I had to ask myself this morning – why do I seek advice from experts? I thought it was because I trust experts to have answers to my difficult questions. They have knowledge, experience and proof to support these answers. They know more than me and therefore can be trusted to give me the correct solutions. I pay them for these answers and in some cases I pay them quite a bit of money if the solutions are important to me.
It occurred to me, that maybe I have an alternate motive for trusting an expert. Maybe I’m deflecting the blame onto them. If I can’t solve my problems or answer my questions, I have someone to blame for steering me in the wrong direction. And/or I’m discarding the valuable information they are giving me, through a process of picking out flaws in their solutions, to blame them for my distraction from the right path.
Yesterday I wrote the author of a book called “Insight” to tell her how great the book was, but also to tell her how I lost confidence in her theories because she used alcohol as a strategy for gaining external self-awareness (among multiple other references). She talks about getting “Right” feedback through what she calls a “Dinner of Truth” The idea is you should invite a friend for dinner and ask them the one thing that annoys them most about you”… She then goes onto suggest that drinking should be involved, saying: “Plus, let’s be honest: painful truths go down a whole lot easier with a nerve-diffusing adult beverage”… I was so disappointed. Why? Because I trusted her. She is an expert. (there is a very long list of her accomplishments on the inside cover) I didn’t buy this book to find out about her personal drinking and xanax habits, rather I bought it to discover proven, researched methods for improving self-awareness. As the book suggests: self-awareness is a learnable skill that can improve our work performance, career satisfaction, leadership skills, relationships and more.
This morning I’m asking myself … Did I just have a hissy fit and take out my frustrations on this author? Did she provide a lot of extremely valuable information that I will discard because I found flaws in her approach? Are these even flaws? Is alcohol a legitimate way to get the truth out of someone to add depth to my perspective on myself (ok, no I don’t believe that – no going down that road) But really, do I need to discount her remaining strategies based on this one I find flaw in?
It made me think back to other situations I stew about. The blaming, has held me back from making progress. For example I went to a St. Anne’s Spa a few months ago, and spent close to $1000 on an overnight visit. Here is how they are advertised:
Welcome to Ste. Anne’s Spa
The Ste. Anne’s philosophy focuses on creating an atmosphere to help rebuild your strength, recapture your energy, and reflect on what’s truly important in your life. Taking time for yourself is crucial, otherwise your health, family, work and spiritual needs will suffer. We’re proud to offer you what our body and spirits need most: relaxation, revitalization and a chance to heal from the intensity of our daily routines. A stay at Ste. Anne’s Spa is an investment in yourself and your future well-being. We look forward to seeing you!
Healing… detoxing… spiritual needs… reflection… well-being… that is what I wanted. And mostly, that is what I got – until dinner time. At dinner guests were welcome to bring alcohol to their tables and drink away at their leisure, Everyone there, except for me, took them up on their offer. The volume went up, way up. It was a circus in there compared the serene, mindful atmosphere at lunchtime. People were actually drunk. I was disappointed and my attempt to find freedom from the toxic culture that surrounds so much of my life, was spoiled. But who spoiled it? Why couldn’t I just walk away from the drinkers and go eat in my room. Why couldn’t I tolerate their choices and simply see it as an opportunity to strengthen my own resolve? I have been angry about that since April. How has that served me?
Yoga and Wine classes. This nearly put me over the edge. Yoga teachers, studio owners and leaders have devastated me with this one. I trusted these people, these expert and leaders in mindfulness and health, and now they are encouraging people to drink alcohol (a mind altering, numbing drug) to become present? A practice that involves using all of your senses and awareness to focus? How can you be clear, in a fog? How can you be well, and poison yourself? How can I be right and everyone else be wrong? Another hissy fit – I blame the people I trust and allow this process to hold me back from my own progress. Why can’t I just practice my own yoga, know my own truth and let them have their experience, whatever it may be?
I see now why groups like Alcoholics Anonymous are so important, or other alcohol free groups. It is hard to follow your path, trust yourself and stay in touch with what is right for you, while the other people (including the experts) are going in the other direction. You need to talk to people who share the same thinking sometimes. I don’t go to AA though. I didn’t have a rock bottom moment (I had a few not-so-proud moments however). I don’t believe I’m powerless. I didn’t drink ‘alcoholically’ or at least how some people define that. So, I don’t think AA is my group. I just took a look at the drug in relation to my life and decided to quit taking it. Since then I’ve learned a lot about it…
What I haven’t learned is how to find my place in the world without it. I haven’t learned how to move past what I know is wrong (related to drinking) and towards what is right. How to stop blaming other people (experts, family, friends) and holding myself back.
In seeking help from experts, I forgot to consult with myself. I am the biggest expert in the field of Karyn. I hold the most experience and perspective on the right path for this person. I have nobody to blame but myself.