Many of us have noticed that we can set a goal, something we really do want to change about our lives. We might want to be in better physical shape or get more sleep or start a regular vision improvement program. Then “Life gets in the way”, all our good intentions go out the window, and we realize a week or so later we’re as deeply tangled in those old familar but unhelpful habits as we ever were. What happened?
We’re human, that’s what happened! For years my EFT teacher Carol Look has helped people overcome addictions and common bad habits like emotional eating or cigarette smoking. She asks them “What’s the payoff for keeping that unwanted behavior?”. Then “What might be a downside to reaching your goal?”. My energy medicine teacher Deborah King teaches about this too, calling it “secondary gain”. We may say we want the old nagging injury to heal. However if it does, we’ll have to go back to that job we hate, and lose our workman’s compensation payment! So since some part of us does not want to heal, we stay stuck.
When I first really understood this dynamic, and how one part of me could want one thing and another part want something else, I dove deeply into my feelings about my vision. Could there possibly be a payoff for my remaining nearsighted, for still being a little bit visually impaired after all the work I’ve done to improve my eyesight? Unlike some people, I don’t like “being taken care of”, so having someone else do my driving for me, while a refreshing change, is not my goal — I want to do it myself! What else could my payoff be?
Another possibility occurs to me. Knowing my visual history of growing up with strong thick lenses, might I be unwilling to let all of the blur go, because then I wouldn’t be me? ACK!! I’m wondering if my lifelong identity as Nancy Nearsighted is so much a part of me, I’m not sure who else I’d be if could see clearly. I remember doing a “getting to know you” exercise with another woman at a dream workshop about 5 years ago. When I mentioned my lifelong nearsightedness, she was surprised, saying “You don’t look nearsighted!”. While I was pleased by her reaction, it puzzled me. How could she not pick up on this — wasn’t it obvious? Is it possible I’m closer to normal than I think? Maybe it’s time to change my self-concept!
Digging into this further with journaling and EFT, I’m realizing I may be doing the same thing to myself that was done to me as a child: I have to be perfect, or I’m no good at all. (Seriously, I used to get yelled at if I came home with a 99% grade on a school exam.) So since I can’t see 20/20 yet except occasionally, and don’t feel safe driving at night without glasses, I discount all my other visual progress. Plus if I can’t see the eye chart letters well right away, I admit I often don’t give them time to clear, as if it doesn’t count if I need an extra second or 2. This is childhood stuff too — not only did I have to get everything right, I had to do it as quickly as possible.
Well, this pressure didn’t feel good back then, and it’s certainly not helping me now. And it’s no fun since it makes looking at the eye chart work, not play and exploration. I can do better, and I will. Maybe it’s the gentle rain outside the open window right now which is so relaxing, but the eye chart to the side of my computer is already looking clearer.
So what might be your own hidden payoff for tolerating limited vision, or putting up with some other unpleasant situation in your life? You deserve the best (and so do I). Go out and get it!