Just Say It.

Just say it.

keep-calm-and-just-say-itWhen was the last time you didn’t say something to someone in the moment . . . in real time . . . only to wish later that you would have just given yourself permission to say it?

This seems to be a common experience that we all share.  Many of us have been raised with our default set to humility and a sometimes-overrated sense of politesse.  It wouldn’t be polite to just say what is on our mind or in our heart because we fear sounding rude or abrupt.  We equate graciousness with good manners.  We fear a loss of personal dignity if we respond in a truthful manner.  We fear rejection.  What if someone quit loving us if we just said it?  We are taught to paste a smile on and accept someone else’s bad temper, insensitivity, rudeness, or crudeness . . . because it wouldn’t be polite to respond in a manner that might paint us as the bad guy, the rude girl, the jerk, the b#*@h.

We fear this – a negative judgment from another.  Well, maybe not all of us.  I know several people who just bust a move when it comes to saying something, to self-advocating, to being themselves, to expressing their opinion.  All . . . while the rest of us bottle things in and feel badly or beaten up because we did not express our authentic self or because we didn’t have the chutzpah to stop someone from bullying us.

Why don’t we just say it?  I am not advocating a thoughtless burst of words that take no account of collateral damage.  No one wants to be the belly-acher.  The complainer.  The person who always belches out opinions-as-gospel-truth.  I believe that it is wise to be thoughtful with our words and actions.  It is smart to be aware of and develop our emotional intelligence quotient – our EQ – so that our rational brain has a chance to catch up to our amazingly speedy emotional brain and circumvent an emotional hijacking.  An emotional hijacking can best be described as our amygdala – the specialist for emotional matters – taking control over what we do and/or say while the neocortex – the rational brain – is still coming to a decision.  We all know what it feels like when we have allowed a hijacking to take place . . . those moments when we say, “I can’t believe I actually said that out loud.”  Or “I don’t know what came over me.”  These moments can have defining consequences.

Still.  Remaining pleasantly and politely silent in the face of bullying tactics or plain and simple rudeness or abuse of power has defining consequences, too.  I sometimes wonder if it isn’t better to just say it and deal with the aftermath of a hell-acious emotional hijacking only to find that I am kicking myself later for allowing someone else to thoughtlessly tear down my sense of worth or level of contribution or value to society.

Do one thingI don’t know.  This is tricky stuff.  We want to be good people who are considerate of others.  And there are times when “Just Say It” flies in the face of heroic passivism and turning the other cheek.  But is there a way to balance this . . . especially for the introverts of the world who may not be as comfortable speaking up in public or professional situations?  Is there a way to self-advocate and feel good about the situation later?

I believe there is a way.  I read a quote that really spoke to me at the time, and it has stuck with me these many years later.  This is a paraphrase, I believe: “Say the truth, but say it in love.”  In other words, go ahead and say it, but know what is fueling your words.  Is it anger, jealousy, passive-aggression?  Is it a desire for clarity, for setting the other person straight regarding your thoughts, feelings, or intentions?   As I write, I realize that this quote is the perfect way to pull back on the yoke and glide out of an emotional hijacking situation.  That “just saying it” can be a unifying force.   So, speak the truth, but say it in love.  Love for the other person.  Love for you, yourself.  Love for building a better community.  Love, love, love.toaster oven

Freedom. What is it?

wishing_for_freedom_by_rosiesnotred-d3h0imjWhat is freedom?

When I have asked people this question, their responses have been both delightfully unique and predictably predictable.  Freedom is time for travel, not having to work, doing whatever it is one wants to do, playing music, volunteering, not having to set an alarm clock every night, eating a limitless amount of cheescake and not gaining weight, experiencing no boundaries. . .

Many people equate freedom with money.  Financial freedom has its many perks that allow for choices that can be bought.  Exotic travel, a newer car, a bigger home, a better body that has been nipped, tucked, and enhanced.  A better wardrobe, more shoes, a bigger closet.

But what about those many things in life that do not have a price tag? Like health, love, laughter, respect, integrity . . . many of the things that ask that an active and committed and mindful choice be made.  Choices about the food we eat, how often we exercise, what kinds of supplements we want to add to our diet.  Our choices to extend love, to share, to forgive someone their humanity – even when we truly do not even feel like it.  Our choices to walk through the walls of our ego for a different view and laugh at ourselves and with others.  Choices to not sell ourselves short too quickly for a short-term solution.  Choices to believe that something wonderful is about to happen.  Always . . . believe that something wonderful is about to happen.  Choices to stay on the sunny side and to believe in optimistic outcomes.  All of these choices . . . we have so much freedom to choose in any given second of any given day from an infinite library of perspectives.

But I sometimes think that I tend to oversimplify . . . especially when I am writing at my old, favorite, beat-up library table with a fire going in the fireplace and a glass of white wine nearby.  There is beautiful music playing and it is official: we are on the sunny side of winter solstice.  I am blessed with so much and choices feel easier when life feels good.

I read East of Eden by John Steinbeck many years ago.  The idea of timshel is discussed – the Hebrew word for thou mayest.    We are born with a sense of free will that allows us to make choices for better or for worse.  Timshel is freedom of the mind, but isn’t it also freedom of the heart entwined with freedom of the mind?  I am not sure how to separate the two.  Which camefirst?  The thought or the feeling?  There are neuro-scientists and neuro-psychologists that can surely answer to this.  There is amazing and impressive research concerning our emotional intelligence and what occurs during an emotional hijacking . . . how our emotional brain races ahead of our rational brain.

timshel

Thoughts.  Feelings.  I am convinced that there is an additional element that blends and swirls with our thoughts and our feelings: timshel.  We can accomplish many amazing things; we can meet many goals; we can overcome staggering obstacles.  Amazing and stunning displays of success.  But what came first?  The Thought?  The Feeling that motivates and drives us?  Or the Freedom of Mind that opens the doors that allow our Thoughts and our Feelings to pass vigorously, creatively, and humbly into the worlds and dimensions around us?

john steinbeck quote east of edenWhat is freedom? ” . . . the way is open . . .”  Some definitions of freedom remove obligations but my current definition asks that I embrace responsibility for Freedom of Mind . . . for embracing timshel and understanding that thou mayest means different things to different people.  Defining anything can introduce a wealth of confusion and possibly disagreement.  Words, as wonderful and beautiful and elucidating as they can be, can also limit us in the ways of thou mayest – a blessing of optimism.  “Now that [we] don’t have to be perfect, [we] can be good.”  Simply put . . . what is freedom?  I believe that it is optimism.  Always believing in the possibility that something beautiful has the power to enter into my world. toaster oven