This Week’s Self-Reflective Practice: Projection Part II~ Take Action

Projection: “Psychological projection is a defense mechanism people subconsciously employ in order to cope with difficult feelings or emotions. Psychological projection involves projecting undesirable feelings or emotions onto someone else, rather than admitting to or dealing with the unwanted feelings.” (Everyday Health, https://www.everydayhealth.com/emotional-health/psychological-projection-dealing-with-undesirable-emotions/, 11/15/17)

Are you aware of projection? Do you know what it feels like when it happens to you? Do you know when you are doing it to someone else? 

It is important that we understand what projection is, what it feels like when it happens to us, and when we are doing it to someone else. It is also important to note that we project, not only our emotions, but also our thoughts, beliefs and expectations. 

Last week on The Soul Reporter Blog, was Part I of being self-reflective about projection. There, I used the metaphor of a blank billboard in order to bring awareness to what might be projected onto ourselves by others and what we project onto others. I asked: “What words, images, beliefs, thoughts and feelings might be covering that highway sign?”

Today, I thought I’d give an example to help move the reflection forward with intention and action…..

Last week, I talked about a heated discussion with a family member, where big emotions, along with thoughts and beliefs were projected at me. Although, as I mentioned, this is a common occurrence, this time, I noticed a different response from myself. In the past, when projection is happening, I’d immediately react and defend myself. If I were really triggered, I’d project my own stuff. However, this time, instead of projecting my thoughts and emotions, I stayed steady. 

What I mean by staying steady is I stayed present in the experience and in my body. I kept my emotions regulated. In this steady space, I observed instead of reacted. I was aware of the physical sensations in my body: nervousness in my chest and belly and frustration in my head space. I was intentional about my breath, and feeling my feet upon the ground. I noticed that what was coming at me, even when I felt triggered, was not mine AND that I did not have to make it mine. 

In this steady space, a couple things were clear: I have grown and there is so much valuable information in the space when we slow down and stay steady. 

This week, I’d like to propose another self-reflective practice for us. 

Self-Reflective Action

The challenge is to stay steady in experiences that are triggering for us. Maybe you’ll be watching something on the news and feel triggered. Maybe, from your practice from last week, you’ll notice someone projecting their thoughts and feelings onto you. See if you can slow this all down. It might help to even say to yourself: slow it down. Then, what are you noticing. Do you notice a space between you and what is triggering for you. What is in that space? What knowledge and possibilities exist? 

Once the moment passes, reflect. Do you notice you made a different response? What can you recall from that space in between you and the experience? 

This week is still about noticing, and also being intentional about seeing if there is another possibility in an experience that triggers stress and agitations. Once this occurs, be intentional about reflecting upon the change. You can do this by journaling. By sharing with someone you trust. By self-talk. This will help to integrate the new change, if it is welcomed by you, into your life. 

I’d love to hear of your experiences this week. Having somewhere or someone to share your personal growth learnings can be therapeutic and continue you on a self-reflective journey. Leave your comments here or email me @ thesoulreporter@gmail.com. Also, follow me on Facebook, Instgram and Twitter and share your experiences there. 

Next week will be a new topic: open to your suggestions…..

~The Soul Reporter  

This Week’s Self-Reflective Practice: Notice Projection

Projection: “Psychological projection is a defense mechanism people subconsciously employ in order to cope with difficult feelings or emotions. Psychological projection involves projecting undesirable feelings or emotions onto someone else, rather than admitting to or dealing with the unwanted feelings.” (Everyday Health, https://www.everydayhealth.com/emotional-health/psychological-projection-dealing-with-undesirable-emotions/, 11/15/17)

Are you aware of projection? Do you know what it feels like when it happens to you? Do you know when you are doing it to someone else? 

It is important to understand what projection is, what it feels like when it happens to us, and when we are doing it to someone else. It is also important to note that we project, not only our emotions, but also our thoughts, beliefs and expectations. 

Photo by Gavin Allanwood on Unsplash

This is important because projection is painful. It hurts others. It stagnates our personal growth. It destabilizes relationships. The image above—a blank billboard—is a metaphor for projection. Any and everything can be projected onto it. And, whatever is projected belongs to the one projecting, not the billboard.

What if we could see all the projections on that billboard that have been thrown onto us? What would we see? What would we see on that billboard from our own projections onto others? What words, images, beliefs, thoughts and feelings might be covering that highway sign?

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

This morning, in a heated discussion with a family member, big emotions, along with thoughts and beliefs were projected at me. This is unfortunately a common occurrence. When it was over, as I processed the experience while making my bed, I felt sadness, and thought: projections are traumatic occurrences. They come at us, perhaps constantly, in subtle and not so subtle ways, both consciously and unconsciously. It made me wonder: how do all of these projections impact our overall wellbeing……?

Self-Reflective Practice

This week, I’d like to propose a self-reflective practice for us. This practice seems timely, as I notice the current events, political and as the many shifts occurring on our planet and within our selves. 

The practice is to notice projections. Notice if you see it happening from people in the news, celebrities and politicians. Notice if you see it happening by friends and family. Notice if it is happening to you. What do you notice in your body when it happens? What thoughts do you notice? What do you notice about the person doing the projecting? And finally, notice if you are projecting onto others. What is covering the billboard?

This week is only about noticing. That’s it. Next week, we can go deeper. I’d love to hear what you notice this week. Share with me in comments.  

~The Soul Reporter

Know the Soul ~ Know Thyself

Yesterday morning I stayed in bed until 1pm. I wasn’t in a state of rumination. I wasn’t in a state of worry. Mostly, I just was. Inside of me there was lots of space.

This wasn’t always the case. I was filled up with worry, anxiety, unprocessed traumas, emotions and experiences. The space I experience now is still somewhat foreign, sometimes bordering on what seems like boredom–– but, I welcome it. Truly, I earned it.

For nearly 30 years I have been consciously doing what I now call Soul Work. It’s a lot of internal digging and discovery. It takes curiosity, presence and commitment. It caused many dark nights of the soul and countless internal shifts. This has brought me a life of continuous growth and change.

Today, with the new moon, I am launching my new business. The vision of this venture is to provide a space for growth and transformation through soul work. In doing so, I would work as guide/coach.

I am also a licensed social worker, working toward my clinical license. Through my education and work experience I have gained skills in assessing and knowledge of interventions and theories. 

These two elements have aligned with my strong desire to be a helper in the areas of self-discovery and growth. Not much matters to me more than this because when we know our selves, we know everything. Further, in knowing ourselves, we push our human evolution as a whole, forward. In light of the times, THIS IS NEEDED. 

Knowing ourselves is a process. The help I offer is not gimmicky or for most of us, quick. If this is something of interest to you, if you find yourself in a consistent state of anxiety, worry and overwhelm, perhaps it is time to tip- toe toward the soul and find what’s there.

Go to this link to learn more. After looking, if you have questions, please let me know. This will help me clarify my service for people. After looking, if you are interested, fill out the form or send me an email and we can begin.

~The Soul Reporter

The Helpers

Who are the helpers in your life right now?

These are the obvious people and the not so obvious. They are the ones who give you medicine or herbs when you’re off balance and the ones who cut your hair. They are the ones who provide you a place to sleep or food to share. Helpers are everywhere. And, we are all helpers.

My present helpers

The helpers coming into my life right now are what I’ll call energy companions. They have shown up after a good twenty-seven years of countless dark nights of the soul. They arrive to restore my soul, replenish my mind and body, and repair what has been unhealthy relationship dynamics. I’m so excited about these helpers that I am going to list a few of them:

Energy Worker Ed: I met with Ed in December 2018 after an intense time that began in mid-October. After our session, I was grounded and my aura was attached again. Although this may sound woo-woo to some, it has made a tremendous impact. Irregular behavioral and thought patterns, along with codependent relationship dynamics, ones I’ve been struggling with for many years, have totally untangled. There is now space within myself where I experience discernment and wisdom. Also, I am more attuned to energy that I pick up from people and environment. Plus, my intution is coming back after being buried in internal conflict and stress.

Social Work Supervisor & Friend: Had it not been for this special person in my life, I would not have met Ed or read this book (which I highly recommend as it sheds light on our deep, unconscious patterns): Astrology for the Soul. Not only has she been a light toward much needed resources on my reparative journey, she has provided an experience of relational repair. In my past I’ve had dissatisfying friendships and a lack of a supportive people. She calls herself my cheerleader, and I feel it and grow to accept this from her more and more everyday.

Caitlin: She is the new stylist I found, recommended to me by my mother-in-law (if you’d like to read my interview with my mother-in-law, who is a style expert and consultant, click on this link). Between hormonal changes, stress, and who knows what environmental toxins, my hair has been beaten up. I once had a head full of healthy, vibrant curls. Now, in my mid-40’s it hardly curls at all. But Caitlin is here to help me repair the hair. Accordingly, she says she has been meeting more and more women that are having the same concerns. She not only takes her time with a cut, she educates and is another cheerleader— but one encouraging another round of vibrant hair. Not to mention, the products she recommends: fabulous, and pricey, but pure magic.

Graduation 1990
Before haircut w/ Caitlin
After

My job and co-workers: Now out of grad school, and no longer a social work temp, I’ve a permanent position as a school social worker. This job is unique and offers a kind of flexibility and space I’ve not had before. The needs are great among students, and because of its structure, there are opportunities to create student curriculum, groups and psychoeducation topics. The environment is nearly stress free and the staff are friendly, supportive and fun. It’s a gift.

And, tomorrow I meet with an Ayruvedic practitioner whom I trust will provide me with even more pathways toward restoration and re-balance. M

Prior to these companions were energy vampires. These people are helpers, but that is not their intention. These people are often the most wounded and lost among us and need the energy of others to feel whole and secure.

In our current “live your best life” phenomenon, we are told by “the experts” to remove these toxic people from our lives. To some extent, I do agree. However, they have a lot to teach us. They teach us how to set boundaries. They encourage us to dig deeper within ourselves and ask: what in me has attracted this person right now?

In this new year, I sense more integration and unity and less compartmentalizing and separating. I hope for more clarity and thoughtfulness, and a slowing down of what has become a high paced and distracting reaction for many of us. For example, if we want to rid ourselves of a person, place or thing- before we toss what does not bring joy, let us slow down and check-in: have we learned what we need to learn?Have we allowed this person/place/thing to make us a wiser person?

We often rush to our joy, but we miss the process that will actually and eventually bring us to it.

Before I close, since I’ve mentioned energy- we are energy beings. We are more than flesh, blood and bone. We are more than our thoughts. In order to fully grow, evolve and change we have to move beyond our thoughts. To think (intellectualize) through change is not enough. I have learned we must also feel our way to change, and then move into our energy body where energetic shifts (you know like being grounded and having your aura attached ;)) occur. These many layers, which make us a human being, must all be integrated for true change to occur. And gratefully, look at all our helpers!

Namaste, The Soul Reporter

The Journey is not far. It’s expansive.

Moss: one of my favorite things. Had I known I could have made a career…-2

(1) Tangled

The journey is not far. It is expansive.

Moss: one of my favorite things. Had I known I could have made a career…-4

(2) The Return

I went for a forest walk this morning. I entered, expectant. Further along, afraid.  What twists and turns might I face? As a woman, would a man try and hurt me? As a human in mid-life, more feelings of loss? As a spiritual being, enlightenment? The wondering passed and my feet on the path continued. The journey felt far, and at times I felt tangled within it with no escape, like that branch above (1). As the path turned I found a paved path. It led where I began. The return was so close, and had always been (2). 

 

Nature can be used as a metaphor for our personal/spiritual journeys. It can be symbolic of our relationships with ourselves and others. Today for me, feeling entangled in the forest, and then to find the paved path to where I began, was a metaphor of my journey. Within the journey are many twists and turns, moments of being snared and entangled, to then being pushed into a clear open space. There is darkness. There is light. There is mess, debris and branches and old leaves everywhere (3). All of this tricks the mind that I have gone too far from myself, from where I began, and will not make it to where I am trying to go. But— my feet continue to step. The path leads to where I began and I see I was never far away, I was really never far at all, ever, and will not be again.

Below are the images and metaphors from my forest walk. Tip: if you’re feeling stuck creatively or worried about where you are on the journey, take your own nature walk. See what you see, how it reflects where you are and how it can be used to provide you with some expression and guidance.

Moss: one of my favorite things. Had I known I could have made a career…-3

This instantly brought tears to my eyes. I see two trees meeting together at the root, joined at the heart and growing individually as one.

Moss: one of my favorite things. Had I known I could have made a career…-5

Change & the touch of Autumn

Moss: one of my favorite things. Had I known I could have made a career…-7

(3) The mess of the forest and as it should be: as it is.

Moss: one of my favorite things. Had I known I could have made a career…

Moss: how I love thee. Had I known I could have made a career studying moss I might have changed my major. Seems to me studying moss may be more enjoyable than the study of people and relationships. #IAmASocialWorker

Moss: one of my favorite things. Had I known I could have made a career…-6

Moss: one of my favorite things. Had I known I could have made a career…-1

Remnant of summer, still reaching toward the sun.

The Soul Reporter.

Childhood Trauma

The Information about childhood trauma, in my opinion, is the most essential information of our time. This TEDtalk is one of the better ones I’ve heard on this issue.

He quotes Rumi: “The wound is the place where the light enters you.”

I believe this information is coming out now because so many of us, if not all of us, are wounded and for far too long we have been unconscious of our wounds and acting out through them- hurting ourselves and each other.

It’s time to wake up and get educated about trauma and its effects. It’s time to dig in our selves and find our wounds and feel what we have not let ourselves feel and heal so that we can be the light that we are.

The time is absolutely now. It’s what is going to save us.

This is 46.

This is 46

IMG_5834

46 is when my youngest turns 18 and I realize I’ve done this Mom thing for 27 years (yeah, I know it’s not over, but it’s different).

46 is graduating from graduate school.

46 is can’t cover the gray quick enough, stubborn chin hairs, perimenopause and deteriorating eyesight.

46 is realizing how much I’ve grown and how I still have some growing up to do.

46 is knocking at 50’s door and realizing there’s no going back (as if there ever was).

46 is fearing there’s not enough time to fulfill the rest of my desires, wondering if I wasted too many moments being scared and hesitant.

46 is doing it anyway.

46 is getting serious about matters like health and breaking bad habits, and getting less serious about who I offend.

46 might be the beginning of some of the best years of my life.

46 might be where I stress less and live, laugh and love more.

46 might be where I hide less and seen more.

46 might be stepping into a greater purpose, becoming that purpose and making a difference.

46 might be the emergence of all the fruits of my 46 years of internal and external labor.

46 is knowing what might be is only and all up to me.

Happy Birthday to Me.

Exploring Unprocessed Hurt*

In Rising Strong, Social Scientist, Brené Brown says, “Depression and anxiety are two of the body’s first reactions to stockpiles of old hurt.” Further, according to Brown, depression and anxiety, although have “organic and biochemical reasons…unrecognized pain and unprocessed hurt can also lead there.”

There was a time, many years ago, where I began experiencing intense anxiety. Eventually I was having daily panic attacks, sometimes several a day. This was making life difficult to enjoy. I thought there was something seriously wrong with me, which only made the anxiety worse. In a way, the anxiety was fuel for me to figure out what was wrong. This led to years of inner work where I experienced sadness and pain and discovered patterns that were connected to my childhood. There, is where I dug deeper into my unprocessed hurt. The more I dug, the more I understood the unrecognized pain and released the unprocessed hurt, which eventually led to less anxiety.

So, what is unprocessed hurt and further, if it has anything to do with our childhoods, why would anyone want to go back there? Who has time, right? I think this might be a tough sell, but I am going to try anyway: go back there. And, here’s why: many of us are there anyway, especially emotionally. Let me give an example. We are at work, or in my case, a classroom. There is a large group discussion. We raise our hand or attempt to speak up, but our instructor or boss doesn’t listen or respond to us. We quickly put down our hand or shut our mouth and look down awkwardly. How are we feeling— rejected? Embarrassed? What are we thinking— no one cares what we have to say? My ideas aren’t valuable?

Now, it could be that the instructor or our boss just didn’t hear our voice or see our hand. Yet, we have a story that says we’ve been rejected. This story gives us certain thoughts and feelings, and very often, anxiety, which moves us away from the present moment where we might see that we just weren’t heard or seen because of a simple mistake by the person leading the discussion. It wasn’t personal. If this is relatable, maybe we can think of similar experiences as an adult where we felt rejected or ignored. Maybe we notice a pattern. What if we went deeper? Are there any childhood experiences where we felt this way? At school? At the family dinner table? Maybe we notice a connection to experiences now and experiences then. Maybe this connection makes us feel sad for the child that felt this way. What if we felt that?

This is inner work. And yes, it takes time. But more so, it takes a curious mind and the courage and willingness to go a little deeper beyond our stories, in this example, a story of rejection. When we begin to move our attention beyond our stories, the story of rejection being a common one, we find patterns and make connections and begin to recognize our unprocessed pain, and we begin to feel the unprocessed hurt. The more we do this, we might notice our anxiety dissipate. When anxiety dissipates we are more present. When we are present, we see more clearly and breathe more freely.

Now, this is just a theory of mine. It comes from years of inner work, along with years of learning and reading about self-help, psychology and social work. This theory does not discount the organic and biochemical reasons for anxiety, some of which are often treated with medications. It also doesn’t dismiss the varying environmental and social issues that can cause anxiety. It only serves to offer another perspective, one similar to the psychoanalytic framework, which considers unconscious forces that affect our behavior and emotions.  In this way, connecting current emotional and mental patterns to childhood experiences and other unconscious pain, gives another potential cause of anxiety and how it might be relieved.

To engage in more inner work, I suggest beginning to notice your thoughts and feelings in your day-to-day life. I would also suggest using a journal to record experiences in your day that brought up noticeable thoughts and feelings. After a while, see if you notice patterns or triggers, which prompt noticeable thoughts and feelings. Be present with your self-inquiry and see where it takes you. There is a passage from the poem, The Sunrise Ruby by the Sufi poet Rumi that can be used for inspiration on the path of self-inquiry and discovery:

Work. Keep digging your well.

Don’t think about getting off from work.

Water is there somewhere.

 Submit to daily practice.

Your loyalty to that

is a ring on the door.

 Keep knocking, and the joy inside

will eventually open a window

and look out to see who’s there.

~Coleman Barks, The Essential Rumi, p. 101

*Article originally published: The Volk, Fall 2017

Practice your Inhaling.

“There is the in-breath and there is the out-breath, and it’s easy to believe that we must exhale all the time, without ever inhaling. But the inhale is absolutely essential if you want to continue to exhale.” -Roshi Joan Halifax

Before I read this in Brené Brown’s book, Braving the Wilderness today, yesterday in the shower, I got irritated by the culture we live in. Equal to my irritation was concern for humanity. Brené says we are in a spiritual crisis. I’ve thought this for years and it’s origin is in the quote above.

This culture demands we exhale constantly, and continually. Are we healthier for this? Are we wiser? Kinder? Maybe we think we are more productive, successful and cool. But, so what. We are losing ourselves— and essentially killing ourselves with all the exhaling.

For a week now I’ve been inhaling. I have finished my fall semester of graduate school, and I am in a break before my final semester. I’ve been pushing for four years to earn a degree, and although I anticipate this experience giving me discipline, knowledge and growth I could not have had otherwise, academic learning only uses a limited part of my mind.

Believe it or not, there was a time, before these four years, where I probably did too much inhaling. I used a larger part of my mind for introspection and self-study. I dug deep into internal spaces, many of them dark. But, in these years of inhaling, I learned so much about myself— some of who I am, but mostly of who I am not. This kind of introspection is brutal, and also beautiful, and is absolutely necessary to our growth.

In these several years of exhaling, and holding my breath through graduate school, I have learned what the university wants me to learn. I have gained skills and knowledge from books, projects and papers. I have pushed myself beyond my comfort level to finish the readings, projects and papers. I have become an expert at organizing my time, or more accurate, obsessing about my time. And yes, I have been more outwardly productive, and I will see myself as successful and cool once I have two degrees on my wall. But— I am going to be working with people after I graduate. People who will be struggling with mental health issues, and essentially experiencing their own spiritual crisis. The books, projects and papers of academia will only take me so far. Those years of introspection is what will be the core foundation of everything I have to offer.

This past week, I inhaled again. Next week, I will do the same. That small part of mind gave way to the larger and time hasn’t mattered. Projects and papers and textbooks haven’t mattered. I’ve read books I want to read. I’ve worked on my projects and writings. I hear my inner voice again. She’s still here. I heard her in the shower yesterday. She is concerned.

Now, that I have experienced extremes on both ends of the exhale and inhale I see how important it is for balance. I see how I needed the long time of the inhale to dig through the past, to face my demons and come out the other side. I see how I’ve needed this long time to exhale— to throw myself into this external world and learn about it, and at times be horrified and frightened by it. Right now, as a culture we are off balance. We are doing far too much exhaling. Our focus needs to come back to the in-breath, the inhale. Winter is a perfect time for introspection. To take a break. To check in with ourselves: how are we feeling? What do we need? Who have we become? Where are we headed? What small shifts can we make to change directions? How can we love ourselves more? Love each other more? What is in our dark spaces that needs to see the light? 

sunset

One of the inhaling practices I did this week was to begin a new journal, and instead of venting through the pages as I often do, I pasted some images that expressed my intentions for the coming year. Next to the images I wrote in present tense about how these intentions will unfold for me. One of my intentions is to lean into, with full heart and vulnerability, two primary relationships. I have spent years blaming, resenting and essentially fearing them. I have put up my armor and said: you will not hurt me. I have used the weapons of self-righteousness, manipulation and victimhood. These once, so I believed, gave me power. Now, I see their truth— they only create more distrust, resentment and therefore, further isolation.

Over the past several months, I have added a small movement to my yoga/mediation practice. I open my arms, roll back my shoulders, look up and say, I am open. When I was a little girl, trick or treating with my dad, I took off my Cinderella mask and said to my dad: I just want to be myself. This has been my journey— twists, turns and tangles of unraveling all that I am not to become who I am. To open up my arms, roll back my shoulders and say, I am open. This is the wilderness Brené speaks about. It takes courage and a hell of a lot of commitment.

To know ourselves, we must inhale- even if it just starts with one deeper breath in. If we do this continually, we will tip the scales toward truth and light, and this spiritual crisis will transform into a spiritual revolution.

The Soul Reporter

The Broken Place.

The Broken Place It’s from here where all of our distortions and dysfunctions originate. We will often, unconsciously so, create meaning and lives and experiences and relationships from these distortions, which originate from this broken place. In time, the meanings, … Continue reading