Here’s the problem with family patterns. Bear with me while I tell you a little story. My manuscript is just about finished and has been receiving rave reviews from friends and some strangers who all say they couldn’t put it down. So I had a fit of impatience and decided I didn’t want to wait for agents and publishers to make decisions, I would look into producing it myself. That’s a good thing to look into, but as I was doing some research, I got into a state of frenzy. You know what that’s like. Suddenly it seemed that making a decision was urgent and I needed to know what I was doing. My head was spinning after two days of online overwhelm and my stomach didn’t feel so great either. My neck hurt when I tried to turn my head…you get the picture. And all the time, there was no emergency. It was just an information gathering exercise. I wouldn’t even be ready to make a decision like that, but my body had gone into full on survival mode.
Then, I took a walk with a friend and got it! This was my family pattern, the stance I knew so well when my mother left in the morning to ride the E train (this was New York) to 23rd Street where she worked as a secretary (that was the word they used in the 50’s) for an import-export firm. She clenched her jaw and marched forward to squeeze herself into the rush hour train because she was a widow with two children to support.
But I’m not in the same position. I’m a fortunate person, a therapist, a writer, blessed with a family and living a (relatively) simple life in the Bay Area (simpler than it used to be at least). But my body didn’t know that. Under stress, it assumed the posture of a mother determined to survive.
That’s what I mean when I say we have to understand our family legacy. It helps us remember when our nervous system is reacting to a threat that isn’t there. As I talked to my friend, I felt my chest soften and my breath return. I remembered that my process with my book is a journey of the heart, of my spirit. I’m on a mission to inspire, uplift and guide others who can benefit from my experience.
Watch out for that survival trance. It can really take a toll. Eckhart Tolle says that the moment you become aware of the conditioned behavior, you are no longer totally identified with it and are back being present and conscious.
Send a comment on your own experience.