Thursday, April 16, 2015

People Who Think They Know how Others Should Live Their Lives






My friend Reenee Cummins shared this picture on Facebook.  It spoke to me.   I am sure I have been guilty of doing this to other people, especially when I was younger and thought I knew how others should do things and when.  I was so bad back then.  I hope I don’t do it anymore. 

That cat looks quite sarcastic doesn’t it, or bored.  

Why this spoke to me is that when I was so agoraphobic I would get these intense stomach pains while trying to go to classes or church.  I remember wanting to go and driving there but I’d get into the parking lot and almost be doubled over by pain.   I’d drive away and the pain would go away.   Sometimes I drove back and went in, other times I’d go home. It was very tiring.  People would say, “Where were you?”  “Why didn’t you come to class?”  I would mumble something about not feeling well or use some other excuse. I was so afraid to tell them how weak it made me feel. Sometimes I would get brave and tell them about my fears.  “Oh just say affirmations or ask God to help you.”  I’d hear.  That hurt. Why? Because no one knew how often I did this.  I’d beg God to take this fear away.  I actually didn’t know what was wrong with me.  I thought someday I would lose control and get locked up someplace.  This was in the 1960s. 

Another time I was sitting in the middle row amongst people listening to a lecture I was interested in but I felt so trapped I felt like I needed to run.  My hands became clammy, I couldn’t concentrate on the talk, and I just needed to get out. But I didn’t want to bother anyone and I felt glued to the seat.  A friend told me to just excuse yourself, get up and get out. I didn’t know how. It was too scary. I haven’t put myself back in that position since.  I always sit on an aisle seat. 

Later I was watching the Phil Donahue show in the early 70s and there were people talking about having the same symptoms I did.  I was so excited to know there was a name for it and I wasn’t crazy after all. Dr. Hardy was a pioneer in treating Agoraphobia. 
Next came an article in the Good Housekeeping magazine about it and having self-help groups where people with these fears could help and support each other.  We didn’t have anything like this in Palm Beach County where I lived at the time so somehow I started one and facilitated it for a year.   I won’t go into the details but it was way out of my comfort zone.   I went through hypnosis, talk therapy, Primal Scream therapy and everything helped.   I’m now working with Emotional Freedom Technique – Tapping and it is very helpful.  I’m still not doing some of the things I would like to be doing but I am better.  I eat in restaurants and I can go to meetings if I want to. I don’t obsess so much about the physical symptoms that I feel but I have tapping and other tools to use.

I didn’t mean to go into this so much because this is about how people don’t seem to know what to say that is helpful.  Instead they try to tell you what to do and they can be very critical too.   Yes I tried positive thinking, meditation, affirmations but what I was actually doing was trying to cover up fears that were buried and suck it up.  It did work sometimes but mostly I felt like a loser and I was actually mad at my body.  I actually had therapists tell me how lucky I was that I felt pain when I tried to do something scary. I didn’t understand that until I got into Emotional Freedom (EFT).  Now I thank my body for trying to protect me.  When we get pains it is for a reason.  Being gentle with myself and thanking my body is much more helpful than being mad at it and tensing up.

From this I hope I’m more compassionate with people. I don’t tell them what to do or put them down for their pains.  Instead I ask them how it feels, listen with empathy and many times people feel safe enough to cry and let their feelings out.  I am so honored when they can share their vulnerability with me. 

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