When do you get stubborn? With yourself? With others? I notice that I feel stubborn when someone randomly gives me advice without my asking for it. It triggers a part of me that says, “Who do you think you are that you think you’re better than me.” I grew up in a culture that put women down, a lot. Is that the cause of my trigger, of my stubbornness? I don’t know. I know I have an insecure part of me that can feel like I’m less than others, not good enough. I get to be a work in progress, always caring for that wounded part.
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Living in a world of uncertainty, a world filled with violence and struggle, natural and human-made disasters, it can be easy to feel a sense of overwhelm and anger or perhaps a sense of collapse and helplessness in the face of such adversity. While some may set their feelings aside, maybe runaway by numbing out with food, drugs, alcohol, sex, etc., others may feel an intensity, a rage that compels them to fight against whoever or whatever stands in their way. Others may simply put their head in the proverbial sand or hang limp as if playing possum and yield to the dangers around them.
“I cannot say this frequently enough. The goal of meditation is not to clear your mind but instead to focus your mind for a few nanoseconds at a time and whenever you become distracted just start again. Getting lost and starting over is not failing at meditation, it is succeeding.” (Harris, 2017) A consistent meditation practice can contribute to white matter changes in areas of your brain that directly impact self-regulation.
What do you think of when you hear the word “dissociate”? Do you wonder what it means, or think “I never do that” or maybe, “that’s my go-to reaction”, or anything in between? What is dissociation? The dictionary tells us it is separation, disconnect of parts (dictionary.com). So how does it show up in our psyche? Dissociation can be any moment you might disconnect from the present moment. Generally, in psychology, it is discussed within the context of extreme trauma cases as a full separation from reality leading to disorders. Yet it is in our daily life as well.
I find it simply amazing how much we can build tolerance to being with the discomfort of our emotions and challenging/confronting our belief systems. Sure, the beginning is the hardest. It can even feel like you will die if you go there. That’s the young terrified child in you that used their mind to separate from the pain in the first place. Now as an adult, or even a teenager, you have the capacity to take care of those parts. It’s like the first time you go to a gym. If you’ve never been before, the machines are daunting, and the weights don’t mean anything because you don’t know what you can do.
I struggle to sit still (unless I’m sitting outside in nature, but I’m talking about everyday life here). Ask me to sit and be silent? Well my mental chatter loves to make me nuts. I focus on the breath. I focus on sensation. I focus on the fact that I am not focusing, with a touch of loving kindness and compassion. I am kind to myself no doubt there; I accept that my mind loves to whirl and twirl, to take facts and create stories, to take a fleeting image or sensation and create a long-winded tale. Even here, on the page, the words keep flowing when the point has most likely already been made. I’ve read countless books (reviewed many, done the practices). I’ve attended webinars and workshops and meditation groups, all with the same frustration. Silence while sitting escapes me. I thought I was hopeless until now.
Where do you feel like a captive of your world? is it that you cannot quit your job? your relationship? your way of being with your parents? Your health? Where does it feel like you have no power? Where do you feel like you can change everything else about your life, but this one thing and you’re stuck with it?
I have been with my partner for a few years and have grown to feel comfortable and welcome within the family. Until one morning that is, when I saw they had made plans for a family outing without including me in the decision-making process. No one asked for my opinion, my insights, my thoughts, nothing. I felt ignored, shut out, rejected. I felt like an outcast. These feelings, based on how I interpreted their actions, shocked my system. I doubted myself and how I experienced my relationships with these individuals. I tried to figure out why. I wondered, was I enough as a person to deserve feeling accepted by them in the past or was I wrong assuming they liked me and that I was accepted by them. Due to circumstances beyond my control, I didn’t have a chance to fully process my experience in the moment. I had to pause to deal with other interactions happening around me. I managed to push the feelings of rejection down to look at later. Still in a bit of shock, I directed my attention to other things. Then, as life happens, I got distracted. I went about my day wondering why I felt cranky. There was no cheering myself up nor figuring out why I felt out of sorts; the reasons escaped me though the feelings entrapped me. I had pushed that painful moment down so far, I forgot about my pain. Yet I was cranky enough that even though my mind had dismissed the precipitating event, my body clung to the results. I wanted to be cheerful but there was no way to free myself from this cranky fog.
When you are faced with high intensity stress, where do you turn for help? While processing problems with external support may provide a plethora of possibilities, an intelligent source within can also offer intuitive guidance. The innate wisdom of your soul often revealed through somatic experiences or what my colleague calls the “feelings of your feelings” can be your way out, or this case, in.