A Foot in Both Worlds

Last month, I spent two weeks in Ecuador taking a Spanish immersion program.  Ecuador got its name because it is on the equator and during an excursion to La Mitad del Mundo (the Middle of the World) I was literally standing with a foot in each hemisphere.

Standing with a foot in both worlds is a useful metaphor.  When working with past trauma and exploring how it impacts the present, I will ask clients to put one foot in the past and one in the present.  This promotes understanding of how those past events and our beliefs about them are influencing our current interactions.  For instance, when a child is criticized for getting a “B” instead of an “A” on his report card, he takes in the message that he is inadequate.  He carries this into current situations and while his adult brain tells him he is competent and successful, that little child is inside whispering “I’m not good enough.”  The need to prove otherwise forms the basis of the addictive thinking and behavior I describe in my book, Addict America: The Lost Connection.

Putting a foot in both worlds is also a metaphor for empathy.  We disconnect from each other when we live entirely in our own heads and expect others to conform or agree with us.  Moving out of our own worlds in order to enter another person’s world is how we create a safe space for intimacy.  When we have a foot in both worlds, we can truly Connect.

This month, imagine yourself being in two places at once.  Let yourself experience another point of view, another way of being, or, as Jimmy Buffett put it, “Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes.”