This can be incredibly activating, especially if our role in early relationships was to set aside our own needs, where tending to the other was the primary way that we received love and attention.
In a field of narcissistic organization, we are not seen as a subject in our own right, but as an object in the perceptual field of another. Our sense of worth is derived by how well we are able to regulate and care for the emotional needs of that other. Especially at a young age, this is a very tenuous situation to be placed in.
For many, we will do just about anything to not disappoint, for to do so opens the doorway to seemingly unbearable feelings, images, and impulses. The invitation, as always, is to slow way down and bring curiosity, awareness, and kindness to our experience in these moments as we begin to encode new circuitry.
What is it like for you to disappoint someone? To let them down? To fail at living up to their expectations, no matter how hard you try?
What are the core beliefs that arise during these times, the feelings that you will do just about anything to get out of, the habitual behaviors you engage to avoid a direct confrontation with your own embodied vulnerability?
What do you imagine the consequences will be if you are not able to “make them happy,” or remove their anxiety, emptiness, self-hatred, and the pain of their unlived life?
Will you be abandoned if you disappoint them? Or will you be the target of rage and attack? Will you be shamed? Unsafe? Should you just go ahead and try to make them feel better at all costs, even if detrimental to your own integrity?
To what degree have you come to organize your life around the unconscious belief that your role is to urgently heal, fix, and cure the other when they are upset?
And for those of us who identify with being healers, therapists, or counselors of any kind, what does it mean about us if we are not healing, but disappointing?
It’s some very rich territory that we can investigate, as alchemists and archeologists of soul… a whole fountain of sacred data we can mine in this experiment. It is an act of mercy and compassion, for both ourselves and others, to take some time and explore this.
My next book, A Healing Space: Befriending Ourselves in Difficult Times, will be published by Sounds True in 2020.