Saturday, November 07, 2009
Moments and Insights That Change Us
Being on holiday allows for an interesting break of state. We "step out of the loop" of our daily grind, and stop running for long enough to stand back and observe ourselves. And we can see things we don't see, while we're trapped in our busy-ness. Sometimes, we can see the "current me;" sometimes we gain insights into specific moments and insights that allow us to realize "Oh! That's how I got here...."
Change-- that is, the kind of real change that shifts the course of our lives-- often happens in a moment. Someone says something that changes our course, and even though we may go through years of what feels like "gradual" changes, we suddenly realize that we can point back to a moment, an event, a conversation, and recognize "Yeah. That's when everything changed course."
HSPs are "deep processors." That can be both a blessing and curse. It's a blessing in the sense that we tend to examine our lives and pursue personal development, rather than glide through our days on oblivious cruise control. The "curse" aspect lies in our knack for inadvertently getting stuck in analysis paralysis... or, worse, getting stuck in "specific events," without moving on from them.
Some 15+ years ago, I found myself in therapy, trying to parse and process what I'd call an "unfortunate" marriage. Although I was ostensibly in therapy for the purpose of processing the relationship, I was really there to process my life... which had been a rather unfortunate assemblage of attempts to fit into the mainstream of life.
I was brought up to "be a certain way," which largely had to do with being "normal." I won't get into a long analysis of what "normal" means; suffice it to say that I am not normal, for many reasons not relating to sensitivity. Point being, my life felt a bit like I was 5'4" tall and trying to play professional basketball.
Anyway, one day I was going about my usual lamentations about how this, that and the other felt "off," and how this person and that (and not even my soon-to-be-ex) seemed to be making life difficult and miserable for me, and how tired I was of carrying everyone else's burdens and wiping everyone else's metaphorical rear ends whenever they mess up something. Kathleen-- who was an excellent therapist, and probably an HSP herself (this was before Elaine Aron's first book)-- held up her hand and said "Can I stop you for a moment...."
So I stopped.
Then she said "Let me ask you something. Who would you BE, if you didn't have all this chaos and turmoil around you? Who would you BE, if you didn't feel compelled to take care of all these dysfunctional people's problems? Who would you BE, if you could just be YOURSELF?"
At the time, I didn't have an answer. As I recall, I said something non-committal... perhaps "That's complicated, I'll have to think about it," or "Can I answer that as homework?" And then we continued with the session.
However, a seed was planted.
Sometimes we get stuck in our paradigms. We end up repeatedly and relentlessly choosing the very things we claim we want to not have in our lives-- chaos, poverty, unhappiness, abandonment, disconnection, even abuse. Even if we feel vaguely aware that something "isn't quite right," we often feel powerless to change things... and we'll even make active excuses like "But I have no CHOICE!"
It was some years before the deeper implications of Kathleen's questions hit home for me. During the years leading to that particular therapy session (and for some years after) it was my core (albeit false) belief that my only "value" in life came from what I could DO to keep (pardon the bluntness) "deeply messed up people" from completely falling apart. In other words, I felt that I had no value, simply being myself.
And so... I kept making choices that made me feel like I had "value," even though those choices were misguided, and made me feel bad about myself. It wasn't that I didn't recognize "healthy" people-- but somehow they seemed either "less interesting," OR I simply didn't think they'd be interested in me, since they didn't need me to be "of value" (as I perceived "value") to them.
"Blind spots" can be very hard to discover. However, unless we find them, we can end up in a painful pattern... and not even understand why, no matter how much self-analysis we may engage in.
Talk Back: Do you have moments in your life that changed your direction? Did you realize it at the time, or was it years later, when you realized that something said/happened changed your path completely? Did you escape from a painful pattern, as a result? OR... do you find yourself stuck in a pattern that just doesn't make sense? Share your experiences-- leave a comment!
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