I am sitting in front of a small workshop group, eleven people in all. Michael Neill is sitting across from me listening. I finish my small tirade on the evils of fear and the impact of its presence on my life. Michael asks, “Jeanne, what does fear mean to you?”
I hesitate, take a deep breath, and launch into a painful story — one I have carefully pieced together over the years. I explain what happened to me, the fear of being so small, and so trampled.
Michael was so kind. It is not always in his nature to be so kind. As a coach I have experienced Michael in many forms, but kindness? He looks me in the eye and says, “I want you to know I heard what you said.” I acknowledge him. Perhaps with a slight nod or maybe simply by focusing my attention on his face. “But, that is not what I asked. What does fear mean to you?”
“It means stop.”
What else could it mean to me? With a history like mine? Where I experienced myself invisible, standing before the oncoming traffic of a man’s anger. More than one man had put hands on me, imagining that his force gave him some control — some power — something that alluded him. But what alludes angry men? As a child, I didn’t know. All I could think was “please stop.”
Michael is on to something, he knows it. He sniffs it out and won’t let it go. “What if it doesn’t mean that? What if it doesn’t mean anything?”
It is as if I was carrying a large, round table ornament loaded with different sized glass balls. So many colors, so intricate; I could watch it for hours. In a moment I am hearing Michael say “what if it doesn’t mean anything” and I am hearing something inside of me saying the same words, at the same time. When I hear them inside it is as if I have dropped the arrangement and, startled, I glance around, looking for the shards on the floor. Instead of broken pieces there is nothing, as if the many colored globes never existed at all.
For a moment, Micheal introduced something to me about the universal nature of thought. Stop and consider that all human beings all over the world have one fundamental truth in common. No matter what language they speak, how much they feel, how women are treated, or how family is arranged. No matter the many day-to-day intimacies that make up our daily lives, all human beings have one thing in common. We think.
So many people take this fact for granted. It seems obvious – yes, yes, now get on with the story, what happens next? Speeding past this part would be a huge mistake, it would be a mistake that psychology has made for over a century.
So what do you need to know about thought – what do you already know but have innocently ignored?
If you are interested in knowing more about the universal nature of your human experience and how understanding your nature can bring you peace from psychological suffering – Join me, Jeanne Catherine and Jack Pransky this September for a transformative workshop experience.