Finding Your Truth is all about spending your life giving birth to the gifts of heart, mind and spirit.
Let’s try this as a definition of maturity –
mature people, normally, are aware of their stories, and choose to hold them loosely.
Less mature people beleive their storties, and try to get others to “sign on” too.
Maturity, then, might be equated with flexibility of understanding and action.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been with a client, and the client has a huge shift in understanding regarding some major issue. There’s this moment where the person kind of goes blank — as they drop inside to evaluate what’s been learned. Then a lot of words come — about “getting it” —finally — and that they now see things differently.
And then, almost always, there’s some form of “But I knew that!” And they are right. They did know, in their hearts and souls.
Let’s look at a aspect or two of maturity, using the following dialogue as an illustration:
I really have trouble understanding my partner. I get caught in the “noise,” the chatter in my head, and miss what she’s really saying. So, the upshot is that I need a noise filter. Don’t we need a noise filter to enable us to home in on the signal instead of being confused by the noise? What a wonderful thing that would be. How do we design one?
What an interesting concept / question.
Let me try it this way:
Suppose you are with your “significant other” in a noisy restaurant. Part of the “filtration process” is to “drop” the chatter from other tables, the bar, etc. and zone in on your partner. When I do this, I am aware of a background hum, but my partner’s words seem very clear in relation to the background noise.
Now, suppose my partner and I have been together a while. Let’s say that I assume that, when she sighs, she’s “really saying” — “you jerk, not that again.” I hear her sigh, the filter kicks in and I immediately go to whatever behaviour I “always do” when she sighs.
It would be the same as turning down the treble and turning up the base. All I’d hear is what is left over — But it’s worse — I don’t even notice I set the filter; I wonder why the music is “all beat, no melody.”
The way out, I suggest, is curiosity.
To go back to the restaurant, I turn to my partner and say, “So, I notice that you sighed. In the past, when you sighed, I assumed you were dismissing me and I got defensive. I don’t want to go there, so I’m curious as to what you were conveying in that sigh.”
Curiosity is the way out, and is hard to remember to do when in the middle of getting hooked. But I hate getting hooked, so I’m curious, a lot!
Many people live in a fictional place — a virtual reality — that exists between their ears.
Now, we want to add here that virtual reality is just that — virtual. It may have the look and feel of a real world, and as you interact with it you are having real feelings, but the feelings are being triggered as you interact with the imaginary. The experience feels real because the sub-conscious mind cannot tell a dream, a day dream, a trance or virtual reality from reality. The thing about virtual reality is that you consciously enter it – you know you’ve chosen to spend some time in unreal reality-ville.
Most people find that they readily adapt to virtual reality.
Which really isn’t so odd. It’s what most people do all the time, living up there in their imaginations. Which is OK, as long as we know we’re there.
Where living in our imagination becomes non-helpful is when we refuse to understand that what we imagine is not real. Here’s a fresh example.
I met for the first time with a mom and dad and their almost 17 year old daughter. (I add here that the mom is a social worker, and am interested as to whether a study has ever been done on the inanities perpetrated by social workers or therapists on their own kids.) Anyway, the daughter, they tell me, is angry and rebellious. And sure enough, when she opens her mouth, out pops invective regarding her imprisonment.
In a nutshell, she’s not allowed out on week nights, without specific permission, which is seldom granted. She’s not allowed to go a lot of places she would choose to go, were she allowed out, which she’s not, although theoretically she is. She also is not allowed to have friends in on weeknights, same rules, without permission, but the list of unacceptable people is long.
I naively, and with great trepidation, fearing the worst, asked what she’d done to deserve such draconian measures. Mom replied, “Nothing, yet. We afraid she will, though. We don’t like her friends, her boyfriend, and we’re worried she’ll get into trouble.”
Turns out they’ve never met the boyfriend, but have “heard stories.”
The parents are living in virtual reality, writing the scenarios, describing to each other the scenes, scaring each other. The real kid is just a normal, pissed off teen, who is locked up in the tower of her parents’ minds. They think that locking her away will somehow provide her with the skills necessary to be independent when she goes to university in a year or so. Exactly how this will work they cannot say. They tell me they are doing this for her own good.
Now, I understand their wish to protect her and keep her safe, but really, tell me where and if that is possible for any of us. Safety is another illusion we come up with, as in “Our streets were much safer back in the good old days.” Right.
The frustration and fear the parents are feeling has a name. The discomfort comes from cognitive dissonance — that is, the tension that results as we register the difference between our fantasy and reality.
The parents believe that their imagined scenario is “more true” than the reality of their daughter’s actual behaviour. She asks, between invectives, why they believe their fantasy and disregard her very responsible behaviour. They are at a loss to explain, other than to repeat that imprisonment is “For your own good.”
Let’s explore the creative versus the destructive use of our imagination — using virtual reality as an adjunct and proving ground for how we are living our life, as opposed to dreaming up doom and gloom scenarios.
A client will come in and begin to talk about what’s wrong with their life. When I ask them what they do want, they say, “Well, I don’t want more of the same.” Their imagination is, obviously, reviewing what they don’t want, in glowing detail, then saying, “Let’s not have more of what I’ve just obsessed about.”
I suggest to them that they may have spent their life pursuing what they don’t want, then not wanting what they got, which was different, but still what they don’t want.
A far better use of virtual reality is this: I want to imagine, clearly, what I do want. I want to test the fit, the look, the feel of my dreams, my desires, my goals, my directions, the people I choose to bring into my life. I choose to engage in a “walk through” in my interior space, testing, observing, making notes. Discarding what doesn’t work, amplifying what does.
Often, when something shifts in someone’s life, and a positive experience happens, I will hear “I never imagined that would happen.” Isn’t it amazing how true those words are.
Interestingly, resistance to using imagination as a creative force is a way to keep you from sticking your neck out. One of my clients calls this “the fear of success.” If I imagine my life being full and rich, I might actually have to take responsibility for living such a life. Much easier to simply scare myself.
The tactics of this resistance are many: You can play the “I don’t know what I want” game, (insert a whiny voice for this one,) or the “Nothing I want ever happens anyway” game (petulant voice and a stomp of the foot) or the “If I risk that, I’ll be hurt” game (voice of fear here.), among others. There’s safety in the familiar. Just not much life.
I suggest just the opposite tack. Decide, right now, that from now on you are going to explore who you are and what your skill set is. Agree to re-create your life in virtual reality. Use all of your skills to examine your project, your life, eliminating what doesn’t seem to work, strengthening what does. THEN, and this is essential, look at what you have created and ask yourself, “What is my first step? My second? My tenth?” And then, begin. And the virtual will evolve into the real. Which is the only true test, and the only place we really live.
What’s your dream? How are you making it happen?