“The essential lesson I’ve learned in life is to just be yourself. Treasure the magnificent being that you are and recognize first and foremost you’re not here as a human being only. You’re a spiritual being having a human experience.” – Wayne Dyer, psychologist
“…my creativity is being sabatoged…”
Davida was an artist. But she wasn’t a typical artist. She wasn’t living the edge of economic ruin or living a life of borderline poverty, for her art. Instead, Davida had what she termed a sort of ‘sugar daddy” who was her husband, Daryl. He was in the construction business and did very well at it.
Davida created one of a kind hand-made quilts which she wanted to sell to an exclusive global clientele. She also wanted to do private commissions which would be quilts customized to the ideas, colours and patterns of her client. She told me she expected her most lucrative commissions to eventually generate a six figure income.
And, she said she imagined in the future some of her work becoming prestigious wall hangings in her client’s luxurious houses or even in museums around the world. Clearly, Davida had high hopes for her art.
Davida was a petite, blonde woman about forty years of age who had been married to Daryl for over ten years. They had a three year old daughter and were close to both their families.
When I asked Davida why she had set up the consultation, she said, “I’m not sure how to say this. I’ll just say it the way i think it…my creativity is being sabotaged by my husband!”
“Tell me more Davida.” I said.
“… if there was someone else who didn’t value you…”
“Well, my earlier reference to him being my ‘sugar daddy’ was me trying to understand it. Ken, I work as hard at constructing my quilts as Daryl does at constructing his buildings. And, in addition I also care for our child and our home.” she replied, the hurt and frustration clear on her face.
Then she added, “And, I’m really tired of all the snide references to my role being less important than his. And now, even his father, Dick, my father in law, has made reference to me being a ‘kept woman.’”
“Davida, it has been my experience that emotional charges on a partner’s behaviour in a marriage often have earlier roots in that person’s past prior to their marriage. So, I’m wondering if there was someone else who didn’t value you or your efforts before your met Daryl?”
Davida’s head jerked up in surprise and a startled look spread over her face. “It was the same thing at home when I was a kid. My mom called me a ‘Daddy’s Girl’ and criticized me constantly about not doing enough to help around the house and neglecting my school work and so on. It seemed like it never stopped. To this day, I’m not close to my mom.”
“Then that’s the best place to start our work. It will save you time and energy if we begin by broadening your perception of your mom. Once that’s done, then we will deal with your perception of Daryl and Dick.” I said.
“Ken, what has this got to do with my mom…that was years and years ago!”
“… wondering if she was ready to consider the blind side…”
“Davida, the experiences in our past colour how we see our present and future. For example, if you had a teacher with a beard who treated you mean in elementary school, you might not trust or be attracted to a guy with a beard later on. It is how our brain works unconsciously to protect us.” I said.
“Are you saying if I rethink how I see my mom it will help me deal with Daryl and Dick?”
“Yes, that’s it! I suspect you carry a lot of hurt from your relationship with your mom. This suggests you haven’t noticed yet how your relationship with your mom has made you who you are today. Davida, you are a successful person. I wonder how it is connected to that?” I said, wondering if she was ready to consider the blind side of her awareness.
She gave me a funny look…as if what I had said had triggered something in her mind. “Daryl often says I’m as fanatical about my quilts as my mom is about her cooking! So, there may be something to that, Ken.”
“I want you to go back to your worst memory of your relationship with your mom. Tell me when it was, where it took place and who was there besides you and your mom.” I said.
“Be yourself. Unapologetically.” – Kesha, musician
“… It was just one damn thing after another.”
She hesitated only briefly. “I was about twelve years old and drying the dishes one evening after supper. There was just the two of us. Everyone else was downstairs watching television. She kept criticizing how I was drying and putting the dishes away. First, it was I wasn’t drying them carefully enough. Then, it was I was too slow. Then, it was I was banging the plates together and going to chip them. It was just one damn thing after another.”
“What happened?” I asked.
“I just blew! I told her I was working as fast as I could! I told her nothing I did satisfied her! And, I said I would never be good enough for her approval! Then I just left the kitchen and went downstairs.”
“Davida, I want you to imagine that memory is a video you’ve been watching and I want you to freeze it at its’ most painful second…OK?”
She paused a second and seemed to blink her eyes and said, “OK!”
“What is the worst second?”
“Right when I yelled at her that I was working as fast as I could. I was so angry.” she replied.
“…every experience has some intrinsic value to our future…”
“Davida nature ensures we learn what we need for our future. So, there are really no mistakes in our past. It’s just that we haven’t uncovered the value of an experience. Or, you could say we haven’t identified what we learned for our future from that experience.”
“So, every experience has some intrinsic value to our future, is that what you mean, Ken?”
“Yes! So, close your eyes right now and take yourself back to that painful second. You have already identified the painful part. I want you to find the useful part, the part you haven’t been noticing. It has to be there and I want you to search until you find it.” I said with a strong measure of certainty.
Davida closed her eyes and sat back in her chair and I waited. Soon she started talking out loud as if to herself.
She said, “I remember mostly how angry I was. And I remember the surprised look on my mom’s face when I yelled at her. I don’t remember doing that before in that way. I said everything I had kept bottled up inside me for a long time. And, it felt good to get it out!”
“No, no regrets at all!”
“Why did it feel good to get it out, Davida?”
“Because I was standing up for myself. Because I was defending myself. I guess…because I was becoming my own person.” she said with a hesitancy in her voice.
“I’ll bet you have no regrets about saying those things to your mom…is that true, Davida?” I asked.
“How could I, Ken? I have to be me. That has always been important to me…even to this day, it’s still very important to me.” she replied.
“So, you have no regrets about how you dealt with your mom that day, correct?” I asked again to cement her awareness to the present.
“No, no regrets at all!” she replied even more strongly in both her voice and the firm tone of her face.
“But, Davida, did you think it would be easy to be your own person…to have a unique identity distinct from everyone else on the planet? Did you think it would be more pleasurable than painful to have your own set of values? There are no freebees in nature, everything has a cost which must be paid…even for our highest values.” I offered.
“So, there’s no pleasure without a pain at the same very second…is that the natural law, Ken?”
“And, the pain and pleasure will be equilibrated, balanced at the same second.” I replied.
“Would you give me an example?” she asked.
“My dad used to say, ‘Just be yourself and you’ll be fine,’ but it’s really, really true.” – Bellamy Young, actress
“So, I did respect myself and my right to have those feelings, didn’t I?
“Certainly! When I first held my oldest child, Michele, a few moments after her birth, I felt such pride in what I had co-created with Anna, my partner. But, at the same second, I was equally terrified with all the responsibility I now had for this little person. I experienced both simultaneously… synchronously in time and symmetrically in that place, the hospital room.”
“So, that means there must be an equal benefit to me for the pain I felt at the moment I yelled at my mom that day in the kitchen…correct?” Davida said with a thoughtful air to her manner.
“That’s it exactly, Davida! So, let’s identify at least seven, one in each area of your life, OK?”
“OK! Well to start, I realize now I vented my frustration. So, I did respect myself and my right to have those feelings, didn’t I?”
“Yes Davida, you honoured your feelings by expressing them. This also means you honoured your values which motivated you to have those feelings. What else do you notice now as a benefit?”
“Well, let’s see…I guess I let it go…in the sense that I didn’t let it interfere with my studies or my friends. I kept up with the rest of my life.”
“That’s also important to notice. And, can you see how it also strengthened your spirit, your sense of yourself and even your self confidence?” I asked.
“Yes, I see that looking back now…I gain some self confidence in dealing with conflicts with people by challenging my mom that day.”
“You managed the stress and displayed the skill of challenging a parent and handling their possible rejection…important life skills which I bet you have used since then. Would that be true, Davida?”
“Is it ever true! I’ve been told by several people over the years that I don’t shy away from a conflict.” she replied.
“I keep reminding myself to be my own person isn’t supposed to be easy…”
“So, let me see if I can summarize the benefits or advantages you attained at that moment when you were so upset at your mom. You built a stronger spirit, gain more self esteem, stayed focused on your studies, kept close to your friends, set a new boundary in your relationship with your mom and managed the stress of parental rejection. Not bad for just one second of your life, eh?”
“When you unpack it like that…it really changes how you see it, doesn’t it?” she replied.
“Now, you can see why you don’t regret it. Instead of regretting, you are honouring that moment, appreciating that moment. What does it do to your perception of your mom, Davida?” I asked to see if she was taking it higher in her awareness.
“Well, I really can’t be mad about it any more when I realize how it benefitted me and continues to benefit me, even today. So, I guess my anger dissolves like sugar in a cup of tea. And…and, I’m starting to feel more appreciation for my mom and how much she worried about me back then.”
“Great awareness, Davida! Now, we need to unpack every other memory you carry like that of your relationships with your mom, so you can start seeing her as a person who loved you. And, loving someone means not just supporting them, but also challenging them. Then, they learn what they need for their future… as you have.”
“Let’s get to it because I’m already starting to realize how this will prepare me for dealing with Daryl and Dick.” she said with more confidence in her voice.
Davida did that work and realized her conflicts with her spouse and father in law were just other opportunities to empower herself and set clear boundaries in important relationships in her life.
One of her insightful comments near the end of our work was when she said, “I keep reminding myself to be my own person isn’t supposed to be easy and will always require me to pay a price, and it’s nature’s way!”
“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson, poet
Until Next time…
Now you know, to be you will not be an easy road. In fact, there are no easy roads in life. You will constantly be challenged by your environment if you are to be who you need to be, do what you need to do and have what you need to have to be OK with yourself. It is the natural system ensuring you move forward at the perfect pace you can manage for your future.
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Our next seminar is entitled, “How to Bring balance to Life and Purpose to Work!” It will be on Saturday, January 28th, 2017. Details are available at ww.kenpiercepsychologist.com
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Namaste, (I salute the grandly organized design of the universe, manifested in you!)
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