You get what you give

We make decisions at levels we could barely ever fathom

An elderly student of mine (over 70)—who years ago began to attend in order to keep his (already impressive command of) English in good repair and thus empower himself to expose his grandson to it (by speaking in English to him as much as possible) with confidence—makes it a point, at the start of each of our sessions, to update me on his problematic (or as he says: fantastic) grandson and ’’the latest mischief he has been up to’’ since the last one. Let’s call the grandson Jonas. In short, Jonas is a pretty intense, hyper type of a boy who is, say, aggressively overflowing with energy as well as (interpersonal) anxiety—I think. Jonas gets ill a lot and he also has a severe case of constipation for which he has already had to be hospitalized several times before. As far as I understand it lots of his stress manifests in the kindergarten where, in fact, he is barely present, given his never-ending episodes of health issues. Of course, I have my own specious speculations about why he might be so out of balance, letting go uncontrollably in certain aspects while chronically holding back and not willing to let go in other respects. Clearly, separation is something really hard on him. At any rate, what his grandfather told me the other day just blew my mind. After 5 days of not passing stool Jonas was promised by his grandmother that he didn’t have to go to the kindergarten the next day if he managed to produce something in the toilet soon. Guess what: within half an hour there was a large pile on display there. Fascinating.

God only knows how much my own case of sluggish bowel movement is but a psychosomatic symptom of emotionally holding back, but one thing is for sure: We make decisions at levels we could barely ever fathom.



The other day during  a lesson I gave it suddenly hit me:
my student laughs at my subtle jests out of habit and courtesy
not because he truly enjoys my customary antics
but because that’s how it has been set up from the get go,
I noticed a tinge of annoyance on his part and I saw it in a flash:

the role I play in some people’s life is the same role some people play in mine

it suddenly clicked that deep down he may actually resent me for feeling being pushed, expected to react in a certain manner.. the same way I resent others for feeling being manipulated to humor them (or failing to do so give them reason to dislike me)

also, I understood: the subliminal resentment he may very well harbor towards me had nothing to do with me but everything to do with him, he is infected, say, by the virus, the compulsion to please and it is ailing him and he will continue to be suffering from it until the day he sees through it

of course, quite poetically, the moment this insight graced me happened as I was observing my own compensatory behaviors during the lesson. By keeping a stronger frame or poise than usual I felt a continuous tug, a compulsion to relieve any tension that has arisen in our interaction (which, again, was due to slightly violating the co-created role I have assumed from the start of our sessions), rather than being easy-going and chatty I let some pressure weigh on him so that he could work things out for himself, I gave lots of space, in other words, I wasn’t focusing on me (delivering, proving, convincing, impressing, etc.), rather I was  focusing on him. And then A-ha! noticing the extent of my compulsive behavior to please by simply relaxing through it I have discovered it being mirrored back at me right in front of me

The role I play for some people is the very same role some people play for me.


You attract what you put up with

the compulsion to please others stems from a pattern of behavior that you bring from the past, whenever you feel resentful towards people who seem to be needy and clingy it stems from a self-imposed pressure to bond with them, granted, others assist in establishing it but it is, in effect, you who enact your involvement in interpersonal dynamics riddled with expectations, it is you who project the emotional demands that are smothering you, it is you who make yourself feel as if you owed it to others to humor them and it is you who guilt yourself into reciprocating phony intimacy and faking a semblance of genuine sympathy, it is a choice that have been made and sustained by you and only you, or as Adyashanti puts it: You attract what you are willing to put up with

Giving Up the Project “You”

whenever you get lost in sounds, textures and sights, the deepest impulses of your body more so than jittery ideas and thoughts of your mind and more importantly whenever you engage in playing the game of the truth—win or lose—more so than you engage in the shadow-play of the self:

you have no face left to save
no identity to uphold, no self-consistency to keep
noone to convince and noone to impress
no privacy to protect,
nothing to gain and nothing to prove
nothing to miss out on
and nothing to lose

and that’s when you become alive