Karma Free Zone

I’ve been sharing a little bit about Karma. My efforts focus on individual Karma. Yet, there are other types of Karma, including group Karma. There is a phenomenon that can happen with group Karma. A negative bloom can suddenly appear, which creates a tremendous amount of bad Karma for society.

Of course, reading that caught my attention, and I paused. There wasn’t any information on why the harmful bloom would appear. Just that sometimes, in a society, a toxic bloom can consume the population.  

I just put a vlog out on my Youtube channel on the first law of Karma, “Understanding The Laws of Karma – the First Step to Finding Your True Self.”

The first law is the Great Law and is the law of cause and effect. It is focused on the individual and Karma and not on group Karma.

I’ve been meditating on this for the past week. In all of Chinese Medicine, and Daoism, a rule exists that what is above is below. The rule means the same general principles guide the macrocosm and the microcosm. So, focusing on why negative Karma happens in an individual’s life, should help me better understand why a negative bloom would suddenly occur in a society.

The first thing I realized is that nothing suddenly happens. 

Flowers don’t suddenly bloom. They take the winter to rest, spring to wake up, and summer to consume the nutrients they need to flower. All your effort and their effort suddenly culminates, and one day you go outside, and your roses have bloomed. But it doesn’t stop there. You want to encourage their growth and immediately set about pruning and fertilizing to ensure you get more blooms. 

Or a bucket filling up with rainwater on uneven ground. The bucket doesn’t suddenly tip over. Rain has to accumulate in the bucket until enough rain has accumulated to unbalance the bucket. The event of tipping over seems sudden. It only takes a split second. To get to that point of tipping over required water to fill the bucket until it reached that point of unbalance.

In Chinese Medicine, that change is the taiji symbol of yin and yang. Yin and yang demonstrate the movement of energy in the body, in the world, and in the universe. 

In the body, the goal is to keep the energetics of yin and yang in balance. When the two get out of balance, the body and mind become disturbed, and disease can develop.  

But what happens when things get out of balance? How do you get them back in balance? In Episode 5 of the Immune Boost series “Learn Chinese Medicine Techniques to Protect from the Flu” I give more in-depth examples of this concept of getting out of balance and getting back in balance.

All of this brought me to the realization that nothing suddenly happens. It takes a focused, committed effort to attain any goal. To ace your history test takes study and determination. To get the job you always wanted takes research, determination, experience, and people. To build a better mousetrap takes research, determination, willingness to fail, creativity, experience, and people.

The roses blooming, the bucket tipping over, yin turning to yang is sudden and dramatic. But it didn’t happen overnight. It took focus, commitment, and effort. 

The second thing I begin to realize is it would take the same concerted effort to change the course. In my episode, “Understanding The Laws of Karma – the First Step to Finding Your True Self ,” one of the most annoying things that happen as you age is decades of ignoring your health come back to haunt you. To change your health now takes a real concerted effort, patience, and compassion. You can’t come in with a pressure washer like you could when you were younger. You have to come with a garden hose and sometimes just a bucket and a sponge. 

It’s the same thing with these negative karma blooms that happen in a society. The society didn’t just get here overnight, and to come back out of a negative bloom will take the same focused effort in reverse. Unfortunately, it looks like we get the bucket and sponge approach. But think about it. It always starts with one person; one person with a bucket and a sponge to clean-up a stadium after a game. That one person changes to two, then 100, a thousand, and then bloom and what was to be a daunting and unachievable task of one person cleaning up the stadium suddenly becomes doable and thriving in a matter of hours. 

That’s what I mean when I say the office is a “No Karma Zone.” Sure, there is a lot of negativity out there that appears overwhelming and hopeless. It isn’t. When you come into the office, here is where you can call “Sanctuary!” Like they did in medieval Europe, the office is where you can find Sanctuary, hope, and realize your dreams. 

What I love is it is happening. I was scheduling with one of my clients the other day and suggested we wait longer between appointments. They looked around smiling and then back at me, “You know, I just love coming in here. I feel so good when I’m here.” Another one of my clients gave me the greatest blessing. We were chatting when tears suddenly formed and they shared with me that something they had wanted and thought was no longer possible was possible. 

Sanctuary.

Your opportunity to find protection and hope so you can realize your dreams. With more hope and fulfillment, you’ll pick up the bucket and sponge with me and pay it forward. 

Toxic Positivity isn’t Helpful…Ever. How To Recognize and Eliminate it

I was reading the posts on LinkedIn when the pandemic first happened. They were disturbing in their demand for me to be positive. Everything is going to be o.k., keep a positive outlook. I mean, I agree I need to find some way to pull myself out of the sludge and try to keep a positive outlook. And I’m doing everything I can to stay positive. 

I remember my sister as she was going through the final stages of her breast cancer. My sister had a team of friends and doctors who were supposed to be her team. They were her team, but they were also their own team making decisions on what information my sister could hear.

Her doctor wouldn’t tell her she was dying. Instead, when everything had failed, and the doctor had to remove her from the study, the doctor told my sister she had to sign up for hospice. 

Up to this point, my sister’s doctor was telling her things looked good. They just had to do a little work here or there. Her friends, who were medical professionals, would tell her the same thing. Or, her friends would say to her something like, “You’re going to beat this.” “You got this.” 

It was frustrating to have to watch and listen to this. My sister wanted to make her daughter’s high school graduation. She passed a couple of months before her graduation. She had a slim chance of making it. I think her doctor felt guilty and responsible for my sister’s life and death and drug out one more chemotherapy. 

Her doctor didn’t have the time to find out what my sister wanted. I think if her doctor understood that she just wanted to live a couple more months, she might have presented different options to my sister. 

It’s ridiculous to think a person facing their mortality couldn’t handle the truth about their medical results. The person doesn’t get to take a pass on dying, because it’s too uncomfortable.   

My sister had to figure it out on her own when her body started failing her. When every limb suddenly became too heavy to lift and refused to follow the desires of her mind. And because she wasn’t prepared for it, when her doctor removed her from the study and requested my sister sign up for hospice, my sister felt a deep betrayal.

That is toxic positivity. In the end, poisonous positivity hurts everyone involved in profound ways, from the deep sense of betrayal experienced by my sister to a belief of the person being disloyal, or the feeling the person is duplicitous and lacks empathy.  

Toxic positivity didn’t suddenly pop up with the pandemic. It’s always been here. 

In the late ’90s, when corporate mergers penned together huge profits thru layoffs, workers got retrained in “teamwork,” and things fell through the crack. The buzz phrase then was, “We all need to be a team player.” While working weeks expanded and more work backed up because there weren’t enough people resources, your boss would tell you to be a team player. 

What about when someone passes away? Inevitably, someone will say, “They are in a better place.” I get it. What do you say when someone passes? You want to show sympathy and understanding, but you may be uncomfortable. So, “They are in a better place.” It shows sympathy and terminates the conversation. It’s positive and encourages the grieving party to stay positive.

Or how about when your child has worked really hard to accomplish something and comes in the last place? “You’ll get them next time, sport!” is toxic positivity. It does nothing to help them figure out what they need to change to do things better. It leaves a kid, with no life experience, to try and figure out how to be better next time. 

That is toxic positivity. Positive comments that shut down the conversation on a painful topic. Toxic positivity is behavior, learned behavior. Toxic positivity is not a trigger. 

In Chinese Medicine, every painful topic not expressed and resolved leaves a block in your energetic flow. This block can get bigger and bigger, with repeated exposure to similar situations. To learn more about how your energetics get block check out my blog, “Why do I feel so bad? How To Start Letting Go of the Past and Moving On”

To help release your blocks, check out my program on “Becoming the Spirit” and my blog on “Chinese Medicine, the Heart and How to Avoid Chaos.

Yet, we are talking about toxic positivity and not the effects of toxic positivity on the person. As I said, the thing about toxic positivity is it is a behavior. Most of the time, you can’t see or don’t recognize your behaviors. You can recognize them in someone else and are either attracted or repelled by them. But even knowing this, you can’t usually identify the behavior which your soul is responding to. 

That is where the program, “Understanding the Vortex,” comes in. Each of our chakras is like a vortex into and out of our soul. When you open them up, you start to see your behaviors and patterns. This is not about your triggers, but your learned behaviors and interactions with the world. And what is interesting about behaviors, when you start to recognize them, you can understand some of the conflicts in your world.  

When I think about behaviors versus triggers, behaviors are how others describe you where triggers are how you describe yourself. Many times when I hear people describe me, I get confused because I don’t see that in myself because, for some reason, our behaviors are supper challenging to see. 

Good-luck. If you are participating in toxic positivity, just know acknowledging someone’s emotions isn’t taking responsibility to fix them. Most of the time, people need to be heard. Everyone can fix themselves. Sometimes they need a sounding block.  

When You Realize Your Part of the Toxic People and How to Walk to Healthier Ground

I’ve spent time wondering about how different each person is in this universe. What triggered me to think about this was when I started doing chakra work on myself and my clients.

I like trying out things before I use them on my clients, but when I started working with chakras, that wasn’t possible. It wasn’t possible because there were so many different patterns, and each person had different blocks.

I found I was mixing and matching needles in creative and unique ways that fit the presented pattern. It was so different from all the other work I was doing on people, and the results were specific to the individual. Unlike other emotional and spiritual treatments where people traveled similar paths, here, each individual struck it out on their own.

It was this chakra work that opened up another door of understanding for me. I couldn’t understand why not everyone wanted to work on some of the spiritual questions in life. This thing about being human has so many different dimensions and resonants on so many different levels, why would someone want to stay only on the three dimensions?

The chakras helped me see the three-dimensional world we live in has just as many journeys and experiences as our inner quests. The three-dimensional world has sights and sounds from a thunderstorm to the smell of freshly cut grass. The world stimulates our senses. For some of us, that is enough.

I offered a client a choice the other day on proceeding along a spiritual path or not. He asked me what I would do? It was an interesting question because that question made it very clear how different we are. It wasn’t a fair question because I would answer from my perspective on life where I’ve spent a lifetime searching for more meaning to life and trying to attain the point of perfect disengagement. My desires would be different from his.

I was sitting on my window bench, petting my cat, wondering about people and the differences. In my mind, the world became such a fantastic place of sites and sounds: pacing, jogging, sitting, walking, and talking. It was like billions of carefully cocooned bubbles jostling through the world.

I forget what I was reading. Something on ancient mythology and the gods. One god had said of people, “They have become so noisy, I can’t sleep.” Then I remember the quote from “I Am Legend,” where Anna asks Dr. Neville if he can hear the survivor settlement because the world has gotten quieter.

What caught my attention was my internal chatter. I had frustration with people who didn’t want to delve deeper into their psyche and find out how to release their inner demons. I was frustrated because the results were much more vibrant and accepting on the other side. It was better for them. It was better for their kids. It was better for the world.

I noticed my inner chatter for a second time. The first time was in a conversation with my husband. I was sharing with him my thoughts on how I was going to handled something. He had another opinion which I “knew” was wrong. I got frustrated that he couldn’t see what I was saying because he had another way of looking at it.

I’ve spent a lifetime not registering this inflexibility in me. It was because I had been clearing out one of my chakras that I started noticing this inflexibility. When doing inner work, they say you will see what you are ready to understand and nothing more. You’ll see what you can handle. Sometimes it’s just a quick glimpse. Sometimes its something that you experience over and over. Sometimes you’ll see it and understand it and let it go.

The clearer this chakra became, the more I saw my inflexibility through my “one opinion for all” stance. It threw me for a loop. I think what threw me even more, is that I caught myself again and again. Each time I was surprised, I was doing it, “What? I’m doing it again? Why can’t I stop doing this?” I was expressing a deep inner need to be heard and understood that expressed itself through inflexibility.

But then my thoughts started changing. If my opinion wasn’t right for everyone, then everyone has the opportunity to have a different view. And then I started wondering about right or wrong, because society becomes part of the equation and our need to live most harmoniously with others. Beliefs, when implemented, can be harmful to others.

An example is genocide. This belief is very harmful. So, genocidal views are wrong based on moral concerns.

I guess I am a little incredulous I still have debates on morality. One definition of morality is not to harm. This fits well into Taoism with its participation without engagement. Maybe this is a definition I could hold until I can let go of my need to be heard.

And these conversations are not so much hurting the other person as hurting me. That very inflexibility and belief that I’m right and the other person is wrong is like an ultimatum. There is no room for negotiation with an ultimatum.

Ultimatums break down relationships with their either do it my way or not at all mentality. They move the conversation from a chat to a command. Funny, I didn’t even notice it happening. I thought we started out discussing a topic, and suddenly I was angry and belligerent, pressing my opinion and hurting myself by breaking down relationships.

So, I’m trying to pause for the cause of humanity – my own.

I’m going to acknowledge that frustration is my warning trigger. I’m going to spend more time evaluating these conversations.

I’m going to realize there are different qualities of relationships in my life. Family and friends are the most important, and everything I learn is to enhance those relationships. These hold the most profound conversations. And the quality of relationships decreases until you reach post interactions on social media with people you don’t know or interact. These are non-conversations and never were a conversation.

I’m going to think about boundaries and where I need to create boundaries. These are boundaries for myself as well as others. A boundary for myself is restricting my communication to high-quality relationships where a chance for a conversation exists. Part of that would be placing limitations on social media participation.

I’m going to re-focus on what is essential in life and assess conversations which help or hinder that. I’m going to disentangle myself from a conversation that starts spiraling down. And, I’ve got to be honest with myself, this isn’t going to work with everyone, and it’s not going to be easy. It’s o.k. to give yourself or a friend a time-out, and sometimes a ban.

Hopefully, at the end of this, I can participate without becoming entangled. Hopefully, I can help myself disengage from a one-sided, overbearing push of my opinion and remember how to converse. By doing this, I hope I can better emulate a place for everyone.

Who says you have to be serious? Learn how to love life early to find joy.

My sister and I were sitting around the living room, chatting about aging and getting old. She had it all planned out. She knew who she was going to be and was excited to get there. “I’m going to be one of those eccentric old ladies when I get old dressing up in a fur coat and sweats to go shopping.” We started laughing. A memory of our aunt surfaced.

O.k., let me tell you about my aunt. My aunt was the definition of eccentric until she got old. Then she became the docile, homebody, trudging around in age-appropriate clothing and driving a clean car. But up until then, she was the crazy, non-conformist aunt. Of course, my sister and I were in our late teens and early 20’s and had the good fortune of staying with her up on Tai Shen Mountain.

How her home got the name “Tai Shen Mountain” is a different story, and maybe I’ll find time to tell you about it sometime.

My aunt had hit that milestone in life where her doctor labeled her as obese. You might know about that milestone. It kind of sneaks upon you, and you are unprepared for it. One day you are in the doctor’s office, and she is taking notes. You know you’ve gained weight, but all your friends are great liars and say you look great.

Your doctor has to check on something and steps out, giving you the necessary time to flip the computer screen and look at her notes. Since it’s about you, and you can get a copy, everything seems fine until you read the notes, “Patient is obese.”

Excuse me?

Well, my aunt had hit that milestone in life where weight made non-elastic pants too restraining. Her wardrobe had graduated to clogs and sweats. Not even nice sweats. The thick, bunch-at-the-ankle sweats you bought at Costco in a variety of colors. Like the colors would make them stylish or something. Top it off with white sweat socks and a pair of Birkenstocks, and she was up and running for the day.

I can remember her yelling out to us as we sat on the back porch doing nothing of importance, “Kimmy, Lisa, do you want to go to Costco?!” It wasn’t until she was much older that she was comfortable doing things by herself. But my sister and I had nothing better to do, and a ride to Costco might be a nice change.

Sitting idly and chatting in the car on that warm fall day in Southern California, we waited for my aunt. It was weird. You could almost feel her presence before looking up from whatever had captured our attention.

I felt a small gasp leave my throat. My aunt stood blocking the sun, casting her face into shadows and highlighting the threads of her tightly curled, dry, frizzy hair, making it appear as if electricity was running through it. There was an air of defiance in her stance.

But that wasn’t the only thing that was disturbing. She was bigger than she should be. She was much bigger. There was this massive blob with a small frizzy globe on top.

My sister and I waited. When she was sure she had captured our attention and punctuated it with a period, she sauntered to the driver’s door. That was when I saw it, what was making her so huge.

It was an old, 3/4 length, mink fur coat. What? It was California and warm. It wasn’t fur-wearing temperature. In fact, it was never fur-wearing temperature in Southern California.

I could feel myself start to sweat, watching her as she pushed herself behind the steering wheel. It was amazing. Pink sweats, sunglasses, Birkenstocks wrapped up in an aging mink coat, and carrying a purse.

There was no getting out of it. We had said we were going, to try and jump ship now would have ignited her indignation. We would have paid for it in creative little ways that even we couldn’t have imagined. Like maybe dinner would be peas and liver. Or, she would consume the only television for days with Rural Farm Delivery (RFD) and livestock auctions.

So, facing forward with windows rolled up and air conditioner blazing, we took off.

“So, what made you decide to wear that coat?”

“It’s my coat, and I can wear it if I want too,” a small smirk traveled across her lips. “Why, don’t you like it?”

Ah, defensiveness, obviously she knows there is something wrong with her decision-making skills. And that’s when it got even better. Suddenly, small tufts of black hair got caught up in the gale-force wind coming out of the air-conditioning vents. My aunt swiped across her face to remove the little hairs capturing her nose. Some managed to get caught in her mouth as she was talking. Flicking her tongue, she tried to spit them out.

The coat was so old and so poorly taken care of, it was shedding.

We stared at her, not saying a thing, and just as suddenly as she appeared, she started laughing. She was all in.

I got to give her credit. She was creative, and life was a band with everyone playing a separate tune.

My sister and I would laugh every time we remembered that crazy Costco adventure with my most gifted aunt. I learned a lot from my aunt. I learned life didn’t have to be defined by anyone else, and everything you do is going to make a memory. Try to make them fun. I learned there was no point in taking yourself too seriously. And under all this, I learned about joy.

I think that adventure made a lasting impression on my sister. That carefree freedom, I don’t care what you think. My sister was going to be that crazy grandmother and torment her daughter and grandchildren in the same way our crazy aunt tortured us.

Here’s the thing, joy isn’t waiting for you at the end of your journey. Joy only happens in the here and now. You can’t dream your way to joy. I think that is important for you to know because you see, my sister and I were having that conversation three months before her passing.

We were pretending those dreams were a possibility when we both knew they were never going to happen. We were pretending what clothes we would wear and where we would go drinking our mixed drinks on the deck overlooking the ocean. And I loved sharing her dreams with her and learning who she was deep inside. Learning what her desires and wishes were and how she had wanted her life to go.

Two weeks before she passed, when her body was failing her, and she could no longer climb the stairs, we sat on her bed feeling the ocean breeze waft between the bedroom curtains talking about what she wanted her funeral to be. Before, she had always said she had never thought about it.

But she had. She had thought about it a lot. “I want my ashes scattered in the ocean.”

“What about the forests of the Northwest?” I remembered our last trip to the ancient Doug Fir forests in Canada. If I wanted to, but she wanted some of her ashes shared with the ocean.

“Why do you want to be shared with the ocean?”

She paused, capturing her breath and thoughts. The tiredness was making it hard for her to focus and breathe. “Because I’ve always felt so constrained in this life, and I can go anywhere in the ocean.”

I thought about our conversation three months earlier and how she wanted to be that eccentric grandmother who threw caution to the wind.

You don’t get to plan for joy. If you want joy in your life, you have to see it right now in everything you do. If you think you’ll be that person someday, you won’t. If you want to be that person, you better start practicing now.

Test it out. Wear outrageous shoes. Put on a headband and braid your hair with multi-colored yarn. See how it fits you. Everything in this life is your creation. Who knows what is really going on out there.

Let’s say you try it out and feel a bit embarrassed or insecure, but still want to do it. Then come in, and let’s open up your chakras and release your old programming. Let’s open up your heart again and find the joy that brought you into this world.

Seven months later, I was able to honor her request and release a part of her into the ocean. I watched her ashes quickly spread to the currents. It was almost as if I could feel her sigh of relief.

The Art of Conflict in the New Age – When Your Marriage is at Risk

It is a matter of life and death, a road either to safety or to ruin. Hence it is a subject of inquiry which can on no account be neglected.

Sun Tzu

What have we learned about handling conflict? I was wondering about this last night. Psychology has helped up realize that many behaviors adult exhibits are learned behaviors and what we learned as children are the behaviors that most impact us as adults. 

So, we spend years trying to work through our past and see the problem from a new perspective. How do you know if you can look at a situation from a different perspective?

I had a set of married friends, and I thought they would always be married. They were both brilliant, strong-willed, and creative. In all their uniqueness, I couldn’t see them with anyone else. And then it happened. They got a divorce.

It is estimated 50% of all marriages in the United States end in divorce. If this is your first marriage, 41% of them end in divorce. Second marriages, 63% of them end in divorce. By your third marriage, 73% of those end in divorce.

The data suggests that what we didn’t learn in the first marriage gets magnified in subsequent marriages. When you get to your third marriage, it’s not that you are more likely to divorce, it’s more you will divorce.  

The Commander stands for the virtues of wisdom, sincerely, benevolence, courage and strictness.

Sun Tzu

The one thing I learned that made a marriage successful is flexibility. It takes flexibility. Love is essential, but love without flexibility is still a divorce sentence. 

Not all of us get great parenting. A 2012 study found 10% of our children live with an alcoholic parent. But it’s not just alcoholism that damages parenting. Pharmaceuticals and street drugs add another layer of substance abuse. The 2009 Showtime series Nurse Jackie followed the world of a nurse trying to deal with substance abuse. In 2017, it was estimated 20 million people needed help with substance abuse. 

Estimates of adults suffering from mental illness are at about 30%. Child sexual abuse, criminal activity, selfishness, and it starts to look like great parenting is more an anomaly than the norm. I’m always so appreciative and impressed with parents who raised great kids because the rest of us have to work at it.

So, we take what we’ve learned of conflict management and bring it into our adult life where 50% of all marriages end up in divorce. What does that say about our conflict management skills? 

All warfare is based on deception.

-Sun Tzu

I got to be honest, I’m in the first marriage divorce statistic. I know why we got a divorce. Our conflict management skills sucked. We really didn’t know how to do it or how to give or take feedback. We both came from families where feedback was criticism. We both came from families where we were not heard, and family norms overcame respectful treatment. 

Oh my gosh, we would get in disagreements and dig up crap from two years ago. Arguments would tumble into a waterfall of, “Well, you did this 2 years ago!” “Well, five months ago, you did this!” “You did…you did…you did.” All incredibly not helpful. And we each had our learned behaviors from childhood on how we would handle criticism, and these behaviors were not helpful.

There is no instance of a country having benefited from prolonged warfare.

-Sun Tzu

So, we divorced and took a two-year hiatus. 

It was during this hiatus that we both learned something. The grass wasn’t greener on the other side. We were invested in each other. You could teach an old dog new tricks. 

So, some of the critical distractions which highlighted our first experience in marriage were addressed. We learned something about flexibility. Flexibility is understanding there are no absolutes in any situation, and a more effective solution takes into account all sides.

We decided to take a second run at this marriage thing. But we did it differently this second time. We were both confident that our upbringing gave us pretty crappy conflict resolution skills. To make it this time, we were going to have to work at conflict management, which meant we were going to have to work on ourselves and really be able to see our stories from a different side because conflict escalates when you can only see a story from your side.

Do not swallow bait offered by the enemy. Do not interfere with an army that is returning home.

-Sun Tzi

The next time you have an escalating discussion, realize conflict can only stop when you stop limiting yourself to your story. 

This certainly hasn’t been an easy road. When we got stuck in conflict, we started reaching out to others with better skillsets than us: counselors, church, training, friends. We expanded our reach to alternative providers. These providers took us past the limits of traditional resources. We used Non-violent communication training from the Mennonites, spiritually through Taoism, Meditation, Gurus, and Classical Chinese Medicine. 

When we did that, stuff about our own behavior would come up, which didn’t feel great. This stuff that came up is precisely why it isn’t easy work. To see another side, you have to walk through your own ickiness. 

No one wants to feel icky. And being human, you just have some icky behaviors. Some people have more icky practices than others! But, when you’re in conflict, and it’s escalating, undesirable behaviors are happening  that need to be addressed. 

There are five dangerous faults which may affect a general: (1) Recklessness, which leads to destruction; (2) cowardice, which leads to capture; (3) a hasty temper, which can be provoked by insults; (4) a delicacy of honor which is sensitive to shame; (5) over-solicitude for his men, which exposes him to worry and trouble.

-Sun Tzu

I started listening to people more. Bullying has become rampant. But that is a learned behavior. How could it become rampant? Well, because most of us do not grow up in exceptional parenting situations. Besides that, just the fact we are human means we have needs and desires that we want to fulfill. Bullying is trying to force someone to do something you want, even if it is not in their best interest. 

You know that couple I thought would stay together forever? Bullying. When I look at the conflicts between my husband and me, what were the worse offenders? Bullying. And bullying isn’t the black and white playground antics we attach to bullying. We are much more sophisticated than that. Labeling, ignoring others, ridiculing, belittling, discounting can all be forms of bullying.

We do it so much in our society that we can’t even see it anymore. And we are sure it is icky behavior. Who wants to see icky behavior in themselves?

There are other reasons for conflict. Lying is another one that is rampant in our society. Here’s another one you do because it is more comfortable. When you do it, you call it little white lies as opposed to big black lies. You didn’t get a report done at work, “I’ve got it at my desk. I have a couple meetings. Can I email it to you this afternoon?” That gives you the afternoon to finish it. You don’t want to go to work, “Hey, I’ve got a headache and feeling nauseated.”

I come back to the divorce rate in the United States of 50% with each subsequent marriage having a higher divorce rate. Right now, my husband and I have beaten the statistics. Second marriages last an average of 8 years. We’re double that. 

We are currently beating the divorce statistics because we are willing to look at ourselves and look for external input and face our ickiness in short contained bursts!

At some point, the ickiness is no longer so significant. Maybe because you’ve become more empathetic with yourself. You realize you just are not perfect, never will be. You start to know you, and everyone else is human and has the opportunity to grow. 

There are not more than five musical notes, yet the combinations of these five give rise to more melodies than can ever be heard.

-Sun Tzi

The next time you are in a discussion and escalating, think about bullying and lying. 

Like I said, bullying is not the playground antics we are socialized to acknowledge. Bullying can be phrasing like, “You never complete what you started.” Instead of voicing a concern, “This really concerns me because we have kids we have to support right now. How can we do this and know our financial security will still be here?” Bullying is dismissing someone’s thoughts for lack of value like, “Oh come on, seriously?” Bullying is name-calling or labeling.

Lying can be evading the truth to avoid taking responsibility. “I got stuck in traffic.” “I have a late meeting.” “I don’t know what happened with that.” 

It’s weird, but we are so socialized to accept this kind of communication even though it breaks down trust and disconnects us from the other person. Our fights get worse, and our relationships get torn down. 

When my husband or I called each other out on our actions, the more accurate it was, the more we would fight. The more valid the statement was about our behavior, the more willing we were to escalate the argument and tear down our relationship. Again, who wants to see icky in themselves? The other thing we would do is deflect by attacking someone outside our circle and criticizing them. The deflection was the same thing, just turned towards a safer target.

These behaviors lead to our divorce. 

When an army is overthrown and its leader slain, the cause will surely be found among these five dangerous faults. Let them be a subject of meditation.

Sun Tzu

So, there are a couple things that happen in fights that are escalating. First, any conflict that escalates is personal. It’s threatening something the person usually doesn’t want to face. Second, bullying and lying are about growing up in an environment where you were not heard. So, part of bullying or lying is this desire to be heard. Of course, you’re doing it in an icky way. So, when it doesn’t work, you escalate. Lastly, these behaviors disconnect you from the other person. These can be your friends, family, acquaintances, anybody.

What are some of the behaviors that highlight you are doing this? Blaming! Discounting the other person by saying things like, “Oh, come on I didn’t mean anything by that.” Or, “A little sensitive, aren’t you.” Name-calling! “Well, now you are just acting like a baby.” Another tactic is trying to justify your actions as right instead of trying to find a solution. 

Good-luck. Only you can change your future.

RESEARCH

 Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Data Spotlight: More than 7 Million Children Live with a Parent with Alcohol Problems, 2012. Available at: https://www.samhsa.gov/data/sites/default/files/Spot061ChildrenOfAlcoholics2012/Spot061ChildrenOfAlcoholics2012.pdf. Accessed 12/2/19.

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2018). Key Substance Use and Mental Health Indicators in the United States: Results from the 2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health.

https://www.nami.org/nami/media/nami-media/infographics/generalmhfacts.pdf