Posted by: Marie | November 13, 2012

(747) Allowing vs forcing – Part 1 of 4

Post #747
[Private journal entry written on Wednesday, December 21, 2011]

Today was therapy session day . . .

As I waited for Edward in the waiting area, I was reflecting back on a conversation I had last week with my mom . . .

She took me to lunch for my birthday. As we ate, we got to talking about our dads. She said that she really never knew her dad because he was more or less absent . . . working, traveling, who knows what . . . he showed up once in a while, but he really didn’t want anything to do with raising his kids. She said she wished she had had the opportunity to get to know him better.

The Flower by Martin Chen

I mentioned that I wish I had the opportunity to know my dad now . . . not so much that I wish he had remained alive (I don’t think he wanted to live) . . . but more that I wish I could experience who he was back then from the viewpoint I have now . . .

I explained to her what I meant . . .

I said that, when you are a kid, your parents are the standard by which you measure the rest of the people in the world. Then, as you get older and gain more life experience, your standard expands into something based upon a lifetime of experiences born from relationships with a multitude of people. At some point, you turn around and compare your parents to your new standard.

I wish I had the opportunity to measure my dad against this more evolved standard. But, I no longer have the opportunity to gather that data – and as a teenager, I didn’t know how to gather that data. As I kid, I only thought of him as perfect and flawless. I can’t go back in time. So, my chance to gather realistic data about him is lost.

I’m able to measure my mom against this new standard and determine that she is more of that and less of this . . . she has this strength or that weakness . . . but, I don’t have the opportunity to do that with dad and I wish I did.

Anyway . . . back to the session . . .

Edward met me in the waiting area and we walked up the stairs together. At the top of the stairs, he stopped in the restroom while I settled in on the couch. I had forgotten to write his check before I left the house, so I wrote it while I was waiting for him to join me. Once he came into the room and got settled, we jumped into our typical conversation . . .


Edward: How are you doing?

Me: I’m doing well . . . it’s a rather quiet week because of the holiday . . .

Do you have any special plans for Christmas?

Edward: We have a few get-togethers to attend, but mostly we are having a quiet celebration with just the three of us.

Me: I bet it will be exciting to experience Christmas with your daughter . . . how fun to see it through her eyes! How old is she now . . . four? Five?

Edward: Oh, no . . . she’s only two-and-a-half.

Me: Oh . . . for some reason, I was thinking she was like . . . maybe two (??) years old when I started working with you . . . but I guess that means she was basically a newborn when I started.

Hmmm . . . I wonder how I got so far off on that. I guess it is hard for me to keep track of someone’s age when I don’t have a face to put with her . . . (gently laughing) for me, she is kind of this fantasy child who exists only in my imagination . . .

Edward: Of course! She wouldn’t seem very real to you.

(After a pause) So . . . do you have anything in particular you would like to cover today?

Me: Well . . . we had an interesting activity in the conscious business group meeting this morning . . .

Edward: Oh! Tell me about that!

Me: The purpose of the activity was to help us discover our archetypes . . . the guy who led it didn’t use the term “archetype”, but that is what it was about, essentially.

We broke into small groups. We each described to the members of our small group a routine event in our lives that is rewarding for us – and we described the reward we receive.

Our group members listened to our stories with their hearts and emotions, and noted what images, emotions, colors, words, etc. formed in their minds as we each spoke. When we finished talking, the group members described what had come up for them in response to our stories.

In my group, after I described teaching piano lessons, one lady said to me, “I envision musical notes floating up from your students in a random way as the students play the piano . . . I can see you facilitating and encouraging those notes to rise and swirl and intermingle . . . to weave themselves into a beautiful cloud of musical tones . . . I see you as a ‘free-flowing conductor.'”

When she said the word “random”, I thought she was going to say that she could see me organizing the notes – getting the notes to march in an orderly fashion. I reacted strongly to the idea of being seen as an organizer . . . I reacted negatively . . . I felt constricted by the idea of being the person who does the organizing. So, when her imagery was instead about me being “free flowing”, I breathed a sigh of relief . . . that idea felt good to me.

I find my reaction to the idea of being identified as an organizer very interesting . . . I spend hours and hours every day getting organized and maintaining order in my world. When my world becomes a bit disorganized, I feel terror . . . I become paralyzed. In my mind, being organized is next to godliness.

So, why would I react negatively when I thought someone was going to praise me for being an organizer by nature?

My guess is that the driving force behind my compulsive organizing is fear – and that it is not my natural creative expression. My guess is that I really wanted the lady to see my authentic expression . . . the free-flowing creativity that bubbles up effortlessly from my soul.

And . . . how neat is it that she did recognize that about me!?!?! She said I am all about encouraging my students to let the music flow out of their souls, to be free and expressive . . . I think that is powerful insight.

Edward: It is very powerful insight . . . on her part . . . and on your part when you embraced what she said . . .

Me: Yes . . . thank you . . .

I think I can shift my habit of using organization to avoid being fearful . . . I could use it as a strength . . .

Edward: Tell me more . . .

Me: There have been times when I’ve used my ability to organize as a way to set parameters . . . to create safe space in which to allow myself to have no structure . . . a space in which to allow myself to let go . . . let my creativity flow freely . . .

Edward: That sounds like a very healthy way of operating.

Me: I think it is . . . I’ve operated in that way before . . . I could do so more often . . .

[Continued in the next post . . . ]


  1. That’s a good insight. I like that archetype exercise too.

    • I think archetypes allow us to better recognize in what ways we are similar to others . . . and our strengths . . .

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