This Christmas morning, my son, Jesse, proposed that we do an exercise with him. I will call it the 7 levels of why. There were 4 of us – my mom, Jesse, my ex-husband Mark, and me. (Looking back, I shouldn’t have been surprised that some of my buttons were pushed very intensely).
We picked something that we wanted to have in our lives and proceeded to go around the table asking ourselves why. The next round you answered why you wanted the answer to the last round. Until you finished seven rounds.
We got a little stuck at about round 5. Jesse turned on a video of a guy who was an expert at doing this exercise. He told of the miracles that he had seen using this particular technique. The miracle occurred when the answers went from being answered by one’s head to being answered with one’s heart.
For all of us, we got to see our wants at a deeper level, going way beyond the surface. And a couple of interesting things happened.
During the exercise, I kept getting really annoyed. I couldn’t stand when Mark, my ex-husband, kept interrupting the person doing the exercise. He was interrupting their flow and not letting them finish. In my mind, this made what he wanted to say more important than what they were trying to say. I was jumping out of my skin. The annoyance was very familiar.
The same thing had happened two nights before. My mother ignored what I had to say, going to ask Jesse and Mark instead. I felt irrelevant. I started packing up my stuff, ready to leave. I had to get out of there. This time, something stopped me.
I distinguished it in conversation. When I get interrupted and not allowed to finish what I want to say, I no longer participate in the conversation. Or if my opinion is ignored. Or if I’m not included. And on and on and on……………
What I was feeling was irrelevant. And that I didn’t matter. And the impulse is to flee — either leave the conversation or really leave physically. I can’t stand the world and the only remedy is to be alone where no one can say anything to make the pain worse.
I did it as a kid, and I am still doing it. What’s worse is that once I leave, I get upset because I’m alone. Stuck, feeling bad, and alone. And then it seems even more true. It’s a vicious circle.
The conversation is from about two years old. Something happened and I ran away to my room crying. That’s all I had the capacity to do at that time. And I have been stuck there when something similar happens. I’ve seen this before, but not to this extent. I think being around my family has brought this all up in a big way.
Time for a nap. My head is all twisted up…………………………….
OK, I’m back. If, as we just inquired into at our Year End Vacation in Cancun, I am cause in the matter “of mattering”, then I haven’t been responsible for my interpretation of being irrelevant/not mattering. I haven’t been responsible for my lack of power when these events happen.
So what can I do to break the pattern? I can make requests to be listened to, and not be interrupted. I can notice when I’m thrown into that disempowering conversation and speak up instead of running away.
I can be responsible for mattering, no matter what the circumstances.
And I can make a difference for others, instead of being caught up in my own negative conversation.
So how does this all relate to the exercise? We got to see that what we really wanted was all trying to fix what we couldn’t be. I wanted to free people so that they wouldn’t end up like me, stuck in a painful vicious circle. The others all wanted to accomplish something to avoid feeling bad about something from their childhoods. It was fascinating, and echoed what the speaker on the video had said.
If my why is to listen to people powerfully so they can really create their lives, then there is freedom in it. If I am listening so that they don’t feel bad or to prevent them from being stuck in the vicious circle, then I am trying to fix things, or prevent them from feeling bad like I had.
And, I can create a new context for life. Everyone matters – including me. Everyone is free to create their lives.
I’m not really sure if I’ve flushed all this out, but at least I’ll have a little more freedom being around my family. And I sure learned something about my son, mother and ex as well.
Thanks for listening and Merry Christmas.