Sally is pretty far along in her healing journey. The pressing issue now is to identify the lies that are hardwired into her thought processes and establish truth instead.
I find that it is critical to use word pictures from that person’s world, rather than use abstract concepts. Somehow, seeing the abstract played out in real life allows the truth to be legitimized more profoundly and quickly. Here is an example of the kind of conversation I have with people at this point in their journey.
Recently we explored the issue of deference. On the one hand, it sounds quite noble to defer to others – it feels like courtesy. However, in practice it can become the basis for victimization.
I started by pointing out that deference is not an absolute quality that anyone should walk in all the time. I used the illustration of a wedding. On the wedding day, everyone is expected to defer to the bride. Talking on the phone with your stock broker during the wedding ceremony would be considered rude. You should defer to her importance on that day and put all your desires and agendas aside for her.
She could see that. The picture of someone loudly arguing about whether to buy or sell this or that was quite compelling and ludicrous.
Then I flipped it. Suppose it is her wedding coming up. Imagine sending an email to the 100 invited guests asking them what time a day would be best for them for the wedding, since the bride wants to defer to their schedule and not inconvenience anyone on her big day.
She could immediately see that even with her level of woundedness, she would be willing to inconvenience people for her own wedding.
Again, the picture was personal enough yet ludicrous enough for her to grasp. Deference is not a 100% issue. There is a continuum between absolutely giving and absolutely receiving.
It was necessary to establish the legitimacy of her receiving deference since in the cult there is the opposite message pounded in. You have no rights. Attention should never be on you. No one cares about synchronizing to you. You have an absolute requirement to be alert to everyone else and to synchronize to them in all things.
Against a message that has been pounded in a thousand times, with huge pain-driven reinforcement, it takes an extreme picture to put a small crack in the old message. But the wedding picture worked.
Once we had established the fact that there are a couple of options, the burning question was what determines when other people defer to her and when she should defer to them.
I took her to two recent issues in her life where she had stood up to someone and overtly confronted them, rather than embracing the injustice and deferring to their view of things so as not to hurt their feelings. We compared that to walking at the mall. She knows that out of the blanket internal wiring, when someone is coming toward her at the mall, she will step aside instead of them. So on most small areas, she defers to others. But on these two big areas, she stood her ground with no difficulty.
She was not able to see it, so I gave her the word: mission. When it is her comfort vs. someone else’s comfort, and both are on the scale of simple, personal wants and wishes, she invariably defers to others, and this is not necessarily a bad thing.
However, when she is doing something for her boss, she had no difficulty standing up for justice and fighting for him to get what he needed for his project. When I phrased it that way, she could see it.
Then I worked through some areas in her personal life where she already could move out of blanket deference into some level of non-damaging dominion. I compared her shopping for something specific vs. something general. When she has a clear objective of getting a specific thing, she approaches the mall like a Major bent on conquest. She is not rude, but people move out of her way.
When she is drifting through the mall, wanting to do some retail therapy but not able to find anything compelling, she defaults to deference.
At the end of the day, she realized that the issue was not her past, it was her future.
She lived for a long time with a focus on survival. More recently, her focus has been on healing. She essentially has little sense of mission.
I proposed that as she becomes less focused on herself and more focused on Kingdom themes, the issue of when to show deference and when to graciously move toward achieving an objective would resolve itself.
It was hugely freeing to see that deference is not the one size fits all standard for all interaction. It was shocking how self-preservation dominated her world. She will be pondering what living with a mission looks like.
Copyright June 2015 by Arthur Burk
From the Admiral’s Club at SNA