Monthly Archives: July 2010
Here is the thing about change that most of us forget about… some days are going to be rough. I mean really-burst-into-tears/pull-away-for-unknown-reasons/get-angry-over-nothing/and-become-super-quiet kind of rough. The truth is, there is a lot of emotional investment wrapped up in change. We have such great intentions and in our minds this translates into almost instant perfection. However, reality rarely falls into line this quickly.
Change is messy… if it was so easy and clear we would have done it long ago. Instead we know what we know… when we know it. This often means that we want to change, we move the ideas around, we push against our insecurity/fear and activate some sort of action. There is this one little piece though…. that is vastly important. Feelings. They usually don’t respond exactly as we would like considering this big plan of change. We have it all mapped out with our beautifully crafted responses and well.. somehow in the middle… it doesn’t happen that way and BOOM we freak out.
Before you know it… there are feelings everywhere… and we wonder what happened, how it all got this intense, and what exactly we are supposed to be doing anyway? Well, what happened was that you were doing exactly what you were supposed to be doing. You were working on change! I know, it sounds like a total cop-out… but it isn’t. Really, I promise you. Your expectations of the way change happens are as outdated as where you were before you even started the process.
Change isn’t some bit of magic that overcomes us without warning. Sure it may feel like a huge light bulb goes off, but really it happens in small moments. We might just decide to hold our tongue for once, soften the approach, share a bit more, or try something new. It isn’t about big grand gestures (although we often want it to be and create such). It starts the moment we become aware of something we want to strive towards within ourselves. Change is about the positive momentum within our psyche. It is at its core, the best in possibility for our potential.
We integrate as quickly as our system can handle it. It is all perfectly choreographed, hence you can try to push it but your psyche is built to take care of you. So if you push beyond, you are going to have an emotional reaction. This is perfectly normal, you should have something telling you things are a bit weird. You are in the midst of change, it is all weird and uncomfortable and wonderful. All of this is the round about way of saying that, if you really want to know that change is happening you will most likely be in the center of some rather intense feelings, awkward situations, and confusing thoughts. And if you really want to know that integration of this change has taken place, just take a quick moment to glance back at every little tiny step it took to get to where you don’t even realize a shift.
Allow yourself some moments of pride even when emotions run high … because change is happening right there!
For many one of the deepest desires is to be wanted, sought after, and pursued. And this is pretty natural, it feels good to have someone interested in us. What happens though when you are shadowed by a childhood past of being left/betrayed? The basic concept of needing to give actual space for someone to “miss you” becomes a foreign premise. It all rationally makes sense, but emotionally the fears of not “right there” are so great that over compensation occurs.
The want to be missed but there is no time or space given to the person you care about to experience those emotions. The fear is just too great that the loved will leave, not show up, or not notice turn into a mode of clinging. This process pushes away the very person you are afraid will leave. Self fulfilling prophecies are a bitch. We may not want to recreate the very pattern that harmed us, but until we learn another way, recreation in hopes of something different is the only way the mind naturally knows how to act.
And this is where I hear the sighs across from me in session. Yes yes, we _know_ all this. But no one seems to know how to do it. So not true, we all know how give space, not chase, and not stranglehold relationships. That really isn’t the issue. You don’t smoother with words, feelings, thoughts, and actions. We could pick apart the semantics (a favorite past-time of mine) but the truth is… YOU know how to give space. Let’s all be honest.
The troubling spot is in dealing with the feelings of fear, anxiety, and hurt that come to the surface when we do give space. Having to sit with the very pain that you experienced is almost unthinkable. Why would you do that to yourself? I mean isn’t that the point? You don’t want to feel that… why on earth would you seek it out?
Well, our psychology is tricky that way. We have worked so hard to avoid the fear that we have lost the ability to feel it at all in healthy ways. Any moment apart, difficult conversations, or non-focus can feel like impending emotional doom. Hence, the overreaction occurs. The reality is it is okay to feel some fear about giving space if you come from a background of hurt. It is natural to be worried about your loved one not loving you back in the way you want and need. Your system should feel this way because it happened. It is a deeply important step to realize that the fear isn’t going to go away by avoiding it and recreating the past templates. The fear is there for a reason and you CAN handle it.
It won’t feel good or easy to sit with all those feelings when all you want to do is call, check in, figure things out, look ahead, fixate, or set up situations in hopes of touching base. (Take it from one who knows.) But how else are you going to learn what anxiety and hurt is real versus just the past coming up to haunt you? If you don’t give yourself the chance to see if you can really handle feeling scared how will you ever change this pattern?
Let us know forget, that the main goal here is being sought after. So it is time to circle back on all this fear…. if you want to be pursued you have to actually allow for the very thing you are terrified of….. space. There has to come a point where you are willing to trust that you can deal with your own fear AND that you trust the one you love to come forward and seek you out. Trust building exercise at its finest… for you internally and your partner externally. You are so certain they will leave, then see if it happens.
At the very worst, all this fear and hurt you were afraid of happens but you have taught yourself the signals of what that is really like and not just a ghost. You become more present. Yes, then the person you wanted is gone, but is that the person you really wanted anyway? I mean if your big fear is going to come true with this person, wouldn’t you rather know ahead of time? The alternative is to smoother them have them leave… you recreate the pattern, feel like crap, and haven’t taught yourself anything. Seriously… if you are going to have all these feelings shouldnt’ they be based in reality anyway rather than just imagined?
And the best case is that you begin to handle your feelings, note what is real, get more in tune with yourself… oh yeah also you get to see that the person you love is actually there, will take interest, and seek you out. Wow, that might feel amazing. That might be enough to try to risk all this change…. and you get the added bonus of learning to trust yourself and the other person in the relationship. It is a win-win-win (pop culture reference added for emphasis sake) situation!
Go ahead… try something really risky AND rewarding… Isn’t it about time you got something for all this fear, anxiety, and hurt? Yeah, I thought out…. smile!
Greg Swann over at Splendor Quest is celebrating humanity. I figured I would share some of a recent blog post because it is a great reminder to focus on the positive!
It suits my ends to poke around in the trash can inside your brain, but I’m not doing it to be mean — nor to induce you to feel bad about yourself. I know a whole lot about the interior mental processes that motivate the pursuit of values and disvalues — and about the subsequent and secondary consequences of those mental processes — but it’s not as if I can actually read your mind.
So how do I know so much about how your mind works? I don’t, not by any means except inference. What I know about is how my mind works. We are alike as things — we are ontological equals — so I know that your mind works the same way mine does — no less than and for the same reasons that your heart works the same way mine does. Moreover, I can look you in the eye and tell you the truth of your life in excruciating detail, working from nothing other than past experience with myself and other people. Our differences make us unique and beautiful, but our similarities make us comprehensible to each other.
We all tell lies, the worst of them to ourselves. We all shirk our responsibilities, crafting sullen silent soliloquies to justify our laziness. We all hurt other people, and we are all hurt by them. We all do things we know are wrong when we’re doing them, and we all live with the pain of those errors forever — silently, in a stolid solitude, but forever.
The things you have done that are wrong are not to be dismissed, shrugged off. They can’t be, no matter how much you might wish they could. But redemption is egoism in action. There are limits to how much of the past damage you have done to your self you can undo, but we redeem our errors not by penance and not by renunciation but by acts of splendor.
All you need is an idle moment to catch your self doing something wrong — in the past. What you need instead is to catch your self doing something right — right now.
You are too much aware of your past sins and failures because you have too little greatness in your life — too little splendor — to be conscious of instead.
Do you see? Your self is your life, and your awareness of your self is the source and the sink of every other awareness you have ever had. Your relationship with your self is primary and paramount in any other relationship you might have with other people or with things outside your mind. Every purposive action you take is taken first by your self upon your self, and there is nothing you can think, say, do or experience that is not felt first, most and always by your self.
Your self is the star of every scene of every act in the drama of your life. So here’s an interesting question: When your self takes the stage, what do you see?
The same thing I see, for what that’s worth. Your body is the physical expression of your self, and your every triumph, your every disaster and your every delight and terror is written on your face, on your skin, in your posture, in your movements and in your speech for any observant person to see. But the self of the mind, your true self, is visible only to you. I can see how your past has inscribed itself into the cells of your body, but only you can see the self you would have and could have and should have become.
This is the dirty little secret I know about you, the one I refuse to keep quiet about: I know you’ve betrayed the self of your imagination in just about every way possible. I know there are things you are burning, burning, burning to do — and yet you talked yourself out of doing them, again and again. I know there are things you want desperately to have achieved — but not desperately enough to dig in and do them. I know you have been pressured, again and again, into doing things you knew were wrong when you did them, and I know you have done other things you knew were wrong purely out of spite, frustrating yourself more than anyone else.
I know that when you were four or five years old, you imagined for yourself a glorious self, a thing of illimitable goodness. And I know you have smudged and smeared and soiled and sullied and chipped and chopped away at that image of your self ever since. I know that you’ve never stopped mourning what is in fact a gradual and persistent and ultimately fatal self-annihilation, and I know that you hate your own self-abnegation so much that you would do almost anything to make it stop — except stop doing it.
I’ve understood everything I’m talking about at progressively higher levels of abstraction since I was very young, but that doesn’t mean that I have been spared the horrifying and mentally-permanent spectacle of self-induced error. Too much the contrary, alas, and with less of the self-serving self-righteous self-justification other people might lay claim to. But still more importantly, self-destruction does not matter, except to the extent that one must learn to stop doing it. What truly matters, all that truly matters is self-construction, realizing — making real — that image of your self you crafted for yourself when you were four or five years old.
What is it that you want to do? What is it that you want to have accomplished? You have to do those things. You have to see yourself doing those things. When you feel pressure to betray your self, from other people or from some doctrine of self-annihilation, you have to stand up to that pressure — you have to be the hero you loved to imagine for your self when you were young.
You have the power to choose who you will be, remain conscious as a living human being. You cannot love who you are without behaving lovably in the actions of your existence.
That much is remarkable: The more greatness you see in your own real-time and remembered behavior, the more greatness you will see in your self.