It’s not so much a crisis of faith as my ever-grasping attempt to see the world as black and white. It would be so handy if everyone and everything conformed to my sense of cause and effect. For example:
Treat someone with kindness, understanding and sympathy and they rise to the occasion. It happens, but no guarantees.
Set expectations and people meet them with no personal baggage or whining. It happens, but again no guarantees.
Decide on an exercise plan, put it down on paper and watch the pounds melt away. Uhm, nope. Never happens. Might help, but no magic wand here.
No amount of planning will change the people around me. The one thing I can count on is that everyone will be exactly who they are at all times regardless of what I do or don’t do – and that includes me. And, it’s not my fault OR credit.
Perhaps that’s the answer to my crisis of faith. It’s not a crisis of faith in others, but in my ability to influence them to act the way I want them to. In my ability to persuade them to be good and kind. In my ability to control them.
Here’s some honesty for ya.
That deep seated need for control is the foundation for many abused children and we struggle our entire lives to rid ourselves of that drive. (by the way, having been an abused child is not my identity. it’s just something that was. not my fault and not my job to keep secret.)
I abdicated situational control a long time ago. You know, put a plan in motion, get others involved and then largely get out of their way. I’m supportive and have input, but am also comfortable with the fact that the end result will be more the other person’s dictate than mine.
An easy, recent example is in managing front of house stuff for SITP. I had a House Manager and a core staff of volunteers. I was there to do the initial set-up and communication, checked in, and then got out of their way. One measure of choosing the right people is how effective they are in taking theory and turning it into functional reality. They were amazing.
I have lots of satisfying situational examples like that. Start the ball rolling, bounce it on to the best people and help them keep it in the air – with zero delusions that I’m the one doing it. I also have some examples of how that didn’t work so well. That’s life.
On the other end of the spectrum is my relationship with other people’s personal behaviour. When someone on my team or in my life doesn’t live up to my hopes and expectations, it slices into my soul. It’s not fair – to me and to them.
How dare I assign myself the role of god? How dare others assign me that role?
I didn’t learn this behaviour in a vacuum. It was survival. As a little girl, I got by by making the world a better place. I made people filled with self-hate and violence feel like they weren’t so bad. I learned that that was my role in life.
Then, I started healing by avoiding those kinds of people. Sociopaths. Megalomaniacs. Sycophants. All kinds of paths-iac-phants. That helped me progress down the path toward re-learning my place in the world. Therapeutic avoidance – it’s a good first step. Well, I can’t avoid a large part of the world population forever. You know, that group of people who are being who they are. It’s time to figure out how to get along and it’s not by trying to control them with kindness, love and acceptance.
I apologize for profiling. Not everyone with a funky personality quirk is psychotic. I am looking at the extremes here. But, it’s often an extreme that brings to head a crisis of faith.
Let’s see. I preach that you’re either growing or dying. There’s no treading water in life. One of the most significant things I can do in my life is create and embrace a new connection to my relationships with difficult people. It’s happening. This is a big blip because it’s so extreme and there’s so much of it all at once.
There’s certainly a lot of love out there too. I have felt it in so many ways. It’s … Wow.
Now, that’s a good balance.
Susan Scot Fry
Update… I am not this one dimensional. If you know me, you know this. I’m also not a big baby and a whiner. I have damn good reason to feel the way I’m feeling right now. I choose to look at myself and how I can grow instead of blathering on about the crap causes. No, I’m not sharing tons of details on what’s happened because it’s not the point.
Yes, I’m feeling a little defensive because I choose not to get into it with some people who feel they have an obligation to point out how limited my perspective is. Which just goes to illustrate my point even further.
Well, I do open myself up for criticism so I guess I need a thicker shell. Perhaps it’s because I’m feeling a little fragile to begin with.