But I thought I was being true to myself (Stage 4 or is it?)

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For many people who are on the self-development/ awakening path, the situation I’m about to describe is all too familiar and can be very painful.

Here’s the scenario. We observe a pattern that we don’t like, that has been doing us harm. A common one is to always try and please the people we love by compromising what we actually want and do. And we make a decision. Enough of this, I take my power back, I’m going to do what serves me.

And then we take this new way of being into our life, with the same people we’ve always been giving all our power away to. And we wonder why they get angry and aggressive towards us. Because we’ve been allowing them to walk all over us for such a long time, that when we say no - however gently (and it rarely is gently believe me), they will react.

So there are several things that could be goin on and I’m going to discuss a few of them.

The most common one is that we still have a lot of unresolved patterns going on, beliefs, emotions that we have not yet seen or dealt with. Let me give you an example.

Andrea is a succesful business woman, she owns her own company, is well thought of profressionally yet her in her personal relationship she does everything she can to keep the peace and make her husband feel good. He lacks self-belief and has a habit of putting her down, often subtley but regularly. She starts to realize he is doing this and it’s both knocking her confidence and buidling his up. She has had enough. So next time he tells her that she’s “doing it wrong”, even though her way is working she get’s angry with him and tells him not to speak to her like that. And even though the thing she was “doing wrong” was a small thing, they end up having a huge row because all her resentment from years of being put down, told she is not enough and not given the respect she believes she deserves comes out of her in that moment. Do you recognize this situation?

By the time they have stormed off and cooled down, neither of them really know what the argument was about, they just know they love each other and WTF was this about?

So Andrea has some work to do on herself. The first step to stepping into your power is deciding to do it, but often there is a need following this to go back and revisit the parts of you that still expect to be put down, still feel they should be looking after everyone else even when it’s painful to do so, and the parts of you that don’t have a voice and have little idea how to communicate their needs in a way that don’t sound angry and resentful.

If something like this is happening to you, it’s a great time to revisit stage 2. Find the place on your body that you feel powerful and ready to step forward and put one hand there. Then find the place that is angry/resentful/emotional (there may be more than one so you may need to repeat this a few times) and put your other hand there. Pay attention to each position in turn and say out loud how you feel in each area. See what emotions, thoughts, physical sensations are coming up when you really focus on your body. When you’ve really felt what is happening in both positions, imagine that they are now going to speak to each other and share how each one is feeling. I do this my connection to one position and as I breathe out I imagine all the information going down into my spine and along my spine to the other position, and then back and forth. And there comes a point when there is nothing left to say and a feeling of peace or release or even laughter will be achieved.

It’s always important to remember, if you are triggered, even if the other person has done things wrong and you know it, if you’re reacting the only person you can work on is yours truly, and owning that is the real path to improving your relationship and communication with the other person.

Assuming we have connected to the parts of us that were fueling the argument, it is also very useful to try and look at the bigger picture. When Andrea looked at this, she could see that she’d had the same dynamic with her previous partner. So the common factor was her. She was repeating a pattern over and over with all the men she became intimate with. Just being able to see this is a valuable step, so do step back and see if you can see patterns.

The Stage I would visit at this point would be Stage 3 - Stuck in a Pattern. The primary emotion is often frustration - frustration that this is happening again and again and again, despite your efforts to change. Where in your body do you feel stuck? Put your hands there, find the stuck feeling and breathe into this area to amplify the connection to it. When you truly feel how stuck you are declare it out loud and really feel it.

To explore the embodied patterns that rule our lives, attend a live SRI workshop, details can be found on the Events Page. Make sure if you have no experience that you attend a Discover workshop first. Alternatively Rachael offers a limited number of private sessions, either in person or over skype. Ask for details.

Stage 4: How do you Give Your Power Away?

You’ve probably already read the article on Taking Back My Power, but in case you haven’t check it out as there is some useful stuff there.

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What does being in My Power look like?

For me, this is one of the first steps to authenticity. It’s saying Yes when you mean Yes, and saying No when you mean No. It’s knowing your own value system, your ethics, your tolerations and being prepared to stand by them. Sometimes it’s easier to look at what it’s not first though.

How do I give away My Power?

A common example I see on a regular basis is people will say “but my Dr said this….” like their Dr is God. Yes, Dr’s are very well qualified but they are experts in disease and in the pharmaceutical or surgical solutions to those disease. They are not experts in nutrition, in fact most Drs have never studied nutrition, and they are certainly not experts in alternative approaches.

But let’s look at some more day to day examples, because these are often so habitual we don’t even notice that we do them.

If you are in the habit of “people pleasing”, which is a very common way of giving away your power, you will probably have at least one close friend like this. This friend will always want to dictate where you meet, what you do together and it will be very much on their timescale. They may regularly let you down and expect that to be totally acceptable. And you will find yourself making excuses for them, rather than raising your standards and saying “no, I’m worth more than this”.

Another common situation is the friend or partner who constantly puts you down. Often in very subtle ways, almost so subtle that it would take someone else to notice, but it chips away at your self-confidence and you start to believe that you are nothing, that you are not enough, that you are less than worthy. As long as you allow it, you are not in your personal power. You are not being true to yourself.

An example that is more pertinent to women than men is regarding salary. One of my female friends recently discovered that a male colleague who was not performing as well as her was being paid 25% more than she was. Her male boss had made a big thing of how grateful she should be for the salary she was getting a few weeks before this discovery. How she is choosing to deal with this is not something I can share here. The point is, this happens a lot, and many women feel totally powerless to deal with it because it’s “normal” in the workplace and they often can’t afford the risk of losing their job or being branded a trouble maker. Societal norms often make us feel that there is no way through situations like this, so we suffer in silence.

Another example of giving away your power is to always let someone else decide for you. I once dated a man who would not make a decision as to what we did in our free time. He always wanted me to decide. Not only is that very frustrating to be on the receiving end of, it made him far less attractive and was a big reason as to why I ended the relationship. It was like dating a little boy, who needed his hand holding all the time. Had he not been so physically attractive and so much fun to be with, I doubt he would have lasted at all. The question is - do you defer decisions that you should make to other people. And when you do, how does it leave you feeling?

What makes us Give Our Power Away?

I think there are only a few fundamental reasons why we do it. The emotion is often fear, though sometimes it can be shame. Many people are fearful of speaking their truth in case they lose face, lose money, lose friends or lose social standing. We do a lot to maintain the status quo.

It is definitely a case of “pick your battles”. You may decide in certain circumstances that it is acceptable and you will continue to do it. But this often leads to a build up of resentment which often results in a bigger, more uncontrolled outburst (see Stage 2) than is necessary if things were clarified and owned at an earlier date.

Be observant. See where you give away your power, and evaluate the cost to you. And if the cost is unacceptable it’s time to step into your power and speak your truth.

When is Honesty not appropriate?

This seems to have been a theme for me recently, so it feels good to share. Because innately we all want to speak the truth, yet when the truth might hurt someone else? What do we do, how do we handle it?

So what does this have to do with body awakening anyway?

Does it hurt me if I don’t tell the truth?

When it comes down to it, I want to be the best version of me possible. If I’m not true to me, there is always going to be a cost.

So one situation I’ve been in for a while now is about 2 years ago I made the decision to stop eating gluten. There is a growing body of research that shows that gluten is inflammatory, and different people respond to a differing degree to it. Well I’m not coeliac, but I seem to be pretty sensitive. I swell slightly when I eat gluten, my joints feel still and sometimes painful and it affects my energy and my mood. So pretty good reasons not to eat it.

How does that make me feel? Well on one level it makes me feel ashamed, ashamed that I’m different, ashamed that my body is letting me down and some fear comes up around being ill if I eat it and being outcast if I don’t. I have a need to fit in. So I play it down, don’t make a fuss, go pretty British - I’m fine.

But my body pays for that. I know I’m not being true to myself, I don’t like that in myself. I lose a bit of respect for myself, for being weak, for not being strong enough to say what I need. And I find my posture collapses when I do that. I feel smaller than I want to. I feel bad. My body contracts a bit. I don’t like these feelings.

So it’s always a good question to ask - when I’m not totally true to myself, what happens in my body? How do I feel? Or even more important - how do I check out and dissociate from these feelings (often we eat sugar or we drink alcohol as a distraction….).

So for me the first thing I need to do is check back in with my body (stage 1 is a great starting point or just some simple deep breathing if you don’t know the exercise). And I own it. I own the fact I’m not being true to myself. Because hurting me is not great.

But how do I avoid hurting the other person?

Well firstly, if it’s someone who loves me, they are potentially going to be more angry if I don’t tell them what I need, than if I just try and fit in. Because they care about me - yes?

And if it’s someone I don’t know so well, well maybe I just need to get over myself. Being honest about something like this is no big deal. Gluten free is so easy nowadays - for example potatoes, meat and vegetables are all gluten free naturally, as is rice. It’s not a hard diet to follow, so why get so worried about it?

So I’ve come to the conclusion that if I’m hurting myself, honesty is the only option. And as a Brit, I am trained to be nice, to be polite, to not rock the boat, yet not doing costs me.

You may say - but this is about you, but there must be situations when you should stay quiet?

You know, I’m sure there are. Only you can evaluate what happens in your own body when you either withhold information or truth, or when you consciously tell and untruth? It’s your choice.

I recently felt compelled to tell a fellow therapist why I didn’t want to be treated by her. For me that was quite a big thing to do, because I hold so much respect for anyone who is committed to a healing profession and helping others. But frankly her ego was way bigger than her ability. She assured me that there was no one local good enough to treat her, and then proceded to deliver what I would describe as a beginner level treatment. So what did I do? Well initially I was set to do nothing, just never book another appointment with her and leave her to it. But after conversation with a colleague I thought - you know, if everyone votes with their feet, she will never grow, she wont reach her potential - because her potential was great - so i very gently explained why I wasn’t going to return because my needs were not being met by her expertise at this point in time. Sadly she didn’t take it well, was very cold and shut down emotionally. Whilst I’m sad about that, I also know that standing in my truth served both me and her. No one likes to be told that they are not giving the service they think they are. If I sound arrogant here, it’s not my intention. My intention is to say that we all need feedback, and I know professionally getting feedback can be really hard because most therapists are doing everything they can to be the best they can.

So how do you feel when you don’t speak your truth?

I find I can explore this through so many different stages of SRI.

Stage 1 when I disconnect

Stage 2 when I’m more concerned about how people perceive me and how they will respond me

Stage 3 when I’m stuck in the pattern of being nice, of not saying what I need

Stage 4 when I don’t stand in my power

Stage 5 when I let the voices around me tell me what to do, when I don’t own parts of me that are playing small

Stage 11 when I need to share my gifts

Stage 12 when I need to be in community, in line with what serves the collective….

We all have choices, what serves you?



Stages 1 (plus stage 4)

This video brings me to tears every time I watch it. I remember it happening. From the pure pain and suffering of the injury, to the glorious moment with his Dad just over the finish line, I defy anyone not to be moved by this…

It’s one of the best examples I can find of Stage 1 Suffering - the loss of hopes and dreams, all over in a moment. What no one expected was the courage and determination (stage 4) that he would then show to complete the race