My heart is with you in these challenging times we’re living through together.
It seems to be true that when the going gets tough, we draw on our strengths — and that’s great — AND we can also find that, under stress, our unhealed emotional wounds come closer to the surface.
For me, I know there’ve been times lately when I’m more thin-skinned, more ready to react with hurt or upset to things that wouldn’t have fazed me, in more normal times.
One of the things I know is happening for people is that underlying feelings of being inadequate, being a failure, being not good enough… are coming up now, and adding an extra burden to times that are hard enough anyway.
But the good news is that when something painful comes to the surface, there’s an opportunity to explore it and discover what’s really going on, and then there’s the potential for real change to happen.
In this episode, you’ll get a way to work with feelings connected to the hurts of your past.
My student Daisy is a kid’s daycare provider. Not being able to work these days, spending all her time at home, seems to be touching off feelings of not being good enough, being fundamentally inadequate as a person.
Obviously this isn’t logical… but trying to talk herself out of it hasn’t been helping at all. And although being unable to work sharpens the feelings, Daisy recognizes that this is a core belief she’s been living under the shadow of for a long long time.
So what can Daisy do? Well, first of all, she needs to “disidentify” or “un-merge” from these beliefs. And that’s not so easy to do!
When you’ve got a core belief about yourself, it feels like the color of the walls, just something that’s always there. But you CAN separate yourself from the part of you that SAYS those things to you.
Like this: “I am sensing something in me that’s SAYING I am inadequate and a failure.”
You might not be able to locate that part anywhere. Especially at first. But you can still say Hello to it. “Hello I know you’re there.” And when you do that, YOU become the one who is saying Hello. This is called un-merging.
So Daisy tried it… and she could feel that subtle and powerful difference. “Something in me is saying I am inadequate and a failure… and I am here with it… and I don’t have to agree or disagree with it.”
Having said that, she could also start to feel another part of her, a younger part, that actually felt it WAS inadequate. So then she acknowledged them both. “Something says I’m inadequate… and something in me believes that’s true… AND I can be here with both of them.”
Now Daisy had the inner space to become curious about these two parts. Why become curious?
Because gentle curiosity is powerful. We can’t change how we feel by deciding to feel differently.
But that doesn’t mean we’re stuck with our painful feelings. Un-merging from feelings and beliefs, turning toward them, getting curious about them–that opens up new possibilities.
And that’s what happened with Daisy.
Spending time with the part of her that felt inadequate… feeling it in her body… she started to get memories of what it was like for her as a child, in the family she grew up in. All the way back then, these feelings of “I am wrong, there is something wrong with me” had been with her. In fact, she began to see where they’d actually originated!
Daisy had a very chaotic family. Some days she was completely ignored, other days there was anger and punishment. Kids try to make sense of the world, and for little Daisy, the easiest way to understand what was happening was that there was something wrong with her. She felt she must be bad or she wouldn’t be treated like that.
Looking back, not being merged with the feelings but able to look at her younger self with compassion, Daisy started to really get how hard that was for her younger self to go through. That’s not the same as blaming her family. There’s no sense of blame involved. It’s simply having compassion for that little person who had to go through that.
And Daisy’s feelings of being inadequate and a failure began to release. This didn’t happen instantly. Deep emotional work takes time. But taking time is so much better than being stuck in old patterns of putting ourselves down and feeling that WE are bad.
I’ll just go over again what it was that Daisy did… and you can do.
ONE: She un-merged from her painful belief like this: “I am sensing something in me that is SAYING that I am inadequate and a failure.”
TWO: She noticed there was a younger part of her that believed this was true. It felt it WAS inadequate.
THREE: She formed a compassionate relationship with that younger part of her, which connected her to memories and feelings about what her childhood was like. She was able to say “No wonder” to that little girl who believed there was something wrong with HER because that was the best way to make sense of her chaotic childhood. “No wonder!”
If, like Daisy, you’ve noticed that your past affects your present in challenging ways, join me for my latest webinar, Getting Unstuck from the Pain of Your Past, and learn more ways you can start to change all that. It’s happening live on Monday, May 18, 2020. You can sign up by clicking here.So here’s to you… having a more peaceful life.