A few weeks ago I was going through a bit of a rough patch. I was sad and upset over some recent events that had taken place in my personal life. To make matters worse, I also had finals due that same week so I easily felt overwhelmed and stressed by everything thrown at me at once.
One course that I’m taking for my grad program is a group process course, where we basically practice and learn about the group therapy dynamic. Each class begins with an hour of the therapy session or “processing” and then the second half is focused on theory and discussion about those theories.
Since I was going through this rough patch, I brought it up to the group to process what I was going through. I shared the story and explained my frustrations.
Hours and days after class when I was reflecting upon that sharing I finally asked myself: Who was I sharing this for? Me or them? Naturally, when it comes to any sort of therapy one would assume that the person who is sharing their story or their own healing. They want to experience some sort to relief. This is why many people cry when they are sharing a painful event. It helps them to release all those painful emotions so they can let go and move forward.
Well, the thing is… I actually didn’t cry. In fact, when I BEGAN to cry I stopped cause my throat started closing up, got re-centered, and began talking again. My inner critic came up and said “No, you can’t cry here because if you cry then you can’t talk! You NEED to be able to talk so that you can explain your story to everyone.”
I habitually did the exact thing that so many of us people pleasers do: In our own moments of suffering, we focus on the well-being of other people rather than ourselves.
How crazy is that?! I AM the one that was going through all these sad emotions and what do I do? I shift my focus to other people’s feelings and act accordingly to what I sense from them.
It’s such a people pleaser thing to do!
So what can we do about it, you ask? Well, there are a few things…
Be aware. Awareness is the single most important step and the more you challenge yourself to be aware of it the better. Like, we can MENTALLY know and understand our own dynamic but when we challenge ourselves to pay close attention to that dynamic unfolding in the moment it can light-up our eyes in a way nothing else can.
Next time you are associating with a group of people focus on things like: Am I focusing more on this other person or me? What am I feeling right now? Hint: If you don’t know what you are feeling in that moment, then you’re more than likely focused on the people around you.
Focus on “here”. There was an activity that I did a few weeks ago at a relationship workshop where we were asked to sit with a person and focus on “here” (you yourself are right now), “near” (the other person), and far (the other people, things, and places around you). More than likely, one is going to be MUCH more difficult than the others. If you’re a people pleaser, chances are the “here” might be the most difficult.
So next time you are associating with someone, in a group, or simply just around people on the street try to focus on where you are. Also try to notice in that situations are more difficult than others.
Do you easily focus on other people when at the grocery store or is it only more difficult when you are talking to someone? Make a mental note of which is easier and which is harder for you.
Focus on your body. Even if you can’t quite get the first two, don’t fret because this one is the easiest way to help shift your focus back on YOU and YOUR needs! The trick? Focus on your body.
For many of us, this can be very difficult in the beginning because our society has us so focus on our heads. We sit in front of a computer or spreadsheet all day and most of us rarely ever focus on “How does my body feel?”
Well, the great thing about focusing on the body is that not only does it tell us how the body feels health-wise but it also helps us to be more aware of our emotions. We can focus more on OURSELVES rather than other people.
So rather than doing a meditation to help calm yourself down or get re-centered when you’re around people or after you’ve been around many people, a much more grounded approach can be to simply focus on how you feel in the body. Is there tension? Do you feel jittery? Do you feel open? What emotions do you feel are correlated to these body sensations?
If you are never quite sure what you are feeling emotionally, the body can be a gateway to discover exactly what emotions are lingering around.
Begin to focus more on YOU today!
Stop for a moment and focus on your body. How do you feel? Is there any tension or pain? What emotions are associated with that?
Then focus on how you feel when other people are around. When you’re in a group, take the time to stop and focus on yourself. What am I feeling in this moment? What do I need?
Share your own experiences and what you are planning to work on below!
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