I don't know about you, but I sometimes struggle with myself.
I'm in a bad mood, unhappy, judging myself and others, reacting instead of responding to people, sometimes I'm depressed.
Although it's not a pleasant and comfortable experience, I don't think it's necessarily bad. After all, our reaction tells us something about ourselves. They reveal the parts of our psyche that we're not aware of, that we've neglected and denied. They uncover the feelings we've suppressed.
Before we get to the Self Acceptance, I'm going to need to provide some context...
And btw. I'm afraid this could be quite a long and possibly convoluted bit of text, as the subject is a little bit complex, so I'm sorry for that.
Demands of Our Culture
Our culture puts many demands upon us since the very early age. First through our parents, then through our peers, figures of authority during education, fabricated false ideals in media through adverts, "celebrities", fake "photoshopped" images of "beauty" on the magazine covers etc.
We subdue to the demands of the culture to get, and continue to receive, love from our parents, acceptance of our peers, good grades at school and "status" within "community".
As a result, our animal nature is being broken down.
The cost is enormous and most of the time we don't even know we pay it.
What bears the cost?
To comply with these demands we're forced to push parts of ourselves, those unaccepted by the culture, deep into the unconscious mind. These parts stay there, hidden, to play a major role later in our life as patterns of behaviour and thought, reactive force that more often than not is not understood and cannot be controlled by an individual.
- Have you ever reacted to something your spouse said in a way you did not fully comprehend?
- Suddenly became angry without being clear of the reason?
- Lashed out on someone you love, said something you did not mean to say?
It is often our "inner child" trying to protect itself.
How It Works
When we subdue part of our self to, let's say a parent that demands a certain behaviour from us on a regular basis, we have to deny that part its existence. We push it down into the unconscious, to discontinue the experience of that part and avoid emotional pain.
We do that to protect ourselves, to meet the expectations of often unconscious parents. To get their love, attention and emotional bond we all need.
This casting away of that part of ourselves, or traumatic experiences in childhood which result with the same effect, creates a neurotic character through developing of the holding patterns in the body.
In other words, how we are inside, mentally, is being reflected in the body, in the muscle system.
What I mean here is that certain emotions are being suppressed, which if repeated enough create the chronic muscular tension in the body. The more tension in the body, the more rigid and devoid of feeling the body becomes. We grow more and more unable to feel and express the emotions.
We cease to be ourselves, know ourselves, know what we actually want.
If we were constantly shamed for crying as a child, we might have started "swallowing tears", withholding from crying through the tension of the belly, chest and jaw. As a result, later in life we may become unable to cry but also to experience joy.
Once we close the channel to certain emotions, we are unable to feel and express the emotions that are linked to the same channel. Laughter and joy are all full body experiences, full belly laughter is only possible if you can relax enough the muscles responsible for the body's reflex.
An emotionally immature adult (an adult with immature, adolescent ego) lives in a state of internal conflict. One part of the psyche is constantly trying to win over the other (the unaccepted one).
The conflict is very costly in terms of energy and conflicted individual is often unable to fully experience life. Tensions within the body also create problems with breathing, which adds another layer of energy "leak".
The conflict cannot be resolved, since you can not win over yourself. If one part "wins" the other is "defeated".
How To Deal With?
I've come to realize, that the only way to "fix the problem" is through Self Acceptance.
To resolve the conflict the adolescent ego must mature and integrate into one coherent adult ego. That can only be achieved once we accept ourselves. Acceptance of the immature parts, of the repressed parts is paramount.
Easier said than done
When we accept the fact that parts of ourselves are immature, that we react, when we stop judging ourselves, the conflict ceases to exist. Don't get me wrong, it won't happen overnight. It's a process, a practice.
The problem has to be worked on on both mind and body level. We have to work on gaining awareness of and releasing the tensions within body. This might result in repressed emotions and painful memories from childhood to come back. We can work through them. We can learn to express these emotions in a healthy way, learn to cry and laugh again.
In the future I'll be sharing some bioenergetic exercises that help to deal with releasing the holding patterns, dealing with trauma...