The Problem is not the Problem, Coping is the Problem

Connecting to my Humanness

by Robin Beardsley, March 5 2016
As I bring more meditation into my life. I am reminded that this is an experience. Once I am distracted into thoughts or feelings I am into my survival energy, my thinking brain or consciousness. I am not in the now.  I can gently bring my focus back to the present moment, back to my “home”.

I remember when I realized in Level I Satir training that my home is who I am, my “Life Force or Life Energy”. I figured out then why I always found it hard to explain to others Virginia’s belief that we are all a “manifestation of the Life Force”. I hadn’t really experienced my life energy in those terms. Certainly once I experienced the connection during the training, I remembered being connected this way to myself whenever I was in nature or sometimes exercising, or laughing with friends, but no one ever explained to me that this was my “home”. I was able to distinguish between my SELF and my experience. I am and I feel…, I think…, I expect…This was so freeing to me. It was the beginning of de-enmeshing my survival energy and my Life energy, actually experiencing the difference between me and my experience and understanding the difference.

As kids we construct a self-concept, or a sense of self, based on what we perceive from others; A “felt sense” from others. This self-concept, or representation of who we are, is sometimes accurate, but more often it is a widely inaccurate portrayal of habitual thoughts, emotions and behaviours based on our life experiences. If the image I construct is perfect and desirable the unconscious thought process believes then “I am perfect and desirable”. If the image I construct is flawed or undesirable then I will believe that “I am flawed and undesirable”. We identify with this mental self-portrait, and any threat to our mental representation of who we are creates a physical experience. It feels like an actual “visceral” threat and we respond as powerfully as a soldier defending his or her own life.

This makes perfect sense now as I was very afraid to be in my body for fear that I might just have to “experience” hard or “bad feelings” or be with my perception that I was somehow flawed and people wouldn’t like me. This is so hard wired. Even today I have to remind myself that my body is wise and when I actually am still and go inside, it is not so hard to be there. As I experience my inner world, my Iceberg, the deeper I go, the more I am connected with my Life Energy, and I get to experience my essence. I get to experience my joy and love.

In the Satir Model we have learned that therapy must be experiential. First we must connect with the client where they are, we must be curious about them, curious about how these survival patterns started, what was the positive intention behind them and touch these “scary and uncomfortable” places within them. It is hard to do this if we as therapists are not connected with our own Life Energy. So we too must be curious about our inner world and learn ways to reconnect with our essence. Lately I have been practicing Mindful Self Compassion. Whenever I am feeling or thinking, or am in my survival energy I can be mindful of me, the “experiencer”, and give compassion to the “experiencer” for struggling or suffering with the “experience”. This does two things. It helps me to be curious, rather than judgmental and to move into the “scary “places within me, on my own. I can continue to distinguish between my survival energy and who I really am. It also gives my thinking brain something to do. Normally I might criticize myself for being in survival energy or having this experience; “You should know better”. In effect it helps me to give compassion to, rather than judging myself for having the experience; I can embrace the common humanity of being human and allow my experience to be. As I give myself loving kindness, I can soften the experience, soothe the experiencer (me and my limbic system) and I can be in my still inner world more connected with myself and others. I don’t have to avoid my inner world; I can experience it with love and compassion instead.

I so appreciate Virginia for her unshakeable conviction about people’s potential for growth. It gives me such hope for myself and the world. With the Satir Model and the metaphor, the Iceberg, my thinking brain can appreciate the explanation of why I have survived and have a path to congruency. It can not only tolerate my right brain experiences but it can also be grateful. My body, with the memories it holds can be soothed and reassured that we are okay. I can change my hard wiring /coping from one of avoidance to one of acceptance. This makes it not only more comfortable, but also gives me more calm to live in the now.

Posted on March 4, 2016 by Cindi
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