Responding vs Creating

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May 2, 2019

I often have a hard time getting to sleep at night. My PTSD brain just won’t shut the f off. I know you’re thinking she should try ….. but the thing is, I do, I have, and sometimes, nothing works. I just have to ride out the torrent of thoughts and wait for them to wear themselves out.

The benefit of all this brain activity, however, is that I often catch insights into deeper beliefs that I’ve been operating on. Last night was no exception.

Few people know my whole story. I share it rarely; however I am working on my memoir, which will put together for everyone why I am passionate about what I’m passionate about and why I know what I know.

One of the challenges I’ve been struggling with over the past few months specifically, and certainly throughout my life as I recognize it now, is the fact that I have spent my life responding rather than creating.

I believe this is what some would call an external locus of control versus an internal one, although that’s not the language I use.

My hypervigilance and awareness of others – their behavior, body language, tone, perceived expectations – have been both helpful and hurtful in my effort to navigate life. Maybe I’m an empath. Again, that’s not my language.

I’ve had great success over the years in sales, teaching, and counselling because I easily attune to my clients, and proactively respond to their needs and questions often before they have had time to formulate them in their own minds themselves. I am alert to all the data they are communicating, both directly and indirectly, both visibly and intuitively. This capacity has made me very popular with some and scared others. It’s not always comfortable to know someone gets you if you haven’t yet come to terms with yourself. But I have developed that talent and skill over the years because I learned that it is beneficial to some and to me, and it’s also a survival mechanism.

When I was growing up I had to find ways to prevent being discarded. I wasn’t wanted and I was superfluous – there were enough others filling my role.

So I learned how to be helpful, how to anticipate people’s needs and fill them before they communicated them. I learned how to read the people, read the room, to make myself useful – to make my life about everyone else in an effort to be allowed to continue to have a life with my family, and not to be given away which was frequently threatened.

So now since I feel frustrated that I’ve tried to connect with other people in my field to work together and they’ve rejected me, I’ve had difficulty just going about my own business and doing my own thing, because of this underlying fear of even deeper rejection and isolation, than I already experience.

I’m a divergent learner so I always welcome different perspectives and am incorrigibly interested in an exceptionally broad range of knowledge. So it really conflicts with my fundamental values and worldview when people refuse to include my unique perspective in the knowledge they are accumulating.

And because of my fear of existential retaliation, I give others many more options to see my value than would most.

So I’m writing this now as a kind of commitment to myself – to step beyond responding to increase creating.

I long believed that “If you build it they will come” but lately I’ve allowed myself to be dissuaded from practicing that in my own life.

Maybe getting back to my own beliefs and values has been what all the resistance I’ve been experiencing has been about. Like the silly commercials on tv say – You do You.

Admittedly that’s actually a challenge for me. And I feel some shame around it. But it hasn’t been that I’ve not been helping others in the meantime.

I just have to be brave enough to share myself.

So that’s what I’m working on going forward.

Author: Elizabeth Perry

I am a 1st voice trauma educator, counselor, coach, peer supporter, consultant. I am passionate about addressing childhood trauma (ACEs) in adults, and helping those adults establish distinct autonomous free and empowered selves. Understanding the effects of our interpersonal relationships is key. I believe when we truly know ourselves and can understand others we can make healthy, informed decisions about our relationships which can benefit all involved, including nature. I constantly seek deeper self understanding and support others in doing the same through group training and one on one sessions. I'm most active on Twitter @eperryinsights My favourite hashtags are #HealthyRelationships #TraumaInformedByTraumaSurvivors #TraumaInformedCanada #ACEsAwareCanada #ACEsAllies #AdultsWithACEsRecovery

One thought on “Responding vs Creating”

  1. Liz, you write so eloquently. I don’t know how I overlooked your site. Just thought you were on Facebook, Twitter.

    This post kind of deeply resonated with what I am going through. After years of constantly responding, I am beginning to feel that I must nurture me, focus on me, dream me, protect me. I still struggle with the guilt of not putting someone else’s needs before mine, my ‘Christian indoctrination’ is one big mountain to overcome

    Liked by 1 person

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