In the ongoing personal work to lessen my high anxiety, and in looking at my habitual patterns of thinking and emotion, I’ve realized I was largely in Survival Mode for most of my life. I’ve always lived way under my income, just because I wasn’t sure there would be enough. Even in college in the late 1960s, when I was paying all of my own bills and really scrimping, I kept to my goal of saving $5 a week.
This ingrained habit of being overly careful, thinking I had to be prepared for hard times, shows up just about everywhere in my life. I was eating a healthy natural diet and exercising regularly as soon as I was on my own at 18. I knew this is my one body and I had to take very good care of it — no one else would do it for me!
I’m grateful for some of this over-focus on caring for myself, which probably came from feeling so unsupported and not taken care of by my so-called caretakers. My finances and my body are both in better condition than those of a lot of my peers, thanks to my obsessiveness. Yet I’d like to be more relaxed about this now, just like with my vision improvement. If I skip a day of doing an eye chart session, it does not mean my vision will instantly start declining!
When I was younger, say in my 20s and 30s, I was completely dependent on my strong hard contact lenses. I never went without them except to sleep. I didn’t know how else to care for my eyes, and it took me a long slow time to learn. I’m still learning to respect my eyes’ signals of fatigue, or the small voice that says “I’ve had enough computer for a while!”. And it’s not always automatic for me to pay attention to this voice instead of ignoring it.
“Mirrors Into Windows” was the theme of my high-school graduation, at which I gave a speech. I wish I still had these words from my young self, to see what I thought was important at age 17. I vaguely understood the theme then as moving out into the world and paying attention to others, instead of just focusing on myself and my own needs. Looked at this way, it’s only been recently that I’ve been capable of doing this!
Very early in my vision improvement, a teacher said that being behind glasses was like being walled off from the world, looking at it but not being part of it. This made no sense to me at the time. I had always been looking at the world from behind my glasses or thick contacts, and hadn’t realized there was anything different! Now that I’ve been free of prescription lenses for a few years, I understand. An interaction between another person and myself is a true energy flow back and forth between us which I can feel.
Right after college, I taught high school math for 2 years. Looking back, I’m sorry to say I probably did more dictating to the students than actually connecting with them. I was stressed and anxious and really wanted to do a good job. I was surprised to find only a small handful of kids in each class who were actually excited about math like I was. And I was equally surprised to find that some kids didn’t do their homework, when I had been meticulous about my own. I wasn’t as tuned into my students then as I could have been.
Now that I’m coaching and teaching again, it’s a priority for me to have a strong connection with each of my clients when we work together. I wonder if my failure to connect with my math students was due to my anxiety, or my strong lenses. I’m seeing that part of becoming less myopic for me is continuing to practice looking outward to others, instead of just inward to myself and my own concerns. I feel more a part of the human race than I ever did, and it feels good.