Friday, February 25, 2011

Did anyone see me do that?

Two weeks ago I had this strange experience of suddenly feeling sick and having to vomit almost every half an first attacks came when I was with my boss and one of them was extremely disturbing (right in the cab).
I thought a lot about why I had lived such an experience, because when I started to feel bad I was thinking about excusing myself, but somehow just didn't do it. Why?
And afterwards I thought to myself, "If this had happened a few years ago I would have felt soooo ashamed and bad and so small...
But now, I simply felt nothing. Zero.
Then I read yesterday which made me smile and understand...

Did Anyone See Me Do Thatby Jennifer Hofman

If you're one of my Facebook fans, you read my post a few days ago in which I described a funny incident that happened to me. I had gone to the gas station to fill my car and then went inside the kiosk to get a cup of coffee. As I walked out of the kiosk, I was thinking about what I was going to do when I got home, the calls I had to make, and about how much I had to do in the rest of the day. I walked to my car, opened the door, started to get in and stopped.
There was something wrong with the floor mats, which were plastic (I remembered that mine were gray carpet). So I looked up towards the steering column and it didn't look right-I thought mine was dark gray and this one was black. I started to look around and met the eyes of a woman who was staring at me. There was definitely something wrong here, no one was sitting in my car when I had left it parked in front of the kiosk. I felt like I had just stepped into the twilight zone.
Just then I heard a voice ask me if I needed something. I turned to see a man holding a cup of coffee, just like mine, standing next to me, holding a set of car keys in his hand. I'm sure I looked as confused as I felt so I said that I thought someone was at the wrong car. Then I looked around and saw my car, parked next to his, which was the same make, model and color as mine. We laughed, he got in his car and I went to mine. When I opened the door I saw the familiar floor mats, everything looked the same and there was no one sitting in the passenger seat.
When I posted this incident on my facebook page many people wrote to say that they had done similar things and one of the comments that was shared was 'I hope no one saw me do that.' One woman had done this at the grocery store, put her groceries in the car, sat down and tried to start the car but the key wouldn't work so she knew that something was wrong. She said that she quietly got out of the car, took her groceries and went to find her own car, hoping that no one had seen her.
I know that the reason I had walked to the wrong car because I was so distracted-but from the outside it looked just like mine. I had even noticed the shiny Nissan emblem on the front grill because I had to replace mine a few months ago. Distractions aside, as I was looking inside the car, I could not see anything that looked familiar and I was so confused that it did not dawn on me that I was at the wrong car. I had never done that before and because nothing felt familiar, I could not think, gather my thoughts or find another reason for this.
Finding ourselves in unfamiliar territory, as we are now, can do that to us. We can find anything that looks like we think it should so we're confused, unable to think and spend time looking for what is comfortable and the same. We have to get over the confusion before we can find new options. But there is something that stops us, which was pointed out by the facebook comments.
Doing something that we believe makes us appear foolish brings up our many fears related to what others will think of us. Will they think we're stupid, doing something strange, will they question our judgment, intelligence or sanity? With these thoughts we shame ourselves and then we're blocked from pursuing other options because our energy is focused on trying to resolve the shame instead of simply moving ahead. We try so hard to be competent, successful adults but do so by not being incompetent and unsuccessful, based on what others think. And this interferes with everything we do. Beyond that, our preoccupation with others' opinions blinds us to the messages we may be receiving.
If what others think of us is so important to us we make every decision through a 'what if' filter. What if they think I'm stupid, incompetent, incapable, etc.? By trying to avoid shame we use the fear or possibility of shame to push ourselves into a very narrow path so everything we do is beyond reproach. But there are two things that we can't avoid. First, everyone will have their own opinion of us and of what we do and we have no control over that. Second, everyone has their own shame issues that they are dealing with and those who we think shame us are actually reacting and/or responding from their own shame. But when we're in this shame cycle, we attract the shame we are trying to avoid and until we release our fear of shame, all of our decisions and choices will be filtered through it.
While getting into the wrong car is a funny and innocent act and fixing it was easy, other things are not quite so innocent or easy to fix. But the bigger picture here is when we are in this shame cycle, everything we do is affected by its energy. So with every decision and choice we look at all of the people in our lives and ask 'what will they think', 'did they see me do that', 'what are they going to say' and this robs us of our confidence and slows down our momentum. When we second guess every decision, we have trouble making any decisions, big or small, important or unimportant.
The question is, does it matter what anyone thinks of us? Is it really that important because our lives are ours to live, our lessons are ours to learn and while others may participate in them, we are the ones who must cross that finish line by ourselves. To see whether you are using the shame filter in your life, do a self check by asking some simple yet important questions:
Is there someone in your life you try to impress?
Does it matter to you what this person, or others, think about you and what you do?
Is it so important to you that you spend time second guessing yourself to ensure that you do not do anything shameful (in their eyes)?
Are you missing the messages and meaning that may be answers to your questions or the guidance you have been asking for because you are more focused on not being shamed, rather than being open to your own soul's growth?
Then don't despair because you are at an important crossroads where you can change your thinking. In fact, as you are called to new ways of being, your thinking has to change because you may do things that are out of character or habit for you. Making big life changes will cause others to question your motives, judgment and perhaps your sanity. Releasing your shame issues and cycles is an important part of that process if you are to make choices that are right and best for you, no matter what anyone else thinks of them. And you will be seeing every situation with a level of clarity that will allow you to see the meaning and messages that are your special gift.
Remember who is the important person in your life - you - and who is living and learning your lessons - you are - and who ultimately has to cross that finish line, you do. You can do that with your head held high, knowing you have done your best, or looking around, wondering if anyone saw you do that. (And I'm sure I gave that man and his wife a good laugh, which they may have needed).

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