Messages from my Internal Forest
When we disown wounded Parts of ourselves to minimize pain, the pain those Parts carry will retreat to our mind, muscles, or soul. When exceptionally deep, pain will penetrate all three.
To heal and rebirth the Parts of me wounded in my unhealthy college relationship, I had to become aware of, accept and witness the pain they carried. I had to release my victimhood, enter my internal forest, and allow those wounded Parts to tell me their tales. Some messages those Parts of me carried were:
“My mind, body and soul are hurting.”
“My fear of being emotionally blistered by others is leading me to sear those closest to me.”
“My ignorance of my worth leads me into situations that only reinforce my pain.”
“I am so angry…no, ENRAGED. I had never truly hated anyone, but I HATE the person who hurt me.”
“I have no idea how to make it better.”
Entering the forest
Witnessing or perceiving pain with compassion, looks different for everyone; for me it required that I enter my smoldering internal forest, and acknowledge the heavy ashes of my old reality that were being carried by my disowned and wounded Parts.
Witnessing my pain meant that I eventually embraced and compassionately listened to my wounded Parts. I cried with them and allowed the buried memories and emotions to surface. Over time, self-compassion transformed my pain into peace.
Companions on the Path
There was fear in dropping the ashes—fear of emotional pain and a new reality, a new internal forest. This fear limited my ability to generate compassion towards the Parts of me that carried my pain.
When the fears overwhelmed me I called for help— a trusted friend, therapist, or the Holy Spirit. I happily and humbly enlisted the clarity and compassion of all three to help me through the smoke-filled forest of my mind.
Watering the Seeds
Seeds are created containing all the food required for their development. Similarly, everything we need to heal and grow is contained within us. External striving for peace only distracts us from our internal healing process.
To activate the food within the seeds, water is needed. The tears I initially viewed as a weakness were an acknowledgement of the pain I felt inside. The release of our tears represents strength as they activate our internal seeds of guidance and wisdom.
On this journey towards the witnessing of my pain, I have learned:
- Emotions are not my enemy. I realized that emotions are my friends. I know this is hard to believe. Our emotions don’t always lead to the best results. I’ve blamed short-sighted decisions and chronically tight neck muscles on my “negative emotions.” However, I’ve learned that emotions are simply signposts directing us to what is going on within and around us. When I listened to their messages, I learned valuable lessons. When I ignored or ran them over with distractions, they turned into disturbingly bright flashing neon signs; the increased intensity was not to hurt me but to help me see, understand and learn.
- Bursting hurts, bringing heals. In the often debated Gospel of Thomas, Jesus is quoted as saying: "If you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save you. If you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you" (#70). Emotions are designed to guide thoughts and actions, reflect the internal and external, and assist the transformation of pain into peace. They are not meant to be hidden, stifled, or buried. As psychologist Ron Siegel says, “when we bury our emotions, we bury them alive.” They will eventually burst forth and that bursting process often leads to more pain. On the other hand, when we consciously bring forth and witness our pain, that bringing process leads to freedom.
- Witnessing is the purest act of self-compassion. Witnessing or perceiving pain with compassion involved allowing my wounded Parts to tell their stories; to be heard. I’ve done this by talking to a compassionate companion; writing in a journal; or through spiritual means such as healing meditations or psychospiritual therapy. These are examples of going through the pain. Witnessing is not always easy but can be aided by the belief that we are worthy of healing, forgiveness, and love.
- As above, so below. I have come to believe a universal truth: we all want to be validated. Not necessarily “fixed” but seen, heard and prayerfully understood. This truth traverses age and culture. Just as we crave validation from those around us, Parts within us crave the same thing from us. This is why self-compassion is key to our healing process. We need to be open to receiving our own compassion before we can be fully open to receiving (or giving) compassion from (or to) others.
- Do-overs allowed. After learning the power of witnessing through the healing of my college relationship wounds, I began to witness the Parts of me that carried older and newer wounds. I have also learned to forgive myself when I anxiously run from the forest or refuse to drop the ashes. It is from this place of self-compassion that I cultivate the strength, will and faith to return to the forest again and again, healing each wound, nourishing each seed and witnessing my pain into peace.
In the fourth and final installment of this four part series, I will discuss the how reflecting on our healing journeys helps us to clear the smoke in our minds, see the bigger landscape and access our Forgotten Self.
Please visit the SelfCenter section of the website and complete the "May I: Self-compassion Exercise" to assess your level of self-compassion. Also, learn how to enhance your self-compassion and cultivate wisdom from your experiences.
Namaste, Sisters & Brothers!
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