Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Keeping Score

I used to be a Scorekeeper. And I'm not talking about anything athletic here!! I knew when it was your turn to pick up the phone, your turn to visit, your obligation to remember my birthday because I had acknowledged yours, etc. I would build up resentments over your lack of effort in "our" relationship and I felt justified. I suffered over these scores; I took them personally and I got hurt repeatedly.  I am grateful beyond words to tell you that I am not a Scorekeeper today and the intention of this post is two-fold. I have had 2 people whom I am close with vent recently about not hearing from loved-ones and the deep hurt it causes them. I understand and I empathize because I lived that way for a long time. And as I've mentioned before, I write this Blog for my children to leave a journal of their mother's life that they may or may not learn from. So..I want to share my solution to the Scorekeeper for both reasons: My solution began with a simple piece of advice a few years back. I was venting to a very wise woman about the lack of effort I was receiving from a sibling and how I was doing all the work when she said to me, "Any time you're keeping score--YOU lose." I don't know why, but those words hit me hard. This was during a period of self-growth where I was trying to live without expectations. In fact it was this same woman who told me that "expectations are nothing but pre-meditated resentments." Yikes! Those words hit pretty hard too.  So for me, it was those 2 things that planted the seed and my solution grew from there. A big part of it is just making the decision to always put Gratitude first. By doing this, I choose to be a "what have you done for me in my life" person instead of a "what have you done for me in my life LATELY" person. When I think of someone I  haven't heard from; I make a conscious effort to reflect on why that person is special to me in my life. These moments usually come when I'm folding laundry and the house is quiet. Sometimes I'm prompted to pick up the phone and reach out, but other times the reflection itself is enough to put a smile on my face and leave me feeling warm and happy. And let me throw a big chunk of honesty out there...I'm enjoying my quiet in those moments too;  it's sacred to me. Maybe it's my willingness to admit this that prevents me from keeping score anymore. I get it. Life is busy and everybody is just doing the best that they can. I sincerely believe that. Wouldn't it be SO great if we could all share that outlook? Wouldn't it be so great if when you think of your friend or daughter or brother who hasn't called or visited; you immediately reflect on the good things that they have done for you in your life. It might leave you feeling warm and happy too? And if you're so prompted..pick up the phone. Don't wait. Life is too short. If you want to talk to them--call. If you want to see them--visit. And if you're waiting around for them to call or visit first because it's their turn; you are keeping score!! Learn from my mistakes...keeping score is a guaranteed way to hold onto anger and resentment and it rarely gets communicated in a positive and constructive manner. That's why I say, pick up the phone and NOT pick up the phone and say "why haven't I heard from you?" If you don't reach out and you choose to hold on to that resentment; it will lead to blow ups and arguments that go nowhere because the score is too high!  And I'm not suggesting that you bottle your feelings up either; it's perfectly fine to say "I miss you and I want to talk more." Maybe you've already said that and nothing has changed? That's a hard pill to swallow. But you still have only 2 healthy choices of where to go. You can continue to pick up that phone or when you think of them; you can remember all the good stuff. I know I'm not a Therapist but I promise you this works. It has worked in my life and I was a big scorekeeper!! The magical thing about this is that when you stop keeping score and you let go of expectations; that relationship naturally improves. It's as if they sense the change and they feel more comfortable reaching out. Nobody likes to feel guilty and I know I have put off phone-calls simply because I've been out of touch for too long and I'm nervous about the grief I'll get. And truly..I don't want ANYBODY calling me out of guilt. It shouldn't be that way. I want to get that phone call when my friend or family member has some down time, is thinking about me and feels like talking. So...it feels appropriate to close with this. If you are a person in my life whom I owe a phone-call to, please know that I think of you when I'm folding laundry or driving in my car and I reflect on how special you are to me and I feel happy inside. It doesn't mean I'm gonna pick up the phone but that doesn't mean I love you any less. xo

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