Monday, March 22, 2021
Monday, March 08, 2021
You know what it’s like to get your buttons pushed. No matter how long we are in recovery we can get tangled up. Suddenly in a conversation or a situation we are flooded with feelings that come from a past experience that is totally unrelated to the situation at hand.
That can be annoying or embarrassing or damaging if we are not aware that the feelings in the present belong to a situation in the past. But it happens, and it is an opportunity to grow. You’ll find a rich mine of material here for steps six and seven.
You are going along, having a perfectly nice day, then in a seemingly benign conversation—or an email or a text—suddenly you are furious, or hurt or scared. What just happened?
You got your buttons pushed!
It’s not comfortable and not fun but with the right attitude you can see the gift that this is.
It is NORMAL to have this experience. The key is to watch for patterns. Is there a pattern in the type of person you spoke to? In their manner of speech? In certain words they used? In the issue you were discussing?
Here is what I tell people in my Workplace Communication class, but it also applies in our home life and our social lives:
If you want to be a good communicator you need to know where YOUR buttons are.
People can only push your buttons if YOU are not aware that they are YOUR buttons. This may be the most uncomfortable leadership skill you can acquire, but it’s ultimately more important than using the fanciest technology in your industry.
If you don't recognize your own buttons you will always be tempted to say, "It's his fault or "It’s her fault."
Always be willing to go back and look at your childhood experiences:
Because that's where your buttons were installed.
When you have an experience of having your buttons pushed you CAN do more than react or repress. You can notice your patterns. Exactly what button was that? Who else pushed that? Who pushed it earlier in your life?
The answers to those questions will give you a lot of insight but don’t stop there. Take that pattern—and your insight--to your sponsor, wise friend or counselor.
Sometimes our buttons get pushed at work, and that’s tricky territory. We don’t want to be unprofessional, but we can all get tripped up when a family wound shows up at work. We can forget ourselves and say or do—or believe—the wrong thing.
In that case you may want to talk to someone you worked with at another organization. If you are still good friends with a former colleague they can be a big help to your growth and change. They will help you remember how you were in that past job, and who pushed your buttons there. Again, look for the patterns.
You’ll want to remember the safe sharing guideline: “Share. Check. Share.” (Share a little. Check out the reaction. If you feel safe and supported, only then share a little bit more.)
And keep it out of the realm of gossip. Gossip, even though it might feel good in the moment, doesn’t help us to grow.
Thursday, September 24, 2020
And especially defeating because I have been in therapy and twelve-step programs and done so many self-help courses for decades. Dam, I write self help books!
So, I asked myself, “What is this?”
I read that list of negative beliefs again and I thought: Those babies are strong and really powerful. Look at all that insecurity. And then it hit me:
Insecurity is my Superpower.
I heard it. I said it out loud, and I laughed as the deep truth of it hit me in the belly. I heard the loud CLICK! in my head. It is weirdly true and very funny.
Insecurity is My Superpower.
Insecurity gives me empathy. I immediately lean toward anyone who feels like they are not enough in any situation. Oh, I got you Cheryl Sandberg, I am leaning in on any actor with stage fright, and on any student who can’t find the midpoint between an A and an F, and on every manager who feels bad driving home, and on every single woman who feels like a fraud in any area of her life: work, art, motherhood etc.
Insecurity is like an invisibility cloak. God, that was my Harry Potter envy, and I had one of my own the whole time. Insecurity lets me slide down the wall in any setting and just take a time out. Those girls who are confidant and outgoing—they can’t hide; they are just so seen all the time. Exhausting.
Insecurity is a free pass to learn anything: No bravado, no need to pretend you know something, no need to act like you are OK. You don’t and you’re not. So I can just join the class, take the workshop, talk to the expert. I’m a blank slate. Write all over me.
Insecurity is a tool. Fear—(it’s basically fear)—can, ironically, trigger alertness and courage. Insecurity is not something to get rid of, but to embrace. It’s a kind of fuel. Ok, maybe you get a tummy ache from it, but I also get a tummy ache from Pulled Pork Super Nachos, and I’d never stop eating them.
Years ago I saw an interview with the great choreographer, Bob Fosse. You know his work: Pajama Game, Pippen, Chicago, Cabaret... those super stylized movements.
The interviewer asked him about his very distinctive style and choreography, and Fosse said this: “When I started to dance I had bad posture, so I created my dances with the (now signature) rounded shoulders. And I had “bad” legs so rather than use turn-out like in ballet I turned the dancers legs inward.”
And then he said this: “All of my gifts have come from my defects.”
Read that again: “All of my gifts have come from my defects.”
So yeah, I have been able to do so many things and go so many places because I am ultra-insecure. Hence:
Insecurity is My Super Power.
Wait till you see my bracelets.
Thursday, August 27, 2020
This week it seemed like humility showed up everywhere: in my meetings and in conversations with people in recovery. Then it also showed up in non-recovery settings: in an article about management, and in a faith community publication, and finally in a tarot exercise that I was doing with a friend.
Well, that could only mean that I needed to pay attention to humility.
Luckily it’s a topic that crosses every stage of recovery. And our literature has a lot to offer. As we progress in recovery, and in our personal growth, we come to new layers of understanding of what humility means.
I remember in early recovery humility meant trying to not think about myself so much, and it was tied to uncovering the many episodes of self-centered fear.
Then in a further stage of recovery I (mis)understood humility to mean not taking credit for anything or deflecting praise or compliments. “Oh, who me?” “Oh, this old rag?”
It took my sponsor a long time to help me see that humility was not about being less than someone else (or pretending to be). And it was not about dropping my eyes or my head when I was with others.
Later I came to understand that that kind of false humility is actually a kind of arrogance.
Like many things in recovery, the humility pendulum swings from “I’m a big deal” to “I’m just nothing.” Kind of like Goldilocks trying to find that “just right” chair.
Turns out that “just right” is humility. Humility from the word, hummus or earth: We walk on the earth not above it or below it.
So this week I did some more reading about humility starting with Step Seven in The Twelve & Twelve book. Here is what I read:
“We saw failure and misery transformed by humility.”
“Humility had brought strength out of weakness.”
“Humility we discovered to be a healer of pain.”
Accessing true humility is like the discovery of an incredible medicine. Humility is a transformational agent; it changes weakness to strength and it heals us.
Why would we not all want that?
When we don’t want it—or we fear it--it’s mainly because we misunderstand it, or we have confused humility with humiliation. But humility is freedom. It is the magic ingredient in being able to care about others and not care what other people think of me.
In another reading this week I dug into “The Way of Goodness” by Richard Gula—a Sulpician priest. I learned this: “The humble witness to gratitude because they know we are more gift than achievement.”
He also said, “Humility is a quiet virtue.” Isn’t that nice? It reminds me of Dr. Bob who said, “Humility is perpetual quietness of the heart.” That’s one for the, “if I ever got a tattoo” list.
Gula lists these as practices that cultivate and express humility:
*admitting we don’t have an answer when we actually don’t.
*accepting a compliment without making excuses.
*acknowledging the accomplishments of another
*saying “no” when our plate is full.
But perhaps the most challenging expression and commitment to humility is being able to love and care for ourselves.
I am ever challenged by this quote by French Philosopher, Simone Weil: “Compassion directed to oneself is Humility.”