The Recovery Process for Inner Child Healing
"Recovery is not a dance of right and wrong, of black and white - it is a dance of integration and balance. The questions in Recovery are: Is it working for you? Is the way you live your life working to meet your needs? Is the way you are living your life bringing you some happiness?"
Quote from Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls
I write a great deal about the importance of being open to looking at anything and everything from alternative perspectives in my latest article Spirituality for Agnostics and Atheists. Prior to writing that article, I would have explained integration pretty much as I do below in a quote from my web page Learning to Love our self - Inner Child Healing / Codependence Recovery.
"(I need to make the point here that Codependence and recovery are both multi-leveled, multi-dimensional phenomena. What we are trying to achieve is integration and balance on different levels. In regard to our relationship with ourselves this involves two major dimensions: the horizontal and the vertical. In this context the horizontal is about being human and relating to other humans and our environment. The vertical is Spiritual, about our relationship to a Higher Power, to the Universal Source. If we cannot conceive of a God/Goddess Force that Loves us then it makes it virtually impossible to be Loving to ourselves. So a Spiritual Awakening is absolutely vital to the process in my opinion. Changing our relationship with ourselves on the horizontal level is both a necessary element in, and possible because we are working on, integrating Spiritual Truth into our inner process.)"
When I talk about Spiritual Awakening, I am talking about my Spiritual Belief system and what I believe to be Spiritual Truth. I talk about my beliefs in my book and throughout this web site. They can be pretty well summed up in the following two short quotes from my book.
"Life is not some kind of test, that if we fail, we will be punished. We are not human creatures who are being punished by an avenging God. We are not trapped in some kind of tragic place out of which we have to earn our way by doing the "right" things.
We are Spiritual Beings having a human experience. We are here to learn. We are here to go through this process that is life. We are here to feel these feelings."
"We are transcendent Spiritual Beings who are part of the ONENESS that is the God-Force. We always have been and always will be. We are perfect in our Spiritual Essence. We are perfectly where we are supposed to be on our Spiritual Path. And from a human perspective we will never be able to do "human" perfectly - which is perfect.
We have been trying to do human perfect according to a false belief system in order to get Spiritual. It does not work. It's dysfunctional."
Quote from Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls
The core healing of the dis-ease / condition of codependence, in my opinion, is stopping the shame and judgment internally - in our own inner relationship with ourselves. We do not know how to be Loving to ourselves because we were raised in societies that taught us it was shameful to be human - shameful to make mistakes, to be emotional, to be sexual, to be something other than "perfect." Feeling that there is something inherently wrong with who we are as beings is the toxic shame that is the enemy within.
Society then teaches us to look to outside or external circumstances / sources to overcome this feeling of unworthiness. Those exterior sources (money, property, prestige, etc.) can only distract us from toxic shame, can only help us to build up a strong ego that hides the inferiority complex beneath - they cannot help us to feel Truly serene and happy because any outside source can be lost, any external circumstance can change.
Obviously, my beliefs about Spirituality address this toxic shame in a very effective and efficient manner. If who we really are, is Spiritual Beings having a human experience - then it becomes relatively easy to take that toxic shame out of the equation, then our inherent worth is not tied to material manifestations.
There is Spiritual and spiritual
My own personal Spiritual belief system is one form of spirituality. It is certainly not the only one. Mine works for me very well in helping me to have a relationship with life that allows me to be happier today. It is not necessary for you to accept my belief system in order for you to use the tools, techniques, and perspectives that I have developed for emotional healing / codependence recovery / inner child integration.
For the purposes of this discussion of spiritual integration, I would now define what I refer to as a Spiritual Awakening in the quote above, as: being open to a larger perspective - awakening from being trapped in a limiting perspective. In this regard, spiritual would be a qualifier, an adjective, that describes the quality of one's relationship with life.
This adjective, spiritual, would be (in my definition) a word describing an expanded level of consciousness. A level of consciousness, of awareness, that is expansive and inclusive and facilitates personal growth - as opposed to limited, exclusive, rigid, and inhibiting growth, development, and alternative view points.
By this definition, any religion that claims to be the chosen one, that excludes alternative perspectives or certain people, is not spiritual.
[And I want to add here that capitalizing my Spiritual belief system and not capitalizing a general spiritual belief system, is not in any way intended to indicate one is necessarily more important, valuable, or worthwhile than the other. I capitalize certain words in my writing - Spiritual, Love, Truth, Joy, etc. - as a tool that helps me to differentiate between the vertical and horizontal dimensions that I refer to above. Love capitalized, for instance, is to me the Transcendent emotional energy of Love that one can tune into when in touch with one's connection to everything - while the type of love on a horizontal level that we learned growing up in dysfunctional societies, is more often than not associated with some kind of possession and an excuse for addictive (with the other person as our drug of choice) and/or dysfunctional behavior (shaming, abusive, controlling behavior in the name of love.) It is certainly pleasurable to feel joy in relationship to good things happening in one's life - while Joy comes from within and can be tuned into in the moment (in relationship to a beautiful sunset, a baby, taking time to smell the flowers, etc.) no matter what is happening in one's horizontal experience.]
"One of the reasons for the human dilemma, for the confusion that humans have felt about the meaning and purpose of life, is that more than one level of reality comes into play in the experience of being human. Trying to apply the Truth of one level to the experience of another has caused humans to become very confused and twisted in our perspective of the human experience. It is kind of like the difference between playing the one-dimensional chess that we are familiar with, and the three-dimensional chess played by the characters of Star Trek - they are two completely different games.
That is the human dilemma - we have been playing the game with the wrong set of rules. With rules that do not work. With rules that are dysfunctional."
Quote from Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls
The objective, the function, of developing a spiritual relationship with life is to explore ways of living that work better than the ones which have resulted from the limiting belief systems that have so impacted the course of human history. Unless your life is happy, fulfilling, and working just as you want it to, then it is important to look for alternate ways to do life. A different set of rules to play by. It is important to become aware that it is possible to stop being a victim of life not being what we want it to be, in order to start changing our relationship with life into one that works better for us each individually.
"The first requirement in any healthy problem solving situation is awareness that a problem exists. Until there is awareness that a condition exists which is causing some adverse effect, no positive, proactive action can be taken to change the situation for the better. (I am referring to "healthy" problem solving and "positive, proactive" action as opposed to unconscious, negative, reactive action - such as blaming, scapegoating, focusing on symptoms instead of cause, killing the messenger, etc.)"
"The healing process is full of paradox and irony on multiple levels. One of those paradoxes is that in order to get in touch with our ONENESS with everything, we must first be able to define our self as separate from others. And in order to become an integrated whole being, we must first separate and own all of the different parts of our self within. As long as we don't have clear boundaries between our self and others - we cannot know where we end and someone else starts - we cannot get clear on what is our stuff and what is theirs. As long as we don't have clear boundaries within ourselves, we are set up to be the victim of our own thoughts, feelings, and behavior.
Wounded Souls Dancing in The Light
In order to stop reacting to life from a victim perspective and start waking up to our own power to change the quality of our life it is necessary to be open to larger definitions of the meaning and purpose of life than the ones we were taught growing up. If we are reacting to life based on the black and white perspective of a rigid belief system - or in reaction to that black and white perspective - then we are not open to expanding our perspective. Then we are stuck in being the victim and we cannot see reality clearly.
It is important to start seeing the reality of the cause and effect dynamic that governs life so that we can start changing the behavior patterns that we adapted to cope with life. Until we are open to seeing the cause and effect between our childhoods and our adult patterns, we will continue to give power to the belief that there is something wrong with us individually. That toxic shame feeling that tells us it is our fault that life hasn't worked the way we thought it was going to, is the main enemy here. It is very important to develop a relationship with life that allows for the belief that it is not shameful to be human - and that who we are is not bad or wrong.
"None of the details of any of these explanations of the unexplainable should be taken too seriously or literally - it is impossible to describe the indescribable. They are merely tools to facilitate a paradigm shift in consciousness - to help us open up to larger definitions of the Creation than those we were taught in childhood. The goal here is to empower a more expansive context within which to view the dance of life - one which allows for a perspective of human existence that does not include shame and sin."
The Dance of the Wounded Souls Trilogy Book 1 History of the Universe Part IV
The shame and sin is, of course, a facet of the Western Civilization form of this dysfunctional condition. The Eastern is somewhat different (I talk about some of those facets in my article about Buddhism) but is also out of balance and dysfunctional - and also gives the message that being human is something less than a gift to be enjoyed.
I use the term dysfunctional here in the sense that the individual being does not feel honored, respected, and connected to the whole in a way that promotes happiness and fulfillment. It is very helpful to have a spiritual belief system that allows for the possibility that some kind of Cosmic order exists - that there is in fact, some meaning and purpose for human life. A belief system that affords the individual being dignity and respect and promotes the possibility that there is a connection between the individual and the whole that makes some sense.
Codependence is, on one level, a defense system wherein we take ego credit if things in our life go the way we want them to - and if they do not, we blame somebody or something. Because we were taught that doing life right would lead to happily-ever-after, we think that something is wrong with us because we don't feel fulfilled and happy. So, we blame others - or the system, or fate, or whatever - to help ourselves try to overcome the deep seated feeling that there is something wrong with us. Codependence is a defense system that developed in reaction to a basic belief that being human was shameful or negative in some way.
Integration of some type of spiritual belief system that allows for the possibility that maybe we are not sinful and shameful - that maybe life is not about sin and punishment, but rather is about cause and effect - is a major step in changing our relationship with life. It is important to understand the cause and effect in our own lives - to start seeing how the patterns in our adult lives have been caused by our childhood experiences. It is important to start looking at our lives from the perspective of understanding cause and effect instead of assessing blame.
When we start wearing a new pair of glasses that allows us to see cause and effect instead of viewing life through a filter of shame and blame, we move into a growth paradigm in our relationship with life. We start to shift out of a victim place into a place of being empowered as a co-creator in our life. Once we start looking at the cause and effect dynamics in our life, then we can start striving for some balance. One of the paradigm busting concepts that was introduced to me in early recovery was a simple statement about cause and effect: "If you keep doing what you have been doing, you will keep getting what you have been getting."
We start recovery as soon as we realize that there is something to recover from - and that we can take some action to change, that we can be part of the solution instead of just being a victim of the problem. Integrating a spiritual belief system that helps us take the shame out of being human, enables us to start being able to see more clearly that we have some responsibility - that our behavior and attitudes have been causal - in how our lives have unfolded. We can then start finding some balance in the middle ground between blaming others and blaming ourselves. We can start taking responsibility for our part in what has happened - our side of the street - and holding others responsible for their part in things.
Once we start owning our responsibility, and understanding the cause and effect, then we can began changing our experience of life. Then we can start to find some balance in our relationships: with ourselves; with life; with other people.
So, spiritual integration in this sense, is our relationship with the whole of the horizontal dance of life. It is very helpful to have a sense of spirituality, a relationship with the dance of life, that helps us to start being able to find some balance in our life. The reason to find some balance in our life is to take away the power from the past and make it possible to make living more enjoyable today and in the future. The whole point of healing and recovery is to help make it possible for our lives to be more serene, fulfilling, and happy, today - instead of living life out of the false belief systems we learned as children.
There is a saying that I really like, that religion is for people who are scared of hell and spirituality is for people who have been there. We have all lived in the hell that is the feeling we are somehow shameful, unworthy, and unlovable, the hell that living life according to a dysfunctional belief system can create. Recovery is about changing our perspective with life into one that works to help us be happy to be alive today for as many of the moments of the day as that is possible. It is not possible to do that when we are feeling victimized because we are giving outside or external circumstances / sources - or dysfunctional beliefs - the power to dictate how we feel about ourselves. (One form of hell is being old and rich, approaching death feeling empty and alone.)
So, when I speak of spiritual integration - if you do not resonate with my Spiritual belief system - then think of it as your relationship with life. If you can be open to having a relationship with life that is expansive and inclusive and facilitates personal growth, if you can look at life in terms of cause and effect not to assess blame but rather to change what you have been doing in order to change what you have been getting, then you are practicing spiritual integration.
Owning your power to choose a perspective of life that is expansive and inclusive will facilitate changing your relationship with life. To see life as a growth process with lessons that are worth learning, to see experiencing the journey as being more important than the destination, is to have a perspective of life that greatly enhances your chances of enjoying being alive today. This to me is spirituality in it's simplest and most essential form.
maybe, just maybe
In addition to that, I would propose that you might find it beneficial to start being open to the possibility that maybe, just maybe:
there is a benevolent meaning and purpose to life;
we are all connected to each other and to our environment;
we have worth as individuals just because we exist;
it is ok to enjoy life.
I am proposing that there is nothing wrong with who we are - that the dysfunction comes in our relationship with ourselves and with life that we learned in childhood, from people who learned it in their childhood, from people who, etc., etc. I am asking you to be open to considering a different perspective for the purpose of improving the quality of your life on a day to day basis. This is what I mean by having a spiritual relationship with life. With these possibilities integrated into your relationship with yourself and life it makes it much easier to start finding some emotional balance in the horizontal dance of relationships that is life.
"We are all more connected than we are different. As human beings, we share a basic emotional process that is the same for all of us. . . . Every human being on the planet is someone who we could feel connected to - feel on the same wave length with - in the right circumstances in relationship to some shared feeling, interest, and/or experience.
We are all kindred spirits in terms of our humanity - in terms of our relationship to the horizontal human experience. We are all kindred spirits with more connection than differences without even taking the vertical - the Spiritual relationship - into consideration."
The True Nature of Love - part 6, Twin Souls, Souls Mates, and Kindred Spirits