Reflections #14, The healing process ¬†ūüíĆ

 

Reflections
Reflecting on my parenting journey, may you see yourself reflected.

The healing process
Issue #14, April 2016

 

Listening, an essential component to the healing process 

Welcome

Hello!

 

In this issue I talk about how we heal from painful emotions. But the reflection stems from a process my inner girl has gone through, as opposed to a process with my daughter or my son (my “outer” children). Yet, I find that, first of all, the same rules apply. And second, in order to be able to use the Inspired Parenting principles in our relationship with our children, we need to be able to apply them in our relationship with ourselves, too. So¬†I hope you still find it useful.

Enjoy!

A little window into my life

The healing process

My core wounding is not feeling safe in the world. This means somewhere inside there is a belief that I am not safe “out there”; it also means that feeling unsafe is my biggest fear. In order to being able to function in spite of the fear as a child, I used¬†several methods. In Aware Parenting (AwP) we call those methods Control Patterns¬† or CPs. Some of those CPs have changed since childhood (I don’t suck my thumb any more), but they remain basically the same: muscle tension, eating for comfort (one of the CPs that evolves naturally from thumb sucking) and, most of all, distraction: I make myself constantly busy by thinking and doing things.¬†

In the last couple of months this core wound has been triggered big time. What happens when the trigger is big is that my Control Patterns  appear in an exaggerated form and I go into overdrive. Tense, anxious and wired, my sleep is always affected, and this time it has been quite dramatic. Every second or third day I have been waking up in the middle of the night and not being able to go back to sleep. Knowing how demanding our parenting job is, not sleeping properly for weeks is a serious handicap, as the parent of any baby will confirm.

These anxious phases come and go in my life, and every time I try something different to ease them. This time around I tried listening within, by¬†writing¬†on my journal. Writing is an excellent way for me to find out what is going on inside. It was quite funny that most times I would begin¬†thinking the trouble was one thing, and as the writing progressed I would discover it was actually something quite different! In any case, every time I had valuable insights, “aha!” moments, a release of emotions…¬†and then peace, softness and ease would follow. And beautiful sleep.

The theory behind the practice

In order to understand this whole business about childhood wounds and their healing process, I want to remind you of how our bodies shift from a parasympathetic state (rest and digest) to a sympathetic state (fight, flight or faint) when we face fear or hurt. We know our bodies are designed to spend most of their time in the first state, so in order to be healthy, every time the second gets triggered we need to find our way back. We (specially children) instinctively do so: through crying and raging, laughing, sweating, yawing and shaking while feeling safe.

The trouble is when we don’t do those things, or not enough. Then residual chemicals¬†and¬†emotions stay¬†stuck inside. From then on, our system is constantly trying to release them, and they can feel like dammed water pushing against the sluice gate. If¬†they are¬†not let out, when there is a new event similar to the original one which also causes hurt and painful emotions, this¬†will add to the first lot, starting to create what American doctor and healer Barbara Brennan calls¬†a Frozen Conglomerate. Marion Rose, my AwP mentor, calls it a Sweet Spot.¬†

Even though the term is a bit of a mouthful, there are three things I like about the Frozen Conglomerate analogy. One, there is always an original wound, often created when we were¬†babies or small children. And on top of it there is a collection of hurtful events of a similar nature which added to the original wound. Together, they make the Conglomerate. That makes a lot of sense when we start healing, because we end up encountering all of those experiences one under another, like layers of an onion. The second thing I like about the analogy is that¬†the pain remains frozen and fresh as the moment it happened, even when it is decades old and the sensory memories, for example images, might have faded. You can provably relate to that: “Wow! I didn’t realise I still felt so strongly about this!”.¬†The third thing I love about the Frozen Conglomerate¬†analogy is that, the way to melt it,¬†is with the warmth of unconditional love.

In my case, my original wound happened when being left in my cot to cry as a baby. I do not have any sensory recollection of it, no images at all. But boy!, do I remember the terror I felt! As clearly as if it had been yesterday. On top of it is the beginning of school before I was emotionally ready for it, and a myriad of other ways in which I was pushed to grow up, to take steps in life before I felt safe enough to take them.

So in order to heal this I need three things: one, to access the stuck emotions in my system. A common way is to be triggered by something or someone; my trigger this time was my children beginning the school year. The second step is to feel safe enough to express those emotions. The third one, to express them in a healthy way (anger and raging must be expressed without hurting anyone or anything).

One of the things I love about Aware Parenting is that the tools I have learned to help me parent my children better can be extended to any kind of relationship. I have applied them successfully to¬†my relationship with my husband, my extended family, my friends, my kids’¬†teachers… and most of all, to parent my own inner girl. That, in fact, is essential, because what¬†we can’t give¬†to ourselves, it will be really hard to give¬†to our children. So I tried to listen to my inner girl with the same quality of warmth and non-judgement I use for my “outer” children.

Regardless of what has woken me up in the middle of the night, if there are unsettled feelings inside, my thinking goes into overdrive, trying to cover them up with distraction. But, of course, between the feelings and the revving of my brain, there is no way to sleep. Getting up and writing is like setting an intention, is like giving that little frightened girl inside the message: “Ok, I’m here, I’m listening, I’m all yours”.¬†I let her guide the pen, without censorship, even if it doesn’t make sense. That’s the open listening quality that allows the process to begin: accessing the stuck emotions in my system.

Eventually the writing starts to make sense. Sooner or later I’ll have an “aha!” moment and the tears will start to flow. Then the wiser part of me, what Marion calls the Inner Loving Mother or Father, will step forward and offer all the empathy, compassion and support needed. It is exactly the same as with our children, whether they wake up in the middle of the night or whether they are upset any other time during the day: if we make ourselves available, if we prioritise listening to them and if we do it without judgement, eventually the Balance of Attention will be perfect, we’ll reach the Frozen Conglomerate and the emotions will begin to flow. By¬†offering the empathy, compassion and support needed,¬†we make the space safe, we¬†set¬†the ideal conditions for healing to happen.

This is how Frozen Conglomerates begin¬†to “thaw”. When they are small, them¬†might melt in a single session or a few. If they are bigger, we will need several, some times many (many!) sessions. But if every time we touch them we offer the ideal conditions for healing, eventually they will melt to the core and disappear¬†all together! This is the best¬†news ever:¬†life without triggers! Joy, peace,¬†enlightenment!!!

I am looking forward to living my life without even the subtlest of fears, without that underlying anxiety I can barely notice because I am so used to living with it. I have already come a long way. There¬†is¬†a world of difference between me now and 10 years ago, when I became a mum for the first time and my Core Wound got stroked in a huge way; or 6 years ago, when we moved from Scotland to Australia and the same happened again; or even between now and last year, when I had my last phase of anxiety. A big, BIG¬†difference. I am stronger, more grounded, less angry, more compassionate, more peaceful, empathic, joyful, fun… I seriously reckon when I crack that one I’ll be enlightened.¬†In the meanwhile, the journey is full of treasures.

Happy travels!


If you see yourself reflected, touched , inspired
or if you have any questions or comments,
I would love to hear from you!   
Please go to my Inspired Parenting page and write to me there
(or just reply to this email).

 

If abandonment is the core wound
the disconnection from mother
the loss of wholeness
then the most potent medicine
is this ancient commitment
to never abandon yourself
to discover wholeness in this whole-mess
to be a loving mother to your insides
to hold the broken bits in open awareness
to illuminate the sore places
with the light of love.
-Jeff Foster
The pain shows you what’s left to investigate. Byron Katie

 

Inspired Parenting glossary

Inspired parenting:
The dictionary defines inspired as ‚Äėaroused, animated, or imbued with the spirit to do something by or as if by supernatural or divine influence‚Äô. ‚ÄúInspired parenting‚ÄĚ is, for me, the type of parenting we do when we connect to something bigger than ourselves, when we become clear channels through which pours unconditional love.

Control Pattern:
An activity done habitually in order to avoid feeling uncomfortable emotions stuck in our system, and to help us function in life in spite of them. The most common CPs for babies and children can be grouped into three types: sucking (feeding, dummies or thumb sucking), holding onto security objects like blankets or toys, and hipper activity or distraction. These develop into adulthood as over eating or addictions, buying and holding onto things, and the need to be on the go all the time/be entertained or distracted constantly (with work, social relations, fb or any other way) respectively. Although those are the most common CPs, almost anything can become a Control Pattern, and most babies have well-established CPs by six months of age. It is important to note that these activities are only Control Patterns when they are done for the purpose of avoiding uncomfortable emotions. When they are done with connection and consciousness, then they are not being used as CPs.  It is also important to remember that Control Patterns only disappear when the uncomfortable emotions underneath have been healed. Getting rid of one CP, without healing, will cause a different one to appear so that we can be functional in our day to day in spite of the emotions.

Sweet Spot:
Term created by Marion Rose to indicate the place where pent up emotions are stored up in our system.

The Balance of Attention:
Aletha Solter uses this term to indicate the relationship, at a particular moment in time, between a sense of safety on one hand and the feeling of a difficult emotion on the other (Solter, A. Helping young children flourish). This balance is perfect when there is enough safety for the difficult emotions to be released and healed through the vehicle of laugher, tears, shaking, sweating or yawning.

 

 


To read back issues of “Reflections” go to my Facebook page¬†
www.facebook.com/inspiredforparenting

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