I have known Selena for years. She was raised in a miserable home, with one parent critical and angry, while the other was utterly neglectful. The result—Selena—was an unemployed single mother who complained constantly about everything.
She called and said, “I’m having health problems—stomachaches, back pain, headaches—and I’m just getting more and more worried about them.”
“Are you remembering what is true?” I asked. Notice that I didn’t address her physical illnesses. The important subject is her FEARS.
“Well, sometimes I say the five truths, but I’m not connecting to the feeling. That’s why I wrote,” she said with a testy tone. Then she complained some more.
“When you just said, ‘That’s why I wrote,’ what were you really saying?” Remember the testy tone.
“I was just telling you what I need.”
“Not really. You were telling me what you WANT, which is almost always different from what you NEED. And your tone said that you were blaming me for not giving you what you wanted in that moment. You were putting the responsibility for your happiness on ME, not you.”
“Okay,” she said.
“Sweetie, I am not picking at you. I’m trying to show you some things about yourself that you do not see. If you listen and learn from what I’m saying, you’ll begin to be able to choose differently. If you don’t, you’ll keep making the same choices that got you to right here, which is miserable. When you COMPLAIN, you use a lot of words. You’re very expressive in your fear. When I point out something that YOU are RESPONSIBLE for, you respond with one word: Okay. Do you see what I’m saying?
“I’m focusing more on my fears than my behavior.”
“Yes, but keep going,” I said. “Explain why focusing on your pain and fear is less productive.”
“When I’m afraid, I just keep doing the same thing. Then I ask for more help, but when I do that I’m just being more helpless. I’m not taking responsibility for my happiness. And when I focus on my fears, I magnify them. Then I have very high expectations that people will save me. It makes it more difficult for me to feel any love that is being given.”
“Yes, very insightful, and the whole process is killing you—literally, both emotionally and physically. Notice that you even talk about your fears versus your ‘behavior,’ which is such a passive word. Animals have behavior. Billiard balls ‘behave’ in a certain way when you strike them. The word you don’t use much is ‘choice.’ The important truth for you is that you CHOOSE to behave in certain ways. You CHOOSE to hold on to particular beliefs, which in turn lead to your feelings and behaviors. If you understand that, then you can begin to choose differently. You can take concrete steps to eliminate your pain and actually grow, not just to make your pain less temporarily.”
“I have a treatment plan from my doctor. I can focus on that. I can be more responsible with my daughter. I need a job but I don’t think I feel well enough for that yet. But maybe that is just fear.”
“Follow your doctor’s treatment plan,” I said, “but also recognize that your symptoms are very likely due to stress, so while you’re seeking medical treatment, also make a choice to trust the people loving you. Feel the healing power of their love. And make CHOICES to move forward in other ways. You’re afraid to get a job, for example. You’re afraid of being rejected when you apply, of not being able to do the job, of being fired, and of not getting along with other employees. So if you don’t get busy finding a job, you’ll carry all those unresolved fears around with you. Without a job, you’ll know you’re not being responsible, and you won’t have an income, which will add even more to the stress. And since it’s very likely that your medical symptoms are stress-related, your NOT looking for a job is more likely to add to your symptoms and make your medical treatment plan fail. Stress is a real killer, so not dealing with it virtually guarantees your failing on many levels.”
“So, I think I’m beginning to understand,” she said. “Fear is killing me and getting in the way of my medical treatment. I’ve been trying to avoid stress by not looking for a job, but not looking is actually MORE likely to cause stress.”
Yes. When we’re caught in pain and fear and victimhood, we tend to become paralyzed, and we believe that our lack of activity will make us safer. But that is just a sneaky way to stay a victim. Our paralysis usually just increases our failures and our stress. If we want to change our lives, we have to MOVE. We have to take action. We have to try, or we just stay the same.
Replace your paralysis & confusion with peace and happiness.
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