Please join me in welcoming back Amy of Presence Parenting and Force Free Parenting. She shared an awareness opening, mind-blowing post a few weeks ago that literally had me reading it over and over again. If you have not already read ‘Excavate the Demons of Self Hatred,” I implore you to do so. Then continue on with Amy's follow up post. I promise you, it will rock your world!
“The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change.” – Carl Rogers
I've held myself hostage long enough. How about you? The same demons I've allowed to hold me back are also those that point to how necessary it is to re-discover self-acceptance and self-appreciation. I use the word re-discover because on some level, we accept and appreciate ourselves as we are. We really do. Underneath the hatred and pain rests the simple awareness that we are as we are and fighting against ourselves will only lead to more pain. We can stop fighting ourselves in any moment. When we stop fighting ourselves it becomes easier to stop fighting our parenting role – and our kids. Here are some ways to meet the demons of self-hatred and trade them for the angels of self-appreciation. We're all unique so experiment and find what works for you.
Meditation. There are many forms of meditation and the one I find most helpful is really simple: present moment awareness. The focus is on the here and now, the breath, the body, sensations and allowing feelings to be as they are while not acting on them. It's helpful to stop and see the demons for what they are so they can be felt through, excavated and then we can dig deeper to find our basis of self-acceptance. Some people find a sitting practice of 5-15 minutes or another amount of time in the morning or evening helpful. It's important to allow meditation to compliment your life, rather than be another thing on your to-do list that you feel stressed about. If you think meditation isn't for you, consider reading these 5 Reasons Not to Meditate.
Creative Journaling. Writing is a powerful way to process through the negative into the positive. If you're not into writing, consider recording thoughts and feelings on an audio device or smart phone. Drawing pictures may work better for some. The point is to allow yourself free expression of whatever is coming up for you. When you're ready, you can discover alternative perspectives you might consider, opportunities present in the challenges and the possibility of creating affirmative statements to support yourself in trading hatred for appreciation. Sometimes it can also be as simple as creating some art you enjoy. There's nothing like seeing yourself make something you love.
Energy Healing. We are energy and we pick up stuff along our life's way that accumulates in our bodies. Trauma and conditioning (what we've absorbed and learned) leave their own unique residue. Sometimes it just is what it is and we get to learn with what we've soaked up. Other times we can seriously benefit from some assistance with clearing energy that we no longer need or can use. Two forms of energy healing I've benefited from include shamanic healing and Reiki. Finding a practitioner you trust is the first step, because there are some troubled people out there offering such services who really ought not to be. They can bring just as much negativity as they're supposed to be addressing.
While I could recommend a couple of people I know, I'd prefer to use this as an invitation to begin the journey of deeply trusting yourself as you choose any health care practitioner. Our bodies and energy are sensitive. We get to protect our energy by choosing who helps us maintain our well-being. As the trust piece is considered, though, you are likely to find that energy healing will cultivate a whole new way of experiencing yourself and body. It can be spiritually awakening, which is a process in itself and not necessarily easy. Wow, you might be wondering why I'd recommend this at all. If this approach to excavation speaks to you, trust yourself and let Truth lead the way. It definitely can be life changing.
Deliverance. During a very challenging time in my life a friend passed me the book, When Pigs Move In. It's a bold book written by a Southern Baptist minister. The topic: demons. Interestingly, there are certain ways demons (negative energy) enter the mind and body of people – and take up residence. Ancestral inheritance is one way, trauma adds its own muddiness and other less known ways can contribute as well. Basically, there are negative forces in the world and they feed on the true light of humanity when it's hidden unknowingly under a bushel.
Did you get that? When we continually entertain the lie that we're less than worthy of acceptance and appreciation we are literally writing a note of permission for negative entities to live in us. When I read the book, I could feel the truth in my body. The author describes various sensations caused by demons, and I had them. These correlated to energy healing experiences where negative energy was lifted off of me, as well as brain and nervous system research indicating trauma is held in the body but can be processed – often through shaking and reliving the trauma to a point of rest. Anyhow, I was also skeptical but felt drawn.
My actual experiences with deliverance were extremely powerful, albeit done in the living room of a sweet, older pastor and his wife along side their beagles. My faith in Jesus was restored fully (although I don't consider myself a typical Christian – whatever that is) and the healing I experienced around an event that occurred when I was three years old was beyond profound. I'm still working through some stuff, but the deliverance and inner healing were very moving for me. Very moving. Again, find a practitioner you trust if you're going to do this work. Charlatans exist, but so do honest people who are working to help heal humanity.
Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT). How do you feel when you talk through something that holds an emotional charge for you? Sometimes it's difficult, sometimes it may seem to make it worse and sometimes it's really helpful. EFT combines ancient knowledge to unblock energy pathways in the body (like those referred to in acupuncture) while directly addressing problematic thoughts and base beliefs. It's great for babies and kids too.
When I've used EFT I really appreciate that each session begins with stating the negative experience, thought or association and immediately following it with a statement of self-acceptance and self-appreciation. During the session various points on the hand, head and chest are gently tapped while saying specific statements. We start where we are on the issue and ever so gradually work through to a point where we feel less tension and more acceptance. We open our perspectives by first acknowledging what we really think and feel. You can learn EFT for free or find a practitioner to work with, such as mom and intuitive coach Deborah Donndelinger.
Therapy. Whether you learn some therapeutic practices (such as rewriting your parenting story) and use them on your own, or get some help from an actual therapist, there are many forms of therapy available now that are light years from the old on-the-couch approach that just replays negativity each session in an exploration of one's darkest demons. I'm all for digging into the depths of darkness, however, we can also strongly benefit from acknowledging and addressing the connection between thoughts, feelings and behaviors.
Some forms of therapy that may be worth checking out include: cognitive, cognitive behavior, reality, Gestalt, solution focused and family. Most of these will be person-centered instead of the old way that promoted the therapist as the expert. Therapists work together with clients to form goals and objectives that are measurable, so you walk away from therapy knowing and experiencing the strengths that carry you through life. While we have some stuff around asking for help at times, I would like to encourage you to reach out if you're suffering alone. If you don't want to talk with a therapist, find a coach, friend, pastor or someone else you can trust and go from here.
Somatic Experiencing. Our bodies are what we have. As we grow, our responses to certain events in our life can be traumatic. This trauma stays in the body until we feel safe enough to allow it to process through. Depending on our circumstances we may feel triggered by stuff that we don't even realize is connected to the many layers that have been lived over the original trauma.
Peter Levine, author of Healing Trauma, offers a body based approach to addressing such trauma that honors the body's inborn ability to process what we experience. For some, revisiting trauma may not be at the top of the list, but doing so in a way that works with the body while reaching into our personal strengths can be extremely healing. Somatic experiencing was a missing piece for me and I highly recommend checking it out to have a new experience with your body if you've experienced any type of abuse, force or trauma.
Mindfulness. The beauty – and the challenge – in life is that all we ever truly have is now. We can put immense pressure on ourselves to be here now, or make the most of now. Mindfulness isn't about all of this, though. It's about choosing to be aware of what we are experiencing while choosing our response to life.
Initially, noticing our experience may be the extent of our mindfulness. It can take some practice to see our demons for what they are – matters of conditioning which is neither bad or good, it just is what it is. As we are willing to be compassionate with that which we perceive as negative we can stretch to appreciate all that is amazing about our unique selves. We can release the demons, accept our tendencies, work with the challenges and build on the strengths. One moment at a time.
Amy Phoenix is a gentle, yet direct mom of five, parent educator and recovering control freak turned meditation facilitator. As a reformed angry mom, she still experiences challenges – she just chooses how she responds. Along the way Amy authors Force Free Parenting, a book being written about the nature of force in adult-child relationships and practical alternatives while she facilitates the Sane Parenting Challenge – a six-week journey to change the way you respond when parenting feels intense. Amy provides resources to relax into parenting and life at her website, Presence Parenting.
Photo Credit: Lance1