Do you ever feel lonely? A lot of times we can trace it back to childhood experiences that have little to do with our present circumstances. We learned a way of feeling that fit then, and now it is like an old, comfortable coat that we continue to wear even though it is much too small, ugly, and dirty. It no longer fits us, but we are comfortable in it. It is like wearing glasses that were prescribed for us as children. The prescription is now wrong, the frames are out of style, bent, and too small, but we still wear them out of habit.
On the surface of things, you would never think that this beautiful, smart, hard-working med student was shackled with loneliness, insecurity, trust issues, or worries about the opinions of others. She can hardly believe it herself, since her life today has nothing to evoke such feelings. She knows they are self-created, but how to change them?
Integral Deep Listening does not provide a quick and easy or definitive solution to such complex and long-standing problems. What it does offer, however, are fresh understandings of how and why we are stuck and fresh, alternative, authentic perspectives that are accessible and less stuck. By becoming them, we outgrow our comfortable but dysfunctional childhood scripts. Carla’s challenge is to remember who she really is, beneath the addictive tug of habitual ways of viewing life.
What are three fundamental life issues that you are dealing with now in your life?
2 Loneliness interfering with my need to focus to study for med school tests
3 Trust issues, though I know it’s about me and my feelings
Which issue brings up the strongest feelings for you?
If those feelings had a color (or colors), what would it be?
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?
An opaque sheet of glass
Now remember how as a child you liked to pretend you were a teacher or a doctor? It’s easy and fun for you to imagine that you are the shape that took form from your color and answer some questions I ask, saying the first thing that comes to your mind. If you wait too long to answer, that’s not the character answering – that’s YOU trying to figure out the right thing to say!
(Character), would you please tell me about yourself and what you are doing?
I am tall and thin, at Carla’s side.
What do you like most about yourself? What are your strengths?
When you first look at me I am one dimensional, but I’m not. I have multiple colors.
What do you dislike most about yourself? Do you have weaknesses? What are they?
I am very fragile. I can get shattered easily. I’m not very useful.
Glass, you are in Carla’s life experience, correct? She/he created you, right? What aspect of Carla do you represent or most closely personify?
I most closely represent Carla’s a part of herself she doesn’t ever want to be around.
Glass, if you could be anywhere you wanted to be and take any form you desired, would you change? If so, how?
I like myself the way that I am even though I’m not perfect. I am OK with myself even though I’m not that useful.
(Continue, answering as the transformed object, if it chose to change.)
Glass, how would you score yourself 0-10, in each of the following six qualities: confidence, compassion, wisdom, acceptance, inner peace, and witnessing? Why?
Confidence: 10 Because I like myself and I don’t look for approval outside of myself.
Compassion: 10 I’m very empathetic
Inner Peace: 10 I’m very much not bothered by events. I don’t get emotionally involved
Glass, I thought Carla said she didn’t want to be around you, yet you score so high in all six of these qualities!
Her not liking herself gets in the way of knowing me.
If you could live Carla’s life for her, how would you live it differently?
If I were in charge of Carla’s life I wouldn’t get so caught up in drama. I would stay with the witness a lot better. Not worry about what other people think about her. She would be at peace a lot more and like herself a lot more.
Glass, do you ever feel loneliness?
It’s a useless emotion. I don’t need to be around other people to feel comfortable.
Do you have any problems trusting, Glass?
I don’t have trust issues.
Things could happen. Some things are out of my control. I don’t worry about things that are out of my control.
Glass, would you like to change yourself in any way now?
I think I would like to be in her skin.
OK. So be in Carla’s skin. How is that for you, Glass?
It actually made me stronger. I’m no longer so fragile. I no longer have the properties of glass. I’m more flexible and mobile and I can change into…I can bend. Nothing really important changed about me.
I still have my compassion and ability to witness and not need anyone else’s approval. She can see me but my changing didn’t affect her in any way.
In what life situations would it be most beneficial for Carla to imagine that she is you and act as you would?
When she becomes lonely or gets caught up in how people might be thinking about her. Then she won’t be as emotionally attached to things that are beyond her control.
Carla, what have you heard yourself say?
What I heard was that there is nothing to feel bad about myself. There’s nothing to be hiding from. There is no reason to be feeling lonely.
If this experience were a wake-up call from the most central part of yourself, what do you think it would be saying to you?
I can’t go on focusing on things that are outside of my control.
Carla sums up the problem when she says “Her not liking herself gets in the way of knowing me.” Childhood decisions about our own worthlessness blind us to our own potentials. They keep us from seeing who we really are and cause us to make decisions that further limit our potential for success and happiness.
One interview can only open the door and point the way forward. It takes repeated interviews over time to outgrow old perspectives. It takes applying the glass’s recommendations to build trust in our own inner wisdom and inner compass.