The truth is - the healing/growth/awakening/expansion path isn't easy.
It's not going to be, for any of us, a straight forward, pretty before and after, totally linear line from pain to clarity and pleasure. Where we are going to simply feel what hurts, figure out 'what's wrong' and then jump into the solution and start feeling better.
The journey of integration is one of losing our foundations and building new ones. It's one that DEEPLY challenges our survival instincts and core programming that to be rejected is to risk death. It's a path that calls us into the dark places of unknown and asks us to figure things out through trial and error. It asks us to learn to interact with reality which is something most of us were never taught.
It's going to involve a lot of mess making, and a lot of LOOKING at and UNPACKING messes the rest of society has neatly boxed away.
This path isn't easy and you're not doing it wrong if you don't feel like you have a handle on it.
The 'Problem' Always Starts With Our Conditioning:
Today I want to normalize the fact that when you are on your healing/awakening/spiritual journey, you’re going to experience MANY moments of having NO idea what you’re doing.
Having no idea where you’re going.
Having no idea if what you’re doing is working.
You’re going to have times when it looks objectively like what you’re doing isn’t working - or worse - is making things WORSE rather than better. That all the effort you’re putting in to healing, integrating, understanding, becoming aware, trying to grow and figure out who and what you are looks ‘wasted’ because you feel less connected, less clear and in MORE pain than ever before.
This is because the process of healing isn’t simple. The process of integration isn’t simple.
We have to remember that as a species we are programmed in our early childhood as to what reality is. We are handed a kind of 'code book' through the behaviors, rules, words and actions of those in authority around us around what is and isn’t acceptable for us to do and be. In this delicate time we are FULLY dependent upon these adult authority figures for EVERYTHING. Their acceptance, their approval, their love = their provision and our survival. Their withdrawing, their criticism, their shaming, their abandonment and abuse = our detriment. Our very primitive, young, influenceable nervous systems and minds work in overdrive to learn the ‘rules’ of the society we are born into so as to figure out what’s required to be approved of, what ‘normal’ is - so we can BE that and thus get our NEEDS met.
We don’t have the cognition to figure our own needs out for ourselves. We don’t have the capacity to meet our own needs. We only have the power to alter our behaviour, making ourselves more or less acceptable, and in THIS making our lives better or worse - more pain or more pleasure based on the equation of ‘I do/be this, I get my needs met here, I don’t be/do that, I get my needs met here, I do or don’t this or that and I DON’T get my needs met.’
Thus our very early programing around needs being met is all based around approval of the group we are in.
This is a temporary co-dependent reality.
But for most of us, we never grow out of it.
We never expand beyond the deep core belief that approval = survival.
That getting what we want and need is based on a complex series of societal dances we must perform on a moment by moment bases to keep ourselves being viewed as ‘good’ and therefore given what others have. We see others as either meeting or not meeting our conscious and unconscious needs. Most of us never even learn how to properly identify what we want, what we need and why we want or need these things - we just operate on instinct, following patterns and ingrained nervous system programs all our lives.
We select jobs, relationships, health habits and spiritual practices around unconscious familiarities. We choose things that best match the rules we were given as children and we stick with those things because they make the most sense to our nervous system. We know how to interact with and relate to the people and structures in these systems, and they meet our needs in familiar ways. When they don’t we know how to cope, self sabotage or numb our way through it - as these are also behaviors we learned in our childhoods.
Most of us never recognize this conditioning for what it is - and thus we start down a path of 'self improvement' believing our pain, our suffering, our inability to 'get on with things' is a lacking in US rather than seeing that it's a flaw in our programming. What we were taught was how things HAVE to be don't work - and we are trying to force a square peg into a round hole.
Identifying The Cause Almost Never Happens:
The degree to which your true nature wasn’t supported by the rules of your upbringing is going to be the degree to which you have pain trying to live the rules. It’s going to be the degree to which you find yourself not able to 'get along' like everyone else.
In this, you’re most commonly going to develop deep stories of shame, guilt and self blame. You’re going to believe that there’s something deeply wrong with YOU that you can’t make things work. That you can’t do what you’re meant to do or be who you’re meant to be. There’s going to be a constant narrative that your negative emotions, incapacity to follow through on certain societal norms, your ‘weaknesses’ when it comes to being and doing ‘adult life’ as it’s being dictated to you are your flaws that must be fixed.
When we finally get onto the self love path, we start to see that all of these ‘flaws’, all of our ‘shadows’, all of our scapegoats and coping mechanisms are actually rooted in us not getting our needs met. Are rooted in us trying to live a life that doesn’t work for us. When we start to see our mental, emotional and physical health issues as not flaws in our design, but flaws in the environment - we begin to QUESTION the very FOUNDATIONS we were handed. This is INCREDIBLY uncomfortable and scary.
Up to this point, the self help, personal growth, ‘normal’ diets/lifestyle/medical interventions we were using to try to fix our ‘brokenness’ all fit within the structure of reality we were handed. They all revolved around ‘this is what normal is, normal WORKS, and we just need to change YOU so that you can finally fit INTO normal and then have the success that should naturally come from normal.’
The idea that there is something flawed in US is rooted in the fact that we don’t want to have to question the SYSTEM.
We don’t want to have to question the REALITY we were handed.
Because of COURSE we don’t.
These self help/self improvement/normal systems of ‘fixing’ the self all slot neatly into the homeostasis our bodies and minds crave - no matter how destructive they may be, or how counter to our true nature they are. We WANT to hold onto the idea that WE are broken and that the SYSTEM is right - because that means we have a SOLUTION. We have a PATH. We have a ‘I know what’s wrong and I know what to do about it’ path ahead of us.
We just have to stop the coping. Get rid of the addiction. Solve that anxiety with some deep breathing and cold exposure. We just have to get on that diet like everyone else. Fast a little. Do the positive thinking exercises until we believe it. We just have to figure out how to eat healthy, do yoga and meditate enough that we can work the job and have success. So we can have that white picket fence and the 2.5 kids. So we can sustain the normal relationships. We aren’t going to question WHAT we are trying to force ourselves to become and WHY we may be having trouble getting there - we question our own capacity ONLY.
In REALITY we are struggling because the BLUEPRINT is false. And THAT is a MUCH messier realization to come to.
The true healing/integration path is one where we realize WHY we are hurting in the first place - why we are coming to self help, why we are coming to spirituality, why we are coming to health and wellness information - we are coming because something hurts.
We are coming because we are suffering.
We are suffering not because WE suck.
Not because WE lack.
But because we were trained that ‘this is who we have to be/can’t be/this is what success is’, we learned that to NOT do/be these things = rejection and that, to our nervous systems = death. So even if the systems we were taught are actually FALSE - meaning they don’t support the life that we ACTUALLY are and that would ACTUALLY work for us - we feel terrified to let them go or even question their validity because THEN WHAT? We will be alone. AND we will have to figure something ELSE out, and we have no tools for doing that. Our wellness, spirituality and even education systems don’t teach us how to problem solve. How to see pain, figure out the roots of that pain, figure out the systems supporting that pain, figure out the needs not getting met behind the pain and then how to figure out a NEW SYSTEM that meets the need BETTER than the ones we have, so there is more pleasure and less pain.
We are simply taught that if what we have doesn’t work for you, contort yourself to try to make it work for you.
Investigating Normal Triggers Abandonment Wounds:
True healing requires that we look at all the conditioning we were handed, all the ‘normal,’ all the patterns and investigate into what is and isn’t serving. We have to look at what hurts and figure out what needs ARE being met by what we were handed (thus why the system exists in the first place) and then what DOESN’T work about it.
We then have to STOP doing things. Stop participating. And this makes us weird.
We then have to stop numbing and coping, we have to practice investigating and becoming more aware - which is going to make us MORE aware of our PAIN than we were before.
It’s going to make things look like they got worse - because we are no longer engaging in all the societal norms of coping and stimulating that make our non-ideal ways of life maintainable. We check out of the systems everyone else is using to MANAGE the non-functional ways of life we have - and this makes us deeply aware of just how destructive they are.
We aren’t going to know WHAT to DO - we are only going to know what hurts for a while. We are going to try to do new things, and some of them will work, just a little. Some of them won’t at all. Some of them will be worse.
Then we feel that incredible nervous system panic of being alone.
As we change and do things differently, again our nervous systems are going to be in full blown melt down mode - even IF our new ways are WORKING - because we are doing DIFFERENT.
This disrupts our homeostasis.
This disrupts everything we believe in our core to be true.
We may have intellectual understanding that what we were in needs to change, but our NERVOUS SYSTEMS are still going to be panicking. Our bodies are going to be feeling that we are DYING. So even the progress we make, for a while, feels WORSE than staying the say because it triggers our abandonment and thus survival wounds. Learning on a body level that we can be different, be rejected, be misunderstood - and still get our needs met? It’s a LONG journey. We first have to figure out what we need. We have to figure out how to meet those needs. We have to grow out of codependency and this is what EVERYONE ELSE is doing. It’s what’s normal. Almost NO ONE has true self awareness of what is needed, why we hurt, what we want and also the capacity to ask for it. We have to do this on our own.
Then we have to do that hard and painful work of sorting consensus reality pain and pleasure from real reality pain and pleasure.
Does what we are doing feel good because it’s TRULY right for us or because it gets us approval/aligns with our conditioning? More importantly does what feels BAD feel bad because it is wrong for us or because it gets us rejected? What we think we have to become but are failing at - is that REALLY who we should become or only the programming we were given that we can’t see any other way around right now? We will have to go into that messy UNKNOWN - not knowing what is and isn’t right, testing things out, getting rejected and seeing we don’t die - actually FACING our fears and failures and attempts - and figuring it out. It’s so so so scary.
We WILL Get Abandoned:
Finally, all of this will MAKE people reject us. It will make them fear us. It will make them attack us - adding salt to the wound.
It’s common to have many times when the people around you harshly judge your attempts at breaking away from ‘normal’ because your current expression doesn’t look ‘better.’ Where you’re questioned and even attacked in your efforts to figure things out. This is going to happen because you breaking away from normal exposes that normal isn’t working, first and foremost, and this is a threat to THEIR status quo. In this they’re going to look to attack and poke holes in anything you’re doing as an internal validation/justification that their own continuing on with the homeostasis IS the right thing to do. Unless and until you have perfect results (whatever that means to them) they are most likely going to be in a state of judgement of you. Because again, what’s the point of straying from the safety of the status quo if it’s not going to lead to heaven? There is going to be harsh criticism, judgement and abandonment in this.
We are precisely set up NOT to take this journey.
Our nervous systems that equate acceptance with safety and sameness with safety aren’t set up for the journey of questioning what we’ve been absorbing as ‘truth’ for our entire existence.
It’s really, really hard to challenge the visceral fear that turn into stories that sound SO true around what the cost of being rejected will be. About what the cost of never ‘becoming’ what you were supposed to become is going to be.
We have to remember that taking this journey is like removing mould from the home. The process of tearing out the wall, ripping out the carpet, replacing all the materials affected - it creates a MASSIVE mess. Leaving the mould in the wall will lead to a SLOW poisoning, one we can ignore until it’s cumulative effects are so great we are deathly ill - and this takes a LONG time. Actually addressing the problem means we put ourselves in danger of getting really sick really fast, as we EXPOSE ourselves to the gravity of the situation. We necessarily make a bigger mess for a while. It costs money and time. If you were to walk in on the process in the middle, seeing the danger, the cost, the mess - you would be reasonable to say it’s not worth it. Especially if you don’t KNOW that you’re going to get to the other side where you have a house that’s mould free. THIS is how we have to look at a true healing/integration path.
We are walking territory we’ve never walked before that we don’t have a map of. We are doing it largely alone and against the norms of those around us. We are going to be rejected and misunderstood and this is going to trigger us. We are going to feel MORE pain than ever because we are exposing things to ourselves. We are going to have to figure the path out as we go - making lots of mistakes and learning from real reality. ALL of this is REALLY HARD.
Thus, please respect your messy middle.
You’re not doing anything wrong.
If your brain and body are freaking out, telling you there’s no way forward and you’re going to die - that’s actually normal.
That’s your nervous system trying to get you back to familiar safety.
Those fears of losing people are legit but also you can figure it out.
You may not see what you need right now and that’s ok.
There are going to be MANY times where you take a step and it doesn’t work.
But you will learn from that.
Over time, every step you take WILL be information that allows you to figure out where you’re going. Yes you will be abandoned, rejected, attacked and misunderstood. Validate your feelings in this. I’m sorry the world isn’t informed. Crabs in the bucket. It’s not you. You’re inability to be ‘normal’ isn’t a flaw - its a sign that you’re alive and FEELING. You’re paving a new way that must be paved. Because normal isn't’t working for us. It needs to be evolved.
You’re not messed up. This is how it looks. I see you.