Today we could choose from these questions:
- Write down a present concern. Think of what your mother would say. Your father. The church you were brought up in. your siblings. Whose “shoulds” are affecting you? Now do dialoguing with that person and see what is positive in what he or she is saying. Now dialogue with a chosen wise speaking teacher and see what you can learn.
- Write down the messages to which you don’t want to respond and instead put down what you want for yourself. Write whatever comes to mind when you think about trusting that everything will work out if you follow yourself. Write down the things you’re not sure of and use gazing into the waters and streaming to explore these uncertain actions.
- Using streaming, write about what happens when you try to control someone. What are you trying to achieve? What would happen if you didn’t control the outcome? What would you have to do then? How could you do that?
- Cut up a page from a newspaper and put the pieces in a bowl. Lift out the fragments or lines and write, using the streaming technique. By using this random kind of writing, we can change the frames of meanings we have with control. See what you can come up with.
I had never thought about myself as being a controlling person, until last night. I had always been more mindful of how I had been controlled and whose should I had agreed to follow. However, it while listening to an associate who was sharing with me how her life is just one struggle after another. I could appreciate where she was at because there was not a positive anywhere in her conversation. Everything was negative. Nobody liked her, nothing was going right. It was one negative after another and she could not understand why her life was so miserable or why she could not get a break in life. At one point as she was speaking, there was this voice in the back of my head that was singing some song from my childhood that goes something like nobody loves me, everybody hates me, guess I’ll go eat worms.
What I should have done was just listen, but the supermom side of my personality kicked in and before I knew it I was saying ok, well have you thought about calling this place to help you with this and have you thought about calling that place and talk to them for help with this. It was not until after I hung up the phone that I realized that I had flipped into control mode. So what was it about her situation that made me feel like I had to fix things, like I had to control her life, like I had to do this for her and make it all better so she could stop eating worms and know that there are people who do love her?
I remember a time when I felt like her – actually twice and what is ironic is that both times, my therapist was the one who flipped into what they called social worker mode and started telling me how to solve my problems. They began controlling my life and telling me what to do and how to do it. I remembered how it made me feel at the time. The first time it happened, I think I felt worse then the second time. The first time was at a time when I really did feel lost. In a four year period, I had lost both my parents, my wife had lost her mom, and together we had lost one dog, three cats, three goldfish and our hamster and I had just lost the feeling in my right leg and what I really needed was someone to help me through my grief and here was this woman who had been journeying with me forever telling me what I needed to do and what I should be feeling as if I were five. I didn’t want her solutions; I just wanted someone to listen to me, to hear my pain and to help me through the grieving process.
Then it happened again a few years later and my “therapist” tried to take control of my life and tell me what I needed to do. I remember feeling the same way the second time, although I was in a much different space then I was the first time.
The reality though is that I realized how important it is just to be present. I realized how important it is just to listen. Sometimes all people want and need is a place to say this is what I am feeling. This is my story. It is my version of the story. I don’t need you to edit it or make it into the version of the story you want it to be. I just need to author my story the way I need to author it at this time in my life.
Listening is such a sacred gift and here I was violating that gift and it made me mad at myself. It was one of those times that I was having a human experience as a spiritual being. It made me realize that I need to work on my listening skills and being present. I also need to work on being able to tell someone when I am not at a place when I can be present for them.
I think what I was trying to accomplish was to give her some ideas on where she could get some help. I can call it what I want, but it is still a form of disrespect and control. I had to sit back and say ok, so what would have happened if I had not been problem solving control gurl had not flown out. Well most likely, she would have continued to vent, said thanks for listening and eventually figured it out on her own. So I guess what I have learned from all this is just to be present and do my best. If I am not at a place where I can be fully present, it is ok not to answer the phone. I can also take that moment to remember what it felt like for me and remember the golden rule about doing unto others as you would have them do unto you.