Letting Others Have Their Fears
Not too long ago I found myself in a bit of hellish feeling in the midst of paradise. So here I am sitting in a meeting talking about facilitating young people’s experiences, but right next to me is a person who seems a bit out of place. I can sense her discomfort, perhaps boredom. It is a technical meeting in that one needed to be informed about what went on the prior year. She is used to being in charge, used to opening her mouth and having everyone do what she wants. She doesn’t go much for discussion, likes things short and crisp, and it feels to me like this is the last place where she would want to be. I can see it in her and feel it. My role in the meeting is to be an equal participant along with 11 others who enjoy the issue, who don’t mind some conflict, and who can work on something until a consensus appears, but next to me I am feeling what the other person is feeling and so after 5 hours of meeting my head is completely clouded and my body exhausted.
I am doing something horrible for myself and that is trying to protect the other person next to me from her own feelings. Occasionally I try to make some inclusive remarks, but it just fuels the feelings. When two days pass, I am wasted as if I were having a hangover.
So here’s the thing. What I want to do is be a fully participating and active member of the group helping to make the organization go forward. What I am is half in and half out, exhausted, because I have picked up on someone else’s feelings and then let it work me over. When I go into their feelings and feel them, it feels like a pool of green goopy sludge, so you can imagine why I am so exhausted. My motivation is protection. I am feeling someone else’s feelings all the time so that I can maybe protect them from their own slime. Well the problem is for me that when I am in their slime what seems to happen is that they are allowed to escape their slimy sledgy feelings for awhile and then go against me. This is horrid realization about myself!!! I can’t believe that I have been doing this for so long unrecognized. Here I am trying to protect others from their feelings and then they go against me. I think I need a new shift internally because this one is just not working, at all!!
Ok, problem number one, I am focusing on how they are feeling instead of focusing on what the purpose of the meeting is, what my purpose or my goal is. I don’t see my goal; I feel their feelings and focus on their protection. So the first change is to see what I want and have a clear visualization of it.
Problem number two, I am feeling slimy sledge which is really what they are feeling, but I am trying to take it away from them so they don’t have to feel it. Yikes!! Bad move. Let me get out of the slime!!!!! What I can feel instead is extremely positive feelings, visual, auditory, olftactory, and kinesthetic senses, aimed toward the goal. This allows me to really attract myself into the goal experience and be involved in goal related energy with positive feelings.
Problem number three, when I feel protective, I am focusing on the other person, and then they go against me so then I have to spend my time dealing with what to do when they are so against me. What I can do instead is to think about strategies to meet my goals with lots of options rather than focusing on strategizing to deal with their attacks. This is a huge shift because it takes them out of the picture and puts me into it. I went missing, but now they are. What a relief!!
Ok, if that isn’t clear, take this scenario. Here I am setting my goals for what I want to do for the year which has to be approved by someone else. Well when I go to the someone else, she starts telling me that she doesn’t like what I have decided. So then right there I am overwhelmed by a negative feeling and guess what, it is not my feeling, it is hers. It says to me that I am so fearful of being at the bottom forever so I am going to push people to do what I want so I can be seen as successful and then move up the ladder. So you can imagine what happened in the meeting. I took on her feeling and then I felt like I was at the bottom, which was really a feeling that belonged to her. Well then she started telling me about how bad my goals were and what I needed to do differently and since I was in the bottom feeling, I just left there feeling so bad which then turned to anger about what to do now that she was against me.
So in the next meeting I couldn’t focus at all on what I wanted to do. I just focused on how to get through the meeting without her going against me. All of my energy in the meeting was about her and not about me. I specifically picked goals that she would have no authority over because it was clear to me that she wanted me to do goals to make her look good so she could advance. She never had a clue about what I really wanted to do, and I just let her run me over. A bit painful to admit.
So here I am 8 months later and the thing I really wanted to do is left unaccomplished because I felt the other’s fear, embraced as if it were mine, and whithered. And she continues to go against me. So what I need to do is to give her back her bottom feeling, the fear of being on the bottom and let her have it. It belongs to her. Then I can see what I want to do, feeling all kinds of positive feelings toward it, and then energize and strategize toward it.
Number one is to replace the other’s goals with my own.
Number two is to replace the other’s feelings with my own positive feelings.
And number three is to change the strategy of against the other to strategy of for my goal.
Love to hear from you if you have this issue.
As I was reading your entry on Letting Others Have Their Fear I could relate. At the end of the entry you invite comments from those who have this issue, so I would like to share a comment.
My mother is the landlord in the home that I rent. There has been a sour smell and a leak in the basement for the 4 years we have lived here. At one time the basement flooded and sewage came into the basement. She had a plumber fix a part of the drain and it never flooded like that again, however there is another part of the basement that still leaks water continually. We could smell either methane or rotting food. It’s a horrible smell. It prevents me from wanting people to come to my house and it gives me a very bad feeling about living here. I dislike coming home and I am concerned about the nature of the smell.. Is it toxic? Is it bacteria-filled? etc. We have not known why it is leaking or from where.
Last week we discovered that when the kitchen sink was draining water appeared in the basement coming up from a small crack in the floor. She got a plumber in the next day and he said that it appears the pipe is broken and clogged. It costs $300 to unclog it and $1000 to fix the pipe. So she paid $300 and we finally had a house that didn’t smell!!
So here’s where we get to the “issue” part. I waited for her to tell me when she was going to have the plumber come in to “FIX” this problem. She never mentioned it. So a week later (yesterday) I write her an email asking when she’s getting the plumber in. When I see her next she tells me this…”How about when you see the water coming in or have a smell in the house you pour a cup of bleach down the drain?” I was stunned!
I said, “Are you telling me you are not going to fix this?”
She yelled at me, “I’m telling you I don’t have the money to fix this!” (yelled!)
The thing is, I know she has more than $10,000 credit available to her and although this is not an ideal way to use credit of course it would seem to me that reducing toxins and bacteria in the home of your daughter and grand-daughter would be worth a grand. She doesn’t think so, apparently.
But I found your entry interesting because I could see what happened when she blew up at me over this.
My goal: Now that we know the source of the problem in the basement (for 4 years we didn’t know why it was leaking) is to have it FIXED.
Negative feelings: she’s feeling like she’s not worth the $1000 and that she is on the bottom and when she yelled at me then I felt like I wasn’t worth it and was at the bottom too.
Strategy: when I came home I had her yucky feelings nagging at me and I had to change my feelings by saying some prayers. I could see that in the past I would have thought about “okay, mom is mad at me, how can I fix this. what do I need to do to fix this? how can I help mom”…but when I realized the distraction from my goal I changed my thoughts back to the drain in the basement and started thinking, “Okay, what are my rights here as a tenant? Who is the expert in this kind of water thing? Who can tell me if there is bacteria coming in? What options do we have for a payment plan with a plumber etc”….And these thoughts release me from her nasty feelings and put me back on track to getting this drain fixed and achieving my goal of having a safe and comfortable home for me and my daughter.