Over the weekend I had a visit with a new “friend” and found an unexpected opportunity to grow. To put into practice, well, a practice which I’ve been meaning to. This jaunt was with somebody I just met, so I was taking a chance to travel down to stay with them for a couple days – I’m always one for spontaneous adventure. Unfortunately, this person had ulterior motives.
Long story short, this person ended up being incredibly self-absorbed, self-centered, and inauthentic. Most of the time it was subtle, like disengaging and focusing on erroneous things. Literally spending more time looking in the mirror than looking at me. The selfishness escalated to a few climaxes where I was giving in full, and this person was just taking – without ever swinging back towards the other direction. Then having the audacity to play dumb and not see the problem with it when I compassionately called it out.
A friend and I refer to this type of person as the “me me me girl/guy”.
Understand that this little visit wasn’t just a “hey come join me and hang out for a bit”, but rather a “I want to get to know you better, let’s spend some time and explore together”. I’m not needy by any means, nor oblivious to when somebody’s not into me, but when you visit somebody with the purpose of spending time together and you’re giving yourself fully to the moment, you naturally would feel best when the other is doing the same. And when they not only do not, but explicitly say they only want to take from you – it’s kinda shitty.
Imagine being on a date. No big deal for them to check their phones once in awhile or to send a few texts, right? Of course. Freaking out about that would be overreacting. But imagine how it would feel if they were on their phone the entire time messaging other people on Facebook. You confront them about the rudeness, and then they say the only reason they asked you on the date was so you could show them how to use Facebook… like it was no big deal.
It was sort of like that, but worse.
This post is not a rant or complaint, nor is it on social dynamics or relationships. In order to understand the power of the practice I want to share, it’s important to see the “pain” it must confront first.
Here’s where I got stoked about the entire experience, rather than getting pissed off. Instead of getting emotionally upset, feeling sorry for myself and shrinking inwards, or making a huge scene and blowing the situation up into hell for the remainder of my stay – I kept playing all out as if they were also.
I stepped up and kept giving fully, despite not being reciprocated.
I stayed open even as this person closed (and even as I wanted to close off in response).
I used this experience as an opportunity to live and love fully in the face of discomfort, rather than an excuse to use this person to show up closed-off in the world. I chose to keep giving and to keep an open heart, despite knowing that it was likely unrequited.
This was the lesson; the beauty of the experience.
Realizing that I was in fact still giving in the face of selfishness, that I was staying present in the presence of non-presence, and (was trying) to see the best in this person regardless of their crappy behaviors – I became more joyous than whatever this person would have been able to originally provide me.
Was I perfect in this? Hell no. I still felt kinda shitty, and a few times I closed down a bit for a brief moment. Even though it wasn’t easy, I realized it wasn’t actually as hard as I thought. This is because it was natural to maintain an open heart and remain present, and unnatural to do not.
It was the first time I was actively aware and still chose to act this way. Even though I could have done things differently, I was excited to grow from what would have otherwise been a bad time. When the two days were over, I was glad to say goodbye and had no intentions of talking with this person again. As you can see, just because I chose to give fully in the face of moment, doesn’t mean I want to have more of those moments by choice.
It’s about having boundaries. And remember: boundaries not barriers. Yes, by having boundaries, I was still able to “get hurt”. However I enforced these boundaries during the trip, and since they were still not respected, I cut the person off. This is healthy. If the trip was longer, I would have cut it short. But knowing that it was such a limited time, I opted to play fully and make the most out of a sour situation.
Each moment we have the choice to see a situation as a bad thing or as an opportunity.
When you close off to the world when somebody in it closes off to you, you prevent any goodness from flowing – both to and from you. The saying “an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind” is very apropos. We close-off in defense to protect ourselves, but this presupposes that we are vulnerable to attack to begin with. That another’s selfishness is somehow a reflection of us, when in fact it’s only a reflection of them. To become defensive towards another’s self-hate (projected) is about as insane as cutting your hand off because somebody else can’t reach far. Just as you’d help them to reach what they need, as should you help another see their own worth by staying open in the face of their “false attack” based on their blindness to it.
I encourage you to not only have and enforce heathy boundaries (instead of walls and barriers), but to play and show up fully despite how people are responding. The value of your gifts is not dependent on how, or if, they are received. As you live fully present and give fully, the wrong people (whom don’t appreciate your gifts) will eventually disperse and the right people will appear because you feel good doing so. It can be no other way.
Proof of this came the rest of the weekend, when I met some of the most loving, amazing, giving, and just incredible people. Not only was giving or receiving not an issue, everything flowed in perfect gratitude that made the entire trip worth it.
Have there been any times when you could have stayed open and played full-out in the face of rejection or selfishness? Leave a comment and let me know now below!
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