Humanness to me is about making contact with the people around me. Contact in the most simplest form: “How are you?” “Who are you?” “What brings you here?” To look at your face, look at your eyes, see what you express, be with you, listen to what you want to say and speak my mind as an expression of me. To respect your boundaries without violating mine. To play the game of expansion, to see where we meet and how far we can travel together in any way. To have fun, to feel, to enjoy, to experience.
So why is it so hard?
What fucks it up for me is the following:
- Second guessing (“What is it that the might the other think now / later / before?”)
- Fear to cross the other’s borders and become discarded
My mind has the tendency to try to figure out what the possible outcome of my possible future actions might be: based on a broad collection of past experiences. It is like playing a game of chess trying to forecast a multitude of possible moves the world around me might make after I make mine. In this game it is constantly mirroring “me” in a virtual world of things and hypothetical events that haven not happened yet.
It is part of my training to think like that: to put our my antennae, mirror myself in a virtual world of mostly unwritten rules possibly in place here and adapt my behavior accordingly.
Some of these rules – and my emotional responses on the consequences of breaking or respecting them – have been internalized and have become important factors for my character. Most of these internalized rules have become “voices”. The ones I use to correct myself, to put myself in place, to scold myself when I feel I have fucked up.
But where am I? Where is the balance? Why do I wake up at 6:00 AM with fear raging through my body when there is no real danger or threat? Why am I so afraid to step up to a stranger I think I might like as a friend / lover / partner and say “Hi”? Why do I consciously choose second rate options.
I like people. I love being around in places where people are. I am very much OK. My environment is mostly friendly. In general there is no reason to be afraid. So what is the problem?
My primary reaction is to avoid gnarly situations. Avoidance to make contact with the “voices” I do not like inside myself. By doing so I will never know what their story is.
“Hi, I saw you standing there in my mind, shouting instructions. Just out of curiousity: who are you? What is it you want to say? Why do you throw these things at me?” What if I just open up and listen, instead of walking away?
This is less hypothetical to me than I state it here. Waking up with fear vibrating through my whole body – every morning, month after month for over two years – allows for enough room for experimentation to practice all kinds of strategies. The most effective one?
- I break the connection between the “I” and the fear. (This is fear inside my body. I am not the fear. My name is Peter. Hello, fear, nice meeting you. So tell me, what’s up?)
- I “listen” to the fear with full attention while also stimulating my deep-breathing. No asking questions, just observation. (To help you understand this one: I learned one day being very tired that watching television with full attention made me fall asleep even faster the more I directed my attention to it)
- I fall asleep again.
My biggest trap is “I should” and “I must”.
But according to whom? For what reason? Will it make me happy? What is my way anyway? I feel that it is limiting me without any reason except that I fear to make the next move, to reach out and make contact. To act from my human curiosity to make contact and meet other people.
In the session today I concluded the following:
- My avoidance to make contact with the “voices” within of me is directly reflected in my avoidance to make contact with people around me.
- To break through this pattern, the most effective way is to start from the inside. The outside will follow.
If my mind is a room full of opinionated people all talking, imagine what will happen when I – instead of arguing or avoiding everyone – just make contact to each individual and genuinely listen. Without an agenda. Without the need to solve or repair anything. With whoever comes up.
I saw such situations happen in the past. People are still talking, but the room becomes quiet somehow as this person moves form one to another. Tension drop. Conversations change. The atmosphere clears. It is fun.
So today I decided to take on this model of contact, listening and observation to:
- Clear my perception
- Clear the fear of making contact
“Hi. What’s up? I saw you standing there. I love to hear what you have to say. How come? What else?”