At My Expense!
“I define connection as the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard, and valued; when they can give and receive without judgment; and when they derive sustenance and strength from the relationship.” (Brené Brown) Have you ever found yourself starting a sentence with, “People always...”? When we make these types of generalizations we leave little room for the individualization of others. The terms “all” and “everybody” tends to group people based on biases and usually in a not so positive light. This grouping is usually formed out of our past encounters with a few. When met with experiences that feel familiar to the toxic exchanges of our past, our self-preservation kicks in and causes us to either shut down or act out. Some situations can make us feel targeted as if people are trying to come up in some way at our expense. Whether it is merely to feel better about themselves or lashing out at you because you trigger something within them; not knowing the reason for this person’s behavior can create unwelcomed anxiety and animosity within you. Enough of these interactions can cause you to become cynical and cautious about how and where you show up. I am fully aware of how this can make you feel. I am nobody’s doormat and you will not gain access to my world by walking over me. The connection, I have with others must always be mutually beneficial. So how do we experience the benefits of healthy connections?
'Cause I can't point 'em out
I won't say their names
I don't know the damage
Or which one to blame
It's just people, people
People by Jonathan McReynolds
With our finite understanding, we tend to easily recognize the dysfunction in others. The act out and act up people display causes us to want to either match their energy or keep our distance. How do we handle difficult people? How do we manage the misunderstandings and mishandling of our feelings, with those who won’t address the cracks in their consciousness? It is our self-awareness that provides the clarity we need to see ourselves and to see others more clearly. I have recently said this a few times; there must be a willingness for all, to acknowledge, assess, and adjust to experience healthy engagement. Each one of us must be willing to identify the triggers in our lives and if possible where they originated. In doing my own self-work, I acknowledge it may take years before you get to the source of what triggers you, but that does not mean that lack of clarity is an excuse to act out when triggered. “The baggage I sometimes carry keeps me from carrying yours.” (Kandii Lang) Your deliverance and how you respond is your responsibility.
She was the reason I smiled in the morning
He took the last bit of joy I was storing
That's too much power for anything human
People by Jonathan McReynolds
Who are you giving your power to? I have learned to only have great expectations for those I have identified as credible voices in my life. Maya Angelou has taught us, “When people show you who they are, believe them.” I believe people can change, but there must be a continuous demonstration of their corrected behavior not just momentary transactions and mere words. When you learn to distinguish, your ministry, and/or assignments from your relationships, resources for reciprocity, you will minimize your struggle with God’s flawed humanity. How does this occur?
Above, I mentioned the need for each one of us to practice acknowledging, assessing, and adjusting. We are rescued or set free from the residual effects of people when we look to God for His intervention and guidance. The reason we get stuck in the toxic vortex of others is that we make their drama or trauma about us. I am here to tell you that it is so not. There are days we will need to allow people to be who they are where they are and trust God with the outcome. Love and prayer from a distance is also a caring response for people who show up negatively or irresponsibly. The other side of the proverbial people coin is how we ourselves show up.
Forgive me when I'm one of those (people)
- People by Jonathan McReynolds
How self-aware are you when it comes to how you are perceived when you are having a bad moment, day, month, or season? I know when I am not paying attention, and revert back to the auto-responses I created in my survival mode, how I show up may not be so pleasant. This is where I have to ask God to forgive me for being one of the people that I identify, but fail to identify with. “Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. (Ian Macloren) This is a reminder that I must be willing to extend grace to the broken and broken-hearted just like God extends grace to me. My constant prayer is, “Lord, deliver me.”
I pray that what I have shared opens up an opportunity for you to consider that you are worth the effort it takes to do the work needed to operate from a healthy and whole space; and in doing so, increase your ability to show grace and empathy to others struggling to find their way. Remember, WE ARE ALL PEOPLE!
Until next time... Be Empowered!
This week’s blog is inspired by a conversation had in a recent Bible study at Love Church. Shout out to TEAM Love! In the lesson, we explored what the song, “People” by Jonathan McReynolds meant to each of us as we tried to understand the influence of people in our lives. Check it out on Facebook, it was a great conversation.