This week in Purejoy let’s take a closer look at self-aggression.
As a child you were innocently acting however you acted- you behaved based on the stimulus you felt in your environment because feelings lived inside your being and drove your behaviors.
When you were little you had these really big desires. Children just want to feel good- they’re curious and they are always reaching for what they want or need. I’m thinking right now of how babies pull hair or grab glasses off your face. When my kids were toddlers they crawled on the table to get to things. My teens now do some pretty interesting things?
Can you think of anything you really wanted as a child that you just could not seem to get? It can be small or big…
I remember really wanting my ears pierced from a time when I was pretty young. I saw a baby with shiny little jewels in the center of her lobes and I felt a big rise of – I want those too!
But! This innocent desire smacked up against my parents’ limits and they resisted.
Maybe you notice this part in your memory too?
They put up a barrier- “we don’t do that” they said sternly, for reasons I couldn’t even understand then.
Or maybe you felt criticized- “you’re always wanting to do weird things, you know better than that!” your parents expressed with disdain.
They labeled you, claiming you were wrong or bad, or entitled or selfish, or greedy!
In the innocence of your uninhibited pursuit of your wants, you were looking for support to meet those desires- right? Because you just wanted to feel good, and express yourself.
And yet when those desires arose, and bumped into your caregivers’ limits (most likely their own desires as a child were judged and resisted in the same way) they lashed out and in your young mind, you concluded that you caused that feeling in them- that your desire was the impetus for all this disrupt.
What were some of the ways you knew your parents were upset? What were the signals?
Did their faces get hard and contorted?
Did they use your middle name?
Did they yell?
I remember a lot of silence and withdrawal and it’s easy now to see how I perceived that whatever I had done, or what I was asking for what I desired- was ‘too much’ and it was going to land me in trouble.
Let’s break this down just a bit…
As a child, you had to put your parents on a pedestal- they were the ones that fed you, cared for you, and met your needs. So of course, you did! You held them in a different light so you could stay safe inside those basic needs being met…and of course, you kept seeking your desires, wondering if they would support those too.
But, if you were met over and over again, with disapproval, criticism, judgment or withdrawal, in time you took those voices inside yourself. You started believing that you were too much, that the things you wanted were wrong or bad, or caused problems for your parents and supported that they were not in the light, that you would be left if they weren’t.
Most often by now as an adult, you now have an internal voice that runs this program any time your life force rises up in the form of desires or wants. You quickly self-aggress to keep it at bay, to stay small, but also to feel safe. Can you see how wise it was for you to adopt those voices? Those very criticisms and judgments, and disapproval and withdrawal became the way you kept yourself inside the love available to you in the form of basic needs being met. And yet, you are an adult now, and self-aggression is working against you, not for you- that’s how it was for me.
When I first began this work of seeing through the Purejoy view, I remember this realization- meeting the one in me who was self aggressing. Until I slowed down and even named it- I would have never guessed it was happening. But when I did I was appalled at the things I said to myself, and the ways I subsequently then treated me.
One that still sneaks in often is trying something new and then feeling embarrassed if it doesn’t go perfectly- and then hearing… you’re such an idiot! Why would you ever do that? Why do you like those things? Why did you say that? You are so weird! You’re going to get outed and shamed!
In slowing down, I consider, would I ever treat anyone else like this? Would I treat my child like this- and the answer is loud and clear, there is NO WAY. So why am I treating myself this way? I ask.
Until I was able to step gently toward my understanding of how self-aggression works, be willing to feel the feelings that arose with a new way to view it, and be open to loving kindness instead, I was stuck in a vicious cycle. Do you notice this?
My desires (and yours too) don’t just go away. If we self-aggress to make them small, they just get all stuffed and stuck inside of us and pile up and build emotional pressure until we explode and either abandon or overpower our circumstances to make a change.
I notice this very much in my parenting- my desires are HUGE! That my children will be well, that they will be successful, that they can focus on what is good for them… all rooted in my deep love for them, yeah?
So when I’m asking them to listen, or see it my way, or go along with my desires, there is a LOT of energy there.
It happened and has been, with one of my kiddos this morning. He does not want to go to school. His desire is to stay home where it’s cozy and familiar with me.
I check it out inside- I notice I want him to go to school, that’s my desire. That he goes to learn and play, while I work and we come back together later in the day. I hear a voice of ‘he needs to do this’ ‘he won’t learn’ ‘he will never have a job’ and here it comes…the self-aggression… I’m a horrible mom…
It happens quickly- and because I have been practicing, I now pause and offer kindness to that part of me that holds that desire, it gets SO intense sometimes. Having these big desires is vulnerable and asking for them and wanting them feels dangerous based on a young experience like mentioned above.
Sometimes I don’t catch it and I just explode and make it all stop- for a moment I feel satisfied, I get what I want.
Or I give up- I say, forget about it. It doesn’t matter. I don’t matter- for a moment I escape my own intensity.
But neither of those last long, because they just aren’t true. As a child, yes- that was the case…but now as an adult, as a parent. I’ve learned to check that out.
What I find is that I can speak to my desires with loving kindness because my desires are a threat to no one. Even though I may bump into the limits of others in how I act on them, they live inside me, they are mine, my life force energy supporting me towards my own brilliance. Just the same as feelings living inside of the others in my life, I cannot cause their feelings and so I cannot change their feelings by self-aggressing and changing myself.
This week- offer yourself this practice. Take a moment, a deep breath, and center yourself- see what it’s like to open to what you want, to what you need, to your desires. Listening to your own heart’s longing.
Write it down- make a list of all the things you desire.
Notice what voices are there?
Are you talking yourself out of it?
Are you labeling yourself?
Then, offer it all some loving kindness.
Of course you wanted that, love….
Of course you desire for those things, dear one…
Of course you need support, mama…
What do you notice when you attempt to offer kindness in the place of self-aggression?