Working to Effectively Reconcile Our “Traumas”
Finding a way to resolve old wounds and traumas without years of therapy is often a bit like taking one step forward and two steps back. Only, the second step you trip and fall on your face, proceed to roll down a steep rocky hill, and land in a pile of dog shit. Healing is hard work! Even if you are working with a professional, the road to wellness is long and treacherous. With that said, we are more than capable of healing and growth all on our own! The key here is to be mindful and more importantly determined to be kind to ourselves when we take that roll down the steep hill. Sometimes we have to break so we can put ourselves back together in a different way. When our pain resides deep within our foundation, the only way to heal it, (and to release the coping mechanisms that become blockages or even detrimental behavioral patterns), is to allow ourselves to take the fall, feel the pain, and then start the climb again.
Some people believe that astrology plays a role in how we feel here on Earth. The Moon is the perfect example of this as we can see its effects through the rise and fall of the tides. The Moon is not the only celestial body and the others, all can influence us just the same as the Moon. Right now, they say it is time to change, heal, and become more inclusive and mature with our thinking. I don’t enjoy the word inclusive. I feel it has been tarnished a bit in recent years. However, it fits this application. We must blend our experiences with the world around us and see how we fit into the bigger picture if healing and peace are what we are after. Taking responsibility for our own well-being is a huge part of that! We can’t heal if we blame others for our pain. Even if someone has hurt us, it is imperative we find the place we contributed to that pain and reconcile our contributing behavior. When we do this, we can release the things we do to “defend” ourselves in an effort to prevent us from encountering the same type of pain. So often these behaviors create problems instead of resolving them. Defense, when it isn’t required, can become aggression. Seeing this is hard, as we are often both the victim and the contributing creator of our traumas. That will rub many the wrong way, but this applies to my traumas just the same as everyone else’s.
Accepting this is the number one reason why shadow work is so tricky! When we devalue ourselves (for whatever reason) this is typically where we contribute to our pain. This does not mean that our trauma is our fault so please don’t take my words there. It means we have control over our lives and are constant contributors to our experiences. Very few scenarios reside outside of this truth.
When we engage in thoughts or behaviors that do not align with what we are feeling deep within our “self”, or if we put someone else’s feelings at a higher level of importance than our own, we devalue our self-worth.
We declare to ourselves and the world what is acceptable.
When we do not provide a strong boundary with balanced emotional responses, we chip away at our soul. This is one of those moments to remember that anger is not strength. Boundaries should be as calm and matter a fact as the following: “Do you want chocolate sauce on your ice cream?” “No thank you”. You don’t need to fight or declare you don’t want chocolate sauce. You just state that your ice cream is exactly how you want it and go on eating it. A non-emotional strong boundary is the ultimate goal in my opinion. The strength of self to know what you want and just stand firm in it without feeling the need to be defensive is power. When we are here, we have healed. Although, I think it is a very rare thing to find ourselves completely in this state. There is just so much to learn, and this is why it is also important to be kind to ourselves when we fail to maintain this strength of self.
Being mindful is our number one tool when it comes to all things healing and energy. I have written a bit about self-healing assessments and shared a simple mindful activity that would be a great starting place for reconciling deep-seated emotional baggage which you can find here, but we can do more. This is not going to be a one-and-done thing. Healing takes time but it is worth the effort if we are willing to do the hard work. Along with mindful management of our energy, adding journaling to your routine can prove to be more helpful than I was willing to entertain. Giving our feelings a place to go, is often the biggest first step in the right direction. Sometimes we need to trick ourselves into seeing the obvious. The path to healing can sound so simple, it is the application of change that is the hard part.
We start with a journal, this can be a computer or special book, or scrap paper. Whatever you feel is good is perfect. Some people find that having a “special” book seems to make writing in it more significant. Mine is a $4 notebook with a unicorn on it so special is a very subjective term. It’s your journal – you do you. In it, I typically start with lists. Every so often I feel like something is just on my mind and I write whatever needs to come out. A weird dream, a childhood memory, my bad behavior; whatever is weighing on me can go in. Then I apply the following analysis to whatever content has come out of my mind. There does not need to be an order or a plan here. Thinking there must be an outline could be a recipe for failure. This book is to be the inner workings of ourselves. Like a detective, we are working to get to what is influencing us behind the scenes. We are looking for our shadow.
Make a list
Having a place to begin is often helpful so I start with a list. Typically, we have an area of life that is on our minds more than others. Since our conscious self is cool with this topic we will start there. The shadow is tricky, the shadow is brilliant, and the shadow is us. Most of the time, we don’t want to see our own shadow so we can’t very well just address it. If you think you have found your shadow, perhaps dig deeper because there always seems to be more. We hide things from ourselves to protect our “self”. This is dirty work; it is unpleasant, and it usually goes so much deeper than you expect. So, what is on this list? That depends on what is on my mind. Think about the thing that you wish you had. The thing that maybe is making you feel less than good. This is what we are trying to resolve. Love, self-respect, money, relationships, stability, calm, strength; whatever it may be that is an area of significant lack for us, is what we are trying to uncover. How are we preventing ourselves from getting what we want? Yes, we are likely the reason we don’t have whatever that something is. Accepting this and resolving the issue is the ultimate goal!
Start by naming what it is you are lacking and then start listing things that either contribute to or prevent you from having it. Think of this as your excuses and explanations. The things we would say to the world as the reason we feel unfulfilled in this area. Don’t be afraid to get weird here. If there is a reason you have hiding within you for why you can’t have what you want, it must be addressed. Once we get everything and I mean everything on the paper. Now it will be time to start to find the actual reason. This is where the hard part really starts. We must switch off victim mode. We are not a victim while doing shadow work. We are strong, we are in control, and we choose our path! This we must never forget. Read each thing on your list and ask yourself why you put it there. Find where you contribute to each thing on your list and view it with honesty. Find a place you can apply change for the better. What can you do differently? How did you act in alignment with yourself and what actions would you like to change? What causes you to act this way? Can you find a lesson?
This is not a time for the “they treated badly” type of thinking. This is time for “I allowed myself to not be important because”. You must find the “because”. This is hard especially when it comes to abusive situations. We never deserve to be hurt. That doesn’t change the fact that it happens. So, if we want to overcome it, we have to accept it happened, and we did play some kind of role. At some point, we did not stand in our power, we did not hold a healthy boundary. We accepted less than we were worth, and this is where we must not repeat this same behavior. This is shadow work. Often, we feel we have no choice, we’re stuck between a rock and a hard place. There is always a choice. Unfortunately, sometimes our choices are between two really shitty things. Sometimes the level of control we have due to circumstances is minimal. These are the times that will give us the most trouble accepting and releasing.
Sometimes, the truth hurts.
I can trace back some serious behavioral issues to when I was a child. Things that I had no control over that influenced my life for decades. How do I accept that I had a choice? I was just a child. These are the traumas that work behind the scenes causing chaos and mayhem in our lives. They must be addressed, or they will repeatedly induce turmoil in our current perspective and behaviors. In situations like this, we must forgive! Not the people that hurt us, although we do need to get to a place where we accept people are flawed. All people are flawed and sometimes we will be on the receiving end of their unbalanced behaviors – sometimes we will be the givers of that disharmony. This sucks! Kind of like dropping that ice cream from earlier on the ground, sometimes things just suck! When they do, we have to learn something. We can’t get all stuck on the suckiness and see only our pain. We must find the lessons because, in these times when our choices were non-existent, these are the times we build who we are. Those lessons of pain, we need them so our soul knows what it is like to hurt so that we don’t hurt another in the same way. This is HARD to accept but, from my perspective, it is just what makes sense. Some lessons are only learned the hard way. When we get to the shadow that just brings pain, we see no choices, no place we could have done better, we must find the thing we learned and let go of the pain. It is imperative to release the fear of facing that pain again, keep the lesson, and know you were strong enough to overcome the trauma because you are still here! At the end of the day, even if you didn’t want to, you could overcome the trauma again, but you likely will not need to. The odds are, you will not encounter that same type of trauma if you find your lesson. At least this is my opinion.
This is the objective of the journaling activity; to uncover the lessons and areas we could apply a change to our current way of being. We simply can’t be passive about this change.
We must be vigilant and mindful as we are the ones working against ourselves!
After I have found a few areas of focus or when I have just had enough, then it is time to utilize a ritual. My preferred way to assist shadow work is with crystal grids and talismans. Having a grid always working to help support my efforts is always a good thing in my opinion. I will typically set one up and then create a talisman. A talisman can be anything! Just something to serve as a reminder of the energy you want to resonate with. If let’s say, I want to do better to honor and hold balanced love for myself, I might select an emerald. This doesn’t have to be a gem-quality emerald, but this crystal holds the energy that embodies “Strength through love”. It is noble and enduring, wise and comforting and when facing issues of personal growth, it is the perfect ally!
To prepare a talisman you could create a ritual that aligns with your personal beliefs and make it as detailed as you like. Or you can sit there on the floor sobbing with your unicorn book and hold your rock in your hands and simply pour your will into it. Focus on what you want to achieve and know this trinket will help lend you the energy you need to achieve success. This is at the heart of whatever ritual you create! That raw emotion and clarity of intention. Once you tell your item what its job is, that is the energy that will resonate with it. This might seem too simple to be effective, but the easiest solution is typically the best one. Whatever item you selected will work on an energetic and subconscious level to help facilitate change. For as long as you deem necessary, carry the talisman with you and it will serve as a reminder of the behavioral patterns you wish to change!
Repeat this activity of journaling and mindfulness as often as you feel is needed and remember to hold compassion for yourself. We are not perfect, not a single one of us! We can try to be better versions of ourselves though and we are the ones who benefit from this very difficult journey.