Friday, May 1, 2009

What a Week!

Ahhh... I have so many things to write about this week. Where to start....

I had an amazing experience with an old friend with whom I've worked over the years. He and another friend had been having issues with one another over the past few months. Normally, this isn't anything I'd be concerned about. However, in this case, the issues had escalated to the point of interfering with a bunch of activities that I'd planned.

So, I told the first friend that I was going to hold off on working together further until he and the second friend worked out their issues. As you might know from my other blogs, I'm into low drama in my life and I actively avoid artificially created dramatic situations.

Anyway, the issue was something that I thought could be resolved quickly (literally in a couple of minutes with a conciliatory phone call) and that was pretty much my expectation. What happened, was anything but that, which was totally awesome as it turned into this incredible experience.

First, rather than my first friend making a conciliatory phone call to my second friend (which I thought would pretty much wrap up everything), the first friend decided to make the whole situation incredibly challenging for himself.

Second, when the first friend found himself challenged by the email I'd sent, rather than calling me and talking about it, he decided to talk about it to pretty much everyone else we both know. This was especially interesting as my friend and I had had a longstanding understanding that we would both always take our issues with one another to each other and not to third parties.

But wait, it gets better! Third, as my friend informed others of the challenges I'd foisted upon him, the whole situation apparently escalated into a discussion of loyalty, picking sides, etc. As I understand it, there were discussions, assumptions, accusations, angst, anger, concerns... an amazing feast of fear, judgment and all sorts of things that I've decided to avoid in my life.

Now, to be clear, the only reason I have any insight into any of this happening is that a couple of friends who had experienced some of this decided to tell me about it; I don't have first hand experience with what was said or not. Still, as I understand from the friends who did witness all this, the situation escalated to the point where some people were actually being asked to choose sides (i.e., are they with me or with my friend). It was totally bizarre and I can't decide whether it reminds me more of high school or the weapons of mass destruction that got us into Iraq.

Remarkably, although there were apparently many accusations about me and how I operate, almost none of the people involved (especially those that apparently participated in the side-choosing activities) ever called me or asked me for my perspective.

So, what I thought was a relatively straightforward and simple activity escalated into... well, I'm not sure what it's escalated into yet, but it's definitely not the kind of drama I want in my life.

That all said, here's what I've learned and/or reinforced for myself over the past week. They coincide with some of the things I've been reading lately in a book called The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. Essentially, the four agreements are straightforward, simple and, I believe, amazingly useful. Here they are (loosely paraphrased).

1. Say what you mean and mean what you say
2. Take nothing personally
3. Don't make assumptions
4. Do the best you can

Since I participated in the course a course focused on authenticity in relationships, I've been wholly bought into Agreement #1. I think that being clear, specific and saying what I think is the easiest way to go. I love living a life that's spin-free.

Taking nothing personally (Agreement #2) has been a cornerstone of my relationship with Iris. It allows each of us to experience our own challenges, unhappiness and issues without the other getting dragged into them. We end up being much better positioned to support each other when we don't make it personal.

Agreement #3 played out incredibly this week, what I believe could have been resolved in minutes, well, has turned into something that I'm not sure can (or will) be resolved (my assumption for now).

Agreement #4 is great to me as it's always good to recognize that our "obligation" is to do the best we can, not necessarily to succeed. At points in time, I was actually feeling like I should "fix" the situation, and now I've just relaxed into what I'm doing is the best I know how to do and that everything will work out, even if it doesn't work out in the manner that everyone would like.

So, that's a bit of a ramble for me, but it was nice to share this with you. I hope you have an amazing week in which you're totally authentic, take nothing personally, make no assumptions and do your best (not your perfect).


  1. That's quite a situation you have described there, and it's amazing to read how you're going through it. There have been people situations in my life where I was able to 'see' the dynamics playing out without getting caught up in it personally, and I remember it being such a relief not to have the drama affect me, and not to have to play roles, etc.

    The book sounds great; I've put it on my reading list.

    Has anybody here read the book "Non-Violent Communication" by Marshall Rosenberg? I've known of it for many years, but only read it a couple months ago, and I thought it was a very effective guide to communicating with people and handling their unhappiness - in harmony with Option but offering a bit more nitty-gritty guidance. I plan to go through it again, this time with the intention to apply it, but would love hearing others' experiences with it, if any.

  2. Hi Sree,

    I'm for sure going to check out the book you mention and will let you know my insights afterwards :-)

  3. Hi,

    I totally love Marshal Rosenberg - if you have a chance to meet him I'll say: GO! - he is a great example of a person who used to be angry and completely changed it.

    Teflon, I didn't connect this name with you, but I want to say that I'm truely amazed with the kind of happy, easy, non-judgemental attitude you seemed to approach a situation which happend "around" you - without your presence but which could have concequences for you.

    Why don't we change the name of this blog to "Life Transitions" - I would love to be author in a blog for people who are inspired by the option process, who loves what is taught at the option institute and who wanna share and keep alive how this is applies to their lives.

    Since it seems to be a day of quotations I would love to quote Thich Nhat Hahn from the book "The art of Power":

    "Our society is founded on a very limited definition of power, namely wealth, professional success, fame, physical strength, military mights, and political control. My dear friends, I suggest that there is another kind of power, agreater power: the power to be happy right in the present moment, free from addictions, fear, despair, discrimination, anger, and ignorance. This power is the birthright of every human being, whether celebrated or unknown, rich or poor, strong or weak. Let's explore this extraordinary kind of power.

    Love Joy


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