Gator

Some people, like Lisa, learn as children to take on the problems, and even the sicknesses, of family members as a sign of love and caring, not realizing that they are taking on the role of “rescuer” within the Drama Triangle. Even if she did, families often encourage such dysfunctional behavior and use guilt and neglect to punish a failure to play the role of rescuer. A rescuer is different from a helper. While helpers wait for a request, rescuers dive in without waiting for a request. They “mind read!” While helpers check to see if the assistance they are providing is indeed helpful, rescuers are sure it is and continue on without checking. Helpers stop when the job is done and wait for the next request, but rescuers just keep on keeping on, eventually burning themselves out with overwork and feelings of not being appreciated for all their hard work and “sacrifice.”

Rescuers disempower those they mean to help by making their problems one’s own. Consequently, where only one problem existed before for Lisa – the problem of her family member – now their exist two; the original problem and the second problem that is created when she makes someone else’s problem her own. This is called “personalization.” Personalization is a powerful cognitive distortion that creates depression and anxiety by taking things, like criticism or thoughtlessness, personally, when it isn’t about us. Instead, it is part of the scripting of the other person, and they would act the same way to others if you were not in their life.

What’s the solution? If passivity is putting the needs of others before your own, and aggression is putting your needs before the needs of others, then assertiveness is the art of balancing the two.  Lisa thinks she is helping when she is being both passive and aggressive. She is passive, in that she is not taking care of her own needs by setting boundaries on how and if she will help. She is aggressive in that she is rescuing instead of helping. This is because, when you rescue, you put your need for validation and approval before the real needs of the other person – to learn to take responsibility for their lives and receive help in learning how to solve their own problems. But understanding these distinctions is difficult enough; changing strong, long-standing habits of thought, feeling, and behavior in families is much more challenging. Fortunately, this is an area where accessing interviewed emerging potentials through IDL interviewing of life issues or dream characters can make a big difference, as it did for Lisa.

 

The feeling of taking on the illness of Lisa’s sister reminded her of the colors orange and green. “The colors stay small in the corner – an orange and green lizard!”

When Lisa imagined that she was this lizard, this is what it said:

“I’m orange and green and it hurts the eyes to look at me.  I don’t want to be seen!  Most others are enemies.  Lisa likes lizards, but I don’t trust anybody.  We are very rare and they try to catch us.”

It seems that your strategy for not getting caught gets you caught!

“You mean being so colorful that I’m easy to see, yet I want to avoid being seen? Yes! It’s crazy!”

“I’m fast.  I like sun and hot stones!  I’m a very special lizard.  I’m a vegetarian lizard and I have under my right back foot a very poisonous gland! I dislike that I’m too small.  I want to have HUGE teeth!  I have a soft belly.  That’s not good!  It makes me vulnerable! I personify Lisa’s soft, vulnerable aspects and her ability to fight back pretty hard.”

“I want to become as big as a medium-sized crocodile!  It’s good!   I still have my colors.  I’m still poisonous.  I have these HUGE teeth and a very strong tail! When I become such a crocodile and score myself zero to ten in the six core qualities associated with waking up, or enlightenment, I give myself a 9.5 in witnessing, an 8.5 in inner peace, an 8 in acceptance of myself and a 3 in acceptance of others, a 7 in confidence, and a 1.5 in compassion. I don’t want to change.  I don’t want to have tens!  Ten means to be perfect, which is to be nice to people.  I want to have good boundaries!”

“If Lisa scored like I do she would have bigger teeth, an armored belly, and no bad conscience if she is only thinking about herself.  She is still afraid of hurting people when they are not nice to her.  She shouldn’t have a bad conscience about it! I would give her a little hit with my tail on her backside to kill her bad conscience.  I would stop all this bullshit of bad feelings when she’s not nice to people.  It’s such bullshit!  She should become cooler when someone is fighting with her.  She can fight back but it costs her a lot of energy in her conscience.   I have a tail!  I would kick all these not nice people with my tail, have fun, and not have a millimeter of bad conscience about it.  In the worst cases I will use my BIG TEETH!!!”

“Regarding taking on the sickness of her sister and her family, Lisa needs to build an armor for her soft belly.  A REAL armor.  I have my scales. For me it’s not a problem. If she did she would be much happier solving her own problems and won’t think she’s allowed to live only because she is helping others. Regarding her money and her sense of vulnerability sensed by others, she’s right about this.  She needs the armor, but it’s not such a big problem.  She can imagine me with my tail giving these people a good whack! Regarding her interviews with the secretaries she has to fire, she has a bad conscience about kicking people out.  I would do an interview and set up an appointment for two days of work.  To be very straight and clear with them.  I’m an employer!  I have to take care for myself!”

“I would have her focus on creating and maintaining her armor. It’s the most important thing in her life.  The others will follow! Besides when interviewing workers and job applicants, and with her parents, she needs to become me and Ms. Henning (another previously interviewed emerging potential) who is a little arrogant.  If she becomes us she can deal with mean parents, nasty co-workers, and other ugly people.  For really bad people, she can just be ME!”

“I have come into her life to show Lisa that she needs to have a “WHACK WHACK” tail and to use it without a bad conscience, and that it is good for her to use it! She won’t ignore me!  She just needs a little more development of armor. For the beginning she can borrow my suit of scales until she figures out how to have her own armor.”

What did Lisa hear herself say?

“Stop with the bad conscience!  Give unfriendly people a double whack!  Don’t be afraid of what’s coming back.  My lizard recommended armor.  He gave me an impermanent armor from his back at the beginning.  I should imagine being him when I am talking to unfriendly people.  In case of emergencies I am allowed to bite, without having a bad conscience! I need to stop with the bad conscience immediately – NOW!  Don’t feel bad when you’re angry!  Take the defense a little bit lighter with more play – not so seriously.  It’s not war or life-threatening.  It’s a dominance display!”

There are a number of things that this lizard had to say that are worth emphasizing and thinking about.

Lisa is wanting to protect herself from others but is so “bright” that she makes herself impossible to ignore! When this contradiction is pointed out to her she admits that it’s contradictory.

She is describing herself as a combination of lethal strength and power and great vulnerability. Here we see another contradiction. Such contradictions are inevitable and are necessary for homeostasis. Rather than seeing them as bad or attempting to eliminate them, Lisa’s challenge is to recognize the strengths in vulnerability and the weaknesses in being overly strong, although her general need is to move from passivity toward what will feel to her as aggression, but is in fact assertiveness. It only feels aggressive because she has been so passive that any movement toward assertiveness feels as if she is being assertive!

The basic change Lisa needs to make is in accepting her need to protect herself and to feel good about showing her teeth and “whacking” others when she needs to back them off.

Not needing to be “all tens” speaks to Lisa’s growing self-acceptance and permission not to be perfect.

As the crocodile she has the objectivity to see that the belief that she is only allowed to live if she is helping others is a vicious, manipulative fiction.

Seeing anger as a “dominance display” is an excellent description of objectification of Lisa’s feelings. Instead of her being fused with her feelings she can separate herself from them and use them as tools in order to accomplish what she wants in her relationships.

There is a major increase in self-confidence combined with a major reduction in self-doubt for Lisa when she chooses to become her lizard.

The low score in compassion may be a recognition that her previous sense of caring has been phony, the rescuer role in the Drama Triangle, and that backing off from caring so much about others is necessary before she can grow into any true compassion. Another way of saying this is that she needs to first grow in compassion for herself if her compassion toward others is to be genuine and honest.

Lisa, thank you for this beautiful interview and for its many important lessons for all of us!

Here is the transcript of the original interview.

What are three fundamental life issues that you are dealing with now in your life?

1. Taking on the sicknesses of others, particularly my family

2. Money!  They see that I’m vulnerable

3. Interviews of secretaries next week!

Which life issue brings up the strongest feelings for you?

x

Taking on the sickness of my sister.

 

If those feelings had a color (or colors), what would it be?

 

Orange and green.

Imagine that color filling the space in front of you so that it has depth, height, width, and aliveness.

Now watch that color swirl, congeal, and condense into a shape. Don’t make it take a shape, just watch it and say the first thing that you see or that comes to your mind: An animal? Object? Plant? What?

The colors stay small in the corner – an orange and green lizard!

Lizard, would you please tell me about yourself and what you are doing?

I’m orange and green because it hurts the eyes to look at me.  I don’t want to be seen.  Most others are enemies.  Lisa likes lizards but I don’t trust anybody.  We are very rare and they try to catch us.

It seems that your strategy for not getting caught gets you caught!

Yes! It’s crazy!

What do you like most about yourself? What are your strengths?

I’m fast.  I like sun and hot stones!  I’m a very special lizard.  I’m a vegetarian lizard!   I have under my right back foot a very poisonous gland!

What do you dislike most about yourself? Do you have weaknesses?  What are they?

I dislike that I’m too small.  I want to have HUGE teeth!  I have a soft belly.  That’s not good!  It makes me vulnerable!

Lizard, what aspect of this person do you represent or most closely personify?

Her soft, vulnerable aspects and her ability to fight back pretty hard.

Lizard, if you could be anywhere you wanted to be and take any form you desired, would you change?  If so, how?

I want to become as big as a medium sized crocodille!  It’s good!   I still have my colors.  I’m still poisonous.  I have these HUGE teeth and a very strong tail!

(Continue, answering as the transformed object, if it chose to change.)

(Character), how would you score yourself 0-10, in each of the following six qualities:  confidence, compassion, wisdom, acceptance, inner peace, and witnessing?  Why?

Confidence: 7

Compassion: 1.5

Wisdom: 8

Acceptance: 8 – me; others – 3

Inner Peace: 8.5

Witnessing: 9.5

Lizard, if you scored tens in all six of these qualities, would you be different?  If so, how?

I don’t want to change.  I don’t want to have tens!  Ten means to be perfect, which is to be nice to people.  I want to have good boundaries!

How would the life of the person who created you be different if she naturally scored the way you do in all six of these qualities all the time?

Bigger teeth, an armored belly, and no bad conscience if she is only thinking about herself.  She is still be afraid of hurting people when they are not nice to her.  She shouldn’t have a bad conscience about it!

If you could live Lisa’s life for her, how would you live it differently?

I would give her a little hit with my tail on her backside to kill her bad conscience.  I would stop all this bullshit of bad feelings when she’s not nice to people.  It’s such bullshit!  She should become cooler when someone is fighting with her.  She can fight back but it costs her a lot of energy in her conscience.   I have a tail!  I would kick all these not nice people with my tail, have fun, and not have a millimeter of bad conscience about it.  In the worst cases I will use my BIG TEETH!!!

If you could live this person’s waking life for her today, would you handle her three life issues differently?  If so, how?

1. Regarding taking on the sickness of her sister and her family, she needs to build an armor for her soft belly.  A REAL armor.  I have my scales. For me it’s not a problem, but I don’t know!  If she did she would be much happier solving her own problems and won’t think she’s allowed to live only because she is helping others.

2. Regarding her money and her sense of vulnerability sensed by others, she’s right about this.  She needs the armor, but it’s not such a big problem.  She can imagine me with my tail giving these people a good whack!

3. Regarding her interviews with the secretaries, she has a bad conscience about kicking people out.  I understand because she really wants to go to Bimini. I would do an interview and set up an appointment for two days of work.  To be very straight and clear with them.  I’m an employer!  I have to take care for myself.

What three life issues would you focus on if you were in charge of her life?

1.  The armor.  It’s the most important thing in her life.  The others will follow!

In what life situations would it be most beneficial for this person to imagine that they are you and act as you would?

Besides interviewing and with parents, she needs to become me and Frau Henning (another self-aspect) who is a little arrogant.  If she becomes us she can deal with mean parents, nasty midwives, and other ugly people.  For really bad people, she can just be ME!

Why do you think that you are in this person’s life?

To show her that she needs to have a “WHACK WHACK” tail and to use it without a bad conscience, and that it is good for her to use it!

How is this person most likely to ignore what you are saying to them?

She won’t ignore me!  She just needs a little more development of armor.

What would you recommend that they do about that?

For the beginning she can borrow my suit of scales until she figures out how to have her own armor.

What have you heard yourself say?

Stop with the bad conscience!  Give unfriendly people a double whack!  Don’t be afraid of what’s coming back.  My alligator recommended armor.  He gave me an impermanent armor of his back for the beginning.  I should imagine being him when I am talking to unfriendly people.  In case of emergencies I am allowed to bite!  –  Without having a bad conscience!

If this experience were a wake-up call from your soul, what do you think it would be saying to you?

Stop with the bad conscience immediately – NOW!  Don’t feel bad when you’re angry!  Take the defense a little bit lighter with more play – not so seriously.  It’s not war or life-threatening.  It’s a dominance display!