We Are All in Recovery — Recovery of Our True Selves | Rohini Ross
We Are All in Recovery — Recovery of Our True Selves

We Are All in Recovery — Recovery of Our True Selves

I went to a workshop this week with Dr. Gabor Maté speaking about addiction. Maté spoke about the relationship between the trauma of unmet primary attachment needs and addiction. He defined the essence of trauma as not what happens to us, but the result of an internal disconnection from the body and the awareness of emotions. He sees what happens internally as creating trauma. He did not stay within the traditional realm of psychology in order to address the trauma. Instead, he quoted an unnamed spiritual teacher in California as saying, “The greater calamity is the lost connection with your essence. That is much more important than whether or not your mother and father loved you.”


Whether we identify ourselves as struggling with addiction or not, as humans, we are all, at times, confronted with the painful experience of separation. Times when we feel alone and disconnected from our essence. It is ironic that by being able to accept these experiences and by having compassion for ourselves when we are feeling them, that is what allows us to go through them more gracefully until we reconnect with our true nature and the love we are.


When I reflect on my work with clients, there seems to be a universal challenge with people being able to tolerate their emotional experience, and, as a result, they experience varying levels of disconnection from their Authentic Self. This is no surprise. Our culture does not value emotional experience. There are no prizes given for being the best at feeling our feelings. And, often, the people who do feel their feelings fully, have a tendency to be reactive to their experience and act out in ways that are destructive to themselves and others.


It, therefore, makes sense that people think it is better to cut themselves off from their feeling experience out of fear that it will be too much. They are afraid they won’t be able to handle their feelings, and will either internally implode, or externally engage in destructive actions. These two scenarios offer no healthy options for experiencing the very natural range of human emotions. Neither one recognizes the normalcy and health of the ebb and flow of our emotional response that allows our nervous system to regulate and supports our thinking to clear.


When we are afraid of our emotional experience, we seek distraction and soothing from outside of ourselves. This can escalate to addictive, compulsive, chronic behaviors that cause harm. Some of these are unmistakeable in the form of substance abuse, behavioral addictions, and eating disorders. While others are less noticeable, and include thought habits and ruminations that may not have obvious external consequences, but can often result in chronic physical and mental health conditions as well as interpersonal challenges. As trauma expert, Peter Levine, states in his book, In an Unspoken voice: “The degree to which we cannot deeply feel our body’s interior is the degree to which we crave excessive external stimulation.”


A valuable question, then, for all of us is: “How much of each day am I truly present to myself and in acceptance of what is?”


I recognize the opportunities for greater presence with myself, and what helps me to do this is slowing down mentally. When I disconnect from the chatter of my intellect, I get more connected with my emotional experience, and my emotional experience takes the form of the good, the bad, and the ugly. It has amazing depth and range, from blissful peace, to incredible euphoria to painful discomfort, and anywhere in between. No wonder the intellect is so alluring. However, I have learned that whatever my feeling state is, it will pass — good or bad.


When I see the transitory nature of my experience, I feel greater freedom. I don’t get to choose my emotional experience, just like I don’t get to choose which raindrops will touch me when I walk in the rain. This helps me realize it doesn’t matter what my emotional state is. All emotions are energy, just like all rain drops are water. It is only my preference that says I can’t tolerate one form of emotional energy, but I can tolerate another. One of my daughter’s hates feeling sad. The other prefers sadness over anger. It is just a preference.


When educating clients that their emotional experience is temporary, a reflection of their thinking in the moment, it becomes apparent there is nothing to be afraid of. We don’t need to cut ourselves off from our experience if it is temporary and natural no matter how intense the experience is. This was made clear to me by an athlete who saw that being with his feelings was actually a lot easier than being with the pain of being hit in the nuts, something he could easily get through.


We can simply be compassionate and kind with ourselves as we have whatever experience we have. This is staying connected with ourselves. When we are able to do this, we connect with our innate resilience and don’t experience the situation as traumatic because we do not disconnect internally.


From this perspective, there is no need to control or manage our thinking. We may know that our feelings reflect our thoughts, but we don’t need to waste any energy trying to control the uncontrollable. We know we are safe no matter what our thinking state is. Even when we think and feel we are separated from our self, we are not. We can’t be. We can only mistakenly believe that we are.


Isn’t that the real trauma? Believing we are disconnected and separate from the love that is our true nature.


The way home is not through the path of the intellect. It is through softening to our experience and by having compassion with ourselves when we are caught up in the illusion of separation. This helps us to suffer less, and we will always eventually settle.


That is how we all heal, whether our perceived separation from Self, is big or small. We heal by awakening in consciousness, and by experientially knowing that the love we are seeking is found inside of ourselves. It has been there all along, and the only thing that can separate ourselves from experiencing it, is our thoughts.


The busy mind of our dissatisfied ego is constantly looking outside for something we already have. That is the human condition whether we label ourselves as addict or not. And the human condition serves to point us in the direction of our divine nature. Our feelings let us know when we are caught up in our ego-referenced thoughts and the illusion of separation. They give us cues to help us remember to compassionately surrender to our temporary experience until we settle and return to our natural state of connection with the love we are.


We are all in the process of recovering our true selves. The innate intelligence inside of us is facilitating that process whether we realize it or not. The timing is not ours to decide so we may as well relax and enjoy the ride.

No Comments

Post a Comment