Have you ever noticed that when it comes to Other People, you’re not so sure how safe you feel in their presence?
Long ago, I entered an ongoing therapy group. I experienced anxiety regularly, and my attitude towards life was a fine line between kind-of hopeful including noticing beauty in the world and deeply discouraged about humanity and my own plight.
I binge-ate sometimes. I smoked cigarettes on and off for a decade. I drank alcohol occasionally to the point of black-out. I drank a lot of coffee. I ran for miles at dawn. My kitchen cupboards were almost entirely empty. With pride I made sure everything I owned fit in my little Datsun named Ezzy.
These were the outside behaviors, but they reflected what was happening on the inside: disturbance, unsettled, doom.
Like when an airplane is enroute and suddenly the pilot says, after things start to get a bit bumpy and the sky is looking less than pure blue….“please buckle up and take a seat, we’re going through some disturbance.”
Then you see lightening flash and something crashes in the back where the flight attendants sit.
(That’s never actually happened to me, but it did to my sister. Everyone turned out OK).
I felt this kind of gloom and fear about every 3 days on average.
Just so uncomfortable and always trying to find comfort. Where was it?
I didn’t know that it was in my thinking, and the way I perceived the world.
What’s funny is, I was worried about crashes and accidents and death and illness and burning in hell and bad things happening, like an apocalypse, and I was secondarily worried about my experiences with other humans.
This is where the therapy group comes in. There I was, surrounded by other humans.
Strangers even, in the beginning.
It sounds like I’m joking, but that was actually my feeling. Horribly frightened of their eyes looking at me, their words, what they were thinking, what I was feeling…..yikes.
Just walking into the therapy room each week where we all met took a lot of courage for me. I had adrenaline pumping through me, and I often thought “gosh, maybe I’m getting a fever” just before it was time to leave for the group on Wednesdays nights.
But I stuck with it.
Because something about being in the midst of all those people was me facing my worst fears. Something in me knew that if I could learn to handle just being a part of the group (or, dare I say it, enjoying it) I might find some freedom and peace.
Little did I know how wise this was.
For what happened, was when I found at first a little calm, then relaxation, then safety, then actual JOY about attending the therapy group (it took a few years)….
….my fears about the apocalypse and plane crashes and horror movie visions also shifted and became far less intense.
Who would have known that becoming comfortable with people was the doorway into becoming comfortable with life itself, and everything that happened in it?
This is why I love groups now, and honest conversations.
True Confession: I still get excited and slightly nervous about retreats, programs, talks, meetings, being on stage, leading something, interviews.
All these things involve Other People, my old fear.
Who would we be without our beliefs about the dangers of other people?
It’s never, ever, ever as unfriendly as I have made it out to be. It’s much, much better, consistently. Being with other people has truly opened the doorway to an unexpected, beautiful peace, intimacy, closeness and love. I’m part of a tribe of life called humanity.
And it all started with biting the bullet: Accepting that I’m full of fear and volatile emotions, and I don’t appear to behave in support of my own interests…..and that I needed some help.
So I showed up in therapy group, willing to see what happened and willing to be there.
The pain and suffering I experienced drove me to gather with others.
It was difficult, and one of the best things I ever did. In that group, I felt challenged, terrified, full of grief, crying in front of people (gasp), enraged….and then also, full of joy, unconditional love, and understanding.
We were questioning our beliefs (before I ever heard of Byron Katie). We were finding out who we could be without our stories.
Connected. Loved. Loving.
This is why I do retreats and form groups and gather with the Year of Inquiry people each year, and the Eating Peace Process tribe.
It’s unknown, mysterious, and healing to do The Work in the presence of others. It really takes courage to show up and be honest and share from the heart, mind and soul with Other Humans.
If you’re like me, you start to dream of caves, books and a quiet day all alone as a Dream-Come-True and why bother letting other people hear my plight or my concerns?
Why do I do it?
Because it’s my Living Turnaround: Other People are profoundly safe, My Thinking about other people is what is unsafe.
When I believed speaking out loud was unsafe because those people might shun, reject, criticize, judge or hate me….I lived a fearful, careful, apologetic life.
I wasn’t honest. I hid.
Turns out, it was much safer to be in their presence in a truly honest, open, willing way.
Not comfortable at first, at all.
If you’d like to practice challenging your belief that Other People are not pleasant, unsafe, boring, worrisome, doubtful or judging you (etc, etc) then coming to a retreat is a brilliant way to do it.
It’s not a weekly therapy group for several years, it’s a fairly short and simple commitment (only 4 days out of your life) and a retreat in The Work provides a place to expose your true self gently, honestly, in the company of others who can relate.
Spring Cleaning Retreat is an inside cleaning job, but the paradox is that it couldn’t happen unless we gathered with others. That’s the key ingredient, the doorway, into a new way of seeing life.
I’d love you to join me.
“None of us, including me, ever do great things. But we can all do small things, with great love, and together we can do something wonderful.” ~ Mother Teresa
Other upcoming events:
- Eating Peace Process Online Brand New Version. Same principles, delivered better. Lifetime access. May 1-August 15, 2019
- April 14th half-day retreat at my cottage
- June 9th half-day retreat at my cottage
- June 12-16, 2019 Breitenbush Retreat with Tom Compton
- East West Books Seattle Thurs June 27th 7-9 pm
- Summer Camp for The Mind Online Inquiry
- Divorce Is Hell 8 week course Aug 18-October 13, 2019 Sundays 11 am PT/ 7 pm UK with Nadine Ferris France
- Year of Inquiry begins Sept 8, 2019–a whole year of monthly topics in The Work, and sharing inquiry together
Event Page Password: eatpeace
If you don’t have access to the web, you can listen in by dialing (425) 440-5010, and using the following conference pin: 305799#