I Don’t Wanna Part 2

It all comes back to just choosing.

“I don’t wanna” is a core passive aggressive statement my young self learned at the knee of my father. It is a statement used to manipulate attention and to get control over a situation or action by proposing nothing. It is a whine of attention that is designed to put all the attention on the whiner with the question “ok, what do you wanna do?” and the answer is always either “I don’t know” or “nothing”. Sometimes the answer is sulking and when the whiner doesn’t get the necessary attention a temper tantrum of sorts will usually work, complete with door slamming and sitting in room wondering whether or not the message was delivered strongly enough and whether or not everyone below was directing their attention to me, the whiner, in the bedroom. “I don’t wanna” was also an excellent passive aggressive way to manipulate my younger siblings to do either what I wanted to do or to do nothing. The beauty of this terrible manipulation is that it usually makes the other person look bad because they are the one then forced to convince, nag, bitch, yell or some other more aggressive act in order to do the thing that they want to do. This was the parental relationship that I grew up with and thought was normal. I modeled this part of the relationship from my Dad and he was able to use it very effectively to get all sorts of alone time and not have to deal with any of us very much at all. So being the oldest of 5 that was sometimes an appealing prospect, when some alone time was wanted and I was asked to join in some thing or other just say “I don’t wanna”, even if a part of me thought it would be fun or a good idea, I could guarantee that I would either get attention and power or I would be left alone. Win-win.

So I can have a great deal of compassion and understanding for the boy that was me adopting this mechanism as way to preserve a sense of authority and get some attention in an increasingly chaotic and distracted world, from the eyes of the child that I was. I can also see how choosing this way of operating was a whole lot less confronting then what seemed to be my other options at the time. It must have felt a whole lot safer, easier, and more comfortable to NOT do something then it did to do it. Wow, I can really see how this decision to create this default mechanism up has run so much of my life and “choices”. I have trained myself to be an auto-reaction to anybody suggesting an action to me or asking me to join them in an action, my immediate, automatic, and instantaneous reaction is “I don’t wanna”. Then I have to work my way from there forward. A lot of the time I don’t work my way forward because it’s just too hard or too much work. A lot of the time I work my way forward because the other person stays with me patiently waiting for me to go through my initial “resistance” and move on with things. I also realize that not all the effects of this mechanism are negative. There is a creativity that emerges from this resistance that often creates remarkable opportunities and openings. There is a healthy resistance that is the necessary friction and tension that is often needed to make something good into something great. I am not interested in throwing out that baby with the bath water of “I don’t wanna”.

I am also not interested in a reactive world that I could create in installing a mechanism called “I wanna” which would actually be, bare with me here, “NOT I don’t wanna”. It actually creates a wimpy, weak and passive voice of “going along with” and “toleration” that is unacceptable. No I think it is quite simple actually. After the excavation of this mechanism, what is left in the hole is consciousness and choice. The idea is to take a breath and choose from a place of consciousness. It all goes back to Turtle Medicine, notice, breathe, notice some more, choose, notice some more, act, notice some more.

Now it’s time to create some ceremony around all of this and look to what is needed to move on.

2 responses to “I Don’t Wanna Part 2

  1. Whenever I hear the word “choice”, it reminds me of lyrics of a Devo song, “Freedom of choice, is what you got. Freedom from choice, is what you want.” Sometimes too true!

  2. Thanks Henry for such a great post! It’s funny because just last night I was thinking about “resistance” and how I never really got that we must embrace resistance as the natural part of change. Trying to push it away or “will powering” it doesn’t work!

    I think it is in the drawing close of it that we learn what is at the root. And, resistance is the sign that change is happening! Or trying to happen.. Just recognizing that about resistance changes the way we then experience it and choose from there, right?

    Change – positive or negative – threatens the status quo that is familiar and safe and predictable. Even unhealthy behavior is familiar, therefore safe. Just look at how abused children often marry abusers!

    Transplant patients experience natural biological resistance to the “foreign.” Why wouldn’t we expect the same in other realms? The bottom line is that if change is embodied, we know at a deep level that something is gonna die here – resistance is the ego and the ego wants to stay put as is!

    So, just last night I began asking some questions of my resistance: What am I most responding to? What am I trying to keep intact? And a big one, What is required to let go of this and yet keep things safe?

    I like what you say about “friction and tension.” The dance of change and resistance….I like to dance!

    Love to you,

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