Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Personal Responsibility

In the above video, Phil McCluskey talks about this important topic of personal responsibility, a theme that is reverberating within me these past few days of this new year. This is probably the most crucial topic for me as I continue my path to fitness in 2009. No one but me is responsible for carrying around pounds and pounds of excess weight on my body for close to 10 years! Yes, I may have had some challenges along the way that contributed directly to it (for example ... a deeply emotional event in 2000 that -- NOT coincidentally -- occurred simultaneously with my thyroid throwing itself totally out of wack; or certain natural hormonal shifts taking place in a mid-40's female body) -- but I am STILL responsible for what I chose to do about those challenges once they occur! For there are all kinds of ways to deal with them, and the obvious ways are the ones that work: adjusting exercise frequency UP; eating good food and cutting out garbage food; and (this is BIG) realizing that if one is moving less, one MUST eat less. I failed consistently enough in these areas to stay stuck. And I lacked the brutal honesty to see it.

So what I love most about Philip is his straight talk. He took stock of his life and dared to become totally honest with himself in order to do it. There is a taking stock and a willingness to be totally honest that has to happen before lasting change can occur, and I feel I am finally there.

In addition to taking responsibility for what appears in our lives physically, on this video Phil talks about something else I deeply related to. He speaks about how to handle -- within our own hearts -- the lousy words others may think and/or speak about us. Their sting can initially set us back, but what we ultimately do with those poisonous words is what is important. All of us interpret others' actions through personal lenses. Those "lenses" are all too often conditioned by how we were treated in our lives. The problem is, the reactions we have happen on an unconscious level. (Don't kid yourself, we are ALL products of how we've been treated in life -- from the time we were infants until adulthood -- and we all unconsciously respond in relating to others, be they potential lovers, friends, intimates or whatever! It's only recognizing that we do it that helps us STOP doing it!)

In this vein, something I've seen is that people with "trust issues" find it nearly impossible to trust that others have good motives towards them. Instead their default is that others are "out to get them" in some way. They get what they expect. Yes WE get what WE expect. It's universal. So those w/ trust issues end up ascribing to others lousy character traits at the slightest sign of a communication upset or at the first hint of anything that could be interpreted as disapproval. They interpret things as personal affronts when there are totally innocent reasons for how a person is acting! They attach distorted meaning to the one they feel offended by and attribute motives to him/her that are not in that person's heart at all!

But what dooms the relationship is that they do it all without checking in with the other person to see if what they are thinking really is, in fact, so!

THIS is the truth of what happened to me about a year or so ago. And as if that weren't bad enough, I recently was the target of a rant regarding that encounter (and by someone I still have great affection for -- although I don't exactly know WHY I still do) on a public bulletin board where we are both known to have been an "item" (for lack of a much better word at the moment)! It bothered me deeply, bringing me to tears. As I mulled the stinging words written of me, I questioned why he'd open anew a wound that surely he'd realized had been somewhat 'healed' by time ... or at least scarred over. His broaching the subject in the manner and place he did was nothing but cruel. (The hallmark of cruelty is that it is coldly indifferent to the feelings of others. It's my view that cruelty springs from deep soul wounds -- but the person writing of me on that board would be infuriated if I dared think he had any of those.)

The alternative would have been to write me personally to let me know why he felt the need to totally shut down emotionally, intellectually and socially from me whilst I was visiting him. That would require sincere communication . . . with honesty and courage -- and without anger and judgment. You know, this person once implied (for whatever perceived slight of the moment) that he did not much respect me (one of many insults I foolishly endured of this person over far too much time). Well, I find nothing more defining of disrespect in a relationship than a person unwilling to speak the truth to a person face to face rather than waiting until there is distance between them.

In this video, Phil touches on how other people need not ever "hurt" us again. But this only happens as we grow in awareness of who we really are. When we stand on the truth of ourselves, when another's cruelty crops up, what we can do is offer up a prayer and forgive them. I could do that with this person because the reality is that he does not know me the way he thinks he does. His thinking he knows me through and through makes all he thinks about me true in his mind. There is nothing I can do to change it as he's closed the door to relating in any way, but what is good is that I don't see it as a personal attack anymore. It cannot be if it's an unknowing, a genuine blind spot! Unfortunately for me, it's one he likely will never shake, for once we humans feel RIGHT about our own assessments of others, it's nearly impossible to rethink or reassess them! So, really, how can I be unforgiving in a case such as that? More importantly, though . . . Why let someone who knows me so little (indeed, who cares not to know me at all!) rob me of a moment's peace by considering his distorted view of me as reality?

Perhaps if we had had some sincere and in-depth conversations together (rather than being emotionally shut out and "endured" for three weeks) . . . conversations that had some real genuine fun and substance to them, with a loving give-and-take . . . conversations that had endearing and "interested-in-you" questions asked and answered of one another, conversations where the natural wit we each possess was allowed to come to the fore . . . conversations that revealed some stories of our lives that we both could lovingly relate to . . . perhaps THEN we might have dropped our guards and judgments of each other, and things would have been quite different.

But that is a big "what if," eh? Huge really. Untrusting, almost paranoid, sensitivity is a killer to good conversation and hearts opening, and we each had our fair share of that going on! And even more true in this case -- one making snap judgments of the other -- then feeling justified in "shutting one's self down" as a result of them -- hardly allows the truth of another's soul to be known, does it?

Yet . . . despite my experience, I love the heck out of the person. And that can't ever be a bad thing as long as I acknowledge it as the lost-forever opportunity it is. My heart's response, though, to the nasty comment revealed that -- to my sorrow -- it is a lost opportunity I still grieve.

Going forward, I think I've finally gotten the lessons needed (let's hope!) so that when I DO encounter that someone I'm meant to love who is willing to love me back -- because he knows a gem when he sees one and also how to treat one (!) -- it will all happen quite beautifully in its own time and place.

Hope you enjoy Phil's video. Check out all his other videos too -- at You'll be enlightened and enriched.