Whenever my clients tell me it’s like they have me whispering in their ears – like the cartoon angels and devils sitting on the shoulders of cartoon characters and whispering in their ears – I apologize wholeheartedly. I know my mind can be a scary place to be inside of, and I hate the thought of my thoughts in other peoples’ minds.
They assure me it’s all good, which assures me that they’ve most likely got the “angel” side of me whispering to them. The gentle, loving, understanding, wise, compassionate side of me – the one I’m still learning to let whisper to myself.
Because, again, it can get ugly in my mind. I can judge myself, criticize myself, and hold myself up to silly, impossible standards. I’m learning to do this less and less.
I’m also learning to watch my thoughts more and more, and to catch how they’re helping me…or not. I’m more and more able to identify the wild and wacky beliefs I’ve cemented into my thought patterns…and how they’re helping me or not.
As a child, I learned to be hyper-sensitive to the needs and whims of people around me. In reality or at least in my mind, my safety and security depended on my being able to anticipate and meet the needs and whims of people around me. I now can, unless I’m careful and conscious, often still tune into the needs and whims of people around me and try to anticipate and meet them.
Even the needs and whims I imagine, whether or not they’re actually there. Those are often the dumb beliefs that get in my way.
If I’m not careful and conscious, I’ll read anger on your face and whip myself into a frenzy of fear. Whether or not the anger is actually there. If I’m not careful and conscious, I’ll sense disappointment or disapproval and twist myself into a pretzel trying to make everything “okay.” Whether or not the disappointment or disapproval is actually there.
But I am conscious and careful more often, and I’m learning not to read and sense emotions – and dangerous situations – that don’t exist. I’m even learning that even when these emotions do exist, it’s actually not my job to whip myself into a frenzy or twist myself into a pretzel. I can (and do) care, but it’s not my job to fix anything. I’m learning that I can survive even if those dearest and nearest to me are angry or disappointed or disapproving. Wow.
I’m learning to sense my own emotions – of fear and anxiety and all the rest – and to figure out the source of those emotions – the beliefs I have that are kicking up the feelings – and to ask myself how much those beliefs are hurting or helping me. How much those beliefs are “dumb” and silly beliefs that I may have made up and that are holding me back and/or getting in my way.
Then I let them go.
I’d love to hear your thoughts, and please share this post with others if it resonates with you!
I am in awe at what you have written. I’ve read & re-read it 5 times now… I have never had the words for what it is like in my brain when it comes to my hyper-sensitivity to others emotions (real or imagined). You have described it with great accuracy.
Now, you have kind of given me a plan to not exhaust myself with all of that. You’ve given me “permission” to NOT take these things on as my job. I will have to practice not letting my loved ones anger, disappointment or disapproval be the deciding factor in my thoughts about myself, but thank you for showing me that it is possible.
You have seriously changed my life today. I am very grateful.
Thank you for your comment Altah. Every now and then I wonder why I keep putting myself out there so much, and then I get a note like yours and I remember why I keep putting myself out there. Thank you for your thoughts. We are all in this together. I am grateful.
A charity I work with is Trauma and Resiliency Resources (TRR), which uses horses in working with suicidal warriors returning from the wars with PTSD and moral injury. Horses are prey animals and highly sensitive to dangers and to what is happening around them. They are wonderful healers because they sense pain and are empathetic, but not judgmental, some of the same qualities I sense in my cousin Lisa, a wonderful healer in her own right.