One of the things that I notice getting in the way of my productivity, creativity, and sense of peace is the pressure to meet the expectations of other people around me, pressure that is based on expectations that I am making up.
I started this blog with the intention of capturing my ideas, insights and observations related to the healing of trauma, through doing – or attempting to do – my own personal trauma healing work. I figured that some of the things I observe and discover may be useful to others.
Somewhere along the way, I came up with the idea that I would send out an article approximately once a week. Then somewhere along the way I came up the idea that if I went longer than a week between articles, that I was betraying the trust of the people who had signed up to receive my articles. There’s a really big leap between that first thought and the second one.
This seems to be related to self-importance and my desire to absolutely save everyone in the world – or at least in my life – from everything from which they can possibly be saved, and to do it single-handedly and immediately! While I keep it in the background and generally out of my consciousness, I constantly feel stressed about the expectations I have for myself about all of the ways that I want to help people, that I am not living up to.
I am curious about whether this is common among post-traumatic people, or common among people in general, and how it intersects with or is a part of the larger post-traumatic syndrome.
And here is one way to explain that correlation. As a post-traumatic human, my organic programs for relating to other humans are not fully online. I have unconsciously and intentionally – at a very young age for those of us with Developmental Trauma – disabled some software functions that are meant to be responsible for reading and interpreting others’ behaviors and having emotionally aligned responses to those behaviors. Things were too crazy and overwhelming in my very young life. The signals from some of my significant others were frightening and/or threatening. I came up with a survival strategy based on looking for specific threats and then leaving my body when those threats occurred – and only partially inhabiting my body at all other times.
As a result of not living fully in my body, I am not privy to the sweetness of alignment, appreciation, synergy, the various experiences of connection and commonality that well-oiled humans experience with comrades, friends, family, and lovers. Instead I measure the status of my relationships based on formulas that I keep in the unconscious regions of my mind, and I am in a state of near-constant failure to measure up to those formulas.
Like a lot of what I am exploring, this is not really new information. I am seeking to fit the information together in new ways, so that the patterns and connections are more clear, and to look for answers, both old and new, as to how these challenging patterns and symptoms can be changed, corrected, replaced with patterns that work better.
One practice that I recall having tried before with respect to this sort of problem is a way of more authentically connecting in my mind with the persons who I find myself imagining that I am letting down. When I think that you are disappointed with me because I have not posted a blog entry, or I have not followed up with an email or phone call about something, The “you” who is disappointed in me is an essay in my mind – a thought form that I have constructed about you, the actual person. When I reflect on YOU, the person, and feel into your heart, your love, your fear, your sweetness, when I allow my heart and belly to resonate with my sense of you as vulnerable human, then I can clearly feel that my “disappointment stress” is based on a black and white two-dimensional story that has nothing to do with who you are or with how you and I are connected with one another in this great web of humanity seeking compassion, freedom and wholeness.