Is there some one in your life who ties you up in knots, or turns your insides to jelly, and not in a good way? Do other people seem to think you should "just let it roll off", and do you ever find yourself wondering HOW to do that? I mean, if you could just let it roll off, you wouldn't be feeling pissy or anxious, right?
When I was growing up, I could see that there were some people who gave my mother an ulcer. Literally. This morning, I find myself chewing on worries and festering in anticipation of an interaction in the next 24 hours that is sure to be adversarial. I will probably be confronted, accused, and told in no uncertain terms what a bad person I am. The other possibility is that I will be pointedly ignored and shut out. I feel trapped; I cannot avoid this person without significant personal cost that I am unwilling to pay. (Boy, can't imagine why I dread this, can you?)
In the middle of this gnawing, and the resentment that somebody so toxic can end up eating up so much of my personal time, I thought of my mother's ulcer, and then flashed on a scene from Labyrinth that I have always loved, in a fluttering-heart you-go-girl sense of knowing what was true and right, and with a sense of envy that she could do it, and a sense of hope that I could do it someday.
There's a scene at the end of the movie, where Sara faces Jareth, who represents, in essence, all her personal shit. She has jumped through countless hoops at the mercy of her personal shit, but it keeps changing up the game on her, until the moment when she realizes that she doesn't have to do it any more, she can take her ball home and refuse to play. She fumbles for her line - she has rehearsed it many times, she knew the day would come when she would need to say it, but she was never able to put the pieces together before...until now, when her personal shit has driven her through one hoop too many. You see her eyes as she gets an "aha" moment, and then she turns and she says:
...and isn't that the key? Isn't really, really believing this to our core the source of the strength to let things roll off? What can the jackasses in our lives really do to us? As I sit and let my anxieties roil, I'm giving away a lot of power. I'm letting that person put me on the defensive even before she's in front of me! Can't I, instead, tell myself that if the person tries to corner me and hurl accusations, I can simplly say "no, thanks" and walk away? She may not be familiar with nonviolent communication but I am. I can invite her to rephrase, and I can say no to any request with which I'm not comfortable.
Years ago a therapist suggested that even if somebody is baiting me, that I can choose not to take the bait. I put that advice into action (or, as it were, inaction) immediately and it was incredibly transformative. Similarly, if a person is trying to engage in a power struggle with me, and I simply won't play, there is no power struggle. I can tell my personal shit that I simply will not be jumping through that hoop. I am the babe with the power and nobody will be putting that magic spell on me.
The choice is mine. I do not have to feel trapped, if I do not choose to be trapped. I have chosen, for important reasons, to continue a relationship with this person. I can also choose to accept the costs. What's more, I can choose to fill my reserves and change my perspective so that their cost is not such a huge hit to my emotional checking account. Less a mortgage payment and more of a 70-cent toll.
What works for you, how do you let it roll off and push through your own goblin city?