Emotions, Hall of Mirrors, Personal Growth, Rant

The Same Conversations, Over and Over. The Same Conversations, Over and Over. The Same…

“One of the most dangerous forms of human error is forgetting what one is trying to achieve.” – Paul Nitze

I was trying to sort through some things a few days ago, and used pages to make notes on. When the emotion was over, I went back and read what I had written. It was rather horrifying because everything I had written was based on entirely dodging responsibility. I think a better word would be “whiney”. My perspective was very whiney, and used excuses and “explanations” everywhere. When I finished reviewing, I was ashamed of myself. It was one of the catalysts for the Accepting Responsibility post, but still, that was me. Is me. No wonder people have been screaming at me to accept responsibility!

Then I started rereading the posts in this blog. Some of them are pretty good. Then I read something I had written which was actually really promising, only to then completely forget about. Dammit! One of the better such statements was this:

I disowned all my power/anger/jealousy/bitterness/love, because to own it means what I choose to do with it is on me.”

Oh man. The moment I read it, I remembered the events that lead up to this realization. Then I wrote it down, and promptly put it from my mind. Falling right back into old habits, habits like the whiney, excuse riddled logic of only 3 days ago.

Then in the Accepting Responsibility post I’m talking about learning how to see other people in order to see myself, and the only way to do that is to actively engage in the Hall of Mirrors. After this, I ran into this gem in a post I did a few weeks ago:

I’m an utter idiot about the emotions that drive people … *holds up the Mirror and I realize ‘people’ is ‘me’*.

Based on these rather clear examples, in conjunction with information from other people, I keep having the same conversations over and over again. Despite that, nothing changes. Back to same ole, same ole. That’s beyond frustrating! That’s aggravating and rather insulting to those who took their time and energy to talk to me.

I keep forgetting the entire point of this process! What is the point? To be consciously aware of the 4 main parts of me (mental, emotional, spiritual & physical) so that I can live congruously. By that, I mean that all the parts of me work together in order to live fully. Ok, so that’s a bit abstract. I want to be able to bring all aspects of myself to bear on a problem or goal, and know that every kilojoule is working in the same direction. I know my mind for the most part, but know next to nothing about the heart. It zigs, and I zag … though of course, I am both. So I’m zigging and zagging simultaneously and people have no idea what to make of me. Most of the time, I don’t either. And this is why!

It’s like my mental self starts the process, but something shuts it down. I’m sabotaging myself by “conveniently” forgetting everything learned, discovered, marveled at. Then I have to rediscover it, only to yet again have it wiped out of active memory. I’m tired of running in this hamster wheel!

In order to help me remember the important things, I decided to write them down on a printed page. I carry this page with me, reading it often. The purpose is to remind myself of ground already covered so I can put the lessons into action. Only when I’ve got new exercises to report on will I finally move onto new ground. Until then, I’m rehashing, and rehashing.

I also need to reread these posts from time to time. They remind me of the successes, even as they remind me of the failures.

And here’s another failure — I was thinking about why I respond the way that I do in some situations. It suddenly occurred to me that I’m disappointed and continuously being hurt because I have some pie-in-the-sky expectation that isn’t being met, and I refuse to let go of. By not letting it go, I keep getting hurt, keep responding poorly. And here I had done a whole post recently on Great Expectations Deep Disappointments, but completely whiffed on this. Now I have to include “drop expectations and just let something be what it will be” on my list of things to remind myself of everyday.

*chuckles* I just had a scene from “50 First Dates” flash through my head. Where the main character wakes up every day with no memory, so she makes a video to watch first thing. This allows her to live her life, even if she can’t remember it. That’s what it feels like I’m trying to do with this paper.

“Good morning. Here’s what I need to remember that I’ve already done, decided on and promised….”

Hall of Mirrors

Accepting Responsibility

“One’s philosophy is not best expressed in words; it is expressed in the choices one makes… and the choices we make are ultimately our responsibility.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

I’ve heard this concept of “accepting responsibility” for a long time now. I never really thought much about it though. Yet today I realized that I was translating “accept responsibility” as “be our scapegoat; accept all the blame”.  For years, this has been the translation and I never questioned it. I never thought “huh, I wonder if that’s what they mean by ‘accept responsibility’, or do they mean something else entirely? I should ask for clarification.”

Today I realized another interpretation of that statement. I don’t know if it’s the one which was meant, so I’ll still have to ask, but the new interpretation turned everything on its head for me.

“Accept responsibility” is NOT a statement of “accept being the scapegoat”. There are two words to this simple statement, but both of them are exceedingly important and integrated.

Responsibility as a concept is far larger than I had realized. While one aspect does mean that something is my fault, it also means recognizing that something is within my power, within my control and I am now honor and duty bound to address it appropriate to the situation. In short, it’s a recognition of power and an inherent question of “what am I doing with it?”

Accept as a concept means to allow something inside, to bring into the Self. In order to accept anything, I must first and foremost be OPEN to what is asking to come in.

In order to “Accept Responsibility”, first I had to be open in my heart to the concept of bringing anything into the core of me. As long as I was interpreting ‘responsibility’ as a request for taking all the blame, hells no I was not open to that. What cracked that door for me was suddenly realizing the multiple interpretations of “responsibility”. OH! You’re asking me to bring into my heart and my active awareness the Knowing that I have power in this situation and I’m not recognizing that power. Because it’s not recognized, it’s running amuck.

Well, shit. That’s a dramatically different statement now.

As soon as that statement was re-interpreted, I hear Alison Armstrong’s voice saying “What if the people around us are doing what they are doing for a good reason?” She talks about stopping to ask people “why did you choose to respond that way?” To restate that, people are reacting to me the way that they do because of good reasons. What are those reasons? What do THEY see?

In order for this approach to work, I MUST step back and let those questions be answered truthfully. If I hear something that I don’t like and get upset, then I’ve undermined the entire exercise. These questions cannot be asked unless and until I have the proper frame of mind AND heart. My mind and heart must both be OPEN. Oh! There’s that ‘accept’ concept again. I must be willing to accept, to bring into my gooey, vulnerable soft center of me anything that the other person may say without rushing to defend myself. In order to really get good, I must also be willing to keep asking more probing questions based on those answers in order to go further into understanding.

Asking a question such as “what did I do to offend you” is not what I mean. That question is about me, and what I did. With this question, ‘I’ is the subject and the action taken is the object. It’s not an exploration of the heart and mind of the receiver, though it looks like it is. The question I’m talking about is “what are you reacting to? What do you see that causes you to be hurt?” With this second question, ‘you’ is the subject and the action/reaction is the object being discussed.

Now for the second major realization of what Accepting Responsibility really means. My concept of the Hall of Mirrors is all about trying to engage in to the darkness of the Self in order to see it, recognize it, own it. Take responsibility for it. The problem I’ve had, and have been completely blind to, is that the process I’ve been using is passive. It’s entirely self-contained, and relies on observation and introspection. No matter how much I engage in this, it’s still ‘passive’. The moment I reach out to someone else, and ask them “what are you reacting to?” is now the moment that I actively engage in the Hall of Mirrors.

Ironically, in order to see myself more clearly, I have to learn how to see others.

Now the questions I have to ponder are: Am I willing to accept this responsibility? Am I willing to actively engage in this process? It’s one thing to stare into the Darkness of the Self with a mirror that I’m holding; it’s an entirely other thing to hand that mirror to someone else so they can share what they see.

I also have to consider: How will the choice I make be manifested in action? What will it change?

Hall of Mirrors

Choice Points

“All of imagination – everything that we think, we feel, we sense – comes through the human brain. And once we create new patterns in this brain, once we shape the brain in a new way, it never returns to its original shape.” – Jay S. Walker

The funny thing about looking for something, is that we usually find it. The longer we look, the more finely tuned the search pattern, the more often or quickly we can find what is sought.

Technically, I need to take that out of the “we” and into the “me”. This is the Hall of Mirrors, and everything here is me reflected back in a variety of ways. There is no “we”, no “you”, no “us”, and definitely no “them” or the all powerful “They.”

So, to restate and own it. When I go looking for something, I’ll find it. And if I don’t find it soon enough, I’ll get creative.

What the heck am I talking about? Lost keys? No, I’m talking about the source of our insecurities. In my case, rejection. Insecurities are usually fairly primal and very simple. I can pour in all kinds of complexity and reasons and whatnots, but really that’s just window dressing. It’s me trying to do something to make my relationship with ‘rejection’ something that I can possible stand. But the more window dressing something has, the harder it is to see and work with.

I took the better part of a full day of writing and soul searching to strip away all the crap covering this. And yes, it’s very narcissistic of me to be so self-focused, but hey. It’s all about me, the individual. Once I’ve got a stronger handle on this, then I can start to expand my focus.

Rejection. The boogeyman. The monster under my bed. The elephant in the room. It’s hardly a primal fear unique to me, but unique is not necessarily the point. How was this fear driving me?

It made me see it everywhere, with every look, every glance, every statement. Since I wasn’t seeing it clearly, it was reflected back at me LOUD and in ALL CAPS. To the point where I’ve pretty much destroyed everything I thought I valued.

Well shit.

Now what?

I like Alison Armstrong. In her book “The Keys to the Kingdom”, she talks about being empowered with knowledge. But being empowered is a choice. Knowledge also has the ability to disempower. In this book, information is giving in which the character finds herself thinking “why didn’t I know this? look at all the horrible things I’ve done because I didn’t know”. The response from the main character is that a choice is given. “You can either beat yourself up because of mistakes in the past, or you can use this information to blaze a new trail into the future.” I really like that.

Back to rejection. I see it everywhere because I’m looking for it everywhere. By finding it, I make it manifest itself. Vindication! Success … ?

What do I do with this awareness? Being aware of something but doing nothing with it is rather silly. Paint me silly, because I do it all the time. Why? Usually not ready to act on the realizations yet. Like “yeah yeah, I know that” rather than “holy shit, I KNOW that!” Because of that cerebral tendency, I’m now asking myself “how will knowing this change anything?” How will all the time and energy spent, not to mention tears and heart ache, digging up this nugget be repaid? How will it be action-ed?

Two things. First, I made the decision to look for something else. I want to find love, warmth, and acceptance everywhere that I look. I recognize that while I’m building these new pathways and trying to drive outside of the ruts, I’m likely going to fall into old patterns. That’s ok. When I do, I will recognize the energetic shift and readjust course. I’m going to train my brain to find something else, one day at a time.

The second thing was following this feeling down the rabbit hole. Where was the source? Well, once rejection was dragged out from the rock, it was quite talkative. Back to my earliest childhood, to recognize the pain I was in then. And the first thing I saw in my memory’s eye? Rejection everywhere. Nope, not what I’m looking for. Go find, actively look for and find all the examples of love, caring, warmth and affection that I can locate. It actually did not take long either.

With these new things being seen, I poured all that feeling into the wounded heart of a child. I’d to think it did something good, but who knows. That said, I was rather pleased with how well I was able to shift gears and find those positive examples. It’s not like I had a broken home, far from it. When I say “rejection”, I mean the softest possible thing you can picture. Good thing too, because given my emotional and physical makeup, a different harsher environment would have crumpled me up like I was an empty beer can.

So find examples. Look for them. Tonight, as I was wrestling with all this, friends of our daughter came over. SO and group went out with the telescope to find a clear vantage point from which to see the lunar eclipse. Cool stuff! Considering everything, SO came upstairs to tell me what they were going to do, gave me a kiss and headed off. Looking at this, I can choose how to see it. I’m going to see that a deliberate effort was made to make sure I knew what was going on, that I was included (yay!) in the information loop. Happy!

Life happens around me. It happens to me. But there one thing that is always in my control [baring brain damage or hormone overload], and that is what I choose to see in it. How I choose to react to what I see, that is other thing I have direct control over. I choose to embrace empowering, expansive, building, connecting things to see, and thus react to. This is the Choice Point.

Hall of Mirrors

Dismissing What is Seen

“There are always reasons for people’s behaviour, and it’s easy just to dismiss them and assume that we already know their story, especially if they’re no good at showing their emotions.” – Kate Dickie

I do so admire those folks who manage to make time to post something in their blog/journal/diary/whatever every day. I just don’t have that degree of dedication or focus, but I can certainly admire it in others.

The other day I’m talking to someone and I said something which had me recognize that this response was definitely a projection. Ah, dang. In that moment, as I’m working to sweep away this pesky projection being reflected back at me in my Hall of Mirrors, it suddenly hit me:

I keep dismissing my projections as being “unreal”, as being “mere projections.” Since they are merely projections and therefore unreal, I am under no obligation to actually think about them in any sort of meaningful way. I’m free to reject them … again. Free to shove those already disowned or unrecognized parts of myself even further out of sight.

Talk about a *facepalm* moment! Here I’ve spent two freakin’ years working with this damn concept, trying to identify and own those aspects of myself that I can’t see too clearly, and what am I doing? Neatly sidestepping the entire process, and I did not even notice. Guess I’m pretty dang good at hiding me from myself.

This all came about because a friend was talking about his approach to darkside studies, which is where the Path of the Individual idea came from. “Darkness is all about the individual.” He believes that the true walkers of the path begin when their idea of self is shattered. Something happens which so fundamentally undermines the entirety of their world view that identity must crack. In his analogy, the mirror of self shatters and now the self  has to figure out how to reassemble the mirror — but it will be forever cracked. Just as someone cannot un-experience something, self-identity will always remember what it took to be shattered and what it took to be rebuilt … if indeed it was rebuilt. Many are never remade.

Personally, I can’t say that I’ve suffered such a crack. I’ve had some pretty ugly scenarios, but my self-identity is not particularly rigid. Does someone’s sense of self shatter because the ideas that they held were too unyielding, or are the situations which broke them situations that pretty much anyone would break under? I have no idea on this one, and I don’t really think I’m qualified to comment but the question did come up for me. There are situations I can imagine breaking me, and I won’t really be running out to see what I can do to experience them.

Which then led me back into my Hall of Mirrors. Funhouse mirrors are usually distorted in some way, so what gets reflected back is stretched or squashed, widened or narrowed. In short, yes, it’s a reflection, but it’s not an accurate representation of what is being reflected. Now if the mirror happens to cracked also, what is seen? Rhetorical question there, but for those who do work with broken mirrors it might be a useful analogy to incorporate.

When new projections are recognized, I need to remember this distortion likelihood. Even when  attempting to reject them as “mere projections”, they aren’t actually mere anything at all. They are distorted, and so I have yet to see the truth behind those projections. I have yet to fully own them.