Awakening and what’s left

 

Chogyam Trungpa and many other spiritual teachers have shocked, puzzled, and baffled their followers with their apparently unenlightened behavior. It may be drinking, drug use, frequent affairs, bullying behavior, abuse of their followers, and more.

In our culture, we tend to have an image of awakened people as perfect. And yet, they so often are not. Why is that?

To me, it doesn’t seem so puzzling. In a way, it’s to be expected.

There can be a relatively clear awakening, and yet a lot left to heal at the human level.

If the person is receptive and open about it, then it can become a very helpful part of their teaching. It also helps their students know what they are getting into, and it helps the teacher to work on it if they are ready to do so.

And sometimes, there can be some degree of defensiveness around it, both on the part of the teacher and his or her followers.

The teacher may try to live up to an image or expectations from others. Admitting ordinary human flaws and hangups may not fit this image.

They may feel they are above criticism. (And perhaps lash out if they perceive criticism.)

They may justify their behavior, for instance as crazy wisdom or that they are above conventional expectations.

And really, they are just scared to admit it and look at it, as we all sometimes are. And they use all sorts of tactics to avoid facing it for themselves.

This is pretty universal. We all avoid facing certain things in ourselves because it seems too scary, and we use different tactics to avoid it. And this continues to some extent whether there is an awakening or not, and whether we happen to be in a teacher position or not.

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Why we resist what can be helpful (sometimes)

 

Why do we sometimes resist what can help us?

I can find quite a few possible reasons:

We are not ready for it. We are not ready to try it, or to have the problem resolve.

We have been disappointed in the past and don’t want to be again, so we reject it altogether. (From a wound, identification, belief.)

We don’t want others to tell us what to do. It may feel patronizing, or as outside pressure. (If it does, it points to beliefs and wounds.)

We don’t trust the messenger or the remedy. (For good reasons, or because of a wound/identification.)

We want to give what we are already trying a go, and don’t want to mix too many things. (This is very valid, especially if what we are already doing is working or has a good chance of working.)

I am sure there are other possible reasons. I have experienced this in my own life. For instance, I knew that some used herbs to heal from chronic fatigue but I had a prejudice about it until a friend convinced me to seek a local herbalist. It was a turning point in getting back to health. (The prejudice was that herbs wouldn’t have much effect, and that it was mostly used by naive new agey people.)

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When we get upset, what’s going on isn’t exactly what we tell ourselves is going on

 

When we get upset or triggered, what’s going on often isn’t exactly what we tell ourselves is going on.

(a) We have wounds (velcro, beliefs, identifications) waiting to be triggered. These are often initially created in childhood, and then recreated until we take a closer look at them. (b) These are triggered by life circumstances. (c) It seems scary and painful to feel the sensations and look at the associated images and words. (d) We go into stories instead, and these stories are usually about the current triggering situation. We distract ourselves from feeling and looking by going into the stories about the current situation.

This means that although there may be things we need to take care of in the current situation, what’s going on in us isn’t what we think or tell ourselves is going on. What’s really going on is that something old (and also new since it’s here now) is triggered in us, we avoid feeling and looking at it, and attention instead go and get absorbed into stories about the current triggering situation.

Of course, as we get to see and become familiar with this, we do recognize it more as it happens. We may use language such as “this triggered an old wound in me, and I feel scared / hurt / upset / angry”.

It’s important to not get too one sided here. The story we have about the current triggering situation often has a grain of truth in it, and there is often something we need to take care of. At the same time, we can notice and be aware of the dynamic described above. We can do both, and that becomes easier with experience and familiarity with the dynamics.

And this is definitely not something to use against others to deflect from our own behavior and for us to avoid feeling and seeing things in ourselves. Some folks will say “you got triggered, you need to look at that”. There is a grain of truth in it, of course, but it’s also cheap and very often used by the person to avoid taking responsibility for something they themselves did or said.

The depth of painful experiences

 

It can seem that painful experiences are powerful, deep, and pervasive.

These painful experiences are created by painful beliefs. Or identification. Or velcro. And velcro here means the way sensations appear stuck to images and words giving them a sense of substance, solidity, and reality, and also giving them a charge (dislike, like, or neutral). This is really the same as beliefs or identifications. It’s also how hangups, wounds, trauma, compulsions, and chronic patterns of anxiety, depression, and anger are created.

In a way, it’s true. If the velcro is unexamined, if the parts of it are unloved, if the sensations making it up are unfelt, then it can certainly appear powerful, deep, and pervasive. We become a slave to a master that can seem powerful. It can seem that there is no end to it. It can color our whole experience and life.

At the same time, it’s not completely true. Velcro is created by the mind associating certain sensations with certain images and words. It’s created by the mind, and it can be undone by the mind. It can be undone by (a) separating out sensations, images, and words from each other, (b) recognize each for what they are (sensations, images, words), (c) ask simple questions about each to see what’s really there, and see what’s more may be there, and (d) feeling the sensations.

There are also other aspects, such as finding kindness towards these sensations, images, and words (which is not so difficult when we see that that’s what they are), noticing the boundless space they are happening within (if there is an image of a boundary, that too happens within space), and perhaps using bodywork to help release the chronic tension that typically hold chronic velcro in place (TRE, massage).

It can seem that noticing sensations, images, and words would be insignificant. After all, they are pretty ephemeral. At the same time, they are what make up our whole experience, without exception. (If we take “sensations” to mean sensory input, and images and words as any imagination). It is, literally, our whole world. We can undo any painful aspect of our whole world this way.

This doesn’t mean that we don’t feel anything. We will still experience physical pain. There will, most likely, still be sadness, fear, anger. And yet the overlay created by our struggle with it, and the overlay holding it in place over long periods of time, may have fallen away. My experience is that the sense of connection and empathy deepens and more and more experiences become quite beautiful.

Another angle on this is our own experience in doing natural rest and inquiry. Through this, we may see – sometimes within minutes – that what appeared solid, unquestionable, painful, all pervasive, unhealable, is anything but that. We may see it vaporize as we are watching.

Sometimes, it may take quite a few sessions on any one trauma. That’s quite normal. And yet, with sincerity and actually doing it, it may well undo itself. There is no end to it, and at the same time more and more falls away as we keep exploring.

Deep wounds and deep caring

 

I am rewatching X-Men Days of Future Past, and it’s reminding me of what can happen when there is a combination of deep wounding and deep caring. It’s also easter, and that too is reminding me of this theme.

Raven, and to some extent Eric, both were deeply wounded, and deeply care. And it sometimes comes out in reactive ways. Ways that hurt themselves more, and hurt others too.

I see the same in Judas. There too, I imagine a deep caring, and deep wounds, combining to bring him to do what he did. To give the person he deeply loved to those who wanted to do away with him.

And I see the same in myself. I see what happens when there is deep caring, and deep wounding, and acting from reactiveness. It hurts me further, and it hurts those around me.

Sometimes, it’s not very obvious. Sometimes, it’s in what I am not doing rather than what I am doing. And yet, I see the same pattern there. A combination of deep caring, deep wounding, and acting from reactiveness rather than a more clear and kind intention.

Deep wounds come from deep caring. They are an expression of deep caring. And, as Xavier said, Just because someone stumbles and loses their way, it doesn’t mean they’re lost forever. Sometimes we all need a little help.

The (ordinary) tragedy of a human life 

 

There is a very ordinary tragedy of a human life.

We all experience loss, failure, illness, death.

There is nothing remarkable about it, even if – for some of us – it may seem that way. It may seem that we are singled out by life. We are singularly unfortunate. We are singularly a victim of life.

One reason it may appear that way is that most of us present a relatively successful facade to others, at least as long as we are able to. And we reserve the rest to close friends, or perhaps only ourselves. We share our highlights reel, and hide the bloopers.

Sharing this with others – perhaps even in a more structured setting – is a good way to see that life is different. Life is hard for all of us, at times and in certain areas of life.

Another is to meet the victim in us with love (and the hurt and pain), and also do inquiry on this.

As I resist and fight against my own pain and victimhood, I tend to feel apart from humanity in this. As I meet it with love and curiosity, it softens – and may be seen for what it is – and I feel a part of humanity.

Life’s inherent and inevitable tragedy becomes something that brings me closer to myself and others. It’s something we all share. It’s even something I can meet with kindness and love in myself. I may even find that wounds, pain and tragedy is not quite as solid or heavy as it initially appeared.

Evil, pain, confused love

 

When we see actions that seem less than loving in ourselves and others, we interpret it in different ways. And these interpretations are based on our experience, understanding, and assumptions about people and life.

Behavior: Theft, lying, killing etc.

Surface psychology: Greed, anger, jealousy.

Moralistic, metaphysical: Evil.

Evolutionary: Behavior that, in some situations, helps us survive and bring up children.

Cultural and social perspective: Learned patterns. Learned ways of dealing with pain, fear, being a human in the world.

Family dynamics: A natural and understandable reaction to certain family dynamics.

Ordinary psychology: Coming from pain, wounds, trauma, reactivity.

Fear perspective: Reaction to unloved and unquestioned fear. Or, more precisely, unloved fear and reaction to the fear, and unquestioned assumptions behind the fear and the reaction to the fear.

Love and inquiry perspective: How we sometimes live when parts of us and our experience are unloved and unquestioned.

Living Inquiries: Deficient self, trying to protect an identity and/or fill a perceived hole.

The Work: The natural consequences of beliefs and identifications.

Satsang inquiry: Worried love, confused love, misguided love. An expression of love for the imagined self, trying to protect the imagined self.

Self-inquiry: Unquestioned assumption of being a separate self. Unexamined experience of (a) this seamless field of experience (b) being split, and (c) identifying with one part (me, I), and seeing the rest as “other” (others, the wider world).

Awareness: The play of awareness/awakeness.

Spirit: Divine play, lila.

I am unlovable, unloved

 

One of the main themes, and core beliefs, in my life so far is I am unlovable, I am unloved.

This caused me to chose a life situation that didn’t feel right, and made me feel off track for several years, and also lose several opportunities.

Several years ago, I faced a choice of getting married and staying in a relationship, or letting it go and move back to my own country. Partly because of these beliefs, I decided to marry. And partly because of these beliefs, I chose to let go of a great deal that was very important to me to stay in the marriage. I compromised far more than I would have without these beliefs.

Any thoughts about this are thoughts, and not inherent in reality. It’s not right or wrong in reality, or fortunate or unfortunate.

It has helped me get more familiar with this dynamic in my own life, and see that I am not different from many or most others in this. (The acting-on-a-belief/wound dynamic.)

There is an invitation here for me to love and investigate this in me, and find more clarity.

It did get me on a course where I got many experiences I enjoyed and wanted.

And at the same time, it has been unfortunate for me at a very human level. I have lived in places that didn’t feel right for me. Worked in jobs that didn’t feel right. Left a community that felt deeply right for me. Missed out of opportunities I otherwise would have had.

All of these, and more, are valid in their own way.

Evil, confusion, love

 

We can say that something is evil, or appears evil to us, or we chose to label it evil. (Which is learned from our culture.)

We can also say that what appears evil is really from confusion, it’s misguided, it’s from unloved and unquestioned fear, wounds, trauma, beliefs and identifications.

We can say that this, in turn, comes from an attempt to protect the imagined self, and so can be seen as love.

And we can say that it’s all awareness, it’s all happening within and as awareness and love.

Either of these are valid in their own way. And it can be a relief to find the three last ones in own experience, through specific examples.

Practically…..

If I talk with someone who seem to see the first of these, I wouldn’t jump to the third or fourth. I would perhaps suggest that it comes from fear, wounds and trauma, and that it’s an attempt to protect the self.

And for myself, I explore what’s here. I can hold satsang with what’s here in myself, and see what’s there. You are welcome here. Thank you for protecting me. Thank you for your love for me. What would satisfy you forever? What are you really? (Each of these are gentle questions. Is it here to protect me? In what way is it protecting me? What is it protecting?)

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Trauma

 

Our human self seeks healing.

So even – or perhaps especially – when we are in a safe environment, wounds may surface in order to find healing.

And when that happens, it can be confusing to us and those around us.

When we meet wounds, it can be confusing. As they say in trauma work, we may even come out of freeze and into fight or flight.

So how do we relate to it? The first may be to know that it’s normal, and even a part of a possible healing process.

Deep wounds may cause us to behave in uncharacteristic ways. (Or characteristically if it’s been going on for a while.) We may lash out. Want to escape. Crave company. Avoid company.

And that too – whether it happens in ourselves or someone else – can be met with presence, care, and a quiet love. We can hold it in our presence. And we can hold each other physically as well.

And, as we are ready, we can find curiosity about it. We can even explore it in a more systematic way, through inquiry. What do I find when I explore the beliefs about it, and possibly behind it? (Is it true? What happens when hold it as true? Who would I be without it? What’s the validity in the turnarounds?) What do I find when I explore how it’s created in immediate experience? Can I find the actual threat? Can I find someone threatened? (Can I find it in words, images, sensations?)

There are also many other things that can be helpful. Nature. Gardening. Nourishing food, company and activities. TFT, EMDR, TRE, craniosacral, and other modalities.

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Peter, Judas, Anakin and me

 

In Resurrecting Jesus, Adyashanti talks about the Jesus story as a story of each of our awakening process.

For instance, Peter is the one who loved Jesus, promised he would never forsake him, and yet denied knowing him three times. He was enthusiastic, got scared, and (temporarily) left the divine.

Judas is one who also deeply loved Jesus and the divine, was deeply wounded, and sought to destroy what he loved the most, and what could have given him the love and understanding the craved and needed the most.

Since I just rewatched the Star Wars movies, I want to add Anakin Skywalker here. He also deeply loved, was deeply wounded, and destroyed or tried to destroy the ones he loved the most (his lover and teacher), the ones who loved him the most, and the ones who could have given him the love and understanding he so deeply wanted and needed.

I can find each of these in myself.

I sometimes deny and abandon the divine, out of fear. When I got married in my twenties, I left my guidance and moved to a place that felt deeply wrong for me, and I did it out of unexamined fears and shoulds. (Or, at least, they were not thoroughly examined and seen through.)

I also see the part of me that deeply loves, is deeply wounded, and lashes out at or tries to destroy what and who he loves the most, and can give him the love and understanding he needs.

As very small, I had seeming flashbacks about how it was before incarnation. It was what I now would call a heavenly realm, with a sense of infinite love and an infinite sense of being home. I sometimes had a deep longing in the mornings that couldn’t be satisfied the usual ways (strawberry jam sandwich, Donald Duck comics, adventure books, friends, parents), and it was probably for this.

Here is the story that comes to me:

It was conveyed to me that it was time for me to incarnate again, for my own sake and for the sake of humanity and the Earth. I said yes, partly because I knew it too. And yet, a part of me loved the divine so deeply, and didn’t want to leave. I didn’t acknowledge or speak up for this part. I wanted to be a good soul, a good soldier. This part felt deeply wounded, deeply unseen, deeply unloved, and deeply angry. And this pattern has replayed itself through my life.

I am on the threshold of something that feels deeply right, lose it, and go into deep regret and pain. Sometimes, I can even see how a part of me sets it up. It sets up circumstances so what I deeply love will fall away from me. And this part seems to be the part described above. It feels deeply wounded, deeply unseen, deeply unloved.

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Wounds and trauma

 

What is a wound, or trauma?

As far as I can tell, a wound or trauma is created through identification, beliefs and velcro. It’s created and maintained by taking hurtful stories to be true, sometimes even without being consciously aware of it. And it’s really created here and now, and can be loved and seen through here and now.

Finding love for these wounds in us can be deeply healing. And so can seeing through how the wounds are created in my mind (Living Inquiry) and seeing through the stories creating the wounds (The Work).

The love is a love for the wound as it is, without it needing to change. And we can find that love in different ways. One way to find love for the wound is from recognizing that the wound is created innocently, as a way to protect the imagined self, and is from confused love. Another is through heart-centered activities such as tonglen, ho’oponopono, tonglen, Heart Prayer, and prayer in general. Yet another is through inquiry. For instance, is it true it’s unloved by life?

And inquiry is a seeing of what’s there, again allowing it to be exactly as it is.

In both cases, any relief, release or healing is secondary and a possible side-effect. And any desire or wish for healing or resolution can also be met with love and inquiry. How is it to find love for this part of me that wishes for resolution and healing? What do I find when I explore how that part is created in my mind, and investigate the beliefs behind it?

In addition to the love (heart) and inquiry (head) aspects of this, there is the feeling (belly) aspect. Loving and inquiring into wounds include feeling it. And again, it’s a feeling of it as it is, without it needing to change. How is it to feel it? Drop into it? Feeling it as if it’s feeling itself? Is there any fear coming up around feeling it? How is it to feel that too, as it is? (And perhaps find love for it, and inquire into it?)

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Wounds and identification

 

Some things about wounds and identification:

Wounds from beliefs. A wound comes from a belief. I thought that something wrong happened, that I am not enough, etc., and mind taking that thought as true. This gives the appearance of a wound, and “wound’ is also a thought, a label, which can be taken as true or not. Something terrible happened. My mother didn’t love me. I lost the person who completed me. I am not enough.

Dormant wounds. It’s possible for wounds to be here and not be noticed much. They may be below the surface, not triggered.

Identification with wounds. When these wounds surface, the default may be identification with these wounds. They are created from identification with certain stories, so when they surface, mind tends to identify with them.

Intentionally meeting wounds. I can meet wounds, for instance by “holding satsang” with them or inquiring into the stressful thoughts making them up. Here, a couple of things may happen.

(a) There may be a sense of healing or resolution of the wound. I may see that the wound is here to protect me, it comes from love, and I may find love for it. Or I may see that what I thought happened didn’t.

(b) There may be a release of identification with the wound, and this may happen in a couple of different ways too. (i) I see it’s a wound, a part of me, it’s not who I am. (ii) Or there is a release of identification with the wound-thoughts through seeing they are not true.

So wounds are created from taking certain thoughts as true. They may lay dormant for a while, untriggered. They may be triggered, and there may be a tendency to identify with them at first. And they may be met in a more intentional way, through for instance satsang or inquiry. This may lead to a healing or resolution of the wound. And it may also lead to a release of identification with the wound-thoughts, either by seeing that the wound is just a part of me, or by seeing that the wound-thoughts are not true.

 

Unlovable, unloved, missed out of a loving relationship

 

Sometimes, the part of me that feels (deeply, profoundly) unlovable, unloved, and having missed out of loving relationships comes up. It feels very young, and quite wounded.

When I feel into it, I find hurt, sadness, anger, isolation.

To this part of me: What do you really want, what would satisfy you forever?

I want to be loved by a woman. I want to be loved by my mother. I want to be loved by my school mates in elementary school.

Feeling deeply lovable, deeply loved (by you, everyone) would satisfy me forever.

How is it to meet it with love right now? How is it to feel it, take it in? (Deeply nourishing, healing, medicine.)

What is that part of you really? (From the “outside”: An image, sensations, an image innocently trying to protect an image of me, love, presence.)

Who are you really? (To the part: I am presence, awareness, love.)

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Bubbles of confusion

 

This is something many talk and write about these days:

There may be an initial awakening or opening (as it was for me in my mid-teens). There is a shift into Big Mind/Heart. Spirit notices itself as everything and everyone, without exception. The world (Spirit, God, Brahman) is revealed as a seamless whole. The boundary between inner and outer is revealed as just coming from an image overlaid on perception. The images of me and I are recognized as only images, and identification with them may be released at a conscious level, and may or may not release at an emotional level.

During this time, there may still be wounds and beliefs at the human level. And they may not be noticed much, for a while, since attention is released out of these wounds and beliefs. The brilliant light of Spirit is so strong that these – in contrast – minor hangups are barely noticed.

At some point, these wounds and beliefs surface again. They want to be included in the light. They want to align with reality. Emotions that were stuffed as they initially surfaced, often prior to the awakening, surface now to have their life, to be felt, to move through, and release. Beliefs created earlier in life, and still held at an emotional and sometimes conscious level, surface to be inquired into, so the thought can be released from being taken as true.

This may happen within Spirit noticing itself. There may not be any “need” for Spirit to re-identify as a me and/or I. The surfacing and moving through of stuffed emotions, and the surfacing and inquiry into beliefs, may happen within Spirit remaining aware of itself as all of it. This happened for me, to some extent, during the initial illumination phase.

Another option is that Spirit may temporarily re-identify as the me and/or I. One way of looking at this is that certain crucial images and thoughts have not been seen through thoroughly. Another is that this temporary re-identification allows emotions and beliefs to surface without being eclipsed by the brilliance of Spirit recognizing itself. This may be a darker dark night, and for me, this is what happened following the illumination phase. And even then, it shifted to some extent between the two options.

This is all about our human self, allowing it to reorganize and realign with reality more thoroughly, at more levels, in more areas of life, in relation to more of the possible thoughts that come up in us. It can bring clarity and insights into more areas of life, and it allows Spirit noticing itself to live with more kindness through this human life.

Spirit may well notice itself, as described initially, and yet be hindered in it’s expressed by remaining wounds and beliefs at a human level. The more clarity there is on the variety of thoughts surfacing, the more stuffed emotions are released, the more there is a deep healing and maturing at a human level, the more free Spirit is in it’s expression and it’s life through and as this human self in the world.

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The higher they climb without passing by my humanity

 

The higher they climb without passing by My humanity, the lower afterward shall be their fall. My humanity is the road which all must tread who would come to that which thou seekest.
– Suso, quoted in chapter IX, The Dark Night of the Soul, in Mysticism by Evelyn Underhill

This has been true in my experience. After some years where Big Mind/Heart noticed itself and lived through this life, more of me wanted to be included and align more closely with reality. Circumstances changed so the very human wounds, fears and primal beliefs surfaced. And since this is about the very human wounds, fears and beliefs surfacing to be seen, felt and loved, to align with reality, it is a very human and “unmystical” process.

A longer excerpt:

It is interesting to observe how completely human and apparently “unmystical” was the culminating trial by which Suso was “perfected in the school of true resignation.” “None can come to the sublime heights of the divinity,” said the Eternal Wisdom to him in one of his visions, “or taste its ineffable sweetness, if first they have not experienced the bitterness and lowliness of My humanity. The higher they climb without passing by My humanity, the lower afterward shall be their fall. My humanity is the road which all must tread who would come to that which thou seekest: My sufferings are the door by which all must come in.” It was by the path of humanity; by some of the darkest and most bitter trials of human experience, the hardest tests of its patience and love, that Suso “came in” to that sustained peace of heart and union with the divine will which marked his last state.

Heartache

 

I have heartache coming up these days, and it’s been that way for a while. It may have been triggered by the TRE, inquiry and/or the dark night, or perhaps just a wish and receptivity for a deeper healing. In the end, it’s just life itself wishing it to be seen, felt and loved, seeking for old wounds to heal and beliefs to unravel.

It seems to come from very early childhood experiences. There is an image of lying in a crib, alone in a dark room, and beliefs such as nobody loves me, I am abandoned, I am alone, I am lost, I will die, something terrible has happened.

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Interpretation of experience

 

I still have some of what appears as a very early childhood wound surfacing – a sense of heartache and an image of being alone in a crib in a dark room at night.

I see how there are stories about……

The heartache – it’s huge, it’s too big, it’s unbearable, it’s heartache. These stories makes the experience of heartache seem unbearable and unapproachable, and yet, when I look at the actual experience it’s quite different. It’s the quality of the experience (the emotion, feeling) that triggers those stories and makes it appear a certain way, and this only happens when I believe the stories and don’t look at what’s actually here.

Relationships – nobody loves me, I am abandoned, I am alone, I am lost. These stories are also projected into the future.

What’s surfacing – it’s a childhood wound. This story solidifies something that’s not solid at all, and puts in the past what’s actually here now.

When I look directly at the heartache, I see it’s quite ephemeral and quiet, and heartache is only a label.

When I look at the stories – examine them through inquiry – I see something else is more true for me.

When I look at what’s happening – the heartache and the images and stories that comes with it – it’s all right here now. Any image of past, future, or present is here now, as is any image of what’s in either of those three times.

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Childhood wounds

 

Childhood wounds seems to surface now, perhaps as part of a natural process, or perhaps also invited up through inquiry or TRE.

Some thoughts related to these childhood wounds:

Nobody loves me. Nobody is here for me. The world is not a safe place.

Something is wrong with me. I am flawed. I am unlovable. I am alone.

Everyone gets it but I don’t.

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