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Question Your Resistance to Participating in Our Sessions

SHAWN:

Hi there—so glad you came last night!

This group comes with a Self-Sabotage to Self-Solidarity session to kick things off and I was inspired to ask you to do some homework leading up to it.

Given the intention you set Saturday to carve out lots more private time for yourself and to put your own physical, emotional, and spiritual needs first, I wanted to engage you in a little Inquiry for both practical reasons and as a way to shift the prison-like dynamics you describe where you have no control over your own time in your own home.

I didn’t see you raise your hand on Saturday and Sunday, and possibly some other times. My understanding is that you’re not working full time so it makes sense to look at the reasons that came up in your mind about why you couldn’t carve out two to three hours on a weekend. 

What we agree to in these little polls about availability of times to meet of course greatly affects others in the group.

SO… given that I believe you when you say you don’t want to stay stuck and “thin skinned”… the invitation that came to me this morning was to ask you to make a detailed and exhaustive list of every reason that comes to mind for why didn’t participate in the poll and left your hand down.

Notice where you are in the business of what other people need or what they would think of you or say about you. They might think you would be prioritizing this work over whatever else is happening with the family that day and even over the needs of a daughter or grandchild or mother or husband. List everything, and it may become food for the work.

“I can’t do this group on this day and time because….” Is it true? (etc., turnarounds & examples) 

And then from a practical perspective, send me a lot of time slots for when you truly truly cannot participate (not just when you prefer not to). 

I have continued to do little pieces of work like this and send out little challenges like this on the side with folks as a follow up to our group discussions; now I’ve decided that if someone during the group call talks about carving out more time and prioritizing this kind of work, I will be posting invitations like this on the Facebook group.

Not to put anyone on the spot, but I could urge participation in the context of the group, where everyone benefits from my prompts as well as from discussing issues that anyone may post. (And of course if it feels too private I won’t do that, or the person could let me know they want to follow up with me privately.)

Maybe I’ll invite other people to rise to the occasion as well and take a second look at their “no” answers. However,  when I saw someone’s hand down it was because they had a work schedule that precluded flexibility or where they had to be completely present and engaged during their working hours.

Within the next couple of days, can you sit down and re-evaluate your available times, do quick inquiries on the statements on your list (or the reasons you can’t), and send me a list?

And if you don’t feel you have time or freedom to do that in the next two days, then do the same exercise: make a list of what would get in the way of finding that time and notice how that’s affecting you, me, and the group.

As you go through the next month, try doing the exercise on any glimmer of a vision of something you’d like to do for yourself—even going to bed earlier or sleeping later or taking a nap or walk or reading or… see what your reasons are and do an inquiry on why you’re not meeting those goals.

Client: You are right, Shawn. I can take time for myself and don’t need to do it out of fear of their judgements or of missing out. I’ll do a sheet on that and send it to you.

Shawn: Whew, glad you took that the way it was intended. With only love. I know you want this freedom and that the lack of privacy ties in so much with the reactivity to their needs and judgments.

I noticed that when you were in the groups there were many times when you had a reason not to come or were regularly late because you had something else scheduled, and yet our groups were scheduled in advance of all of that. Each time you came you said how important it was to you and that you were recommitting to showing up, and yet then you would let us know that you had other things scheduled.

While this thing you continue to say is really important for you and is helping and supporting you, it ends up being at the bottom of the heap. 

I’m starting to see this whole pretzel epidemic where women in America bend over backwards to keep others from not getting a need met, or from their being angry at us or judging us, always turning ourselves into a pretzel to make everything OK for others – and yet it’s still not OK for others because we actually end up being a scapegoat and prevent them from putting the focus on their own spiritual journey.

These are nice, tangible issues around time and commitment and it seemed like a great opportunity to jump on… I just watched you sit there and not raise your hand and I kept wondering what you’re doing on weekends that makes you already know in advance that you can’t make this work. It would be helpful for you to look at the cost to others in your life (folks in this group, for example) of your putting the needs of those who persecute or scare you at the top.

I saw how all my attention used to go to those who were most angry at me and, in some ways, least supportive. I had many people who loved me and were amazing and we’re supporting me, and yet my attention was on those who didn’t.

CLIENT:

That’s an ah-ha thought, my attention being on those who make demands and are angry if I can’t make their problems disappear.

SHAWN:

Recently I was in a good place and someone got mad at me about something so I was walking around with something in the pit of my stomach and it was hard to get motivated on my own priorities because this person was disapproving. So it’s something that comes around for me less and less, but ever since I recognized what I just told you, that has helped.

Also just my hyper responsiveness to a disapproving tone of voice or someone else being disappointed or feeling like I don’t love them perfectly… that was one of the biggest scripts that I found is the worst thing someone can do to me. It ate away at me if I felt that I didn’t put their needs first or at least care deeply about their needs which is crazy because I’m always turning myself into a pretzel trying to meet their needs. The one time I don’t and they shame me for that, it’s crazy that my system is set up to be devastated by them thinking I did not love them well enough. It’s like my whole identity with a critical mom got set up as needing to love her well enough that she would not ever be upset

CLIENT: Exactly! I realize I am so angry with my partner because my needs don’t enter into his decisions which are always based on his own needs.

SHAWN:

YES!  Same story… it’s always the source of your resentment—that and the way you feel judged. 

So they make for amazing turnarounds. It is almost screaming at you that your needs don’t enter into your OWN decisions, and yet your psyche is STILL putting the focus on him and the reason you’re not getting your needs met. As soon as you take your needs seriously, everyone else will too. And if they don’t, then You make choices one event at a time or broad overarching choices that take care of you – whether people approve or not, whether they are mad or not, whether they leave or not.  And once you have that attitude, all the dynamics change so that you likely don’t need to leave.

As soon as you take your own needs seriously and advocate for yourself, especially the littlest parts of you that are suffering, others will too.

CLIENT:

That woke me up! Amazing!

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