Staying In Balance

Coming Home

Anne Scaperoth

Fall is a time of change, a time when we leave one season to come into another. The same process happens with coming home to one’s self. To find the self one has to leave home, leave the roots in our birth families, our culture, and our perceptual views that we have developed over time. Families have rules, values, and ideas of how we should be in that particular group and in the world. To find our self we have to examine what we are drawn to and excited about. These do not always match the timing, desires, or values of the group. Building internal strength and eventually spiritual strength to follow inner guidance is part of what our journeys are about.

How do we build internal strength to love and support all aspects of our selves? This includes the beautiful, creative, loving sides of our selves and the negative, ugly, or dark sides of our selves. First we have to recognize the sides of our selves that we find intolerable or don’t believe we have. One way to do this is to examine the people that you admire in life. What are thetraits that you like or admire? How do they live their lives? What are you drawn to in that person? Some times we find ourselves putting them on a pedestal. As you write down their qualities, traits and behaviors that you like begin to consider that these are possibly aspects of your own self that you either do not recognize, give credit to or have not fully developed.

You can do the same with individuals or groups that you do not like, feel in conflict with, or that create a strong negative reaction or judgment in you. Consider these to possibly resonate with a darker side of your self that is hard to own. It can be easier for us to condemn and judge a thief than to look at our own sociopathic tendencies. This is different than saying the thief will have to take responsibility for his/her actions. We find our selves saying, "They are a bad person. Look what they did!" We don't say, "What is my inner thief like?" or "Have I ever wanted to take something on a physical or even on an emotional level?" There are many ways for the negative aspect of the thief archetype to interact with any one of us.

Most of us have found ourselves condemning ourselves for something that we do that we feel ashamed of. We can become unaware of our critical voice for our self. When someone we know complains and whines about something, and we find ourselves irritated and critical of their behavior, we find ourselves with out compassion. We desire to reject them. Upon examination we can find that it is actually something that we ourselves do but find unacceptable. We might also find on even further examination that it is something that our parents found intolerable and reacted to us in a rejecting way. This can go on and on through many generations of a family. If we can recognize that our intolerance for that other person may actually be related to the fact that we can do something similar it can allow us to focus back on our struggle with our self and take the focus off of the other person.

This leads us to developing compassion for all aspects of our self. How do we begin to find kindness toward places in our self that we find awful or intolerable? How do we find compassion for parts of ourselves that we have rejected? What we know is the more a part of the self is rejected, condemned, or put away, the more it eventually surfaces in an immature way. It is immature because it has not been allowed to grow in a loving environment. The original environment, our families, school systems, or communities that we grew up in, were unable to support that emotional state or need in a loving compassionate way. Now, you are carrying on the tradition of providing the rejecting environment.

When a need emerges that feels childish, petty and narcissistic, it can feel embarrassing. Even worse if someone has a reaction to it and is rejecting. We can react by rejecting ourselves, assuming that those around us feel the same way. Unfortunately we can use this to validate our worst fears that we are awful, or un-lovable, deep within ourselves. Those fears are actually young feelings and beliefs that developed early in our lives and were never corrected or healed.

It is normal to have needs. The needs that were acceptable in our early environment were able to mature with us as we grew older. So, they come out in more adult mature ways. The needs that were seen and treated as unacceptable in our childhood brought on a sense of shame and selfblame causing us to push them away from our awareness. We developed many ways to do that. One way is by tightening up certain muscle groups to squeeze back the sensations. Another way to do that is to hold the breath or breathe shallowly. We can also disconnect from the part of our body that is carrying the need sensations. For example if anger and sadness was unacceptable and those sensations began to arise in your heart, chest, and stomach area, you might begin to disconnect from that area of your body so that eventually you are not aware of much sensation there at all.

When needs are cut off and condemned they are unable to mature with us as we grow. They are left not only in a young state but in a distorted state that reflects them as bad or unacceptable. The truth is they are just needs. When we are young we see our world and those in it from a narcissistic place. This is normal. We are unable to see it any other way until we physically grow, until our brains mature and we can experience our world and those in it from a more abstract place. Not everything that happens is related to us. It is normal for a child to feel hurt and angry when they cannot have what they want. If a parent can have some patience or kindness for the most part and recognize this, then the child will eventually grow to accept that they cannot have everything they want. The child will not think they are bad or a disappointment because they wanted it or were hurt when they did not get it.

How do we offer to ourselves what we did not get when we were little? One thing we can do when we feel the “rejection of our self” cycle start is to see how old the need, desire, or want feels developmentally. If we are having an emotional reaction to someone in our life or a situation we can look at how old the emotional state we are in feels. What age is this experience coming from? The younger the age, the less sophisticated it will feel or want to be expressed. How was this type of need or feeling handled in your family? Was there any compassion or tolerance for this child-like expression when you were that age? What do you imagine a loving and tolerant response to look like? What kind of guidance would have felt loving to have at that age? One way to nurture yourself is to visualize your grown up self, as you are now, stepping into the younger you’s place. Get a sense of how you feel about this little you and the pain the little you is having. See if you feel any compassion for the perspective of this younger self. Ask this self what it needs. See if you can provide that need in your visualization. Does this apply to anything you need in life now? Can you meet that need met from a mature adult perspective?

The goal is for us to develop a relationship with these wounded places inside ourselves so we can nurture them and help them to grow to a healthier, mature place. The more we can find inner compassion for these hurt, immature places and develop recognition for our capabilities and our own uniqueness, the more we will be able to support our true selves. It is then we can find the courage and independence to follow our inner guidance and leave the systems that no longer serve us.