There is a common misconception that most of us have grown up with. In fact, it is still taught by a lot of well-meaning self-growth programs. It essentially says that if we perceive that there is something about ourselves that we do not like or want to change, we ‘let it go’, send it away, just set that old stuff down and walk away. We are now free of that burden. Maybe we use positive affirmations to convince ourselves we are no longer ‘that’. It is certainly helpful to use affirmations to help you get back in touch with parts of you that still hope and believe in better things coming. Often, experiences in this world can crush them into the ground. However, if we bring in the good things coming and in turn exile parts of us that did not get the memo, the inner world is still at war. We are living from the other side; however, there are still two “sides”. This is subtle stuff. So how do we invite change into our lives in ways that do not spin us in endless circles?
Let’s look at a few common themes that start an inner tangle. Anger is one of those things many of us have been taught to exile. Certainly at places like school or church, if we expressed anger when we were younger, we’d quite likely be judged, maybe punished. And so society taught us, anger should be controlled. Something within us rose to ‘learn the lesson’ and measures were put in place to control any anger. In my own life, I’ve certainly exiled anger for years from my workplace environments. Back at home, after a challenging workday? Now this was another story. Here my anger controller might not be as vigilant, and whoa, given a chance to rise, grumpiness and anger would appear out of nowhere and create havoc out of my evening.
Another common theme is pain. I’ll suggest pain is a tool our bodies use to get our attention. Not many of us are taught as children to turn toward our bodies with curiosity when we experience pain. Certain painful situations, like spraining an ankle, we are probably encouraged to rest and some of us may get the idea from this experience that our body has a message for us in the pain. We’re more often taught though various ways of making the pain go away without listening inwardly at all.
And what about something in us that feels shame about something we just did? Shame and its partner Self Worth, are often involved in the more complex tangles or chronic health issues we have developed as a society.
So yes, it might appear for a while that we’ve been successful in vanishing negativity. And then, life throws a few extra challenges our way. Little doubts emerge. It’s harder to stay ‘just positive’ and before we know it, with us now are the feelings of the exiled one. And, whoa, it’s intense here! Not only do we feel this sense of worry that we’ve failed because the bad feeling is here, the sadness we thought we got rid of is bigger than ever. In addition to sadness, we might feel isolated, hated, lonely, misunderstood – all this and more that anything being exiled would understandably feel. So much for vanishing negativity!
So maybe it’s worth looking at another approach. In Inner Relationship Focusing, we learn to create a safe inner environment of kindness and clarity for whatever we are experiencing. We come to understand over time that everything within us wants our wellbeing, wants our organism to thrive. We extend kindness and compassionate listening ears to whatever is happening inside of us. You might try this next time a worried voice finds it’s way to your consciousness. Imagine turning toward it with interested listening ears. You are not listening because you agree with it. You are listening because you are creating a world inside of you like the one you hope to live in outside of you.
- A world that will listen to you when you are worried that you cannot do it all good enough.
- A world that is willing to pause what it is doing and just sit next to you when you are feeling down or in pain.
- A world that clearly says everything belongs, no scapegoats here, nothing blaming something else. Complaining maybe, not blaming.
- A world where differing opinions sit around the same campfire, share the same food and find common ground.
- A world where it’s ok not to know the answer and it’s ok that something in you really wants to know now.
Bring it all with you!
And let’s not forget
our sense of humor!
How does this all come back around to help us deal with sad, angry, lonely, resistant places inside of us? Here comes something we refer to as The Power of And. If something in us is worried that exercising will take too much time, we bring both the worry and the part of us that wants to exercise along with us for our run. We don’t slam the door on something that is worried. We welcome it, dropping in to listen and acknowledge it occasionally as we are running.
We might say to ourselves “something in me wants to exercise now and something in me is worried that I do not have enough time today, and both are here.”
We make our choice of whether to exercise now or not from a bigger sense of self, a sense that can compassionately bring these two seemingly opposing sides together. Our experience as we utilize our natural Focusing skills here is that when something inside of us feels fully understood for how it is now, IT let’s go or changes itself. Just because something in us is worried that exercising will take too much time right now, does not mean that it will always be this way. What it needs from us is awareness and acknowledgement and the safety that it can feel that way if it wants.
I welcome you to explore this. Next time you notice an inner resistance, don’t push it away. Instead, pause and listen. Give it space to BE. (And space for something else in you to be impatient with it.) Notice when It moves forward itself. How does that feel overall NOW? This may be a new perspective and languaging for you. I’d love to hear how it goes. If you like it, chances are good you would very much enjoy Guided Sessions or Focusing classes. The environment we create in Focusing partnerships is ideal for moving forward inner tangles of all shapes and sizes. Ask me more if you are interested!