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When You Flex Your New Muscle And Get A Black Eye

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I believe we can all agree it’s good to grow and change – to “try on” new ways of being in the world.

What happens when we begin flexing a new muscle only to discover we are a bit like Popeye right after gulping down a can of spinach? Remember how chaotic that appeared? Crazy bulging muscles popping out all over the place, the “bad” guy summarily shredded or shot into outer space with one big kaboom punch. 

While no spinach was involved in this tale, I recently had a Popeye moment. Unfortunately it was the crazy, uncontrolled flexing of muscles, no actual bad guy. 

The skydiving accident I had three months ago has provided me with a slow-drip infusion of spinach-like strength and courage. 

The Value Of Doing Nothing:

In theory, the concept of making sure I am not disappointed in life feels good to me.”

Last week I wrote about the value of doing nothing. I did so much Nothing for 90 days, I was practically in a coma. A lot of good has come from it. A thorough evaluation of my life… taking stock of where I was headed, as opposed to where I want to go.

During this period of growth, I heard the expression, “If you’re going to disappoint someone, make it someone other than you.” I am paraphrasing, but you get the picture. Maybe many of you already know this. Maybe this is old news and everyone is running around elegantly implementing a more self-focused way of being in the world. I, however, am a novice.

In theory, the concept of making sure I am not disappointed in life feels good to me. Right? Who doesn’t want to be happy and satisfied?

I’ve spent hours letting the concept percolate in the back of my brain. It’s how I consider many new ideas in my life. I equate it to sticking a pot on the back of the stove, simmering away, waiting for me to be ready. Ready to take the plunge and make the change, whatever it happens to be at that time. This past week I decided to take my new “Don’t disappoint me” notion out for a spin in the real world.

Bet You Can See What’s Coming:

Taking a brand-new anything out in public can be tricky.”

What happens when we begin weaving our newly acquired behaviors into our actual lives? Taking a brand-new anything out in public can be tricky. Remember what it was like the first time you took your child, learner’s permit in hand, hot off the presses, out for their first drive?” Not sure how your kid drove, but I did a lot of clutching, air braking, and bartering with the Universe. Beginnings can be awkward and, let’s face it, sometimes dangerous.

Dangerousness isn’t always about physical harm. Sometimes we run roughshod over people, unintentionally and cause damage. 

Earlier this week a family friend was over at our house. She was nearing the end of her visit just as my partner and I were preparing to sit down to dinner. It just so happened that he’s been away from home more often these days, due to work. For good or for ill, I’ve grown accustomed to having him pleasantly underfoot over the last 20-some-odd months of mostly quarantine, and I’ve missed him while he was away — and on this evening in particular, I was feeling a strong pull on my heart strings and wanted his full attention to myself.

So, sitting at the dinner table listening to our guest carry on a conversation with my partner wasn’t working for me. I wanted to have dinner alone with my boyfriend. 

You can definitely see it coming now, yes?

Why Disappoint Myself?

The moment the words came out of my mouth, I felt awful.”

It’s better to disappoint others, right? Isn’t that what I’ve been percolating and massaging in my brain for weeks? I took a deep breath and opened my mouth to proclaim what was true for me and what I wanted. 

Ugh. Thud. Crash. Popeye-like thrashing. In a very inelegant way (some may call it rude), I told our friend it was time for her to leave and time for my partner to focus on me.

Clearly, I need some practice. The moment the words came out of my mouth, I felt awful. This isn’t what I wanted. I didn’t want to be rude or offensive. Hurting someone’s feelings wasn’t anywhere on my list of desires. But that’s how it worked out.

Maybe she didn’t notice? Maybe she let it roll off her like water off a duck’s back? Yeah, not so much. 

Of course I was mortified, and apologized profusely. I am truly sorry that I ran her over while taking my newly acquired mindset out for a spin. Now the bigger issue for me is: How do I implement this concept of disappointing others rather than myself — without disappointing them too much? How can I remain self-focused and bent on not disappointing myself — without being a total jerk and giving myself a black-eye in the process? Is there a balance? And am I back on the road to self-disappointment by even worrying about that balance?


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