Know Your Place
Where do you look, in order to know your place?
Allow me to show you. . .
Please, have a look in the mirror.
Get to know the one staring back at you. Understand the person in the mirror – deeply, intimately, slowly, steadily, and thoroughly. You’ll find your place, inside.
In the words of Maya Angelou: “You only are free when you realize you belong no place – you belong every place – no place at all.”
This used to make no sense to me. Until, I understood for myself that freedom is found within. In making space by letting go of finding your place, outside of you.
This is about personal responsibility, which is what leads to personal freedom.
To truly claim and belong from the inside out, you’ve got to allow yourself to travel the depths of all you are. You’ve got to allow yourself to feel what arises while looking inside yourself. Is there discomfort? Stay there. Gently. This is the gateway to freedom.
To the extent that you disown and deny aspects of yourself when it feels uncomfortable (often subconsciously because it’s what you experienced in your formative years) you’re abandoning yourself. It may feel “familiar” to do so. I know it has for me. I didn’t know any other way. But by doing this I was putting myself, out.
Self-abandonment will keep you in a prison cell, while giving away your power to others to define who you are. Or, to acknowledge that you even exist.
There will be certain aspects of yourself which make you feel uncomfortable. Intensely so. You may feel the urge to reject and shame certain parts of yourself. This is all a part of the healing journey. There’s nothing wrong with you if you experience this discomfort. You can start by being present and curious with your inner-banisher, for this too is a part of you. Why does this part feel the urge to banish certain parts of you? Which parts of you get the boot? Those are parts that need to receive special attention, from you.
When you abandon parts of yourself, you’re likely going to inadvertently depend on an external source to do what you aren’t doing for yourself. Perhaps because you weren’t consciously aware you did this, or haven’t trusted that you’re enough to do this.
You can and you are.
In fact, only you have the power to set yourself free. Accepting the vulnerable parts of you is an act of true inner security, strength, and courage. This is necessary and therapeutic when it happens through another person’s validation who assists in filling developmental gaps from childhood, but don’t stop here. It’s only when you start doing this for yourself, that transformation and freedom unfolds.
If you’re constantly looking for others to accept your vulnerable parts while you reject them, and you get their temporary validation – you’re still not free; regardless of how much another may love or validate you. It can be a great start, but you’ve got to take the baton sooner or later and do this for yourself as a practice. In other words; again and again.
Take note; you cannot bypass parts of yourself which make you feel the most uncomfortable. Actually let me restate that. Of course you can do whatever you want on your journey. You are the one who lives it. But know this – you will be housing a fragile sense of self that gets easily triggered by factors outside of your control. So, consider this side-effect of discomfort-avoidance as you evolve. As you evolve, you’ll likely notice yourself tolerating avoidance less, and becoming more sensitive to what you’re missing out on when bypassing the rich opportunity that discomfort often presents.
I’ve found it’s also immensely empowering to become well acquainted with different aspects within, which seem in direct conflict with one another. Give yourself time and gentleness, and convene. This is profoundly healing work. Work that pays off because it empowers you to trust yourself more and more, which includes owning your right to make mistakes and learn from them.
By doing this inner work, you give yourself the conscious awareness of how these parts have formed your personality and parts of your identity in ways that don’t serve you like they once did, and perhaps you’ve never questioned any of this because you believed “you” were rigidly set in stone. Not so. You are malleable. Neuroscience call this neuroplasticity. As a human being, you are able to form new neural pathways and always add onto your learning, throughout your entire lifespan according to your level of openness. That is how we’ve survived this long. But you don’t just have to merely survive (aka not be dead). You can awaken, thrive, and be fully ALIVE.
I believe all of us formed a “self” as a means to adapt and survive while we were young, within whatever emotional environment we grew up in, by no choice of our own. This is my understanding of what an “ego” is. The ego isn’t inherently good or bad. It’s an adaptation, a pretty sophisticated but manufactured identity or “false self” that was formed without a conscious awareness in order to protect the True-Self, while your brain was still developing, and the mechanisms to defend our True Self got wired in along the way, and often become how we see our “self” vs how we survived our childhood environments which were less than ideal for the True Self to be engage with others. These defensive strategies can also be re-learned to serve us better as we receive feedback from present day life. IF – you are not offended by the feedback because you understand it’s not about your worth, but about your programming.
Until consciously examined, the ego is an adaptive autopilot personality or “false self” consisting of various unexamined beliefs which run you. It learned quickly in early childhood about what kind of “person” you should be in order to position yourself to receive external validation at best, or not be abused or neglected (physically and/or emotionally) at worst.
In childhood we develop our sense of “self” from the outside in. Our brain codes our experiences along with the emotions we carry at the time, based on how others (initially our primary caregivers) reflect us back. This starts during our preverbal years. That is how all children start to develop, from the outside in. It takes a long time for our brains and nervous systems to fully mature and develop. During our development, from the time in utero until we are well into our 20’s, lots of experiences happen (lots of which are not optimal) which get wired in as we try to make meaning of our world; internally and externally. When we don’t have caregivers or adults in our lives who can help us make meaning from our experiences in a way that validates our worth (from them knowing their own worth) we are left to fill in a lot of blanks as young kids. That’s a pretty grown-up job for a child to fill in for, so be gentle on yourself. And this isn’t about your parents being consciously and willfully neglectful or incompetent. In most cases it’s done without their conscious awareness. In any case, this is about how you now can consciously respond.
In adulthood we have more choices. We can choose who we reach out to, we’re not confined to our parents, our family of origins ,or school teachers, etc. We have more say-so. Often we filter through who we reach out to with what feels most familiar on an unconscious level. It’s the most energy conserving way, at first. Until life gives us feedback in the form of pain. Learning to expand what is “familiar” takes intention and time. Taking one step at a time through unfamiliarity will eventually lead to new “normals” of to what feels familiar. Again, this takes time. Be patient with yourself.
In adulthood I can practice accepting parts of me that were judged in childhood. They no longer need to hide for protection, they just need connection to the rest of me, and to others who’ve earned my trust.
When you can boldly accept all your parts,
even especially the weird ones – you will set yourself up to receive acceptance that is available externally and freely. If you are still not accepted externally and are respectfully being authentic; it is most likely not an issue between you and them, but an issue between that other person and an aspect of themselves they are not accepting. Often without their conscious awareness. Wish them well or farewell, you may need to grieve a loss depending on what is lost but know you are not losing your own place,, within you. It isn’t your place to force another to accept you or to force yourself to contort yourself so they can pseudo “accept” you. You don’t have to do that anymore.
Know that your place is still securely within you regardless of where others place you.
Wherever you go, you belong. Because wherever you go, there you are. And you belong to you. Saith who? Saith you.