Are You Screening Your Own Calls?
Last week I was meeting with a client and we were discussing the concept of self-betrayal as it relates to security and confidence both in decision making and in relationships, when she suddenly said, “I need to stop screening my own calls, do I even trust myself to answer when I call?”
It was a profound therapeutic moment that reinforced a long-held belief of mine; that people have their own answers and sometimes just need a little guidance to reveal or remember their innate wisdom.
What does it mean to screen your own calls and how can that influence our relationship with ourselves and our lives?
To me it means, that in turning away from ourselves, our wants, our needs, our feelings- we are, over time telling ourselves in a fundamental way that we don’t matter, we aren’t important enough to attend to.
Let’s go back to the phone call metaphor; we all have moments when we need to decline a call because we are involved in an important task that needs most of our attention, like driving, a meal with family, showering, a business meeting and at those times it’s appropriate to delay answering the call, while still acknowledging that a call has come in. If we continually look at our phone screen and say, nope not answering, nope not answering again, then the avoidance leads to a pattern of self-neglect which gives the clear message of, this or you, aren’t worth my time.
Eventually, if we are ignoring our inner wisdom, our own voice, our calls for attention, reflection, effort, then we begin to mistrust our ability to care for ourselves because the evidence we have tells us we can’t be trusted. Over time that mistrust can erode our confidence in relationships, at work and in our personal endeavors. In that space of neglect, self-doubt creeps in and begins to make us question our worth, our abilities and our gut instincts.
When we instead, do the opposite and answer our calls, or even call ourselves back at the earliest opportunity, we are communicating that we matter to ourselves, that our voice, our yearnings, gut feelings, nagging thoughts are valuable and worth time and attention.
Similarly, to the momentum that the self-neglect builds, that attunement enables us to be more comfortable with the process of unfolding, it allows us to trust that we are there for ourselves even in the mess of uncertainty. That is a foundation of secure attachment to ourselves which gives us the confidence to risk, to try, to speak up, or to say no. All of which are vital to making sound decisions and building healthy relationships.