Hello Beautiful 🙂
Today I have a special note for anyone who considers themselves a supporter of human growth, especially those who share on the internet.
Being A 'Safe Space' Isn't Easy:
What I’ve come to learn in my own experience of wanting to be a safe and unconditionally loving space, is that this is going to ‘attract’ people who are in states of deep emotional pain and trauma. Which makes sense - as this loving space/spirituality world/self help world is going to be attractive in general as they have that part of them that longs to be seen and understood, and that longs to feel better.
I also witness in myself - which you may relate to - the desire to be for others what wasn’t available for me, the desire to ‘fix’ or ‘make others feel better,’ thinking that if I were just the right kind of way that *I* could be the reason someone finds what they need to heal. That is part of my shadow that I know I’m continually working through as I figure out the balance of sharing what I find important, looking to hold space for people and being ‘out there’ and available to walk through peoples’ shadows with them.
To step out of ANY kind of savior role - as no one needs SAVING, rather RESOURCING - to step out of having expectation for what *I* think they should feel/where I think they should get, and being a really good, strong mirror and pillar of support for THEM and THEIR journey. Not allowing myself to make it about me, but to keep the focus purely on supporting them and their path as it is.
This is my continual work.
With this, I've experienced coming into contact with people that are in a state of such pain and trauma that they find someone like me and see me as a place to ‘dump’ all their stuff - so to speak. Rather than coming into my world to self reflect and use the tools I'm offering to do so, instead they are simultaneously looking for me to fully validate them, fully see them, fully understand and love them (along with their IDEAS that they have started to own as IDENTITIES) while also being DEEPLY distrusting of me because, generally speaking, they have only experienced teachers/guides/caregivers that were ultimately antagonistic towards them.
This sets them up to be in a state of deeply WANTING to be around me, to talk to me, to share with me and to have me validate them fully - and when that DOESN’T happen the way they are expecting it to, they perceive me as a threat - and then it becomes about attacking my character, my work, the way I speak or share as a way of defending themselves against me. Again this makes perfect sense.
As someone who shares on the internet in broad terms - I can’t always fully see someone and show up for each individual that crosses my path.
I know some of the things I say are going to get filtered through a filter so as to be totally misinterpreted - and that there is little I can do about this. I have no control over people’s filters. Nor do I have the power to say everything I say in a way that doesn’t trigger anyone - as everyone has different triggers. Of course I'm ALWAYS available to learn where I could be more inclusive, less triggering, less aggravating and more loving in general - AND I'm also only one human who doesn’t have the capacity to have EVERYONE’S experience or vantage point.
Can you relate so far?
Learning Not To Accept 'Abuse':
Over the years, due to really WANTING to be able to ‘be there’ for everyone, I've witnessed in myself a tendency towards accepting what's justifiably ‘abusive’ behaviour - believing that if I were to set boundaries with people who I KNOW are just hurting, that I am then being weak, a coward, unloving, abandoning people, giving up on people, not really being a 'light worker' because I am running from the pain and discomfort in someone/can't handle processing their trauma with them, discriminatory or somehow unable to take constructive feedback in places where I really CAN do better. I allowed myself to buy into the idea that I OWE everyone who comes into my sphere my time, my energy, my explanations for why I do what I do, and that I ‘should’ sit and listen to ANYONE who wants to simply attack my character, make judgements and projections about me rather than actually wanting to learn where I'm coming from or why I said what I said and so on. Rather than really wanting to look at my content or allow it to serve them - taking what resonates and leaving the rest - I've witnessed lots of instances where people simply get triggered and attack. I can see the pain that is behind this and have never wanted to run from someone because of it. I’ve allowed people to dump their pain all over me, without expecting that they take responsibility for their triggers or do their own work to figure out what is coming up for THEM.
Can you relate to this at all?
This, I'm learning, is not light work.
I can't be the perfect parent that these people never had.
I can’t be the perfect love that shows up for them and walks them through each one of their triggers.
Heck, I can’t even MAKE THEM see that they are triggered or that this may be something in them that could be explored rather than something to attack ME over.
I can’t make someone see where I'm coming from when they are hell bent on seeing me as an enemy who is attacking their ideas or sense of self.
I can't explain myself well enough so that my sharing is understood by everyone - I don't have the power to penetrate filters. I can listen, I can see where I may be wrong or off base for SURE - but when I am being misperceived and working to try to 'convince' someone of what I am sharing - this is out of balance.
I can’t love someone on the internet enough to feel safe and then integrate their wounds when they are in such a traumatized state as to be seeing threat and danger everywhere.
Which is the ONLY reason ’trolls’ exist on the internet.
No one who is truly owning themselves and their pain goes around telling others how awful they are or how stupid their teachings are.
People who are doing their work take what they see in others, take the good, and if they have a true problem with what’s being said they can share it in a way so as not to attack the PERSON but rather to have a DIALOGUE about the teaching OR they go and share their opinions on THEIR platforms. It is 100% fair to question someones motives and their teachings - this can be done with pure curiosity and love, as well as a fair CRITICAL eye where logic and reason are guiding. I personally love this kind of feedback when I get it. But attack is never necessary.
It's Unethical To Try To Lead Someone Through Trauma Outside Of A Therapeutic Container:
Lastly, when someone is really working on themselves, when they are deep in trigger and trauma - it is not POSSIBLE to fully support them via social media. It's not possible to create the therapeutic container of SAFETY - where they are being fully SEEN, fully HEAR and fully HELD in an INTENTIONAL way, so as to be SAFE enough to explore these deep traumas and pains, knowing they are not alone. We can't, via DM, messenger, comments, facebook groups, patreon groups, or e-mail, create that container. We can't possibly be the safe place that someone NEEDS to journey through their traumas with another person. This is the reality of it. We can offer tools, resources and ideas for how to walk through these things ON THEIR OWN. We can offer one on one coaching where we can CREATE that container. But we cannot be therapists via comments and messenger. It's simply not healthy, not safe, and in my view, not ethical. We shouldn't be expecting people to be vulnerable with us outside of these truly safe one on one, trust built, time honed containers, and if they ARE being vulnerable with us in these ways, it should be our ethical responsibility NOT to engage - as this is ONLY going to lead to US traumatizing them FURTHER. Again, because we CAN'T empath their whole life this way. We can't get the nuance. We can't understand them. No matter how intuitive of tapped in you are - you can't really BE there for someone in a public space. Not where trauma is involved. Thus, for me, checking out and offering resources rather than engaging with one on one back and forth dialogues over social media/e-mail feels like the most responsible and ethical choice.
People need safe containers to process trauma. When someone is in attack mode or melt down mode they are trying to process trauma. You can't be that container for them via social media. Period. The most ethical thing to do is lovingly step out, offer what resources you can, and make it clear that you are not running BECAUE OF THEM, but that you are respecting the therapeutic process. Again many of us are coaches without a lot of training - and this has its benefits but also its downfalls.
To me, being ethical means respecting reality. People need one on one containers to process with another person. It takes time to build the trust and safety required so that the vulnerability required isn't re-traumatizing. It takes time to build up a rapport with someone and to really understand their life circumstances as a whole - as people aren't general. We can offer generalized advice yes, but not to someone in deep trauma. They need tools for taking that generalized advice and applying it to their situation or someone to be THERE for THEM specifically. This can't be done via social. I have really taken a step back to consider the harm I may be doing by engaging in these kinds of interactions and calling myself in to shift how I do things. I can't be a container in public spaces. I don't want to re-traumatize or traumatize anyone. Thus, for me, not engaging and offering general advice seems to be the most ethical thing, unless I'm willing to move to a one on one coaching container with appropriate boundaries therein.
Also remember that you as an empathic, feeling person have to engage with a lot of heaviness to be with people through their traumas. To have someones life story of pain, suffering and trauma dropped into your e-mail inbox with the expectation of a reply is an abuse of boundaries. It's not respecting YOU and YOUR humanity. Because again, in order to empath that, you have to allow that all to work through YOUR nervous system. This is no small deal. Having the capacity to walk someone through their trauma means being open and vulnerable YOURSELF - opening yourself to all that feeling so that you can be a good support. Please don't underestimate the TOLL of this.
Having boundaries for HOW MUCH YOU TAKE IN is KEY to keeping yourself well as you do this work in the world.
You are allowed not to answer. You're allowed not to read. You're allowed to disengage. Again this isn't abandoning anyone. It's seeing that NO ONE is going to win in this situation. They are going to walk away not having received the support they needed and you are going to walk away depleted. No matter how much you *think* you can help - again offer that general advice and offer one on one support. But be realistic about what can actually be done outside of that therapeutic container. For yourself and for them. You aren't going to sacrifice yourself to serve another - that's not how reality works. If it depletes you, it wasn't what they needed either. Unless you have specifically invited someone to share their traumas with you saying you are personally there to walk them through it, you are not responsible for taking it in or getting involved.
Next week I'm going to lay out the specific ways *I* am setting boundaries in my work, in hopes that they will serve you too!