I posted something the other day on Facebook by Derek Rydall that said, in essence, “Love your neighbor, but don’t take their shit.” Words to live by, and worth expanding upon a bit. Please note – I’m not discussing how to hold yourself at work, at the grocery store, or with acquaintances here, but rather close friendships and romantic relationships.
I spent several years of my life stunting a large part of who I am, for which I take full responsibility, while still acknowledging the existence of our society that tends to devalue women, devalues spiritual practices unless they adhere to rather circumscribed religious norms, and dislikes non-dual consciousness; these larger factors can make it hard out there for a mystical hustla, and I certainly carried them into several relationships in my life along with my own matched set of personal emotional baggage. Leopard-print, natch.
This sort of soul-squishing fuckery, unless unpacked and examined, can put lots of bad mojo on you, so here is some stuff to watch out for.
1. Doubting your own perceptions and judgements
This most often happens when your views threaten the other person in some way, but they’re not in touch with this feeling; instead, they feel entitled to invalidate your feelings, legitimated by the status quo. The invalidation can take many forms, but essentially you know it when you feel it – it feels depleting and crummy as hell. It’s one thing to have a spirited disagreement or exchange of ideas, but it’s quite another to feel that someone is needling or invalidating your views about sacred shit simply because it makes them a little uncomfortable.
2. Needless fear around talking about spiritual topics like meaning, purpose, existence, the afterlife, spirits, etc
This is where you edit, hold back, and clam up on things that are important to you because you’re afraid of what they think. Don’t be. But I do suggest you take a look at why you’re doing this stuff – are you nursing a friendship that has run its course but are reluctant to let it go? Are you clinging to the notion that you and your significant other are perfectly matched, except for this pesky problem of perpetually not feeling safe having certain existential conversations? My contention is that it’s fine to disagree, but that the fear is a signal that something’s off, and that this needs to be addressed.
3. Realizing that the other person has no intention of hearing your views
This is kind of a no-brainer, but Lordt knows it’s really tough when you love the other person and want to be respectful: “I don’t want to talk about it” “I don’t want to hear about your airy-fairy stuff” “I’d just prefer if you kept that to yourself” “I don’t want this stuff in our house” et cetera, ad nauseam, ad infinitum. See also: breaking off eye contact, turning their back to you, walking out of the room, changing the subject, ignoring. Actions speak louder than words, and even if people can’t or won’t tell you who they are, they sure as hell will show you through these kinds of stanky behaviors.
4. Active dismissal, constant correction, mean-spirited questioning or outright derision your views
See also #3 above. For reals. I’ve had friends sneer, after begging for a Tarot card or mediumship reading just seconds before, “But honestly, isn’t that all just a bunch of bullshit?” and “Ohmygahd, you can’t seriously believe in spirits, you have a Ph.D.” thinking what…that I was going to instantly develop tremendous respect for their well-explicated Weltanschauung and drop my own? Where I’m from we call those types of remarks emotional abuse, or maybe just being as nice as a bag of smashed assholes to another person. Bye.
Don’t bother reaching out to people who are like this, taking them on, arguing doctrine, or getting all jazzy. It’s not worth your energy; you aren’t here to cater to immature meanies. You have more important things to do.
5. Understanding that you can no longer continue to grow as a person and remain in the relationship the way it is
This is by far the most painful awakening to experience, particularly in a romantic long-term relationship. It’s awful, and it’s usually a stepwise, gradual dawning versus a sudden burst of enlightenment, although certainly that does happen to people. Please know it doesn’t mean that the other person is automatically bad, wrong, or fucked-up, or that you’re some hapless victim. It just means that if you want suffer, you’ll stay connected at the same level of intensity or intimacy, and if you want to relieve this suffering, you’ll either exit the relationship or change your expectations. Because honey, ain’t nobody gonna change for you. It’s going to be up to you. And this kinda sucks.
To wrap up, here’s the tl;dr part:
Realizing that the price of staying when you’re going to have to hide or minimize your real self in order to “keep the peace” or somehow legitimate yourself in their eyes is the first step. The next is deciding what to do about it. Certainly I have very cool people in my life who are dyed-in-the-wool atheists and agnostics, and I love them dearly – these relationships work because there is respect on both sides. I don’t ask them if they’ve accepted Cthulhu as their personal god and savior, and they don’t trivialize my speerchull biznatch.
So, if you’ve seen yourself here in any of numbers one through five above, and you don’t like what’s going on, it may be time to either cut some bitchez loose or simply place them in the periphery of your social sphere. You don’t need to hate or hold resentments in this process, but it’s certainly healthy to take action when someone has disrespected you, which is basically the point of this whole thing.
Here are some ideas for actions: on social media you can unfriend, unfollow, block or hide posts on social media as you think best. On Facebook in particular you can even ensure that only certain people see certain posts. In general, whether online or in real life, the least dramatic solution is generally the most advisable, except in more extreme circumstances.
Not everyone is in our lives for a lifetime, or even a season; sometimes it’s for a reason. Many shamanic traditions hold that everyone we encounter holds a mirror up to us, one in which we can see our own foibles and flaws, which is very similar to the notion in the analytic psychology tradition which holds that the things we most dislike in ourselves we tend to most easily spot in others. It follows that if you keep attracting people who are disrespectful, doubting and myopic assholes who have a teeny tiny comfort zone, then clearly you believe on a fundamental and probably unconscious level that this is all you deserve. And you deserve so much more, you sacred gorgeous creature you.