You release emotional wounds from your childhood by listening, empathizing, being receptive and ultimately holding…
Feelings, felt senses, and intuition are the Window to The Soul. We connect with our divine nature by being in touch with feelings. The rational mind alone cannot begin to fathom the rich inner knowing of the soul. However, we can become consciously aware of the soul’s essence by honouring its true purpose, which is connection.
The soul’s only purpose is real intimacy, and our human design is to cultivate meaningful connections with life to support and sustain the soul’s purpose. The key to developing meaningful connections is to maintain a secure relationship with our feelings, which enables us to listen to internal signals and, therefore, heed the guidance of triggered emotions.
The soul communicates through our emotions and body sensations; therefore, our triggered emotions hold immeasurable guidance.
By attuning to our feelings, we can heed the guidance of our spiritual nature, develop compassion toward the conflicted parts of us and feel empathy toward others, which helps nurture real intimacy.
However, many of us are psychologically wired to suppress our feelings, let alone listen to the signals. We’re conditioned to avoid unease, so we create conflict instead of moving toward the connection we long for. We become identified with the material world, shaped by social expectations, not open to the soul’s guidance.
Suppressing emotions does not nurture intimacy.
Since childhood, most of us have been taught to avoid discomfort by not feeling, but not feeling does not nurture intimacy.
I’m reminded of this avoidance strategy constantly. “I don’t want to feel, I don’t want to feel,” I hear people say. Or “I don’t want to talk about it!”
Recently, a family member told me he isn’t interested in doing counselling with his wife. Their relationship is suffering, and he’s in denial – not wanting to feel so he can stay in control and be the strong man. This resistance to experiencing emotion has been inherited from his family and now risks being passed down to his children, who may miss out on learning to attune to the wisdom of their feelings.
I wonder what’s happening in the mind of this father who doesn’t want to learn relationship skills and how to manage his triggers. Why is he so attached to impatience and defending himself? Where did he learn to become fortified against his emotions and overwhelmed by others that he now needs to have so much control?
The danger of being defended against being perceived as flawed.
In an interview on the Glennon Doyle podcast, Becky Kennedy, a clinical psychologist and author, explores these coping patterns through the lens of attachment styles. Being able to sustain secure attachment in our relationships allows us to feel compassion and empathy, resolve conflict and develop real intimacy. However, many of us are coded with insecure or avoidant attachment based on how our caregivers showed up in our childhood.
Our childhood environment shapes our psychological wiring, and studies show that by age three, we are 75% wired by family conditioning. Invalidated, overruled and shamed emotions inform the developing child’s mind. We may not consciously remember childhood events, but our subconscious wiring retains the encoded interactions.
In the podcast, Kennedy talks about a time when she tried to overrule her daughter, forcing her to play with the other children at a birthday party. She even told her daughter, “Don’t embarrass me,” as if her daughter’s reluctance reflected her mothering. Kennedy didn’t want to be perceived as a “bad mom.” But then she realized that her daughter needed her acceptance and understanding. If children don’t learn to trust their hesitancy, how can they attune to their feelings, empathize with others, and learn how to differentiate between what feels right and wrong?
Children need security in their environment to learn to trust themselves. They need to feel safe being who they are in the world. And as adults, those needs haven’t changed. We need to feel safe being who we are in the world.
The significance of our “triggered” safety signals.
When we don’t feel safe, alarm bells ring, and emotions get triggered. This is a good thing!
The alarm bells signal a boundary or alert you to what you need or what the other person may be feeling. There’s a lot of information in the body and shared energy field, signals to pay attention to. If we’re suppressing those signals, we’re not cultivating intimacy; we’re struggling against feeling too much.
Depending on childhood programming, some people respond to triggered emotions by going on the offence, while others withdraw to avoid conflict. But whether your survival strategy is to struggle against or evade others, both strategies shut down triggered emotions.
The child who’s told, “Don’t embarrass me,” or any other negating message, learns early in life that discomfort is not welcomed and develops the tendency to circumvent the discomfort.
But actual safety is not the control of emotions; it’s paying attention to the signals.
Not running from the discomfort when triggered, such as with fear, sorrow, hurt and upset, allows the triggered emotions to move to the surface of our awareness, where it’s much safer than being stuffed down. Being open to underlying emotions frees us to be authentic and honest and thus cultivate real connections with ourselves and others.
The story of Kennedy’s realization that her daughter needed acceptance at the birthday party was a turning point. When Kennedy became aware of her own discomfort, she let go of judgment and struggle, could empathize with herself and her daughter, and repair the tension between them.
We must learn to repair conflict to cultivate connection, which takes compassion and the willingness to heal and grow. In this way, we entrust our vulnerability to the soul’s longing for real intimacy. We put down the mantle of self-defence and righteousness and instead cultivate peace.
Accepting Our Human Nature
It’s paramount that we accept that we make mistakes, judge and become defended, blame others, and criticize ourselves. After all, by the age of three, our brain and nervous system were psychologically wired by family conditioning to invalidate, overrule and shame our feelings and the feelings of others.
And we can expect that the people who love us will make mistakes because they also have been psychologically wired to suppress feelings.
By accepting our human nature, we can provide a new hopeful message to the parts of us that were overlooked as children. We can repair the damage it caused, connect to our true sense of value, and become resilient and resourceful.
By being attentive to triggered emotions and no longer controlling them, we become comfortable with discomfort, conscious of our feelings, and curious about others. No longer shutting down signals, we are receptive and able to repair conflict, heal and uplift one another.
Changing the Story
“It is never too late to heal your childhood wounds and make your inner child feel safe, seen and soothed.”
– Becky Kennedy
So, here we are, you and me, changing the story, changing the narrative of our upbringing, rewiring our brain and nervous system.
Let’s acknowledge the child inside us, the raw emotions, the need for reassurance and love.
Let’s give that to one another.
I know this isn’t easy.
As Glennon Doyle says, “We can do the hard things!”
That’s an understatement; we really can do the hard things easefully by accepting our human nature, welcoming our feelings, listening to the inner signal and becoming conscious.
I sometimes awaken
after a night’s sleep
my body still processing
the fragments of dreams that
tell an unfinished story.
The story fills me
and empties me.
I am left in pieces.
I wake wanting to go
back to sleep and
I remember Rumi’s poem:
Don’t go back to sleep.
Don’t go back to sleep.
My mind struggles
to free me from feeling
too much, and my heart
is not quite ready for love.
My chest constricts like
a bird trapped in a cage
But I’m not hungry.
Afraid of what, my child?
I race ahead to find
something to hang onto.
But the constriction persists,
grabs me and demands that I feel.
Lonely for what?
My beloved once told me
he didn’t want to be like me.
He didn’t want to feel so much.
I catch my breath
at the absurdity.
“How can you not want to feel?”
I asked him
I want to feel more.
I don’t want to be weighed down
I want it to inform me, ground me,
root me into my life.
I want every element of being alive
to entice me, impassion me,
and lift me the fuck out of bed.
I want to feel alive,
take hold of every sliver
of my being and make
of it all.
I don’t want to go back to sleep
I want to be awake in the dream.