Self-Betrayal to Self-Love

The dominant culture, which is mostly reactivity from unprocessed trauma, tells us that we aren’t supposed to let people hurt us. But the truth is people do hurt us. 

My mom hurt me today. And there’s been plenty of other days as well. As her young child I was constantly hurt. I learned to cope and self-protect through a variety of ways. As a child, it was through art, music, books and my imagination. As I grew older, other ways were through perfectionism, OCD and controlling behaviors and the big one: codependency.

Today, I stopped taking her hurt. I set a firm boundary. And then I let myself be hurt. When our mothers hurt us it’s the ultimate betrayal. If the hurt is constant and consistent, we will learn to betray ourselves. We will make choices and create an entire life and get involved in relationships from this deepest wound.

If we are brave and committed to change, we will begin to awaken to our life built from self-betrayal, and we will feel shattered. At the very least, bruised. And, this is the place where we learn self-love, self-compassion, and forgiveness of self and others. It is a deep and holy space of grief, surrender and heart opening. We will learn self-love and begin, little by little, to create a life for ourselves painted from the womb of our rebirth and our deepest reckoning with ourselves. 

We will recognize that we no longer need to protect ourselves from hurt. We will come to experience our heart as strong, worthy, willing and ready to feel feelings and remain stabilized. We will learn the difference between self-betrayal and self-love. We will see setting boundaries and making conscious choices as our gateway to creating new experiences, experiences based and waged in self-love. 

To continue on this self-love journey, my self-reflective practice for the month of November is this….to explore, experience and learn:

What does self-love look like in my relationships…..

Beyond relationships, what does it look like for me in my life…. How do I paint and create my experiences through self-love?

I am excited to begin experiencing this.

~The Soul Reporter

Self-Reflective Practice: Recognizing Patterns of Self-Protection

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

b) weird

c) anti-social.

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.

A-fucking-ha!

“It is in the homes and in childhood that the wreckage of human life begins.” 
~Katherine Tingley

Self-Reflective Practice

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 thesoulreporter@gmail.com 

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~The Soul Reporter

This Week’s Self-Reflective Practice: Seeking Validation

Validation: “recognition or affirmation that a person or their feelings or opinions are valid or worthwhile”

A child is sitting alone at home after school. The dad comes home from work and doesn’t say hello or ask, “How was your day?” The dad doesn’t even make eye contact with the child.

A new employee has just been hired. The boss takes her around the first day, introduces her to people and shows her to her desk. The boss then leaves her alone indefinitely.

A husband and wife lie in bed. The wife stares at the ceiling. Her husband is on his phone.

Photo by Chen YiChun on Unsplash

I often hear people say, mostly women— particularly younger women, that they need validation. I’ve never thought: me too. In fact, I’ve thought validation does not matter to me.

Until recently, when it occurred to me that I received so little validation as a child that how could I know to want something I didn’t know existed. This occurrence uncovered a deep wound of deprivation— deprivation of words, of energy and attention, of presence and acknowledgement from the caregivers and other taller people around me.

Instead of wanting something I could not have, it made sense to push that need deep, deep into the darkness— into a dark room and shut the door. But, the door to the dark room wasn’t sealed. Over time, the stench of that need for validation, created a belief: I am not worthy. I do not matter. It may have even gone so deep that I wondered: did I even exist?

Most things, I am finding, are on a spectrum. I believe the vast majority of us were neglected as children, of at least one fundamental need, and that experience of neglect lies on a spectrum. I was bathed, fed, read to. I have memories of my father rubbing my temples after a hard week with mom. I have fewer memories of my mother’s validation.

I also remember my grandmother Lillian. We sat on her gold sofa playing Uno. She handed me $20 bills. Her eyes lit up when she saw me. I called her my pal. I remember my Aunt Flo who lived in Chicago, where I visited at least once a year. Walking through her door was immediate love and acceptance by her pinch of my cheeks and the twinkle in her eyes. I cling to the memory of these two women. They saw me. They showed me I existed and more, could be loved.

Photo by Kyle Nieber on Unsplash

Can I venture to say, we all carry the deep wound of neglect somewhere inside of us….?

Sadly, when the stench of unworthiness takes up space in our being, we attract all the people and experiences that show us we are not worthy. More sad, if we do not see these experiences as opportunities to heal, we create a story and our unworthiness sets in like a stone corpse. It’s concreted now: we do not matter.

I write this today because I don’t want any of us to concrete the belief: I don’t matter. If we have, there’s still time to break it apart to the point where it becomes dust and can be blown away by our own breath.

We matter. And depending on where we are on the spectrum of neglect, it can take many years of uncovering this wound, allowing it to heal, and recreating a life, not of the stench of unworthiness, but of the fragrance of mercy and the pure delight of our existence.

Self-Reflective Action

The self-reflective practice for this week is to do some investigative journaling and mindful reflection. Notice if you seek validation. To help, notice where you have a story about something or someone. For instance, in the example I gave above about the new employee and the boss: he may have had complete confidence in her abilities and that is why, after showing her around, he let her be. However, if she isn’t sure about herself and her own abilities, she might start looking for him to validate her. She won’t ask him to- because who does that, right- especially with a boss? Then, she might start creating stories, talking to her co-workers, and eventually might become paranoid of her position or resentful of what she perceives as neglect from her boss.

As we can see, this can get very complicated. When really, it is quite simple. But I won’t get into that for this week. First, we need to notice where we are on the spectrum of seeking validation. Where we are on that spectrum will point to where we are on the spectrum of neglect, often from childhood.

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 thesoulreporter@gmail.com

Next week, I will unravel this complicated validation journey and share ways toward self-validation and ultimately, self-love.

~The Soul Reporter

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