I’ve been letting those voices get into my head.
Not schizophrenic type voices. No worries there. As a therapist friend once told me, “You’re so solid and Midwestern it’s scary. Freak out a little, for God’s sake.”
What I’ve been hearing are the voices of the people I interact with in my life.
If you’re a creative type like me, then you’re sensitive. You take things in. You intuit things people never say and you’re usually uncannily correct. You can feel others’ feelings as an energy. Sometimes you just know things as true and have no idea how—but generally, they are proven to be true.
It is a win/win when you tune into this capacity to tap energy beyond your own. When you use it to bring new thoughts, ideas and creations into the world. You open new vistas for you and those that consume what you bring forth.
But shutting off this capacity, being able to tune out what is coming from others, is also essential. Because delicate flowers tend to do best in a hothouse, isolated from the elements. To survive in our world, you need to have some stamina, some filters, a shut-off valve for taking on what others bring to the table.
My shut-off valve has been faulty the past couple of weeks.
So before I write, I hear the voice of a trusted corporate mentor cautioning me not to reveal too much in my blogs because the screaming meanies of corporate America value toughness, not tenderness.
The voice of a good friend who advises on love and other matters, warning me to “move quickly” before I get any older. I think she sees women as a marketable commodity as long as they’re of a certain age. And she is, unfortunately, mirroring what much of society (at least male society) seemed to echo to me when I was trying out online dating.
The voice of someone who is neither friend nor foe but wants to make me doubt myself because I’ve been asked to take on her duties and responsibilities. And she is having a hard time figuring out how someone almost 10 years her junior could best her in a career she has spent decades building.
The voice of an ambitious colleague who asks me why I choose the off-ramp, working project to project rather than in a hefty role managing a large global team. Who reminds me my kids will be gone and I will be alone—and then how will I fill my time?
Here’s what I did in the short term: Bungled it. I let their fears and biases fill my head. Instead of sorting through and saying thank you very much, this is mine, this is not, I doubted. Wondered why our thinking diverged so much. Wondered if that divergence meant my thinking is faulty.
Head on straight again, eating healthy again, balanced again, I smile at my own self-doubt. I know better.
So here’s what I do now: I tell my ambitious executive friend what I do with my life after my children have moved away won’t involve making my work my life. Unless that work is something about which I am very passionate.
I remain neutral with the woman who sees me as a threat and cannot figure out why. It is for her to figure out why she stayed so long at one company and never broadened her experience. Not for me to tell her.
I share with my friend that even though many men view women with an expiration date, I am not interested in those men. That falling in love again, or not, does not come just because I will it to be so. And that settling for any less makes for misery, not happiness. Compromise is one thing; settling is another. And the qualitative difference between the two is miles wide.
To the mentor I say: “Thanks. I truly appreciate your advice.” And then write this blog entry. Did I share too much? Reveal too much of myself? Well, I’m still standing so I guess I’ll withstand the impact. And oh, by the way, I’m done with the screaming meanies of corporate America. I am choosing to work with those who behave like decent human beings. The cost of doing otherwise is too high and I’m too far into life to deny that fact.
None of these people are technically wrong. They are giving advice that has worked for them. But I am not them. I ask people for their thoughts to keep me honest, to ensure I have considered alternatives.
But in reality, I know what works. I know where I should head, what I should do. If I get very quiet.
Stilling the cacophony is harder for some of us than others.
39 Comments Add yours
How did you pick up the skill of finding out the truth amongst people, how did you fine tune your intuition? I know the answer may not be available
Secondly, your psychiatrist friend asked you to freak out?! Lol
Ah, yes. Who would have thought freak-outs were a prescription? :). As for fine-tuning my intuition, hmmm. You don’t ask easy questions, do you? I have always had it but as I’ve aged, I’ve learned to distinguish that feeling/voice from others. It has a different quality–so very quiet. Not of my own making. Almost as if the thought were placed in my head and I’m unaware of the placing–it’s just suddenly there. It’s a conscious effort to notice when that type of thought or feeling crops up.
Well your posts always make me think hard and ask harder questions
If there’s one thing I would love to emulate, it is able to write with such an effect.
Thank you Kay
Thank you! Just about the nicest thing anyone has said to me today:).
Sharing yourself makes you a wonderful blogger, the reason many people come to read. Its easy getting pulled into other’s opinions. Mostly you’re just hearing their own insecurities. As you’re doing, block them out and keep going.
So true! If you exist in the blogging world and in another one, such as corporate America, it’s a dichotomy that sometimes is hard to juggle. Because in order to succeed as a blogger, you have to bring up the shared human experience. And in corporate America, that can get you blacklisted:). Depending on how enlightened your peers are. I hear from many bloggers who also have a profession in business world that it can be tough.
Made me reflect!
Turnabout is fair play:). You do the same for me many days.
You are so wise, Kay. When I read your blog, I learn about writing; and I also learn about life.
You couldn’t have said a kinder thing:). Thank you from the bottom of my heart.
Reblogged this on Just kidding… and commented:
One of my fave wordpress bloggers – this post is reassuring and beautifully written; I highly recommend it!
Listening to your own voice, and not the voice of others, is the way to go.
You have described this magnificently!
Thank you! Every once in awhile I get it right:).
Love this too! I am also extremely sensitive to other people’s opinions because I have always been such a people pleaser. Maybe they know me better than I know me? Maybe they’re “right” and I’m “wrong”. I want to know what they think and then I regret asking. So, I ask God. I ask God what He thinks, search His Word for His answer and perspective. It’s not always “easy”, but it does bring me peace. His way is ALWAYS best for me. Because He loves me MOST.
I see God speak through my intuition. Always. Because I alone am not wise enough. You put it beautifully!
Oh, this post resonates with me so much!! I, too, am trying to keep away from the Corporate Meanies. I have been there, done that, know I can do it if I want to. But I don’t want to! I lost my job in August and I’m doing everything in my power not to just replace it with the same kind of job somewhere else. Of course everyone is quizzing me about what I’m doing, and why, and do I have a job yet. Luckily my husband and I have been wise financially and though I certainly do need some income I don’t need to rush to replace it, especially at the cost of my physical and mental health. Thanks for sharing, and please keep on doing it!
It’s so comforting when I hear from other people who have taken a broader view. It’s not easy, is it? Because most people do assume you should just replace one job with another that looks quite similar. I’m so glad you have the time to take to really plot out your next step–or let kismet step in:).
“Head on straight again, eating healthy again, balanced again, I smile at my own self-doubt. I know better.” I’m quoting you to you to reinforce your wisdom — for me and for you. You’re on track; keep believing in yourself. Even advice that is not always right for you has value. It helps you process where you are so you can determine the best way forward — for you. And thanks for taking us along as your readers. Any and all views of values and wisdom create exponential returns to each of us somewhere down the line. Stay focused and be true to yourself.
You’re so right. Sometimes knowing what is not right is the first step to knowing what is. Thank you for your kind words . . .
I knew what your were talking about when you said that creative types feel other people’s energy. I teach art classes and sometimes get overwhelmed by a student who’s upset or angry. I have to take time to figure out that what I’m feeling at that moment belongs to someone else. It took me years to realize that this was going on, and I had some awkward moments when I mirrored a student’s emotion thinking that it was my own…It’s good to hear that someone else understands this.
Feeling like an open nerve is never fun, is it? Were you able to put filters in place so you can recognize it but not let it overwhelm you?
I’m still learning how to do that and am successful only part of the time. I’m gradually learning to pause a long time before reacting so that I have time to sort things out. I’ve also learned to walk away and take a break from a people when I feel an energy cascade between us.
Love this, as usual. Is it ok to reblog it?
Of course:). Honored you want to do so. Thank you!
I agree with the philosophy of ‘being your own self’. My wife tells me not to tell her how she feels (Sometimes I say that when I get stupid because I know its wrong, but I am allowed to be stupid sometimes). I was struck by your comment that ‘some men see women with an expiration date’. If ‘some’ means ‘a few’, is it worth writing about them? I ve never thought that and it seems cruel to say it. Call me naive, but its my experience that men, for the most part, worship women. Would I be wrong to say its an unfair rap?
I wish I could say that “some” meant only a few. And I was surprised when I began online dating because it was something I had never experienced before. Maybe because I was too young? Or perhaps the quality of the men online leave something to be desired. But it is indeed what I experienced and many other women I know have experienced. Unfortunately. I think if you are a decent guy and have been married for years, you may also not be in touch with the type of man who feels this way. I sure hope there are more like you than not. It was hard not to get jaded very quickly.
I’m sure the outside voices have the best of intentions but ultimately your life is yours to navigate as you see fit. I look your approach of sorting it all out.
Those “voices” have been getting to me lately, too. I like your advice to yourself. I know from past experience that when I take even well-intended advice from others rather than doing what I *know* is best, it rarely goes well.
Right?! If only that inner voice always appeared to make sense. Sometimes whe it doesn’t is when it’s the most wise, though.
Very well written Kay. To reach this point is a rebirth, a renewal of understanding of yourself. It is also in loving yourself and understanding in that love that THEY do not matter. And I don’t mean that selfishly, but as you said…all of that is their problems to deal with, you have your journey.
It is all an understanding that we all reach at some time in our life….we accept….us. And in that accepting, we realise that the only reason we are fearful of ANYTHING that others say, is because we doubt ourselves. Nothing else….just our fears having a picnic at our expense. Face the fears…understand them…and let them go. That is a big journey Kay and I bow to master, as no man (or woman) can be a master of another. You have found your own heart, where others are too busy trying to change another’s through their own fears. Well done. I am enjoying your journey.
Great post, you are expressing your awareness beautifully and it is lovely to hear 🙂
“Just our fears having a picnic at our expense.” Could not have said it better. Not in a million years:).
Like a fine wine. You just keep getting better. And smarter. Love it!
I might say the same about you as you make a wish this week:).
I’ve made the mistake more than once of taking the “advice” of others who claim to be looking out for you but ultimately are looking for themselves….especially in the work-place. You are you 🙂 You have your own voice, your own gut feelings. Deep down you know what’s best for you….funny how when you act on your own voice you get push back from people who claim to be looking out for you….that’s how I know I’m doing the right thing lol (((hugs))) xo
I do think many have good intentions. But no one of them has the perspective or has to live with the results:). That’s all on me.
lol exactly! 🙂