Flakiness has become so commonplace in our society that many of us have come to accept it as the norm. At times it seems to pervade nearly every aspect of our lives. The sad thing about flakiness is that it breaks down the underlying sense of cohesion that holds us together as a society. All we have to do is look around to see examples everywhere we turn.
Flakiness is evident in the way we make promises and break them or we tell another person that we will do something and then don’t. We talk about getting together with friends or acquaintances and then never follow through. We make plans and then break them if something better comes along. We make a date and then call up with some excuse as to why we cannot make it. We walk out on relationships when the tough issues arise. Some of us abuse, abandon and fail to care for the needs of the children we bring into the world. We live off the hard earned money of other people rather than support ourselves. We slack off when there’s work to be done by allowing others to carry our share of the load. We spend money that we do not have to spend by running up credit card debt and then we declare bankruptcy. We sign up for classes and workshops and yet we never bother to show up. We schedule appointments with therapists or healers to help us to heal and sort through the mess we have made of ourselves and then call to cancel because we don’t want to go to those places inside where we hold all the feelings and issues that we have been avoiding for so long.
Flaking out is incredibly rude and disrespectful. It shows a serious lack of consideration for other people and their needs. People who fall into a pattern of flakiness create massive inconvenience. They waste our time, deplete our energy and create all kinds of unnecessary hardship.
Being on the receiving end of other people’s flakiness can evoke feelings of frustration, resentment, anxiety and sadness. Hurts and disappointments held on the inside have a very desensitizing effect. After a while we grow so numb that we no longer feel the emotions held within our bodies, but they diminish our capacity to love and be loved or to be present in our interactions with others.
We sometimes find ourselves in a position where we are forced to interact with or depend upon people who flake out on us. Having to deal with them can be wearing because they bring that much more stress into our lives. At some level we may enjoy the connection. We may like or even love the person, but their dishonesty and unreliability precludes the possibility of any kind of meaningful relationship or productive interchange.
Our propensity for flakiness has a lot to do with fact that we have become so disconnected from our feelings and physical bodies. Disconnecting on a feeling level shuts down the empathetic capacity that makes it possible for us to form attachments and to truly love and care for other another person. The loss of our empathetic feeling capacity can cause us to become grossly insensitive to the needs and considerations of others.
Flakiness denotes an ambiguous approach to life. It demonstrates a lack of courage and an unwillingness to embrace life with all its challenges. Our feelings help us to gain an understanding of our needs. The sense of ambiguity we experience when we lose touch with our feelings can make it very difficult for us to know what we truly want and that’s why we become so incongruent in our words and actions and give off so many mixed signals.
Our inability to commit ourselves to anything has a very ungrounding effect. It causes some of us come across as being very flighty, airheaded or dishonest. What often happens is that we make promises and then we experience all kinds of conflicted feelings about keeping those promises. We end up breaking our promises and then we blame the other person or our circumstances. We’re not being honest with ourselves or anyone else about what’s going on. We may feel guilty because at some level we know that we’re hurting and disappointing others, but in many instances we keep on repeating the cycle.
Speaking with a forked tongue
Native Americas who first encountered people of European descent often said that the white man speaks with a forked tongue. Treaties made by the United States Government with the American Indian tribes were seldom honored. Traditional homelands were continually being stolen and the native people were killed en masse.
Native elders that I spent time with placed a great deal of emphasis on being truthful and honoring one’s commitments. Native people who lived by the traditional values operated from a place of integrity in that they did what they said and said what they did. I’m fortunate to have had the opportunity to live among the Kiowa Indian tribe and to have trained with their last surviving traditional doctor. My mentor Horace expected me to demonstrate commitment to receiving the gifts of healing that had been passed down through the centuries. I could have never gotten away with the kind of flakiness that I encounter among people within our present day culture.
There’s an old saying that goes “A man is only as good as his word.” Many of us have lost all concept of honoring one’s word. Lying has become a convenience for so many people. Our words cease to have significance or meaning. We often say whatever we think the other person wants to hear without any concern for the impact of our words or actions upon others.
Our words become inconsistent with our actions when we say we’re going to do something and then don’t follow through. The subconscious mind recognizes the incongruence when our words cease to have meaning and then stops taking the conscious waking self seriously. That exacerbates the split between our conscious and subconscious minds.
The loss of trust
A person who gives us their word creates a sense of expectation within us. We count on that person to do what they say they will do. We have no sense of where we stand with people whose words do not hold true or reflect their actions.
Flakiness is responsible for the underlying cynicism that pervades so much of our interaction with others. Trust is the underlying basis for any kind of healthy and meaningful relationship. Lies and incongruencies make it very difficult for us to trust people. The hurts, disappointments and frustrations we experience when people flake out on us accumulate within our bodies over time and that destroys our trust. After a while we begin to feel that we can’t believe what people say or count on them to do what they say they will do. This inability to trust or depend upon people destroys our faith in others and that precludes the possibility of real intimacy or any kind of significant or meaningful exchange.
Cutting our losses
A friend of mine became involved with a man who turned out to be very emotionally abusive. She confronted him on his behavior, but he responded by telling her that she had no right to hold expectations of him. My friend suffered horribly as a result of her involvement. At one point she confided in her friend, American Indian activist John Trudell. John responded by saying “People within the tribes have always depended upon one another. Without expectation, the tribe wound not have survived.”
It’s critically important for us to consider the implications of our actions upon other people. We have a responsibility to show kindness and consideration to those with whom we become involved. We also have a right to expect the same in return. Self-centered people who are not willing to be accountable do not care about the impact of their words and actions upon others. One can never change such a person. It is sometimes best to cut our losses and move on.
Flakiness subtracts from or diminishes the quality of human interaction and of life itself. People who consistently flake out on us can be an incredible pain. I’ve let go of friends and romantic partners because it wasn’t worth the headaches and heartaches. I walked away from my own father because he wasn’t making an effort to keep in touch. I have cut off people who came to me for assistance because they were either unwilling or unable to honor their commitment to their own healing by keeping their appointments. It’s better to let go of people who continually hurt and disappoint or that cannot be counted on so that we can create an opening for people who can love, nurture and support us and who value us and what we have to offer.
The games we play
Forming deep and loving attachments with other human beings is one of our most basic human needs. But men and women often act in ways that are very hurtful, insensitive and even cruel to one another. We often do so by playing with each other’s emotions. We sometimes initiate conversation and then later act standoffish. Or we act as if we are interested when we meet someone new and yet we do not bother to respond to a text, email or phone call. We often tell each other that we will call and then we don’t. Or we make plans to go out on a date and then call with some excuse as to why we cannot make it. And in some instances we don’t even bother to show up.
Cultural expectations that discourage us from being vulnerable or experiencing our true feelings are very damaging. Many of us have failed to grow or mature and that leaves us stunted developmentally. We’re so out of touch with ourselves that we don’t have a clear sense of what we want or know how we truly feel. That’s why we’re often unaware of our partner’s emotional needs. Our tendency to hurt and abuse stems from the fact many of us are so deeply wounded that it prevents us from developing the capacity to form deep and loving attachments or to truly care for another human being.
The fears that keep us apart
We have become a very fear based society. We’re giving our fears way too much power by allowing them to have so much control over our lives. Many of us are afraid of love, fearful of intimacy or commitment and terrified to feel our feelings. Our society’s fearful mindset has a lot to do with the deeply ingrained cultural conditioning that teaches us to disconnect from our feelings, our bodies and the realities of our daily lives. Unprocessed fears held in the body make it difficult for us to participate in life as fully functional adults. To make matters worse, our fears are also fed by the ratings and profit driven media that sensationalizes violence and social-political pundits who seek to polarize people for their own personal gain.
One of the nicest things about living in Oklahoma, Missouri, Colorado and New Mexico is that the pace is slower. People that I encountered tended to be open, friendly and engaging. I was socially inhibited during that part of my life, but in many ways I found it much easier to connect with people. Women in these parts of the country were much more approachable. Those who liked or found me attractive would engage me in conversation and have on occasion expressed romantic interest or pursued me.
I encountered a whole different mindset when I started spending time in New York City and Boston. I could sense a guardedness in many of the people I encountered and found it much more difficult to develop any kind of meaningful connection. People living in the city are more likely to connect through their circle of friends or online, but they often lack the kind of openness that would allow them to spontaneously meet and get to know people they encounter along the way. It has always been difficult for me to get used to the fact that many do not make eye contact or engage with strangers. Some will engage and yet they operate with a rule that says any conversation that takes place in a public setting with a stranger will go no further.
One of the greatest challenges of living in a place like New York City is that it’s humanly impossible to process the massive amount of input flooding our senses. We can easily become so overwhelmed by everything that’s going on around us and that impairs our ability to process our fears, frustrations and the stresses of daily life. We start to lose touch with our feelings and physical bodies. The resulting disconnect makes it very difficult for us to access the intuitive knowing that tells us whether we are safe and that the person we’re engaging with is trustworthy.
It didn’t take long for me to realize that many of the women living in the city were operating with a fearful and guarded mindset. Those who lose touch with their intuition have greater difficulty differentiating between individual men and are more likely to project their fears along with the hurt of past relationships on the other half of the human species.
Many of the women I have gotten to know while living in the city complain about the fact that they don’t have a man in their lives and that they don’t seem to be meeting anyone. And yet many of these same women automatically assume that any man who attempts to engage with them is either a player just looking to pick up or some form of predator. In many instances men who attempt to connect with women are given fake phone numbers or email addresses.
Approaching and engaging those we find ourselves attracted to, exchanging contact information, following up with an email or phone call and then meeting again are all normal parts of the process of finding love that takes place all over the world. Sadly, the early stages of getting to know one another are interrupted when we allow ourselves to be so controlled by our fears that we can’t allow the process to happen. We are in many respects like children whose parents are still telling us “Now don’t be talking to strangers.”
Men have a greater capacity to engage in sexual experiences that are devoid of any relationship or personal connection. Those who are not being completely honest about their intentions sometimes lie and take advantage of women or use them sexually. Women that have been lied to, cheated on and taken advantage of sexually tend to close their hearts and become guarded, fearful and suspicious of men. Women who have been hurt or that operate from a fearful mindset can sometimes be very cruel in their response to men. Men often feel deeply hurt when women react in a harsh or negative way in response to their sincere expression of romantic interest.
A friend recently told me about how her sister would mislead guys who showed interest in her by flirting even when she had no desire to be with them. Guys with good intentions often ended up getting hurt by the sister who was using them to fulfill her needs for attention or to feel important and desirable.
Men and women who lose touch with their capacity for empathy either fail to see or don’t care about the fact that the people they become involved with romantically are also human beings who have feelings that can be hurt. In many instances men and women give up or stop trying because they have been hurt so many times.
It’s so important for us to keep in mind that nearly everyone has been wounded somewhere along the way and that can make them vulnerable. Acting in ways that are hurtful or jerking people around emotionally can be very damaging to their already fragile self-esteem. It often leaves them feeling very anxious, fearful and insecure. Life is hard enough as it is. There is absolutely no excuse for adding to people’s suffering.
Those of us who have been hurt repeatedly have a tendency to close our hearts. We’re afraid to say what we truly feel or make ourselves vulnerable by opening to another out of fear that we will be hurt again. The consequence of closing our hearts individually and collectively is that it decreases our capacity to love and care for one another. Our inability to open our hearts also decreases the likelihood that we will ever find the love we truly need and desire. We become more isolated and that only adds to our unbearable sense of aloneness. Many of us end up suffering through our lives in silence. The resulting state of disconnect and the pain we hold within also feeds into the collective suffering of humanity and the planet.
The Screens that come between us
A friend of mine was telling me about how disappointed she was when a guy she was interested in didn’t respond to her text. I asked her why she was sending text messages if she was truly interested in the guy. Why not just pick up the phone and call? She responded by saying that no one seems to want to talk on the phone anymore.
Texting, tweeting and messaging on Facebook has become the primary means of communication for many. Some of us prefer to text and tweet rather than talk over the phone or meet in person because of our unwillingness to show up and be fully present. The problem here is that it’s so easy to misconstrue what’s being said in our little snippets of communication because we’re no longer physically present in our interactions.
Our unwillingness to address the issues or engage directly with one another contributes to our confusion and misunderstanding. Lack of communication prohibits us from forming healthy attachments. That only adds to our sense of distress by feeding into our separation anxieties, fears of abandonment and our sense of isolation. Our inability to gain understanding and bring issues to resolution prevents us from learning, growing and getting to a better place individually and collectively.
Relationships have a way of bringing all of our core issues to the forefront. That’s a good thing because it provides us with an amazing opportunity to learn and grow. Addressing the issues as they arise enables us heal and to deepen the connection. Sad thing is that many people are not processed oriented. They want the nice home, car, clothes, smart phone and man or woman. They may exercise, eat the right foods and take all kinds of supplements to stay in shape. But they have no real desire or motivation to learn about themselves, grow as an individual or heal.
Relationships often fail because of one or both partner’s unwillingness or inability to experience their own feelings and address relevant issues. Rather than learning from our experience and using it as a means of growth, we tend to blame each other for the painful feelings that arise. We often withdrawal in conflict or shut down emotionally. We sometimes ignore or distance from our partners, hold on to anger or say and do other things that cause more hurt. Many of us also turn to various addictions such as food, alcohol and other drugs, work and shopping to avoid our feelings.
Some of us abandon ship by bailing out of the relationship as soon as the underlying issues make their way to the surface. In some instances we never see or speak with our former partners again. All that pain, stress and confusion gets bottled up inside of us when we cut and run. Those who of us fail to resolve the issues end up dragging the emotional baggage of the past into subsequent relationships.
Forming healthy and loving attachments provides us with one of the greatest opportunities for personal and spiritual development. We cannot learn about ourselves or each other in relationship by shrinking way from, avoiding or side stepping relevant issues. Connection requires real presence with the use of our senses. We can only heal the wounds, resolve our issues and bridge the gaps between men and women when we fully commit ourselves to learning to work constructively with our feelings. Honesty and transparency can be unpleasant at times, but it is the only road to personal integrity and genuine intimacy. Fully opening to our feelings and engaging in open and honest communication with our partners helps us to gain understanding, strengthen bonds while facilitating healing of the deep emotional wounds.
Working through our feelings facilitates the healing of the emotional wounds and that enables us to deepen the connection to our authentic internal core self. The growth that takes place as we develop a healthier relationship with ourselves enables us to be more fully present in our relationships. Making a consistent effort to listen to and understand our partners, supporting their needs and showing affection will then strengthen the connection by helping us to grow individually and as a couple.
Commitment to doing whatever it takes to heal
People often tell me how they want to heal and get their lives on track. In essence they are looking for someone to come along and magically remove all of their pain and suffering. The presence working through me takes people right to the source of the problem in order to facilitate healing of the body and mind. I have watched so many people who were initially very enthusiastic about healing disappear as soon as the underlying feelings and issues make their way to the surface. Native American elders told me on numerous occasions that people who are not honest and that fail to honor their commitments cannot heal or receive the blessing of the higher power.
Many of us have scheduled appointments with healers or therapists and then canceled because of our unwillingness to face the issues or experience our true feelings. Those of us who are truly committed to doing what it takes to heal may have to reschedule on occasion, but we don’t just cancel or blow off appointments.
Allowing our fears to take over when there are issues that need to be addressed attaches a lot of fear, resistance and confusion to the healing process. Those of us who fail to address the issues and take the steps that are necessary to heal will in many instances have to live with the pain, stress, fear, confusion and sickness in our bodies. This toxicity will eventually spill over into other parts of our lives. Some of us may eventually find our way back, but we risk creating so much obstruction or becoming so lost in our attempt to escape from ourselves and the realities we’ve created and that may prevent us from ever healing.
The harm we’re doing to ourselves
Flakiness is one of the most disempowering and self-destructive forms of behavior we can possibly engage in. We’re flaking out on ourselves when we run from or avoid our feelings and issues. Facing the issues and experiencing our true feelings isn’t always easy, but that’s what makes us stronger.
We all avoid people, issues and situations somewhere along the way because they evoke fears, insecurities and feelings of overwhelm. It’s important for us to understand that avoiding people, situations, issues or feelings that we rather not deal with erodes the foundation upon which we stand.
Feelings and issues that we resist or escape from continue to grow in magnitude as we attempt to push them out of our awareness. Conflicted feelings pushed down on the inside create a tangle of confusion that makes it difficult for us to clearly see ourselves or gain an understanding of the relevant issues that need to be dealt with. Avoidance prevents us from fully developing the capability, competency and other resources we need to fully realize our true potential and to be effective in all areas of our lives.
Cleaning up our act
Our propensity for flakiness has a lot to do with our tendency to avoid feelings and realities that we find uncomfortable or intimidating. It also stems from the fact that we haven’t fully developed the resources that would enable us to cope effectively with the realities of our daily lives. Flakiness is also reinforced by a culture that tells us “Don’t go there” and that doesn’t hold us accountable for our actions.
Many of us have good intentions, but have way too much on our plate and are so overwhelmed by all the things we have to do in order to survive. Balancing the demands and responsibilities of our daily lives with our own individual needs can pose a significant challenge. We may truly want to be there for friends and family or to support a cause we believe in, but in doing so we are sometimes over committing ourselves. Paying attention to how we feel within our bodies when we commit ourselves to people, projects and causes will give us a more realistic sense of our limitations.
One of the women I work with recently told me how she often flaked out on friends and family saying. “The trauma that I had gone through had such an adverse impact on my brain function and that made it very difficult for me to make decisions. I felt paralyzed by the pervasive fears, anxieties and feelings of depression. I just kept backing out of things because I couldn’t handle being around other people and just wanted to keep to myself. But I’ve become so much more open and outgoing as a result of the healing that has taken place over the past few years.”
I have dropped the ball on numerous occasions because I either felt overwhelmed or just didn’t know how to deal with a person or situation. Flaking out on others left me feeling horrible on the inside. I knew at some level that what I was doing wasn’t right. I would often ask myself how I could do things better. In many instances I would go back to the person and apologize and then do whatever I felt was necessary to make things right. From there I’ve gone forward in life with a resolve to live from a place of integrity.
Showing up and paying attention as an active participant in life is one of the most important aspects of becoming a fully functional adult. Some of the people, issues or situations we have to contend with can be intimidating at times. We may lack some of the skills or resources we need to cope effectively. But that doesn’t mean we have to settle for our limitations. None of us are perfect. We will invariably make mistakes along with way and yet we can resolve to learn from experience and do better with each passing day. Learning to show up fully present is an ongoing process. With discipline and perseverance we can develop the resources that will enable us to increase our effectiveness in all areas of life.
We contribute value to the lives of others and to society as a whole through our words and actions when we make a conscientious effort to live from a place of integrity. Our willingness to go the extra mile when the situation calls for demonstrates that we truly care. Making a consistent effort to be real and straightforward in our interactions with others by doing what we say and saying what we do brings about greater alignment within our body-mind consciousness by helping us to become more congruent.
Making the commitment on a daily basis to show up fully present initiates an amazing process of self-discovery and personal growth. We do our part to facilitate the process by facing the issues as they arise to the best of our ability and by fully opening ourselves to any subsequent feelings that emerge.
Choosing to fully embracing life requires tremendous courage. Staying connected to our feelings and physical bodies while being present to the realities of our daily lives enables us to develop greater understanding and insight. We learn to live by a deeper instinctual knowing that guides along a path that leads us to the realization of our potential and the fulfillment of our true purpose.
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