So I have this tradition, or superstition, that my New Year’s Day is a microcosm for the energetics of that year. I’ve had NY days where I began depressed and ended the day delighted, and that was indeed mirrored in how the year went. So basically, I really believe in this.
Being the pitta-predominant I am, I put more energy into planning Jan 1 than I do New Year’s Eve, and want to fit everything into my new year: quality family time, self reflection and care time, spiritual practice time, nature time, art time. That makes me feel like I’m going to enjoy those kinds of experiences throughout the year. I usually bounce ideas off of my husband and family, and then come up with a flow that feels best to me.
So here we are NY morning. I’ve prepped the kids about trying to stay in a kind, loving space with each other so that we have a kind and loving year. 10 min later I hear my daughter yelling at my son “See, you did blah-blah; you ruined the whole year!” Uh-oh. I redirect them and we spend some lovely time together while my husband begins his day with basketball. 4 hours later, I’m really ready for my 10am yoga class.
It’s 9:30. Should I text him? No. I’m not going to frantically text him now, because that puts me in the container of doubting and disappointment. “All the many times I’ve been let down” feeling….blech. I don’t want to go into that container of not trusting him and worrying. I’m going to embody trust and lean into it. I pack my car, and get dressed. Still no husband. 9:45
I call. No answer. He’s usually home by 9am, so whatever he is doing, he clearly is disregarding my self care time. Argh! I don’t want to be in this container of hurt and anger. Let me take my focus off of it, and stop staring at the front door.
I meditate. I hear my internal voice saying, “Today is great, no matter what.” I’ll be fine, no big deal, I’ll just go to the next class. I’m sure there is some goodness in this: I’ll do the other class that maybe I was too fearful to try; I’ll have time to write a bit and check in with myself.
He comes home and has no clue, and doesn’t give me an apology, AND gets defensive. Meanwhilte, I want to be appreciated for not biting his head off upon entry and being calm and willing to simply adjust. My needs are not met. I’m hurt more.
Instead of calming things down and trying to talk about it, I’m rushing out to see if I can make the 10am. I’m sitting in the driveway realizing I don’t want to feel rushed and stressed and apologetic for sneaking into class late. I’d rather wait for the next one and be calm.
He comes out, seeing I’m sitting in the driveway still. I try to yell from the car, that I’ll just go to the next one and take the time before the next class to journal. He’s put off that I’m leaving for several hours and he didn’t expect that. He’s likely hangry too.
I get out of the car and go back in. Maybe I can just explain to him where I’m coming from and get his buy-in so I don’t leave feeling guilty and unresolved. That’s when it happened.
It was like an itch I couldn’t even help but subconsciously scratch. I went headfirst into my old victim container. You didn’t listen to me yesterday when I told you the plan. You could have called that you were late. You made the decision to play extra long and not communicate with me. Basically, here are all the reasons why I should justifiably be angry and hurt, and you should be graciously apologizing right now (which is what I could have said, but didn’t).
He attacks back: You got to go to yoga yesterday, and what about even-ness in our extracurricular activities? Oh, don’t even get me started on the topic of evenness, is what my internal churning is saying.
Now we are just talking on top of each other. No one is listening. I zoom out and see it and realize what has happened. Damn it! I’m so angry that he drug me back into this dynamic. This is exactly the dynamic I don’t want this year. How irreverent of him to do this on this day. He’s so emotionally unaware and he doesn’t even try and I’m so deeply hurt and angry.
I leave slamming the door with “I hate you!” What I should have said was “I hate this dynamic.”
Now I’m crying hysterically in my car because the new year is ruined. Fudge, fudge, fudge! What do I do now? I don’t want to spend the day with him. I want to kick him in the neck. If I kick him, that would suck. If I cancel plans with my family, they’ll know something is up and I’ll get an earful when I tell them it’s because we fought and his disrespectful behavior, ugh. That won’t be fun either. I don’t want to tell people because I don’t want to continue to reinforce that victim container. Yet, that means I cut off consolation and potentially soothing advice. I’m screwed. The day is ruined. The year is ruined.
I’ve turned into my 6 year old daughter—You ruined the whole year I’m yelling to him in my mind. Whoa, that was a reality check. I think of how myopic her perspective was and how I encouraged her to just choose a better perspective and to move on and maximize her enjoyment of the day. That’s what I need to do, but how?
Well, my feelings reveal unmet needs. I preach this. So let me put that to action. I’m feeling hurt and angry. My need to trust he values things important to me, my need to know he is present in our communication, my need to have him acknowledge what happened from a constructive and loving (instead of defensive and mean) place—all unmet.
I call him. The only healthy way out of this is to express my feelings and meet my own emotional needs.
I tell him all of this. He listens and apologizes. I feel heard and validated. My emotional needs are met, and instantly the feelings are resolved. I no longer feel hurt and angry.
Now, without the emotional valence of those feelings, I’m able to really see that he just didn’t hear/remember the plan and didn’t intend to hurt me. He, like most humans, got a bit defensive when unexpectedly attacked, and in general he takes time to gain proper perspective on a situation, which I didn’t give him. I felt thankful that I have a partner that does hear and validate my experience.
The moment I truly embodied a space of gratitude, I realize he didn’t drag me into any dynamic. I drug myself there.
When he got home, I could have simply asked him what happened instead of assuming that he was being irreverent of my needs. I could have communicated from a place of calmness, instead of rushing off. I could have employed non-violent communication. I could have just begun a yoga practice at home or done an online class. Etc, etc.
There’s always room to change your experience with how you perceive it.
Instead of aiming for perfection, I reframed the situation with a perspective that allowed me to feel the happiness I wanted in my new year: at least we’re able to come back to love when issues arrive.
We spent the afternoon in the mountains talking in nature, and that exploration of feelings (which may have not happened if we didn’t have the issue) left us both feeling even more connected.
Wow, I have a whole year of effectively moving into my empowerment, and out of my victim archetype, and my man is going to support me on that journey, and we’re going to end feeling deeply connected. It’s going to be a good year! (at least until I feel the itch to sabotage again…)
So, my lesson for 2015 so far, is that I choose whether I sabotage my own experience in life, or save it. It’s all in how well I meet my own emotional needs and choose perspectives that serve me. (and maybe I’ll give him a printed NY itinerary next year)
Some fun questions to ponder for my readers:
If you are in a place of love and gratitude, how differently can you view a challenging situation?
Do you have tools to help you express your feelings in a healthy way?
Are you able to identify your unmet emotional needs when you have unpleasant feelings?
Are you practicing your reframing consistently (because that is what makes it effective)?
Where in life does your perspective seem locked in a way that keeps you in a victim archetype?