Eat Dessert First
Does it seem to you that old people care less about what people think of them? What freedom! What trust in one’s self! Who doesn’t want more of that!?!
I was blessed to have an adult relationship with my grandma. She knew herself clearly and to the core, a gift of her many years. She wasn’t shy about claiming her power, her humor, her loving and generous heart, and she also accepted with ease the parts of her that were stubborn, prone to angry outbursts, and more than a little over zealous and stern about the tidiness of her home. Grandma knew and accepted who she was, who she loved, and who loved her. She achieved the state of being so many of us crave. She experienced BELONGING.
My grandma reflected for me the difference between the (very normal) desire to be liked and admired, and the deeper soul desire to belong.
I define belonging as a core human longing to be known, seen, heard, and loved. In one way or another, each person I work with is seeking the experience of belonging: within themselves, in relation to others, within a community, or as part of the thread that connects us all.
What gets in the way of belonging? We all have parts of ourselves that we wish would disappear. At a young age we learn that there are some ways of being are acceptable and rewarded. . . and some that are not.
Does this sound familiar somewhere inside your psyche? “Be responsible but also fun. Be outgoing but not bossy. Be grateful but not needy. Be very smart but not intimidating or conceited.” It goes on and on!
So what happens to the very normal parts of yourself that happen to be lazy, jealous, needy, ambitious, angry or whatever else you’ve internalized shouldn’t be? If you are like most people, you do your best to bury those parts in the shadows of your inner world.
The truth is that even if you don’t like some parts of yourself, they still exist. If you aren’t in relationship with your inner tyrant, victim, or judge it is very likely these parts will find expression in ways that might not be ideal. It’s like trying to hold the lid down on a boiling pot without letting any steam escape!
Do you notice how much constant energy it takes to keep the lid on? It’s stressful to feel the pressure build, and can be embarrassing, demoralizing and maybe even scary when the pot finally boils over in the form of irrational anger, illness, procrastination, being late, jealousy, sadness, despair, getting confused, and so on.
I work with clients to recognize that parts of yourself that are clothed in shame and kept in shadow. I help people see the superpowers inherent in the shadow parts, and I help people grow their capacity to bring compassion and choice into their inner world. Ultimately this work is about trust and belonging to self.