Everyone around you has a story and you have only heard the part of the story that they want you to hear. Everyone has a part of themselves that is hidden away, being protected, staying safe by not being revealed. Behavior is not the story. Behavior is often the cover-up for the story.
When you understand this about the people around you it is easier to be gentle with those folks. What if that person just lost a loved one and doesn’t feel comfortable sharing that with you? What if that person was so horribly abused as a child that they cannot bear to be hugged by anyone because it re-traumatizes them? What if that person just got off the phone from a very disturbing conversation and they are in the middle of processing the information when you try to talk to them?
There is an endless list of possibilities for what is going on in another person’s life and most items on that list have nothing to do with you. Do you keep this in mind when you interact with other people? Can you be sympathetic to the part of the story that they are protecting from exposure and give them the benefit of the doubt?
Each of us has a responsibility to ourselves and to others to learn how to live in community with the people around us. We are not private islands with ‘No Trespassing’ signs on our foreheads! The most important lesson to learn about living in a civilized society is to learn what healthy boundaries are. Learn what to let in and what belongs to the other person.
Asking others to respect your boundaries includes allowing them to ask the same of you. Some people have very private stories behind the fence of their boundary and that is theirs to protect. By the same token, you are allowed to hold parts of yourself private from public scrutiny and anyone who doesn’t respect that boundary does not get the privilege of interacting with you.
In learning how to interact with others in a healthy way it is important that you know your own story. What motivates you? What has happened in your past that is influencing your present? What parts of you have you disowned that are lurking in your shadow bag waiting to be rediscovered and reintegrated? With whom have you had an interaction that might influence your current relationships with baggage from the past connection?
Study your story. Write it out. Do a timeline of your own life. It can be useful to do a timeline of your parents’ lives as you know them, or as they can share with you, and compare that with your own. Sometimes we can uncover hidden beliefs about ourselves by noticing what has moved onto our timeline from our parents.
Notice when you get stuck in your story instead of continuing to create it. Are you in a loop that has you repeating a part of your past story that is holding you back from growing in the present? Are you re-traumatizing yourself by repeating that story over and over again and never giving yourself a chance to open to new possibilities that allow you to release that old story?
What parts of your story are you hoping no one else will discover? Why?
Part of being on the path of personal growth is expanding your consciousness to encompass ALL of who you are. Every part of your story is important in shaping you to be the person that you are today. And this is true for everyone around you.
Own your story but do not be governed by it. Be conscious of your responsibility to continue to grow. Help others to grow by allowing them to have their own stories while keeping healthy boundaries for yourself.
And you can change your story! There are many techniques available to help you to do this. Empower yourself by taking the first step – write your story. Then the work can begin.
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