Entitlement and the Illusion of Scarcity

One of my early morning epiphanies had to do with something that took place back in November. You can read the full back story on this event here. For the purposes of this post I will give a quick recap.

During group supervision one day.. Let me pause for a second because it just occurred to me most of my readers are not social workers. A quick side note for my non-social workers; supervision is when the entire social work/clinical team comes together to discuss cases, ethical concerns, and all other pressing matters at the agency and that impact our clients.

Okay so at the end of supervision when the clinical team was getting ready to leave our supervisor asked us to stay for a moment longer so she could get something off her chest. She then spent the next 10-15 minutes pretty much berating the team for not being fully committed to the work and our clients. She even went so far as to call some of us entitled. This lecture came without warning, there had been no issues that any of us were aware of at the agency that triggered this. It also came with no explanation or clarification. She made it clear that she was not talking to everyone but what does that matter?

The truth is she was talking to everyone. Literally. Everyone is here. You are talking to all of us. If this message is not meant for everyone then it seems pretty inappropriate that you are sharing it with everyone. If you need to have a private conversation with someone then by all means but right now, you are in fact talking to everyone.

There was a lot about this incident that bothered me. It felt incredibly passive-agressive first of all. If you have something to say then say it, to the person, directly. This whole talking in shadows to the entire group as a way to shame one person into submission did nothing but spew that negative shamey energy all over everyone.

Second was the use of the word entitled. Apparently that word bothers the shit out of me and I did not know this about myself until it was being thrown at all of us from left field.

I have been sitting with that word ever since to explore what exactly it is that bothers me. I have processed some of my feelings in prior posts but this morning I feel like I finally put my finger on it.

That day when my supervisor pulled the rug out from under us in the way she did, I believe she was operating from a place of scarcity. Scarcity has a direct connection to shame which is why we all felt covered in it after supervision that day.

The definition of scarcity is:

 noun: scarcity; plural noun: scarcities
  1. the state of being scarce or in short supply; shortage

It is the idea that there is not enough to go around. We all like Brene Brown here right? Right. What does Brene teach us about shame? Shame thrives on the feeling of not enough.

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Now lets look at the word entitled, what does that word even mean?

en·ti·tled
inˈtīdld,enˈtīdld/
adjective
adjective: entitled
  1. believing oneself to be inherently deserving of privileges or special treatment

So that day my supervisor told us a story based in the illusion of scarcity. And followed it with a shame chaser by calling us entitled. As a result here are the messages we received that day in supervision:

Scarcity: What you are doing is not enough.
Shame: You are not worthy/not good enough.
Entitled: You are asking for things you do not deserve.

Here is the thing about shame, there is only one way to balance it: with love. Loving all parts of yourself. Believing that you are worthy. That you are enough, what you have is enough, and what you give is enough.

That is why the word entitled bothered me so much and this whole incident was hurtful. This might be her own truth, but it is not mine.

The work will always be there. There will always be more to do. It will never get done. There is no finish line in social work or pretty much any profession, there is just wrapping up one thing and starting the next.

I give of myself every day while I am with my clients and I know that what I give is enough. That is my truth.

I do not ask for special privileges. I know my worth though and I honor myself the same way I honor my clients, by making myself a priority in my life. I deserve my time and attention as much as any other person in my life. That is my truth.

When you find yourself operating from a place of scarcity and shame I encourage you to look inward and listen. What is your truth in this moment? What voice needs to be heard?

I am grateful that I have been open to having an honest relationship with the parts of myself that have been struggling lately because in doing so they felt heard and as a result they quieted so I was able to hear something else, my truth.

scarcity

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Badge of Honor

Processed with MOLDIV

I went to the dentist today to have some work done. It was to be a 2 hour procedure, the kind of thing most people dread. I was indifferent.I was indifferent because the dentist doesn’t bother me much. I definitely do not enjoy going to the dentist but I don’t dread it or get anxious either. It is just something I have to do sometimes to be healthy.

So I get in the chair, they numb me up, I put on my headphones and lay back for the next two hours while they do their thing. Some poking here, prodding there, “bite down on this for 5 five minutes”, “open wider”, “bite down”, “open wider”.. and so on.. 2 hours late she asked me to rinse and spit and I informed her that she still had cotton lodged up in my cheek. Suddenly she was flummoxed. Wait, you can feel that? You should still be numb..

Then after talking for a minute about what else I had been able to feel we realized they had not given me enough numbing agent at the beginning. Oops.

She commented on how I must have a high threshold for pain and I confirmed that I do and that was that.

When I was driving home I was thinking about it a bit more though and what that actually means.. People wear that truth like a badge of honor, I have a high threshold for pain, but what does that actually say about us?

Does a high threshold/tolerance for pain = I am really good at numbing. Or shutting down. Are we essentially just saying I am highly skilled at not feeling.

And why is it different for different people? Do some men have a high tolerance because of what it means to be a man in our patriarchal society? Do not show emotion. Do not cry. Do not allow yourself be vulnerable. Don’t be a pussy.

Do some of us have a high tolerance because of the other pain we have bore? Either no pain could ever be as severe as these initial painful experiences we have had or maybe it is that the initial experiences were so painful that we learned how to detach/numb in painful situations as a way of protection/self-preservation..

Either way it suddenly struck me as really odd that having a high tolerance for pain would be seen as a positive thing. Well, actually that is not true. I do think it is a positive thing, I still see it as a protective factor. I think what I mean is, yes maybe it is positive AND it is maybe kind of sad.

Good for you that you are able to take care of yourself this way AND I am sorry that whatever happened to you that made you develop this skill happened.

I do think in our society we try to cover pain up and put pretty details on it to make it more bearable when the truth is there is room for both the light and the dark when it comes to pain.

You can be a strong, resilient, survivor AND being completely shattered by the experience.

You can see a silver lining as a result of a painful situation AND feel engulfed by the storm cloud that created it.

There is room in this world for all of it. I do have a high tolerance for pain. This is true because of the pain my body has endured. I am quite skilled at detaching when I feel the need to protect myself. I have also become a skilled number. I have neither pride nor judgement towards these truths, they just are, and they are mine.

I guess what I am wondering is, will this will always be my truth? As work on rebuilding my relationship with my body and I go back to those places of pain and allow myself to finally feel it will my ability or want/need to numb still exist? Is it possible that I could get to place where I see pain as just a part of life and not longer fear it?

I don’t have answers for this right now but it was an interesting realization to wake up to.

numb

 

Brene and Cheryl and Glennon

giants

This weekend I read Love Warrior by Glennon Doyle Melton. I have talked about books on my blog before but this is the book. This is THE book. If you only read one book I have talked about here this is the one. Especially for all my female readers. Her whole story may not speak to you but some aspect of it will because she is telling the truth. She is telling the truth about what it means to be a woman. She is talking about dating, and hating our bodies, and the shame ingrained in us by society and religion and men and even other women, she is talking about sex, and motherhood, and being married, and infidelity, and addiction, and  many other aspects of womanhood and humanity. You will find yourself somewhere in her story, I almost guarantee it.

Her story made honesty and truth telling feel far less scary.

Her story made me think of the stories of other women I have read. Brene Brown, Cheryl Strayed and Susan Cain.. My modern day heroes.

Then I got to her acknowledgments at the back and she had thanked Cheryl and Brene. Thanked them for their honesty and their truth telling. I get it. These women are the women that are making this world feel safe to be vulnerable in. Their tenderness is their strength, their commitment to keeping the mask off is what makes them brave. You can be introverted, and vulnerable, and a mess, and scared, and quiet, and healing and it is all okay and there is a space for you too out there in the big noise of the world. A space that was designed and meant just for you, no one else can occupy that space, it is yours. I am beginning to understand that now.

So I would like to put my thank you out there into the universe. Thank you Brene, and Cheryl, and Glennon, and Susan. Thank you to all the women I have encountered, and whose books I have read, and lectures I have heard, who have brought me closer to my own truth. Thank you for showing the rest of us that we are worthy and we deserve to be seen.

This year I made a commitment to read the books I have been afraid to read previously because I was scared the truth would be too painful. It is painful, I was right about that, but some truths are. I will not be afraid of these truths any longer though. I will allow them to support me as I journey further inward to discover my own. Today after talking with my husband I ordered 9 more books. I cannot wait to devour them all.

Letting It All Out: Part III

self-care2

In continuing with the weekend’s theme of clearing energy and self-care I attended a meditation sister circle Sunday night. We processed our feelings about recent events, supported each other in our fears, shared stories that needed a voice, and sent out sparks about how to raise our light.

One woman made a point that speaks to my intention of shining my light and being an example of love: She said that if Hillary had won we, the light beings of the world who are in tune with our light, would probably remained in a place of complacency. Yes our lights are on but during times when progress is naturally occurring maybe we are not shining to our full-potential because we do not see that it is needed. This fear of darkness so many of us are experiencing gives us this awesome opportunity to “stand up and stay standing”. It gives us the opportunity to see what we are really made of, to step into our greatness, to see what we are truly capable of, to SHINE OUR LIGHT SO BRIGHT IT CANNOT BE IGNORED!

One woman lamented on how Trump’s election and his entire run for presidency has resulted in people giving themselves permission to show the ugly parts of their soul. Many of the stories we shared spoke to this very phenomena that has been happening. Another woman responded with such insight; if Trump is giving them permission to show up this way what is it giving you permission to do? If these people, whoever they maybe, are giving themselves this permission slip to do and say whatever it is they are doing and saying, what permission slip will you give yourself? How are you going to show up, how are you going to be real?

I sat with this for the rest of the night, through meditation, through drum circle, on the car ride home, and while I was writing last night. What permission slip will I give myself? How will I show up? Without having the specific words to answer this question I can say that I can already feel it happening. It is in my shift of thought, it is in my shift of feeling, it is in who I am growing into, it is in how I will continue to grow.

Another woman when challenged by a group member on what can she do about the world and the state of things responded by saying, but I am just one person.

That’s right you are. AND SO IS HE. He is just one person but look at the energy that has been created around him. I am going to reiterate a point I know I have already made twice, but until I know it is heard I will continue to play this same broken record: MLK Jr. was just one person, Brene Brown is just one person, President Obama is just one person, The Dali Lama is just one person. Anyone you have ever looked up to in your entire life was just one person; one person who made an impact. We have the ability to make an impact, we all do, every single one of us. It is in the way we think, the way we interact with the world, the way we feel about ourselves, the way we show up in our life every single day.

I was inspired by my experiences last night with these women. I was inspired by our collective light, I was inspired by our ability to show up with our humaness and our own darkness and let it all be there, every part of how we are processing this got to have a voice. The part where one woman called Trump supporters mouth breathers and the part where we were able to show love to Trump himself. We are not so different, we all are made up of both darkness and light. It is all swirling around mixed together inside us until we are beautiful beings of gray.

I leave you with this: Going back to the question that was raised, what permission slip will you give yourself? How will you show up in this? In what way will you stand up and refuse to sit back down? How will you turn up your light?

self-care1

May the light from our sister circle be a light for you as well in dark times when you feel your own light fading.

Getting to Know the Real Atticus: AKA Loving my Father and all of his Imperfections

atticus

If you have read To Kill a Mocking Bird you are familiar with the beloved character, Atticus Finch. My father has always been my Atticus, strong, fair minded, intelligent, and supportive. If you have read the recently published Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee you are now familiar with how Atticus’s character lets down not only his daughter, who narrates the story, but all of America by not living up to the impossible ideal we set for him. I am not proud of this but I will admit there have been times in my life that I have felt let down by my father as well.

It is for the same reason Scout’s character felt let down in the second book. When we are children we idolize certain adults and as we age we start to realize that these adults are human beings not super heroes, and they are flawed like the rest of us. Reconciling these flaws when they reveal themselves is difficult, suddenly this person is not exactly who or what you thought they were and in that moment you feel like everything has been tipped upside down. A girlfriend recently explained how she experienced this on more than one occasion growing up when she discovered things about her mother’s former life.

When I talk about the former life of our parents I mean who they were before we came along and demanded their sole identity be Mom or Dad to us. For me this occurred for the first time when I learned that before my parents had my brother my father used to smoke cigarettes. Now other members of my family smoke so this is no great taboo, I even smoked briefly when I was in my late teens, but my father, never. I perceived this as a flaw and my father, my very own Atticus could have no flaws. I laughed it off with him when I found out, it came up in a light conversation but I was surprised and if I am being honest it shifted my view of him ever so slightly.

As time went on and I aged from teen to young adult to full blown grown up I began to see my father more as the man he is rather than just my Atticus. And although our relationship has changed now that I see my father as a human being with flaws and vulnerabilities I know this place is better, it is more real, and it allows me to love him more wholly than I ever had before. I am reading Brene Brown’s Daring Greatly right now and when she discusses the shame experience of men one man expresses that the women in his life, his wife and daughters, would rather see him die on his white horse than catch him as he falls off. That statement hit me like a punch to the gut. How many men feel this way? Probably more than I want to know. And why? Because of the messages society and the ones they love send them. I would much rather see my father as the man he actually is and love him in that place than hold him to an impossible standard and watch him crumple under the weight of my expectations.

I have been thinking about this a lot lately as I shift each night between reading Go Set a Watchman and Daring Greatly. I read about the shame Scout and Atticus experience in the novel and understand it more fully as I read Brene Brown’s research surrounding vulnerability and shame. I am able to apply all of this to my own life and understand on a deeper level the pressure put upon men in our society. Pressure to never show a weakness, pressure to provide, to be successful, to be strong and never show emotion. I know growing up I put this pressure on my father. The first time he showed true vulnerable emotion to me I was scared by it just as Brene Brown says women usually are. Her research is helping me to not only better understand my own shame and struggle with vulnerability but the struggle those around me might be facing as well. Her research helps me to approach my own struggles as well as the struggles of others with a deeper level of awareness and empathy.

My father is still my Atticus but no longer Atticus the ideal from the first book, Atticus the human being with flaws from the second and I think I am able to love him better now because I understand this.

atticus1