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I’m Rubber, You’re Glue….Dealing with Adult Bullies

One unfortunate realization of adulthood is that the “Mean Girls” don’t end at high school. Cliques and popularity contests still rule local scenes, and the world of Yoga is far from exempt from this either.

Over the past few years, I’ve had more than a few run-ins with folks who have hurled their pain in my direction. Folks who have taken extra steps to make sure that I know that they can see through my “lies” and try to poison my own self-image. This post isn’t to share those stories, and tbh I’ve spent more than enough time repeating them, over-analyzing them, and trying to make it make sense.

Often, I have internalized the hurt of others, and believed false narratives from strangers.

One fabulous realization of adulthood is that I’m can’t be for everyone. This comes at a large relief, as being for everyone sounds exhausting, and I would most likely lose myself in this quest.

I noticed growth in this area with a recent incident on misplaced daggers with someone who I don’t know, and shouldn’t have that much power over their feelings.

My initial thoughts, as written in my phones, went something like this:

Well maybe there is some truth to these words.

And then I jumped to “screw you and your judgments”

Finally, I landed on “aw. This human is hurting. I released their darkness, and sent them back love and kindness”

As I did this work to release it back, I was able to move through my life with greater ease.

Warning: this tactic may cause the opposite effect in those who originally misplaced their hurt.

I found myself drawn to (re)read The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz and these teachings from the Toltec tradition hit right on time.

The Four Agreements

  1. Be impeccable with your word.

  2. Don’t take it personally.

  3. Don’t make assumptions.

  4. Do your best always.

Some takeaways, and shares that I found useful:

“Your word is pure magic.” - reminds me of the power of my words in creation. The words that I speak to others, and more importantly to myself, are creating my world around me. Ruiz speaks of the ability to create both white and black magic, depending on the words we choose. When I was in elementary school, our guidance counselor taught us about “warm fuzzies” versus “cold pricklies” in regards to the ways that our words affect each other. At almost 40, I still think about this distinction when I interact with people. With so much pain and hurt happening in this world, why not use our words to build each other up? EMDR therapy has been instrumental in my personal healing, and replacing old stories with more helpful ones. I’ve learned how many old stories were implanted by others, and how easily I’ve received these these seeds. Prioritizing my own self-love creates new agreements in my relationships, and boundaries with strangers’ unrequested input.

“Even when a situation seems so personal, even if others insults you directly, it has nothing to do with you.” - This part is the piece that requires the most work for myself. Having internalized so many opinions of others, extracting both the good and bad feedback is difficult to do. Ruiz speaks to the power of perception, and ways that our personal biases not only color our opinions, but also may waver from situation to situation. Gossiping is often the seed of biases, and I too am guilty of letting others’ stories influence my opinions of strangers. When I feel triggered by others, I’ve learned to sit down, or sometimes pace haphazardly, and ask what is being reflected in this person that is still healing in me. Sometimes, I’m triggered by a stranger, other times it’s a loved one, or maybe constructions zones and unnecessary traffic…. No matter the story, the common denominator is always ME. And there are also times when that sh*t ISN’T mine! And the work is to transmute it, and release it. Holding on, retelling, and recycling the stories is a uniquely human trait. Moving through stressful situations doesn’t feel natural AND it’s necessary.

“The way to keep yourself from making assumptions is to ask questions.” - You know what they say when you ASSume? You make an ass out of U and Me. ;) I have an overactive imagination, which serves me at times, and is most likely correlated to my generalized level of anxiety. #giftandthecurse Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras describe imagination of one of the 5 actions of the mind, and recognize how it’s a double-edged sword. I also LOVE asking questions, and it’s only more recently that I’ve gotten comfortable asking uncomfortable questions, especially in personal relationships. The reward of these questions is clarity, and that is wayyyy better than whatever reality my brain created.

“Under any circumstance, always do your best, no more and no less. But keep in mind that your best is never going to be the same from one moment to the next.” - Ahhh…a little ease in these lessons. Reminders that my best is enough, and that it’s a moving target. Sometimes, rest is my best. Sometimes, it’s setting a boundary. Other times, it may look like softening my typical fiery approach. Doing my best looks like admitting when I have failed my other agreements, and starting over tomorrow. “Atha Yoga Anushasanam” And NOW begins our practice of Yoga.

As useful as these philosophical pieces may be I recently learned the importance of community, when adult bullies attack.

I shared on my Instagram stories:

“Today I learned that for every person who tries to knock me down, there’s at least one other person to support me in getting back up. In the last 24 hours, I’ve been fed, hugged, gifted flower, stood up for, listened to, held and cuddled. Alchemizing pain into love. Storing this feeling into my core memories.”

Leaning into community was new for me, and I'm beyond grateful to have found a different way of being.

And when my mind is really racing, I turn to the "Loving Kindness Meditation" from the Buddhist tradition. It goes something like this:

May I be Happy.

May I be Well.

May my heart be freed from pain, and filled with loving kindness.

May I remember my own magic.

Move to someone that I love:

May this person that I love be Happy.

May this person that I love be Well.

May this person that I love's heart be freed from pain, and filled with loving kindness.

May this person that I love remember my own magic.

Move to someone that I'm neutral with:

May this person that I'm neutral with be Happy.

May this person that I'm neutral with be Well.

May this person that I'm neutral with be freed from pain, and filled with loving kindness.

May this person that I'm neutral with remember my own magic.

Move to someone that I'm in conflict with (oof!):

May this person that I'm in conflict with be Happy.

May this person that I'm in conflict with be Well.

May this person that I'm in conflict with be freed from pain, and filled with loving kindness.

May this person that I'm in conflict with remember my own magic.

At the end of the day, bullies have to sit with themselves all the time. When I’m able to practice the 4 Agreements, and lean into my community, the old adage becomes true: “I’m rubber, yo