At the root of all human desire is the need for connection; to be seen, heard and understood by another being. To feel loved. To be an expression of Love. To connect to self and others…
We are social beings. “Pack animals” wired to live in community. To feel a sense of belonging. To be needed. To have purpose and make meaning of life. Who am I? Why am I here?
We may spend our whole lives unconsciously attempting to satiate this desire with what we were conditioned to view as “success”. I did. To be independent. To be strong. Not to show emotion or “weakness”. Not to need anyone. I built a fortress of walls. Protected and defended myself. From letting anyone close enough to hurt me. I fought to be right. To win. To be tough.
Often through aggression, manipulation and intimidation.
Realization came with the discovery that most people, most of the time, (myself included), don’t want advice, don’t want to be “fixed” or “saved”. I just want to have my experience validated. To have someone hold space for me, without judgement. A safe space where I can talk about the rewards and challenges of life. A space I can hear myself ask the questions. A sounding board for the integration of experience.
This is the gift we can give each other in authentic relationship. The problem is so much of our conditioning gets in the way of open communication. Whether it’s how our parents modelled conflict resolution, the roles we took on in drama cycles, or the survival personalities that we protected ourselves with by fighting, withdrawing or disassociating, our defenses usually get in the way.
Freedom begins with the dawn of awareness, of choice. Choosing to become an active participant in life. Choosing to be self-responsible, self-aware and self-studying. It’s rarely comfortable. Our nervous and limbic systems are built to protect us from threat and pain. Doing this work must be intentional. And only for those who are ready. Readiness can only happen when our system feels regulated. The challenge is to moving back to safety from the survival mode of fight or flight, or tougher still, from a frozen, disassociated trauma state.
Our system is brilliantly designed for survival. The smoke detector in the brain, (the amygdala), is always scanning our environment for threat. That can be something as obvious as an armed assailant, or as subtle as the cold shoulder and silent treatment your mom gave your dad for days after an argument. When patterns, especially from childhood have been repeated over and over, the response to them becomes unconscious. Worse is we unconsciously bring these reactions into our adult lives and relationships. How long did I spend thinking, “I’m not good at relationships”, or “it’s not you, it’s me”? I hit the eject button so many times when things got uncomfortable.
This work of finding connection and freedom came with an intentional willingness to start looking at me. To get quiet. Still. Uncomfortable. To look at my patterns, roles and survival personality. “Where am I in this?”. I started looking at the ways I habitually REACTED to conflict, learned to self-regulate my system back to a safe state, and then started to choose new RESPONSES with that awareness. Awareness is the dawn of choice. Choice is the way to freedom and self-mastery. It is the path back to connection, both to ourselves and then beautifully into authentic relationship with others.
I sit this morning, in my new home in Red Lake. Another grand adventure pushing into the edges of the unknown and potentially uncomfortable. But in my self-regulated safe state, I can show up to this new experiment of experience as the next best version of myself, open to connecting well. The most incredible noticing I have had over the last couple years is that when I show up from this space, others can feel it too. Our nervous system can not only self-regulate, but can co-regulate with others. When we can hold a non-judgemental, open space for discussion, (to understand not necessarily agree), others can start to regulate back to this brave and connected space as well. This is the ground for fulfilling that innate human desire to be seen, heard and understood. To belong. To be loved. CONNECTED.
In the sweetness of this early morning autumn rain, my chest has a sensation of fullness, of warmth. I am so grateful for all those who have contributed, held space, shared and supported me on this path to freedom over the last 6 years. And today, after so much internal landscape exploration I am ready to enter into relationship with another being equally open and intentional about travelling with me. To truly be seen and heard, to have another person attentive and interested in not only getting to know me, but to really understand me, is the most seen, most myself, most unconditionally accepted I have ever felt.
This work of self-study has so many benefits to overall wellbeing. The ability to be more and more present to life in each moment is what freedom and happiness mean to me.