As I head into a discussion today with a trusted advisor, reckoning up my past, diving into where my misperceptions, fears, and self-abandonment have created unbalanced relationships in my life (just a lite chat!!), she’s had me question how these habits could be used for good.
What is the gift in my porous empathy for others that, when misused, creates stress and insomnia in me? What is the gift in my desire for order and structure that, when misused, creates perfectionism and alienates me from others? What is the gift in my insta-judgment of all I survey??!
In sum: How are these superpowers?
How can I turn this water to wine, this lead to gold? What alchemy can I invite in?
If, in my own perception, I can feel what others feel and detect imbalance, how is this skill useful? I have thus far used this skill to detect your “errors” and thereby attempt to change you or me to “fix” those errors — but what other options are there for this skill?
Before I switched to English Lit, I was a Psychology major. But I knew I’d become impatient when seeing what (I thought) was wrong with someone else and then having to guide them in their own time to their own (aka my) conclusions! Furthermore, a career of attending to the needs of someone else—how I considered it then—felt anathema to a woman who consistently side-lined her own needs and feelings.
I didn’t think I’d be a good therapist.
As an office/project manager, I used my ability to see things from a 30k-foot view to orchestrate projects and usher assignments from start to finish. (I also got to choose the office coffee maker!) While being the puppet master of an office was satisfying to my Order Gremlin, it wasn’t satisfying to my Worthiness Gremlin.
Office manager out.
So, here I am, a Teacher which in many ways is an ideal balance for my OverEmpathetic sponginess, my Order (and Pace-I-Determine) Gremlin, and my Worthiness need.
But I get the feeling that there’s a “next” place, another rung (or several) on my life’s ladder.
“What I know for sure” (to quote Oprah) is that what I’m learning here at this intersection of my gifts/curses is imperative. I know learning how to create healthy emotional distance between myself and my students will improve my own health, efficacy, and energy. I know learning how to ratchet back my Order demon is imperative to balancing my voice with others’ and allowing softer manners take the helm. I know, too, that settling in to feelings of competence and worthiness are imperative learnings before I move up that ladder.
So while I know that there is a ‘next place,’ I know, too, that this place—where I’m acutely aware of my faults—is critical to my development and burgeoning.
This uncomfortable place is my Fortress of Solitude where I learn who I really am, come face-to-face with my shortcomings, and stem the energetic hemorrhages before I move forward.
What are my mortal flaws? How can I turn them into superpowers? And how can I use those powers to best serve myself and the world?