I was having a chat with a fellow practitioner recently and she was really feeling the feels around folks who are simply not willing to accept help. She was feeling super frustrated that she had been doing so much to try to support a human who was simply not willing to do the work.
After a long and very helpful cathartic ‘owning her story’ we got into the rumble.
That is what I LOVE about working with what I call ‘journeyed practitioners’! The helper people who find their way to helping the humans through their own journey of suffering, or pain or misfortune. The humans who are committed to unpacking all the things that get in the way of being their best versions of themselves. They don’t just come to own the story, they come to get all in the game. To be willing to go to the places that they know they have to go.
“Tell me what I am missing in myself”, she said.
The truth is, that mostly, intuitively I know what is going on. I know because I have been there. I know exactly what that feels like. I know what it feels like to just want to help so much, and can see so easily that if they just did x, y and z it would be a whole new effing ball game. The truth is, so do they…..
I know when I have been elbow deep in supporting someone to take the next turtle step, or the next leap and then, they vanish. They disappear. “But we were so close”, I would think. “We were nearly there and at the last minute they bailed”.
The reason they bail? The short answer, survival patterns.
There is a really good reason that humans make it through really tough times. There is a reason that they can still breath after feeling rejected, or persecuted, or physically threatened or embarrassed or shamed. Humans areincredibly resilient. They are able to deal with such high levels of trauma and pain. It is remarkable and miraculous. There is just no doubt in my mind about that. Incredible.
To get through this trauma, and pain, discomfort, shame humans unconsciously develop thought patterns and beliefs that are designed specifically to keep them safe. To survive. It is what the human is designed to do at it’s most base level. Survive.
After the threat the brain looks to see what works to contribute to the survival, and frankly it is not interested in whether it is right or wrong. It just says, “you did this, you survived, so we need to keep doing that”. And while it may have been the exact thing that helped you survive then, it may be the very thing that is causing you suffering now.
“Is there a time when you weren’t willing to do the work? A time when you didn’t think you needed support or help”? I asked my practitioner friend?
She closed her eyes and took a deep breath. After a wee pause, she said “Yes…..many”.
“Tell me about it” I said.
For the next while, we explored our humanity. Hers and mine.
About how fucking brave it is to be supported. About how much courage it takes to step up and say, “I need some help”. We explored the discomfort…oh the discomfort of being seen by another human when we are not at our best. About being seen to not have the answers. About how scary it is what we might discover if we open that can of worms. About what it feels like to not know all the things. We adventured through what it feels like to contemplating having to actually change our own behaviour instead of trying to get everyone else to try and change theirs (never done that one *she says dripping in sarcasm*.
It is epically uncomfortable. It is excruciatingly vulnerable.
And from a survival standpoint (the unconscious), vulnerability = death.
And so, we go back to our old comfortable ways. Even if we are as miserable as fuck. It is predictable. It is familiar. And our nervous systems relax, even in the most chaotic. Because if we have navigated pain and loss by shutting down, of busying up or drinking, or gossiping, or smack talking others…as painful as it is, it is familiar.
As we deleted into our humanity we then popped out to our roles as guides. As helpers.
Our role as supporters of humans is to simply open the door. And if folks want to walk through in to the unknown, supported, given all the tools, encouraged and loved and STILL they choose not to, that is exactly what they need.
We can love them. Cheer them on and offer them a space to explore, and if they don’t want to do that, let them not want it.
I think of all the times that I have had all the answers, all the tools and the things and STILL I didn’t accept the help. Usually making it about the practitioner who was trying to help me (survival pattern). But it took me a LONG time for that pattern to emerge, so I could see it, so I could heal it. And I couldn’t have rushed the process.
You don’t have to be a practitioner to feel the frustration of someone not ‘doing what is obvious’, we get it. You could be a family friend, or a sibling, or a friend or a work colleague and can see that if they just did x, y and z they could just be free.
Do you look around and see what all the people ‘should be doing’? Are you making everyone else wrong?
Well my love, I’ll ask you, “Is there a time when you weren’t willing to do the work. A time when you didn’t think you needed support or help”? Take a breath and close your eyes…..
If you sweetheart are not willing to show up and be supported, with all it’s discomfort and frustration, it’s not fair to expect anyone else to.
It is not our job to push people through doors they don’t want to go. It’s not our journey. You can certainly use your voice, express your opinion but if they choose not to do what you have said, it’s their journey!
Don’t take it personally if they blow you off, ignore you, pretend you no longer exist when they pass you in the street. That is what their pattern needs to feel safe. They might make it about you, but really, it is a wounded part of them just trying to heal. In the best way they know how.
Our job is to show up for ourselves. To show up and be seen and heard. To do our own work. Is it challenging? Uh ha. Is it uncomfortable. Damn straight. Does it bring up a lot of ‘fuck you’ moments. Oh yes! But is it worth it….well, it appears to be!
Until next we meet, keep being brave, keep showing up and keep sharing beautiful you.