16 May, 2017

Adult-ing: Part 5

21. Limit your exposure to toxic, unhelpful and un-supportive people.
    In Robert Greene’s The 48 Law of Power,  Law #10 states “Avoid the unhappy and unlucky:”
There is are, of course, caveats, but first read Greene’s word:
    “You can die from someone else's misery—emotional states are as infectious as diseases. You may feel you are helping the drowning man but you are only precipitating your own disaster. The unfortunate sometimes draw misfortune on themselves; they will also draw it on you. Associate with the happy and fortunate instead.”
    Human behavior is very infectious, and on the opposite end of negative, miserly and miserable-by-choice people, are those people who attract happiness through their outlook, good cheer, natural buoyancy. They are not only a source of pleasure, but associating with them is to share in the prosperity they draw upon themselves. All positive qualities can infect us, but taking advantage of the emotional side of this osmosis is an active choice.
     Now, this is not a permission slip to be a jerk! There are people out there who genuinely need our help, support, and guidance; a shoulder to cry on, or sometimes very serious professional help. Some of these people are the people we love and cherish the most, and often cannot be avoided.
    But I believe the principal here is to limit how much we allow, permit, and sometimes even enable their negativity and toxicity to be “dumped” upon on, and when to self-protect, delegate, and offer suggestions for better helping options.  Taking on other people’s toxic garbage is not only the opposite of genuine empathy, it can make the “dumpee” anxious, stressed, negative, and sometimes (and this has happened to me!) physically sick. We are no good to anyone on this planet if we are constantly fighting to energetically get back on top.
Which brings me to…

22.  Just like on the airplane with the oxygen mask— take care of yourself before assisting others.
    Self-Care is not only not self-ISH, it is vital and necessary to living a full and rewarding life. You’ve been there: you are on the airplane, and the flight attendant goes through the motions of the safety procedures, instructing you to always put your oxygen mask on first, before assisting others.  Why is this an important rule for ensuring survival?  Because if you run out of oxygen, you can’t help anyone else. You no good to anybody IF YOU ARE PASSED OUT DEAD GURL.
    This is an important metaphor for those of you who run around taking care of everything and everyone else except yourself. It is not altruistic or noble, it is a false sense of “busy” substituting for “important meaning.” At a certain point, self-sacrifice can become self-indulgent.
    People have deep problems with self-care—believe me, 2 years ago I was one of them— now I have the zeal of the converted! And I have been infinitely better able to offer the world my gifts because of it!
    If you don’t take care of yourself, you can experience burnout, stress, fatigue, reduced mental effectiveness, health problems, anxiety, frustration, and total inability to sleep.

23. Don’t Shoot the “Second Arrow”
The Buddhists say that any time we suffer misfortune, two arrows fly our way.
The first arrow, the pain, is the actual bad event.
The second arrow, the suffering, is our reaction to the bad event, the way we chose to respond emotionally.

It looks like this inside our heads:
    Arrow #1:  “I am crying"

The first arrow often is unavoidable.
The second arrow often is self-inflicted.
The "second arrow" isn't actually helpful-- it is full of our judgements about our thoughts and feelings and prevents us from
    1. truly feeling them or
    2. learning anything from those feelings.

One does not avoid the second arrow by denial, but by being fully present, acknowledging and truly (and I mean actually not faking it) experiencing the difficult emotion, maybe even befriending it? Then allowing it to crest and ebb like a wave. Avoiding blaming yourself for having emotions/the second arrow requires some toughies: self-love, acceptance, emotional vigilance and a healthy dose of self-awareness. The best antidote to the second arrow is self-awareness, self-permission to BE A PERSON, stop punishing, judging, and wallowing,
Then? Simply make the gentle correction.

And example of giving yourself permission:
    “Wow. My boss was genuinely disrespectful to me in that meeting and I feel humiliated and ashamed. His behavior might not have been about me, but it doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt. I am reacting appropriately to this situation. I will experience my humiliating feelings, maybe cry, primal scream or hit a pillow, and then I will move on an address the behavior from a place of peace. But there is noting wrong with my very human, emotional response.

Or, the drama school version:

    “That feeling drained and thoughtful after an emotional acting class is a totally appropriate response to unpacking big, personal and emotional subjects through my art. That we should allow these feelings to just exist instead of beating ourselves up about it. If we cry in later in ballet class or at dinner—then so be it. No biggie! We’ve never done this before, we’re in theatre school this is how it goes!

When the pain comes to mind, acknowledge it in its fullness, embrace it. But then bid it adieu and move on with your day.  What you truly accept, without over-thinking, will eventually dissipate of its own accord.  It’s like really allowing a massage therapist to get into your muscle tension without fighting them. Deep breaths, working with them, through the pain, not against it.  Time does heal many wounds if only we allow, and do not continually re-open the wound with anger or resentment or guilt or other dysfunctional “coping” mechanisms brought on by a sea of Second Arrows.

Pain is certain, suffering is optional.” – Buddha

There is a huge distinction between
    PAIN - an affliction
    our SUFFERING from pain— how we experience of pain.
Pain is often inevitable, but the suffering is a choice. Our choices and energy around our pain can discomfit, frustrate or agonize us.

Don’t do that.
Make a different choice.
Don’t shoot the second arrow.
Why get hurt twice?

24. “Act 3.”
Years ago, my very first leading lady, West End star and dear friend Ruthie Henshall taught me all about “Act 3.” What she believes is that the stage door experience is a vital and important part of being gracious with the fans courageous enough to meet you face to face, and express their appreciation and gratitude for your work. You’ve done Acts 1 and 2, this is Act 3. When it is complete, you can fully relax and head home.

Her use of the term “Act 3” provides an interesting and important boundary however— the concept being that it is PART of the work. You are not being fake, dishonest or disingenuous, but what is being provided in those personal but work based situations is not the full 100% of you that you would offer your intimate friends and family. There is a difference between being friend-LY and being friends. For me, I call this person Alexandra Silber” — she is me! In a slightly fancier outfit! Just a very narrow percentage of the Me Pie Chart—she is who you meet at stage door and on a red carpet. “AL” — there vulnerable Al, is reserved for my intimate people, those who truly have seen and held my inner world. And the people on that list is actually very small. All people can experience us as authentic and genuine, but not everyone needs our full shame story, or has earned our intimacy.

It is important to maintain a healthy boundary in all of life’s “Act 3” moments, and I encourage you to identify and stand up for them.

25.  Moisturize
— and don’t forget your neck.
You’re later-in-life mug will really thank me. Trust.

Adult-ing - Part 1
Adult-ing - Part 2
Adult-ing - Part 3
Adult-ing - Part 4


  1. Read it-all of it dead on and completely true. You got to it 20 years before I did but it is never too late.
    Thank you, sweetie! Amen!!!

  2. You are, as usual, spot on!!!!

  3. Coconut oil daily ��

  4. 2 thoughts: 1. I ❤Ruthie Henshall AND 2.As a psychologist I can confirm that you are speaking TRUTH (re: self-care)

  5. Human behaviour is infectious... the blog perfection continues & illuminates from @alsilbs �� #alsilbs #alforEliza #afteranatevka #preorder



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