This is what emotional work can look like!
This past couple days has been so interesting, as I wrestle with my body’s terror about being the center of attention and knee-jerk reactions to staying present in situations where resources are coming from others to me, specifically. It’s really stretching my mind and my understanding and challenges the wiring of my brain. Not always fun, and not always comfortable, but always held in love and gentleness and so much kindness and creativity.
Hope you like my photo collection! Watch for more photos from the shoot which will be appearing on Facebook and other forms of social media over the next couple months. They will make up the launch for Estar En Mi Cuerpo, but they will be professional photographs by Kitzia, who I am sure you are going to love. For those of you who don’t know, Estar En Mi Cuerpo is the Spanish title for Being In My Body, What You Might Not Have Known About Trauma, Dissociation, & The Brain. The other women in the photos are so dear to my heart – my translator, Mariana and her sister, Margarita.
I was recently interviewed by Harvard-trained Guy McPherson of the Trauma Therapist Podcast. I highly recommend his creative endeavor, which you can check out here. He is truly inspired, seeing that people first starting out on the road to being effective therapists can and should draw on the wisdom of others who were once beginners too.
Listen to my interview here.
I’m watching the sky light up this morning. I begin watching well before the sun comes up (6:45 is early enough, actually), so that I can be a witness to the contrast of the darkness, where the stars are still visible. It’s nippy out, and I have leg warmers, fluffy socks, and three layers up above. I’m wearing a fluffy purple muffler to keep my neck warm. I’ve finished my tea and I’m at a point now where I might usually go and start my stretches because nothing is really beckoning me to continue watching the pre-sunrise sky in the east. Then I notice two little groups of birds flying with each other. They are flying in tandem. They make sort of a figure 8 in the sky; they float toward and through each other and then out again in this rhythm where they are repeating the pattern over and over and over again, flying with each other. It seems to me that they are playing. As they continue this pattern, it’s kind of hypnotic to watch, and interesting too because they know what they are doing and they are doing it purposefully, and for some reason that I can only imagine.
I’m still facing east and it strikes me that these birds are right there, in my line of vision, and I keep watching. It seems to me that there are no other little groups of birds doing anything anywhere else. But this little group of birds has positioned itself right in front of me. And I just continue to watch them until they merge and become one group. And that one group of birds continues flying in my line of sight back and forth and around. And there are little outsiders, and I watch how they have to fly extra hard to catch up, from time to time, to avoid falling out of the group, and the distance they have to fly to stay in the formation is bigger. But they do their part to continue to be with the group, and the group continues to function like a group and it just keeps moving and dancing and doing what it does.
I think about this group of birds, and what motivates it to do what it does. I can’t imagine that it is striving for perfection, or that any of those individual birds are working on a technique, or that they are trying to get it better than any other little group of birds or needing to get any better than they were before. They are just doing it. They are flying. They are flying because that’s what they do.
I’m admiring patterns these days. Some patterns that are emerging are the similarities I see between bodywork (tai chi, etc.) and being with other people. The three levels of patterns that are occurring to me are 1) Slow down, 2) Let Pleasure In, and 3) Don’t Try; Just be. Today I’ll focus just on the first, but I know they are also all woven together.
Slowing down when spending time with other people improves the quality of the connection. It improves the likelihood that what is being shared is a person’s deepest truth and not some unexamined word pattern that emerges from habit or old wounds; discharge of (and/or distraction from) unfelt emotions, or defenses against really being known. Our culture does not currently support being slow with one another, but I say this is where so much richness, beauty and potential lies. What would it take to create an environment in which taking two deep breaths before responding would be natural? And a listener would not rush in to fill the silence. An environment like this would offer an unspoken, “There is no need to rush. Take your time. Take all the time you need to express yourself fully.” How amazing and how terrifying would that kind of environment be?
I desire to mend old ways of relating with others: hiding, controlling, defending. It is my intention to get better at staying connected with myself and my felt sense as I share myself with others, so that I can benefit more from the connection that human sharing can offer. Talking before connecting with myself, I have found, can result in saying things that might be “true” but are unkind, or “true” only at a superficial (usually injured, egoic) level. What I communicate when I am fully grounded and embodied is an expression of what I value, it invites a response from you that is an authentic expression of you, and the sharing creates something of value that simply nothing else can.
With the body, in activities such as yoga or tai chi, we are gently coaxed into asanas or forms that are different from what we would habitually assume. Such activities give us opportunities to slow down – to explore and know ourselves better, to listen to our deeper truth, and to improve the quality of our lives. Slowing our movements down allows us to bring awareness to unconscious ways we have used our bodies to avoid discomfort or pain it might have just been more “pleasant” to ignore. When we rush from Point A to Point B we are likely to take the path we have habitually taken, whether it’s the most elegant, most expressive, most effortless, or most ergonomically sensible path. When we take this path (from A to B) unconsciously, despite the extra effort this route may cost us (both in terms of its inefficiency and the energy required to keep information outside of awareness), we inevitably communicate our unconscious pain in the world – at the very least to the unconscious selves of others, who have brains designed to pick up such information. Such subtleties match up with other information patterns they have stored in their memory banks, beneath conscious awareness and are likely to later trigger unconscious responses and unexplained emotions in your relating with one another.
In slowing down, we may feel something we’ve been avoiding. And we might not like that, actually. But in slowing way down, we may make connections, and gain understandings about ourselves we never had before. In slowing down, we bring consciousness to those painful places we’ve been avoiding, to find out what is actually there. And in bringing consciousness there, we can understand that the pain is nothing more than sensation. You thought that was pain. But approaching that sensation with curiosity instead of judgment, with gentle exploration and generosity in terms of time and pacing, this “pain” might actually offer you information that heals and pleasure that you hadn’t afforded yourself before (which besides feeling good, brings resilience, vitality and gentle supportive presence to the body). It’s not the scary thing we’ve been spending so much energy protecting ourselves from and avoiding.
When the person I’m with is accelerated, I feel compelled to share what I have to say quickly. I am somewhat skilled at meeting other people where they are vibrationally, and have built my identity around matching and attuning, and blending in. Unknowingly, I have postponed developing the ability to claim my own vibrational frequency and maintain it in the presence of another. As a result I have often settled for the superficial (shiny, exciting) interaction that happens between two people, when what I am yearning for is so much more. The pleasure of a particular kind of connecting that I yearn for is one in which I am unguarded, grounded, and connected with exactly who I am. Grounded, in this moment, is nothing more than being attuned to my senses in this moment, being willing to slow down and take those two breaths before responding, and speaking only those words that I need to speak to express my experience in the moment.
It’s not possible to be truly compassionate with ourselves or others when we are running on adrenaline and cortosol, on guard, defended and triggered. That is why I recommend learning how to slow down, calm the body, connect with yourself and then communicate with those around you from a grounded, mindful place. It takes more than a sound bite to express oneself. And it takes more than sitting in front of the television to relax after a stressful day at work. Changing gears after living a high-vibration lifestyle for years and years is something that has to be done on purpose; it doesn’t just happen on its own. That is what I have put my mind to doing, and let me tell you, I will never turn back.
The birds this morning, in their flying and being who they are reminded me that we all know who we are, though we might have temporarily forgotten. We have worked so hard to cover up what makes us uniquely us, to mask it, or to make it different so that it is acceptable to someone else. The birds’ message to me this morning was: Don’t try; just be. Right now, do what is necessary to reconnect with the God-given greatness of all that you are. Be right here in this moment, now, and play as if right now were all that there was. You have a way to express yourself, and you have your own, inherent vibrational frequency. Re-member that it is right to want to do what you do effortlessly, naturally, and with great playfulness and joy. And then give yourself permission to go out and do it.
“To assume the best about people is almost an inherently selfish act, ’cause the life you change first is your own.”
– Brené Brown
But it can also change the lives of the people around you. You can’t know, without a doubt, if someone (who has been getting on your nerves) is doing their best. But if you can make the assumption that they are doing their best, then you actually feel more acceptance, less judgment, less resentment, and more accepting of your own imperfect, “needy” self, and maybe even recognize that you deserve support, whether any one particular person can give it to you or not.
“Generosity,” says Brené, “can’t exist without boundaries. Empathy without boundaries is not empathy. Boundaries are friggin’ important. It’s here’s what’s okay with me, and here is what’s not.”
Achieving this level of self knowledge often requires a lot of work. But it’s so worth it. Here is a video where Brené is being interviewed about compassion and boundaries. I just love it. Take a look!
Here is her question: What boundaries need to be in place for me to maintain my integrity and make my most generous assumptions about you?
As many of you already know, I came to Mexico not just to travel and learn Spanish, but because I wanted time and space to process. I wanted to have time to heal, to recuperate, to connect with myself. I learned after I got here that I am also here because when I was in close proximity with my family I had a hard time maintaining my personal boundaries, and from this distance I actually have enough boundary (distance) to begin to know who I am, how I differ from those I love, and which feelings are actually mine. It has taken me being here and them there for me to do that.
This Thanksgiving/Christmas I am here by myself, and though it feels weird to be here when all my family is there, and I have no plans to go back until spring, it feels exactly right. I am doing a tremendous amount of emotional work, I feel incredible support, and I am grateful for this time to redefine myself in terms of my personal life, the way I work, and my evolving professional identity based on this growth.
The work I am doing is multifaceted and deep, and is absolutely blowing my mind. Developmentally, I feel that I am finally completing my individuation process (that under the best of circumstances is largely completed by age 3, with a blessed make-up period at age 14). At 52, I’m thrilled to finally be feeling the reality of this–what the Weinholds call psychological birth (with which comes a much stronger sense of a durable boundaried self).
This transformation process isn’t just something I woke up one morning and decided to do. It’s an assignment that’s been shown to me and told to me in so many ways from mentors and way-showers, my own dreams and intuitions, and from just watching the patters of my life and following my guidance from day to day. It involves a lot of not knowing, and that can be uncomfortable. And it involves breaking out of old patterns, which is also uncomfortable. It involves a lot of being with myself, which I actually can’t get enough of, and it has also involved being with others in new ways, which can be uncomfortable, but I’m willing–stretching myself, and eager to grow into this new, more embodied skin I’m stepping into. I’m making progress in releasing control over outcomes, and my intention is to be more guidable by the forces of nature that are wiser and greater than my mind. Notice that the photos I include below are upside down. I decided that I was not going to be perfectionistic about this and left them upside down because today I’m not in the mood to troubleshoot that. Progress!!
One of the ideas I’m currently developing I got from the Weinholds. It has to do with the Drama Triangle I talked about a few blog entries back. It also fits nicely with the section of Being In My Body that deals with self abuse (in the Violence and Abuse section of Chapter 5 – Healthy Adult Intimacy).
What I am now noticing in my own processes, and the processes of my new clients, is a version of the Drama Triangle (DT) that is played out inside one person’s head. The Weinhold book, How to Break Free of the Drama Triangle and Victim Consciousness deals primarily with the DT being played out in families, communities, and between nations, where it is so prevalent and so confusing. When this chaos plays out inside one person’s head it can be even more so because it’s hard to see who is playing which role, and roles can quickly switch from one to another, which makes it all impossible to decipher without appropriate support.
Another idea I’ve been thinking about (also compliments of the time I spent in Colorado with the Colorado Institute for Conflict Resolution and Creative Leadership) has to do with Surrender, one of the key features of many spiritual disciplines. The way the Weinholds explain it, Surrender has a masculine essence and a feminine essence. The masculine essence is our willingness to take charge of our lives without guilt or shame. The feminine essence is our willingness to receive without resistance or judgment. I am seeing how these two sides of Surrender play out in virtually every aspect of connecting, whether it’s between two people, or the parts inside an unintegrated mind, what I refer to in my book as the fragmented self. There is so much to learn here as I play with this idea of Surrender, superimposed on the Drama Triangle.
What happens for me, personally, is that with these tools I can more easily recognize internal abuse when it begins to happen. As is usually the case with my practice, new clients have been coming in with questions that invite me to expand to better meet their needs–which mirror mine in many ways. Together we are cultivating different kinds of alliances that are better suited to meet our more refined needs. What it feels like I’m developing is a fairly reliable well-balanced Inner Marriage that makes both Masculine and Feminine contributions to my day-to-day, moment-to-moment movement in the world. And of course all of this is built on my new level of commitment to staying fully embodied.
I am immersed in ideas that are begging me to develop them, and I’m doing my best to keep up. They include collaborations with other people, where we’ll have a chance to play with sharing leadership, and of course I continue to privately explore, write and follow my muses. My attention returns again and again to such ideas as pleasure and play, healing touch, expressive movement and so much more.
Thank you for your interest. I’d love to hear what you think or what you’d like.
Stay Tuned for my online course: Learning to Parent Your Tender Vulnerable Self: Getting Off The Internal Drama Triangle for Good
I’ve been working on an Online Course based on the Drama Triangle and how it can play out inside us (with the different parts of the triangle represented by different parts of us in our minds: The Victim, The Rescuer & The Persecutor). This online course will break the Drama Triangle down into simple terms so that it can be more easily understood and applied in order to stop inner abuse and self sabotage in its tracks.
During the course, participants will learn how to replace the Drama Triangle with its magical counterpart, the Empowerment Dynamic, to help overcome early relational trauma. They will also gain a framework for better knowing when and how to trust themselves, which naturally impacts knowing when and how to safely trust other people.
I’d like for this course to provide the container for an online community where participants support each other in their process of becoming empowered and taking charge of their lives without guilt or shame and receiving their hearts desires without resistance or judgment. The class will include a series of lessons, visual diagrams, lectures, assignments, a sharing forum, one or more individual Skype session(s) and other materials to supplement learning, facilitate sharing, and deep, safe and lasting connections.
Look for it in early 2017.
Everyone who participated in the Amazon Free Kindle Book Givaway, Thank YOU!!!
Congratulations to the 6 winners, and all who played!
For anyone who would like access to a copy without purchasing it, the DBRL has agreed to buy a copy. Ask them to buy another one if it’s checked out! You might also check for it at the Clover’s store on the east side of town (Columbia MO).
Buy it there and avoid shipping costs!
Thank you for your interest.
If you’d rather have a paper copy you can write in and call your own, you can get one here:
Being In My Body explores developmental trauma, something that happens when we perceive our adult caretakers as unavailable, scared or scary instead of calm, present, and available in our very early years. The wiring that results from these early interactions determines what we do with emotions and how our bodies respond to other people.
An important point of inspiration for me is music. I have yet to find better music to shift my mood or raise my vibration than that of Trina Brunk. I highly encourage you to check out her albums and/or subscribe to her channel. This morning, this song struck me in a new way. It felt as though the angels were singing it to me, and my heart was open to hear it in a new way.
Here’s how it goes:
Life is calling your name. Wake up! Love is driving you sane. Wake Up! From your sorrow and slumber. Wake Up! Because life has our number. Wake Up! Right Now. Dive In It'stime. Love is now. Begin to wake up. You are mine. Wake up. To the dream in yor heart. Wake up. It's not too late to start. Wake up! I am calling to you. Wake up! You've got gifts coming through you. So open the way, today. Open your eyes, you are wise. Play a part. Open up your heart.
Thank you Trina. I love you.