Have you, like me, been caught up in this trend of sharing your deepest vulnerabilities casually?
Do you, like me, find yourself retreating at the overwhelming trend to bare all in social media posts?
Have you ever awkwardly succumbed to peer pressure and shared your feelings at new age meetings or healing events, only to regret it afterwards?
Do you find this whole sharing phenomenon confusing, sometimes disorientating and even distorting?
Do you feel awkward for having the sense you would like to have more boundaries around hugging, sharing/hearing trauma stories in this age of ‘openness’, ‘free love’ and ‘we are all one’?
As part of my 5 year traditional psychotherapeutic training, during 1000s of hours of personal therapy and then training as a healer, through 1000s hours more sat in very well held healing circles, I saw how important it was to feel safe, validated and held by people who were trained or hugely experienced to know how to hold me and my pain/vulnerability/avoidances/shadow/crap.
I saw how valuable it was to sit with people prepared to discuss their impact on me and be held accountable for their actions and words. I saw how invaluable it was to be around people who whilst sometimes imperfect, held clear boundaries and were largely willing to openly and non-defensively discuss issues that arose. I saw how invaluable it was to be around people who modelled healthy boundaries around holding space and themselves in it.
I in turn learnt to hold myself healthily too.
One of the most important skills you will ever learn through working therapeutically (especially if you and your boundaries were disregarded/broken/abused as a child), is to develop the DISCERNMENT to know when NOT to share these delicate, hurting, raw, vulnerable places with another or others.
Quite often these places are closed down for very good reason. To prevent a repeat event.
When we were small and vulnerable and exposed to unsupportive care, blurry boundaries, unilateral and unfair decision making, neglect, projections, negation, shaming, distortions, narcissism, gas lighting etc we often didn’t have the wherewithal to be discerning or the free choice to choose not to open up and share. Sadly, many of us ended up having our delicate vulnerability trashed, harshly exposed and getting crushed without even knowing it.
This ends being a bit like falling under poison gas attack in the WW2 trench warfare. It is invisible and deadly. The effects of such an upbringing or wounding can be demoralising and we don’t even realise how or why until we start to unpick the knotted and gnarly issues that come up around intimacy, sharing and healing.
More often than not, in our younger days, we didn’t know any different as we literally swam in it – we got hurt, bruised, invaded, and then became closed off, shut down and stored these hurts in our psyches, bodies and emotions as armouring, wounding, anxiety, addiction and sometimes illness.
HOWEVER, NOW as adults we are NO longer these helpless children seemingly with no or little choice.
We have the POWER to choose which people to open up to, when to share and how to share.
We can practice discernment when to open up and when not to.
WE DO NOT HAVE TO SUCCUMB TO PEER OR GROUP PRESSURE TO SHARE!!!!!!!!
We can say ‘PERHAPS I WILL TELL YOU ANOTHER TIME’ or even ‘I don’t feel safe to share right now’ with that person we get that ‘funny’ feeling about. Or we can choose to say ‘PASS’ in that sharing circle if it just doesn’t feel right in that child like or gutsy place. We can always choose to wait and find a more comfortable situation in which to explore the healing potential when it is not feeling safe. We may just not be ready to share and need more time to know what it is we want from sharing.
When the group you are sharing in or the person you are with, has had no discussions around confidentiality, with little or no guidance on interpersonal boundaries and etiquette, you may rightly be feeling anxious. Some facilitators can be quite heartless when it comes to hearing you in your most delicate places for many reasons or engender leaky boundaries through no fault of their own, other than well intentioned unawareness.
Therefore opening up in these circumstances is NOW a test of your discernment and past patterns which may have become ingrained into you by the modelling of care around you. Ultimately YOU ARE FULLY RESPONSIBLE NOW for how you parent yourself, develop boundaries and use your discernment.
Ask yourself…what is it I need from sharing? How can I share so I feel heard, supported and met? What do I need to ask for to feel safe? Is sharing my story going to help me or is my need more immediate around just being seen right here right now for who I am (without having to tell all about a trauma to justify being cared for and receiving attention, affection and love?)
You have the POWER to break any cycle of abuse. No matter how insidious.
In a safe environment, when feeling into past or present feelings you may also experience feeling unsafe - which- when understood and held well, can lead to reintegrating and clearing these past feelings that then enable you to shed these tensions/patterns and develop a sense of wholeness.
As you LEARN (yes learn) to re-integrate your sense of wholeness around these past traumas (which you may have buried in your body) you come to realise that you don’t always need to have a catalytic, cathartic or intensely transformational experience of vomiting your guts out, shedding bucketloads of anguished tears, screaming your lungs out or whooping like a banshee to heal.
This can be the case with some emotional releasing, where a big release just needs to come out. But more often than not, it is simply the stuff of artificially induced personal growth pressure cooker formats that induce you to release through creating the circumstances of your original trauma, so you get to somehow find the support that wasn’t there as a child.
This can be a very rough and outdated healing model. It can be effective, but it can also be totally unnecessary and reabusing too. There is actually a word for it – ABREACTIVE – “the expression and consequent release of a previously repressed emotion, achieved through reliving the experience that caused it (typically through hypnosis or suggestion).”
Sometimes, being mindful, and moving your energy from where you are, without trying to get anywhere, can be much more healing and authentic than inducing and forcing yourself abreactively.
Furthermore, in learning to observe yourself, you develop an understanding of how to move the underlieing patterns out of you without having to rely on a substance such as ‘plant medicine’ or indeed others necessarily.
By learning how to attune to your blue print or to pure source or to unconditional kindness you can just as nicely do the job. Perhaps even more effectively by moving these energies out at their root, once and for all.
Jeff Brown is an author who very good at underlining this tendency of the new age movement which encourages everyone to go full throttle into abreactive process, unsafe and unboundaried sharing and generally be utterly boundary less in the name of One Love and New Age trends.
In fact, developmentally it takes skill & discernment to be gentle on yourself, to know your limits, to know the parts you need to be protective of, to have the self-esteem and self-respect to know how and which boundaries to set, and to know when you have transcended these limits and when to open up to more unknown situations and not be affected by them.
No matter which medium you use, whether it is your journal that goes no further than you, a trusted other, a circle of friends or a public share, remember the act of sharing your wounds is ALWAYS precious and sacred and you deserve to be heard, respected and met. More often than not, the person who can best give you that, always boils down to you.
Safe Sharing (20.12.17)
I have found my anger rarely to be about what I think it is.
More often than not, my anger acts as a defense.
It feels like a beast from times long gone. A monster I have no control over who has holed up in the underground chambers of my soul.
He is a ferocious fire breathing dragon, spitting venom and flaming balls towards all who approach.
Occasionally, a brave heart would dare approach, coming close enough to snuggle up to the warmth of my fiery hearth. Eventually, like all who have come before, they succumbed to the wrath that consumed me and fled. None were spared this fate.
Over many lifetimes, I was hounded, hunted, betrayed, ostracised, shunned, attacked, burnt, mutilated, violated and savaged for my ‘sins’, namely for being a holder of the flame of soul and an ambassador of divine healing and loving presence on this planet.
When I shone my soul in darker times, I was hunted down and annihilated for the shadows cast by the brightness of my light. I was accused of unthinkable crimes, deemed a threat to the control and manipulation wielded by the Lords of darkness, who ruled over humanity without mercy.
For aeons, my fearsome gatekeeper protected me. While horrendous atrocities were inflicted upon my body and soul, he watched on. Too much to bare, I fled in terror, but he remained. With each savage beating, rape and violation, I became more remote, abandoning my human vessel for the sanctuary of the soul realm, until I remained there permanently in hiding.
I was a scourge. A glitch in the system. Questioning ignorance and immorality, challenging injustice, breaking the moulds of outdated and dark beliefs. My every breathing act, a threat to their authority and the status quo.
Nonetheless my dragon stood firm. He remained resolute, holding his ground, even when I couldn’t. He protected the threshold of my soul as his, beyond which the treasures and precious gifts accrued from many life times’ harvest were held. He warded off gangs of pilferers, brigands, thieves and looters, searching for easy pickings. With each attempt to intrude, he roared, breathed fire and fought them to the death.
Over time, he came to prize my treasures as his own and made my sanctuary his lair. He forgot me too, so long had I abandoned him.
On returning to reclaim my lost treasure, I encountered him. He thought I was just another intruder, come to take his beloved treasure under the stealth of night. Camped out on his territory, I became his mortal enemy. We battled relentlessly until I became too exhausted to continue. I remained an outsider. A beggar at the city gates, impoverished, sick and lame without my guardian to protect me and my divine inheritance withheld.
He’d forgotten his original purpose. His remit was not to hoard my treasure and kill any who come into close contact. He was assigned to protect me from danger and my divine gifts from theft and to be my companion using his fire to liberate lost souls trapped in the dungeons of hell.
Deep down, I secretly knew, he would remember. But like me, he became a slave to circumstances beyond his control. Layer after layer of scar tissue built up from savage battles, until he formed hard scales, just as I became encrusted in habits long since outdated. Time has been cruel to us both.
Grief stricken for my losses, tears flowed. They ran down the trenches formed out of conflict, gently pouring over his defences, quenching his thirst and melting his armour. My outpouring resuscitated my soul, enabling me tame my dragon and once again, after so long he is by my side, a loyal companion, ally and treasurer of souls.