In a previous entry, I mentioned that during an event in Prague two weeks ago, I walked off stage. It was the first time I have ever walked off stage in my life. One of the teachers had a very unconventional approach to jarring people out of their realities. The unconventional approach was to yell at people. For many in the audience, this approach seemed to work. Others, it made cry. Long story short, his approach ended up triggering my PTSD. The force and rage behind his voice made me feel like I was 6 years old again and in danger. I tried to hold myself on stage for as long as I could, until I decided that it was self-abusive to do so. During his second intentional outburst, I ducked behind the curtain and nearly fell over my own shoes down the stairs in back of the stage crying. I resigned from doing the rest of the seminar. I did not make any friends doing that. Many people were angry with me because of that decision. I was at a crossroads that night. Was I going to abandon myself and not take care of myself by staying on stage, thereby proving to myself that I was not trustworthy. Or was I going to stand up and walk off stage, thereby taking care of myself and proving to myself that I am trustworthy. I chose to prove to myself that I can trust myself with me. Looking back, it was one of the best decisions of my life. At face value, it seems like a rather insignificant action in the grand scheme of things. People walk off stage all the time. Most people will not even remember that action I took when looking back at my career. But if you look deeper, you will see that it was a significant action because it was the first time I really followed through on the decision to become trustworthy to myself. It was the first time I put my feelings above my career. It was sheer stupidity when viewed from a PR perspective. It was sheer genius when viewed from a personal progression perspective. This ‘theme’ of self-trust is now the current theme of my life. I’m even working on a new Ask Teal episode about it.
Yesterday, I found myself at the very same crossroads. I went to a hypnosis appointment and during the session, I began to notice that I was feeling on guard against the hypnotist. When I was instructed to notice the place in my body where the vulnerability was, I was compelled to fold my arms across my solar plexus. I asked the vulnerable sensation in my solar plexus what it was trying to tell me and this little voice inside me spelled the word LEAVE. My world started spinning. I was being asked by my inner voice to leave the room and yet, I knew it would inconvenience and upset the hypnotherapist and result in a confrontation. In years past, I would have suppressed and ignored that voice. I would have argued it into submission and stayed where I was expected to stay. When you’re young and you’re sexually abused, you have one option to survive… to make what is happening to you ok. You don’t get to protect yourself. You don’t get to honor your feelings. You have to ignore what your emotions are saying to you. You violate your boundaries by not honoring your emotions and making what people around you are doing to you ok regardless of how you feel. This pattern follows you into adulthood. It has followed me into adulthood. I knew however that this was a crossroads moment. I had gone to the hypnotherapist to get more perspective on what to do in order to thrive in my own life. And there was the answer. The answer came in the form of a choice to leave or to stay. The answer came in the form of a choice to honor my emotions regardless of their validity or to ignore them. I sat up and told the hypnotist that my inner voice had told me to leave. I felt at once embarrassed and empowered. I began running through elaborate mental scenarios for what I would do if he tried to not let me leave (like had happened with myself and men so many times in the past). I decided that no matter what, I’d do the opposite of what I used to do… I’d defend myself. The feeling of inner empowerment kept climbing as I became more resolute and more resolute in my decision to be my own advocate. I was slightly shocked that I actually had the choice and ability to protect myself. I smiled at the hypnotist with a provocative smile that said, “Go ahead… try to make me do something I don’t want to do”. I had mentally promised myself that I would not lie down again in the chair. Sure enough, at that moment he asked me to lie back down so he could anchor the positive feeling state that we were trying to anchor deeper. I looked at him squarely in the eyes and said, “no, my solar plexus said leave and the most important thing for me to do right now is to learn that I can trust myself. I can only trust myself if I honor the way I feel without any doubt right now. I’m not going to second guess myself right now”.
The hypnotist said, “Can I convince you to lay back down for a minute” I said very defensively “No you can’t”. He smiled at me and said in a satisfied tone “good girl”. I stood up and walked out the door. The hypnotist seemed pleased with my progress and his purposefully aggravating role in the scenario. I was in shock as I exited the building. I felt more empowered than I have probably ever felt before. I was in uncharted territory. I had just deliberately chosen to greatly inconvenience someone else and trust my emotions and heed the inner voice without hesitation instead. I broke protocol. As a result, I could feel my being exhale in relief and experience some of my own capacity. As a result, I could literally feel myself trust me. I felt like I could settle into myself and know that I would and could take care of me. I felt loved by me. It was a turning point moment. I had never done what I did for myself that day. I made a promise that I would protect me and honor my inner voice at all costs. I spent the rest of the day in an odd space of empowerment laced with unfamiliarity. I knew that something very big had changed for me but that I wouldn’t see the full effects until later. It is ironic that it took a visit to a hypnotist to wake me up to my own ability to trust me with me. After all, it requires a mass societal hypnosis to turn people away from themselves and teach them to dishonor their own feelings. Because going against one's feelings is a highly unnatural state.
Self-trust is the byproduct of honoring your feelings. Our feelings reflect our thoughts. Those thoughts can be positive or negative. They can be accurate or inaccurate. Our emotions reflect thoughts regardless of whether they are positive, negative, true or false. This is why it is so important to question our thoughts. However, while it is crucial to question our thoughts, questioning our thoughts can be a tool we use to invalidate our feelings. Questioning our thoughts was never a practice that was designed to invalidate or inspire doubt in the inner voice. If you ignore the inner voice and if you do not honor your feelings, you violate yourself. Violating yourself is a million times worse than being violated by someone else (I can tell you this after so many years as a “victim” of extreme abuse). There is nothing worse than living inside the same skin as the enemy. For those of us who care about making other people happy and for those of us that try hard to avoid conflict, it is absolutely crucial that we listen to our own emotions regardless of the cost. No consequence could ever be worth losing your own trust. No consequence is worth living at odds with yourself.