I have a theory that God speaks to us in three different ways.
The first is where you hear, read or see something that sparks something inside you that makes you take pause. You have, on some level, the feeling that this piece of information may pertain to you. This is the “awakening”.
The second is when something completely unrelated corroborates that original spark. It often masquerades as “coincidence” and easily discarded as such. You recognize this “awareness”, but its effect may be rather fleeting.
The third and final way God tries to get your attention is with The Brick. This is something a lot harder to ignore because this “revelation” hits you square between the eyes. It is impossible to dismiss as a coincidence, and almost physically forces you to take notice.
Well since we’re currently in a construction zone ’round these parts there’s been quite a few Bricks flying about. It happened today courtesy of our current reading project “Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway”.
This particular chapter was on taking responsibility. I think most of us go through life thinking that we take responsibility for our lives. When you’re 40 and have successfully raised two boys into men, have created a prolific body of work in your chosen field, and even managed to secure a job where you get to do what you want you think maybe you have a handle on things.
You pay your bills, you maintain friendships and relationships and even manage to kick emotional leeches out of your life that have drained you since childhood… you think that even though you may have *been* a victim you’re a survivor now.
Dr. Jeffers points out that victimization can be a lot more insidious than the superior layers like those I just described. Fact of the matter there are a lot of ways we give up our power to another person and in doing so absolve our own sense of responsibility. It’s no longer “our” fault if we get hurt, it’s “their” fault for hurting us.
The point is no matter what happens to us it is always our responsibility how we respond, and we never really run out of choices (even when we think we have). It’s in those choices that we retain our power, and ultimately own our own responsibility for our feelings and behavior.
Here’s the little Brick that drove the point home for me:
“Your friend decides not to go with you on a trip you had planned together. You’re really angry. . . . OR . . . . You understand she has her reasons, and you find someone else to share the trip , or you go alone and have a ball!”
My hand to God that is an actual paragraph from the book, page 64 to be exact.
If you read my blog, appropriately titled “Feel the Fear (And Do it Anyway)”, you know that I was faced with this *exact* scenario. I had a plan to go with a friend to Los Angeles and it didn’t pan out. I ended up responding The Big Three emotional triggers in my life: rejection, abandonment and deprivation.
Rejection – how I felt in my family
Abandonment – being left by my dad when he died
Deprivation – having my choices stolen from me when I was raped at age 4
And over the past many decades I’ve allowed these three emotional triggers to keep me securely in the “victim” role by how I’ve responded to every other situation since.
This was no different with the trip. I got angry at the situation because I felt rejected, abandoned and deprived. It resulted in a bit of a sophomoric hissy fit that I should be well above – but obviously wasn’t.
It’s not my friend’s fault other things happened that meant she wouldn’t come with me… and it isn’t her responsibility to be my “safe person” so that I feel better about getting out in the big, bad world. She didn’t reject or abandon me, she just simply lived her own life with her own choices.
As narcissistic as I am they had nothing really to do with me.
And even if they did, none of that has anything to do with my own choices how to proceed. I can stay home and feel like a victim, but that’d be no one’s responsibility but my own. I can take a chance, go on the trip and risk being disappointed, rejected, or any other of the many fears I have about “being me” in social situations… and that’s my responsibility too.
Awareness of the issue is step one. But the work that comes with it includes finding out what kind of “payoff” I get from this destructive behavior.
Everyone stays in a situation because they get a payoff, even if they’re complaining and unhappy. If you didn’t get something out of it you’d get out of it, plain and simple. Even if it’s as simple as making peace with your situation and making the best out of the things you can’t change (sickness/death/crisis), the choice – and responsibility – ultimately begins and ends with you.
So what’s my payoff? What do I get out of giving my power to other people, especially when I can recognize that my fear triggers are things like rejection and abandonment? I essentially give my ego to other people, when I ultimately fear they will hurt me… and of course they do. No one can live up to the standard that I set or pass the tests I pose, whether intentionally or subconsciously.
This will require some digging. Obviously I’m comfortable here because it’s a pattern I can trace all the way to my childhood. A choice was stolen when I was four, and I’ve always blamed myself on some level. I shouldn’t have talked to a stranger. I shouldn’t have left my yard.
So maybe, just maybe, I’ve given away all my choices since then so nothing would be my fault. Whenever I feel like I can take responsibility for how I feel or what I do, I give it away so that I can never risk being wrong again.
Being wrong hurts. Being wrong scars your life.
And better it be someone else’s fault than my own, so I have someone to blame.
Ironically, though, I always blame myself. I’m not good enough to warrant better behavior. I settle for less because that’s what I think I deserve.
Maybe my payoff is that I feel I don’t deserve a voice in my relationships, so I feel more comfortable in relationships where I don’t have to have one.
So thanks for the Brick, God. That one hurt, but I think it hit home.