Dealing With Disturbances On The Street

Question:

Hello, Adam. 

I write to ask for your help and advice with a situation I have been passing for some months now. Years back, when my anxiety was very high, I began to develop some as I walked across the street for fear of being catcalled. I live in a country where it's common amongst women for that to happen. It seems that at that time I saw it purely as that, anxiety symptoms, and with some help from a CBT psychologist, the "issue" faded from my consciousness and no longer was something that I was constantly preoccupied and concerned with. In fact, I didn't even realise when that happened, it just did and I could go most anywhere without really making an issue out of it. 

I started working in a new place, and I guess, something must have triggered it again, a couple of frightening incidents that my ego/pain body hooked unto fiercely and started obsessing about...which made the obsessive thoughts and energy that accompanies it come back. It is now something that my mind obsesses about constantly and is an energy that is very dense, of a paranoid, painful, angry, and vindictive nature. I feel like there is an entity, a voice inside of me, of fierce righteousness about the situation that wants to intellectualize and find all the ways in which men are dominant over women and that women are victims. That wants to see the pain everywhere. It's difficult because not only do I fear it happening it to me (and when it does, I feel a hollow sinking sensation of hurt and fear and helplessness, followed by a desire to scream or do harm) but I also get affected by it happening to other women, even if it's something as harmless as a man looking at another woman. 

In retrospect, this has been an issue that I've always been hotheaded about, and I realize now that getting over emotional about it and taking it so personally is something that is not serving me in the least, especially when most women don't walk around paranoid about this. I don't know why my reactions are so strong, though, and there is a desire somewhere to introspect and analyze more, but I fear that that will only give the pain more reality and sink myself deeper. There is a voice that tells me that I have the right to feel affected and that my feelings are valid...but that leads me nowhere. 

I know that anxiety magnifies situations and that an observance of all this happening is all that is necessary, really, but I would appreciate some insight. I'm tired of so much fear and such negativity inhabiting something I can't control, and don't want to be emotional and preoccupied about. 

Any help would be appreciated. Thank you. 


Response:

Ok, well I have little experience in this specific area, as you may have guessed, but maybe some of these words can help.

You mentioned at the end that the events are out of your control. The emotions and thoughts you experience, however, sound like they are an effort to control the situation. Like they are posing as attempt to help you escape or avoid or be able to fix these situations. There is nothing wrong with this, but it would help to see that despite all analysis, upset etc., whether it happens or not is still not in your personal control, not in the sense that you can decide when it will or will not happen.

If you are tired of the fear etc. and it still seems to be remaining strong then perhaps somewhere you still believe all the inner trauma will help you in some way. Fear and these other energies are not wrong in themselves, they do not need to be condemned, but it can help to see in the moment that they play out or arise, whether they actually improve the situation or not. To notice futility directly rather than theoretically, without even judging it as futile, can be very helpful. To see the way in which the uncomfortable feelings do not produce action or energy that makes people leave you alone, can help.

There may still be some enjoyment of feeling like a victim, or feeling hard-done by, which is also not wrong in itself. It is also perfectly normal to feel fear around this sort of thing, so don't beat yourself up if fear and its energies arise. 

The energy of fear is still just a label. Even to call it energy is another concept. Is it possible to not believe the story, or to not create a story about the energies within the body/mind?

If you absolutely let fear or negativity come as if they were your choice, then you would have a different experience of them. This language can be misleading, since what really happens is the idea of "you" doing something, or "you" experiencing something fades away.

You spoke about this kind of entity inside. Locate it directly - where is it? What is it made of? Is it real, or is it only an appearance made to seem solid when given belief?

You can notice all of it arises by itself - the fear, the reactions, the thoughts. If they arise by themselves, then is it anyone's responsibility to try to make them go away?

Don't compare yourself to anyone else or what you think their experience might be - simply because it does not help, and is a useless burden.

No need to label any of it as if it should not be happening, particularly the reactions of the body/mind. Whether you like the reactions or not does not seem to make a difference, other than to make pain seem more real, so give up deciding how you should feel, or what appearances are good or bad in your experience.

I don't feel I can say much more, other than notice the futility of arguing with yourself, of wishing you felt differently to how you already do. Also know that everything passes, including emotional states, sensations or thought streams - so are they really that important? The sense of being, the sense of existence underlies them all - let that be what you are interested in, not these things that come to cause trouble.

I'm not sure how much this can help you, but I hope it can somehow.

Adam