July 3, 2013

Why “Weird” is One of My Favorite Words.

“This is so weird. I really should be upset what happened at work, but I’m just not.”

This is a direct quote from a client session yesterday, but I’ve heard it many times before from other clients.

In fact, “weird” is one of the buzz words I tell people to look out for as a way to take notes on their change process between sessions with me.

This weirdness takes many forms: a lack of anger, anxiety, or sadness about issues that usually are big triggers; a greater sense of ease in performing tasks that are normally difficult; a sense of momentum for getting things done where someone normally procrastinates; an ease in speaking up for oneself or expressing what matters to them; a big change in how people treat my client or respond to them, without my client having taken any action towards that goal.

The next thing my clients often say after telling me about the weirdness is that, despite the new feeling or situation being positive from an objective standpoint, they feel a strange pull to want the old way back.

Yesterday, my client said several times, “I keep trying to get angry. I should be angry. But, I’m just not, and I can’t get it back, no matter how hard I try.” She described it as being like someone who has lost a lot of weight, but still tries to wear their old clothes. The old pants seem comfortable, but they keep falling off.

Why is it that such positive changes are met with so much discomfort?

It goes back to survival.

Early in life, we develop our sense of self by absorbing how people around us feel about being human. Our brain develops our survival mechanism to fit well with those people. By the age of 2 1/2, the framework of this survival mechanism is set.

We feel that we have to be that certain way in order to survive and fit well with our surroundings.

The rational, thinking brain starts to operate around the age of 2 1/2, and as time goes on, it may tell us that our survival mechanism isn’t such a great idea. But, because it was developed before we could think, the survival mechanism just keeps requiring us to stick to its plan. And, by the time I’m helping someone unlearn this survival mechanism, it has usually been operating for them, for better or worse, for at least a couple of decades.

Now, that’s a comfortable, old pair of pants!

This survival mechanism isn’t the totality of who you are. Actually, it covers up the core of who you really are, what I call your natural well-being.

I work with clients to permanently remove layers of the survival mechanism, so that their well-being can become what it was meant to be: the automatic, generating force behind the moments of their lives. As their well-being is freed up to become this automatic generator of good moments and situations, the old survival mechanism is no longer needed.

This is when people start out our sessions with, “This was the strangest week. I’m not even sure who I am, anymore.” This discombobulated feeling transitions to a comfort with things being good, being easier, being more nurturing.

My clients begin to express their uniqueness, rather than just reacting from their familiar survival mechanism.

What patterns do you see in your life—either in your situations or in the way you respond to them? Can you connect that back to how you needed to fit with your parents or other early caregivers and family members? Are some of these patterns, while comfortable in a way, beginning to be painful?

That pain is your survival mechanism reaching a breaking point.

What lies beneath is your well-being and uniqueness.


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Ed: Bryonie Wise


{Photo: via Pinterest}

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