By Dr. Dina Evan As a therapist with 40 years of counseling under my belt, I could not even begin to tell you how many times I’ve heard the expression,...
By Dr. Dina Evan
As a therapist with 40 years of counseling under my belt, I could not even begin to tell you how many times I’ve heard the expression, “He makes me feel” or “She makes me feel.” And clients are usually ready to grab their coats and walk out the door, when I suggest that no one else ever makes us feel anything. We choose to feel whatever we feel and usually those feelings come from that little or huge bag of life experience we carry with us everywhere start from infancy.
Acceptance is Freedom
The deepest kind of freedom comes when you are finally are able to accept YOU, be exactly who you are, and offer the same freedom to others. When we are able to accept the feelings of others, knowing that does not condone or condemn their feeling, nor does it require us to change what we feel or believe. Instead, it creates the understanding that we each experience the world through a different lens and all of those differences require respect.
The world is filled with people who will try to tell us what we ought to think and feel, however, there is only one voice to listen to. It is your voice — the voice of your own integrity and values. Staying in alignment with that voice creates personal empowerment and a sense of safety. There is no greater sense of sadness or disappointment than that of disappointing ourselves when we act and speak with a lack of integrity. I often call this time in our history a holy moment because we are afforded every day, with opportunities to see what we believe and also see if we have the courage to stand up for that belief and act on it.
When we give ourselves the freedom to be authentic, we open the door for others to do the same. That opens the door to deeper and more meaning communication and growth. We are so afraid to hear what others think we often stay close-minded, rather than taking the chance to learn something new.
If we can take it for granted that most people don’t actually want to deliberately hurt others, then having a conversation becomes easier. If we can move from, “That’s a stupid idea,” to “Have you thought of or considered…” that opens the door to greater receptivity. When it comes to deep conversation, I often think the word “you” should be left outside the door and replaced with…” What I know would work better for me is,” or What I need in a relationship is…” This prevents the other person from feeling shamed or made wrong and they stay more open to listening.
Most of us are feeling petty isolated now, but this challenge doesn’t prevent us from talking to each other by phone, Facetime and lots of other ways. It might be a great time to have deeper conversations. In fact, putting a Zoom group together with a new topic each week could really be exciting.
Freedom and Diversity
When we talk about freedom, we also have to talk about the beauty and value of diversity. In some ways we are all different, however, we still live in a time when it feels scary to get close to a person who is too different from us. Whether it’s an elderly person, a LBGTQ person, a person of color or different gender…no matter what it is — somewhere inside we carry this flashing red sign that says danger. It’s important to realize that danger sign is because we don’t trust ourselves to remain authentically who we are. Can you imagine for a minute all the different things you could learn from just a single hour with any one of these people and how much that might enrich your life?
The most precious truths I ever learned came from sitting at the knee of my 88 year-old friend Irene who taught me tolerance, patience and humility.
Freedom is having the courage to admit you don’t know everything there is to know — and you are open to adding more to your tool bag so when you leave here you can honestly say, I did what came here to do and I was who I came here to be.” Light a firecracker and opt for that.
Dr. Evan is a Marriage, family, child therapist and consciousness counselor. She has presented nationwide seminars and workshops, written several books and created meditation CDs for couples, individual and mental health professionals. She has also won national acclaim as a human rights advocate. Visit www.drdinaevan.com or call 602 571-8228