These Pretzels are Makin’ Me Thirsty!
Do you remember this classic Seinfeld bit where Kramer is cast in an upcoming Woody Allen movie as an extra who delivers a line in the movie. As Kramer so often does he slides into Jerry’s apartment to share the news and Jerry, Elaine and George each take turns hearing, interpreting and delivering the line with varying degrees of success. If you’ve got no idea what I’m talking about check out the clip here, because by no means am I doing it justice.
Now, in a lot of ways I’m like Kramer. I’ve got this line I was given and repeat it to myself again and again trying to get it to sound just right. I think too, if we’re honest, we all have these lines that play in our heads, you know those lines that seem seductive and true yet rarely lead to nourishment or life giving activities. Many schools of psychology have studied these types of thoughts- Alfred Adler would call them mistaken beliefs, Albert Ellis might call them distorted cognitions, and in spiritual terms it might be seen as spiritual warfare. No matter what you call it there’s a pervasive voice inside that just seems to whisper innocuously crippling phrases. When I’m in the midst of these types of thoughts I’m really in a bind. Logically I know they’re not true and really don’t hold all that much weight, but when they are spinning around trapped in my head, they seem to take on a life of their own.
A dear friend of mine once said that until you name the fear it has a power all to its own. Once named, that same looming fear shrinks to a manageable size; it loses some of its venom. To put it in Adlerian terms, once I recognize that the belief upon which I’m operating is likely a mistaken belief- one borne out of fear, scarcity and insecurity, I can then choose to re-write the script and shift to a belief that is more nourishing and empowering. My classic line, said in a pouty voice is, “nobody gets me.”
I have historically felt like a victim with the thought running through my head that nobody gets me, no one understands me, no one believes me or in me. (I wish there was a font for whining so you could hear the point I’m making) I have been trained as a master complainer and learned to get attention by whining instead of more nourishing means. I am just now beginning to learn the life-giving tools of personal responsibility, of aliveness and telling the truth.
A part of taking personal responsibility for my life has been in revisiting some of these old lines that run in my head and looking at them with a fresh set of eyes. Just as Jerry, Elaine and George all emphasize different parts of the pretzel line, I’m beginning to see that as I expose my mistaken belief to more and more people I am allowing for different interpretations on what I had taken to be fact.
Now when I hear that voice inside whisper nobody gets you. I hear it very differently. Whereas I once thought it meant that no one understands me, I’m seeing very clearly that it could just as easily mean that I don’t give much if any of myself to other people. So in that sense nobody really does get me, my aliveness, my energy, my strengths, my weaknesses, my personality, my emotions, me! In fact the more willing I am to share me in relationships the more I find that people truly get and understand me! It turns out that moping and whining about what I didn’t have (understanding) was really just a charade that was keeping me from giving myself more freely in relationships!
At some level it was easier to believe that no one gets me than to instead add the last part of the sentence saying, no one gets me because I don’t give that much of myself. Owning that last part has made all the difference for me in wanting to be more authentic and wanting to be more open in relationships. Now while I still have work to do in this area, I like the corner that I’m turning and the sense of control that comes with taking responsibility and ownership for my runaway thoughts. And just like Kramer who is using the support of his friends to help him with his line, I am using the support of a truth-telling community to help me test and re-work my mistaken beliefs.