What??!! Two posts in one month? Preposterous!!

Well, what can I say?  Finding my voice back in the blogsphere.

copyright:  Karen Larsen photography

Today I just wanted to recount an experience I had lately (within the last two months) and recognize and celebrate my growth 🙂

A few months ago, I was pulling out of the parking lot of my local Costco.  The weather was great, I had the window down in the car and was driving my husband’s little Chevy Prism.  As I neared the stop sign, my husband’s brakes aren’t as tight as mine on the van, so it took me a little longer to stop and I coasted past the limit line, but stopped the car well before the intersection.  Another driver was turning left onto the street where I was stopping.  We passed each other rather tightly, as I under anticipated the time it would take my vehicle to stop and he cut the corner.

He took the occasion to stop his vehicle in the middle of traffic and started yelling at me for not stopping.  Now, remember, I did not hit his car, nor did he hit mine.  They didn’t even touch each other.  He berated me and swore at me for several minutes.  I was so dumbfounded by his behavior, I couldn’t do anything but laugh.  That was not the right answer by the way.  It made him angrier.  Then he was yelling at me for laughing.  Finally, he said, “I’ll bet you’re just one of those stupid women who is going to vote for Hillary!!  You stupid Hillary voter!!!……” and he drove off.  All I could say in response was, “I thought that’s who YOU were voting for!”  And I drove away laughing.

Sun was in the car with me.  She was hot!  I have never seen her so upset for such a random occurrence.  She was more upset that I was laughing at it and I wasn’t mad.

Now, you need to know, this is about the fourth time some random person has felt the need to publicly criticize me when I have not done anything wrong.  The first few times it happened, my feelings were really hurt.  I came home and questioned my behavior….did I do or say something that could have been interpreted offensively?  Was I mean in some way I didn’t recognize?  Did I cut him off on the road?  It didn’t take me days to get past it, but it did take hours.

This time, it was obvious to me that I hadn’t done anything wrong.  He was being ridiculous and he couldn’t have been feelings good.  Everything he did, even though it was directed at me wasn’t because of me and I didn’t have to take any responsibility for his attitude, emotion, or behavior.  It was so freeing!!  And it didn’t even bother me in the moment, let alone for the rest of the day.  In that moment, I recognized that I had grown.  I was no longer taking responsibility from other people that belonged to them.

copyright:  Karen Larsen photography

It has been a huge jump in my emotional development!! Growing up in my home, I was taught and trained that I was responsible for other people’s emotions.  Guess what?!!  I’m not!  And neither are you.  The things they feel, or don’t feel…..they aren’t your job to create or fix.  Feelings belong to each of us.  Those things that happen in our hearts because of the things we think or the meanings that we attach to them, they belong to us and not to anyone else.  No one else is responsible for them, only us….and we are not responsible for theirs.

Now, I know some of you are saying, yes, but your behavior affects me.  And that is true.  It does.  But how I feel about it, or the meaning I attach to it, that is me, not you.

This entire line of reasoning started for me in the 9th grade.  We were required to read Viktor Frankl’s book, Man’s search for meaning.  His book is about his experience in a Nazi concentration camp. The basic premise is though all of these horrible things happened to people in the camp, those who were able to survive kept some part of their mind free.  They had a place in their psyche apart from their experience.  The guards of the camp could do whatever they wanted to their bodies, but they couldn’t control how the prisoners felt about it or reacted to it.  Those prisoner who could keep a sovereign place in their mind, apart from their experience, fared better than those who could not.  It was a fascinating read, even at 14.

Though I had the intellectual understanding that was possible, I really didn’t develop the emotional capacity to put it into practice until the last couple of years.  It has been a slow process, but I am finally able to have experiences where I can listen to some random stranger berate me for something that I didn’t do and not get angry or hurt by his behavior and can actually laugh at the ridiculousness of the situation.  It is still more difficult for me to navigate in relationships that are close to me….mostly I believe because I still want to help others be happy and feel some shared responsibility for making that happen.  I know this is one of my weaknesses, that my Father in Heaven is trying to make one of my strengths.  And it is working.  S….L…..O…..W……L…….Y……. like a sloth over time.

But it was so refreshing to see my growth!  So I just had to share it with you!

copyright:  Karen Larsen photography

Have a great weekend!!!  I cannot wait for General Conference!!!  Watch it here!!!

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