August 25, 2013 at 10:43 am #41129JaydeeParticipant
I’ve begun to notice a tendency of mine to become very self-conscious around my friends. I once did this exercise that was very new-agey one time with not just a little bit of skepticism. But it ended up working and being very illuminating. The exercise was to ask your heart what its greatest desire was. What I felt mine was saying was Freedom. But not the kind of freedom to do whatever you wanted on a whim with no consequences but the freedom to love and feel loved. That seemed to be my deepest desire and that was something I have a very hard time doing. Why do we have such a hard time loving? I understand that being hurt in the past by people makes it difficult to love others or to feel loved. But how do we overcome that? I noticed this last night being with some of the people I have known the longest and saw that it was hard for me to open my heart to them. I felt closed down – self-conscious, censored, oppressed, afraid. The very opposite of freedom. All I want is to feel free! I want to feel free to be joyful and express myself fully and openly with people – especially the people I love. Why is it so hard to do this and – more importantly – what can we do to stop watering the seeds of fear in our relationships and water the seeds of love and freedom in those same relationships? I just want to feel free around people and not feel like there is a heavy weight on my heart that keeps it closed and afraid. Thank you all.
-JDAugust 25, 2013 at 12:23 pm #41148MattParticipant
That feeling of isolation that comes up in social situations is very normal and usual. I know how painful it can be, as thoughts and feelings wash over us as we notice that we’re not connecting well. Again, this is normal and goes away as you heal from the past. Two things came to heart as I read your words.
The first is courage. Courage isn’t the absence of fear, rather it is the drive inside us that jumps anyway. Open heartedness is an adventure, and can be quite scary. You commented in another thread that there was such courage, in our words and openness, and its true. This isn’t because I don’t feel fear, I do. I feel whispers of fear that I will hurt others with my words, that I will pass on tainted love, that what I see as light is a mirage, and is actually shadow. But, I jump anyway. Courage is just that, to say “yes, here is some fear, but here is also the chance at connecting, sharing, loving”. So we jump in and offer our thoughts, views and feelings.
That fear and feeling of isolation is from shame. Brene Brown has done some amazing research on shame, and how it arises alongside the belief that we are unlovable as we are. That because of some factor in our body, mind or history, we have become damaged, and if people really knew us, they would find it impossible to love us. So we hide, play games, put on armor, pretend we’re happy, become actors. When we look in the mirror (or close intimacies), we feel overwhelmed, either trying to prove to us or them that we are good enough to be loved, or in the absence of that proof, shrink away inside as we feel we are not good enough to be loved.
Again, this is normal and usual, and erodes with time and effort from us. As we cultivate warm feelings for ourselves, it becomes easier. Its not your fault, JD, you were abused. It sucks, its painful, but you’re not tainted or unlovable. Quite the contrary, compassionate hearts are inspired to help, to heal, to love you so much that it overwhelms your heart, spilling into your past and giving love to the little kid who was scared and alone. You deserve love, and so did he. I’m so sorry that it worked out the way it did for you back then… and all the chaos, all the isolation it sparked. Its not fair, but its also not permanent. You’re healing, and soon your wings will be free to fly. Then fear fades quickly as you realize the pain of the past is dead and gone, and you really do have the strength to connect, and that you have always been deserving of love.
MattAugust 25, 2013 at 10:32 pm #41164JaydeeParticipant
Thank you so much for your words. It is good to be reminded that I don’t have to wait until I no longer feel afraid before I take that chance of connecting. A voice in my head is always telling me, “you’re going to say something wrong” or when I do take the chance and try and express myself and become part of the conversation while I am speaking the voice tells me, “you’re going to sound stupid” and then I look around and everyone’s faces somehow confirms that fear. But it’s all distortion. If I look for disapproval then I’m going to find it, I realize that. Even if it’s not, I will interpret it that way.
I am familiar with Brene Brown’s work and I am very thankful to her for it. It’s a daily battle and it’s taken years just to get to the point where I am now which is just barely opening the door to my heart a tiny crack. I am so very aware these days of my heart’s desire to be open and to be free and to love and to let people in – but there is some kind of inner critic of sorts standing at the door, guarding it. I just wish there was some kind of practical method of opening the heart in those social circumstances. I suppose a lot of the work is done outside of those circumstances – metta, therapy, mindfulness. It just sucks to be in social situations with really great people and knowing that your heart is closed to all of them. I want to let them in, but I don’t really know how.
It’s a journey. Thanks again so much for your heartfelt response.
-JDAugust 26, 2013 at 4:58 am #41172MattParticipant
Perhaps your heart is open, as you clearly express warm affection… maybe its your mouth that’s closed. 🙂 For me, the “practical method” is saying what I feel even in the presence of fear. Maybe what you say won’t be perfect, but so what? Maybe they’ll think “that was a dumb thing to say” but so what? Maybe they’ll say “you’re no good kid, you’ve got no future” but so what? The healing is from the courage, from the speaking anyway.
What I’ve found is that when I jump in, I feel great. My fears were unjustified, people like me, enjoy my input, and accept my participation. Even when I do stumble or feel like I said something dumb, it fades after the next jump. So I just keep jumping.
Perhaps you want the fear to go away first, before jumping. It might, but I don’t know how it could. When you fear the unknown, if you never plant a seed you’ll never know if the fruit is bitter or sweet. No one is perfect, so why bother waiting until you are before diving in?!
When in doubt, just ask questions. 🙂