There is no coming to consciousness without pain. People will do anything, no matter how absurd in order to avoid facing their own soul. One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.
– Carl Jung
When I was very young, we were driving across the country on a family trip and my mom remembers asking, “Where’s Steve?” As my mom tells the story, this was fifty miles down the road after our family had stopped at some random park in the middle of some random town for lunch. Apparently they had left me at the park almost an hour before and no one had noticed. They went back, and there I was, sitting at the park, right where they had left me. I don’t remember that incident, but I do remember a time when I was in elementary school sneaking around our very large house trying to see if I could get through every room of the house without being seen. I could, and there was no one in my reality to know this but me. This was a sad metaphor for my life at that time because day after day, week after week, and year after year, I had the experience of isolation and feeling rejected. These core emotional wounds of feeling alone, unseen, inadequate and not important lingered on in the years since my childhood and in some ways even haunt me still today. My parents had good intentions, but Dad was a doctor who was gone working long hours and Mom was overwhelmed. She had her own emotional issues and had her hands full raising seven kids.
These are some of the stories of my trauma, but we all have our stories if we want to be honest with ourselves. Most of us live with a certain amount of denial because for whatever reason, we are not ready to face our pain. We stuff it down and cover it up with whatever we want to tell ourselves to make us feel better about ourselves and to avoid facing the core emotional wounds of our past. This emotional repression or denial leads to our character defects and creates the patterns of repeating conflict in our lives.
I would cover my feelings of isolation and inadequacy with feeling better than others and being arrogantly dismissive of other’s feelings or emotional needs. The pain of my poor self-esteem seemed too real and too emotionally raw for me to face, so I covered it up with my own lies of grandiosity and self-deception. Like many of us in my family, my humor was sarcastic and biting and when I became a teenager, I could tell you other people’s problems and analyze anyone pretty quickly and give you a rundown of their character defects all the while feeling smug at my emotional superiority. Needless to say, my character defects created conflicts with friends and loved ones and didn’t endear me to others, so when the inevitable conflict and rejection would happen, I would retreat to my delusions of emotional superiority to protect myself from the pain of feeling isolated and inadequate. Some version of this cycle of conflict would repeat itself over and over again in my life and this narrative wove itself into the story of my life.
This drama of my life story is not unique. We all have our own life drama or our own type of crazy, and unless you are someone like Jesus or Buddha, you have your own denial and consequent character defects which create the predictable patterns or cycles of conflict or conflict avoidance in your life. This is part of the human condition, and until you face your pain and deal with your cognitive distortions and your history of trauma, whatever that is for you, then you will continue to have the same disappointments and patterns of conflict in your life.
What is so Ironic about the whole drama of my life story is that the belief that I am alone, inadequate and unseen is not true and was never the truth. My mother also described her seeing me isolate in my bubble at that time in my life, and she described her pain of not knowing how to reach me. She did see me, but I didn’t know it. All along the way there were people who were there for me in beautiful, profound and remarkable ways, but when I was stuck in the isolation of my life story, I pushed them away and didn’t realize how much people loved me. The reality of love was always within me and around me but I didn’t know it.
Even today, I have the choice every moment to believe the negative messages of my core wounds telling me that I am inadequate and alone and I can tell you all my evidence of why this is true, or I can turn to the people in my life that love me and I can be vulnerable and experience a healing human connection that reminds me of the love inside me. At any moment, I can turn within and feel the hum of the universal OHM ringing in my ears and vibrating deep within my brain and feel my connection with Spirit, or I can believe the unconscious messages of my core wounds and feel the existential pain of my isolation. Whether conscious or unconscious, where I focus my awareness is ultimately my choice, and whatever path I choose, my life will be a reflection of this choice.
You can live in the paradigm of your fear-based thinking and allow the ghosts of your past make your choices for you, or you can face your demons and begin to wake up from the dream of your life drama to the reality of love and wholeness that is the real truth, and no power in the universe can stop you either way. You have the power to create your own heaven or your own hell here and now, and every moment of your life you are either digging the hole of your problems deeper, or you are moving towards an awareness of your essential wholeness.
Here are a few steps to consider when you are trying to deal with your own life issues:
Self reflection or Self Awareness.
- In the moment when you are upset, take your focus off of whatever external situation is troubling you and focus within in a self analytical way to try to recognize and understand the fears and cognitive distortions that are causing your emotional turmoil.
- Own the fact that your upset emotions are caused by the fears that you have chosen to believe and are not ultimately caused by the triggering situations or people around you. You can use any situation as validation that your fears are true or as an opportunity for growth. Your choice.
Unplug from your fear-based thinking and center yourself on the reality of Love.
- Question the fears of your negative self-esteem and ask yourself the question “Is it true?” Is it true that I am inadequate, alone or whatever.
- Believe in yourself and see through the illusions of your cognitive distortions.
Make Good Choices.
- When your head is all jacked up by your fears, then you will only perpetuate the paradigm of your fear-based thinking and no matter what you do you will only make the situation worse. Once you first unplug from your fears, then your choices will be more centered and grounded and you will respond in a more healthy way rather than reacting to your fears, and consequently your choices will improve your situation.
Your life is the training ground for you to become more conscious and find happiness and success or dissapointment in any endeavor. To make the darkness of your unconscious mind conscious, start by looking within to understand and release the fears of your personal perceptual reality. Then bring the best of yourself to the challenges of your life and you will be on your path of growth. You can do this.