I sometimes go down the rabbit hole and in the process I become someone that I am not comfortable being; my life becomes unmanageable and I suffer. And this is what happened over the past couple weeks. The truth is that this has been a cataclysm that has been building over the course of my whole life.
Whether we realize it or not we all have imprints that dictate how we choose to live our lives in the present. These imprints are embedded beliefs from our childhood. And unless we begin to become aware of these imprints (usually fears), we will continue to live our lives blindfolded by them, yet dictated by them. I know, without a doubt, that that these imprints surface in my life when I find myself in some sort of anxiety inducing situation.
I have recognized that I have these imprinted patterns before, at varying levels of my ability to be conscious of them. Unfortunately, I am not always aware of what is going on within myself, but my words do give me hints and clues, if I choose to listen that is. I am often like two people living within the same body; perhaps these two parts are my ego and soul selves?
What came up for me in this most recent upheaval is that I had created a friendship that mirrored a troubled (unresolved) family relationship from the past perfectly. I thought I had resolved my feelings around that relationship, but the same issues came up this time around. The only difference seemed to be the player. I fell into the same trap. The interesting part is that I had recently shared to a group that I belong to that my friends had become like a family to me; one where the opportunities existed for me to work through stuff from the past: stuff that I had a tendency to run away from within my family of origin. I believe that intuitively I do know what is going on within me.
So my big aha-moment this morning is that the problems I have been struggling with for the better part of 50 years are still there. The culprit is people-pleasing, and it brings up my own defects of characters. And once again, I have to take a good look at what is behind my tendency towards people-pleasing? When I people-please I commit to situations (and values) that my inner-wisdom does not agree with, and my inner-self has a shit-fit. This creates anger, resentments and judgments within me, and it has a tendency to come out sideways.
So what can I do about this tendency? I don’t want to live out the rest my life oblivious to my own self. I would hazard to say that there are a lot of people out there who unwittingly find themselves recreating their childhood roles and patterns. When I get myself into situations that go against myself I find that I become envious of those of us who do not people-please, but have good boundaries, instead.
This time around the same-old people-pleasing cycle, I became curious about my tendency to get myself into this pattern. I asked myself what it is that others who do not people-please seem to do differently? Looking at the problem this way; from the angle of curiosity instead of fear (removing myself from the story), I was able to received some internal guidance. These individuals seem to listen and act on their inner-guidance, and seem willing, and perhaps even happy, to protect their precious boundaries.
For a people-pleaser, boundaries are difficult to put into place and keep in place when they are being pushed against. We fear that by having a boundary our friends and relatives will think poorly of us. They might even call us the unimaginable; they may call us selfish! And God forbid that others should think a people-pleaser is selfish or a bad person in any way!
Recently I did a Jump Coaching series with Nancy Levin. We worked on some of our beliefs around being selfish. She said something that has stuck with me, we alone are the ones who give a negative or positive connotation to the word selfish.
I look around at what I admire about others and I have to say that it is their ability to lay healthy boundaries; to be selfish in this way catches my attention. This healthy selfishness IS called boundaries.
This morning I identified a relationship that I had as a child that I have been re-enacting in my present life experiences. I have to giggle at the blatant similarities, really. I have been compromising some of the same values that upset me as a child, teen-ager, young adult, middle age adult, and even now (obviously or I would not be writing this piece). How is it I have not connected the dots before now?
Every time I go through one of these painful learning experiences, I am lead to the most wonderful and blessed teachers. My young friend came to visit for the weekend. She had just finished a Come Alive workshop on Gabriola Island, and she reminded me of a book, written by the founders of that workshop, that I have just happened to have had sitting on my book-shelf (that I previously read when I was going through yet another boundary learning curve) for the past 15 years. We discussed some of the things she had experienced at that workshop, and I was deeply intrigued.
Her experience reminded me of my Worthiness retreat in Hawaii, put on by Doreen Virtue and Nancy Levin, and the subsequent break-through I had as a result. But, where I had not felt safe to throw myself on the floor and kick and scream, releasing all that built up un-integrated stuff, she was able to physically let it all out at Come Alive. I really wanted to have the space to do that; to let it all out. And some of that stuff HAS come out since doing that retreat. Barry and I have been working on creating a safe space, with each other where we can let this old buried stuff out; consequently, relieving that pent up pressure, so we can heal and experience more joy within our relationship. It seems that the only way out is through.
I have felt bad that I have shadow stuff inside of me, and I have tried to cover it up with all sorts of addictions, including alcohol and clothes. But I am coming to see that we all have stuff like that that buried beneath the surface of our worst behaviors. I am sure that the degree to which this stuff is buried is the only variance determining how graceful we can be.
The book that was sitting on my shelf, waiting patiently for me to rediscover it, is called A Manual for Life, by Bennet Wong and Jack McKeen. I picked it up, and not surprisingly the parts that I previously underlined fifteen years ago are the parts that are relevant to my struggles today.
Taking care of others involves a role and a power orientation. Caring about others involves a consideration and concern for the other, which might or might not involve any action. To take care of others will weaken their initiative and maintain a tie to the caretaker: to care about others can involve letting them make their own mistakes and find their own way.
That hit me like a ton of bricks. In that moment I realized that I create the very ties (attachments) I abhor!
I have to admit that the laying down of a boundary still makes me feel selfish, and even guilty. It was hard for me to hear my own honesty when I discussed my issues with this friend. And even though I kept the focus on my own part, it was not well received by her. My truth hurt my friend’s feelings.
Then I read this part:
To feel pity or sympathy involves elevating oneself and diminishing the other; this is a power orientation. To empathize involves feeling close and identified with the other, seeing oneself mirrored in the other, both persons are equal and responsible for themselves.
It became clear, after reading those two parts, that we were both equally and perfectly designed as teachers for each other, in order that we may have the opportunity to learn some REALLY important lessons, and perhaps even heal past stuff. Neither of us were one up or one down, but we were perfect partners for learning precious life lessons, instead. In other words, we had attracted each other for these lessons.
I breathed in love and acceptance at this realization, and I breathed out a whole new playing field; one where I can become conscious of who I am, and what I want to manifest within my life. This dear friend will learn her own lessons, and I am not to concern myself with what those lessons may be. I am not responsible for that side. I am to stay on my side of the street, keeping it clean, knowing that each us has access to our own personal Higher Power, and clearly, I am not it.