Updated: Dec 8, 2020
I want to start a discussion about internal relationships that is often overlooked but essential in creating sustainable change. So often, we are given a list of do’s and don’ts in order to create change that only exhaust and frustrate us to the point of resignation. Instead of making a plan and sticking to it, we fail after a brief attempt and beat ourselves up, or worse, we end up insisting that other people change in order for us to feel better. I propose a more empowering approach; one that identifies relationships we can change along with some ideas about how to do it.
One of the most underrated relationships we do not talk about is our relationship with Time. Time is necessary for the nervous system to relax and for clarity and perspective to occur. If we can learn to identify anxiety triggers and train the body to relax instead of react by using mindfulness, breath, and body-work, we can make peace with time. Mediation is gaining momentum in Western culture in response to over-stimulation from technology and serial trauma. The constant attack on our sense of well-being in a society of violence and the constant consumption of information has negative implications, and it is showing up in our ability to cope with stress. When we limit daily phone and computer usage and interact with life instead, we are living in reality, which surprisingly is more merciful than the virtual world. Additionally, practicing focused, concentrated activities like meditation, helps promote attention and relaxation.
Another relationship that we don’t always acknowledge but is a daily struggle for most people is our relationship with needs. Needs (emotional, physical, and spiritual) are to be identified and met, not abandoned or neglected. One way of identifying needs is to pay attention and recognize patterns of self-abuse that perpetuate low self-worth and low self-esteem. Learn to identify what need is or isn’t being met and reprogram that pathway through creativity. One way I like to reprogram, is to identify familiar patterns and then use my imagination to create the unfamiliar pattern. This can take some work, however, once that pattern is identified and modified, taking steps, and making choices that support the new pattern is just a process of follow-through. When I create values, goals, and desires to achieve new behaviors, I receive the benefits of my imagination’s hard work.
Finally, one of the most radical relationships I have discovered is the relationship to Perception. Perception is how you see the world, and we all see the world differently. Just like no fingerprint is identical, no DNA is identical, no brain is identical. No one will ever understand your point of view because no one else lives inside your body and has your brain. We all have different perspectives and our perceptions of truth and reality all differ.
One activity that I have done in the past that really shifted my perspective was to write a Thank You letter to the person, place or thing from which I needed healing. For me, it was a person, and I simply wrote the letter thanking them for all the things they did or didn’t do for me, including the good and the bad. Here is an example:
Thank you for bringing me to my knees so you have my attention. Thank you for making me ask for help. Thank you for showing me what really matters in my life. Thank you for showing me people who really love me unconditionally even if they are strangers and not the people I want to love me. Thank you for making me start over, so that I have a “do-over” and can make new choices this time around.
What I discovered is that we all have the ability to heal ourselves as long as we are conscious and have cognition; the ability to think. We heal ourselves by changing the relationships we have with the hurt parts of ourselves. When we give attention to all of our parts, we move out of victimhood and codependency and move into a space of health and healing.
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