“I am convinced that all our pain, all our anxiety, all our fear stems from the place of needing to know that we are seen and heard.” I have had this exact conversation at least five times in the past three days (it’s been a heavy week, “lol”).
And it’s true: when we feel like our experience is not being witnessed, we feel like we are alone and it doesn’t matter; we feel like maybe WE don’t matter…and so we hang on to it.
We hang on to it for dear life (often unable to express our fear) with the intention that by hanging on to it, WE will be the one who acknowledges it. The irony is that hanging on to it doesn’t heal the experience, it weighs us down, makes us bitter, leaves us living in lack.
So what do we do? How do we achieve the emotional freedom we crave, by knowing our experience matters?
I had two dramatically body changing surgeries within a nine-month window, and also had the experience of losing my hair during the four months of chemo I had in that same window. It was intense. And for a while, I was really scared. What would I look like? How would I feel? Would I lose my sense of self? My femininity?
At each juncture of these major physical changes, I had a very tightly knit support network in place; one friend in particular was so attentive to these fears about my appearance. I decided to have a head-shaving party a few weeks before my treatment started, so I could really claim it as my own – and she was there with clippers in hand, shaving it without any hesitation. After I had my lumpectomy, and lost a full third of my left breast – including the nipple – she was there asking how I was, and if I wanted to show her, so that “She could bear witness to my experience.”
It was those words that hit me at my core: asking if I needed someone to witness this pain. Magically, just by that calm, grounded, very clear and confident offer to stand in my experience with me without judgment, the pain lifted. it became mine, and I was able to integrate as mine, because I knew that someone was there with me, even offering to shoulder it as her own.
That really struck me, because then, when I had a full and double mastectomy eight months later, AND opted to go flat without reconstruction, it didn’t feel like a big deal. It was a change, yes, but I already knew intimately that I was not alone.
And that’s a very powerful feeling.
Now. The flip side.
There have been things that have happened in my life, that have been incredibly emotionally damaging, and that I would describe as traumatic. I am certain you have those emotional wounds of your own, and can relate the eye-welling, throat closing, gut-punching feeling that the memory triggers.
Those physical reactions are a pretty good sign that you’ve not healed from them. And what is so interesting, is that every time our body and spirit gives us those clues that we haven’t healed, it’s a fantastic opportunity to go deep and heal them.
With any kind of pain or trauma we experience (which we all do – this is a part of the human condition), we have a choice as to how we respond to it. The inclination is to ignore it, because man, it SUCKS to feel it. The second inclination is to bury it, so we can save ourselves from the additional – and almost inevitable, but COMPLETELY misplaced – shame that goes with it.
Here’s the thing though: when we hide, bury, ignore, shame our own experience, we are 100% unable to let it go and move on.
We have to feel it in order to heal it. And when we keep it to ourselves, the pain of the experience is magnified: that shame, that isolation, that feeling of “I am all alone in this and nobody cares” is what causes us to feel like we MUST hang on to the pain, so that we feel at least SOMEONE is witnessing our experience. So we need to find a healthy way of sharing our experience, getting clear on the real feelings we’re having, and integrate them to allow our past to inform our present and future, without ever shaping or defining it.
Sometimes a friend is enough: having the connection together where you feel safe to be vulnerable and seen. Sometimes we have a family member we can confide in the same way. Sometimes (more often than not) it requires some degree of therapy to have a completely and unconditionally safe space to lay it all on the table.
Therapy (in my experience) tends to not be enough; while it’s a great start, and an even better opportunity to become comfortable letting out what has been trapped inside, finding someone you can work with – like a mindset coach – to not only identify the wound, but to create a plan with very practical skills to deal with triggers along the way, AND figure out how to change the subconscious patterns left in the wake of your experience – THAT is where the real healing happens.
We are all worthy of being truly seen, heard, and appreciated. We all deserve to know that our experience matters, and that we are safe to move on from it; that leaving it in the past doesn’t diminish that experience, but rather empowers us to use this process I like to call “emotional alchemy” and turn something ugly, dark, and heavy into something beautiful and purpose-filled.
I promise you, you already have everything you need to make this your reality; you might just need someone to sit with you and listen to what you’re really saying, and guide you to the answers you’ve been looking for, simply by asking the right questions. And when you FIND those answers, THAT’S when you get into flow: your relationships get better, your business grows in a way that feels comfortable and valuable to you, your energy becomes magnetic and starts to call in all the people and opportunities you’ve been praying for…simply by having the courage to be hella honest about how you feel, and overcoming the fear of being unseen, and unloved.
Shoot me an email today if you’d like to know a little more about what that process could look like for you, and we can book a safe and quick intro call to chat about it in detail.