L ife is a rollercoaster of ups and downs, a journey of self-discovery, which can ultimately lead to self-realization and self-mastery. At some point, we all face traumatic events of varying degrees that shake us to our core. But when this happens, how do we respond? How can we respond in a way that creates an opportunity for learning and rejuvenation?
We live in a society that glorifies dark emotions. When we’re faced with conflict and betrayal, we learn to blame and get even. Many of us grew up in households where reactionary behaviours such as criticism, blame, seeking revenge, punishment, humiliation, and holding resentment were commonplace. We watched movies, where our favourite characters destroyed their nemesis and laughed off into the horizon, reaping rewards of glory, admiration, power, money, and newfound love, a trail of destruction in their wake.
Society teaches us to mask our pain with social activities, alcohol and humour. But this creates a paradox of unresolved conflict, a pattern of disassociation, a mask to hide the trauma. But unresolved conflict rears its head with the passage of time, causing post-traumatic stress responses and disease in the body. Trauma is painful, but rather than stash it away, it’s important to acknowledge the emotions that it brings up, and expand through that experience.
Let’s say, a young woman is going through a break up. Her partner cheated on her repeatedly, triggering her emotions of unworthiness. Let’s say the same woman moved to a new city to be with her partner. She doesn’t know anyone, so she is feeling cut off without a reliable support system around her. How does she find a way through for herself? How can she forgive, move forward and let go? Human psychology is complex, and when hostility has a tangled story behind it, forgiveness and letting go feels nearly impossible.
Breaking through the resistance
Being able to forgive allows you to let go of the past. This isn’t something that comes easily, but forgiveness is paramount to healing and transformation. Placing allegiance on the past takes us out of the present into an unreality. We create a false perception of ourselves in the present based on stories of the past. The first step in psychological healing is the willingness to let go of ghosts from the past.
So this woman must first go into her body to feel and acknowledge what she is feeling. She may be feeling hurt or sadness in her body, in her chest, in her back, in her throat, which may also be blocking her from communicating. Wherever it is in her body, she must allow herself to feel it.
Writing is a very important part of the process. Anything that needs to be said should be said: written, verbalized, recorded. Her feelings should be presenced so there’s nothing that’s left unattended to. By allowing this level of personal expression, she is choosing the path of expansion over contraction, and giving herself the space she needs to embark on her personal healing journey.
In order for an experience to properly integrate itself so that it can be expansive, the shadow emotion needs to be acknowledged in its entirety. Shadow emotions are dark emotions in the self that we typically deem unacceptable. The shadow has to be expressed. It doesn’t have to reach the other person that’s involved, but the emotion, the language still needs to be spoken.
Once the emotions are expressed, there comes a crevice point, a point of transition where the person moves from that pain body to a space of finding solutions and clarity. This can be done through exercise, through dance, or breathwork, it can be done through meditation.
It takes great courage to do this hard work but the benefit is revealed as we begin to release the burden of carrying the emotional baggage of our past. This baggage is weighted with our own burdened perception of an unworthy self, and the projections made unto us by the perpetrator of our conflict.
As we shed the skin of our unworthiness we realize that we’ve been living in a distorted reality that we’ve had to buy into to survive in a dysfunctional environment. Through forgiveness and acknowledgement we reveal a window of opportunity hidden beneath the dark tunnel of our perceived reality, and begin walking the path to hope, healing, and renewal. The window flings open, and the opportunity lands for us to create a new reality that is aligned with our desire and purpose. There, the healing stage comes to a conclusion and the transformation process begins.