Back in the mid-90s my sister, Maria Eugenia, and I came up with this super helpful way of navigating the world together. We didn’t realize we were coming up with an absolutely brilliant coaching tool but we were! So this tool is a way to live in true acceptance of the people in our lives exactly as they are and this tool is so simple so easy so life-changing and it goes like this: of course they did.
We started doing this about the mean girls at school – there was this group of sisters who lived near us who seemed to kind of go out of their way to be, let’s say… less than kind to my sister and I whenever possible and so when one of the sisters would do something typical of the sisters we simply chalked it up to “of course they did”
Let me give you an example:
I would walk into my sister Eugenia’s room, she goes by Genie, and I’d be like this gal, let’s call her Julie, said something mean about our mom‘s accent and Genie would turn to me and would say “of course she did” and what she was saying with that is: see that’s what she does.
When a teacher would snap at one of us and we’d be upset we report it to the other one who would say “of course she did – Mrs. Mac does that.”
We did it with our parents and other kids’ parents too. Now we do it all the time like when the orange Cheeto was President, Genie would call and be like “45 did this horrifying thing” and I’d say “of course he did.”
The reason this tool is so incredibly powerful is because it realigns your brain away from judgment and allows you to drop directly into acceptance by stating that of course someone did the thing that they usually do.
There is no reason for drama, for shock, for incredulity. Of course they did because that’s what they always do.
It’s a way to we remind our brains of our own habit, so typical in codependent thinking, which is fantasy thinking. We sooooo want other people to not be themselves, to be different because we wish, will and want them to be, want them to live by the How-To-Guide we have for them because we BELIEVE that we will feel safer or more okay if they aren’t themself.
That, my love, is just giving your power away. Instead, you get to source that power internally, from your own thoughts that create your feels. You get to choose that regardless of anyone else’s anything.
So we give ourselves a different option, to remind ourselves that other people’s actions are the result of their own thoughts, not ours.
We jump to disbelief that though someone has always done the same thing in the same way, like being the mean girl at school, been unreliable, showing up late, forgot to call, whatever it may be, but the truth is that this time is no different. So there is no need to live in the fantasy that they will now do life any differently just because we wish they would.
Expecting people to be different and then being hurt, disappointed, sad when they are who they have shown you who they are is a one way ticket to, you guessed it – Resentmentville, USA. Let me tell you, that station sucks, and it’s one I avoid by getting real – of course they did!
Instead, you get to live in reality and stop fighting with reality which we love to do from codependency. We are so focused on meeting other people’s needs, people pleasing, keeping other people happy in their lives and with us, that we bend ourselves over backwards to try to manage other people’s moods, energies, joy.
Because this is our internal norm, there’s a part of us that expects everyone else to literally do the same and so we spend a lifetime wishing people were different, wishing they responded differently or they treated us differently they treated themselves differently but it’s not reality, and “of course they did” helps us to remember that.
To quote the ever amazing Dr. Maya Angelou “when someone shows you who they are believe them the first time.”
Which is the opposite of what we habitually do. So this tool gives us an easy way to remind ourselves of the actions people have shown us they habitually take – what their boundaries, limits, preferences, choices and ways of being in the world are -it takes the shock out of someone literally being themselves.
It’s like our brains are so primed to chameleon – to try to change ourselves to make others happy that we are shocked when a snarling dog bites us, we are stunned when the mean girl is mean, we are beside ourselves when the chronic over a drinker is drunk at noon. We want reality to be different so badly that we forget that other people are themselves because that is the choice they are making, and that they will behave exactly how they want to because the think–feel–act cycle is running in their brains and their body is just like it’s running an ours.
Not recognizing “of course they did” leads us to have the chronic thought “I wish they were different” which is an energy suck for you, keeps you focused on them and not on the one thing you can control which is your response to them.
Which makes you feel disappointed, frustrated, angry, sad, so you take the action of ruminating, complaining, telling everyone who will listen “I’m shocked this person behaved exactly how they always do” instead of simply saying “of course they did – of course they were late of course they forgot to bring a present of course they didn’t return my car… of course they did because they are themselves.”
In this life we have two options:
- We can step out of the codependent fantasy that other people will change because we soooo want them to, and from there we can accept the people we love exactly how they are.
- Or we can create additional suffering for ourselves by wanting others to want to behave the way we want them to.
It’s frankly just that simple and from acceptance, which isn’t condoning or saying someone’s behavior is okay, it’s just about getting real and saying “of course they are themself,” we can step out of judgment.
When we step out of judgment we can get clarity about what we want and need we can ask ourselves do I want to be in a relationship with this person who shows up the way they do?
Or is it time for a clean break? Can I love them for exactly who they are unconditionally, meaning without condition, meaning without my stories about how they should be behaving. Can I step into a deep understanding of “of course they did” or do I want to continue to fight reality? Do you want to continue to not love them fully by wishing they were different? Which to me is not really loving someone, it’s loving the fantasy you have about them and that’s not kind to you or to them.
So the next time your BFF forgets your birthday, the next time your colleague doesn’t submit their work on time, the next time your mom makes a comment about your weight, start with “of course they did” and do the next right thing for YOU and your life from there.
Put your focus back where it belongs – on you, and your own Think-Feel-Act Cycle. Because of course you did – you put you first, everyone else second, with sooo much love.
Thank you for taking the time to read Feminist Wellness. I’m excited to be here and to help you take back your health!
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