When You Can’t Show Weakness.
I think I was born highly sensitive. I had an in exorbitant amount of shame for things I didn’t even do.
Someone could look at me with a disapproving look and it would travel through my blood stream into my heart then make its way up to become a lump in my throat waiting to burst out into tears.
I cried a lot and I cried all of the time.
Many of my clients talk about feeling like this once upon a time. And many of them had reason to cry.
I work with many people who come from difficult backgrounds and today I’m going to share a story that will meld many stories together.
Today, we’re going to create a fictional client named “Beth”.
Beth had a parent who was annoyed, irritated and overwhelmed by her crying. She got the sense of this because she was told over and over in one way or another that she was too sensitive.
Her mom would scream at her “I didn’t hurt you!” Stop crying.”
At her worst, her mom would say, “Stop being a pussy.”
Eventually, she learned to cry in her bedroom, alone, where the tears became a mixture of rage and sadness. She would contemplate how evil her mother was and how unjustly she had been treated.
That anger would always transform into shame when she’d realize her mom was right. She was the problem. She was too sensitive. She was a pussy.
Can you imagine being told not to cry by the one who’s inflicting the pain? She was confused.
Until one day, she got clarity.
She was about 11 or 12 years old and lying across the bed while being beaten.
It was then that something snapped.
Through coaching, she remembered making a decision that day that no matter what, she wasn’t going to cry.
She equated crying with cracking. And she wasn’t going to crack no matter what.
Her mom noticed, pointed it out and beat her harder. But she never cried.
Those were the worst welts she ever had. Yet at the same time, she told me how proud she was.
Beth said, “ I could really take a beating.”
FUCK HER! She thought. And anyone else who thought they could win by getting an ounce of her sorrow or pain.”
A coping mechanism was born. And it was a brilliant strategy! As a child, it helped her survive. She was able to resist being impacted by her mother’s words or actions.
However, it was a terrible strategy to go on and live the rest of her life.
She didn’t know it then, but that decision was kryptonite to her superpower. Her ability to FEEL was her strength. Her sensitivity was her superpower.
But Beth came to believe it was a weakness. And so she spent many years trying to anesthetize her feelings.
The unconscious dysfunctional family RULE Beth was following was: Don’t show weakness.
When she began coaching, here’s a partial list of things she didn’t know how to say:
- You hurt me
- I don’t want that
- This is too much for me
- I’m overwhelmed
- That makes me feel (fill in the black)
- I don’t like that
- I don’t want you to (fill in the blank)
- It bothers me when (fill in the blank)
- I feel hopeless
- I can’t do this
- I don’t want to do this
- I’m stuck
- This is too much
- I need help
And so many more!
Don’t get me wrong, it also had its rewards or else she wouldn’t have done it for so long.
People came to see her as The Rock. She was the one everyone else came to with their problems.
No one saw her as struggling or needing anything or anyone. She looked like she had life on lock.
But she didn’t.
And it’s not that she wasn’t still feeling, it’s that when she felt, she drank, or took an Ativan or ate an Oreo, or bought a purse.
And sometimes, she plotted her revenge and became passive aggressive. Expecting people to mind read that they hurt her and finding ways to let them know without directly telling them.
She’s simply disappear, go ghost and expect them to wonder what happened to her. Best case scenario, they’d hunt her down to prove they cared.
The price of that pretending became too much when she felt like an island, alone. She was so tired of pretending to be fine and struggling behind the scenes.
When she had lost her True Self and realized it was time to remember who she was. Through coaching, she realized, as she put it, she was a Pussy. And that was a very good thing!
Do you know what a pussy really is? Holy Hell she’s powerful. Of course that’s a talk for another time. But she’s the pleasure center, the creative hub of all creation.
She needed to learn the secret to breaking the rule she’d been following for so long.
And finding her way back to her sensitivity has been a spiritual practice. Not only did she have to learn how to feel her feelings without thinking they were going to kill her, but she had to actually IDENTIFY what she was feeling.
That’s the secret to breaking the rule: learning to identify and feel your feelings.
It’s not brilliant or an earth shattering revelation, but it’s one of the most difficult things you’ll do.
It’s a radical commitment to Self discovery, like getting to know you all over again.
Many of my clients tell me that they feel seen for the first time in my presence. I believe that. Because of my journey to witness myself, I can see all of us.
For this week, commit to witnessing yourself. Keep a feelings journal.
Ask yourself: “what am I feeling?”
Notice how many times you answer with, “I THINK I feel.”
The awareness you cultivate into how much you THINK versus FEEL with be a good start.
Here’s a tip as you practice this week. Notice where you’re feeling comes from. If you notice what you ask “How am I feeling?” a sensation comes from your head, that is not you deepest place of feeling.
Feeling comes from the neck down.
Later in the rules we will learn about trusting your intuition which is actually what I’m speaking of.
But for now, just see if you can locate and identify some feelings in your body and notice how much you think versus feel. Please leave me a comment and tell me what you discover.
Until the next rule,
Know Your Self
So you can Be Your Self
So you can Love Your Self.