Healing Your Life
The Roadmap to Healing & Transformation
Our Pain is a Wake Up Call
When we were first developing our Roadmap to Healing and Transformation I asked my students “Where do you think the roadmap begins?” Many people said that connecting to love was the first step. That made sense. But I wanted them to go deeper. Please answer the question personally. “Where did healing begin for you? What drew you to come to these retreats?”
Celia immediately answered, “For me it all began with feeling my pain.” When she said that we all felt a deep resonance. For most of us the journey to healing began when our pain rose up and refused to be repressed, pushed away or ignored anymore. For most of us, pain was the wake-up call. It showed us what was off-track in our lives, what needed to be addressed for healing to come.
In our world, pain is not looked at as a messenger. We want to make it go away. We use all kinds of substances to
override our pain or anesthetize it. Alcohol, prescription and recreational drugs, even food, work or sex become a way to avoid our pain or deny it. In our attempt to find pleasure and escape pain, it does not occur to us that we need to listen to the message our pain brings to us.
But Celia was right. We do need to listen. Until we know what hurts and why it hurts, we will have little motivation to
take the transformational journey.
Meeting our Shadow
So in Phase One of our work, we stop denying or dulling down our pain and begin to feel it and hear the message that it conveys. This brings up a lot of shame for everyone. We all have developed social and spiritual masks that we hide behind, pretending to be happy when we feel like crap inside.
Acknowledging our pain to ourselves and others means taking off our mask and telling the truth about how we feel. It means being emotionally honest and vulnerable. Of course, we are afraid to be in the world without our
mask. In the world, we are often crucified, judged and blamed for any weakness we have. It isn’t safe to let people see who we really are and how we really feel. We are afraid and ashamed of what is inside. Like Adam and Eve, we hide our fear and shame and pretend to be happy when we are not.
In our work, we carefully create a space of unconditional love and acceptance so that it feels safe to share our pain. We use the Affinity Process Guidelines * so that each one of us owns our experience and does not project our fear and our shame onto others. We learn to speak and listen from the heart. We learn to trust each other with the truth of our experience, so that we don’t have to hide anymore. We come out of the closet. We allow ourselves to be heard and seen. We allow ourselves to be loved and accepted just the way we are.
The major work of Phase One is the creation of a healing community, a safe space, in which we can meet our shadow and that of others in a compassionate way. As we tell the truth, we see that our experience is not that different from that of others. Our pain is their pain. Our trials and tribulations, our judgments of ourselves, our feelings of unworthiness are not very different from theirs. We share a similar psychological world in which our fear and shame rise up repeatedly.
For years we thought we were the only one who felt so inadequate. We thought everyone else out there was happy and well-adjusted. We did not know that we were just seeing the masks that they were wearing. But now, in the loving, non-judgmental space of our healing community, where it is safe to take off our masks, we understand that we are not the only ones in pain. We are not the only ones dealing with fear and shame. We are not the only ones who feel guilty, afraid, and unworthy of love. Every person in the room feels the same way. This is just the first time we have shared our pain with others. This is a milestone for all of us, and it creates the momentum we need for coming out of denial. We go from being in a world in which we cannot admit our fears and our weaknesses to being in a world where it is safe to be honest with others. We go from being in a world in which we must hide the truth to being in a world where the truth can be acknowledged by everyone.
In Phase One of the work, we come face to face with our pain. We share it with others. We witness the universality of our pain, and learn to be gentle with ourselves and others. Instead of being ashamed of our feelings, we learn to accept them and move through them. We support each other in holding a compassionate space where our fears can be faced. We learn to look at our shadow material through the eyes of love. That means that we no longer need to be threatened by the unhealed aspects of ourselves or others. We no longerneed to deny our pain and project it onto others.
Together, we can make a space for healing. Together we can create a loving environment and a culture of forgiveness that enables us to see and own our judgments so that we can stop attacking others.
Connecting with love becomes an important aspect of our Phase One work. We cannot look at our shadow and that of others if we are not feeling loved and accepted. Without the connection to love, we either reject/deny the shadow (as we have done before) or we identify with it and think it is who we are. We either turn away from our healing journey because it is too scary, or we enter the underworld without carrying the torch that illuminates it. Neither choice is constructive. We need to take the time we need to gather the light and love of compassionate awareness before we enter the underworld to come face to face with our shadow.
Phase Two of the Roadmap to Healing and Transformation will bring us face to face with our deepest wounds and
dysfunctional beliefs about ourselves. We need to be ready to look at all this. We need to know that we can hold our
fear and our shame in a gentle, loving way. We need to know that we can witness and accept all these rejected and denied aspects of ourselves. That is what helps us reclaim and integrate them. That is how wholeness is restored to our psyche.
The Journey into the Underworld
Have no illusions. It takes courage to make the journey within. In Phase Two we are asked to look at our mommy and daddy wounds and to walk through the fear and the shame attached to them. We are asked to see where our patterns of self-betrayal begin in childhood and how they continue into adulthood, influencing the choices we make in our work and relationships.
We are asked to see the whole setup of our lives: how we gave our power away and allowed others to make decisions for us, or how we showed up as a caretaker or control freak, taking away the power of others and inappropriately deciding for them, We are asked to see the whole generational cycle of abuse, how victims become victimizers, how we become Mommy or Daddy and pass the wound we received from them onto our own children. It isn’t pleasant or pretty stuff to look at. That’s why most people don’t take the journey, or, if they do, they
turn back before they see the light at the end of the tunnel.
It takes great courage to feel and transform your core wound. You could not do this as a child. It was too scary
and overwhelming. You did not have the ego strength or self-confidence to face it. You did not have the support of others.It was a lonely time and you did what all of us do: you shoved it, denied it, hid it, buried it out of sight and out of mind. That’s okay. What else could you do?
But even though you made it go away for a while, it inevitably comes back. Your wound and patterns ofself-betrayal come up in every close relationship you have. Your children, your parents, your siblings, your coworkers,
even strangers you meet on the street push your buttons. You are triggered when you least expect it. In spite of your attempt to hide your feelings behind your mask, anger (even rage) may bleed through. You may abandon the people you love. Or you may allow yourself to be emotionally or physically abused. All this happens in your life or in the life of someone close to you. It is commonplace. Yet no one wants to talk about.
There is a conspiracy of silence. No one wants to go there. And then people wonder why someone goes out, buys a machine gun and shoots ten people at work or at school, or murders their spouse or children. This is grisly stuff. If it is not dealt with, if it is not faced and healed, the cycle of violence proliferates.
Violence begins in our hearts and minds. It extends outward into our families and communities. It plays out in wars and genocidal actions. It permeates the collective consciousness. People want to kill and exterminate what they don’t understand and accept. They want to destroy the shadow in others. They demonize each other so that they don’t have to feel the pain of their trespass. They think they are killing gooks or devils, not human beings. But in truth, they are killing their mothers and fathers. They are killing their children. They are killing their brothers and sisters. All because they hate themselves. All because they have not been able to look at their own shadow with compassion. All because they never learned to bring love to the wounded child within.
Healing the Wounded Child
In Phase Two we learn to reclaim the rejected aspects of ourselves. We see what we don’t like, what we are ashamed
of. We use the mirror that other people hold up to us to see what we condemn within ourselves. We learn to see and show up for that hurt child within, the one who feels rejected and unworthy of love, the one who feels that she doesn’t even have the right to breathe the air. The one who believes that she is bad, evil, dirty, ugly, unlovable. We learn to sit with the child while she screams or rages out. We learn to follow her patiently when she runs away and hides. We learn to raise her up off the ground when she tries to grovel at our feet.
No matter how hard it is, no matter how long it takes, we learn to show up for that little kid and get our arms around
him or her. We learn to say “I am not going to reject you or abandon you anymore. I am not going to make you wrong,
criticize you or find fault with you. I am not going to do all those things that Mommy or Daddy did to you and that I
learned to do to you from their example. I am not going to be the one who attacks you. I am going to stay here with you and learn to be your friend. I am going to accept you, hold the space for you, learn to love you, so that you can heal your pain, so that you can grow up and express your gifts. I am going to be the compassionate mommy and daddy that you never had.”
Needless to say, this is a profound healing process, and it does not happen quickly. It takes a lot of patience and conviction to show up for yourself in this way. But nothing else will work. You are the bringer of love to your own experience. No one else can do that for you. Not Mommy or Daddy. Not husband or wife. You are the one who has to learn to bring love. Only your love will heal your wound.
Many people try to find shortcuts to healing, but these shortcuts are always some form of denial. They try to make
the pain go away. They don’t invite it in so that its transformational message can be heard.
Shortcuts shame and punish the child all over again. They tell him, “You aren’t spiritual or you would already be healed. You need to do this or do that, say this or say that.” It’s all a bunch of mumbo jumbo, but the child believes it all because he thinks he is damaged goods and needs to be fixed. He is only too happy to swallow another plan for his redemption. Of course, none of these plans will work. They are doomed to fail, and when they do they merely reinforce the child’s pain and the belief that he can’t do anything right.
The only thing that works is love and acceptance. Through love and acceptance we build a relationship of trust with the child. And, gradually over time, he is re-parented and grows up healed and empowered. This is a process that takes years, not days or weeks or months.
That fact should not be a dissuading factor to you. If you want real healing and real happiness, it is going to take time, patience and commitment. If you realize that, you will come prepared, and you will be successful.
Real Healing and Transformation
Success on the healing journey means real transformation, not just a cosmetic fix. Real healing happens from the inside out, and it extends to every area of your life. Phase Three of the Roadmap is all about empowerment and results. Your relationship to yourself is transformed because you have learned to bring love to the child within. You have learned to stay connected to him or her, to be emotionally honest and congruent. When fear rises, you know how to hold it compassionately. When judgments come, you hold them gently and bring love to the one who feels insecure or unworthy.
Because you have developed a loving relationship with yourself, real happiness is possible in work and in relationships. You are able to recognize, nurture and express your creative gifts. You can connect with your heart’s desire and do what you love to do, bringing inspiration and joy to others. You are able to attract and maintain a loving, equal relationship with a partner who shares your life and joins you in your healing journey.
You learn to hear and trust your guidance, to take appropriate risks and walk through the open doors in your life. You can feel your life unfolding from the inside out. The people you need to meet are drawn to you. The resources and support that you need fall into place without a lot of deliberation or effort.
You are flexible and move with the flow of the universe. What used to be hard now becomes easy. What used to be a struggle becomes effortless. You no longer live in lack and sacrifice, but in joy and abundance.
Your love for yourself is so strong and steady that everyone around you can feel it. People are drawn to you for guidance, comfort and support. People who have wounds similar to yours arrive at the door to your home, your office, your church or temple. Naturally and spontaneously, you begin to give back to others all the gifts that you have received on your own healing journey.
Whether formally or informally, you begin to serve the greater good and the larger plan for healing on the planet. You do your part, whatever it is. You step into your life purpose and play the unique role that you are able to play. Your gifts and talents, your wisdom and strength are placed in service. Through you, others heal and discover the truth within themselves. Having become the bringer of love to your own experience, the universe supports you in stepping forward as a spiritual guide for others. You hold the torch of unconditional love with confidence, pointing the way and lighting the path for others. Your will and the great will of the universal creator become one and the same.
As healing comes to your heart, heaven comes to earth, and peace comes to the world in which you live. May your experiencewith this Roadmap be as powerful and as transforming as it has been for all of us who have taken the journey.
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