dad was angry: MY FAULT. If you were hurt with me: I did something WRONG. It’s one thing if I set out to push my dad’s hot buttons or hurt your feelings, but simply because Dad is upset with me or you are hurt with me doesn’t necessarily mean I have done anything wrong.
Please. I am not suggesting that we blow our friends off over an upset or a breakdown. Many, many times, differences are not conflicts: they only appeared this way before we had an honest conversation. Sometimes, the friend has a valid point we will want to consider. My point here is for those whose default position is to always discount their beliefs, their values, and their boundaries, and choose to live in a Brown Out.

Stop it.

Cut it out.

Cease and desist.

Go get a shot of testosterone.

You are a unique creation of God. You are you: you are not him, her or them. Honor this you. In other words, honor your own power. People will not always like it, but you were not placed on this earth to run around pleasing everyone, while denying the person that God created you to become. Believe me, anyone worthy of being called “friend,” will respect your integrity and never ever ask you to live in a Brown Out.

Copyright, Monte E Wilson, 2011

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