Having a full YES! to ourselves can be very challenging.
There are many aspects that we tend not to see and accept about our personality, that we commonly call Shadow or Lower Self. These elements that we try to push away and refuse as being part of our being become more conscious during a therapeutic process. However, this fact can become difficult to integrate and have negative consequences.
I am referring to the increased awareness that surfaces when we are experiencing a self-discovery process. Throughout the journey of self-exploration we come to realize why certain behaviors, patterns and outcomes in our lives repeat themselves over and over again. We realize how they do not serve us and how much pain they have inflicted in others and in ourselves. At this point of the journey, we may become aware of how much we have prevented ourselves to be fully in the flow of life, how we have created our own obstacles for fulfillment and connection and how much time, energy and significant people we have lost during this painful process.
This realization, if misinterpreted, can cause guilt, victimization and self-punishment. Especially if, after realizing we have certain behavioral patterns, we keep on repeating them over and over again, this feeling of no self-worth can plunge us into depression or self-anger and despair.
My intention with this text is to bring light to a different aspect of this process. The negative patterns that you’ve come to be aware of, have had their meaning and function. They were defense mechanisms that you had to develop at a very young age long before you had the capacity and ability to understand and withstand certain experiences. Whenever we were faced with an hostile, rejective and untrustworthy environment in our first years of life, the reality became too invasive and painful for us to deal with. The coping and self-regulating structures we now possess as adults, were not yet available when we were children. Instead, our Mind-Body system had to shut itself down in order to protect us. It had to “sacrifice” itself in a way that would enable us to stay in that same harmful environment and outlive it. These defense mechanisms work with the breath, muscles and consciousness, lowering our life energy and numbing our organism to be able to endure a traumatic or emotionally abusive situation.
The defensive patterns that were developed have stayed with us throughout our development and have crystalized very close to our core personality. So close that it feels that they are part of our most deep and essential self. They have been with us for so long and served us so successfully that would seem dangerous and self-harmful to let go of them. But after you start the self-developmental process, you start to realize how these mechanisms that were at your service at a very young age have turned themselves against you and, instead, are harming you and harming the ones you love.
This brings us back to the point I was mentioning, that moment where you become aware of the pain and suffering this is causing and how this realization can bring you to a depressive state. You will want to detach yourself from these behavioral patterns and claim a different new you.
My own experience tells me that this is not possible.
First of all, because the more we try to reject and not manifest something, the more energy we place there. To try to become something in contrast with something else will only make us stay in the same frequency.
And second, because I trust that growth and change will not come from rejection but from integration. To accept these patterns as part of our history and to acknowledge how they protected us in a very early stage of our lives will enable a greater understanding and acceptance of ourselves.
So, part of my job as a therapist, is to support people to expand their awareness, first by realizing how they manifest certain negative patterns and, secondly, to guide them on how they can integrate that negativity as a part of their history, as a natural consequence of an intuitive and organic need our being has to defend itself and stay alive. These patterns will not just disappear. By the contrary, they will most probably reside with us for the rest of our lives. What changes in an evolutionary process is that you become aware that you, as an adult human being, have more resources than when you were a child. Accepting that the defensive reactions you had will persist and will try to manifest themselves every time a scary or painful situation repeats BUT that you have a choice. That, throughout the years and especially during this process of growth and self-awareness, you have developed strategies and coping mechanisms that enable you to give a different answer, empowering you to act differently instead of just acting out, that show you that you can take risks, act spontaneously and trust that you can deal with the outcome, no matter how unexpected it turns out to be.
These defensive patterns are not part of your core but they are part of your history and, because we cannot rewrite our history, they will stay with us, sometimes powered up with more energy and wanting to manifest, other times staying silent and asleep. The difference is that now that you are aware of why and how they were formed, now that you are aware of how and why they prevented you from fully trusting and expressing your life energy, it is within your power not to manifest such negativity, (re)acting in certain ways and repeating the same patterns. Probably you will repeat them in some occasions – and that’s alright, you cannot be perfect, none of us are – but at least you may know what you are doing.
That is why a process of self-exploration is, in my opinion, so closely linked to Self Responsibility. With greater awareness of your being as a whole, you will become more responsible for your actions which, very simply put, means that you have choices. And one of those choices is to have a full YES! to yourself!