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[ Opinion ]

How To Deal WIth Mean People

ARMS WIDE OPEN AND HULA HOOPS ON!

When I was a kid, I was bullied. I was chased home, nearly every day, in 5th grade. I was called names and made fun of for my appearance. I also had meaningful friendships, excelled in athletics and was a good student. ALL of these experiences helped shape how I coped (or didn’t) with adversity and emotions.

Over time, life happened and getting my feelings hurt or being slighted or pushed aside was not fun. My solution to this? PUFF UP. ACT OUT. SARCASM. PRETEND. And when I got older, I ran up credit card to debt to fit in, drank too much to feel comfortable and become an AMAZING chameleon to be exactly what I thought you wanted me to be. {Awesome}

And then, decades later, that wasn’t working so hot. And a few years after that I took a class {a 200 hour class} that talked about “Living With Your Heart Wide Open.”

This “Living with Your Heart Wide Open” sounded awesome and absolutely terrifying, at the same time. I mean, that would mean that I would have to FEEL things!” {Gasp}

What I have come to find out is that living with my heart wide open doesn’t mean I am a doormat, that I have to “take it” OR that everything is glitter and unicorns.

It means that I get to experience happiness, joy, disappointment, anger, sadness, grief and contentment. I experience all of those things, arms wide open.

This is sometimes overwhelming. Especially being a person that has done the opposite of arms wide open, for years. But I can tell you, you don’t die from it. You survive. You learn. You feel stuff. And then it flows right through you. {Unless you want to hold on to the really great nuggets.}

Do you remember the scene from “Sweet Home Alabama”? The one that Reese Witherspoon’s fiancĂ© gets dumped at the altar? And EVERYONE is freaking out… except him. He just stood there and said: “so THIS is what this feels like.” No drama, just “WOW, this hurts”.

Sometimes just experiencing and sitting with how you feel is all that you have to do. “Yep, that hurts”. “Yep, that is disappointing”. “Yep, she is not real nice”. “Yep”.

The Hula Hoop

So, you have all this awesome “arms wide open” stuff happening. Here is a little tip. YOU are NOT a door mat, which is why you need a hula hoop. Let’s be real here. SOME PEOPLE are not nice. They are just not. They are going through things, they are not looking to be a better version of themselves and they would prefer that you not to do that either. NO PROBLEM.

Wear your hula hoop (figuratively). YOU live with your arms wide open and THEY get to be on the outside of the hula hoop, spewing whatever they have to spew; water off a duck’s back, as far as you are concerned.

Family is NOT an automatic “shoe in” to your hula hoop. Sometimes, it’s a daily decision of who gets let in AND sometimes eviction from the hula hoop has to happen.

The Most Important Thing

YOU keep living with your arms wide open. Teach your children and your friends and your family and whoever else will watch you, to live that way. HAVE your feelings, FEEL your feelings, let them see that you do not die from having them, that a large hole does not open up in the earth and swallow you. {This is good news.}

NOT having those emotions, shutting down emotionally, closing yourself off, stuffing down each emotion that bubbles up is detrimental to your health; physically and emotionally. Drinking to not feel, over-scheduling so you don’t feel, maxing out your credit card so that you don’t have to “deal”, eating pounds of chocolate truffles and binging on Scandal and The Good Wife so you just don’t have to THINK ABOUT IT… is not the road you want to travel down. {Ok, maybe not the last part but you get my point.}

If you are doing this now, STOP. Just STOP.

Try TODAY, just TODAY. Put your super cool hula hoop on, spread your arms wide open and gracefully take on the day. Look at everyone in the eye, say “hello”, be present and available for each and every moment. See how THAT feels. Sit with it. And then REPEAT after some much needed rest.

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