Glow from It or Grow from It

You can experience life as though it’s happening to you or for you and either way you set yourself up to feel like there is some quid pro quo, like you can tilt the odds in your favor if you’re a good person or you can manifest the reality you want if you try hard enough. You can tell yourself rejection is protection and everything has meaning and has been set up to teach you something. When painful things happen you can experience them as karma or as punishment for something you did or didn’t do. You can decide that everything that’s happening is happening for your growth.

The thing is, the earth was spinning long before you or I got here. The ocean existed before we showed up, the waves were rolling in, the waves were rolling out. The sun rose and set. The storms came and passed. The earth will keep spinning long after we’re gone. The chances that everything has been set up for any one of us are pretty small. That doesn’t mean we don’t matter or we don’t have the power to have a positive and lasting effect on the world around us, it just means that it might be a much kinder and gentler ride if you exchange the thought that “everything happens for a reason” to simply “everything happens” and it’s up to me to take from it what I will and to endeavor to be the best human being I can be while I’m here.

Whatever situations you face, whether we’re talking about a relationship or a job or anything else, you’re either going to glow from it – meaning it’s going to light you up and inspire you, or you’re going to grow from it. You do not have to do the mental gymnastics to put everything in your “thank you” column. When painful things happen, when you experience loss, grief, betrayal, or an unwanted twist in the plot, you can bet that you will grow. You may not have wanted the opportunity to grow in that particular way, you might wish with all your heart that you didn’t know what you now know, but we don’t get to choose what’s going to happen. The earth is spinning. We are here and my feeling is this is an extraordinary thing, just to be here with each other. Just to wake up each day.

Glow or grow in love,

Ally Hamilton Hewitt

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Sometimes “Rejection is Protection”

rejectionThere are few things in life that feel worse than being rejected by someone, whether it’s a stranger, a new romantic interest, a longtime partner, your parent, sibling, or child, or a colleague at work. When someone discards us or ignores us or excludes us, it hurts like hell. So let’s talk about it.

First of all, not everyone is going to like you, or me. That’s just reality. Also, you’ll never please everyone, nor do you want to try. It’s never good to chase love, approval, respect or worthiness; if these things are not offered freely, this is not a person with whom you want to be close, because bending yourself or shaping yourself around some idea of what you think someone else wants you to be, is an absolute betrayal of self, and it will bring you nothing but heartache. You are who you are, and who you are is a unique, one-of-a-kind human being in a world of seven billion human beings. There’s not even one other person just like you, which is remarkable and miraculous. So there’s that.

Here are other things: if someone does not return your call, your email, your feelings, they need to go in your “Not for me” file. They don’t need to go there with your contempt or bitterness, they just need to be put in that file, which you delete every time you fill it, because why would you carry around a drawer of people who don’t get you, see you, appreciate you, or deserve another ounce of your time or energy? I don’t say that in an angry way. Ideally you wish them well on their journey. You just don’t carry the weight of their opinions about you in a knapsack on your back. Life is too short for that. You have to like you. You have to be able to look yourself in the eye when you’re brushing your teeth at the end of the day.

Now, that’s an approachable idea if we’re talking about a stranger, or someone you went out with once (basically, a stranger ;)), or someone at work with whom you don’t really have to interact, but if we’re talking about heartbreak, we’re in a different situation. When family members stop speaking to one another, that’s a certain kind of sadness that’s truly unfortunate. Sometimes it can’t be helped. If a person isn’t willing to communicate with you, to try to see things from your point of view, to treat you with respect and consideration, then there’s not much you can do except to take yourself a safe distance away, and send them love from afar; maybe over time they’ll soften, and maybe they won’t. You can’t control that, but if you’re in a stand-off with your sibling or your parent or your child, really check in with yourself. If you’re the shunned party, ask yourself if you’ve done everything you can to communicate and try to heal the situation. If you have, let that be enough for now. If you haven’t, think carefully about trying again because life really is short, and we just don’t know from day-to-day. It’s one thing to go to bed feeling a little uneasy about something, to have a lack of closure around a particular topic, to have a misunderstanding that’s going to take some time to clear up. It’s another thing to have the last thing you’ve ever said to someone be an angry thing you can never take back; to let things like arguments over money, or being “right” overshadow the love you once shared with this person. Trading righteousness for love is a fool’s game.

If we’re talking about your longtime partner, or someone with whom you’re in love, you’re in for a rough go for awhile. If you have doubts about whether you’re lovable, or about your worth or value, you’re now going to be in that highly uncomfortable place of feeling like those doubts are true, and your former lover has seen the truth of them. This is not generally what’s happening when a partner walks away from us. Sometimes, and this hurts, but sometimes, they just are not in love with us the way we’re in love with them. If that’s what you’re dealing with, as bad as it feels, they’ve done you a favor, because you really deserve to be loved all the way, but you have to make space in your life to receive love like that. If you give the space to someone who doesn’t really have it for you, you’ve filled your dance card with a person who’s “just not that into you”, and I don’t know why you’d do that. Sometimes we fall into a very unhealthy dynamic with a person we feel we just never quite “have”, and we chase and run and dance like a monkey to get them to love us, until finally, they leave. Cut the time you play the monkey. You’re not a monkey, you’re a person. Trust that you’ll find the kind of love you want after you heal yourself and face those deep-rooted doubts.

More of the time, people leave because they don’t like the person they’ve become during the course of the relationship. Maybe they’re just not happy with themselves, but they’re convinced finding a new partner will solve it. People have all kinds of crazy ideas sometimes. They think they’ll be happy if they find the “right house”, or “right job”, or “right person”, but if they aren’t happy with their true house (themselves), it doesn’t matter where they go or what they do, or with whom. The pain will travel with them. It is not your job to wait around hoping they’re going to figure that out, though. It’s your job to come back to yourself, to nurture yourself and to heal. When we really truly love people, we have to want for them what they want for themselves, and this includes leaving us, if that’s what they feel they need to do. Your job then is to open the door. Your job is not to block the door, throw yourself in front of it, or wrap yourself around their ankles. There’s only one person who really has to love you, accept you, see you, understand you, honor you and celebrate you, and that person is you.

Is connection one of the best things in life? Absolutely. Warmth, love, affection? Yes. Being embraced with all your beauty and all your flaws? Of course, but do it for yourself, first, so you’re intimately acquainted with how that feels. That way you’ll recognize it when someone is feeling it for you, and you’ll be able to return it equally, too. Trust your pain. It will open you and strengthen you if you let it, and remember that no feeling is forever.

Sending you love, and a giant hug,

Ally Hamilton

Some Things Will Never Be Explained

When it comes to a mental tailspin, few things drive us there faster than the feelings of being misunderstood, rejected, excluded, judged, or absolutely invisible. Sometimes we feel this way at the hands of someone with whom we were once close–an ex, an old friend we thought we’d always know, a family member. Other times it can be someone we’ve just met– a new romantic interest, someone at work, or, occasionally, a complete stranger. Whatever the source, it never feels good, but the more we value the opinion of the person rejecting us in one way or another, the more we suffer.

Some things will never be explained. I feel like I should almost write that twice. There are relationships that will deteriorate suddenly and with no explanation, and the only closure you’ll get is your own acceptance of the situation. Things happen, and sometimes you’ll find you’re dealing with someone who simply cannot or will not communicate. I don’t think there are too many things worse than ignoring someone, but you cannot force a person to open up. They’ll show you the respect to do that, or they won’t, or maybe they truly can’t. There are people who just will not go there, and it could be because “there” seems a very scary and vulnerable place to head. If you’re dealing with a person attached to never rocking the boat, you may have to sail away and leave the mystery behind you.

This occurs in so many contexts. Close friends of mine used to see another couple every weekend. Their kids grew up together like brothers. There wasn’t even conversation about whether the families would see each other Saturdays, there was only talk of what the plan would be. They vacationed together, their kids went to school together, most afternoons the moms would rotate taking the kids home so the other could have some free time. One week it came to a halt. At first it seemed okay. The friends were just unusually busy that weekend, but then the afternoons weren’t working out, either, and another weekend came and went with vague excuses of tons of work, and the need to have some “family time.” My friends thought perhaps the other couple was having marital issues. They waited, confused, trying to be patient and sensitive, but weeks went by, with no straight answers, just lots of avoidance. Finally, they asked about what was happening directly, but were still met with nothing solid. So after months of wondering and worrying and questioning and obsessing, they gave up, even though the kids didn’t get it, and they were at a loss as to what to tell their son. Of course the mystery around it is the thing. It’s so hard to let go when you don’t understand.

Another friend received a letter letting him know his business partnership of almost a decade was ending, with no conversation and no kindness. When he went to talk to his partner, he was met with rage over something that had happened years ago, and his partner had held it in so long he exploded, said horrible things to all their mutual friends, and turned the whole thing over to lawyers, with gag orders and all kinds of moves that prevented honest, open communication. People leave room for forgiveness, or they do not, and it’s not like his partner lived in a glass house. We all make mistakes. People who lack compassion for others tend to have very little for themselves, and it’s sad, because righteousness doesn’t cuddle up very well at night.

People write to me about amazing first dates, when they’re absolutely certain they’ll be going out again, only to start to question themselves days later when there hasn’t been any contact. When you’re left in a vacuum and the other party won’t talk to you, it’s just natural to start to spin–to replay things in your mind, to wonder if you were misunderstood, to second-guess the things you said or did, or to start chasing, to see if you can fix your imagined mistakes.

Here’s what I want to say about all of it. Your opinion of yourself is the one that matters. You have to be you. You will find there are people who will see you and embrace you with all your flaws and all your beauty and all your pain. People who will not give up on you or throw you away, not ever. Stick with those people. Not everyone will be able to see you clearly, and not everyone will dig what they see, even if they are seeing clearly. It’s okay. It doesn’t feel good, but it really is okay. Try not to waste too much energy on people who won’t communicate with you, because there’s no potential there, and try not to give too much time to those people who won’t forgive you for being human and therefore fallible. There’s no potential there, either. People who misunderstand you or judge you or exclude you are also human and fallible. That’s how it is. Not everyone handles their pain well. A lot of it is not personal, although rejection surely feels personal. Keep your center. Remind yourself of who you are. If you screwed up and have owned it and apologized but have not received forgiveness, at a certain point you have to forgive yourself. You know who you are. You do the best you can with where you are and what you’ve got, and you put one foot in front of the other. As long as you’re doing your best to move from love, you won’t go too far astray, but don’t allow these unexplained mysteries to rob you of too much now. Now is precious, because it won’t come again. There’s so much love in the world, and it would be a shame to miss it because you’re boiling yourself. Shake yourself off and pick yourself up, and remind yourself, if you need to, that this business of being human is not easy. Send compassion to those around you, and send some to yourself, as well. Do your best to direct your energy forward. You never know what beauty is around the bend.

Sending you so much love,

Ally Hamilton

If the posts are helpful you can find my books here <3

Don’t Let the “No’s” Stop You

I think many people experience rejection as if it’s a “no” everywhere. As if every door is closing to them, every doubt is being confirmed, every fear is being verified. It’s never easy to put your heart out there in any context–romantically, professionally, socially or creatively–and find that you’re being turned down, but not everyone is going to see you, hear you or understand you. Not everyone is going to embrace you or celebrate you or cherish you, and you know what? You don’t need everyone to do those things. A few people who truly get you would be great, but even if you only have one person in your life who can do that, you’re blessed…and you do, because you can do those things for yourself. Believing in yourself is essential if you want to be at peace.

The problem is, if you have unexamined, deep-seeded doubts about your value as a human being, you’re going to seek out people who reflect those doubts back to you. You won’t do that intentionally, it’s simply that we all want to heal. We’re driven to heal. Trying to convince other people that you’re worthy of love won’t help to heal you, though. Running and chasing and obsessing and selling yourself will make you sick, and by the way, miracles don’t need to sell themselves. If you’ve forgotten how innately special you are, that would be the place to start.

When you make a habit of picking people who are unavailable or emotionally distant for any reason, you set yourself up for heartbreak. There’s only so much your heart can take before it starts to harden. Rejection can be a huge gift when it spares us from a reality which would have been much harder to bear than the “no,” but if you set yourself up for that experience over and over again, it starts to wear at you. You start to doubt yourself, your worth, your unique beauty; you give your power away because you’re defining yourself by someone else’s opinion instead of your own.

This world is challenging enough without feeling that you’re powerless on top of it. You aren’t. You are in charge of your inner world. You get to decide how much importance you give to your own thoughts, to other people’s opinions, to the way you’re going to respond to whatever life puts in your path, even those “no’s.” You can make the world within you a loving place to be, where you honor what’s true for you, and feed your strengths, where there’s kindness and patience and compassion, and the great beauty in that is if you’re able to make your inner world a loving place to be, you’ll naturally spread love wherever you go. Don’t let the “no’s’ stop you or make you bitter. Just keep going.

Sending you love,

Ally Hamilton

If the posts are helpful, you can find my books here and my yoga classes and courses here.

Don’t Drive the Scorpion Ferry

There’s an old tale I love about the Scorpion and the Frog. If you don’t know it, it goes something like this (though I’m taking some liberties): Once there was a scorpion on the bank of a stream. He called out to a passing frog, “Excuse me! Could you give me a ride across? I can’t swim!” The frog looked at him like he was nuts. “Dude,” he said, “you’re a scorpion. I’m not giving you a ride. If you sting me, I’ll die,” to which the scorpion replied, “If I sting you, you’ll drown, and I’ll die, too.” This made sense to the frog, so he said, “All right, climb on.” Halfway across the stream, the scorpion stung the frog. With his dying breath, the frog said, “Why have you done this to us?” and the scorpion said, “Dude, I’m a f&cking scorpion!”

The way people treat you is a statement about where they are on their journey, what tools they have in their toolbox, what things they’ve been through, what they’ve learned about how to survive in the world, and how they’ve been treated by other people. It’s also subject to change; a scorpion may not always be a scorpion. The main thing to grasp is that it’s not a reflection of anything lacking in you.

If you read this blog regularly, you’ll remember the much older man I dated when I was seventeen. He was seeing other women for the three years we were together, and although I could never prove it, I always felt it. (I confirmed my fears once). At the time, I took it as a sign that I wasn’t enough. Not pretty enough or “something” enough to keep him interested solely in me. I spent so much time over the course of those three years feeling awful about myself. I was hooked on this interaction and convinced if I could just be enough for him, then I’d be happy. I didn’t realize that his inability to be faithful had nothing to do with me, or that a person who’s lying and sneaking around is ultimately having a painful relationship with him or herself. When you respect yourself and are making choices that are aligned with what’s true for you in a conscious and kind way, you’re not going to lie.

I think if you’re like most people, the tendency is to take those times you’ve been hurt, disappointed, neglected, betrayed, or even abused – personally. Hurt people hurt people, as the saying goes. A person can only be where she is, working with whatever tools she’s got. What is about you, is what you do about it if someone isn’t treating you well. Sometimes we get caught up in relationships with lovers, family members, friends, or colleagues. Maybe things start out well, but over time the quality of the interaction deteriorates. Circumstances change and you observe responses you wouldn’t have predicted. If you have a pattern of participating in relationships with people who treat you badly, then it is time to take a long, hard look at why. It’s about something. Identifying that something is the key to your freedom. Your deepest pain is your greatest teacher.

There are lots of frogs in the world, but there’s no other frog just like you. If you’ve been swimming in shark-infested waters too long, hiding in shadows and making yourself as small as possible out of fear, or some idea that you’re not lovable, or enough, or worthwhile, I hate to say it, but you’re going to have to turn around and swim directly for the mouth of that shark. Otherwise you’ll never rest. You’ll keep running the Scorpion Ferry, becoming harder and less hopeful with each ride. Being a hopeless frog sucks. I know, because I was one. Letting yourself get swallowed whole by the shark of your fear is not a fun ride, but it won’t kill you, either. If you’re still hanging with my Moby Dick-Aesop’s Fables-Life of Pi metaphor, then you probably already understand the Willa Cather quote, “There are some things you learn best in calm, and some in storm.” The Dark Night of the Soul is a storm. It’s also an invitation to know yourself, truly and deeply. To heal and liberate yourself from your pain, so that the next time a scorpion calls to you from the bank of a stream, you’ll be like, “What’s up, Scorpion? You need to get your ride from a shark, my friend!”

Sending you love, and the strength to swim toward your pain if you need to!

Ally Hamilton

If the posts are helpful, please find my books here and my yoga classes and courses here.