Surviving the Shitstorm (Ep.35)

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I think sometimes life can really wear you down. By life, I mean people. People can be right shits and have no idea the impact that they’re having on you.  Sometimes they know and even hope that their actions are tearing you apart. They deliberately try to create a shitstorm in your life and it can suck. The time we spend thinking about that, dwelling on it and letting it get to us can allow their actions and hurtful words drag us down, rendering us unable to move forward, stealing our joy. I think of it like this.  If you’re paddling a canoe - and that’s your metaphor for life, right, you’re paddling along the river of your life in a canoe… and people come along and dump their crap in your canoe… It can happen once or twice without dramatically affecting your ability to keep rowing… You see it there, you keep rowing, you look at it, turn it around, sort out if its yours or not yours, toss it back out of the canoe and keep rowing.  That’s life.  That’s how we handle the crap that people shove at us and its all good and well until it’s more than one person shoving their shit in your canoe, and it’s happening regularly.  Then what happens is you are really tested.  If you don’t know how to get that shit out of your canoe and get it out fast then it’s only a matter of time until you sink.  If you can learn how to get the shit out quick, you’re onto something, but even then, it’s even more effective if you can learn how to protect your canoe and not let other people’s shit get in there in the first place.

I talk about healthy relationships a LOT and in my opinion choosing your friends wisely is the quickest way to protect your canoe.  Straight up, choosing people who don’t dump their crap in other people’s canoes is going to prevent soooo much crap getting in and dragging you down.  BUT what happens when you’re trapped in an environment where you’re not able to choose.  Still living at home with toxic relatives, or in a work environment where your co-workers are consistent shit-chuckers. Even studying, being in any environment where you’re grouped with people you didn’t choose, can place your canoe in a vulnerable position.

So this episode, let’s have a look at first how you can protect your canoe (which is a metaphor for your heart and soul), and then we’ll have a look at the ways to get other people’s shit out of your canoe and quickly, before your boat starts to sink (which, by the way can look like you’re losing your shit, getting emotional, overly frustrated over things which don’t normally get to you, or even further down the scale can manifest itself as anxiety or depression).

One thing I will say before I go any further; if you’re hurting, you need to do something.  Pain, physical, mental or otherwise is life’s way of telling us to stop and have a look.  There is a choice to be made.  There is action to take.  Physical pain might be telling us to take our hand off the hot stove, while mental anguish might be telling us that we need to step back from people who are hurting us, or that we need to create clearer boundaries, or something. Learning to listen to your pain, decipher what it's telling you and work with it to grow is a huge part of maturing. People who hide from their pain by medicating it, drinking it away or ignoring it don’t learn from it and then they don’t grow, and the same shit happens over and over and over.  We don’t need to keep repeating this.  If it hurts - good - let it hurt,  and let that hurt motivate you to change something.  

Ok, so on to protecting your canoe. Let’s start with a reminder of WHY we look after our own heart and soul:

Proverbs 4:23 says Above all else, guard your heart for it is the wellspring of life.

Now, no, I’m not going to start trying to convert you to a particular religion, but that instruction is definitely up there with one of the wisest pieces of advice I have ever heard.  

As a mother, if my heart is damaged, if I am hurt, I get closed, I get hard, I get harsh.  If that’s the case, and that is the place that I am coming from, how can I love my kids well? How can I bring to them the best of me?  As a child, a friend, a member of my community, the same thing applies. So you might not have kids but if someone damages your heart and you’re having to be ‘hard’ in order to keep going and in order to survive, then not only are you unable to bring the best of you to the people you love, but you’re also unable to receive the love of the people who care for you and who AREN’T trying to dump their shit in your canoe. If you can’t be vulnerable you can’t be open, you can’t receive and you can’t give well.

There’s your reason for looking after your heart.  Sometimes, if you’re already suffering with a low self-esteem, it’s easy to think that you’re not worth looking after.  But when you see it like this, and you frame it so it is not all about you and whether or not you and your heart are valuable, it helps you to prioritise looking after your heart whether or not you’re feeling worthy of being looked after.  In short, looking after your own heart and soul is not just for you - it’s your responsibility to those around you as well.

So now we’ve covered the why, let’s look at the how. In previous episodes I have already spoken about choosing good friends, the why and how to do that.  This episode its’ not about that, because I’m assuming you already have that knowledge: good friends don’t put their shit in your canoe.  Now lets look at how to protect your canoe from people who may not be good friends, or even friends at all.

If you’re finding yourself forced to spend time with or be in community with people who are serial mojo killers, let’s look at ways that we can limit their impact.

First, we have our physical space, our physical boundaries.  In short, keep away from them.  Unless you’re being forced to share a small space with them, for the most part, use physical space as a boundary, keep out of their space, keep them out of yours.  If they deliberately seek you out because they want to put their shit in your canoe, move.  Go somewhere else.  If you need to speak to someone about that; do it.  In the big world there are legal ramifications to stalking or harassing someone. If you’re in an educational institution talk to the student support person, or a teacher about where you can go for support, or what you can do to prevent that person from continuing to harass you. If you are in a work environment, speak to your supervisor or your boss.  If you’re in a community and the situation calls for it, speak to the police.  No one has the right to continue to come into your personal space with drama and bullshit no matter what they think about you.  I know ‘noone likes a dobber’, but at the end of the day, this is your life.  This is YOUR canoe.  Looking after it is way more important than adhering to a code that to be quite frank, came from someone who wanted to get away with doing the wrong thing.  That’s who came up with that; criminals and bullies.  My code is this: you mess with me and I’ll use whatever I can to make sure you keep your shit out of my canoe. My canoe staying afloat is my number one priority because ultimately I have a purpose for my life and I have goals and dreams and gifts and abilities to really make a difference to the world I live in and I won’t be able to do any of it if I’m too busy trying to keep a sinking canoe from sinking.  

Physical boundaries are big.  You have space, and you have skin. Remembering someone’s words can’t get under your skin unless you let them is a big trick too. If someone makes it past the physical boundaries of space and moves into your personal space bubble, use your skin.  Move away as quickly as possible, but remember they are talking to the outside of you; what they can see, what they have judged with their own flawed perception and that’s not the real you. The real you is nowhere near your skin. It’s so much deeper than that. Let them talk to your name badge or your uniform but know that the real you doesn’t have to be there and listen.  It’s really helpful in customer service roles where you’re dealing with complaints.  When they’re all up in your grill abusing YOU because they’re not happy, you can remember that it’s not YOU they’re unhappy with - it’s the service. You are not the service.  So you can let the abuse fall on the outside and not take it inside with you.  In terms of community and ‘freindship groups’ I have a really special bit of information especially for women: The better you are, the more amazing, bright, brilliant and gorgeously talented you are, the more the haters will hate.  It does go for anyone but I have noticed that women can be especially viscous when they’re jealous. Haters will literally hate anything because that's what they do but if it’s especially venomous, spiteful and deliberately trying to cause you emotional harm, know that it’s probably fueled by jealousy and just pity them because it is very clear that they don’t understand the beauty inside of themselves.  They don’t value themselves, and they don’t love themselves (the evidence is that people with a good sense of their own value and worth don’t go around being awful) so seriously pity them and remember that’s a really rotten space to be in and it has NOTHING to do with you. They just have too much of their own shit in their canoe and they’re trying to shove it in someone else's’ canoe - it just happens to be yours this week. You can’t make them love themselves. You playing smaller, being uglier or less popular or more stupid will not increase their self-esteem.  

There’s a quote I’ve quoted about a thousand times and here it is again:

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people will not feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone and as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give others permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others". - Marianne Williamson from 'A Return To Love'.

It’s true.  Not only will you being brilliant inspire more hate from haters because they haven’t figured this out for themselves yet, but on the flip side, that other person who isn’t taking out their frustrations or low self-esteem on other people’s canoes is just waiting for someone else to shine so they can shine too.  Sometimes we need permission from someone else.  Sometimes we ARE that permission for someone else.  So every time that someone is hating on you for being awesome, remember that at the very same time, someone out there is looking at you and growing in strength because of YOU and looks at YOU for inspiration.  When that shit comes at your canoe - think of that.  Think to yourself “this is not my shit and it does NOT belong in my canoe”.

The other part I will touch on is social media and text messages.  There are so many keyboard warriors in this day and age; people who are big and tough when it comes to sending something via the digital world but would never in a million years say it to your face.  BLOCK THEM.  If someone is an asshole - BLOCK THEM.  If they use their friends accounts or phones: BLOCK THEM.  If it doesn’t stop, screen shot it and send it to someone who can do something about it.  I once had some abusive text messages from a man and he soon stopped when I started to forward them to his mother.  I had a woman who saw me at a gig and it was hate at first sight - she stalked my website, she sent hate mail, she commented on everything I put out… I blocked her.  She can’t write on my website any more.  Eventually she gave up. What was important was that I knew, deep down in my soul that her hatred had NOTHING to do with me.  Her words couldn’t touch me simply because I knew that they were deliberately designed to cause as much hurt as possible and for someone to have that much hatred for me without even knowing me - there was only one motivation behind that: jealousy.  It must suck to carry around that much rage at other people simply because you don’t love yourself enough to pursue your own dreams and your own life and place your focus and energy there.  

The other thing I will touch on before I go, and this is something that I have witnessed more than once - I’ve had it happen to me (not recently), but I’ve seen it happen with people I love.  When you’ve had friends and it turns ugly.  You know what, you can’t make people’s choices for them.  You can’t make people have integrity and values that align with yours.  You can’t stop people from being a hater.  So first, remember this when you’re choosing them.  If they’re hating on other people it’s only a matter of time before that gets directed at you.  But if it’s happening to you right now you need to remember that this person is not your friend.   Good freinds don’t call you names.  Good freinds don’t treat you like shit.  Good freinds don’t bitch about you behind your back.  Ultimately, you get to choose in this instant.  They might have been your friend before but they will never be good for you.  Choose to have good freinds now, and in the future. Let their actions be reminders that you will only let good people into your life.  Treat them just like you would a stalker or random stranger hater because they aren’t your friends.  Block them, delete them, keep them away physically, do what it takes to create as much space as possible, and don’t let their shit in your canoe.  

I have one more tip for surviving the shitstorm but just before I get to that, I’d like to let you all know that I am officially open to take clients for life coaching.  If you’d like to make a booking head to transformationalpersonalgrowth.com/bookings and don’t panic if you’re not in Australia - I do meetings over Skype and I have an international calendar where you can put in your time zone and work out the time that works for you.  

If you haven’t joined the mailing list yet, you can do that at transformationalpersonalgrowth.com - I like to send out weekly inspiring emails to remind you (and me) what’s really important and what we focus on is especially important when we are dealing with humans that are trying to create a shitstorm for you.  That’s the last thing I will leave with you.  If someone does say or do something hurtful; don’t ruminate on it.  Those words aren’t important because they’re just someone elses issues coming up for them. That’s theirs.  Don’t allow that to be your focus, or it ends up in your canoe as dead weight dragging you down. Take your immediate focus, and look at where you WANT to go. Look at your goals, look at who you want to be, remember who you are, and where you’re going and row, row, row that boat.  

If you haven’t figure that out - that’s where coaching with me can help. Oh yeah, nice plug for my services right there… BOOM!

That’s it from me this week.  See you next episode!

This Blog was released on iTunes as a podcast - Episode 35 of The Transformational Personal Growth Podcast... Listen HERE.