Tuesday, April 5, 2011

How to be Who You Are, Against All Odds, Pt 1 - Figure out who you really are

There is more going on in your head than you know - here is how to bring it to the surface.

This series is part of an extensive essay I wrote to explain theraputic methods I have myself used and have taught to my friends. I think a lot of people out there have no idea what they really want or who they really are, because we have all been trained so long to follow the herd and trends and authority. Those walls need to be broken back down so that your true self can grow and flourish, and you can find true happiness from within yourself.

I went through a very difficult period in my life when my marriage ended. In two years every part of my life became uncertain - my livelihood, where I would live, who I would be with, even basic transportation became a concern at one point. I had all of these layers to my life like an onion (or an ogre! lol) and they were peeled back one at a time. I faced having to move into a place alone (which I had never done), potentially losing my job, potentially not having a car, potentially dying (I had to have surgery), even being lonely (which I was quite a lot). These events, this peeling away at everything that I had built up to make me feel safe and secure; it forced the raw parts to be exposed. It forced me to be real with myself about who I am, what I want, and what I need. I learned what my motivations were for the things that I had done and I learned that I am incredibly strong.

You don't have to go through a traumatic event to begin this process. Just beginning the process and working through it is traumatic enough - but completely worth it! Your number one tool is a journal. I don't care if it is a fancy moleskein, a standard spiral notebook, or notepad on your computer. It doesn't matter how you put this to language it just matters that you DO. Things will appear on the page (or come out of your mouth) that you didn't even KNOW that you FELT inside. When you are upset or angry or just feel the need to express yourself, sit down and write whatever comes to mind. Don't worry that anyone will see it, you can immediately destroy it if need be. The therapy here is not "having" what you have written but the act of writing it. The brain and psyche process a lot of data all of the time, and most of it doesn't make it to the forefront of our minds. We hear some of our thoughts as we are thinking them, but there are a multitude of other processes going on behind those thoughts. When you begin to voice or write down those thoughts and ask yourself questions about them, you can bring the processes hiding in the dark behind them to light.

The brain is an organ that has both tangible and intangible processes going on. There are pulses of light moving from nerve to nerve, communicating between them and moving information around. I believe that we do have a soul, and I believe that the soul is the intangible process that happens in the "brain" - the thoughts and feelings that lie behind the thoughts and feelings that we are aware of. Our minds are extremely complex, the thoughts that we are keenly aware of are in the shallow end of the pool but there is much more do it than we can see from here. Somewhere within that swirling mass of knowledge, thought, feeling, instinct, reaction, memory, DNA memory and ethereal being strands tie together and form connections, and where those connections knot together the thickest is where the part of you that you recognize as being YOU lives.

It's a "can't see the forest for the trees" type of situation - we recognize only what is immediately in front of our face and getting our attention. Someone may not be in front of us waving their arms, but that doesn't mean they aren't there, somewhere.

So as you write and question yourself and write more, you will find yourself coming to realizations you hadn't suspected. Things you didn't know that you felt will come out on paper and sometimes may be surprising. The process will bring tears, anger, frustration, sadness, loneliness, joy, relief, unburdening, fear, exhaustion and any other number of emotions. Do not let the outpouring of emotions frighten you - this is perfectly natural and the stronger they are the more likely that you've held them back and been in denial about them for a long time. Letting these emotions come out and be expressed and felt (IE: It's going to hurt) is how you work through them. Your emotions appear when things happen, and like a toxin in your blood stream they have to be processed in order to be neutralized. Most people do not have the knowledge or skills of how to deal with their emotions and bottle things up they don't even know they felt. Those emotions will build up and get angry, and they will bubble to the surface when you least expect it. This is what causes people to lash out or cry for "no reason" or just find themselves in a horrible mood one day. They cause lasting depression and anxiety, they encourage your fears to have more control over you, and they will rule your life and your decisions whether you want them to or not.

Process your emotions. Imagine you have an in box and an out box in your head, things happen in your life to add to the in box and you have to react and feel the emotions to those events in order to move them to the out box. If you don't, the in box gets so full that the stack of papers falls over and they go everywhere, causing an even bigger mess. Our minds do not maintain themselves fully, it requires active participation on your part to pull pent up emotions out of the abyss, feel them fully, and release them to the universe. In time, this becomes something that is more automatic and you may find yourself more healthily expressing your emotions as they happen, allowing you to release them immediately rather than hold on to anything.

Next post: Clearing out Old Baggage. You didn't cause it, you didn't want it, so get rid of it!

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