Island Blog – The Options Option

I never like being told what to do. Receiving that Tolding, I feel trapped. Trapped with No Options. This Tolding person is not asking me if I want to or even can do the thing he or she just barfed out and I am required to catch it whether I like the shape, smell, story or point of it. I am forcibly contained within four walls, either of the home, the relationship, the school, the playground or the workspace. Limited, big time. No, not limited, because limited suggests an option, even if that option option is as thin as web or as elusive as a down feather in the wind. Trapped describes more accurately.

As children we are required to cope with a deal of confusion when someone at least 4 feet taller than we are tells us what to do. It’s like smoke, pervasive and choking and equally confounding. We cannot see our way through this confusive smoke. We want to run, but to where? We are confounded, surprised, upset and paralised. But we move, we go, we do, because we trust the Tolding person and we do not, yet, trust our young selves. As we grow to adulthood, we may believe we can now, at last, decide for ourselves as to whether or not we obey like slaves. Bizarrely, a great many of us do not grab that option of independent thinking, nor do we grow appropriate courage nor the legs to stand firm when we do not agree with an order. How come? We saw our own parents barking orders quite the thing for a whole childhood and we are now old enough to be parents ourselves. But infuriatingly still we find ourselves running to obey doctors, accountants, lawyers, people-behind-desks, ministers, husbands, wives, teachers, and many many more. We might even obey without realising we obey. What I mean by that is when we find ourselves in a situation wherein we feel obliged to someone, duty bound to someone, owing a debt to someone; guilty around someone. and we do their bidding regardless of how it makes us feel. I could go on, but I won’t.

Options, that’s the ideal. And to know that we have options. Okay, so let’s pretend we know we have options, anywhere, everywhere, with anyone, anywhere, anytime. I like that. But if I am not prepared, and a trigger authoritarian figure commands the daylight, throwing me into shade, I will perform as an automaton. I will react as I have always reacted, confounded, blinded by their command of smoke, puzzled and wanting to run but stuck to the ground. So what is this ‘know’ thing, the one that sings us options? Perhaps she comes all angel like, winged up and offering freedom and and acceptable refusal to comply. Well, she might. But I cannot get a hold of her.

I am learning, through intensive study and research that the most influential mind control is birthed in childhood. And, I get it. These imprints on my mind will always be there and, unless I bother my butt to look at them, allow them and then release them, they will always and forever influence my behaviour and my knee-jerk reaction to current triggers. I may not remember each incident in childhood when I had to obey or face dire consequences, as fact, but I will always remember how those times made me feel, and at that time when I had no voice/no choice I remember feeling hurt, lost, dismissed, rejected, ignored and judged.

Well who didn’t! Maybe that should have been a question, but trauma in childhood, no matter how we brush it away in comparison to someone else’s appalling abuse and cruelty, is real, hence the lack of a question mark. The good news is that options are an option. Just ten years ago, depression was ‘all in your mind’. Now we know different. So many of our ‘now’ behaviours and reactions to others stem from those early days, not because they remind us of the actual events, but because we remember how we felt. So what to do? I believe there is only one way if anyone wants to stop feeling judged, criticised, put down, rejected or mocked. And it is simply Research. There are a zillion books out there now, penned by those who have found a way to shake off their past. We also know now that trauma does not just relate to soldiers coming back from war, or abused children, women, men. You don’t have to have witnessed something terrible. What was once brushed off as nothing much, or all in your mind, now has a spotlight on it. It could be a fear of being alone in the dark, a cold mother, a derisive grandmother or primary school teacher. It could be bullying, marginalisation because you had to wear specs aged 4 and everyone laughed at you. It could be you took ages making a gift for a mother who laughed and handed it back. Do Better. It could be anything. It is, without question, trauma for a child, and the feelings of shame, rejection, hurt and judgement will never leave no matter how long a life you live. What happens is that when someone meets the same feelings as a result of an encounter in the adult world, the welter of emotions is overwhelming. It seems bizarre. We talk it down and scurry on in the same old shoes. But if we want something to change then that change is not external. It is within.

And this is why it is so vital to prepare. preparation is everything. It isn’t about a clever rebuttal, nor a running away, and all about doing the inner work. I know it. I do it. It is the only road to the Options Option.

Trust me.

8 thoughts on “Island Blog – The Options Option

  1. So true! Thank you for your thoughts they often pick me up on a not so good morning.
    The options option is so resonant & at 65 I wish I could settle on the right option but it seems to be ever more elusive!
    Is there a book that you would recommend?

  2. This is so spot on, Judy! It IS all about the inner work, and that inner work needs to be ongoing and never-ending. Recently a stranger caught me(at age 60) off guard with a rude, sarcastic comment and I was unprepared and therefore shriveled into my instinctual reaction of an “I’m sorry…” It’s never easy to react the way you would really like to! Thank you for this reminder of the options option! ~Susan

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