Category Archives: Mindfulness

Seek first to understand

Here’s a follow-up post to The World’s Shortest Play.

My hope is that some of the pain in Adoption World could be healed if people with a nemesis could really imagine walking in the shoes of their nemesis.

I’m on boards that are exclusively for adoptive parents, and it’s disappointing how little compassion and respect there is for firstparents (on occasion). I’m aware that there are boards for birth parents who (occasionally) express disdain and disrespect for adoptive parents. And adult adoptees also have their private places to vent about parents of all sorts.

These entrenched perspectives just dig people in further to their misery. And some people dig that, thrive on that, get their raison d’être from that.

But for others who want to move through, the only lasting way, I believe, is to see the Other as a reflection of Self.

Our adoption situations were pretty clash-free (but check with me in a few years as the third part of my plane grows more expressive).

Yet I have experienced such “reflections of self” in other areas. When I am triggered by someone/something, I must have that trait within me to be triggered. Here are some non-adoption examples:

  • I quit a job in a politically-charged environment because I worked for a woman who constantly made me choose between loyalty to her and truth/integrity. She reflected myself back to me as a person who sometimes operates from fear, and will manipulate and connive because she thinks that’s the only way to get what she wants/needs.
  • I got mad at my massage therapist for not honoring a two-fer package I bought from her. I should also thank her for showing me a part of myself that fears for lack of money.
  • On the positive side, I see in my mom immense empathy and compassion. I must have at least a small dose of that in me to acknowledge it in her.
  • I see in Tessa an independent spirit who knows herself well and doesn’t budge much. The independent in me recognizes the independent in her..

St Francis of Assisi (and Stephen Covey) said, “may I seek to understand, rather than to be understood.” It seems to me that the people who hurt the most focus more on the latter. My biggest breakthroughs have occurred when I really WORK the former.

Do you have an example of seeing from the viewpoint of a one-time nemesis? Or of someone you admire?

World’s Shortest (and Most Often Performed) Play

Did you ever do this mini-skit as a child? All you need is one prop, a napkin.

Unfold the napkin and pinch it in the middle. It is now alternatively a mustache, a hair bow, and a bow tie. Now imagine a grainy sepia toned silent film with a railroad track as a backdrop.

Villain (napkin as mustache, fiendish voice): “You MUST pay the rent, you MUST pay the rent, you MUST pay the rent to-day!”

Victim (napkin as hair bow, high-pitched voice and wide, batting eyes): “I CAN’T pay the rent, I CAN’T pay the rent, I CAN’T pay the rent to-day.”

Villain: “You MUST pay the rent, you MUST pay the rent, you MUST pay the rent to-day!”

Victim: “I CAN’T pay the rent, I CAN’T pay the rent, I CAN’T pay the rent to-day.”

Hero (napkin as bow tie, Dudley-Do-Right voice): “I’ll pay the rent!”

Victim: “My hero!”

Villain: “Curses, foiled again!!”

Periodically, Adoption World erupts in full-out drama. One part of the adoption triad feels victimized, and people chime in to either identify, rescue or further persecute. Like an elastic band, the community is stretched to its limit. Some participants storm out of the discussion, some offer warm fuzzies, eventually the rift is healed and and feel-good games enjoy a fresh round of play.

Why do I always think of the Pay-the-Rent Drama Wheel during these eruptions?

The drama wheel consists of the villain, the victim, and the hero. None can exist without the others. It is the interplay among the three that keeps the wheel turning.

The adoption drama wheel is kept spinning by the drama among adoptive parents, first parents, and people who were adopted.

We post and defend and attack and rant according to past hurts and traumas that stem from our position in the adoption triad that we are currently experiencing. But what if  this drama simply perpetuates more drama? As each of us can heal, as each of us can truly put ourselves in the place of the others we oppose, as each of us moves toward stillness at the center of the drama wheel –- this is how to stop the drama and the trauma.

Perhaps we, in a cosmic sense, get to experience ALL parts of the triad. Perhaps to gain soul-level understanding of the Golden Rule (do unto others), we are actually in orbit with ourselves as we play out our stories. For example, if I am an adoptive mom experiencing problems with a first mother not respecting boundaries, is it possible that in another dimension I am also this birth mother experiencing a rigid and fearful adoptive mother of my child? If I am an adoptee with torn loyalties between my two moms, could I also be (in other dimensions) the adoptive mom who hasn’t yet come to terms with not being The Only Mom?? And the birth mom who was coerced into relinquishment and has never quite healed from the betrayal?

What if you occupied all three positions in your own adoption situation? How would it look from each? Seriously, spend some time here, if you can get yourself untrenched from your “known” position.

All the unhealed wounds perpetuate more wounds that we inflict on each other — ourselves. I propose, instead, that we each really try to walk in the shoes of our counterparts. Pretend that whatever we’re experiencing now is tied in with what we left unhealed from another play in another time or dimension.

We are our own victim. And villain. And hero. And each of us is in control of the speed and the very existence of the drama wheel.

The only part of the wheel that has no movement, no drama, is the center. If you want to get off the wheel, the only way I know of is to develop empathy and compassion for those in the other positions. To find the place of Unity, where there is no Other.

I’m no slouch

Well, to tell the truth, I AM a slouch. Good posture has not been easy for me.

As a child, I had asthma, and I found that hunched shoulders eased my breathing.

Later in junior high school, I rounded my shoulders to hide my late-developing chest.

And in college, I was surprised to find I’d grown taller than many of the guys, so I once again found a reason to diminish my true height.

At my recent physical appointment, I found out that the greatest long-term risk I have isn’t cancer, cardiovascular disease or neurological dysfunction. Because of my build, my greatest risk is osteoporosis.

And I had a massage last week. The therapist pointed out that most of my daily activities require a caving in of my shoulders: driving, computer work, carrying children, bicycling. Even many of the exercises I’d been doing at the gym were aimed at building my front-torso muscles and neglecting my back-torso muscles. She said improving my posture isn’t just about moving my shoulders back and down. It’s about lifting my sternum. About leading with my heart.

So here I am posting about contraction versus expansion. Here I am blogging about opening my heart and living from it (not just my head, which is much more comfortable in the role).

Yoga will help. Being conscious of my breathing and posture will help. Modifying my workout will help. Stating my intentions will help.

Here I publicly state my intentions:

  • I am expansion.
  • I live from my heart.
  • I walk tall and straight.
  • I release fear that no longer serves me.
  • I allow in abundance.

This about so much more than just posture.

(It’s Mojito Friday…free to anyone with a prominent sternum.)