Years ago, I was speaking to a good friend of mine who was having a heck of a time on a Board she sat on. Every one of her ideas was too something, big, bold, bad, never done, could not be done and as a result, she felt completely sidelined and exhausted. During this conversation, I told her, "You know, you are just in the wrong sandbox. There are sandboxes everywhere, tons of them, and they all look the same, but your sandbox is filled with kids who throw sand at others, make a mess, and break toys. It is just not the right sandbox for you."
Two days ago, I found myself saying the same thing to another good friend of mine - the same analogy seven years later. Though, my analogy was the same, my tips for how to handle being the wrong sandbox had changed. And, since it has been far too long since I posted anything, I decided this would be a great 'welcome back to writing' post for me!
All of us have moments where we are communicating totally "normal" things but everyone, and I really do mean the majority of folks around us (in that sandbox) look at us as if we have lost our mind. We tend to tell our spouse or call a friend and recount the story only to get complete validation that everything we were saying or doing makes complete and total sense, because we go to people who are in our sandbox. When this happens, it is important to ask yourself, is this the right sandbox for me? Chances are, you will get a swift no response from your True Self. That right there is about 50% of it. Many of us spend hours, weeks, months, decades in the wrong sandbox analyzing why the kids in the sandbox are throwing sand, instead of passing it nicely in cups, or why the kids keep stealing every sand toy we pick up to play with the second we pick it up, instead of just acknowledging, that this sandbox and these kids are not the ones for me. Once we allow ourselves to say out loud what every fiber of our being already knows, there is a sense of peace that washes over us. Finally, we can say, "oh, this does not make sense, because no matter what I say or do, this is NOT my sandbox. I will never make sense to them." With that statement, there is a sense of relief, followed by a sense of peace.
Once we do the hardest job of becoming aware that it is not us (and not even them, it is just the sandbox), many of us start to question and wonder why they don't fit in the sandbox. Since our beautiful brains cannot leave well enough alone, we feel like we need to do a complete and thorough analysis of the situation, which may lead to feelings of sadness or anger. This is where the next 25% comes in - forgiving and having compassion for yourself. Most of us, when we are in a situation that is foreign to us, and people are acting in ways that we see as totally bizarre, decide to act in the "right way" and model "good/better behavior" and that is where the damage is done. There are those people out there (and I am jealous of you all) who say, "not my circus, not my monkeys" and simply walk away from the situation. And, then there are people like me who say, "why is it not my circus and couldn't I find a way to get along with these monkeys too?" The moment we go down that path, we move into over-giving, trying, forcing, manipulating and a whole host of other behaviors, not out of a sense of malice, but out of an attempt to connect. That is why this is 25% because the person who needs to be forgiven is ourselves for thinking that we somehow could change or influence someone else's behavior. Since we were truly seeking connection, and not intending to harm another, we also need complete self-compassion. We were fulfilling a very human need to connect and be in community with others and what we became aware of was that this particular community, while fascinating and wonderful in its own uniquely bizarre way, was not our community.
This leaves us at the last 25%, which is the learning from the situation. In speaking to my friends, this is what had changed the most in the past seven years - what to take from the situation. The only real learning from being in the wrong sandbox is to not engage with it as if it were the right sandbox - that simple. There is actually nothing to do. That is the learning - there is nothing to do. You can simply observe the people in the sandbox and once you have done step 2, practiced self-compassion and self-forgiveness, you may even be able to enjoy the people in the sandbox. I kind of think of this like watching crappy reality television - you can enjoy it because you have zero connection to it at all. You are not in the middle of the drama. The fact that there is drama (aka, people throwing sand) has nothing to do with you and does not even exist in your sandbox. The only reason that this particular sandbox has you so worked up, is because of some desire to fit into it or change it or make it a sandbox that works for you. Simply letting that need go and accepting that it is a sandbox, but it is not your sandbox, allows you to watch it like you do a reality TV show. Once you have that level of detachment, the miracle can enter. Either you find someone else in that sandbox who has felt the same way the whole time and you both pop some popcorn together and watch the kids throw sand. Or, in some cases, simply allowing the others to be as they are (sand-throwing and all) in the sandbox, may change the dynamic, and now sand-throwing is not as fun and the sandbox becomes more like one you would enjoy playing in. And, of course, a million variations of those scenarios.
Next time you are in a situation that brings up the "ick" in you, pause for inspiration.
1. Pause to allow awareness a chance to show you how to remain 100% your true, amazing, wonderful authentic self, while allowing the situation to be whatever it is, as uncomfortable and crazy as it may be. 2. Ask yourself, "is this the right sandbox for me? Or, am I trying to force a connection where one is not naturally occuring?"
3. If it is the right sandbox, but an ick situation, you can ask yourself, "why is this impacting me in this way?"
4. Allow any feelings you have to come up and meet them as the kindest, most loving, host with the greatest amount of self-compassion, and when ready, self-forgiveness.
5. Let go and allow the sandbox and everyone in it to be as they are. BONUS - Bless the sandbox and everyone in it. You can do this by wishing them all well, health, happiness and success in your mind's eye until you are overflowing with love for them as well as yourself.
6. Receive the miracle and then post about it in the comments!
I would love to hear how this process works for you and I always love a good sandbox story! Wishing you peace as you navigate all the various icks that life brings up in us all.
Hi! Welcome to my blog, Lunch with Cinderella. I love writing about my life experiences and the fact that they may help spur some cool experiences of your own. If you are here, leave a comment... I read them all and love hearing from you!
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