Recently I have noticed my reaction when something stops working for me that is typically so quickly done it is almost automatic–like signing into a much-used app. Since I spend so much time online, I usually face things that sometimes show up as obstacles. Today, I signed into Zoom to start my session with Kevin McEvenue, and Zoom said my password is incorrect.
Something Stops Working, and I Start Worrying
After typing in my password many times, several narratives quickly came to the forefront of my consciousness.
“This is Zoom forcing me to change my password.
“I am losing my mind because I have typed this password every day for years.”
“Kevin will be impatient with me for not signing on in time.”
“It will take me 10 minutes to change the password.”
“I hate being late.”
“I have to warn Kevin, so he won’t think I’m irresponsible.”
“Kevin will think badly of me for being late.”
Once I sent Kevin an email, I paused and held space for all that was there. A simple inability to sign into an app brought all these feelings into consciousness. It felt compelling to acknowledge this. It also opened me to a new solution. Since Kevin sent me the link, I didn’t have to sign in. I could click on the link he sent, and the app would open.
I Find My Way
When I connected to Kevin, we worked through all the narratives that arose from the inability to sign in to Zoom. There is the arbitrariness of how apps function. I am often baffled by how apps change to meet the needs of newer generations of users. If something I usually do causes me distress, I wonder if my brain is failing. Then the shame comes. Why can’t I be as efficient as I think I am? How did it happen that I am late for my session? What will be the impact of not functioning at total capacity on my relationship with partners or participants?
Fortunately, it was Kevin that was on the other side of the camera. We took time to be with all of these narratives. What came for me was how the narratives are related to my background feeling of “there is something wrong with me.” I had a chance to hold space for this complicated felt sense simply because I could not complete a well-known repetitive task. Then it dawned on me that this was a great opportunity.
Each time I can make a choice. I can indulge in the “something is wrong with me.” or I can hold space with equal regard for it and allow it to find its own way. What happened when I worked with Kevin was that by letting “something is wrong with me” pass through my body, I came to the point of “something stopped working for me.” This statement leaves so many unknown opportunities for healing to occur.
I suggest reading Kevin’s article Wholebody Focusing: Life Lived in the Moment. He talks about how Wholebody Focusing evolved, and the first time he connected to his inner self. It is an excellent read to help one see how habitual experiences can develop into openings. Kevin talks about how holding space for a felt sense can give us “several options for living my life more fully beyond what I already knew.”
My response to the locked password was to go into a hyper-problem solving mode motivated by fear of criticism and failure to meet some standard that I think everyone shares. By being compassionate with all that came, something new emerged. I heard, “something stopped working for me.” At that moment, I felt very joyful and free of the earlier narrative voices.
I look forward to being aware of how I react when something stops working for me. I pause, and hold space for what is there. I ask for support and wait to see what comes.
My Background Feeling: Unprepared for Life is a joyous poem by directencounter asking for support to be with the unknown–the very support I need right now.
4 thoughts on “Something Stops Working”
This is an experience I can really relate to – especially the panic of not being on time for a zoom!!! My reaction however is “I am getting too old for this!”. Thank you for once more reminding me of the pause and then the touching base with what is going on inside. And thank you too for sending me read Kevin’s piece and Elizabeth’s beautiful poem that captures that leap into the unknown. I now have a lot to reflect on – and a link for when I am booted out the next time!
Thank you so much Diana for sharing your distress and how you held space for it. For me too, getting locked out of programs I depend on to work, pass exams, and communicate with family and friends, can be terrifying: it brings up the memories of growing up in a communist state where the bureaucracy was all-powerful and edits from on high would sometimes arrive with no notice and no rhyme or reason. There was no appeal. And with apps, things are similar in that when something malfunctions you often can’t talk to a live person and arrive at a solution. There is nobody there! Or, you can suddenly lose large amounts of money as when our corporate credit card was hacked at my workplace. (That was solved thanks to a very kind and competent person at the credit union.) So I need to remember that Grounded Presence is always available. Your reminder about that, Diana, was very vividly written and touched a lot of places inside.
I would also like to affirm and validate the place that felt panicked and like something was wrong with her. That’s often a reaction of a child to scary, unreasonable, or unpredictable parental behaviour. In this instance, I think we’re all suffering a bit of a “Stockholm syndrome” in that we are dependent on IT companies for almost every transaction in our lives – from buying a loaf of bread to scheduling a medical appointment. Yet we have no way to negotiate with them or even reach a human being in that corporation when we have a problem. Not to mention all the social media algorithms that have so profoundly affected society and politics. That’s an outer reality that can legitimately elicit a strong emotional response and reactivate traumatized places.
Thanks for your comment. One of the things that came for beyond that moment was how I respond to all challenges. I get so profoundly undone that I engage in supper-changed responses that cause even more significant problems. This moment with Kevin helped me realize that it wasn’t just the felt sense that was disturbing; it was also how I would respond to the situation.
For example, one day, I found my husband’s cell phone wasn’t working. I called my credit card company and asked them to cancel the charge. It ended up that the company stopped the payment on my cell instead, of his and now I have two cell phones that don’t work.
If I had paused, I think different solutions might have emerged just as they did with the zoom. Also, this new awareness of the tendency to move forward on harsher responses than is necessary has helped me feel calmer about being with the stress of the situation. So not only do I need to be aware of how easily I get trapped in negative thoughts about myself, but I also take top-flight actions to address the problem. Someone I know called it “using an anvil to kill an ant.”
I wanted to add those two beautiful pieces because they help us remember a different way to be. Elizabeth’s poetry is so powerful and precise about that moment of wishing that someone or something outside us will show us what the next steps are.
I hope to link different articles from both the blog and wholebodyfocusing.com regularly to remind ourselves of what we might already know. For a new reader, it can help reinforce what one has newly learned.
Thanks for your response. The thing that was so surprising for me was how intense all those fears were. They were exactly like dealing with an unforgiving parent. When we hold space for something instead of living through it, it can give us all sorts of new perspectives.
It is worse because some companies do not design user-friendly software that holds sway over the products we currently need to do our work. So often, I order one thing and get a case or another and get the wrong size. It makes one wonder if companies understand that their software is set up to add more products and are willing to create “rules” that limit them from refunding your purchases. Or, it may be my over-reaction that tends to believe the worst of the other in the situation. This uncertainty is a real challenge to work through.
I’ve been working with pausing and waiting for what comes around why “something is not working” and holding space for my very creative hydrogen-bomb level solutions that come to me on how to rectify the situation. In the last few cases, I have found that waiting even until the next day, at the very least, saves me stress but also often results in a less consequential solution.