For some time I thought that those ‘icky’ parts of me needed to be annihilated, that I needed to ‘develop’ myself and with that there was this unconscious shaming going. 'I love myself' and 'I need to fix myself' doesn’t actually go very well together in one sentence. Ultimately it’s saying 'I need to change to be lovable”
BUT when we tend to those fragmented parts of us and give them more attention we can help to integrate and they become more manageable- They need two things from us 1) to get very curious and 2) with tons of love and say “Hey, there’s that thing showing up again, what tools, resources do I have to work with this”
Why is it we hide these parts of us away? Well from my experience the source of them is often extremely painful. The shadow is full of coping mechanisms that we have created in order to survive mostly from childhood. Not everyone had appropriate nurturing at critical developing times as they were growing up.
Some parents because of their own traumas were unable to meet the child’s needs and therefore the child learns to rely on themselves, or it could be that the needs being met were unpredictable and inconsistent thus creating lots of anxiety. The parents own traumas can be also passed down to the child. There could have been violence and abuse in the home either to the child or the child witnesses. Some children have to create roles in order to feel like they are loved or acknowledged, some caregivers have limited emotional capacity and are unable to receive their children emotions so they learnt it was not okay to show them or that they were too much. If there was rejection or abandonment (a parent leaves, bullying) some children can internalise that and create a belief that it was something they did and deem themselves unlovable.
If we grow up with experiences like this it often means we have trouble in allowing connection with others and unable to be vulnerable and authentic with them. The foundation of their nervous system has not got a solid sense of safety becasue their was lack of attunemen, the caregivers nervous systems were not regulated themselves. As we become adults and there is some unresolved wounds and unmet needs from our past, we tend to project these onto the people around us, very unconsciously. The original patterns are locked in to our bodies and nervous system.
Many people end up spending their days with their nervous systems in survival mode, a place where everything seems to be a threat. We experience intense reactions and high levels of stress. We loose contact from the people around us and we loose our ability to play. The part of the brain that is able to be self aware and connect with others shuts down.
“If you feel safe and loved, your brain becomes specialised in exploration, play, and cooperation; if you are frightened and unwanted it specialises in managing feelings of fear and abandonment.”
― Bessel van der Kolk - taken from his outstanding book on trauma - 'The body keeps the score'
When we do have trauma it robs us of some of our self, our most authentic self, our ability to feel safe. Feeling safe is the foundation for the wellbeing of the mind and body.
One of the ways in restoring safety in my body was going against my huge resistance of seeking support when I needed to. When a person has been conditioned by family and social systems that they have to do everything alone and be “independent” reaching out to take the hand of another, to ask for what they need or say how they are truly feeling is a really hard thing.
By identifying our core wounds and developing awareness around them being able to recognise when they are playing out in current relationships is key in changing the pattern or behaviour.