For my children, my grandchildren, and for all of us
I wanted to share with you that for a long time I’ve been struggling in an internal debate – been stuck in rumination, fear, and anxiety. One part of me wants to trust life. Accept things as they occur. Be in the present moment. Another part is afraid to let go. It worries that if I stop worrying about the future I won’t be prepared for worst case situations.
When things don’t work out the way I want them to, I give myself a hiding. I’m really hard on myself. Blame myself for trusting someone or not seeing it coming. Blame others. Kick myself down the spiral staircase into the basement. That place in me where fear, blame and shame live, I reckon.
This war against myself has been going on for years. The opposing factions of trust and fear rise and fall depending on what’s happening at the time. If things are going well it’s relatively calm, although part of me never really stops worrying. When things aren’t going well it gets really intense. In a funk, I become debilitated – completely stuck. Go really quiet. Go dark.
I’m happy to share that recently things have started to get lighter. There’s been recent success in bringing the factions to the table for peace talks.
Wanted to share with you that I’ve recently and successfully discovered a critical move.
It begins with the invitation. The welcome.
I’ve discovered it’s about how I hold myself, how I ask the questions, how I bring the different parts of me to the table. You see they all play a role in my self preservation.
The invitation has to recognise and honour all the voices. Let each one know they’re valid.
Let’s say one of them has a voice of ‘Trusting Life’ and another one, the voice of ‘Fear & Control’. To work with them I see that I need to invite them to the table with respect, with gratitude and compassion.
They’ve got to trust and feel that I mean to hear and hold what they have to say. When I show up with non-conditional positive regard they sense and feel this and I’ve noticed they’re more likely to open up.
When I do this, amazingly, I often hear things from them I didn’t know or had forgotten. They feel heard. I get to understand them. And we start to work together.
Listening to a sample of an internal conversation at one time you might have heard something like: “I’m worried you’re not moving fast enough“. Followed by: “Yeah, you’re failing, lift your game.” To: “Do not share this with anyone.” To: “You’re going to fall behind on this.” and on it would go.
Now, you’d be more likely to hear words like: “OK , I hear you. Tell me more. What are you worried about?” “Let’s work through this.” “It’s all good, you’re doing your best, maybe if you need to, ask for some help.” “All right, what can you do? What do you need?” It’s a completely different experience.
I also find somewhat miraculously the different parts of me begin to listen to each other. And before I know it they’ve stopped fighting and are working together on a pathway for peace.
As I reflect on this, it dawns on me that the change itself is not derived from seeking change. It hasn’t come from setting an agenda or clever negotiation. And it didn’t come from trying to suppress one or rationalise the other.
It came through the nature and quality of relationship. A relationship formed through compassion, curiosity, non-conditional positive regard and a genuine desire for connection.
There was no bargaining just real listening. Competition replaced by connection.
I’m finding that as I show up to the parts of me this way they in turn are able to show up to one another in the same way.
I’m happy to share that while the questions are not all answered and the work goes on, the war is over and the conversation continues.
Lightness is coming in and I can safely say that the part of me that wants to trust, the part of me that carries the fear, and the part of me that wants to go dark are all committed to showing up and working it out together.
I gotta say – I’m all in for the keeping up the practice and the prayer for ongoing loving internal relationships. To seeing this flow out in turn to others and to all that becomes possible in the loving relationships we can have with one another.
Martin © 2022