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What Dr. Foster and Other Stalkers Can Teach Us

Like millions of other BBC viewers I tuned into the final episode of Dr Foster this week. Unlike many I found this portrayal of an ex-wife’s stalkerish and unbalanced behaviour disturbing, not entertaining. [The ex-husband was possibly even more unstable.]

The premise seemed to be that the more unpleasant he was, the more her off-the-wall behaviour was justified. And it strikes me that this kind of extreme portrayal along with the behaviour of real life stalkers, can illustrate an illusion that we all fall prey to at times.

When a stalker becomes obsessed by another person – sometimes an ex-partner, sometimes a stranger – it is very obvious to the onlooker that their powerful feelings are being created entirely within. The stalker is not dealing with reality but is motivated by a powerful fantasy created within them. He [assuming it’s a man] feels compelled by the overwhelming feelings he is experiencing. He has zero awareness that these feelings are an internal creation. This is because the process of creation was hidden from him. It occurred subconsciously and automatically.

Of course, most of us would say, I would never behave like that. Yet all of us at times fall into a less extreme version of the same trap. Whenever we are upset with a family member, ex, boss or anyone else, the false belief that ‘they made me feel like this,’ is present. I say ‘false’ because the truth is that the whole of our feeling experience in life is coming from the stream of thought, beliefs and conditioning that constantly runs through  each of us.

If I am disappointed because someone cancels plans at short notice, that disappointment is a reflection of my own thoughts and attitudes. Eg, ‘Why do they keep doing this?’ ‘I wouldn’t have done that.’ ‘I’m not important to them,’ etc.  There is nothing wrong or unusual about having such thoughts and feelings. However recognising the true source – within – can be transformative. It opens up the possibility of being clear-minded and peaceful in the face of someone’s inconsiderate behaviour. It removes the feeling of victimhood. When we don’t get invested in a particular thought/feeling, it naturally moves on. In the above example, it becomes possibly to quickly drop the feeling of disappointment.  And to see clearly what, if any, action I might take. From avoiding future plans with the person to having a conversation from a neutral mind set.

The alternative is what is envisaged in the Chinese proverb, When seeking revenge, first dig two graves. If someone feels aggrieved by the behaviour of another, because the true cause is never identified, the sense of victimhood is almost bound to grow. Any action taking from that place has a high chance of escalating the conflict, when the other is similarly unaware of the true source of their feelings.

Even my feelings of disturbance about the TV series, were being created entirely within me. Which is why others loved it and were not remotely disturbed.

The moment any of us can remember to question, ‘Where do I think my feelings are coming from in this moment?’ we are reawakening to the true answer: from within.  Reconnecting with that internal creator feels lighter and more hopeful. It’s empowering to realise that no one has the capacity to make us feel anything. And its exciting to notice the creative solutions that appear when we are free of the victim trap.

If you are feeling trapped in hurt or compulsive feelings and would like some freedom, please do get in touch for a conversation.

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