I grew up in a thoughtful environment, surrounded by people that engaged the world with confidence. As I filled the gas tank after high school one day, I couldn’t believe my eyes as a woman in a Cadillac slowly backed her car up toward the tanker hoses, glancing expectantly over her shoulder for assistance. The bumper was over the valve when I put my hand up and commanded, “Stop!”
I’ve had my own moments: taking a bike down a steep incline to a dirt path. My step-son kept telling me that I wasn’t going to make it. After flipping over the handlebars at the bottom, I dusted the dirt from my t-shirt and shrugged. “See! No harm done.”
At least the lady in the Cadillac knew she needed advice.
For most of us, our self-talk was impressed upon us in childhood, when we were too naïve to defend ourselves. The judgments were delivered by parents who had little experience and often limited understanding of child development. But at least parents must take care of us after they make a mistake – something to give them caution.
Siblings and peers don’t have to clean up the mess they make in us. That allows them to be cruel.
Perhaps thus we have the wisdom from grandma, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” To those that can’t hold their tongue, it follows that you always say something nice. “You look great” to the size-ten woman wearing a size-six mini-skirt.
That doesn’t make sense either. We’re going around in circles.
Here’s how I smooth over arguments that go around in circles, each party quoting their own facts:
What is true is not nearly as important as what is possible.
We all make mistakes. The wise don’t pass judgment over mistakes, they learn from them and do better next time. If what you’ve been told about yourself isn’t working, see a hypnotherapist and come up with an alternative that does work.
Learning from a mistake is a two-part process. First, we need to know what happened. Then we look for elements that we could add to the experience to get a better outcome. In problem solving, we usually focus on the second step. But the first step is harder. If we don’t have witnesses, we have little chance of reconstructing our experience – simply because we can’t see ourselves in the situation.
If we do have witnesses, are they going to tell us what they saw, or what they think about what happened? The second is “You’re a dork.” The first is “well, when the front tire hit the path, your weight was forward of the axle, so you flipped over.” The second means “There’s something wrong with you,” the first means “You did something wrong.”
After we learn to heal and trust, we tend to say the first thing. We have empathy for the struggle to do right. We want to see others succeed, for in their success we gain strength as well. We establish a friend that wants us to succeed, and so will offer us trustworthy counsel.
We do confront a new challenge, however: with all this help being given and received, we develop new behaviors more rapidly. That’s a good thing, in general, but it has a consequence. Our dreams, goals and needs change. The people that brought us to those opportunities may not be able to carry us forward.
This is the plight of the housewife with the jet-setting husband, the commercial real-estate executive that can’t master social media, and the coach that loses the Super Bowl two years running. They live in anxiety that they’ll be left behind.
It is in negotiating these anxieties that truth turns – literally – inside out. The jet-setter becomes psychologically ungrounded; social media only opens the door, it doesn’t close a deal. To appreciate the actual value of an existing relationship, the full lived experience needs to be revealed to each partner. Each party needs to submit to their partner’s witness. That means hiding nothing and never lying. It means living with integrity and in truth.
Why is this hard? Because we enter into partnerships for what we hope for, not for what we are now. We wanted to raise two happy children; we wanted to be number one in our rental placements. To live in truth and integrity, we must put our hopes on the shelf and allow the incomplete self to be revealed. (Our children aren’t yet grown up; we’re still number three.)
That’s a vulnerable thing to do. We reveal our limitations and weakness. It can only be done together.
But it must be done if we are going to continue to grow. Lying and hiding takes work, distracts attention, and degrades the commitment of our partner to our shared goals.
Hypnotherapy supports this process by evening out emotional turbulence. Anxiety often originates in experiences of violated trust early on the path to maturity. Euphoria felt among others can cause us to renege on our commitments – something seen as weakness by partners old and new.
More potently, however, in hypnosis guided imagery journeys of discovery can help us to understand how much power is liberated when we chose to live in truth. Living in truth allows our whole mind to unify behind the accomplishment of our goals.
It allows us to grasp possibilities that our conscious mind could never imagine.