Tuesday, July 14, 2009

having faith in others and in myself...

Communication is layered with our own meaning....our own needs or yearnings. It's easier to assess where the relationship seems to be hovering when you're face to face. You can hear, see, feel, smell, touch, and perceive it. The person is right there in front of you....and even then, we can still walk away with misguided interpretations. However, any other form of communication between two human beings brings with it many more complicated blips. Some are relatively new forms......email, texting, facebooking, twittering....

There is a discomfort felt in the gut when waiting for a response, a reply. You send out a message, a story, a question. You ask for clarification, or reassurance, maybe information. Then, you wait.... and wonder..... and fret. Even when you cognitively and intuitively KNOW that the person you are trying to connect with is dealing with their own set of issues, life conflicts, busyness, there is niggling poke at the fret button. At least there is for me. Maybe I'm overly sensitive? Impatient? Needy? I'd say all three.....

I begin to question myself, my actions, my own frame of mind when there is a long gap between putting yourself out there through your words and receiving some kind of acknowledgement or interpretive response. If I've REALLY pried open my flesh to spill something emotionally intimate and I get nothing back, I begin to feel anxious, wondering if I have done something wrong, or if I've worded something in a way that may have been misinterpreted. Depending on how I'm feeling and where I am at emotionally and confidently, this type of "stinking thinking" can sink my boat. I may have started off in a free flying craft with the sails up catching the gusts and skipping right along, but if I'm ignored, put aside, dismissed the boat all of a sudden starts taking in water. The wind dies down and I begin to sink into the stinking thinking mode of travel like a castaway alone and bobbing in unfriendly waters.

Irrational thoughts lead to irrational emotions ..... which in turn leads to irrational actions/reactions. Actually, I think it is more a vicious circle which can begin at any point. My mood could be despondent and it will in turn lead to an impulsive action to satisfy me temporarily which then leads to feeling guilt and shame from the thoughts that follow the action. If I happen to be caught in that dog chasing performance, it's difficult to pull out of it before it's too late.

Maybe its because I have a big problem with rejection. I guess its happened one too many times and as much as I try not to let it shade my thinking and feeling, I'm not often competent at that. It seems like it's always there, hovering in the foreground. When I find myself in the middle of another possible situation where this may be occuring, I try to see it as an opportunity to reflect on the refreshed irritation in order to learn how effectively let go of the stupid thoughts and hurt feelings. That way, I can try to step aside from my vantage point to read my own flushed and feather ruffled feelings. Then, I try to explore my own behaviour and actions that seems illicit a non response (and a strong desire to receive one).
It's a value thing too....I try not to do this to others because I find it so disrespectful, so when it happens to me, it rubs against this value button.

Rejection and that sickly sense of abandonment....the fear of being left out or left behind has a strong pull on many of us. It's an ingrained schema we have to fight tooth and nail to overcome. It kicks the gut until it empties, leaving you feel hollow and unloved. Where it comes from is unique to the individual it wants to strangle. But, I have grown to believe that we ALL experience it, some more intensely than others, at some point in our lives.

Have you felt the hollow??? How have you dealt with it??
I have a tendancy to stick my neck out more often than many I think. I do take risks and connect with many people, whether its a brief conversation with the muffin lady at the local convenience store, or someone in my life whom I consider a close friend. Consequently there are more chances for me to be in a position of being rejected....dismissed.... ignored.

For the most part I can walk away and move on. But not when I'm feeling it within a relationship which has deep meaning in my life. Then, if I'm not careful, it can pierce me deeply. This is something I've learned about myself only this year, and when the realization hit me....when those light bulbs went off, I literally doubled over. Why? Because once I knew that the trigger was a fear of rejection, all the times it had happened, particularly over the course of the last 10 years, went flooding through my system and knocked the wind out of me.

Viktor Frankl wrote.....“When we are no longer able to change a situation - we are challenged to change ourselves.” I read this quote the other day and just shook my head. So often, I have tried to change a situation through my actions, thinking that if I kept trying to connect, maybe the situation would right itself. When I read this Frankl quote, my initial reaction was a realization that this is where I am stalled in the challenge of changing myself. Knowing that my behaviour....my need to connect with a few people whom I seem to be slipping away from may be perceived differently than my intention tells me I need to change me. I need to recognize my own triggers, my own emotions, thinking, actions and then perhaps let it be.

I tend to read things into things......I get paid for my intuition and assessment skills. They come naturally to me. But, sometimes they go into overdrive. I read too much into things and then get too emotionally incensed. A lot of times, I'm right. I'm kind of like one of those sniffer dogs at an accident scene. I usually smell it right. Sometimes I'm wrong however, usually when I'm overly anxious to make a friendship work, or overly needy of reassurance.

Right now, that's me. Perhaps in the future it won't be? I won't feel the need to seek out affirmation? I hope so. It would be nice to relax a bit more about the lack of response.

In the meantime..... bear with me. I'm doing the best that I can to pry myself away from stinking thinking......

ps. Ironically, this was not written with the intentions of seeking out empathy. I have found the whole process of learning how to be more confidently patient, to trust a Higher Power when it comes to realizing I can only control my own actions, thoughts and emotions and HOW I react to others' behaviour....interesting and eye opening. It's a universal process I believe .... one which has become more complicated as we have allowed technology and different means of communication into our daily interactions.


Marja said...

Very interesting subject Dana. I love reading your posts because you can dive deeply into a subject and express it well. You say what others think and yes everyone knows the fear of rejection

In my case If you would not respond to me i would still read your work like reading a book. That's a choice I made. Only when I get emotionally attached to someone than I feel hurt when I don't get responded too
That happened a lot in the past.
These days I try to live in the moment Not that it always works but
I get slowly better at it. It works like this When I have a great time with somebody and have a great laugh, wonderful conversation etc or in blog life when somebody is completely on the same line with me I fully enjoy it and than let it go.
I have no further expectations and don't attach myself. I even try it with my kids. When they kind of abandon me than I say the words of Kalil Gibran "Your children are not your children, they are the sons and daughters of life longing for itself"
It doesn't always work but taking life as it comes and than let it fly away makes me more peaceful.
Hope it makes sense.

swile67 said...

i hear you...well said...it's so interesting why so many of us fear rejection and it displays itself in many forms!

Sue said...

Hi Dana, surfed in via Urbanmonk's blog.

I can relate to EVERYTHING HERE!!!!!!!! :)

Do I feel the hollow? A hatful of it. I am going to go home and listen to The Smiths now.

I too am learning to stand aside from those thoughts that feel SO REAL and SO STRONG that I keep typing in CAPITALS all the time, and tell them they are lies. It is easier then to begin to start fleshing it out, but this is the hardest thing I have ever done. I can't quite believe how strong my fear of rejection is, but it does feel to me like these sorts of things are accomplished in short bursts and stabs of light.

It's great too to know that other people feel the same way. How bizarre, that feeling that you are the only one ...

Thanks for this. Awesome stuff

Gilly said...

Oh yes, Dana! That could have been me, until a few years back. I was a great user of the fret button, especially in my younger days. Even the last 40 or so years, I struggled with acceptance and living to another's ideal.

CBT gave me the light bulb experience. And learning to trust God.

Open blogs are not the place to say more. I hope and pray for your continuing journey with the light bulbs shining bright!

Romany Angel said...

In the past 4 or 5 months I have let quite a few people go from my life where once I would have fretted and hung on and on hoping that whatever went wrong would somehow come good.

I am learning that sometimes people are just not meant to stay forever, sometimes you just have to let it go or you make yourself incredibly miserable. It's hard, it's very hard, but it can be done.

Once the decision is made, the trick is to turn away and don't look back. Just keep walking forward and whatever you do, don't look back.

The alternative? You can keep on fretting and being at the mercy of someone elses silence or you can take charge again and decide you're going to be the one who makes the decisions for yourself.

Awareness said...

Marja...thanks. I thought I would write it in first person because I do feel much of this, but now that I know what it is that niggles at me it's much less overpowering. I've been doing a lot of review reading over the past week or so on Ellis' Irrational Thoughts and Behaviour....his expertise area in psychotherapy. He used the term "stinking thinking" and also studied the difference between feelings and moods which I thought was interesting. So, that is where I'm coming from.

I agree completely with your approach and will remember the words of Gibran. So true. As much as we want to believe we are attached to others, we must recognize the fact that they have their own wings and freedom, as we do.

Karyne....it does display itself in many ways. It often comes out in the opposite behaviour....detachment. You have probably seen that in your work? Detachment disorder is a sad, sad situation, and one that is so difficult to help a child overcome after they have been abandoned or rejected.

Sue...welcome! Monk is a beautiful creative friend. We "met" through blogging over 3 years ago now! Short bursts and stabs of light is how most big learning happens don't you think? I like that line. I could hear it in a song or feel it in a poem.
The only way we can ever consider altering our way of seeing, feeling, being is through awareness, but sometimes that awareness is frigging blinding. It's TOO much to handle...to HOT... that's why bursts and stabs are the best way to tackle it. Feeling overwhelmed rarely helps make any shift....gotta let it seep out.

The sense of rejection and abandonment is truly universal. The reasons and depth of it is may be very different, but everyone knows how it feels to some extent. No one is immune to it. So, my dear....YOU ARE IN GOOD company!

As for The Smith's??? HOLY! I havent listened to them in a while, but I do recall their music as pretty sad. :) Put on some old Proclaimers and dance like no one's watching!!!

Awareness said...

Gilly, what is CBT?

Happily, I am located in the exact place to be validated and welcomed. My new job working at the Community College is perfect, as I feel at ease and at home here. They welcomed me with relief in their eyes (to have a counsellor on board) and the words "welcome home...!" After 17 years of doing other jobs, it was nice to return!
So, if I could just let go of other stuff, I will be fine. thank you.

Gypsy....you have nailed it. I just have to get to that place where I am ready to walk away and not look back. I just don't want to yet. As you know, I did it before so I am capable. :)

It's that take charge thing....I guess I always figure that I can feel a sense of that even if I'm doing the communicating in hopes that it will make a difference. Twisted rationalization in the middle of it all eh? Oh well.

Romany Angel said...

You absolutely have to be in that place where you are ready or it won't make a damn bit of difference nor will it work.

This was no overnight adjustment on my part. It has taken years of being disappointed and let down by people to finally go over that edge where I've realised "hey I am the ONLY one who can change this". I needed to be in control of my own experiences. I just felt so sick and tired of being at everyone's mercy and I realised I was ready to stand strong and alone in this.

Maybe one day you will do it again. Maybe you won't. Everyone has their own breaking point and some of us never reach it. I did....FINALLY. I know you will know what is right for you because you are one of the gutsiest people I've ever known. You're the best D.

Independent Chick said...

YOU ARE INSIDE MY HEAD with this one! They are my words only you say them so much more eloquently and with more meaning than I ever could.

I know I have gotten frustrated when I haven't heard back from someone on something important when I thought I should. There was the frustration AND the rejected feeling. Both suck.

I'm really trying not to have too many expectations with people now. I think I'm learning. Sad fact but most people see other people as a "toss away" commodity. That hurts my heart. But I'm the chick who takes 1/2 hour to catch the moth that gets in the house so I can put him outside again. I'm soft. And soft people get hurt. But I'm not going to change. I guess I'll jsut have to adapt...and get lots of Kleenex.

PS We did dine at the same place the same day. I didn't know until after. I was there with fellow employees. J told me after you were there and described you. We still need to do that lunch thing. : )

Selma said...

I always try to moderate my reactions to rejection and keep the faith for as long as possible because many people whom I thought were rejecting me, actually weren't. They were just busy or distracted or even lazy. However, with those who were legitimately rejecting me I had to make the decision as to whether or not I should reject them in return. It's hard, isn't it? My first reaction is always to try and change the rejector's mind. Like anyone I don't like the finality of a premeditated rejection, but I have learned that is a part (often a necessary one) of life.

Sue said...

Thanks for your welcome, Dana. Yeah, the Smiths are a bit sad, but there's plenty of room for melancholy in amongst The Proclaimers (I have Sunshine on Leith actually. It is an adorable album :)

I agree the light is too blinding, we run away. I think of all those people in the Old Testament running away from God, Peter freaking out and saying, "Get away from me, Lord. I am a sinful man." I love the thought that the light dwells within, working its way through the dough like yeast.

Sometimes, though, the searchlight is a good thing. What is that psalm where David says to "Search my heart". That sure feels like blinding light, burning heat, searing kiln firing. He sure takes a long time to do anything, but I guess we are the sort of clay that can only be fired in short, sharp bursts :)

Mark said...

As you said this is a process. As we become more aware, we begin to better understand, accept and appreciate the process. The process is not always easy nor is it always hard, the key is to keep honing you awareness, ask the tough questions of yourself and summon the courage to cross each threshold.