31 Days of Self Love
Day 9: What is something in your life that you need to get rid of?
20 months ago I was deep in purge mode.
When I decided to move to Stockholm for a job, I got rid of so much stuff. I mean I basically gutted myself of my possessions. I saw Marie Kondo’s tidying up, and raised her one completely empty 3 story townhouse. It was the ultimate moment of going “all in”.
Sometimes I still look in boxes and drawers and think “I didn’t actually get RID of that did I?” The answer is always yes. Yes I did get rid of it. Sitting a year and a half removed and with a 2 story apartment full of stuff again, the idea of getting rid of stuff is both good and loaded.
What do I need to get rid of??
And then it hits me…the thing I most need to get rid of can’t be packed up in a box or given away to Goodwill. I need to get rid of this thing in me that believes I should be able to see around every corner, plan for every possibility, and, when this magic trick fails, blames and shames me until I can barely lift my head.
As a kid, survival meant paying attention to every move every member of our family was making and then deciding how to react. It was critical that I was flexible and able to move with the chaos. But over time, I began to anticipate the moves of the others in the house so that I could bob and weave at all the right times.
As I’ve gotten older, my skill at anticipating people’s needs or next steps is still really strong. This is how I’ve managed to build a successful career in Product Management and meet customer needs. It is a key to how I build and lead teams. I’m a good listener because I’m pretty confident that I’ve heard and seen it all.
Humans, for the most part, aren’t all that creative in their reactions to stress or love.
The key in that last sentence is “for the most part”. When humans behave, as humans will, irrationally or erratically, I am still so surprised. And then the shame starts…
“Why didn’t I see that coming?”
“I didn’t have a backup plan in case he behaved that way.”
“I can’t believe I was caught by surprise.”
I want to get rid of the part of me that thinks I have to know how you will behave OR have a backup plan if you behave badly. Instead I want to let people be human. I want to just smile (or at least remain unfazed) when people behave in ways that I don’t expect. I do not want to have endless backup plans for what I will do when things don’t go well.
I want to trust myself.
I want to trust my own reactions. I want to trust my intuition. I want to trust that I can remove myself from situations that are harmful. I want to trust that I can calmly call you out if you behave like a dick towards other people. And I want to let you be responsible for your bad behavior without taking it upon myself.
Today I get rid of my need to protect you from yourself and plan around you. Today I give you the option to be an asshole without it being in any way a reflection on me. You do you. And I’ll let you.