Personally, I feel I like I can tune in even more. I can do this by slowing everything down and being present. When I do this, I instantly receive information that tells me what changes are occurring within me.
One of the changes occurring was triggered when my daughter, who is an esthetician, asked to do eye make up on me. I told her to do something bold and bright— something I’d never do on myself. Here is the result:
At first, when I looked in the mirror, I had a two second identity crisis: who the hell am I? When I woke up the next morning, having removed the make up, I felt like it was the first day of the rest of my life. I realized there is big, full life out there for me to experience. Creating a new look on my face helped me to see how much I play myself down in order to not be seen. And this made me feel it is time to grieve the way I’ve been playing and let it go.
Sometimes what we think is our personality— the who we think we are— is actually a product of deep insecurities and fears. Once faced, processed and understood, we begin to see that beneath this—who we thought we were— is not really who we are.
What I am coming to understand is the person I thought I was expressed from an old tape of fear and neglect. Who I really am expresses from a divine intensity inside of me. She is a whole other person who lives, laughs and loves with that intensity— and maybe even wears bright make up.
To end, click on my video I posted today. I came out with no make up giving shout outs to those of us working real hard expanding our consciousness and self-awareness and finding the hope in that. Click here to listen.
Sometimes I’m amazed at new insights about myself, especially at my age.
One I just discovered was so deeply rooted, I thought it was just my personality.
This pattern’s motive is for one single use—the holy grail of psychological mechanisms: self-protection.
Here it is: if I am quiet and shut down around someone or in an environment—it is because for one reason or another- I do not feel safe.
I am not shut down and quiet because I am:
a) an introvert
I am shut down and quiet because actually…….
I LOVE MYSELF. I CARE ABOUT MYSELF.
What I needed in order to see this pattern: to—finally—be with people who, and in environments that, create a sense of safety and worthiness.
When I was a little girl, I was just quiet. I kept to myself. The more quiet and to myself, the more isolated and therefore, weird I thought I was. But, recently when I noticed myself being shut down and quiet around certain people, I also noticed the story I was telling about myself: you’re weird and everyone thinks you’re weird. And then the berating: what is wrong with you? Why can’t you just talk to people? Do you think you are better than they are…? (Well, I mean yes, sometimes I do).
But— a stream of high-level consciousness broke through. I connected this adult moment in real time with my child self. I saw my child self do exactly what grown up self is doing and realized: I AM NOT WEIRD. I may not even be an introvert. My little kid self who shut down to stay safe did so because she loved her self.
“It is in the homes and in childhood that the wreckage of human life begins.” ~Katherine Tingley
This week, and quite honestly from now on, consider your personality traits, that you think you are just stuck with or maybe even like, could be deeply ingrained self-protective mechanisms. For many of us, in our childhoods, conditions were harsh. These harsh conditions showed up in our childhood homes, in the schools we attended and in the world we lived in. Harsh doesn’t have to mean abuse. It can just mean unkind or not hospitable to the souls and spirits that we are.
To protect ourselves from harshness our wisdom created mechanisms to keep us safe and protected. Mine was to shut down. What was/is yours?
Once you discover it, pay attention to it. Where does it show up? Consider why. Do you have to hang on to it to keep you safe or can you start to let it go? Could it be that you are more than what you think your personality is? Now that you are a grown up, is it possible to be safe even when around unsafe people?
Finding our self-protective patterns can be a tedious task. And some are buried more deeply than others. I am 47, and just discovered my deeply ingrained pattern. But you know, now that I have, I feel lighter. I feel freer. I feel more myself. And, I know I have worked to build or perhaps, uncover, the foundation within myself— a foundation I stand safely on— even in the harshest conditions.
As usual, reach out if needed. I am here to hold space for your stories, your challenges, your process.
To learn more about me and my services, click here. To reach me for questions or to share, click here or email me at email@example.com
The coolness of the breeze The sun shining between clouds The still barren trees The ones sprouting buds The cardinal I could not catch The camouflaged deer The still swollen river
Today, I arrive in a clear open space after a long fought journey.
I have risen- again.
Today, I praise Life Itself. Today, I praise the Life I AM 🙏🏼
My parents grew up Catholic. They did not bring me to church. They did not have me confirmed. The closest I came to anything religious was baptism.
This, other than their bodies and intentions that brought me here, is their greatest gift to me.
Without a religion to follow and adhere to, which I knew quite young, when my very religious aunt made me go to church, that it was not for me. My entire little body recoiled sitting there amongst praisers of Jesus.
How did I know at such a young age this was not my way? What did I know instead?
The answers to these questions have unfolded as a journey to mySelf. In this journey I have found who I am and most importantly, who I am not. That proved to be the hardest part. It’s an excavation of Soul and it leads to our Self- our higher self. At least this is my truth and journey.
In so stating my spiritual path, I am fully aware that it is unpopular. I feel this and have experienced this- especially with Christians, and even those who do not attend church regularly call themselves this. I have been judged and isolated by them and others.
A Jehovah Witness friend would not break bread with me, yet asked me to lunch- telling me if I wanted to see her she’ll be at the Kingdom Hall. I had a cousin- a born again Christian- tell me following any other religion is following Satan- after I explained to her what Namaste meant. Never heard from her again. As a young girl, Christian parents forbid their children to hang out with me saying I was a bad influence.
More generally, from what I understand, Christianity does not condone a path that believes that salvation lies within. It believes only salvation lies with accepting Jesus. Where does that leave the rest of us? Not saved, of course. Fortunately, I’m secure in my journey and I am fine being left to it.
At this time, when so many of us are coming out of our shame surrounding who we are and stepping into our truth- it’s Important for me to come out with what I just shared about a topic we are told not to talk about but infiltrates everything. And what a better day than on Easter!
It’s always been my least favorite holiday. When my kids were young I made the most of it with colored eggs and hiding Easter baskets. Until this morning I still dreaded it. There’s an assumption in this country that most of us are Christian. It can be triggering to those that are not.
But today, I claimed the spiritual path I’ve always been on. It’s an ever expanding one where I rise and fall a lot but I always learn and grow when I do. Salvation, for me, lies within and that is my journey. Namaste.
This week I’d like to start by sharing a poem I wrote while in the midst of some buried trauma and pain around validation seeking.
I wonder if this is how children feel…
Who is listening? And who is there to talk to?
Who is there that isn’t too drunk? Too high? Too distracted? Too wounded? Too insane? Too selfish?
This deprivation turns to desperation. And then to rage.
Who is listening? Who is there to talk to? Who has space for me?
We are all in the same boat. Violently rocking. Or barely hanging on. Or with a stiff drink in our own hand thinking: this is the life.
But is it?
Do I need you to see me to know I exist? To know my experience matters? Do I need you to hold my space?
Where am I in this? Can I do it without you?
Is it too much to ask a wounded mother and father to do this?
Is it appropriate for that same wounded mother or father to ask their child to do this?
Who is listening? Who is there to talk to?
This poem could go further. I thought it might. But, turns out I had to live it through a little deeper in my own life in order to finish this piece on validation.
What I now understand is that poem is from the old story. Old does not make in now invalid. Instead this story is valuable, essential and leads me to where I am now where it is old enough to gain perspective and understanding in order to let it go and make room for a new story.
I cannot proclaim to know all the pieces of the new story yet. The new story is unfolding. But here are some pieces that I have gathered so far….
Piece One, The Repair Journey: On my walk this afternoon, I listened to a Super Soul podcast of Elizabeth Lesser. She spoke about her book, Marrow: A Love Story and the work she and her sister did together to repair their relationship. She posed the question: Who do we need to clean up space with so we can truly connect? Who have we hurt? And, then ask and listen.
We hurt people in many ways, often stemming from our wounds of neglect and trauma. One of the ways we hurt people is by expecting them to meet our needs and to validate us.
Piece Two, The Spirit & Soul Journey: Maya Angelou said, beware of the naked man who gives you his shirt. She also said she doesn’t trust anyone that says I love you when they don’t love themselves. I remember my mother telling me to look in the mirror and say: I love myself. And, my mother didn’t, and doesn’t love herself. It has been a strained relationship, but in many ways I took her words to heart. It framed a life, my life. I have been on the self-love journey this entire time.
To begin Repair: As we step into our reflective practice on seeking validation, let’s be curious about which relationships in our lives need some tidying up. Who can we do some repair work with? Who have we hurt, and then ask and listen, defenses down. Also, consider is this person safe, willing and ready to begin the process. There are some people who, at this time, are far too wounded and therefore will be too defensive to clear space with.
To begin the Conscious Spirit & Soul Journey: Consider that you are on a self-love journey, no matter how low or how badly you feel about yourself. Do you believe this to be true? Then, where do you think you are on this journey? Are you the kind of person who is naked, but giving your shirt away? Or do you have so many shirts and won’t consider sharing one? Either behavior shows there is an imbalance within the relationship with yourself. What if you looked in the mirror and said: I love myself? Notice what you feel. What you think. Do you believe it?
Which brings me to the next piece…..
The New Story
This weekend, while journaling, I understood that a new rhythm unfolds inside of me. The Voice Inside says to me gently: let it happen. No need to figure it out, alter it, halt it. Let it occur.
This new rhythm is of my own making. I no longer beat to the drum of my old childhood wounds and buried trauma. There is a new sound coming forth.
Here is the poem of this new sound:
There is a new rhythm coming forth.
It is of my own making.
Why would I do anything to disrupt and disturb it.
It is coming together to create a new dance in all of my relationships. In the relationship with myself.
It comes with a trust toward my eternal and steadfast vision of the person I want to be, the person I know I am.
It is not a head path or the old wounded way.
It is a soul path, a heart path.
And it is unfolding, and I am watching, noticing and gratefully looking forward to what is transpiring.
In this new rhythm I begin to understand I am fully nourished by Spirit, by my Soul’s Journey. My my very own Self.
As always, I am here to help you investigate this topic because sometimes it’s a lot to do this on our own. If you have questions about this week’s practice or have insights to share, please contact me. For deeper, more concentrated work, I am available for tele-therapy.
To learn more about me and my services, click here. To reach me for questions or to share, click here or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
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 @ email@example.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…..
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.
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?
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……?
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.
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.
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!
For my graduate social work program I chose to do my research project on self-refelctive practice using myself as the both researcher and the one being researched. So far my work has been downloaded from universities and people all over the world.
When we look for a therapist, it is important that the therapist, know thyself.
Typically, in a social work graduate program, students are taught human behavioral theories, methods and interventions, ethical practices, policy and cultural competence among other areas. The primary tool used by social workers are themselves. Therefore, it is important the social worker is competent. The academic curriculum ensures that professionally, they are. However, how much does a social work graduate program ensure the social worker is competent personally? Theorists and current literature express the importance of a therapist possessing selfawareness— that essentially to know oneself is to know others. In this autoethnography, I aimed to enlighten the importance of self-awareness by participating in the self-reflective practices of clinical supervision and self-reflective journal writing during my graduate year as a social work intern and student. I took this data and interwove it with personal history and knowledge from social work literature and education. Through the process, I discovered the importance of the therapeutic relationship and its ability to provide relational repair, along with personal issues such as insecure attachment surfacing in order to be acknowledged and begin to be healed. Ultimately, I experienced the reason why self-reflective practice is essential in being a competent therapist. Self-reflective work brings self-awareness. Self-awareness brings self-knowledge. And, self-knowledge enhances the therapeutic relationship and increases a therapist’s overall competence and confidence.
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
I was immobilized by shock and fear when Trump won the election. That week, it took a lot to get moving again. When I did move I went on a bike ride to one of my favorite spots. I got off my bike and realized something fundamental had changed inside of me.
Usually on visits to my favorite spot I reflected upon concerns surrounding myself, my life and my relationships. But not anymore. A new, more menacing concern was with me- concern about my larger home— our country, our world, our planet and its people. This isn’t to say I had none of these concerns before, but now, the weight of them was heavier. It was almost too heavy and I wanted to go back to the days of only trying to manage my issues. Unfortunately, living in the west with my head just above the middle-class lifestyle, I had no idea this was a privilege.
Since those early days of November, I have since accommodated to this change. The shock has worn off and my fear has dimmed to a consistent concern for the broader context in which we live. Sometimes these concerns are in the back of my mind, and sometimes they are front and center. What I do in my life hasn’t changed all that much. I still get up, do my yoga and meditation. I do my homework, go to classes, spend time with family. I still get on my bike and go to my favorite spot. But now, when I drive up to order my half-caf iced coffee with almond milk or sit at a restaurant deciding if I want a salad or a burger, I realize the freedom I think I have to do these things can shift dramatically at any time. Think, TheHandmaid’s Tale (for anyone who watched it or read the book). Watching it felt all too possible.
So, now that I have shared my experience I want to know yours. Tell me what you have noticed since Trump was elected. Are there changes in your life? Your mind? Body? Emotions? Relationships?
When I look around it seems on the surface everyone is doing just fine, and I wonder is everyone asleep? Aren’t people concerned? Then, I think if they looked at me while I ordered my half-caf iced coffee they would think the same. So, where are you with all this- if you like Trump or not- how has it changed you? And if it hasn’t, tell me why.