At the crossroads
An opportunity for a significant change in the way how each of us values and respects our own life can open up in various ways: signals can come from physical pains equally as from the frustrations about the way others are treating us. Also, different situations like losing a job or feeling abandoned or betrayed by a significant other can lead to a similar path of expanding awareness and mobilize us to examine our deepest fears equally as those forgotten dreams and desires. Freya (name changed for privacy reasons) called to talk about her issues and the confusion she was facing. She wanted to gain clarity on one particular issue - her marriage. Her words and tone of her voice were expressing hurt, the pain she was suffering, feelings of betrayal and disappointment.
There is a message in every pain and that message can help us regain strength to move in a desired direction and grow in every aspect if we look at the source first - our own interpretations of reality, our own creation and positioning of self. What seems like a breakdown can truly turn into a breakthrough. Yes, I know I repeat that often and I do so because I've seen it, experienced it myself and witnessed it so many times. One of the signs that it is time for such introspection (and discovering a breakthrough) is the feeling of standing at the crossroads and every path seems equally wrong or equally right. Confusion is a really good time for getting to the bottom of the questions; what do I really want? Not what I think / presume others would want me to want or would be better for them but what do I want? What are my authentic needs and desires? Sometimes it is one of the trickiest ones. Our definitions create our worlds and they are influenced by the time, the culture, religion, family, the books we’ve read, the movies we’ve seen or the stories that are passed on from generation to generation. How real, how true are those definitions to each individual? Many keep reminding us that whatever we believe is true, it is so. Our beliefs reflect on our love life, our mental, emotional, physical health and comfort, our social life, business success, etc. Before investigating the beliefs and figuring out how they limit or support us in living the life we desire and how to make changes, we might want (re)discover what is it that we want, what is that life we desire like? How do we want to feel in it? The most important of all is finding out what each of us wants authentically, as we often get busy pursuing dreams that are not truly ours and wonder how fulfillment eludes us. Life is a mystery and often our attitudes make it a beautiful or a disastrous experience, not the circumstances. The opportunities to learn more are opening up all the time, even when it seems our world is falling apart it may be that the new opportunities are being created to resolve old and current fears and wounds, especially those related to the archetypal wounds of shame, abandonment and betrayal. Dr Mario Martinez, neuropsychologist and founder of Institute of Biocognitive Psychology reminds us, in his own way, that sense of betrayal can teach us to be more aware of our own Self and loyalty we personally express, that the shame can be healed with awareness of being and acting honourably towards ourselves and others and that abandonment leads to the commitment in the same direction. Open to interpretation, as always. When we are waiting for others to “make us” happy, give us respect or protect us, we are sending enormous amount of pressure to another person and wait for fulfillment that actually can not come that way. There is the old saying that people will treat you by following your example of how you treat yourself and it is more related to subconscious processes. When you think someone has hurt you, you may want to pause for a moment and question that feeling. What do I feel deprived of? How can I find it in myself and nourish it so I don’t expect others to do that for me? If you think that self-respect, self-worth, self-esteem, self-care or being mindful about your own inner world is selfish I invite you to investigate that thought, too. Once we are deeply honest with ourselves and learn to take good care of ourselves, we can take better care of our marriage, our business or our family. Only then we can truly be of service to others with open heart and no guilt or resentment involved which often happens when we are jumping around to help others only to realize it is the way we’ve learned to fill the bucket called “worth” or “being enough”. In a group of people each individual can use the same word to describe a feeling or an event, however, to each of them that word can have a different meaning.
“The concert was brilliant!” - to A. this means the venue was of an appropriate size, the sound and lights’ system flawless, the band well rehearsed and on time. - B. associates this expression with having a great time (meaning of “great”?) and meeting new friends. - to C. it means the venue was sold out and there was a good profit. - D. believes it signifies new opportunities for more concerts, PR and marketing for the band etc. What about the meaning of love or marriage? What does it mean to love someone or to feel the other one does does not love you or has betrayed you? What is the meaning of divorce? What does betrayal mean in our own inner worlds? How influenced is the meaning we assign to it by our surroundings, by our subcultures? When we start investigating the surface we dive into the depth and width of one’s subjective experience and one’s unique reality. For some, love and marriage mean feeling significant, being the smartest, the most beautiful, the most important one in someone else’s world. For some, love and marriage represent security, the fact we’ll never feel alone – in sickness and in health… For some, love is a union, marriage of two worlds that create something greater than each individual is or can be on her or his own. For some it is all about respect and a position in society and that also includes security and significance… For some it is none or all of the above and more. During our sessions Freya got opportunity to investigate all of the above and more. Her sessions were about finding out what she can learn from this pain and figuring out what she really wants, on her own, without listening to anybody's advice, no matter how well intended. All our work together was about her own self introspection and her empowerment. The question of a divorce was just a signal, a trigger for a personal quest and rediscovery of Self. She may or may not go for a divorce - the most important part is that she makes that decision by knowing herself better and getting a different perspective about the direction of her own life because it often happens that even if we make dramatic changes in the circumstances only, without working on our inner worlds, we are likely to repeat them and create the same feelings and behaviour and attract similar people or circumstances in our lives.
Freya became aware of the needs of her authentic Self (love, value, safety, respect, commitment, esteem etc) and the ways to get what she needs and wants without expecting others to provide that for her or asking them to change. She changed the way she treats herself and her reality changed. Not only her experience of love and marriage has shifted - her business life also improved: “Unexpectedly!” she says. Everything is connected. The key to noticing and experiencing that fact is in being connected to our own depths and widths. What seems like one problem may lead to “unexpected” resolution of other challenges, as well. The change starts within. The first step is accepting the challenge, welcoming the problem – the pain, the problem as a signal, opportunity for change and then navigating the exploration towards the source of experience - our own interpretations. That is where we can make the changes and enhance the experience of life we want. In the several months follow up she reports that she noticed huge changes in her husband and decided not to go for a divorce. Whatever happens in the future, she will no longer feel like a victim in someone else's story. She will be more aware of her own role - as a creator, writer and director of her own experiences.