We humans are funny sometimes.
In order to feel powerful, we try to turn people against each other.
We all have done it at some point: Used our subtle or not-so-subtle influence to impact a relationship between two other people.
The best way to illuminate this is to share an honest story from my own life and then, we’ll jump into it more on the back side of the story.
Big, deep breath: You ready? Let’s go…
I was 18 when I had moved to California and in addition to having agents book me to perform music at high-end hotels and restaurants, I also worked for a family member during the day in their business.
There was a sweet woman who I worked with — she was precious. In her early 30’s, Molly was single, kind and very pretty with dark brown hair, fair skin and a midwestern smile that made you feel like there was hot corn bread with melting butter and mulberry pie a la mode waiting for you somewhere really close by.
You just felt a lot of comfort, joy, and love around her and that’s how I felt. I bonded with her right away and felt good to work with her.
We’d smile, laugh, and sit side-by-side. She’d teach me what I needed to know so that I could learn the ropes and was just so sweet with me.
Another family member came into the office one day and felt threatened by Molly. When I saw the family member later, she was making accusations about my workmate, putting down her cheeriness and calling it false; accusing her of having wrong motives for working there, and so much more in the litany of negative conversation.
At first, I was resisting these ideas, “No. She’s lovely. She’s such a kind, kind person.”
Molly was my friend and had never done anything to me. She was sweet and supportive to every co-worker and client we had.
But when I offered those representations, my family member tore Molly apart some more and accused her of worse things in order to convince me.
I was 18. What this person in my family thought of me, meant a lot to me. She had a lot of power in my life. Her disappointment had a lot of sway and because of that, influence. So, I started pulling back from Molly.
Molly would laugh and be playful with me, as usual, but I got reserved. I’d pinch my lips in that way that makes someone feel uncomfortable. I knew she noticed but because it was a family business and she wasn’t family, she was in an awkward position and wouldn’t confront me about it. She just responded to my pulling back by pulling back too, but I could see the hurt and confusion in her eyes.
In my loyalty to my family member, I even took it a step further and started looking for the negative qualities in Molly and coming back with reports that we would talk about in long-form while I watched that satisfied smile on my relative’s face as she listened to my words.
I felt important.
And part of some exclusive club with this influential family member.
Our bond was built stronger on the mutual dislike, mistrust, and mockery of Molly.
Until one evening, when we got a call in the middle of the night:
Molly was driving on the 405 freeway after a long drive home and fell asleep at the wheel.
Molly had died.
I can’t tell you how quickly the case I had built against this precious soul had vanished and all I was left with was a stomach and heart clutched with the throbbing ache of loss and regret.
I had been awful.
I had been unkind.
I had been disrespectful.
I had borrowed the judgment that someone else had, because of her own insecurities and need for power and — in my own place of being insecure — made that judgment my own.
I became influenced.
I was needy for acceptance and approval and belonging.
And I had been willing to let go of a good, loving soul to align with a manipulating, insecure, powerful person so that I could feel a sense of community.
I can’t tell you how much I hate that I did that.
It makes me think of those of us as influencers — whether in the Hashimoto’s, Health and Wellness field… or in the Spiritual, Ministerial roles we have… or as Business Leaders, Money Makers, Philanthropists… or as Authors, Musicians, Filmmakers, Communicators and Coaches… or even as Parents, Trusted Community Members, and Tribal Leaders — we have the power to elevate or destroy the credibility and trust about people with our position and our words.
It is SO important for us to do the spiritual work to know ourselves and to meet our own needs for approval and acceptance so that we don’t find some strange sense of importance by turning people against each other by spreading doubt, lies, and creating alliances based on mutual disdain for another person.
And for those of us influenced, it’s important for us to do the spiritual work to know ourselves and to meet our own needs for approval and acceptance so that we don’t find some strange sense of importance by being in the club of divisive, unhealthy, or unchecked influencers.
It makes me see how when we come with any unhealed neediness in us, that we bring that neediness in a way that compels us to negatively influence or be negatively influenced in order to meet our needs.
We need to meet our own needs, friends.
We need to heal to the wonder of who we are so, that we will not barter who we are for someone else’s acceptance of us.
We need to go on the conscious journey of knowing the worth and value of our Divine Self so that we don’t try to find our worth and value in the community of destructive partnerships.
If we see goodness and kindness in people, we CAN AND SHOULD represent OUR experience instead of jumping on the bandwagon of others who have unhealed and unmet needs in their lives and are looking through their pinhole lens of judgment at others.
I’ve been wanting to write this post for a while, but honestly: It’s so fucking painful.
But it cost someone their life in order for me to learn (and re-learn) this lesson to look at:
What we do to each other because we don’t see our wholeness within…
And that, because we feel broken on some level, we go around in conscious and not-so-conscious ways and attempt to break others.
But when we see our wholeness (or are on the journey to seeing that) we want that for everyone else. When we feel peace with ourselves, we want others to feel peace. When we feel joy with ourselves, we want others to feel joy.
Turning others against each other is such a sign of scarcity.
Buying into bad ideas about each other is such a sign of scarcity.
I can’t tell you how often Molly comes to my mind — to remind me to keep my relationships separate and based on my individual experiences with people
And to not borrow judgment of someone else as my own.
It’s been a mission of mine to see the whole person in people.
I ask myself:
“How has this person treated me?
How have I seen them act toward others?
Is this opinion something I have on my own, or is someone influencing it?
Am I in a needy place for someone’s approval?
Am I needy for power? Do I not feel powerful in some place within my own life?
Do I have the whole story?
Am I being my highest self right now?”
These are important questions to remember to ask ourselves when we find ourselves in middle school relationship dynamics but with grown-up level consequences.
This is not Survivor. We don’t have to align in shitty ways to vote someone off the island of a situation — or in our hearts.
We need to look at what we believe about ourselves, because honestly: If it’s not something beautiful — if we don’t know that we are Love and made from Love — (or some other good, empowering thought like that) then, THAT’S where our energy should go.
On that journey.
For that healing.
To see that truth.
So that we can live
I do not always take the high road, I know that… but I do return back to it more quickly than before.
How could I not?
I’ve had Molly’s spirit in my heart the last 30 something years reminding me, along with the ancient scripture that speaks to my soul,
“This is Love’s way. Now, walk in it.”
What a beautiful teaching Stacey… Thank you! Big Love.
Very powerful message Stacey. School drama, such a great way to put it. As kids we want to fit in and belong to the cool crowd, and sometimes we allow the drama in so that we can also be “in”. In adulthood, we sadly do the same sometimes, for various reasons, but none are worth the pain we cause others, or ourselves.
Thanks for sharing your very personal story.