mindingmybiz

This blog is my shared process in working towards integrating self-awareness with all other aspects of life, while on my way to becoming more authentic and whole.

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Positivity Isn’t a Virtue

I was recently asked if I was a “glass is half-empty” or “glass is half-full” kinda gal, to which I said “Both. I’m a ‘glass is half-empty and half-full’ kinda gal, because both are simultaneously true when it’s true.”

In certain cases, positivity is more of a vice than a virtue when it’s fueled by emotional dishonesty in my relationships. It’s not virtuous to deceive myself or others, regarding how I think or feel, just to appear or sound “positive”. I believe this kind of emotional deception can actually lead to disconnection and depression, are those “positive”?

It takes a level of courage to practice vulnerability and allow yourself to be fully seen by others. This is vital for intimate connection, which starts with being honest and clearest with myself. Sure, I can admit that I don’t like how I feel or think because they make me feel uncomfortable or unpleasant. But to omit them from conscious awareness and prevent me from attending to these parts of me isn’t a positive attribute in my opinion. It’s being out of touch with myself and, all while deceiving myself into believing this is really a “positive” thing to practice!

This kind of positivity is a type of emotional vanity and shallowness. It bolsters shallow and insecure connections, and is rampant in many religious/faith/spiritual circles, where I would hope to find these spaces to be where I can truly show up and take off the masks.

Owning what is true for me, is a more virtuous pursuit than “staying positive” if that means bullshitting about how I really am. That said, I also understand the sad reality that many people cannot contain the full weight of my truth, so I choose whom I share my vulnerability with, discriminately. As long as I know the truth of where I’m at, and am practicing being clear and honest with myself, and can be seen in this light in at least one other relationship, I think that is a positive thing.

An Open Letter to the 12-Step Literature Approvers…

I’m trying to work through the 12-Steps and keep bumping up against what appears as dogma with the Disease Model of addiction. I’m reading Al-Anon approved literature as well as material written by other addiction experts like Gabor Mate and Jamie Marich and am feeling more and more disjointed.

I’ve been personally impacted by a loved one’s addiction and have entered into recovery myself. In 12-Step recovery I’ve been urged to study alcoholism and the disease of addiction. I’ve been studying this subject for years as I’ve been in relationships with people who’ve either been addicted themselves or been impacted by a loved one’s addiction, or both actually. I’m finding myself feeling confused and disjointed, unless I strictly read Al-Anon approved literature! I’m trying to integrate 12-Step approved literature with non-approved addiction literature and am forming my own understanding with as honest and open-minded of an attitude that the Al-Anon program promotes, probably mixed with some of my own defects of character, in process too.

This is my take on addiction thus far coming from someone who finds this subject matter so relevant to her personal life. It’s become an area of passion and vested interest due to my family relationships being touched by addiction. Although I’m not an addiction professional, I represent a voice that’s been deeply impacted by this subject. I’m forming my understanding from a conglomerate of reading from addiction professionals inside and outside of the 12-Step model. It also comes from my lived-experience of going through a loved-one’s relapse into hell. So for whatever it’s worth, I offer my personal reflections from this vantage point. I’m still making sense of my own lived-experience as well as studying the topic of addiction from a variety of sources as I work through the 12-Steps. In other words it’s still slowly brewing, like me. If this benefits someone who has or is going through their own experience of this, I’m grateful.

So without further ado this is my evolving summation on a very complex subject that touches millions of lives every day.

To the Unnamed 12-Step Literature Approvers


I’ve read addiction and codependency literature, outside of your approval. And this is what I’d like to share as a newcomer member of Al-Anon, who also feels deep gratitude for the service of Al-Anon Fellowship. What have we learned about addiction since the 1930’s when A.A. first formed? That it’s complex. And a coherent narrative of addiction in layman’s terms could be that it’s not merely a chronic disease. Consider this narrative that’s backed by addiction and trauma research, and please integrate your approval for literature that offers more. Perhaps something along the lines of this…

Addiction manifests in its burgeoning stage as an unconscious adaptive survival trait in the presence of feeling overwhelming distress, coupled with the absence of a close and secure relationship to an attachment figure like Mom, Dad, or another caregiver.

Notice the Theme, it’s a Duet: Presence + Absence

A presence of Distressing Emotional Experience (based in past and/or present) PLUS an Absence of a Safe enough or secure relationship.

These overwhelming feelings may not even register on the level of conscious awareness until it over-reaches maximum capacity. Until then, the response to overwhelm is constructing and maintaining a thick wall of emotional armor. Any unprocessed feelings from the past accumulate while current feelings which bare any striking resemblance to the past also gets heaped onto the pile. This occurs all while the Absence part of the equation remains – Absence of a Safe Enough or Secure Relationship.

The Absence is a void. A hole consisting of profound disconnection and isolation. A substance or “filler” which acts as a substitute, is reached for in an attempt to fill that void. The momentary relief from pain, and fleeting sensations of pleasure string you along while making increasing demands that you sacrifice more to get more. The constant pursuit and chasing the carrot-on-a-stick can never deliver what you’re pursuing. Freedom from suffering. As this phenomenon takes root like a seemingly innocuous weed, the human’s soul becomes a host for a parasitic-type entity of whatever addictive filler hooks you.

12-Step Fellowships offer a beautiful solution to the Absence part of the equation. The absence of intimate connection which is a fundamental, hardwired, basic human need – creates a void. Filling that void with non-human substances is often a way to cope and while enabling dependency on emotional vulnerability armor. The core issue is an aversion to emotional vulnerability within relationships. When a substance or sabotaging behavior mitigates this aversion despite negative consequences and disturbances in other areas of life, you’ve got the active mechanism of addiction at hand.

So why do relapses occur even after dramatic changes in lifestyle going from using or drinking, to being clean and sober, occur? Well, the other part of the equation needs to be looked at, the presence of distressing experiences especially pertaining to the past which haven’t been processed and integrated.

What came first, the chicken or the egg?

The etiology of addiction is hotly debated among experts, addicts themselves, and those who love them. What came first, the chicken or the egg? The addiction or the unresolved trauma? They both feed off one another, so does it really matter? Not in order to reduce harm and initially get clean and sober. But to stay clean and sober, heal from the aftermath, and truly make living amends – I believe this is relevant.

It’s my developing opinion based from what I’ve learned from various schools of thought and my own experience, that unresolved childhood trauma provides fertile soil for addiction to take root. Along with family history, social conditioning, lifestyle habits, and genetic factors. I don’t hold to the belief that addiction is merely a disease. This belief is antiquated now that so much multidisciplinary scientific inquiry and findings regarding addiction and the plight of human suffering, have been shared.

The strictly disease-based model that posits addiction and/or alcoholism as a disease, is sometimes a helpful simplification for such a complex phenomenon like addiction. Yet further down the road of recovery after encountering relapse, it’s a harmful over-simplification which can create a false sense of security. I believe it inadvertently creates barriers to healing the roots of addiction when these roots prove to be deeper than what first appeared. The disease-model of addiction can inadvertently bypass critical trauma recovery, which can weaken relapse prevention.

Growing up in family subcultures which are reinforced outside the home by the broader culture, enabling self-ignorance, self-neglect, and/or self-abuse in response to distress – creates ripe conditions for addiction. And relapse. An innocent ignorance or a blatant indifference towards healing trauma in response to addiction recovery, furtively enables the practice of emotional self-neglect which often leads to physical self-abuse/harm through drug/alcohol abuse. When this is tacitly considered “normal” within recovery programs, you’ll find that necessary, deeper recovery is stilted, versus the addiction.

I realize my take on addiction and its development doesn’t exclude many people, including myself. Addiction development is quite inclusive and many will be counted as vulnerable towards investing in its empty promises when you have a permissive culture of enabling trauma denial.

Addiction is a very human struggle. It accounts for the struggle of being human in dehumanizing cultures and environments. In my opinion, relegating it as strictly a “disease” seems ignorant. Much has been learned about the nature of addiction and I wish recovery programs would honor this progress. It would help those suffering from addiction and those who love them.

Spiritual principles make room for progression, because you keep an honest and open minded attitude. How can the spirit of 12-Step fellowship principles include the latest findings of addiction without losing it’s unity?Is there room for a different ideology beyond addiction and alcoholism as a disease? Well, even if dogma doesn’t make room for it, my own understanding of the 12-Step spiritual principles, do.

This goes without saying but I’ll say it anyway – these ideas are a representation of my own evolving perspective. Take what serves you, leave the rest.

And with that, I pass. Thank you for reading.

The Drama of Wisdom

Intruder
Sound the alarm
An uncomfortable thought broke in
Another unpleasant memory with an unpleasant feeling

Back off, you invader
Leave me alone
I will resist you
I will cut you off
You’re an unwelcome

No.

Excuse me?

I said “No”

Who is this “I”?

I am the “I”
You are also the “I”
You’ve forgotten who you are
Just because it hurts doesn’t mean you’re going to die

I can be trusted with your thoughts, memories, and feelings

Yes, push back
Push back the smothering walls in this suffocating house
You can contain more – not less
Make room for what arises

These are not enemies
These are honored guests
Unpleasant at first yet the more you resist, the more they persist

They come from within, not from afar
Where else will they go?
They belong to you

You kick them out
And they’ll return

This isn’t a threat
It’s dharma
, it’s reality

Treat them as allies, not as foes

The choices is yours
This house is laid brick by brick
This life is made, choice by choice
This one life is yours
All yours

The Gift of Rejection

I did it again. Practice makes progress in being, me

I felt our collective discomfort but didn’t sell out
In that trance-like, shape-shifting blurring into “not really me”, me

As usual
I wasn’t paid by your approval
I was paid however, by my own

As anticipated, failed approval-seeking came my way
I now know what I didn’t, so I don’t despair
The fear of rejection subsides
So my authentic self doesn’t need to hide

I know in the absence of your approval, is mine
But when I reject my authenticity
I taste it in my gut
I taste it in my soul
And it always leaves a hole

Damn, the anxiety I once felt when falling in that hole
It left such disparity in my soul
In that disparity I found MY soul
But it never truly left me, it was only but an illusion
The absence of your validation doesn’t cause such an ego contusion
Where once forsaken energy can flow, that which truly satisfies me whole





Whose Shit Is This?

Is it mine?
Or is it yours?

Long entangled strings from old baggage seem to follow,
like a shadow.

The longer you’ve traveled this earth, the more you collect.
In it can be treasures or and, rotten waste.

Open up your baggage! Its damn flowing train is getting too long!
It’s now a tripping hazard for you and for me!

I wish it were as easy as the Baggage Claim at the airport. 
Travelers recognize their own or can check the name tag. 
But this baggage isn’t so easily claimed!
It’s mistakenly claimed as mine when it’s really yours!

Back and forth the disclaimed and misclaimed baggage gets passionately tossed between us. 
Like a hot potato.
Scorched are the hands who hold on too long.

Not all of this will burn.
There are unclaimed treasures inside too.
There’s been a spill from the unfinished business of your past.
It has contaminated everything.

When you indiscriminately throw away your past, it comes back.
Boomerang.
Give and it will be given back?
Karmic energy?

Reclaim the abandoned energy within and between you.
This will be a joint success, a joint failure, or a joint holding pattern; awaiting clearance.
You cannot abandon this energy force, without consequence.

The whole is more than the sum of its parts.

I repeat…

The whole is more than the sum of its parts.

So…
Whose shit is this?
It’s ours.

Your past, my past
Your beliefs, my beliefs
Your experiences, my experiences
Your pain, my pain
Your dreams, my dreams
Your grief, my grief
Your fears, my fears
Your victories, my victories
Your strengths, my strengths
Your weaknesses, my weaknesses

It all goes into one bag.
Like different threads, weaved into a tapestry.

Joint ownership.  Joint consequences.  Joint time limit.

One bag
One tapestry
Many threads
Our threads

We work to carry it together and move on,
Or we toss it back and forth together
And, remain firmly stuck in a holding pattern; awaiting clearance…
someday. Who knows when?

Meanwhile, time passes by.
Time – non-renewable resource.
Time.  No returns, refunds, or exchanges.

Whose shit is this?
Ours.
Whose treasure is this?
Ours.

*This is a poem about coupleshit coupleship.

from

“Freedom from Ego-Illusion” Take #40

Here I am again. Learning the lesson that my ego is so defended against, but doesn’t understand it’s in her best interest to truly learn that I am more powerful than she believes.

I have the power to learn and grow; emotionally, spiritually, and intellectually. That power isn’t dependent on anyone else.

My ability to learn and grow as I go, does not depend on externals beyond my control – this is good news, it’s freeing news. I am free from depending on my partner, children, ex, economy, the weather, my family of origin, the personal choices of others, etc. in order to learn and grow. Am I impacted by these externals? Absolutely. This doesn’t foolishly deny the reality of interconnectedness and interdependence, it collaborates with it.

Opps, I did it again. I’ve fallen asleep to the illusion that I cannot learn important life lessons and grow, unless another is doing “xyz”.

I passionately want to learn and grow as much as I can in this lifetime. A common illusion I often zombie out to is this illusion of dependence within the context of learning and growing that purports: “In order for you to learn and grow, your partner needs to be learning and growing with you, and in similar fashion.”

Bullshit. It’s an egoic fallacy that justifies so much fear of people, places, and things I can’t control – and therefore, try even harder to control.

It was once true, in childhood. And sometimes I admit, I doze off and fall asleep and stumble through life as an adult, forgetting that I am one. Emotional pain is a jarring alarm clock. It’s adult O’clock. This is a discerning reminder that is wrapped in self-compassion, not judgment. Self-awareness at such a keen level requires an above average, adult level of consciousness and self-compassion. So the mere fact that I am aware of this and owning it means, I’m kicking ass again.

I’m up now. This is the lesson being taught through pain:

I am independent and free to grow, learn from mistakes and courageously do my inner work, and release the insane expectation that I can “get” anyone else to do this for themselves (and me). This is messy work because my ego will put up a huge fight because she believes my survival is at stake. This is why my gentle reassurance, and truly sustainable loyalty to her is so important. She fears being left without the support and loyalty of others because she’s lived through that. So, she needs to know how powerful my own loyalty to her, is.

This is where my loyalty can shine – in showing up for myself as a powerful resource and stop compulsively outsourcing my loyalty to others in hopes that they will be loyal in return. Huge waste of energy and time. Huge.

There are tremendous rewards when I wake up to my own presence, that includes both pain and joy. It is freeing. I may will need to come back to this reminder time and time again. It’s sage wisdom that often flows shortly after an egoic break-down. The aftershock of being swept up by my ego’s “good intentions” leads to breakdowns, yet also make room for breakthroughs.

I’ve been known to say “Don’t let shit go to waste, it makes for great fertilizer.” I’m using my shit to grow independent of others. You are free to do the same, my friend. That is way better news than depending on others to change, so I can grow.

Until next time, keep learning, growing, falling down, and getting back up. And remember, you are free to be loyal to your own growth path, independent of anyone else doing so or not for themselves.

from:

Seedling of Power – Enneagram Type 6

There’s a seedling of power within me.  It’s sprouting.

I’m waking up to the subconscious belief I’ve been loyal to for so long as though this was a survival-dependent strategy:

“It’s safer to be weak and unsure, doubtful, and shielded from my inner power.”

The deeply entrenched belief that claims the best source of validation is external, the most reliable feedback is the feedback from others that accentuate my imperfections, that any feedback will do as long as it will protect me from encountering my inner authority and power. Because that is a dangerous place.

For various reason, I somehow internalized early experiences in my formative years which developed into an anxious either covertly or overtly, dependent personality. This personality which is perceptively explained by Enneagram Type 6, is driven by a belief that it’s safer to project my power or any other “threatening” aspects of myself, onto others.

In certain contexts, this strategy had another layer: a callous. I didn’t want people to see how I struggle to fear my own power and even hid this from myself, unwittingly. Some people exploit vulnerability instead of provide protection and guidance, depending on their own internal structures. Sometimes I can’t tell if others will be a “protector” or a “perpetrator”. So when in ambivalence, the best defense is a good offense. This counter move against vulnerability and the fear of being exploited has sometimes made me feel “powerful” or at least, protected. It’s armor. But this armor is not the kind of power that’s sprouting within me.

The kind of power that’s sprouting within is a sense of inner awakeness to my inner world. It’s a very subtle form of awareness sprouting from my internal validation that doesn’t first depend on external validation. This sense of inner trust to what I’m awake to within, is often paradoxical yet hidden in plain sight. It connects me to inner wisdom that trusts myself enough to take risks, and learn valuable lessons from mistakes and regrets. That external validation is important and yet not primary, but supplemental to my own validation. If I don’t get it when I’m looking for it from another, I’m OK. No need to panic or get pissed off and go to combat to get it from a specific source. Nor do I need to shape-shift and contort myself to receive validation that will always miss the mark if I’m shape-shifting in order to receive it.

This conscious awakeness can rest in the faith that there’s plenty of space for seemingly polarizing “truths” to coexist, in harmony. So when I don’t receive external validation, there is no need to worry. That’s where faith fills the void, that there’s enough space for a variety of perceptions, including mine. This kind of faith requires a boldness because it may go against the current of polarization. Yet if this faith isn’t boldly embraced a fallout can occur within me, a split which can be expressed in my relationship with others, and with my worldview because that faith is the bridge. It can be that significant and also play out on a collective macro level, for better or worse.

Who can hold this kind of space where it’s safe to coexist between opposites? An Ennea-type 6 who is awake and has reconciled with their own inner power and authority. This takes tremendous courage and inner reconciliation. Breaking out of that cage of “smallness” requires inner “bigness” which goes against the flow of “safety in smallness”.

I fear my power. I fear my confidence. What if it’s wrong? What if I mess up? What if I get hurt? What if I hurt others? Power can do all sorts of unpredictable things that hurt people.

And

so can abandoned power.

Owned power has the potential to also help set people free from their chains of “what if’s” that focus exclusively on catastrophic endings.”

What if…

you were to own your inner power and live alive and awake in it?

Self-Reflections on Real vs. Fake Confidence, In Relationships

I like who I am.  I genuinely do.  Yes, there are parts of me I feel more comfortable with than others, but they all make up who I am.  They all belong to me.  The sum of all my parts make up who I am; deep, passionate, caring, and completely lovable. Not everyone will see me in this way, at least not all the time. I don’t either, and I’m OK with that. 

Others have parts of themselves they’re uncomfortable with too, and when certain parts or emotions are expressed in me, it may provoke a reaction from others which illuminates how they feel or interact with their own similar parts.  It’s very rarely personal, but almost always revealing of how one holds certain parts of themselves, usually unconsciously.  That’s exactly why it isn’t personal, yet to the degree an individual can make space for all their parts it will impact the degree of intimacy or intimate-capacity they have for another.

In conflict, pivotal opportunity arises.  The opportunity to strengthen a connection by showing up with openness.  When the struggle (and it’s often a struggle, hence the conflict) to do this is self-acknowledged, compassionate curiosity can soften the edges.  

As a type 6 on the Enneagram, I can detect extremely subtle emotional energy, for better or for worse.  You see, emotions tell on us. They reveal what we tell ourselves about ourselves, and what we tell ourselves about others, all at lightning speed. Curiosity engages with this process and slows it down, because it all happens so rapidly. Slowing the speed down serves to prevent defensively disengaging and shutting down the process, or reacting to it by going on the offense against whatever or whomever we feel defensive towards. What often happens when we don’t consciously slow down to reflect, is a missed opportunity at best, and a self-sabotaging repeat of things we’ve later come to regret.

When an individual shows up with a non-defensive presence and can attune, or meet me where I’m at with sincere, non-judgmental engagement i.e. empathy – it is extremely subtle but profound. This is how intimacy is built, and it is also where it is lost if someone cannot engage with this process. The capacity to be intimate and emotionally available with themselves, and therefore with others is what’s illuminated in these moments. And with that, the opportunity to grow. And, there is always room to grow individually and relationally.

When the opportunity is seized, it’s truly a gift.  A gift that’s birthed in imperfection. It’s a privilege to witness this. What I’m witnessing is another sacred human’s strength and profound trust in themselves, and the impact of being trusted by them as well. There’s risk involved. I want to show up as honestly and authentically as I can, there’s little room for perfectionism in this process.

The natural slower rhythms of synchronicity within this level of intimacy spring from doing enough of this on an individual level first. When two individuals mutually cultivate this kind of space between each other there’s a shared protectiveness and enjoyment, and it’s quite nice and quite rare! So, treasure it.

And while enduring the experiences where there’s a lack of synchronicity, I’m learning to not take the misattunements personally.  It’s more than likely a ripple effect of the rapid past-time insecurities, anxieties, and defenses at play. The key word is: rapid. It cannot be overemphasized how important slowing down is, in order to engage in this process productively.

In certain cases you may find yourself in isolation when it comes to having the intention to evolve, and strengthen your own self and the relationship. When another individual (of which you have no control over) is more invested in their ego boosting their self-esteem, they will defend and resist with great effort. It’s hard to believe because it feels so personal, and it is, but it’s not about YOUR personhood, it’s about theirs. Their very own sense of self-esteem is dependent on a false self (ego) to feel secure, and there is rigidity, not flexibility, in the ego. It’s ego-preservation vs. self-preservation.

When the True self is the one fueling self-esteem, there’s an openness that emerges because the True Self, knows itself and all of its parts (the good the bad and the ugly) can belong so clearly to itself regardless of how anyone may react. It’s an integrated Self that is self-accepting.

So when you experience resistance, understand this is where you can also grow. And to be clear, resistance and defensive reactions can range anywhere from avoidance to fleeing to going on the offense by becoming either passive-aggressive or blatantly aggressive. This is indicative of ego-preservation, that results from having a fragile source of self-esteem (the ego).

When (not if, but when) this happens, you’ll have an opportunity with yourself to get very clarifying information around your own ego-preservation activities, which we all have to different degrees, and of different levels of awareness and intensity depending on how your personality operates (read up on Enneagram). The cracks in your own armor around this may likely get exposed.  Ouch. And welcome to the human race, once again. How you respond has impact. Invite yourself to become empowered.

Some of us are more easily duped by our egos than others. To those who have very sophisticated egos when it comes to self-awareness and where we are on our growth maps, you may want to ask yourself some discerning questions:

  • Do you value or dismiss what’s triggering you? 
  • Do you engage in vulnerable and compassionate self-reflection, sharing this with at least one individual who will challenge and vet your narrative?

If not, you’ll stay stuck and your evolution will pass this opportunity by, and will return again and again until you’ve worked this through to completion.  And, may then visit your descendents for the opportunity to evolve in the next generation.

Little by little, (which is the pace that organic life grows) you’ll stretch your window of tolerating discomfort as you receive these Divinely inspired opportunities to say yes to building a sense of genuine self-confidence that stems from grace and truth.

This is how ultimately how I see adult development works, whether I like parts of it or not. 

“But, what good is that?”

We’re currently in the midst of a pandemic. “Normal” isn’t happening. In times like these, I find there to be an “illumination effect” in revealing what lurks in the shadows of everyday distractions. Take away the distractions, the daily routines and “normalcy” – you’ll find things you didn’t see or feel so clearly. Or, at least it was more conveniently overlooked. It’s in this space, I wrote this poem regarding my own intimate relationship and taking its pulse, within me.

“But, what good is that?”

I want to share myself as authentically as I can, being fully who I know I am. – With him.

But, what good is that?

I want adventure! I want to be fully awake and alive; spiritually and emotionally, not just physically! – With him.

But, what good is that?

I want to be challenged and stretched graciously yet persistently, to reach for new heights and new depths! – With him.

But, what good is that?

I want to bust free from this goddamn smothering straight-jacket of “status quo” and “fitting in” for crumbs of superficial validation. – With him.

But, what good is that?

I want us to become who we were divinely created to be, not merely who we’ve been “tamed”, “conditioned”, or “raised” to be. – With him.

But, what good is that?

I want to be wildly free, from this cage of mediocrity. – With him.

But, what good is that?

What my heart and soul long for is closeness, beyond merely physicality. – With him.

But, what good is that?

My pursuit and fight for intimacy is a result of an ongoing experience of a partner who resists intimacy, and me resisting his resistance. This is resulting in regression and degeneration – the opposite of what my heart longs for. – With him.

But, what good is that?

Why, do you keep asking me this? I’m trying to have intimacy!

But, what good is that?

The merry-go-round of resistance keeps me from what I’ve been terrified of – acceptance and the grieving through accepting what is. There is shame wrapped up in the grief. This is my inner work of healing, which I’ve been unconsciously avoiding because it’s so damn painful and uncomfortable. We are apart, together. And together, apart.

Go in peace my dear child, grieve. – With me.

“You” & Company

“You” are a complex mosaic of the kind of company (kin and nonkin) you’ve most significantly had (chosen and not chosen) throughout your life. This inner mosaic formation of your “self” began before you had the conscious choice to be aware of it. And, me too.

How you see “You” does not form in isolation but rather within our most significant relationships beginning from the beginning of your existence. Yet, how your unique “You” forms, is also organized and collated in solitude. It’s a complex dynamic of both internal and external exchanges continuously at work. You could also say, it’s a bit of a complex recipe of “nature and nurture”.

You and I are complex social-emotional bonding creatures. This is how we are neurobiologically hardwired. Once we get with this reality of being mammals; not reptiles – we are empowered with accepting reality about or own nature, and the wisdom that flows from that.

The main difference between reptiles and mammals I’m referring to is regarding how our survival depends on at least one other human being to nurture and protect us. Reptiles do little to nothing to care for their offspring, and they survive just fine in the wild. Mammals take complete care of their offspring even producing their food source from their own bodies. For mammals this level of caregiving is about survival, not just ego fortitude. But for human mammals, it gets complicated.

During what we call our “childhood” we begin to form our sense of “self”. Our “internal map” of who we are in this world gradually downloads from our first dependent relationship; our primary caregiver. We often take this for granted because it’s so ingrained in the survival of our species that we don’t think much about it, let alone meditate on this part of reality. This is not to assign blame on our primary caregiver, for the task of raising human offspring is a highly demanding, long-term job that needs a solid support system from other adults, in order to do well at (offspring that thrives vs just survives). In our modern day culture, we often lack that support system.

Now, I’m going to assume some things about you though I obviously don’t know, “you”. I’m assuming that since you’re reading this, you’re a human and therefore a mammal. And since you are a mammal, I’m going to assume that you have a complex and sophisticated nervous system that responds to your social/relational environment by providing you with involuntary (doesn’t require your conscious awareness) biofeedback in terms of how you feel, both bodily and emotionally.

For example, if you’ve been betrayed by an important person in your life you may feel several emotions. One may be anger. Upon discovery, you may experience certain sensations within your body. Perhaps a change in your breathing, heart rate, and muscle tension. Does this make you “weak” because you’re letting something “get to you”? No, you are simply being a mammal, a human one.

But if this happened while you were young and you were treated as if there was something wrong with you for having such a mammalian reaction, this would shape how you see your “self”.

I believe in adulthood, some of us have forgotten what we are, or most likely this was sadly never introduced into our upbringing. We don’t come with manuals so we’re on a lifelong journey of discovering what that would say if we did come with one. Our very own inborn interdependent nature has been sophisticatedly, shamed and denied because we judge what we don’t understand about ourselves – our very nature that needs to be nurtured, not reformed. And that nature consists of gradually forming our sense of “self” while in relation with others based on how we are neurobiologically wired.

Our sense of who we are, our sense of “self” develops in relationships, not in a vacuum. An infant needs to be acknowledged and responded to by another, to know they have a “self” that exists. Without the “other” an infant doesn’t exist. The type of emotional bond or attachment one has with their caregivers, forms the soil in where their sense of “self” starts to emerge. There is no real separation between an infant and their mother (or primary caregiver).

In toddlerhood, this is the first developmental phase where separateness is discovered. When this autonomous-from-mom or caregiver, sense of “self” starts to bud. There is a “peek-a-boo” with this emerging separate “self”. The toddler realizes this new “person” is themselves. How the caregiver responds to this adds onto the young child’s developing sense of who they are. If this get labeled as “naughty” or “mischievous” behavior by mom or significant people the child is bonded and dependent on, this informs the child’s way of seeing this new separate “self”. If the toddler’s exploration gets labeled as “curious” behavior and is welcomed in a positive light more than not at least, this also informs the toddler’s sense of who they are. All of this happens for the child on a subconscious level.

There is a secondary developmental phase of autonomy, and that is what adolescenthood is. It’s another step away from home. It’s a phase where you straddle needs met at home, and outside of home. The human brain is extremely complex and it takes us until we are well into our 20’s to finish developing the prefrontal cortex, which is in charge of our executive functioning. During this pruning phase in the adolescent brain, we are breaking away albeit in practice, from the home. If this is done fully in our teenage years, there is a loss of support that is still needed as we form our perception of who we are, out in the world. You see what I meant when I said that raising humans takes a long time!

As you can see, the mosaic of our sense of “self” develops over many experiences with others. I finally understand this and how difficult it is for many of us in the West to grasp. We get brainwashed into believing we “ought” to operate as reptiles and be able to develop a healthy sense of who we are, independently. Then, to be this independent person in the world who pulls themselves up by the bootstraps and doesn’t let relational upsets “get to them”. Or even our own emotions get to us, which is often signaling to us what kind of relationship we have with our own “Self”.

As an Emotional Empowerment Coach who has been on her own journey of “Self” and am so passionately intrigued with the role that emotions play into this, I take this work to heart. It’s important and integral to mind your own emotional business which is all about “Self development”.

It’s important, but not somber (it can be fun!) work that is truly about coming home and making that full circle journey of development. This is a profound spiritual journey, where you return from a journey out there, back to your “True Self” to find that you are truly at home, in your own skin.

I’m on my own journey of making myself more and more at home in my own skin. I hope this warmly helps with yours.

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