Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Who Sets You Off?

I'm sure you've noticed who sets you off. It seems to happen again and again. And somehow there's always one or two up close.

Have you ever wondered why they get to you?

If you're like me, you've analyzed it with respect to what they do, how they misunderstand, how they "have to be right", etc.

But have you ever wondered if it's because you two are alike? (It's not a common thought, or a welcome one.)

There's a saying from way back, "If you spot it, you've got it." Don't even remember where I first heard it. Grad school? AA affiliates? Don't know. But essentially it asserts that the things that set you off the most in others are the ones you have (that set other people off--outside of your awareness, of course).

Most of us are unaware because we are trying to be liked and not obnoxious. But of course we all have our querks and blind spots. We understand our behavior--well, sometimes it makes sense to us. We know what we feel and think, why we believe what we do, and so it fits. (Hopefully, because congruence is internal health.)

We don't often have conversations that go "So tell me why you believe______ so strongly?" Or, "What did I say that set you off?" Or even, "Why is it you feel the need to take potshots at my beliefs?"

Recently, I was confronted on my negativity by my daughter and her new husband.

"My?? Negativity?" I was truly shocked.

They seemed to always take my humor negatively. And I've worked so hard to leave off sarcasm which I used to be good at--until I learned it was veiled anger and not humor at all...I've done a lot of work on anger! (Which I repressed growing up--didn't even know I had it.)

I was thinking, she sees everything through his eyes now. But I know that isn't completely true.

Another incident later, I was admittedly angry with his response to her fear, and said as much. It didn't go over well, but it was important and I didn't care. As I told him later "her fear" was not something you play around with before giving birth--especially if you have all the symptoms. This was something I had had much more experience in than he had and I knew it.

But our relationship is not one I want bad feelings in. So I spent many sleepless hours going over the incident and talking to God about it.

"I am concerned that we always seemed to be conflicting. We are very different, have lived very different life-styles, but we liked each other from the beginning. Why does this keep happening?"

And His response startled me. "Maybe it's because you are so much alike."

"What? No we aren't! We see everything differently!"

"But you both have very strong opinions. And you both are sure you're right."

Hard to hear. But it made sense. (And I know God is always right!)

I lay there stunned, silent, thinking.

I've worked hard to hammer out my beliefs--I want them rock solid. He manages a business for a living. He's used to being right and respected in it. Hm-m-m, You may have something there.

"So what do I do?"

God told me, and I said, "I can't do that, but if You can pull it off, I'm available."

I missed him the next morning so we went to plan B. I was scared. It had more opportunity to go South, but I felt it went pretty well.

My son-in-law obviously didn't share my feeling and was distant the next day. Then the dark side made me miserable with their spin on it. Finally, I remembered, I was being obedient!

It came up with my daughter somehow and I told her what I'd said. She was approving, and said, "It may take him awhile, but he comes around. You can tell him the truth." (Whew! That helped.) And he did.

I'm grateful, but I know there is something I have to, no want to, change. I've been working on not being judgmental for years--accepting differences. I guess it's time to go deeper--another lap around that track.

It's deeply ingrained--this I-know mind--from both my family system and my personality.

Is there a take-away for you? It might be just don't be afraid to look at yourself.

I write that and think, Yeah, right! That is the scariest, most painful thing you will ever do.

But it is also the best for growth and relationships.

 And if you do it with God, you don't have to be afraid. He's always kind, even when what you face hurts.

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