On Saying No - Question: My intention is to talk about managing time and energy, but holding space is also important. I feel I go into self-victimization.
Rather than self-victimization, let’s think of that as when we let go of ourselves, abandon ourselves; when our responsiveness to others in the world takes on an urgency and intensity that over-rides our own listening and valuing our own wants and needs. This is often very rooted in empath qualities. It is essential to remember again that ‘Oh yes, I am a highly responsive and receptive person. It’s in my genes. I am an empath.’ To remember that is to bring a lot more compassion towards finding ways again and again to help one’s self manage your responsiveness. And we stress, ‘again and again’ because many empaths think ‘Once I get this idea, it won’t happen again.’ But it doesn’t happen like that. Knowing the concept gives you the information that you need to refer to it, remember it, over and over again.
For many empaths, responding to the ‘outer’ gets the stronger validity. It is simply more important to respond to the other. In your case, you also learned in your early childhood that your own pace of doing things was not okay. You internalized that your judgment of what or when to do is incorrect; the other’s perception is more accurate. So the child says, ‘I’m too tired to do that’ and mother says, ‘You’re not really tired. Do it.’ Parents commonly do this – they negate the child’s perception of their direct experience. You’ve now internalized this outer judge who disagrees with you when you want to take a break or change your schedule or just say no. Unconsciously you have good rationales why you shouldn’t be tired or can certainly work another half hour or you can do four things on the way to an appointment. The culture supports this attitude and then eventually, it doesn’t work.
What really gets out of balance is listening to yourself and asking ‘What really works for me now?’ - even if it’s not logical or sensible or what you should do. If you ask this with real curiosity and openness, often what is best for the situation is what comes to you. Asking ‘what really works, doesn’t necessarily mean you are going to abandon your work or miss your deadline. It does mean, though, that you might take a change, a break, restructure something or say no to something that your conscious mind wouldn’t have allowed.
In this same way, consciously give yourself permission to re-negotiate with yourself and others. ‘Yes, I did say I would meet you at 5PM, but I find I have too many things to do, how about we meet at 7pm or at 5 tomorrow?’ You carry an internal censor about changing things, as if a change initiated by you would be harmful to others. In actuality, there are ways to ‘keep your word’ and make a change and still accommodate the other person.
These internalized messages we carry are not going to go away, but you don’t have to deconstruct all of them or sort them out. You do need to consider the principle that you are carrying a judging voice, an inner critic and that it may be telling you outdated, no longer useful messages. This gives you a place to question what moves you into action and look at it anew.
Find language devices to give yourself a break from your own responsiveness. ‘That sounds like a good idea, but I have to check.’ Learn to give boundaries that are from yourself. Such as I can’t do that right now because I’m over-booked.’
I feel apprehension around the word ‘No’ and putting it out there. It brings up a sense of punishment, of being threatened. At work there are people who really trigger this self-preservation sense and I don’t want to say no or get the word no from another.
This is a good recognition about yourself and in knowing that, we suggest you don’t use the word no. [client laughs]. No is the trigger word. No is a child word. No! It’s absolute and rigid. Instead of just saying no, begin with the question, ‘What works in this situation?’ This phrase neutralizes the energy around that you don’t want to do something. It is even more neutral than, ‘What works for me?” ‘What works in this situation?’ broadens the rigidity, the confrontation, the conflict of the word no. This phrase is particularly useful in the workplace. Someone wants you do something and your schedule can’t do it, you can say, ‘Let me think about it. Let me check my schedule.’ And you return and say, “I have a, b and c happening right now, so what really works in this situation is if I get that to you by Friday instead of Wednesday because then I can meet all the other deadlines.’ Addressing what works in the situation, invites the other person to be part of the situation, giving them the energy of what would work best in the situation. When it’s relevant you point out the actual things of why you need extra time and it becomes a mutual presentation and yet offers a plan that has a different boundary that is more useful and supportive to you.
This kind of language device will take some attention and concentration, you will have to learn to frame your needs this way. You might even need a little cheat-sheet with your phrasing written down for yourself. In the workplace, you can even use your cheat-sheet, pretending its your day-planner or PDA and you begin by saying, ‘Let me look at my schedule.’ So you are again using something that is independent of your will or willfulness as the inner judge might say, and you will stay in the particulars of why this work best, essentially, for everyone, for the situation.
You can take this inner approach and use it in the outer in many ways. ‘Yes, you’d like me to come over on Wednesday, but I have several things that conflict with that, so Thursday really works better for the schedule.’ Naturally, all these choice devices can be used when there is a real option. If it’s mother’s birthday, negotiating what day you are going for the birthday party might not really work, but if the part is from 5-9, ‘I’ll get there at 7. Start without me because I have a 5pm appointment I cannot change.’
The principle is giving yourself the time to look at a situation, see what points stand out and communicate how you want it to work based on actualities that are not only No. The workplace is actually a perfect structure to practice this reframing because in the workplace, the illusion is that their supposed to respond to efficiency and what is effective. Now we know that doesn’t actually happen all the time, but at least, everyone says we are interested in efficacy and you can make a positive use of that pretense. People may be surprised that you are different than you have been. And you can just say, ‘I’ve just got this PDA, or I’m trying to work my schedule better or I’m doing other things now, so I have to balance my time,’, etc and they will have to accept it.
Using the ‘best for the situation’ approach holds that very essence and leads you away from the inner sense of your wants are only naughty, willful you just saying no. When you make that inner shift by trying these techniques, you will find that people will respond differently and you will grow more comfortable in setting structures and boundaries that support you.
Some people will not like this because they always got what they wanted before or they may just be disconcerted because you feel different, perhaps stronger or clearer. Changing the feel of the roles is a bit uncomfortable, but that is the nature of growth and we think worth the interim of discomfort.
On 'Tech' Empaths - Question: I have concern about my daughter and her relationships and how she always keeps them within a limit, including me.
Yes, she has a difficulty in really accepting the intimacy of bonding and she manages this by choosing partners who all share one element – a jocularity, a lightness – which creates a framework that is psychologically and physically comfortable. All her partners and friends allow her movement to and from –approach/avoid – that is consistent with her way of relating to people. With her mother, she recognizes that there is an intimacy level open to her, but she moves toward it and then retreats. Naturally, it has been interpreted by mother that she is rejecting her, rather than her need to be guarded or close down from intimacy that is too strong. With the mother, she recognizes that she would allow a merge, but she doesn’t know what to do with that, except retreat. She allows no one to merge with her, except in certain ways. And she manages that by always maintaining distance, such as living on her own. She needs a place to go and be dis-connected.
Being disconnected while actually being present with another person, doesn’t feel safe enough for her because she hasn’t really dealt psychologically with the part of her that wants connection. If she lived with her partner, there would come the time when she would have to manage her need and say, “I’m feeling separate but I still want connection.’ By having literal separate places, when she feels the conflict between connection/separation, she simply goes home and is separate. In this way, the partner is never engaged with or part of her struggle. And in that, the relationship is less intimate.
It is difficult for many empaths to face that merging is what they desire, while at the same time recognizing that you may want a degree or merging that is not readily available here. This is especially difficulty when there is no perspective on the idea of one as an empath. [I never considered my daughter as an empath. This sheds a new light]. She is, but of a different ilk that you think of and certainly very defended against interpersonal relations. [Yes and from very early.]
This is a good opportunity to add still another element to our view of empath nature. Empaths ‘connect with,’ not only emotionally or psychologically but in further ways. You can see this different aspect with many of the so-called ‘tech’ people. We see a population who write code but could not completely deconstruct how they saw or knew the code. Rather, the experience is that they tune in, they ‘get into it’ and it starts flowing. In your daughter’s case, this element of ‘connecting with’ is evident in her many interests besides computers, beginning with the early childhood days of making patterns and arrangements with her toys. It is all tuning-in to alignments that are more than right here.
These empaths have and express a strong capacity for finding the ‘wholeness’ in patterns that other people don’t see or see as readily. We often see that this pattern recognition factor is very prominent with an individual. For these people, the complexity of inter-relating can be a pattern not easily recognized or maintained. Many ‘pattern see-ers’ can quickly be overwhelmed by their failure to find a comfortable, ongoing alignment with emotional pattern and quickly identify themselves as not emotional. They may build up their identification as logical observers and undervalue emotion and connection. Many, if not most, develop strong defense systems against emotions and typically evolve strict patterns or relating that makes it more comfortable for them express connection from – such as physical distance. It takes a great deal of attention and inner work to recognize these defenses, understand how they may have evolved and find ways to let them broaden or become more permeable. On the other hand, recognizing how you operate and that you are sensitive, can then let one have more permission to accept the parameters that work best for themselves and flourish within them.
Naturally, many pattern see-ers would not consider themselves as empaths, because ideas of empaths and empathy seem inextricably connected with emotion. Pattern see-ers often see their recognition of patterns as attuning to observation and logic and thus, the whole concept that they are having a recognition that is, in our view, beyond logic would be a new and challenging idea. In this, we find another delightful seeming paradox and irony in that people who are often seen as extremely logical and unemotional and lacking in some way in how they relate to others, are often also of the empath clan. When others can see emotional boundaries as possibly needed empath boundaries, they themselves can be more at ease with and accepting of the other just as they are, boundaries and all.
On Humankind's Growth - Question: One final question, Orion. With all the curliques of being human and I can’t help but say, craziness, how is this species ever going to grow?
Well, it is growing. It’s growing all the time. What is important to remember is the capacity to recognize other possibilities, the capacity to feel despair at the limits, the capacity to continually feel that there could be more - is in fact the very element that is an indicator to you that you are not in a calcified, solidified evolution.
How it will all be, where it will all move to, what steps back instead of steps forward might occur, what destruction can come – all of that is there. But you are not living in calcification. You are not living in a dying species. The most frustrating challenge for people who recognize Unity, is having to accept that you cannot make growth and understanding, Unity happens. It is always ‘it is as it is, just as it is’ – ups and downs and all the different connections and disconnections and so on. Yet, when you feel something so possible, in the end you can feel that for yourself. You may feel despondent or overwhelmed, but you can also recognize that such possibility is still here no matter how despairing the externals seem. There are despairing times and elements of the journey of humankind, of all kind. Again, what is frustrating, is that in the end there is no control, no direct power, no absolutes, no ground to stand upon. And all this is felt in all realms, from the most personal to the global and beyond.
But no ground to stand upon does not mean we do not find moments of standing on a ground. It simply means no absolute ground to stand upon that one can marshal and consistently operate from. In movement, the dance of life, there can be again and again, touching upon ground, which we offer you as envisioning the interconnection of all things. In fact, ‘ground’ might not be the best word to use here, because what is really in play is more like the ‘air’ of being or the ethers or the molecules of being – so less solid than ‘ground. Even though we may understand the use of ground as less solid, the word itself is imbued with solidity. This is why mystical language often uses words more expansive, as in the song, the color, the sense of being – using language that points toward a vastness that is permeable and not capturable in the way that ‘ground’ is. In the end, one has to live on the ground and operate from that place regardless of how clear our sensing of the stars or the ethers can be.
As ever, be comfortable in the energy of not knowing and expressing from your own sense of the wonder of life, amidst all that may seem robbed of such wonder. History will show you that wonder re-emerges, re-asserts, over and over again. And in your personal life, opportunity to share, to express, to manifest Unity abound and in this way, you are again and again adding your moment of seeing clearly, of sharing the vision into the evolving gestalt of Unity consciousness.
excerpted from personal sessions, with permission and appreciation 2008
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