By Kathleen Dunbar, MFT #39880 Certified Hakomi Therapist
We all have a True Self and when we live from this self we naturally engage in what interests us. However, if we’ve been hurt in some way as kids or young people we often end up putting away our True Selves in order to survive. The way we do this is, as I put it, by hiring a security team. The security team are “parts” of us that keep us safe by limiting our life force. Like any security team worth their salt they are highly trained to act at a moment’s notice and shut things down at the slightest whiff of danger. They give voice to the security messages they have learned to keep us safe, like “Don’t try new things,” “I could never do that,” or “I’ll fail.” It’s important to remember that the True Self never says those kinds of things! But how to get access again to your True Self? Here’s an exercise you might find surprising to make a little room for your dreams:
- Sit quietly and comfortably somewhere on your own.
- Stretch and yawn This helps shift neural states from activated to calm.
- Take three deep breathes in through your nose and out through your mouth with an audible sigh on the outbreath (ie, make a sound). The sound on the outbreath shifts you into your parasympathetic nervous system which relaxes and resources you and provides a more nourishing chemical bath for your brain and organs.
- Pick one of your security team people with a particular message and find someplace in the room for him or her to sit or stand. Is he on the left or right? Is she sitting or standing? If you allow yourself to be a bit dreamy and spontaneous and “irrational” you’ll find that these guards are usually outside you and take up duty in a particular place. If they feel like they are on the inside, where would you like to imagine them to be on the outside of you?
- Now, tell your guard (out loud or silently), “I know you’re just trying to protect me. Thank you.”
- Just that, just say thanks. No figuring out or analyzing. Just a recognition of the ways that that part has really gone to bat for you, most especially as a kid. The truth is, that part helped you survive. At first, all you need is one tenth of a percent of you to get behind the thanking. And of course, you need that part to give you more room. But have you noticed that if you fight with it, or try to ignore it, that it will speak up even more loudly. It’s just scared you’ll get hurt again. So thank it for being the brave veteran soldier trained to protect. See what happens. I guarantee you that you will be pleasantly surprised.
- When you are able to thank that part, not as a mental act, but as an act of gratitude, you are doing something quite helpful for your neural paths—you are accessing your heart and your right brain and their neural circuits (yes, the heart also has neurons). This produces feel-good chemicals instead of anxiety-depression-trauma chemicals. You are accessing your body in the present moment. You are practicing a new habit of being kind to yourself. You are beginning to come home to yourself.
- Now you may find something really cool happening here—Ask yourself who is it that is thanking the security guard part? The good news is that the you that can acknowledge how you’ve protected yourself—that is the True Self. You just stepped into your right brain and your heart, which can acknowledge both your difficulties and your truth.
- Breathe with this and hang out a while. You are waking up the blueprint you were born with!
- Don’t worry if the new experience only lasts a few seconds. That’s how we begin to come back home. Don’t worry if most of you thinks this is hogwash. If at least one hundredth of a percent of you felt this shift, that is great, that is how you begin. Let yourself mark the sensations and felt sense experience of that hundredth of a percent. Congratulations—you’ve unearthed the blueprint that is You.