Can I escape from my body? Is there really such a thing? Can I escape to my mind? Now that’s madness!
I find myself feeling quite uncomfortable in my body when I have intense repressed emotions revealing themselves to me. In fact, as a child, to avoid my painful emotions that I didn’t know how to handle I learned to escape by day dreaming. I didn’t enjoy being in Church (no offense to anyone who goes, we all have our own unique experience). It was boring to me. They repeated the same thing every week and I felt like no one really knew what they were saying. I surely didn’t. I learned to check out of the present into my day dreaming mind. It became a habit, a practice.
I have always been an emotionally sensitive person. I learned as a child that my emotions were wrong. I’ve been told I was too sensitive on many occasions. I can feel other people’s emotions and when dealing with anger, other people’s or my own unresolved emotional pain, I learned the safest thing I could do for myself was to check out of my body and not feel these intense emotions. I had no idea how to deal with them at the time. No role model. My feelings were wrong and I was wrong because I had these intense emotions.
I checked out to my mind. The mind cannot solve my emotional problems, only feeling them and allowing them can. Intellectualizing emotions doesn’t make them go away. In fact, it can repress them more. And that is exactly what I did.
Eckhart Tolle says in the Power of Now something like…the problems of the mind cannot be solved by the mind. The same is true for emotions. Emotional trauma cannot be solved by intellectualizing. It can be dealt with by feeling them and allowing them to be ok.
I learned to repress many emotions. It was a survival technique. It wasn’t wrong; it’s just what I needed to do to survive. Now I am recovering from these emotional traumatic experiences I repressed. I’m allowing memories and feelings to reveal themselves. I’m not going to lie. It’s intense. Sometimes I’d rather try to check out of my body, but I know the only way through it, is to go into it.
Pema Chodron refers to martial arts in her book When Things Fall Apart. She speaks about a practice of leaning into the conflict, the emotion, the pain rather than moving away from it. I agree with her that there’s nothing to be afraid of and there’s actually power in facing it. In fact, I believe much fear is really, as Eckhart Tolle says, the ego’s fear of annihilation.
What would the ego and pain body do without the incessant thinking and emotional pain?
What do I do? Well it’s intense, but I watch it, I feel it and do my best to get in my body through my breath, exercise, sitting in nature. I talk about it with others where I feel safe and heard. I connect with my higher power. Through doing this I dissolve and dissipate the energetic patterns and I become more of who I am.Top
Where did I learn this from? I didn’t. I’m only just beginning to learn this now. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been moving in this direction for many years now, asking for what I want from the Universe and from others. I know what I would like in my life, but my deeply rooted programming tells me “I don’t get what I want, and my needs come last”.
So, where on earth did I learn this? I’d have to say from my beloved mom. Don’t be mistaken, I loved and still love my mom with all my heart. She passed on in 2007, and I don’t think she’d mind me writing about her. She truly supported me in every way, including showing me unconditional love. She always offered a good ear when I needed her. But it was what I learned from watching her behavior as a woman of her generation that taught me that my needs come last and what I want really doesn’t matter. The lesson was “take care of everyone else first and then, if there’s enough energy left, take care of yourself and live your dreams”.
Ugh! This has been a pattern I have been unraveling for years. I’ve had romantic partners that reflected to me that I was unimportant to them. Only now am I really feeling equal and important in my relationships. I’ve not felt allowed to express myself or that my opinion matters or that I can even have an opinion! Well, as you can tell from my blog, I am fully expressing myself now. It’s liberating from years of holding myself back, putting others first – friends, partners, strangers, anyone! It’s insanity!
It’s truly as we hear on the airplane, “put your oxygen mask on first before assisting others”. Somewhere along the way, I got the message that taking care of myself first was selfish. Maybe from church, growing up, maybe watching my mom, from my family, maybe from just being a woman in what is still predominantly a patriarchal world, perhaps a little from all those places. The message was “help others..then help yourself”.
It’s great to help others, but it’s critical I take care of Maria first. If not, I have nothing left for me. Then how can I possibly feel like what I want matters? I’m exhausted from taking care of everyone else first. “Calgon, take me away from it all.“ (from 70’s TV commercial) We are slowly realizing how important it is to take care of ourselves first.
I’m recovering from this pattern. While I’m learning to take care of myself first, I do feel the pull to revert to the old pattern. I am now able to see, feel and experience having done this in past relationships has been self destructive for me. I’ve put my dreams on hold. I’ve held back my voice. I’ve been a dumping ground for other people’s problems.
I don’t want to send the message that it’s wrong to talk about problems. There’s nothing wrong with talking about problems. In fact, it’s freeing in a safe environment to really work things out. I’m talking about being aware of your interactions with others and participating in a conscious, compassionate way. Activities like complaining and gossip take away from me my well being and my dreams. There’s a place for listening to others, supporting others, as long as I’ve taken care of my needs first.
Taking care of myself can be as simple as eating right, getting enough exercise, managing my finances, meditating, and my spiritual practices. Literally, only when I feed and nurture myself first through spiritual and physical nourishment do I have the energy to give to others. Only then is my service and supportiveness coming from a place of love. Only then can I really begin to allow what I’m wanting into my life by focusing on taking care of myself first. It’s only from that place that I’m good for myself and for others.
I do know what I want and I know I’m learning to allow myself to receive it by the simple process of taking care of Maria first.
I encourage you to do the same.
I have many suggested readings here my website to support you on your journey…Top
It has been my experience that I have been the harmonizer or peacemaker in many situations. I learned this growing up. I began to sense another’s discomfort and adjusted my behavior accordingly.
I’ve had it said to me many times, “I feel so good around you, Maria”. Why? Because, I am the harmonizer of energy. I’ve “gone on autopilot” to make people feel good. I have been aware of the pattern for some time. In fact, I now sense a red flag, my body tenses when someone says” you make me feel so good” when I don’t feel good around that person. It sucks the very Life out of me.
Don’t get me wrong, there are many, many people where the feeling is quite mutual, situations where there are good feelings all around, uplifting and inspiring each other. But there are those habitual places I go where I now notice, in a very subtle way, that I need to be acutely aware that I might unconsciously “go on autopilot” to maintain harmony. It’s not necessarily a “bad” skill to have. It’s just one where I need to make sure I’m taking care of myself first and beware of taking responsibility for other people’s energy or behavior.
I have recently learned a deeper level lesson (that’s really the only place to go for me, is deeper) - that not only am I doing a disservice to myself by taking on other people’s energy, but I am also doing that to the other people involved by not letting them have their own experience and lesson as well.
This may seem normal to some people. Why couldn’t you just let people feel what they feel? But to someone who is codependent or overly sympathetic to others, it’s revolutionary, it’s freedom!
In my experience, there’s really nothing “to do”, no action to take with this awareness unless you’re guided to. Just watch the pattern and be the observer. My new practice is to notice when I feel uncomfortable , to just be present, and not to engage in the drama. I can allow them to sit in their discomfort and me sit in mine. If I take on their feelings or problem as my responsibility or something I can control, I feel drained and they may not become aware of the lesson that was brought to them. I am, in fact, enabling their behavior. I have done it in more outright ways in the past. Now it’s more subtle for me. It wasn’t until the Universe provided me with a few interactions with others lately that stirred up this awareness in me. I noticed I became angry. I have finally learned to embrace my anger. Anger isn’t a “bad” thing. It’s how people deal with anger that can be the problem. I became angry with a few individuals, “my teachers” if you will. I learned that more times than not when I become angry a boundary has been crossed or needs to be set (discovered this by reading some of Melody Beattie’s books about codependency). As many great teachers say, “don’t take my word for it, try it yourself”. So I did and this is what I learned. Now, I embrace my anger. I began to explore the question of what boundary was crossed? It was that I so often felt responsible for others’ feelings. I learned as a child that certain behaviors brought what I thought was harmony.
The Universe has brought me a few teachers from different circles of people in my life, more as acquaintances. I notice they are clearly uncomfortable in who they are. What I notice is my discomfort with their discomfort. I have to say, “hurray! I noticed my discomfort”; I can now sit with it. Now I am able to be conscious with this pattern. I am able to sit in my own discomfort and allow them to be uncomfortable. Let me tell you, in the end I feel freed up! My energy is no longer entangled or bound up in what I can do to make them feel better. I can’t make them feel better. I bring the focus back to myself. I am feeling uncomfortable about their discomfort.
Since I was a child, I have played this pattern out with my family and elsewhere. After all, that’s where we learn many things. I’m not blaming them, just making an observation. It’s been going on for generations. Until we awaken and become aware, we’ll continue to play out the same patterns. We may even be aware and still unable to do anything to change anything. It can take some time to shift deeply rooted patterns. Be compassionate with yourself. The good news is now it’s more subtle. Before, I did it blatantly and completely neglected myself. I may have engaged in conversations I wasn’t interested in, and even listened to gossip. Often at great self sacrifice to me. Maybe I’d keep quiet and just agree by not saying anything. Not that I needed to create a conflict, as simple “that’s how you feel, but not me” may have sufficed. Or, when others were gossiping, I could choose to leave the situation or say “that’s their personal business, I’m not interested.” I’m not telling you what to say, that has to come from your heart and feel right. I stifled my emotions because I was afraid to upset someone else. This even created physical illness, self esteem issues, financial issue and an inability to say no.
Now I can say now, but it took me a while to learn this with some pretty painful lessons. Now this pattern is showing up in a very subtle way. If I wasn’t paying attention to my “teachers”, my reactions, responses, emotions and talking to other in confidence (true confidence), journaling, breathing and watching myself, I may have not noticed.
I’m grateful for my “teachers” that trigger my unresolved emotions and reveal my underlying patterns and limitations. They allow me to awaken to more of me every day, which is a way cool thing! Thanks you for crossing a boundary and thanks to my higher power gently saying “Maria, this is about you, what are you experiencing? What limitation in you is this person teaching you?” Focusing on me and how I feel is where my power is at. When I focus outside I have no control.
I am learning to take better care of myself in ways I never thought possible. I’m grateful for my spiritual practice and the support the Universe brings to me from many people in my life.Top
A story, thoughts come up.
Thoughts may trigger fear.
Physical sensations, stress arises in the body
Beliefs come up about the possible consequences, outcomes.
All this is fear – none of the thoughts or beliefs are real. It is fear keeping me stuck in this state of mind, that this horrible thing might happen.
I love how Cheri Huber puts it in her book, The Fear Book – something like, situations, things, fear are not to get over or to get through. It’s to understand the process of fear, fear always behaves the same way, only the content is different.
Once you understand the process of fear you are free and can apply this practice to any circumstance, thought or belief fear attempts to trap you with.
Fear is what keeps us stuck. We are really only afraid of fear. Wild, right? I’m afraid of the FEAR, none of the thoughts are real. Sure, some of the things might happen, I don’t know, but what I’m really afraid of is the fear.
Understanding the process of fear is what sets me free. Fear may arise when I do new things, something outside my comfort zone or a belief is triggered. Understand the process fear runs in my life is what sets me free.
It’s not getting over this or that because there will always be something in Life that triggers fear. Fear is what to make friends with and understand.
Watch when fear is triggered, what is the process? Be aware. Observe the fear, sit through it by watching it and being present with it, be gentle with yourself, and compassionate. It’s a practice. There are certainly things I experience “fear” with. However, understanding the process of fear is liberating. Now I can see it when it tries to take over and keep me stuck.Top
A mentor of mine reminded me to breath recently. I already know to breathe, but she reminded me what I forgot. Our breath is presence. When we breathe, we breathe in Life, Spirit, the consciousness of God – call it what you like.
I noticed I had been holding my breath, stopping the flow of Life.
Sometimes our consciousness reminds us through our friends, mentors, loved ones, coaches, healers and through other messengers, how we can very simply take care of ourselves, by focusing on our breath.
I am moving into a new place of expressing my own genuine voice, that is solely Maria. This brings up old repressed feelings of being “threatened.” As a child I was extremely shy and quiet. You might not believe that if you know me now, but it’s true. It was safer to keep quiet than to express my voice, thoughts, feelings. Now here I am sharing my experience and my voice. What brings me back to center, to a place of peace and calm is my breath.
A mentor of mine, reminded me to breathe. I know this, but I too needed support. Spirit shows up in others to help us or give us the message we need.
What I realized as I began to focus on my breath was that it was hard for me to take a full breath. My body was tight and constricted. I needed to let go of this tension, but how? My resistance or needing to let go of it merely made it cling on tighter.
Spirit gave me a message– through my mentor — to Breathe in means to receive the breath of Life presence, to fill yourself with that, to be the love that you already are. To breathe out means to let go, let go of control, let go of tension, to surrender, and to “let go and let God” as I’ve heard it said.
Just like cleaning out your closet, sometimes you need to get rid of clothes before you have room for new. Or maybe they don’t “fit” who you are anymore. They don’t represent you. You’ve outgrown them; it’s no longer your style. Beliefs and patterns are the same. They may have served a purpose at one time but they may no longer serve you. It’s time to let them go. By breathing out and letting go we now surrender and create space for Spirit to be in our lives.
We need to let go before we can create space for more. We need to be present and surrender before Spirit can step in and guide us. In “cleaning my closet”, I allow myself space to receive more. First, it begins with my breath; I breathe in and receive Life’s full presence, the Consciousness of God within me. I breathe out and I let go. I surrender my will to God’s will for me, and allow the spaciousness of Spirit to manage my life. Wow, this is really the process of surrender! I surrender to Spirit’s will for me again and again. There can be so much uncertainty in the process, but when I surrender my will to Spirit’s will, miracles begin to unfold in my life. This is a practice, moment to moment. The wonderful thing is I have many teachers around me at all times to remind me to take care of myself. They can be the kind supportive teacher (which I prefer these days) or the not so nice ones.
Allow yourself to breathe in and receive the presence of Life, Spirit, and God that is YOU! Breathe out, letting go of your limitations, control, etc., allowing Spirit to take care of you. It’s really that simple, but it takes your conscious presence to watch yourself, and be aware. “How is my breath? Is it shallow? Am I holding my breath?” Take relaxed, fully conscious breaths and let yourself be filled up with Life!Top
There was a time in my life when in a couple of relationships I simply couldn’t say “no”. Not realizing it then, but only seeing it now, I am able to begin to accept this pattern through my increased awareness. It was self-destructive. It impacted my esteem, or lack of esteem, my finances, my job, my relationships. In aligning with Genuine Self Confidence, that is, confidence that emanates from within, more of this is revealed to me little by little. Sometimes I judge myself, or my ego judges me (more appropriately), because of how I behaved in the past. How could I have said “no”? I didn’t know I had a choice.
It was a self-destructive pattern where I put others’ needs and feelings before my own. I’d focus on them instead of me. Now I realize the importance of focusing on myself, noticing how I feel. I thought I could influence how they feel. In reality, I wasn’t empowering either of us to be present with our feelings. Feelings can be intense, especially when they have been repressed. I encourage you next time someone asks you for something, remember that you can say “yes” to yourself by saying “no”. It can be awkward at first to take care of yourself by saying no when you haven’t before. You can also say, “let me get back to you” or “let me think about it”. You can change your mind. What a concept! In doing so, you are truly taking care of yourself. Life becomes more joyful when you begin this process.
When you judge yourself for not saying “no”, just observe your process. Know that, in that time that experience was coming up for you to heal. That person was your teacher, revealing your patterns to you. There are never any mistakes, only lessons and growth.Top
Indebtedness and Deprivation: Let’s explore the theme of Debt and Deprivation. You might think, “I have a lot of imbalance and debt in my life”. Perhaps your debts are clearly financial or maybe you’re sensing an imbalance of overgiving in past relationships where you couldn’t say no or didn’t allow yourself to receive. You might ask yourself, “what can I do about this now?” The good news is, you don’t have to begin to excavate the old hurtful places, because Life will reveal them naturally. Life is always teaching you, are you paying attention?
As you begin the practice of giving and receiving from a place of unconditional love, from who you really are, rather than a martyr or out of guilt, these old patterns will be revealed to you. Perhaps you said no to someone, and felt tremendously guilty. You might think “they need me, who else will help them?”. Simply sit with it, watch it and let the Universe handle it. Through this practice, space is created for the person in need to receive support from a person willing to give it. Simultaneously, your energy is freed up for yourself to do what you’re inspired to do, give or receive. We certainly have people in our lives who know how to get us to give. Just watch for it, watch the knee jerk reaction that wants to say yes, perhaps even while you’re saying no. You can always say “I’ll have to get back to you on that” and reason it out with someone that you feel safe with. I used to find myself offering something that a person didn’t even ask for. I was on autopilot. It still comes up from time to time, but now I’m aware enough of this pattern that I feel my body tense up before I can stop myself from speaking up and offering my help.
It’s a practice, a constant practice of checking in on the subtleties of how you really feel. Your feelings or patterns of over giving or not receiving are not right or wrong, they simply are. We probably learned from our parents, they learned from theirs, and so on. We can shift a pattern a little at a time and allow ourselves to be in a place of balance with our truth, where the ebb and flow, or giving and receiving, is natural. Just as the tide comes in and goes out. This practice helps prevent giving from guilt or with an agenda and eases resistance to receiving. Check yourself and be aware. Be the Presence, the watcher, and allow Life to begin to flow from you.
I watch myself in my own life. While I have dissolved the energy of many patterns, some run deep. As I continue to evolve in my growth, places where I have unresolved emotions around imbalance in giving and receiving are revealed to me. These may be past experiences, but without my conscious awareness, they are impacting me now unconsciously. As I give more to myself and take care of myself more, light is illuminated within me and more places are revealed where I didn’t do this for myself.
Receiving in balance: As far as receiving goes, I’m certainly not an expert, as I continue to learn on a daily basis how to open to receiving. But I do know, it can start with being comfortable about receiving little things like compliments or kindness, and move into deeper, kinder friendships, love relationships, and wealth. Allow yourself to be loved, to be paid well, to be taken care of by the Universe. Receive the good the Universe has for you and start healing yourself from any type of self-deprivation you might be experiencing.
Ask yourself or notice how you feel when someone pays you a compliment. Does your body contract or tense up? Do you deflect it by saying “it’s no big deal”? Maybe you just completely ignore it and disregard yourself in the process. I often remind myself to observe my reaction, knowing there is no right or wrong. By watching in this way, I become conscious in the moment and am able to dissipate the pattern.
Simply rejecting a compliment may bleed through in other areas of your life. What other parts of yourself are you rejecting? Some where in your life you learned this pattern; through your conscious awareness and releasing of judgment, you can now change this and begin to allow yourself to receive more of what Life has to offer. Be conscious. Breathe into it. Just notice what is present. Once you’ve noticed the pattern, you’re conscious. Hurray! The energy is dissipating! You are letting more of you in, and thus will allow more of what Life has to offer you and allow Life to fully support you.
Don’t make your reaction wrong. Remember, years of programming caused you to unconsciously have this response. This experience simply is teaching you. You’re not letting the goodness of Life in, so be present and open to receive it. Allow the experience to be. As you allow it to be, the energy dissipates, and from that place you’ll watch yourself naturally giving and receiving from a place of balance and unconditional love for yourself and others. You will no longer be depriving yourself or creating any type of energetic debt. Instead, you will be in a place where you can allow unresolved emotions related to these patterns to arise, and be in a state of consciousness where you can watch them without attachment and allow them to dissipate. This creates space to let more of who you are in. When you do this practice, you’ll begin to allow Life to flow through you more fully.Top
Giving in Balance: When we give from our heart, from a place of unconditional love, we can give endlessly. Our higher power is giving through us. This type of giving is really giving to ourselves through service. In this same way, our higher power provides for us through the gifts others bring us. It is a conscious practice to give and receive in this way, and it’s helpful to be aware of what service we are providing to another.
Does what you are giving deplete or exhaust you, or does it energize and invigorate you? Check how you feel. If you’re exhausted, you are most likely giving from a place of guilt, obligation, or just out of habit. And so what you give you might feel resentful about. The great news now is that, from this experience, you have an awareness within you. When you encounter this type of situation again, you’ll be more aware. You’ve learned from your experience. How do I know this? Because I’ve done it many times and I continue to learn from each experience through my awareness.Top
Have you ever given out of guilt and accumulated resentment from your “giving”? There are ways to give that are deeply fulfilling. Check in with how you feel before you give.
Really tune in by…
- Asking “how does my body feel”?
- Does your body tense up and fill with stress? Or do I feel calm and at ease?
- What emotions surface? Ones of joy or excitement? Or guilt and obligation?
Do you even have to offer whatever it is that you are giving? Time, money, friendship, etc…Perhaps you’re just giving out of habit…when giving from a place of unconditional love, your giving will fill you up! When giving comes from a place of guilt or obligation, resentment is likely to build…check what’s motivating your giving.
How do you feel when someone would like to give to you? Perhaps a friend or even stranger would like to offer you their time, kindness, friendship, support, money, paying you, or simply paying you a compliment. Do you shut down, tense up, or close off from these gifts or the givers, or allow limited support, love or money? Or do you graciously and joyfully receive what the Universe is offering you through this person or experience?
I know I have certainly tensed up when someone has told me I look nice, or complimented me for work well done. An imbalance is created. When we can’t receive the little things like compliments, how will we receive the bigger things like support when we need it, a loving relationship, or wealth to live a joyful life.
Stay tuned for more on this topic in my next two blog posts…Top