Beautiful Problem: Feeling Exasperated

It is Thursday, October 18th as I write this. I am more than a week or two behind on my blog entries and find that in itself frustrating and makes me sad — so much has happened that I may not be able to integrate more fully into my life and share in these blogs,

Part of why I am behind on blog entries is the fact that there is so much going on at Sevenoaks that I get wrapped up in that keeps me from doing what I love – what I love being: writing blog entries, reading and recording the Pathwork Lectures (and now the Pathwork Questions and Answers), and time with Pat as we work diligently with Sage and Anthony in growing our intimacy.

And sometimes the work with Sevenoaks not only keeps me from what I love but it becomes frustrating in its own right. Yesterday one of my many meetings left me feeling exasperated. This descriptor, “Exasperated,” floated up during meditation Thursday morning and somehow felt so right.  Exasperated! Yes, the meeting left me exasperated.

During Coffee time with Pat Thursday morning I shared much of my cause of frustration with this meeting that occurred on Wednesday. Pat:  Exasperation could be a normal human experience. Could you say more? Gary: Exasperation is beyond frustration. By exasperation I mean feeling exhausted by the frustration itself, by the weariness of it all, and much of this weariness being the interaction with all the people I am involved with in leadership at Sevenoaks.

Pat: These long (2-3 hour) phone meetings are not one of your favorite places to be, compared with, say, one-to-one work with people or working with the Pathwork Lectures, etc. Does this work at Sevenoaks have meaning for you? Or are you being masochistic in sticking with it, or are there lessons for you in this committee work that makes being on these committees worthwhile even though painful?

Gary: Well this exasperation did not seem to come up in my 29-year career in industry. Somehow now, in a spiritual community, I am manifesting disrespect toward myself in some of these committees on which I serve. Yesterday I could not even get the phone to work right for the meeting and could feel the daggers coming at me, “This idiot doesn’t even know how to use his iPhone.” Of course I am my own worst critic here and nothing was actually said. But what I am aware of is needing to ask myself why I am on all of these committees if they bring exasperation. Last week I celebrated my 70th birthday, and all of this exasperation does not hold meaning for me as I enter my 71st year of life on this planet. I have to get past this in some way or it will drive me nuts.

I looked up the word exasperated and could see that it exactly fit what I was feeling: Exasperated: irritated or provoked to a high degree, extremely annoyed; incensed, angered, vexed, inflamed, infuriated. Yes, yes yes! Exasperated is what I am feeling with much of this organizational stuff at Sevenoaks.

So this exasperation was the “beautiful problem” I brought to my session with Moira later Thursday afternoon. Let me share how this session with Moira went…

Moira began by helping me to get my feelings of exasperation out, to feel them, and to realize how on some level I had been burying them and denying them most of my life. It was good that the meeting brought these feelings out of me. She helped me to see and own that the feelings were in me. Yes, provoked by outer situations, but these feelings of exasperation are MY FEELINGS.

Moira: How great that these committee meetings enable you to get in touch with these feelings, making them conscious in you. They are old feelings, feelings you have not allowed. Just let them out right here. Gary: And I did. It was a Skype call (interestingly this was the first time I used Skype with Moira and it worked so well for this my 79th session with her) so she could watch me in all my rageful glory! Moira: Bring it out! This is stuck energy. Let it flow. You need to express it, to feel it. It is not all of who you are. It is temporary. Behind these feelings lies the Life Force, the beautiful person you are. To get to this Life Force you must go through the rage! Gary: And so I did!

Gary: This is shameful, showing these feelings. My belief is that if I were spiritually and psychologically mature I would not have these feelings of fury and exasperation. All these negative experiences would be like water off a duck’s back, IF only I were spiritually mature. Moira: So true, but in THIS area of your life you are immature. Let’s slow down. Take this in: in this area of your life you are immature. But this is not ALL of you. Also see that in your blog, in your work with the lectures, in your generosity, and so on you are mature. But here, in some of these meetings some of the time and with some of the Sevenoaks leadership you are immature. This immaturity in these meetings is one of your edges of development and it is so good to enter these waters in your growth.

Now let’s look at what is happening. Here, in this immaturity, you are making demands of yourself and of others. Gary: Yes, I need to mature out of this behavior. Moira: Not just yet! Forget behavior. Rather first, right now as your are doing, express and feel your deep emotions here. There is lots of stuff here! Gary: And so I did.

Moira: What is “being immature” like for you? Gary: I can’t be immature! I dare not be immature! If I am immature I shall be shamed and disrespected, especially by those who are spiritually mature. This relates to spiritual authorities, to counselors, to psychotherapists, and the like. In fact, for a long time I was terrified to go to a psychotherapist out of fear that he or she would laugh me out of his or her office, thinking I was an immature, rebellious, jerk. Even for a while I thought that religious authorities, spiritual teachers, and therapists would see my work with Pathwork as pathological – and so judge me as being very very immature. This judgment and rejection would be death! Spiritual immaturity is death to me. Immaturity negates everything I have done to grow and mature, especially spiritually!

Moira: So, getting back to these committees at Sevenoaks, when you expose your immaturity and incompetence in these committees and are despised by some, rejected by others, and dismissed as irrelevant in life, is that really death? Painful, yes. Inconvenient, yes, but death? Gary: Well of course not. Painful, yes, but not death! Moira: Right, painful, but not death.

So what are you demanding of the other leaders? Gary: That they respect me and see me as competent. Moira: And if they refuse your deal and instead reject or ignore you or judge you to be incompetent in some way? Gary: Then I get exasperated. Moira: And so you deny your incompetence and put on a mask to hide behind, a mask of pseudo competence.  This is transference, to place this demand on others that they respect your competence. When you dare to take off your mask, to admit rather than deny your incompetence, AND experience disrespect for your incompetence, then you will see that being incompetent will not kill you at all. Inconvenient and painful, yes, but not your death.

Moira: Let people have their own reactions to your incompetence. Avoid the shoals as you steer your ship through the waters. The shoals will force your ship to run aground in duality: “feeling good” when people praise your competence and “feeling bad” when people disrespect you for your incompetence. Steer the right middle path between the shoals on either side. Do not hesitate to show your warts. Desire respect in all areas of life, sure, that is human, but do not demand respect. If you demand respect you will end up with a frozen life center.

Gary: We have so many strong personalities in our Mid Atlantic Pathwork organization, each with a different version of a vision and mission for the Pathwork organization. How to be with all of these folks!  How to express my own vision in the midst of all these strong leaders. Moira: Yes, and Karen consistently said you were the one who held the vision that at least she saw for Mid Atlantic Pathwork. She saw you and respected you. She was such a gift to you. But now you have these very strong personalities around you that you believe do not support your sense of vision. Gary: Yes, it is absolutely chaotic. I think the ship is going to hit the proverbial iceberg over the next six to eighteen months – everyone taking action and going their own way with little or no cohesiveness, or at least not cohesive with what seems real to me.

Moira: These are pretty strong opinions you hold about their each going their own way. Now this is key: What are you demanding of these multiple strong personalities? Gary: That they approve of me, of my vision, that they agree to go my way. That they respect my vision and direction. That they appreciate me. Moira: And this is transference: demanding from them the substitute for love (namely, respect) that you did not and will never get from your mom. When you no longer need their approval or respect or appreciation you will be FREE.

Moira: Remember from Q&A 099 the phrase (from ¶5), “…The meditation I would suggest, in essence, would be the following:  “I want to give of myself.  Giving is receiving is giving is receiving.”  And swing with these words.  Repeat them.  Swing with them inside and feel on a deeper level their truth.  Let the divine reality help you feel this truth:  Giving is receiving is giving is receiving is giving is receiving.  And go on and on until you feel a new reality unfold in this particular respect, unfold like flowers, which is the real reality, …”

So just give and give and give – and others can take it or leave it, it does not matter. Gary: Yes, the Johnny Appleseed of Pathwork! I get it, so let me take this in.  Moira: Yes, and when you do maybe you will find that you won’t need these committee jobs any longer to get the respect you long for. You won’t need such structures to give you your sense of identity.

Realize that you are using these jobs you take on to define who you are, you are using other people, these other perhaps stronger leaders in your Pathwork community to find your own sense of identity, or rather misusing them, to get the respect for competence you long for – and this respect for competency, especially spiritual competency and maturity, is a poor substitute for the love you long for and did not get and will never get from mom. Rather, just give and give and give.

The other leaders do not have to give you respect or appreciation or anything else. In this way you set them free to be who they really are! You will be able to see and appreciate them for who they really are, warts and all, rather than as “puppets” you need to manipulate to give you what you want from them. From here you can see them for who they are instead of using them, seeing them as who you need them to be for your own state of wellbeing. You cannot love the people you are using to get your needs met. When you are using people to get your legitimate psychological needs met you are in transference with them.

After you realize all of this you may experience and feel real guilt for misusing people to get your needs met rather than loving them and letting them love you. You may experience and feel fear that your pseudo needs for respect and sense of identity as a “mature spiritual being” will not be met. Feel these feelings of guilt and fear as well. In feeling all feelings you will come to feel closer to yourself – and from there closer to others.

Gary: I feel so alive after this call. I am reminded of the beautiful meditation in Pathwork Lecture 138 The Human Predicament of Desire For, and Fear Of, Closeness:

“Whatever I already am, I want to devote to life.  I deliberately want life to make use of the best of what I have and who I am.  I may not be sure at this moment in what way this could happen, and even if I have ideas, I will allow for the greater intelligence and wisdom deep within me to guide me.  I will let life itself decide how a fruitful interchange can take place between it and me.  For whatever I give to life, I have received from it, and I wish to return it to the great cosmic pool to bring more benefit to others.  This, in turn, must inevitably enrich my own life to the exact measure that I willingly give to life:  for truly life and I are one.

When I withhold from life, I withhold from myself.  When I withhold from others, I withhold from myself.  Whatever I already am, I want to let flow into life.  And whatever more in me can be utilized, still waiting to be brought to fruition, I request, I decide, and I desire that it be put to constructive use, so as to enrich the atmosphere around me.”

Moira: Yes, so beautiful! Gary: I have tears in my eyes from reading this beautiful section, and the Lecture invites us to use this meditation every day. I am reminded of Jesus’ parables about the nature of the Kingdom of Heaven recorded in Matthew 13:

44-46 Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field.  Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls: Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it.

A week ago or so I realized that in my morning meditation time I can begin in a foul mood (as I did with “exasperation” this morning), but when I spend even a few minutes time with the Pathwork Lectures I come out of my malaise and feel enlivened, enthused. Then, remembering the above quote from Matthew (from my grade school days – since when remember a scripture verse so often I remember it from the King James Version that we used in my Lutheran school and church back then) I could “get” the parable. It was JOY I was feeling from the Pathwork Lectures. The collection of Pathwork Lectures for me is a pearl of great price for which I would sell everything to have.

And how does the Kingdom of Heaven fit in? Well the Kingdom of Heaven in Matthew is the Kingdom of God in Luke, and once again the verse from the King James Version of Luke’s Gospel Chapter 17 arises in me:

21 Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.

All beautiful stuff bringing so much Joy to my soul. Moira: Yes! Yes! Gary: And part of my Joy with the Pathwork Lectures, and the Joy of my personal growth in them, manifests in my recording them, my website, and even my blog. Moira: Yes, in your blog you are often so undefended – freely sharing your immaturity in some areas and your maturity in other areas. Gary: Thank you Moira, this is important for me to take in. So perhaps some of my anxiety in putting my stuff out there in my blog is the “strange shame of being naked and real” as described in Pathwork Lecture 152. Moira: Yes, not shame of the Higher Self or the Lower Self but rather the strange shame of nakedness, of realness. (open quote on strange shame from Lecture 152)

So in my session with Moira my Beautiful Problem of Exasperation transformed into deep feelings of Joy and Gratitude.

Shared in love, Gary