Tuesday, May 13, 2014
The more knowledge I gain about Bowen Theory, the more I appreciate the work of Dr. Murray Bowen and his contribution to society. A couple of weeks ago, I was downtown heading to my vehicle when I heard, "you got a little change to spare?" I immediately shook my head no, determined not to even look in the direction of the voice I heard. As I stood beside my vehicle with my granddaughter, waiting for my daughter, all I could think about was this person I had chosen to ignore by not looking his direction. (Obviously, my anxiety was up). When my daughter arrived, those few moments of internal wrestling while waiting by my vehicle compelled me to walk over to the man, look him in the eyes and ask his name. He answered and I then introduced myself, my daughter and my granddaughter. We all shook hands and he smiled while making playful gestures to my 15 month old granddaughter. The next few minutes, we chatted about family, health and other things. As I talked with him, I noticed how thin he was. I handed him enough cash to buy breakfast for which he was very thankful. Before we left, he asked if I was with a specific organization. I responded with "no, my daughter and I were here to clean an office this morning." He then said, "I was going to ask you to pray for me." I knelt beside him as we made a circle of held hands and prayed for him." As I drove home that morning, I couldn't help but wonder what happened in John's (named changed to protect his identity) life to bring him to this place? I also couldn't help but recognize the familiarity of the moments that preceded talking with John...not with strangers, but rather with family or significant others in my life. I've heard Jean Blackburn (President of Bowen Theory Education Center, Chattanooga, TN) say about anxiety, "Anxiety happens when the organism feels threatened. Ask yourself, 'What is the threat? and Is it real or perceived?'" Before learning Bowen Theory, my anxiety has often led me to avoid, distance or cut-off from another just as I was inclined to do with John. However, the knowledge I've gained through Bowen Theory and the work I have done enable me to respond in my anxiety rather than react in it. So, what was my threat with John? It was that I was being scammed and if I looked at him, I would have to give him money. Was it real or perceived? It was perceived. When I made a decision to look at John, ask him his name and chat with him, I no longer felt forced to give him money (or anything for that matter). Another thing I noticed was my anxiety neutralized so that I could respond to his first question. I don't know if I will ever run into John again, but, I do know that if I do, we will chat.