If a Picture Paints a Thousand Words . . .

. . . then why can’t I paint you?

Those were the opening lyrics to a song by Bread, a soft-rock group from the early 70s. The next line of the song is “The words will never show the you I’ve come to know.” So since we’re talking about pictures and how we know people, it seems an opportune time to talk about reframing. 

Reframing is a tool for changing the way a person or event or thought is perceived. It’s most often used to convert a negative perception to a more positive one. It’s worth noting that reframing an experience is not a form of denial. Denial is refusing to see. Reframing is choosing to see differently. It has the power to free us from the hold of past experience. 

Let’s say someone you work with, let’s call him Brad, acts in a dominating manner in meetings, interrupts others when they are speaking, and displays a form of aggressiveness that feels almost like bully behavior. You’ve been on the receiving end of this behavior a few times, and it made you mad.  Truth be told, it hurt. 

You have the option of reframing the behavior.  Is this really Brad?  Or is this just the Brad I’ve come to know? When Brad interrupts and talks over others . . . could it be possible that he never felt heard in his family? When he acts in a manner that feels aggressive, perhaps he has a deeply held fear of being overlooked or not considered. 

Now, I’m not advocating that you accept unhealthy behavior from other people. Drawing boundaries of acceptable treatment is an important form of self-care. But as you’re trying to navigate the waters of working with this person, it might be that the only power you have at the moment is the power over your own perceptions. 

This type of reframing is the heart and soul of much spiritual evolution.  It is the essence of Byron Katie’s teachings, known simply as “The Work.” In this work, Katie teaches to reframe by asking four questions: 

  1. Is it true?
  2. Can I absolutely know it’s true?
  3. How do I act or feel when I believe it’s true?
  4. Who would I be without that thought? 

So, is it true that Brad is simply an inconsiderate bully?  Can I absolutely know that Brad’s behavior stems only from inconsideration and selfishness?  We can’t absolutely know the root of Brad’s behavior, and it may stem from causes we can’t see. 

How do I act or feel when I believe Brad is simply selfish and inconsiderate? Well, I’m hurt and mad and cautious around Brad, and maybe I don’t speak up in meetings as much as I normally would because I don’t want to get as mad as I’ll get if he interrupts me again. I could list many feelings and reactions I might have, but it’s easy to see that as long as I believe Brad is simply a selfish bully, all of my energy regarding him is going to be negative.  And negative energy does not offer space for improvement or healing or peace. 

Who would I be if I didn’t believe Brad was a selfish bully? Perhaps I would be more compassionate about what might cause his behavior. Perhaps I would be able to address his behavior without the explosive energy I often feel about him. Perhaps I might even start to see him not as the Brad I’ve come to know, but in a totally different way, possibly even as the Brad he truly is. 

For information about Byron Katie’s teachings, go to thework.com 

Water Signs

Some streams out west
disappear, evaporate
into steam. Short-lived
snowmelt runs clear,
then runs dry.

Some streams back east
vanish into sinkholes.
Limestone caves
with unseen torrents
pulsing underground.

Some streams grow
to creeks and rivers.
A Lake Itasca trickle
reaches New Orleans
mighty fine.

No one knows what this
stream of ours becomes
But it flows like it has
important to be.

© 2020 Deb Moore, All Rights Reserved

Deb’s Life: Take 48. And . . . Action!

For the last 29 years, I have been primarily focused on, motivated by, and invested in a primary relationship.  For those who know me, you know it hasn’t always been the same one.  There have been two profound and lengthy relationships, ones which I would call “marriages” despite the legal limitations.  Those two relationships dominated the last 18 years.  There were others, not as long but also important.

During those 29 years (and, yes, every time I write that number I taste a little vomit in the back of my throat), my energy, my earning power, and my ego were all wrapped up in the identity I clung to as one half of a coupled whole.  I heard myself introduced as the unit so often I now have to remind myself that my first name isn’t actually “Deband.”

These relationships were deeply important to me, and I certainly don’t want anything I write to imply otherwise.  My most recent relationship, especially, is still a tender place deep within that alternately sends waves of sadness and release flooding through my spirit.  I mourn it daily.  But, this particular post isn’t really about that, . . . the “that” which is still too real and close and painful to take life in the written word.

This post is about what I didn’t focus on for the past 29 years.  My drive, my natural abilities, my career, my professional fulfillment.  It is about the Ph.D. I didn’t get (yet!), the job security I didn’t manifest, the retirement fund I didn’t build.  This is not the fault of my relationships; it is the fault of the way I was in my relationships.  I operated on the principle that relationships always took priority, but I never realized how I neglected my relationship with myself.

I was a hell of a partner in many ways.  I knew how to show up, support, be strong.  I knew the characteristics of a “good partner,” and I knew just when and how to display them.  I knew how to appear the way I knew others, my partner AND friends and family, expected me to appear.

Some might say I was playing a part.  If you are currently mad at me, your verbage would be that “it was all a big act.”  But the only act a person can keep up for 10 years (18 years, 29 years) is a delusion perpetuated on self.  A consciously directed duplicity would be a role that I, for one, could never maintain for an extended period without breaking out of character.

What really happened is this:  I loved some people really well for a long time over the last three decades, but I never had the proper perspective on where I fit in those equations.  I helped to create a sense of home and family, but I forgot to build in my personal aspirations or pave a way for my core needs to be met.  Deband was all over it, but Deb was nowhere to be found.

So, I’m 47.  I’m filling out grad school applications.  My car is the bottom-of-the-line Toyota, the kind I would have bought at 22 when I still could only dream of the cars I would yet own.  I fold my own clothes and toast my own bagel.

I have two dogs and a five-year plan.  Most importantly, I have me.  Perhaps for the very first time, I have me.