Why do we get so upset when an old painful inner-story or outer-experience pops up again in our lives?
We often feel that we have already ‘dealt with it’ and we don’t understand why it keeps coming up over and over again. While we think we have handled the situation, if we look a little deeper we can see our behavior may have been hiding something deeper.
Often, we think we expand and grow in a linear fashion, yet the truth is that we grow and expand in a spiral-fashion, not a linear one and it is natural to unearth an old belief or behavior in layers as they unwind and release.
For example, several of my clients have stopped drinking or using other substances on a regular basis with the hope that once they stop the destructive behavior they will feel great and their lives would work out. Yet, it doesn’t happen that way. What they may not have realized is that the old behavior was hiding something deeper that they have not yet dealt with. I used to smoke cigarettes, and when my father quit, I also quit and realized that smoking kept me connected to my father and when he stopped, it no longer did the trick.
One that I’ve been unwinding most of my life is being ‘overly responsible’ for situations that are not mine to own. While I see myself as trying to be helpful, the other person shuts down or pushes back from the feeling that my ‘helping’ was making them feel less than or wrong about what they were doing and how they were doing it. Instead of allowing others to figure things out on their own or ask for help when THEY felt they need it, I would offer help when ‘I’ thought they needed it.
Recently I found myself over-helping my husband, and while he was game at first to receive my help, he became disenchanted early on with my ongoing instructions. Unable to responsibly communicate how he felt, he got frustrated and nasty which in-turn triggered my old feelings of anger as it reminded me of my mother who used to do the same thing. I saw myself as being helpful and him being ungrateful. A stuck place indeed!
In order to help me shift the energy of this anger, I allowed myself to feel and express these feelings with two amazing friends who could be fully present with me. As I spoke about my anger, the hidden feelings of grief began to surface and, I realized that my ‘helping’ has been a way to hide myself from the grief. My grief is about wanting things to be different/better/the old way between my husband and I and hoped my ‘helping’ would make him feel good about himself, so we could be ‘us’ again. It was the same ego-strategy I used with my mom. If I could make her feel OK, then things would be calm at home and OK between us. Now I can see how that is not true and never works.
Allowing my own anger to be expressed, enabled the hidden grief to surface, be owned and accepted by me. It’s OK that I feel this grief and want something that I think has been lost or unrecoverable. There is nothing wrong with my feelings. It is such a relief to realize that my helping in this way is not really helpful – to me or my husband. Being honest, authentic and loving about how it is for me and what I am doing differently to take of myself going forward is key. I’m paying very close attention now to my inner motivation in being ‘helpful’ asking myself; am I doing this because I am simply inspired to give, or do I have a hidden agenda in here? I’m grateful to be able to use this new awareness to make new choices as each new situation unfolds in my life.
How will you let yourself see what is ‘hidden’ inside today?