So I lost my nerve with my writing. It has been months since I have pondered my experience of the world on the page. Something about ‘that is not how it is done’ became a bigger voice than I could battle. So rather than battling, I let it have its rein for a while. I sat with it, I wondered and I discovered a little wounded part of self, who believed she was never good enough. We became friends, we played games, and rather than trying to convince each other who was right and who was wrong, we eventually chose to accept one another for all of the messiness and the incompleteness that we are.
In amongst all of that, I travelled to the UK, I presented at a conference about the qualities of authentic relationship. I was honest, I was raw, I was vulnerable. Turns out people liked what I had to say.
Ultimately we are all vulnerable
Ultimately we are all vulnerable. And so often we work really really hard to protect our vulnerable parts of self getting hurt. So hard sometimes that in the process we hurt and confuse ourselves and others. But in relationship it is our preparedness to be vulnerable, to own our craggy and saggy bits, that can make us all the more loveable.
The more we can own and take responsibility for those messy or yet to be fully developed parts of self, the safer the other feels in relationship with us. Said in a slightly different way…the more we own our stuff, the less likely we are to project it on to the other, and in turn the more at ease they feel with us.
So how do we do this? How do we own our stuff?
How do we own our own stuff?
Yes, it is easier said than done. Because you see, our stuff, can often be those things that contribute to us feeling uncomfortable, anxious, afraid or even ashamed.
These are difficult feelings. This stuff is not so easy to be with. And our very clever psyche will do anything it can to help us not feel the discomfort and the pain of that experience.
Instead we might find ourselves, making inappropriate quips about some one else, having another brownie or glass of wine, or perhaps even withdrawing so much that we feel we are not there in the conversation.
Now don’t get me wrong, I am definitely a fan of brownies. But we all know there are times that we engage in behaviours that somehow don’t feel directly linked to the core feeling.
1. An attitude of gentle curiosity
So to start, we invite ourselves to bring an attitude of gentle curiosity. Without judgement or demand, this curiosity is simply and invitation to begin to wonder what accompanies this feeling…in this case, my desire for the second brownie.
2. We ground ourselves into the here and now
I take a moment, I invite my body to feel itself sitting in the chair, and to feel the feet on the floor. I remind my body that I am right here right now. I look around and invite my body to take in the surroundings, to notice the time of day, to take a gentle breath…and for a moment I invite a wondering around this feeling of wanting a second brownie? Logically I know we have had a satisfying meal, but there is something more here…
As I sit with this a little longer, I am transported back in time, to when I was a child. Dinner with the family had been a tense affair and now it was time for dessert, when all wounds would be smoothed over with sweetness.
3. We sit with our experience
I note the correlation. In this reality we are sitting around the table after dinner. Navigating the adolescent banter and fractured emotions of growing bodies, dinner tonight had also been a tense affair…but of a very different nature. At this dinner table, I did not fear being shamed. At this dinner table, everybody had a place and space to be.
4. We invite self understanding & self compassion
I take a moment to be with this wounded part of my young self. And in being with my childhood body memory, I note an ease that comes over my experience. The driving desire for the second brownie dissipates. And I note I am more able to take on the love and the warmth of the family around the table.
5. We live in the richness of life
After dinner, my arms open more widely, and the hugs are felt more fully.
We move into a group clean up session, followed by a post dinner family dance off.
Our preparedness to be vulnerable ... can make us all the more loveable
Paradoxical isn’t it. We fight to disown and veil our vulnerable bits, yet it is in our capacity to really own the truth of our fear / hurt / pain, that makes us more attractive to ourselves and to another.
In summary, I am back writing, exploring what I know theoretically, but most importantly experientially. I share these little stories, as a way to normalize the complexity and the richness of the human experience.
And now to making some more brownies!
(Sarah Sacks is a Wholebody Focusing Oriented Therapist, who works from her practice in St Kilda East, Melbourne. Taking a holistic approach to counseling, Sarah works to empower her clients to find their own path to understanding.)
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