The writer is only too familiar with the feeling Oriah describes: ‘constricted, shaken, a little frantic….helpless’ – and with the inward and outward impacts of being privately and publicly lied about, with significant harm done. At one level she subscribes to the line – attributed to various people – ‘what other people think of you is none of your business’. At another, as Oriah points out, ‘we live in a shared world, so what others do can impact us’. At a very deep level, we need to belong and we need the acceptance of others. We are not immune to harm done. That is especially true, where there is judgement, exclusion and shaming not only by the person presenting the distorted reality, but also from others who choose to accept a distorted reality without any direct experience or real enquiry – behaviours which are culturally supported and prevalent.
Like Oriah, the writer sees this as being fundamentally a question of how we deal with powerlessness. Oriah describes the process of creating a sense of spaciousness around the other person’s actions and her response, through self-reflection/witnessing, sitting with the feelings, humour and sharing her process. The writer would add connecting with her body, and her breath, to bring herself into here-and-now reality; finding ways to express her feelings through sound, movement, art; finding connection, closeness and a sense of acceptance/belonging with another/others…. All forms of self-care and presence – the antidote to someone else’s projections through brutal story.
Here is the text, for those who have difficulty following Facebook links:-
‘How to be with the reality of someone lying about you? To others. Frequently. For years. Even after you have approached them and explained that what they think you did is simply not true.
I admit it – this is a tough one for me. Sort of graduate work in “getting” that what others do most often has nothing to do with me. And yet, we live in a shared world, so what others do can impact us.
This can happen in families, in groups, in communities and – if you have a public profile at all – it can happen publicly. What a challenge – to let it go, not to step into a fight that would shape our short lives in undesirable ways, to send a prayer for the other. . . . Okay, that last bit might be post-graduate work. :-)
For me, it is less about reputation (although I am not immune to cringing at the idea that others believe something untrue about me) but the way it makes me feel inside- constricted, shaken, a little frantic. . . helpless.
Ah, there it is – the helplessness – the inability to do anything to stop something that affects me.The illusion of and desire for control arises – the inner child-like wail of, “Not fair!”
lol – yep, not fair. That at least makes me smile. I sit with the feelings, I imagine creating space around the other’s action and my reaction. . . . letting it all be held in something larger. And the constriction loosens, and I become still.
And then I write a little here as a way of sorting what just happened and sharing it in the hopes that it might help us all with our shared human struggles. (And if you think you’ve heard a lie about me please do not post it in the comments or send it to me. Lies do not need repeating and if it’s one I have not heard yet well, I don’t need to hear it! ♥) ~Oriah’
Palace Gate Counselling Service, Exeter
Counselling Exeter since 1994