“When there is no enemy within, the enemies outside cannot hurt you.”
In the last post, we saw that when we tell the truth about our challenging relationships, the only solution is to look within. Where previously we might have blamed or criticized another, we discovered that the true source of the problem is our own unexamined thoughts and feelings. When we are willing to explore these unresolved places in ourselves, we stop projecting them onto others. We stop wanting others to change so we feel better. We accept the fundamental reality of people and situations and respond accordingly.
This approach potentially shifts the whole dynamic of a relationship. Friction fades to freedom; resistance to wise responding.
The Tragic Effect of Not Embracing Feelings
However, the desire to look within is extremely rare. Very few people are interested in inner reflection, in taking responsibility for their contribution to their own unhappiness. Projection runs rampant in everyday life, with the vast majority of beings on the planet wanting others to change so they can avoid feeling their own pain. It is at the root of wars between nations as well as conflicts in our communities and struggles in our homes.
Most people in the world do not want to be honest with themselves. And we have probably encountered some of them in our own lives.
What happens when we are the object of other people’s unexamined pain? Say you were raised by parents who could not meet their own sadness or fear. Maybe you had a teacher or sibling or neighbor who was ruled by a need to avoid their own distressing feelings.
Even though unintentional, you might have been the object of someone’s:
How did that affect you? Because of how others treated you, you may have concluded that you are unworthy, lacking, needing to prove yourself or please others to deserve love. You may believe that success and fulfillment are for other people, not you. You may speak to yourself with a very harsh voice.
As Always, the Way Out
Well, here is the good news: it is so important to realize that how you were treated had very little to do with you. The person who could not give you what you needed was unable to tend to their own painful emotions. What happens when people hide from their inner strife? They engage in all manner of avoidance strategies, some of which have an impact on those closest to them.
Significant people in your life may not have really wanted you to suffer by this treatment, and you didn’t really want to let it define you. Both of you were unaware of what was happening and both ill-equipped to handle it wisely.
Divest Yourself of Limiting Beliefs
The beliefs you hold about yourself? They seem true, but they are erroneous conclusions based on others’ misguided behavior. When to unwind them? How about now.
- Bring to mind a belief or mindset that holds you back in life.
- Reflect on how that belief developed. How were you treated that led you to conclude that you are damaged, incapable, or less than whole?
- Now, enter the world of the person you were in relationship with. What do you imagine he or she was actually feeling – scared, overwhelmed, incompetent, angry, filled with unexpressed sorrow? Can you see that this person was unable, or unwilling, to embrace these uncomfortable feelings?
- Reflect on the fact that the pressure of these feelings fueled their less-than-supportive behavior toward you, leading you to make distorted – and untrue – assumptions about yourself.
As part of my training to be a therapist, I had a session in family sculpting. I chose fellow interns in our group to play the roles of people in my family, and I gave them a scene to enact. Now, my mother can be a formidable character. But through this play, I became privy to unexplored frustration, sadness, and fear I never imagined she could have been feeling. I felt so relieved not to have to carry the effects of it any longer.
The legacy of unconsciousness continues in families – until it stops. Like tumbling dominoes, one person denies their pain, which impacts those around them, and so on through the generations. You may have absorbed this tragic bequest, but you also hold the key to unlock yourself from the prison of these beliefs.
Living Consciously = Clarity, Light, Ease
As we saw last week, you can lovingly welcome all parts of yourself into awareness and thereby put an end to your role in emotional and relationship drama. And, with the light of clear seeing, you can shed unproductive and demeaning identities that have nothing to do with your brilliant essence. Regarding all of the insanity, the buck stops with you.
What happens next? Enjoy your life. If gratitude wells up, let it consume you. Live from your heart, and be the light of truth and clarity in this crazy world we live in.
What have been your insights about limiting beliefs you hold about yourself? What do you experience when you look objectively at what really happened in your past? Any other thoughts? I’d love to hear….
image credit: inju