When my husband and I were first married, we took a course called DMA. It was about how to manifest the life you want. It had been created by Robert Fritz, who also created (and still teaches) “Structural Consulting”. Dana took this workshop from Robert. Structural consulting is a very different way to think of and organize human behavior. There was something called your “pattern” which was the pattern of actions you went through to get something you wanted, that did not result in getting it. Many of us sabotage ourselves by getting distracted from focussing on the thing we want. My pattern looked like this: I would see something I wanted, start in that direction and have an initial success. But then I would look around for support and approval, and when I didn’t see it, I would try to fix myself since clearly I didn’t know what I was doing. Interestingly, when I examined stories of how I failed to get the thing, I saw that sometimes support and/or approval would be there and I would fail to see it. That’s one way of sabotaging myself. Having been conditioned by my alcoholic parents to believe that anything that went wrong was my fault, of course I would try “to fix myself” and lose my focus on what I wanted. It’s also true that an initial success would be scary, because my parents disliked my intelligence, creativity, and exuberance, and any report of something I had done well would get the rejoinder “Don’t think you’re so great!” Understanding the dynamic was often helpful when I went after something I wanted.
Another, related, pattern was seen by Dr. Cynthia Rankin in St. Johnsbury VT. She was a specialist in mood disorders and I went to see her after I had become convinced that I really was dealing with serious depression. The first thing she did was find a person who helped me get on an antidepressant that worked. That was major, because I had been so freaked out by my first experience with medication. (See my post for July 20, 2010 for a description of the summer from hell). Another problem I was struggling with was a sensitivity to noise. This is actually common for people with PTSD. I remember one day when I thought I heard a chainsaw start up, and my heart began to race, etc. and then I saw it was just a fly buzzing on the window pane. At that point I knew I was in trouble. I also suffered from extreme reactions to the noise of small planes that flew out of the Franconia Airport, especially the ones that towed gliders, because they were louder and went on longer than the ordinary ones. On a good day in summer, I’d have to pack up my food and supplements, and something like a book or journal to keep me busy, and go to a friend’s house out of town where I was safe until dark. It made my life very hard. When the season was starting up again, I talked to Dr. Rankin about it. I said I would white knuckle it for two or three planes and then run screaming from the house and go ANYWHERE to get away. I asked her if “white knuckling” was OK. She said yes, and also that she had observed a pattern in my behavior. I would start a process that would take maybe 10 steps. I’d do the first two just fine, but then on the third something would go wrong. Later observations showed that it didn’t even have to be something I did wrong, it could just be someone complaining about something entirely unrelated. She said then, instead of going back and giving myself credit for 2 steps completed correctly, I would “conclude I can’t do it” what ever it was. This insight blew me away. I saw Dr. Rankin on a Friday, had the first Reiki Initiation on Saturday (and had the odd sensation of my immune system clicking into place like an invisible shield). Sunday, I knew there would be a lot of planes and settled down to count how many I could survive before I gave up. I kept track on a piece of paper. By the time I got to thirteen planes I knew that Dr. Rankin had given me my power back, and that the plane phobia was over. I still didn’t like the noise, I still don’t like it, but I don’t notice it every time like I used to. Now I hear it and say “Oh yes, I was in bondage to that sound for 14 years, but not any more.”
I also have found recognizing the pattern useful in other areas. I would repeat the things I had done correctly, or I would reinterpret the blanket idea that I couldn’t do it. Wondering where I got such a dysfunctional belief, I remembered my father saying, when I was having trouble doing something, “Why did you try it if you didn’t know how?” No guidance, no help with doing the project, just making me wrong for not knowing how ahead of time. I remember thinking at the time “Wait a minute. What happened to if at first you don’t succeed, try try again?” but of course I didn’t have the temerity to stand up to my father, and I didn’t understand how the power differential between parent and child (I was probably 9 years old) would give such a remark very heavy impact. Knowing about that pattern has been very significant. Struggling through PTSD in 2008 and 2009, when I was able to accomplish something that fear had been preventing me from doing, like clean up the mess in the laundry room, I would write the success and put (good for me!) afterward in an effort to retrain myself in the idea that I could in fact accomplish things I wanted to do. I will always be grateful to Dr. Rankin for her intelligence and wisdom.