Article contributed by Family Services Therapist, Jessica Chacon.
“We are as attracted to love as we are intimidated by it. We are motivated by love, controlled by it, inspired by it, healed by it, and destroyed by it. Love is the fuel of our physical and spiritual bodies. Each of life’s challenges is a lesson in some aspect of love. How we respond to these challenges is recorded within our cell tissues: we live within the biological consequences of our biographical choices.” (Carolyn Myss, Anatomy of the Spirit)
If the need for love and belonging is one of the most important needs for humans, why do we often make choices that steer ourselves away from closeness, connectedness, and love? What is getting in the way for people who desire to have meaningful, authentic, and loving relationships with the ones they care for most? For many, the answer exists in the stories, wounds, and fears that lie within our internal maps. They can become barriers to connecting with others and living a life of love. To remove these barriers, it is important to tell the stories and reflect on the wounds and fears that often dictate how we relate to others.
Tell Your Story
In the book Parenting from the Inside Out, Dr. Dan Siegel addresses the importance of knowing and understanding your own life story. It is important on both an individual and a relational level.
“As a parent, making sense of your life is important because it supports your ability to provide emotionally connecting and flexible relationships with your children. Having a coherent sense of your own life history enables you to offer the kind of experiences that help children make sense of their own lives” (Siegel, p. 38-39).
Siegel further discusses how vital our narratives are in helping us deepen our self-knowledge and awareness of how we engage in relationships, especially as parents. If your past and internal experiences are getting in the way of connecting emotionally with your child, this has an effect on the way your child reacts to situations and relates to other people.
Through facilitating Family Quests at Open Sky, I have witnessed how powerful and healing it can be for an individual to tell his or her story to loved ones. Furthermore, I have watched parents and students light up with relief after their story has been heard and validated by those around them.
Reflect on your Wounds and Fears
Examining your personal history and sharing your story can cause feelings of sadness, regret, and/or anger to arise. Experiencing these emotions is normal, for within one’s story lie wounds from the past. Wounds from childhood, wounds passed down by our parents, and even wounds passed down to them by their parents. “Research has clearly demonstrated that our children’s attachment to us will be influenced by what happened to us when we were young if we do not come to process and understand those experiences” (Siegel, p. xvi).
Wounds from the past can lead to the fear that these experiences will be repeated. What are the wounds and fears that keep you from experiencing emotional freedom and living in love?
What other emotional wounds and memories come up as you reflect on your story? Are they creating barriers to emotional health and connectedness? How can you address the wounds and fears and turn them into strengths?
Continually bring yourself back to these questions to deepen your self-knowledge and awareness of how you engage in relationship with yourself and others. Breathe. Take time to nurture yourself. Practice self-love, self-compassion, and forgiveness of others and self. Turn your attention inward so that you can connect more deeply with the ones you love.
Bourbeau, L. (2003) The 5 Wounds That Keep You from Being Yourself.
Myss, C. (1996) Anatomy of the Spirit.
Siegel, D. (2014) Parenting from the Inside Out.