Call it what you will, humanity is head-long into the age of Aquarius … a time where dogmatic, religious, legal, sheeple commandments, “should” according to “they” logic begins to lose their appeal in lieu of taking the reigns of our lives and really digging in to what it means to be human and co-creators of our own realities.
Gradually, we retract the power we have given experts to decide what is psychologically appropriate for us and go into our experience with the eyes of a researcher, a detective and a healer to make things right at the root rather than pay bills for band-aids.
If none of this waxing poetic makes sense, perhaps the later part of this blog post will. I’ve heard them put in other ways--wrapped neatly in the context of boundaries, responsibility, character disorder, neurosis, all kinds of other self-help perspectives. They are the offspring of a bit of advice I received from one of my spiritual mentors who said to me: “Emily, what’s important is to note when it’s their stuff and not yours.” After all the different ways I had heard it put, I have to say that this was the most powerful, albeit pithy, way to put it.
When I can remember to put the following steps into action—when I am brave enough, rather—I am liberated not only from worry but also into a state of more unconditional love toward others.
1. In any situation where you feel panic or anxiety about an exchange with others, ask yourself “whose stuff is this?”
2. Really take the time to reflect and explore deeper than you normally would, who is responsible for what actions, feelings, words, anything that is being exchanged. Go through all of it—as uncomfortable as it sometimes may be—as if sorting out a drawer full of miscellaneous items on a table to clean it out.
3. Act from a place of clarity, knowing what you own and what others need to own. Choose to own your part in any exchange and allow others to own theirs. If they do not, forgive them and make decisions accordingly. The key is to act on what you discover. It may not involve saying anything. It may just involve removing yourself, distance yourself or getting closer and explaining to see if it helps illuminate what is going on. Many times, people are projecting, if you see this, acknowledge that you are no longer a projector screen and either remove yourself or inform them of what they are doing.
4. Hold to your boundaries to create a meaningful and energizing separation of stuff so that each person is invited to be strong and own theirs. If you are the only one in the situation who does this, you are making a difference.
5. Admit that you don’t need others to do this. Do it on principle. Teach through example. Gentle does it. It won’t take much. Just shift your place and actions based on what is your stuff and requires your work, and don’t take on what is not yours.
6. For example: I recently stayed at a bnb and the owner didn’t have a credit card machine. I explained to him that I thought he would be wise to get one or to consider a discount for my bank fees to get him the cash from a foreign country. He did not consider my request. He saw this as my stuff that I should be responsible for. So I told him I would be forced to write in a review to warn others that they must pay cash. The lines quickly blurred—between his stuff and mine—and he became angry because of my actions and began to take his frustration out on me. He accused me of having a lot of money and all kinds of false things. He said “you make me angry!” I looked at him and said “you make yourself angry.” This is the indication that one is sorting through stuff with greater speed. It’s a practice.
7. If you want advanced yet enjoyable training on this, look up Byron Katie. This was one of the first of her videos that I fell in love with. Every one is centered on discovering what your stuff really, truly is. And it might be a surprise to find out!