As I hesitantly check in on the news these days, the word entitlement comes up again and again. There seems to have been kept a silent and widespread agreement among many males in positions of power that other people’s bodies are theirs for the taking.
Little has brought this to light as well as the recent Meetoo# movement. The stark reality being revealed of how men, across all industries and socioeconomic backgrounds, from farmers to politicians, have felt entitled to the bodies of others, is enraging.
This indignant rage is familiar to me. My personal life has been full of self entitled and predative people like this, not to mention the person that felt entitled to my 7 year old body which I shared about here. Not allowing the anger to consume me when I remember all my no’s that have gone dismissed, challenged, questioned, mocked and ignored has been an lifelong exercise.
Finding a productive channel for my anger was profoundly helped by the work of *Dr. Steven Stosny. Years ago I read one of his books that helped me begin to unravel the seeming endless entanglement I found myself in with people who couldn’t accept the word “no”. He makes the case in his book “You Don’t Have to Take it Anymore” that the antidote to being victim to people like this is…
…a word of caution if you happen to be angry while reading this, please take a deep breath before you read on…
cultivating a sense of compassion.
I know! When what you really want to do is set your bully’s car on fire, compassion is the last thing you want to hear.
I know… but hear me out.
Dr. Stosny lives with an indentation in his head from one of the many abusive incidents he survived, at the hands of his father. His mother who left his father 13 times before finally leaving once and for all, freed herself from the shackles of, not only the abusive relationship, but from the shackles of indignation, victimization and resentment which were 100% justifiable.
He wrote a great article specifically on this that you can read here. She went on to live a meaningful life, full of people that reciprocated her love because, get this, throughout her life she continually flexed the inner muscle of compassion by helping people less fortunate than her.
Dr Stosny helped me understand 4 important things that exercising compassion towards others does:
- It channels our anger,
- It helps us have compassion for ourselves
- It heals the wounds behind our anger
- It allows us to see past the mask that abusive people wear so we can prevent future abuse
I didn’t want to believe that compassion was so powerful, but I didn’t have to look far to see he was right.
My late grandmother, Maria De Los Angeles was a big example of resilience through compassion. She had sixteen children from an abusive husband (yes 16) and survived 8 of those children (yes, one after the other she had to bury). She had plenty of reasons to carry a chip on her shoulder yet she was always quick with a joke and regularly laughed from her belly. Her home was always buzzing with people visiting with whom she had built lifelong friendships with.
Always Helping Those That Needed It
My grandmother was the one in her small town that knew how to do things like massage away a growing kidney stone or an infants’ colic. She had an index in her mind of which herbs cured what ailments and people came to her frequently who could not afford a doctor. She asked nothing in return. She was also one of the first families to have a landline in her town and offered that to whomever needed it.
Her compassion immunized her from any encroaching sense of bitterness and victimization, unlike some of my uncles and aunts, to whom it did. They still survive the memories of my grandfather and it all comes out on holidays in angry and tearful rants after a few drinks.
I shared in the post called How Choosing To Thrive Instead of Simply Surviving Will Change Our World, how Friedl Dicker-Brandeis used her love of art to teach 600 Nazi encamped children. She also gave the world a window into the inner lives of those children long after her passing when 5,000 of those art pieces were found. She had every reason to be consumed by rage from the mistreatment she lived through and witnessed, instead she left a legacy of healing and a unique holocaust perspective.
I offer to everyone fighting with their own sense of indignation over the hard to digest reality unveiling on the media and/or from the entitled bully in their own life, that we turn to flexing our compassion muscle.
This is the most needed act of self care today.
Exercising compassion not only funnels our anger into change for the better, but did you know that helping others benefits our health more than that of receiving social support? In case the examples of the 3 amazing women I shared about is not enough, here is an article from the University of Berkeley on two studies that prove it.
Today I choose to reach out like Stosny’s mother, my grandmother and Friedl . I will not let the fire from my anger burn me to ashes, instead I will use it as fuel for change by reaching out to those in my corner of the world.
“Ours is not the task of fixing the entire world all at once, but of stretching out to mend the part of the world that is within our reach.”
—Clarissa Pinkola Estes
Aside from volunteering, tithing to this organization to free children from sex trafficking, writing on this blog and loving up the people in my life, I have chosen to reach out to other women through public bathrooms and dressing rooms. You heard right!
Being that the act of looking in the mirror for many women is fraught with criticism, my small counteraction is to promote sisterhood by reminding other women of how beautiful and loved they are with cards I made to stick to the mirrors of public bathrooms and dressing rooms.
I will be in and out of these rooms in my Christmas shopping sprints anyway, so why not share a little love while I go about my business?!
Here are some pictures of the empty public bathrooms I visited awaiting their first unsuspecting receivers!
Let me tell you, the giddiness I felt in planting these everywhere was amazing! I could hardly keep my composure walking out of the bathrooms. I felt like a secret santa. It felt so spectacular that I have decided that this is going to be my new self care habit from now on. I will just carry these cards wherever I go and anonymously stick them up where women are sure to see them all year round. I have hands down, felt the most alive I have felt in a loong time. To just know that some woman or girl will read it was enough to make me high on love.
I made a printout of cards that say “you are positively beautiful and so loved!” to print, cut out and pass around. The back side says “You have been R.A.K.”d sunshine!, R.A.K. =random act of kindness, pass it on!”
Feel free to download it and use them yourself.
Why not take your sense of wellbeing into your own hands? Aside from downloading and using my printout, I have made a list of 11 very easy and doable ways to reach out to those in need down below.
- The good cards online game. Order this good deed card and register it online. Do a good deed and give your card to the receiver of your deed so they can pay it forward. As they pay it forward you track online where the card travels.
- Do a good deed every day by donating 25 cents to a good cause every morning by choosing where it goes. At the end of the month its you get updates on how your money affected others.
- Order 30 you matter cards and give them out freely
- Give an encouraging card to the siblings of children suffering a life threatening disease
- Give a get well soon card to kids in hospitals
- End child sex trafficking in the U.S. by donating to Saving Innocence
- Be a penpal to an elderly person through this organization
- Amazon smile allows you to donate while you buy your Christmas presents
- Kiva allows you to loan money to someone struggling in a 3rd world country to help them invest in their business
- Send a letter of encouragement to this organization to people who need it
- Write cards of gratitude to our soldiers that have served our country
If you found this post helpful, take a sec to like, share or comment below.
Sending you love, a reminder to take care of yourself and a big thank you for stopping by!
* Dr. Stosny has helped many victims use their pain for empowerment and abusers make permanent change through his bootcamps. He has been regularly featured on the Oprah magazine and you can find him at www.compassionpower.com