I know from years of experience with both children and adults that people who don’t feel they are being heard are not very good listeners. Whenever it seems you are caught in pointless exchange with someone—where you are both just restating the same arguments—it’s time to stop and just listen and make sure you really understand what is being said to you.
Today, I just listened. When dealing with parts, listening many times involves feeling. That is the self’s way of listening. So, for several hours, I listened to Ghost tell me how it felt not to matter to anyone. And then for a few more hours, I listened to Katie tell me how ashamed she felt. And I listened to Vivianne tell me how much she wished she could die or at least hurt herself.
After that, I put some dal in the rice cooker for dinner. (Yes, you can do that. It takes a long time. But apparently electricity is easier to come by than a new gas cylinder, so I use electricity when I can.) While doing that, I felt like a failure because in terms of visible accomplishments, I hadn’t done very much today—actually, nothing much all weekend. However, I told myself, “Well, that’s one way of looking at it. You could also say I sat with my feelings for most of the day and that was very difficult to do.”
And this little voice answered back, “Oh, you can look at things differently?”
This was evidently news to some part of me, despite years of trying to do this.
I’ve been thinking a lot again about intellectual freedom, that I am entitled to think how and what I choose. That is my right. It seems to be difficult for me to quite grasp. I know it, and yet I don’t know it. I keep backsliding about it, which means the idea has not taken hold firmly.
Perhaps that’s why: I wasn’t listening. I silenced those parts of myself, and so they didn’t listen to me. Today, I did some listening. And someone finally heard. Yes, there are multiple ways of evaluating situations. Some ways of perceiving them make you feel more positively about that situation than others.
This is one kind of freedom to think your own thoughts. There are others.
Setting my own goals is another. I frequently let other responsibilities slide when I can in the interest of spending more time on integration, because integration is my highest priority. For example, today I did not clean the house, although that was the original plan for the day until feelings began to assert themselves.
I don’t exactly know how this will pan out, but my instinct about it is that this will be worth it in the long run—in fact, that it has been worth it. Sometimes I feel guilty about how I choose to spend my time, however, as if I am being lazy even though sitting and thinking about what I think I need to think about is never easy and usually not pleasant: in other words, it sounds a lot like work. That is because it is work.
I am fairly certain that my doubts about this are related: some part of me still believes there are rules about what goals you can set for yourself, just as it thought there was only one way to view situations—in that case, in a way that made me feel disappointed in myself.
The implications of feeling free to think my own thoughts and set my own goals are enormous. Suddenly, I can judge myself according to my own standards and consider my success according to the accomplishments I value. It makes me feel differently about myself. I have, I suppose, a decent career and a lot of education. I’m not terribly impressed with that–studies are not a particular challenge for me—although being able to keep it together well enough to hold down a job is a bit more of an achievement in my view.
But getting my head to this place—although it is by no means the place I want to be in the future—now that is something. That is really something. When I can look at myself through my own eyes instead of the eyes I think I should have, I can see that.
Communication is bi-directional. As I should know by now, you can’t just keep lecturing people (or your parts).