On allowing love.
I had a really interesting thing happen a week or so ago. Maybe you saw the subject line on my email that lit up the fire brigade: “Hey sweetie.”
Let’s just say, I’ve been calling my Flowdreaming contacts, students and friends by terms of endearment for….a long time, but not forever.
In the beginning, I wasn’t intimate or affectionate. I wanted to be seen as professional. I was also less secure in myself, so I tried to never rattle anyone, offer any political views, or do anything I thought my detract from my main message: “Learn to Flow; it’ll change your life.” It was a good justification for trying to shield myself from being disliked.
But then over time, I found myself biting my tongue more and more. I held back so as to not upset this person, offend that person, cross a boundary, or trigger anybody. Not only did I start to feel bland and inauthentic, but I was leading by example: be bland and inauthentic too.
And this is directly contradictory to the spirit of trust, love, and Flow that I teach and share.
Being in flow means being bold. Being in flow means taking risks, and trusting. And yes, Flow assumes you are a sweetie, a love, a darling.
You are seen, special, heard and deserving. If I can’t remind you of that, who will? Who do you allow to? Only a few inner circle people you’ve carefully chosen…or the world?
Being in trust and being in Flow means that you know my intention when I say “Hey darlin'” as I start an email to you.
It means I assume from the outset that you’re a good, loving, darling person, because I want to think that about you until you prove me otherwise.
So that’s what I come in with—friendship and warmth, and an expectation that you are kind, generous, and yes, a sweetheart.
After all, I’m not selling you photocopiers in a stiff gray suit. What I’m doing is a lot more intimate: I’m asking and encouraging you to allow yourself to go on a growth journey that will be filled with excitement, revelation, and yes, sometimes feeling offended or triggered.
In fact, nobody goes into personal growth without getting triggered. And, I ask anyone who feels triggered to ask themselves why they feel this way, because it’s a gift to find an area in yourself that feels ugly, angry or hurt.
This part of you doesn’t want to stay in those feelings—it wants to heal them, grow from them, or make a difference in the world as a result of them.
Maybe that crumbum who called you “sweetie” at work years ago and generally dismissed you, came on to you, or lorded their power over you, forever ruined that term (or others) for you. I get it. I’ve bristled when I’ve been called “sweetie” by older women who want me to feel like a know-nothing. I’ve felt angry when I’ve been called “sweetie” by men who vastly underestimated my intelligence and ability…and had power to make sure I had no opportunities to display them.
But it’s the intention of the word. I use sweetie, like I said, because I give you the benefit of the doubt right from the get-go that you have a good and loving heart. I would hate to censure that observation from you under my own stiffness or fear of your displeasure.
Sweetie isn’t a slur; it’s only charged if someone made it that way for you. It’s only “too intimate” if your walls are up.
So instead, I give you an opportunity to love being seen as a sweetie, even by a stranger like me. Personally, I’d love for all strangers to think of me as a love, darling, or a sweetheart. Just so long as I feel that as a good sentiment from them, and not a pejorative, demeaning, power-robbing, or sexist putdown.
What it comes down to is: I’m going to trust myself to accurately interpret the eye (and words) of the beholder.
Isn’t language interesting? We’re in a cultural crisis point right now of identity politics that circumscribe what we are and aren’t allowed to say, and of what is and isn’t respectful or loving. We’re simultaneously encouraged to create strong boundaries and to heal and allow others in at the very same time.
No wonder it feels so blurry.
No wonder “hey sweetie” remains provocative.
I risk censure every single day now, with every podcast, every email, every blogpost.
Personal growth requires that you, me, and all of us go into the unknown for the marvelous chance of self-revelation, self-discovery, and increased joy.
Personal growth asks us to lay a hammer to our buildup of presumptions, baggage, and walls. It asks that we realize that that jerk who said “hey sweetie” in that weird email or office years ago was coming from a dark place, but that doesn’t ruin our joy of receiving it from people who aren’t.
The next time someone mishandles your pronoun, becomes too intimate in their language with you, or accidentally stumbles through a boundary, I ask you to look into them. LOOK. You can see them.
What is their meaning? Are they loving you, or trying to be hurtful or insensitive? And, can you differentiate whether you want to change or heal your relationship with the words so as to receive them with grace, or were they spoken as a true slur (and there are those) that can never be said in a positive way and which should immediately be corrected?
Trust your heart, trust your ears. Let words fall like trinkets in your lap, and then open any angry responses like a gift. Is someone trying to love you, dismiss you, reach out to you, be disingenuous, or extend friendship?
And then let yourself melt a little as you ponder. What if they are loving? What if that person just struck a sore spot? What if they hit on some words that were ruined for you by others?
Words that are waiting to be healed, so you, too, can think of yourself as worthy of being seen as a strong, loving, powerful sweetie by the whole darn world.
Thoughts? I’d love to hear them. Post at the bottom of the page!
P.S. if you want to start or continue your path of healing and growth through understanding Flow and the role of the universe in your life, I invite you to join Flow On! right now.
Oh, Summer! Our Sweet, Refreshing Light! My, do you have a way about you! This is fantastic!
We are in a time of some taking extreme offense to everything. I want to share your words and shout this from the rooftops! You are such a Gift! I love that you are in my world!
You have such a beautiful way with words. I am a feminist working in a male dominated industry. Yes, it’s all about the intention behind the words. When a man in the business world calls me sweetie, I immediately take offense. Either he is ignorant or he is trying to “put me in my place” because I’m a woman. I’ve had men make passes at me from the young age of when I was in college (a professor), employers (managers), etc. and it is horrible to have to deal with that. It doesn’t feel good. I believe we need to educate those people on how to treat one another in the course of business and in life. But I also believe you are absolutely correct in that it is the intention behind the words that matter. So maybe next time instead of getting angry like I always do, I can look within. By the way, I love when you call me sweetie in your emails because I know it is coming from a loving place. I appreciate you. Again, you have a beautiful way with words. You are an incredible writer, among many other things! Thank you for all you do sweetie! Terry
LOVE this, Summer! Beautifully said, Sweetie. 😘
Thank you for that wonderful message, Summer! It spoke to me.
Thank you for your explanation of words that trigger. We are very much in a “cultural crisis point” now and America is so stirred up, rightfully so, because when volatile or sneaky behaviors are connected to disturbing words, too many hurtful actions occur. I like your suggestion to look more closely at the message being delivered … is it coming from a person with loving intentions? I’m guilty of dismissing people because of “crumbums” from my past. I love that word you used! Made me laugh out loud and helps me think it’s actually safe to review the past and see certain people in that funny “crumbum” term! Maturity helps us discern better. Your wise words came at a perfect time since we are so reflective in quarantine. I’m pushing through to refreshing new approaches. Your flow dreams have done that for me also. Thank you again, dear Summer!
Yes, yes, exactly yes! I couldn’t have said it better myself, darlin’!