Affirmations Psychological Services, LLC
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Humanistic Hummings

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Seeking the rhythm within untold stories ... hummings from a psychological Being.

Author, Dwight Tolliver, Ph.D.
tollyphd@gmail.com


 

My Surrenderings

It’s time to celebrate THE New Year again! It’s time for resolutions, reflections, strategies, goals, and changes. Suffice to say, the New Year highlights the passing of time. Which causes a chain reaction inside the cracks and crevices of the human system. Sometimes we overcompensate by trying to make up for wasted time (e.g., become highly productive and goal-directed). Sometimes we overreact (create fictional narratives) by becoming too critical of Self (e.g., “you’re a lazy piece of s*#t) and/or our Environment (e.g., “you’re a lazy piece of s*#t). (nope, there are no typos in the previous sentence.) Sometimes we sink into the oblivion of despair and hopelessness...

Speaking of time passing, let’s awkwardly shift to birthdays before proceeding. My son, Nathan Thurman, turned 12 on January 11th. He’s a beautiful kid who smells like 12 year-olds smell! Happy birthday, NateNate…

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And to my life partner, Shan, who celebrated a birthday on January 16th… I love you! (By the way, Nathan and Shan consented for their birthdays and my paintings, as gifts to them, to be included in the blog.)

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Ok. Back to the New Year’s stuff. Let’s start a movement different than overcompensatory and overreactive New Year’s sentiments. Instead of New Year’s resolutions, how ‘bout New Year’s surrenderings?  I know. It’s not as marketable as New Year’s resolutions and doesn’t roll off the tongue as easily. In fact, most clients cringe, recoil, and/or shutter when the idea of surrender is interjected into the therapeutic journey. I get it. Surrender is associated with weakness and viewed as un-American. On top of that, the word surrender is normal in religious communities, used historically within Self-help circles, and entrenched in step programs within the mental health world. So surrenderings are weak and/or dogmatic. Ugh…

Each January though, clients remind me of the need to surrender, highlighting the importance of learning what to release, yield, and let go of during the therapeutic journey. Clients yearn for the surrendering process as the passing of time causes them to rethink who they’ve become and how they’ve learned to relate to their Environment.  As various clients have stated throughout the years, “I’m tired of being me.” In truth, the feelings of weakness accompanying the mental/emotional states leading to the surrendering process can be painful and highly uncomfortable. For example, these mental/emotional states may lead to suicidality and/or a suicide attempt. Vulnerability is no joke; it’s a sinking sensation where human beings feel small.

Speaking of feeling small, I’ve committed to writing more fully about Humanistic Psychology, trauma, and neurodiversity over the past six years. The writing projects have extended my understandings of Beauty, Pain, emotional triggers, and therapeutic processes. I’ve felt inspired and deflated. I’ve experienced a distrust of others, Self-doubt, AND a sense of empowerment. I’ve felt small and tall. I’ve experienced the limitations of Self and others and become more grounded in humility. In essence, I’ve surrendered to my neurodiverse and unconventional ways of experiencing and relating to the Environment…


Surrendering #1: I’m not different just to be different. I’m different because I am different. Do you see the difference?


I sense human beings inside-out. Certainly, I’m not alone with this way of experiencing other human beings, yet it seems to be a minority group of people who relate to others in this manner. So let me try to express what sensing inside-out means. Inside, human beings possesses a tiny, hesitant, or deflated voice. These voices seem to be unknown within and outside of clients. I smell them; they want the wind to carry their scent. They scream to me, without raising their voices. I taste their innocence and digest their curiosities. I touch the internal impulse longing to “jump in my lap” in order to be nurtured.

These disempowered parts experienced a tremendous amount of Pain while growing up and weren’t safe to exist in the world due to their encounters with unhealthy and unhelpful (or downright cruel) parents, authorities, and societal systems. As such, most human beings develop defenders who keep the disempowered parts shielded from the pernicious undercurrent of oppression and protected from monsters. In other words, defenders neutralize taste and smell with baking soda.

In reality, the defenders don’t trust the therapeutic process easily. They don’t trust the world to nurture them. I can’t blame them. It makes sense. The protectors need to trust the therapeutic process for the unknown parts to be more known. Most importantly, the protectors needed to believe in me. For that to happen, I need to believe, more wholly, in Self. Being different, neurodiverse, and unconventional accumulates Pain and struggles to believe.


Surrendering #2: Releasing the accumulated Pain feels vulnerable.


Over time, I’ve learned other human beings love/hate, hate to love, and love to hate the part of me that senses them internally. Relying on validating or invalidating feedback from others is a confusing and ambiguous process (mess). Yet, the writing projects began with the intention of reducing Pain and enhancing Beauty outside of me. Ironically, writing created enough space for me to realize I was hiding from a truth… I need to release my Pain. I need to recognize the parts of me projecting Pain and a sense of victimhood into the world.

At various points during the writing projects, I asked the simple question,“what have I found during the writing process?” The answer became clearer. And experienced as gut-wrenching. With outstretched arms and an extended consciousness, I found an infinite understanding of and relationship with insignificance. I felt the truth beyond separateness, not the victim lurking within it. I felt small. And weak. I regurgitated the acidic bile of writing through the guise of inspiration and selflessness. I acknowledged my fear to be free. A relationship with insignificance created enough space for the unknown parts to challenge and stand up to the defenders and protectors hovering within.


Surrendering #3: Co-creating matters. The process of expressing transcends writing projects.


I call the defenders and protectors bullies these days. They throw temper tantrums every once in while as they attempt to pull me away from neurodiversity and toward conventionality. In other words, surrendering to a relationship with insignificance means it doesn't haunt me as much. You may ask, “Given the insignificance, why do I continue to write?” With a smile, I bridge the question with ideas such as “I don’t write. I express. I co-create. I paint. I feel color within and see the color of others.”

(For the Matrix Trilogy fans out there, Morpheus stated, “You take the red pill—you stay in Wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes.”)


I continue to express and co-create because I reclaimed the truest and purest form of validation. Which is the beginning, not the end. The source not the outcome. The external thing from which my human system receives energy, motivation, and/or inspiration is the Life-affirming and validating experience. Co-creating acknowledges this internal and intrinsic validation by extending (offering, responding) in kind. I don’t need anything more after the offering. And I remain open to the more…

I understand the difference between passion and fighting. I can spar with defenders and protectors (within and outside) while receiving the disempowered parts of Self and others. I've felt, sensed, and experienced more fully since I allowed insignificance and the selfishness of mattering to be Truths in my Life. I engage until people leave or shut doors. Others will question me and my intentions. Always.

Today (January 24th), I turn 45. As time passes, I create space and am at peace flowing within the neurodiverse world of Wonderland. Objectively, I continue to co-create on my 45th birthday. Subjectively, co-creating freed me from the shackles of outcomes, external validation, and extrinsic rewards. Space breeds possibilities.

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Monty