Try a Little Tenderness
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April 9, 2018
Most people reach a point in their lives when they begin to reflect upon their life and their choices, recognising some repetitive themes over time. So how does what happened to us in the past affect us in the present? There is a wonderful saying that ‘If you do not share your story, you will show your story’ and this is true for most of us, as past events clearly live on in how we function in the world; who we are drawn to in intimate and working relationships, addictive behaviours, illness and how we treat our bodies, ourselves and other people.
An important first step in personal development is awareness and a curiosity to explore the past, what has happened to us and the ripple effects over time. Past events can be like ‘invisible cling-ons’ hanging on to our backs and hijacking our capacity to live fully in the present. We can’t see these cling-ons but we can certainly feel them and the burden of carrying them around makes life feel very heavy. Once we have begun to ‘join the dots’ and make the connections between the past and the present, it is important for us to find a safe place to share our experiences with benevolent witnesses. For when we feel truly seen, heard and understood, the wounded parts of us can finally let go and begin to heal. This process provides a necessary validation of our emotional truth… the story of me.
However, a stumbling block for some can be that they get stuck here, in their story. They never truly feel heard so proceed to repeat their story over and over again without resolution. It’s what Carolyn Myss describes as ‘Woundology’ – when we become so attached to our wounds and ‘the story of me’ that it becomes our very identity. Over time it comes to define us and this results in us remaining victims and wanting to blame. For others, they can get stuck in the past by never telling their story. Denying its significance and any impact and choosing to keep all of their secrets, shame and pain trapped inside of them. As Richard Rohr says, “If we do not transform our pain, we will always transmit it”. And so we do as it leaks out sideways in the form of passive-aggressive behaviours, gossiping, bitching, blaming, judging and ridicule. Existing not living.
Once our story has been shared and heard, we need to turn our attention to the body to complete the healing process. Through focused breath and movement, the body can enable us to release emotional blockages related to the past. This step can also help us deal with wounds we don’t remember or may be unaware of, things that happened to us before we had words, or that we have blocked from our memories. Just as animals know how to shake off the stresses and traumas of life, we too can learn to do this. As we trust a broken arm will (with attention and support) eventually heal, we can learn to trust our emotional systems and the body to process and recover from life’s events.
Ultimately it is up to us to choose. We can carry on through life with our stories hidden inside us so that others don’t see them, pretending they are not there and living half a life. We can also hold them out in front of us wherever we go, showing and telling them with no desire for resolution or change.
However, there is another way – a courageous and heartfelt inner exploration alongside physical release; allowing ourselves to truly heal so that we can step forward unencumbered by our pasts and stories, confidently striding towards a future of our own choosing.
Alive. Passionate. Whole.
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