All last week I was away at a training, and am now a certified LifeForce coach. Many people were interested in vision improvement, and I’ll be writing about some of those experiences soon. As always, though, the person I learned most from observing was myself. On the first night of the workshop, a hand mike being used on stage got too close to the microphone clipped to the speaker’s collar, and emitted a deafening screeching electronic feedback noise. While some people put their hands over their ears for the many long seconds before the mike was turned off, or even laughed, or got angry, I panicked. I became a terrified infant, curling up as tight as I could into a fetal knot, keening, tears pouring out, in survival fear like I was about to die.
The sound didn’t last more than 10 seconds, and when it stopped I told myself I was OK, I was safe, trying to really feel so, to get out of my frantic panic. Even though my brain knew there was no problem any longer, my body could not let go of the fear for several minutes — my heart was pounding, I was sweating, and I was still crying. After I calmed down, I criticized myself for being so sensitive, upset that I still apparently had so much fear in my body after I’d been working so hard on releasing it. My steady roommate pointed out that I was judging myself, rather than accepting who I was, and she was right.
Of course I thought of the parallels to vision — maybe as a sensitive child my mother screaming at me or at my father had struck me the same way, totally overwhelming my sensitive nervous system and sending it into overload. Back then I had no tools to cope except to shut down my vision to let in as little as possible of those toxic scary scenes, and then was never able to relax enough later to let my visual system open up again. Now if something happens that I don’t like, I don’t have to blur it out — I can change the situation by speaking up, change my interpretation, or leave. This was not possible when I was a child.
My sensitivity is not a curse but a gift. When someone throws an accusation at me now of being “so sensitive!” (as in “You have a problem, Nancy!”), I say calmly “Yes, I am”. I own it, which I never could before. If they’re open, I’ll go on to explain briefly that I know I can react strongly to loud noises, strong smells, etc. and that I also often pick up nuances others miss. So to thrive and give my best to the world I need peace in my life, quiet and calm, not a smoky bar with loud rock music, smelling of spilled beer! Know thyself.
This is not to say others have to walk on eggshells around me, or treat me as a fragile flower. As I own my sensitivity more, without apology, and deepen my inner calm with practices like daily meditation and journaling, I am able to be in normal settings, even crowds, more comfortably. Last week at the workshop I found myself wanting to escape and hide from people hardly at all. This surprised me, as I had been worried about it beforehand.
My final lesson (for now, as I’m sure there will be more!) from the mike feedback incident is that feeling fear is not the same as being a coward. I used to harshly criticize myself for getting frightened so easily, which of course made me feel even worse. Not only was I scared, I was a failure at fitting into Society! My teacher just posted “Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear.” (from Ambrose Redmoon). Similarly, there is no shame in feeling fear, a natural human emotion. I can recognize and admit my fear, then act as honorably as possible. Better to walk forward with trembling knees than not to walk forward at all!