Many children’s lives are like being in the middle of an awful storm. Making things worse, they are powerless in the face of events that envelop and control them. Today if there is something you don’t like in your world, you can change it. As a child, you could not.
Children are powerless in the face of the forces that swirl around them, and this generates anger and frustration about being in a situation over which one has no control.
Making the situation worse, in addition to the storm, there is often hail, ice and fierce winds. You put on a raincoat, hat and boots to cope with the weather and these help manage the situation for the moment – sort of. But you still get soaked and wind blown.
More importantly, you decide that you deserved the storm or worse, that it was somehow your fault. Something was “wrong” with you. That’s why it all happened in the first place. You won’t be able to point to the defect in you, but the feeling persists, nonetheless.
Because of this, many people feel that they were being judged and punished by God. Even in a situation as heinous as sexual abuse, the child will feel, at least in part, that she did something to create the abuse or didn’t do enough to stop it. She will not know how she was supposed to do that, but she will still blame herself for what happened.
When you moved away from home in the ideal, you shut the door and left the storm behind you. But it doesn’t work that way. Not only will you carry the memory of your experiences, but the belief that they were somehow your fault ensures that the storm will stay a part of your life. It will continue to rage as you try to create a life for yourself. It does not matter that this is a false belief and could not be true, so long as you believe it, you must act as though it were true.
So you keep the raincoat, boots, umbrella and rain hat on, even though the sun is shining, because you never know when you might need them. But all this rain gear makes it difficult to relate to other people, the stuff gets in the way! But you don’t dare take it off, because as I said, you believe that you carry the seeds of the storm with you and you never know when the storm will strike again.
Friends and therapists tell you that you really don’t need the extra baggage, that it interferes with your ability to be your true self and relate to other people, but that’s just too hard for your wounded self to accept. She has no guide for any other way of being, and stepping out of the storm is very threatening because although unpleasant, it is all she knows!
Also possibly complicating matters, you – the adult – may hold many of the same beliefs that your inner child does, reinforcing her belief in and complicity for the existence of the storm.
So here you are – in the ideal, standing outside the storm urging her to step out of it or, believing as she does, locked up in a dance that serves neither of you.
So what do you do? The simple answer is that you find the truth and use that as a pathway home. But that can be difficult! The road is bumpy, filled with potholes and there are trolls under the bridges. And to be honest, you’re really not sure you deserve to be on the path in the first place.
There are three techniques that can help you, and I discuss them at length in About Life. They are useful practices in and of themselves, but perhaps their greatest value is that they bring to the surface the places where you resist moving with compassion.
The first is to practice: LOVING EVERYTHING. You are not likely to be able to do that with everything at first, but if you learn to work with and learn from the places you don’t, it will teach you important lessons about yourself and your beliefs. Even trying it will enhance your spiritual growth tremendously.
The second is to begin a practice of GRATITUDE. Some people teach forgiveness, but I find that gratitude is even more powerful. Be grateful for everything in your life, especially your problems, because they will teach you about the “weak spots” in your consciousness like nothing else can. Start and end your day with an attitude of gratitude and practice it as much as you can during the day.
The third “technique” is sort of an amalgam of the first two, taught by a Hindu healer named Sono. Sono teaches that in every situation, no matter what is going on, practice the mantra: “Thank you for everything, I have no complaint whatsoever.” Try it, you’ll see in short order where you get hung up.
“Thank you for everything, I have no complaint whatsoever.”
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