When you can’t find something, is your very first thought always (Every. Single. Time.), “Who took it!?”
In other words, is your default position – in life – to blame anyone other than yourself, whether you’ve misplaced your water bottle or lost your job?
This is an indicator of deep childhood trauma. It is a hair-trigger response that has become hardwired over a lifetime. It represents the formidable defenses you have put in place to protect your Wall; the Wall you erected early on to protect your heart from abuse and neglect.
These fortifications were necessary when you were young. As an adult, they are debilitating, compromising every aspect of your life.
So, how can you stop being a slave to your unconscious defenses?
Once you start to pay closer attention to your thoughts and actions, you can identify your predictable patterns of reaction and behavior.
Then you can begin to create some space, tiny at first, between the situation and your reaction.
Then you can work to expand that space, which provides the opportunity to choose how you react.
Then you can see things more clearly; see your own significant yet unwitting role in creating the situation.
Then you can begin to heal.
In those moments when things go bad, really bad, does your mind quickly reach for the worst case scenario? A sense of abandonment, betrayal, rage, injustice, futility, utter loneliness.
That is a sign of significant past trauma, likely normalized. It is an indication that those who damaged you, or stood by while it happened, have been unable to acknowledge their roles in your suffering.
It is a sign that, understandably, you have been unable in your adult life to reconcile the neglect or abuse.
The way forward is a kind of catch 22. It requires the recognition that those who hurt you didn’t do so purposely. Invariably, they were the actions of damaged, unconscious people who did the best they could while trying to make heads and tails of their own lives. In short, our own healing necessitates forgiving others because, despite what you may believe, they knew not what they did. However twisted their actions, they somehow managed to genuinely, rationally, justify their actions in some way. Because, if we truly felt the pain we inflict on others we wouldn’t be able to do it; it would be too devastating to our own hearts; if we actually allowed ourselves to feel it.
It is this understanding that opens the door to next level healing; that lays the groundwork for arriving at that seemingly faraway place where when someone hurts you, and when you hurt yourself, that you no longer end up touching into the abyss.
From this place, peace and contentment is possible.
“Beware the purveyors of one-minute solutions, who assure you that all you need to do is change your diet, manage your time more efficiently, exercise more, learn to relax on the job, adjust your priorities, communicate better, learn to enjoy stress, or think positively and avoid ‘negative’ emotions. Because stress is not simply a disease; it is a symptom that you are living somebody else’s life, marching to a drumbeat that doesn’t syncopate with your personal body rhythms, playing a role you didn’t create, living a script written by an alien authority. Depression is more than low self-esteem; it is a distant early warning that you are on the wrong path and that something in you is being pressed down, beat on, kept imprisoned, dishonored. Burnout is nature’s way of telling you you’ve been going through the motions but your soul has departed; you’re a zombie, a member of the walking dead, a sleepwalker. And false optimism is like administering stimulants to an exhausted nervous system.” Sam Keen
Last night I watched an excellent documentary on the legendary Civil Rights activist, James Baldwin, entitled “I am not your Negro”. What makes the film really special is that in addition to his various on-camera interviews, every single word of narration comes from his own writings. As with Martin Luther King Jr., Baldwin was ahead of his time.
The extent to which Canadians have been, and in many cases remain, unable to meaningfully acknowledge, feel and remedy the crimes against humanity perpetrated against the Indigenous people is commensurate with the depth of trauma that is embedded in the fabric of Canadian society.