Re-Empowerment: Listening To Our Hearts
There is a "promise" in A.A. literature that says "We will intuitively know how to handle situations that used to baffle us." For years, I longed for this awareness of "knowing" exactly what to do.
Since I was a child I was taught to invalidate my opinions. My dad, peers and others used to tell me phrases like "You don't know what your talking about!". My opinions and perspectives were invalidated and I was forced to "conform" to those of others. My "spirit" was broken in school and I was taught how NOT to be myself and how to conform and "become" what they wanted me to.
What this left inside me was a feeling of depression. I ended up constantly staying in situations and relationships that weren't "right" for me, plodding along in the "hope" that they would change. It was easier to "put up" with the way things were than it was to take the risk to break away and bare feeling emotionally isolated and facing what I felt was potential "failure" and/or aloneness. I ended up staying "stuck" in my mistakes.
For those of us who've been taught not to value our own opinions and feelings, life can indeed be difficult. It seems we cannot find a way to feel comfortable with our decisions because we don't trust our own judgments. Until we find a way to, we are bound to end up being continually dependant upon and taken advantage of by others.
Power abusers can smell a victim a mile away. They can tell if they can manipulate us into giving our power away by our "sheepishness". We tend to wear our low self-esteem and insecurities on our sleeves which makes us easy targets for those who would exploit us.
How do we gain back our confidence in our sense of judgment? How do we learn how not to "double-clutch" at what our hearts tell us to do? How do we learn to "flow" from our hearts instead of remain the robotic soldiers others wanted us to become? How do we learn to TRUST ourselves again and stop "buckling under" to others manipulative tactics?
Being a machine and a chameleon in an effort to get others to like or accept us is a trap many of us have been led around by all our lives. Out mothers would manipulate us by withholding love when we didn't do what they wanted while our fathers would manipulate us by threatening or embarrassing us. Either way, the love we should have received for just being ourselves was not given. Many of us were conditioned to believe that it just wasn't ok to be ourselves because we were continually judged and criticized when we were. We had to become conformists because that was the only way we became acceptable to those around us we were dependant upon for survival.
While emotional nurturing is important for children, many of us are still as adults being led around by this emotional insecurity. We are still looking to obtain Mommy & Daddy's approval through the likeness of our partners and our bosses. This is how we are still held captive as adults; by this emotional & financial insecurity implanted into us as children. For me, I was driven and held captive into attempting to win both my partner's and my boss's approval for about 20 years.
In regard to winning my partner's (Mommy's) approval, I stayed in a relationship for years because I saw it as "the right thing to do" and felt too "shameful" to be able to "desert my children". I guess there's some merit in these motives but I ended up sacrificing 9 years of my life living with a person who no matter what I did, was never "enough". I surrendered my power to her because there was no way to win a battle against her. She was a rager and a victim who was unstable and I felt threatened and embarrassed that I would not be able to physically defend myself against her. I was also not allowed to hit her because she was "a woman" which left me doubly paralyzed. This paradigm held me hostage for years until I finally got up the gumption to leave one day after one of her rage episodes.
Regarding work, I was doing fine when my motivation was to help the employees by finding ways to make their environment more efficient. My talents and insights were honored and I felt a sense of appreciation for the consulting and efficiency work I was doing. One of my bosses was very good at manipulating me at this by handing out his "appreciation" and "disapproval" in a manipulative way to gain the results he wanted. This was not so bad until he became over-manipulative due to a "Gestapo regime" taking over and putting pressure on him to become more productive. Once this "Gestapo type" management team took over it was all down hill. I was eventually set up to report directly to one of these "Gestapo officers" and forced to become what they wanted me to with little or no appreciation being shown for my true talents. I continued trying to force myself to perform but eventually found myself being unable to eventually leading to my dismissal.
The lesson I learned through this work experience is that it is no good for me to remain stuck in a job I am not suited for or to give my power away to people who don't appreciate it. This DRAINING experience shows that working strictly motivated by financial insecurity is toxic to my state of mind. I find I need to feel appreciated for the services I render and cannot be simply be motivated by money. I need to be motivated from my heart out of desire instead of out of fear and/or greed.
There are 2 desires I have; the desire for appreciation from others, and the desire to discover/solve/create. Coming from these motivators, I am motivated from my inner core. It is not a chore to work under these conditions because I feel inspired by the appreciation I receive for the services I provide. In regards to the desire to discover/create, I feel good about providing something from myself that I feel the world appreciates. So in both of these, external appreciation plays a large role. In a way then, these are rather co-dependant reasons for doing things but they serve useful & helpful purposes for both self and others. It is only when I DEMAND appreciation from specific individuals that I run into traps with codependant expectations.
The desire to create has behind it the desire to have what is created shared with someone who appreciates it. In the past, it wasn't very often that I felt good about something that I did unless someone else appreciated it. If I did, I at least imagined that others did indeed appreciate what I had done as with my songs, astrological computer programming work, adventure playing games or chess playing. Today, I am finding that I enjoy arriving at internal answers and understanding myself clearly. I enjoy having that "aha!" experience I get when I UNDERSTAND the answer as to why I feel or function a certain way. I like coming to internal understandings about myself and finding what I KNOW is internal TRUTH about how I work. This has no dependance upon outside appreciation. I do however, enjoy sharing these experiences with others in the hope these insights will be appreciated and help them to also understand and appreciate themselves a little better.
This joy in self-searching has resulted in a purpose for my life…The desire to SEEK, KNOW, and BECOME my SELF. Through the understanding of mySelf, there is an internal "aha!" experience that happens so that I am no longer confused about my feelings and actions. I become CONSCIOUS and aware of the reasons why I behave as I do and understand the reasons why I FEEL as I do. Understanding my feelings allows me to validate and accept them and appreciate them for what they are trying to provide. By understanding myself, I start to appreciate myself (love myself) and stop blaming myself for being who I am or who I am not. I can also start to understand my subconscious desires that were not met when I was a child that I am still trying to fulfill as an adult. This self-knowledge enables me to thereby REAL-IZE that I no longer need external approval as I did when I was a child. That as an adult, I can now support myself in pursuit of my own internal goals and can set aside those of others which will never bring me satisfaction. How rewarding can a goal be when what is real-ized isn't our own goals, but someone else's? This is why it is essential for us to look within to determine what it is that we really want to real-ize. We need to know what we want in life so we can begin pursuing it. We need to know what our goals and aspirations are so we can feel fueled and inspired to move towards what it is that we want instead of being led around by others expectations.
What do we want in life?
What are our true values?
What virtues do we aspire to?
What are our dreams?
What inner longings do we have?
What do we want to provide the world/others with?
What do we feel appreciated providing the world/others with?
Are we task oriented?
Are we people oriented?
Do we enjoy seeking?
Do we enjoy creating?
Do we enjoy inventing?
Do we enjoy discovering?
Do we enjoy serving?
Do we enjoy solving?
Do we enjoy understanding?
Do we enjoy expressing?
Do we enjoy growing?
Do we enjoy communicating?
Many of us have planted ourselves in the wrong soil because we have allowed others to tell us what to do. We need to plant ourselves in the right type of soil we need to grow. We intuitively know what kind of soil this is which is why we can't obtain these answers from others. It is encouraging and inspirational soil; not judgmental and critical soil. We need to find our own inner answers by pondering what type of soil is best for us? Where and how can we get the resources we need to allow us to grow along the path we want? Once we know what we want to do, we can start working towards getting the resources we need to develop and create it. All these answers lie within.
Here are some ideas that may be helpful for nurturing our own personal growth: