There are some useful tools to work towards healing. This blog does not allow for a detailed discussion, so I will only cover the basics.
Research – knowing details of your family history is helpful, but not essential. This might just give you information better to understand your own life experience in the context of your family’s story.
Healing sentences – a healing sentence is a statement that is never not true, for example, “You are my mother”. A non-healing sentence, expressing a limited perspective, would be: “You hurt me, so I don’t want you to be my mother”.
Writing and drawing – Often it is necessary to release a negative emotion before we can access the positive. Writing is a wonderful way to take what can be abstract (thoughts and feelings) and make them real and ready for healing.
Additional tools include visualisation, bowing, prayer and meditation, and symbolic representation. These are outlined in detail in the book.
In conclusion, to nourish and rejuvenate ourselves, and finally to live fully, we need consciously to accept and honour our families just as they are. Healing any one of us sets a ripple in motion that touches us all. I hope this blog series has helped you in that quest.
Every family has strengths and gifts to pass on to the next generation. Gifts can be:
- Talents: music, sport, public speaking, financial acumen.
- Character strengths: humour, honesty, courage, compassion, integrity, resilience, self-confidence.
- Good fortune, doors opening easily in different areas of life (relationship, money, opportunities, negotiations)
- Health: mental, physical, emotional
- Support: trusting that whatever happens in life is for you and not against.
- Love: capacity to love unconditionally, to receive love unconditionally
- Wisdom: insight, intuition, big-picture understanding, spiritual connection
- Peace: inner contentment despite circumstances, ability to bring harmony to others and difficult situations
- Liberated potential
The gifts can be blocked by errors in belonging and placement, and through burdens.
Strengthening the individual and the system allow us to receive the gifts from our families and pass them on to others.
Next week’s is the final blog, and will discuss some tools for Healing.
Life offers different challenges – this is part of reality and destiny.
When we try to take on somebody else’s emotional challenges we weaken ourselves and them. Our intentions can be good; however, when we put ourselves in a position of ‘saving’, we unconsciously put the other person into a position of ‘victim’. This can also deny the person the opportunity to find their own resources and strengths.
We ultimately cannot save anyone else, and research on co-dependency shows the importance of deeply looking at our own motives for trying to ‘save’ others.
The hopelessness of trying to carry somebody else’s pain can cripple a person’s life. We all have enough challenges without adding other people’s burdens to our own.
Burdens include taking on others’ emotions, displaying their dysfunctional behaviour, taking on relationship and financial problems, attempting to compensate for socio-political injustices.
Next week’s blog is on Gifts.
The easiest way to understand ‘placement’ is to look at our bodies. If we break an arm, and the elbow is not in the same place as before, we will not be able to use that arm. This causes dysfunction and pain.
In families, we have a place where we belong.
Who is parenting whom?
Parents are parents and children are children.
If children are trying to parent their parents – or be the ‘emotional spouse’ of the parent – then placement is out of order.
Some adults have not used their years wisely and a child could then easily attempt to parent them. This doesn’t work. We are not referring to ‘practical caring’ but rather ‘emotional entanglement’ – a child feeling and carrying a parent’s negative emotions, for example, or trying to save them.
If a parent is emotionally or physically absent, a child may unconsciously (and innocently) attempt to fill the parental gap.
The role of mother or father must be clear – this may be challenging in, for example, step-families.
Who is first?
Siblings are born in a certain order. If any child, for whatever reason, tries to change that order, placement is disrupted.
The questions of who is lost, who is excluded, who is running the show and whose family is first are also relevant, but not covered in this blog.
Next week’s blog is on Burdens.
Do you have a sense of belonging? Do you feel that you belong to the family into which you were born or into which you married? Do you feel part of the family at the company at which you work? Are you a part of the religion or culture into which you were born? Are you at home in your country, your race, your social group, your gender?
Any kind of exclusion causes emptiness, pain and distress.
Some people feel like they don’t belong and others choose not to belong. Either way, we deprive ourselves of the gifts of belonging. We attempt to fill our emptiness or avoid the pain through addictions to work, food, drugs, sex, exercise, alcohol, adrenaline, computer games, television, relationships.
Sometimes the pain of our family is so extreme that we literally try to step out of the ‘river of family’ to avoid it.
When we deny the reality of belonging to the family into which we were born, it is difficult for us truly to belong anywhere else. Denying our connection to our roots creates problems. This could be experienced in many painful ways, including possibly the following:
a lack of self-confidence; an inability to be alone; a need to impress others; feeling inferior or superior to others; intimacy problems; isolating oneself or co-dependence; defiance against, or compliance with, authorities; being overly attached to, or uncomfortable in, a group.
No family is without problems; nevertheless, it is better to belong than to pretend to belong. When we understand that we don’t have to take the negatives, but can open our hearts to the positives, we are free to receive.
Next week’s blog is on Placement. Colleen-Joy’s book is available for borrowing from the Chartered library or for purchase from firstname.lastname@example.org.
In the same way that families become more functional when they restore their connection to each other, so we as individuals can live at our highest potential when we acknowledge our own and others’ wholeness.
Healing is a journey which moves us towards knowing our wholeness. Wholeness exists at all levels – individual, family, societal and universal.
Resolving conflict within ourselves assists us in discovering our wholeness. This can extend to healing relationship conflicts within our family. And then to other groups – and finally, our world.
When we look at family systems, it becomes very clear that the wellbeing of the individual impacts the health of the whole system. This means that other family members are impacting you and you are impacting them. This happens at different levels, many of which we are unaware of.
We heal when we take responsibility for what is ours – no more, no less. Many people try to help by taking on what is not theirs.
When we carry others’ emotional burdens, we weaken them and ourselves. More on this is week 5 on Burdens.
The final blog in this series will cover some healing tools. Next week’s blog is on Belonging.
Colleen-Joy Page will be doing a series of blogs over the next six weeks, aimed at improving family harmony. Every family has its own challenges, created by the dynamics of family relationships, including our relationships with ourselves, or circumstances, or, most usually, a combination of the two. The good news is that healing and wholeness are available to all who are willing to step out of habitual thinking and behaviour, and to take hold of simple happiness.
The Blogs are extracts from Colleen-Joy’s book (written in tandem with Pam Roux) entitled: Bloodlines and Baggage. The blurb on the bookcover offers a glimpse of the useful content: “We all carry baggage from our bloodline. And we carry gifts. If our hands are full of baggage, we can’t receive the gift. This book will teach you how to open your hands, drop the baggage and receive the gifts.” The book is available by emailing Chantel at email@example.com
This work of healing and growth can be done on your own, without communicating with your family members.
Next week’s blog is on Healing.
Many of us believe that to find peace, love and happiness, to achieve all the treasures of a good life, we must do something correctly. Secretly we fear that we are not doing the right things or we are not doing enough.
The questions that shape our entire lives are: “How much have you done?” “How well have you done it?”
Ask yourself if you believe that you’ll only get what you want from life if you can find what you’re supposed to be doing? Do you believe that if you could do things better, you’d find what your heart desires?
People who have lived a while are often disappointed to find that they have filled their lives with successful doing yet still feel unfulfilled. And they wonder why.
Those who feel they aren’t doing enough or doing it well enough are at the start of the ‘doing journey’. Others who have managed to do a lot or to do things well are at the end of the ‘doing journey’. The ‘doing journey’ is a life journey that focuses on doing at the expense of being.
All doing journeys begin in search of treasure. Life’s treasures are the things that we seek, the things we desire from life.
Here is a list of some life treasures:
Happiness, fulfilment, peace, love, creativity, success, joy, power, worth, confidence, adventure, security.
Which treasures are the ones you seek?
If you have started a ‘doing journey’ to find your treasures, do you believe that enough of the right doing will earn you these rewards? The truth is that these treasures cannot be obtained from doing the right things, because they are all experiences of being.
Can you do joy or creativity? No, you can only be joyful, or be creative! Even success is an inner experience, not an external trophy. Success to one person is failure to another. True success, like any life treasure, is an experience of being.
If you want these treasures, you will need to:
- Change your focus from doing to being.
- Get off the ‘doing journey’.
- Realise that you acquire the treasure through being the treasure.
- Get into the ‘being journey’.
Most of us live with our bodies tensed in fear, and we never stop to question whether this fear is actually serving us –whether it’s a help or a hindrance.
Your body is genetically programmed to be afraid of many, many things. Essentially, it thinks it’s still in the jungle, and, for the most part, it is right. We may not be fighting over bananas or trying to own the tallest trees anymore, but in our struggle to survive in the new concrete jungle, not a lot has changed.
Modern technology leads us to believe that we’ve advanced as a species. But the rules of the jungle still control our lives. Why is that? Because the rules of the jungle form part of our most basic instincts. Jungle laws speak to us from our insides, telling us what to do and when. They step in before logic, before reasoning, before the conscious mind has any say in whether they speak the truth or not. These laws are programmed into our physiology and reinforced by culture.
No one ever had to teach you the jungle laws. Your body just knows them. Your body believes that these laws serve you, so it won’t let go of them easily. You will have to show your body that new ways of being are safe and rewarding.
Your body will obey the jungle laws, even at the cost of your happiness.
To free yourself from fear, you must first examine and question the jungle rules that dominate your body and control your behaviour. Most of these laws are unconscious, operating from inside your body. They are driven by discomfort and fear. It takes practice to recognise when your body is responding to a jungle law. It will also take practice to be able to challenge what your body wants you to do.
Anything your body associates remotely with death becomes something fearful or dangerous, to be avoided or eliminated.
How are jungle laws enforced? Through fear. Question your fear. Reject it as your master.
Fear is not from your soul, it is from your body. To find the essential you, you must challenge your fear responses. Challenging your fear means not accepting what it tells you as true. It means questioning your beliefs that are based on fear, and introducing new perspectives that are free of fear. This may sound difficult. But all who try it find a wealth of wisdom and freedom waiting for them.
Colleen-Joy Page urges us to uncover our true and authentic selves
When we are feeling unfulfilled in an area of our lives our automatic response is to try to fix it. As if its inability to give us fulfilment implies that it must be broken. We often make the mistake of thinking that we can find fulfilment by fixing what appears to be broken. So we try to fix our relationships, our careers and other aspects that make up our outer world. But this is never a lasting or authentic solution. In our endless quest for fulfilment we more often than not come up short, because what is actually missing cannot be found in the outer world, through relationships or even through our careers. The answers are in fact safely hidden far closer to home.
If there is a feeling of something missing, it is almost always more of you. You don’t have to fix your outer world, why not try freeing your inner world. Changes to your outer world won’t help you to be your authentic self. And what you ache for is to be who you truly are. The only place to find yourself is inside of yourself. Not in fixes or changes to any external anything.
Changes to your outer world won’t help you to be your authentic self.
The good news is that you are already, and have always been, you. Though you may be buried under layers of defences, or hidden behind masks, or wrapped in veils of pain, you are still there.
You don’t need to find the true you through conquests or actions, and you don’t need to prove who you are to anyone. There are tools, insights and some helpful exercises to assist you in excavating the authentic you out from under the covers of your life. But you are not lost, nor have you gone away. You don’t need to be fixed or improved, you just need to be freed.
Know that your existence matters and has meaning. Then start looking for signs of the true you. Watch out for things that spark your interest. Think back to your past and look for clues to the kinds of activities that seem to light you up inside. Look for activities that wake your being, that bring you feelings of peace, passion, excitement, timelessness, fullness. There will be more of you present when thinking, saying or doing these things.
Doing should be self-expression flowing most naturally from your truest self. For the apple tree, making apples is a natural expression of itself, an expression that brings joy and fulfilment. So follow your joy and trust your fulfilment as a clue to your essence.
There is a true you that, like the apple tree, can’t help but be who it is, wherever it is. It is your default when you are free from the prisons of fear and social conditioning. It is the you that has a unique role and personal beingness which, when fully expressed, will flow naturally from you and bring you great joy. So look for the roles you naturally play. Are you naturally the teacher – no matter where you are? Are you naturally the care giver, the solver of problems, the leader, the storyteller, the healer, the builder, the creative one…? Where do you naturally gravitate to, no matter where you are?
Instead of living a life of doing, make yours a life of being.