Reality is what it is.
People are who and what they are. But often we come into conflict with this reality, because we have forgotten to feel and communicate our deepest needs and longings.
Listening to our judgemental thoughts.
Instead we have learned to listen and act according to our judgmental thoughts. Those we harbour about life, situations, people and our self. A self that never seems to fit into the framework of an ‘ideal self’, which was created and put together by our personal and cultural history of norms, standards and wounds. “Not beautiful enough, not good enough, need to achieve more.”
Judgemental thoughts are like soldiers.
As a result we built a castle with walls of judgment and behaviour to protect us. These thoughts are like little soldiers, shooting arrows at anyone approaching the castle. But this won’t protect us from ‘hurt’ or ‘rejection’, but also from strength, wonder, love and a greater joy of life. Its as if you own a large beautiful house, but you only live in the cellar – unaware of the vast beauty surrounding you. This way of being creates sadness, suffering and a feeling of being disconnected from oneself, people and the general flow of life.
Masking our true needs.
Our judgemental thoughts that often run our lives at a jaw dropping speed and go hand in hand with emotions such as anger, jealousy or fear, are masking our true inner needs.
What am I referring to when I speak of inner needs? It is not neediness. Inner needs are: a wish to be heard or understood, intimacy, recognition, security, love, feeling alive, a sense growth, to name a few. They are universal life motivations.They are not to be confused with neediness, quite the opposite. Neediness belongs to our defensive castle personality, because neediness says: you owe me, the world owes me and if I don’t get it, I will be upset, I will deny you my friendship, my money, my…. It is defensive. We will forever stay attached to our infantile behaviour and our self worth will continously go up and down according to it. On this level of existence, I believe that nothing will ever really satisfy us.When we are connected to our needs behind these thoughts and emotions we can start to change.
Causing the opposite of what we want by letting our soldiers run riot.
If we let our judgmental thoughts and feelings form our behaviour, it will subsequently cause the exact opposite of what we truly need. For example: I’m longing for closeness and connection with others. Paradoxically, my behaviour (that wants to protect my castle) will very often communicate the opposite, namely: ‘retreat’, ‘pushing people away’ or (literally) ‘closing a door in someone’s face’. Thoughts such as: ‘nobody respects me’ ‘nobody understands me’ or ‘, ‘maybe he doesn’t like me anymore’, often initiate this (unconscious) behavioral pattern. My husband comes home one night and whilst I was waiting for him, I allowed my fearful soldiers (thoughts) to run riot. Thus, instead of saying “hello, how was your day?” and giving him a hug, I would say (with a certain irony or harshness in my voice): ‘Had fun, late again, by the way dinners cold’. Would you like to be close to somebody like that? Does it create an opening for conversation or empathy? The answer is no.The result is a painful gap, where there could have been connection, closeness, love or simply just a lovely evening.
So how can I begin to change this, you may ask?
The answer is as easy as it is complex, because I feel it’s a lifelong learning process and it starts everyday anew: Learn to sense and acknowledge your inner needs and learn to communicate from that place within yourself. From inside the castle! To do so it helps to: • Slow down or stop (‘change the wallpaper’)
• Connect with your body= connect with your inner needs
• What has actually happened? To change or interrupt the flow of reactivity will be a big step, because often our defensive castle personality wants to act QUICKLY and IMMEDIATELY; like hitting a fist on the table, screaming a few angry words or sulk. Instead why not step back, both physically (take a walk, change rooms) and mentally (switch your thought process).
Connect to your body.
It’s important to connect to your body. Become aware of your breathing, deepen your breath. Soften your muscle tones by relaxing your face, especially your eyes. Try to have happy feelings whilst your eyes are tense and contracted. Impossible! Touch all the sensations you are feeling with your breath. Once in touch with your body you simply can’t react so quickly anymore.
What has actually happened? To pick up on the above example: my husband came late. That is a fact, without my interpretation. Now, I evaluated this reality and that! created anger. Others would have reacted completely different to this fact: 1) relaxed (‘I can have more time to myself before he is here’) 2) not bothered (maybe completely engaged in own activities), 3) fearful (‘Oh my God! What if he had an accident?’). Our interpretations are really depended on our own personal make-up of inner needs that have been shaped by our individual story. But once we know this, we can act accordingly and help ourselves, because now we know:
Emotions are just our own interpretation of what is! They are showing you the way to your inner needs. You can take care of you!
This can be difficult and at times impossible to begin with, because we are so used to our defense mechanisms and our reactive patterns (whther that might be anger, fear, retreat..) This new way, brings us in touch with our fears, our vulnerability and our inner needs! Once we connect with the physical energy of these feelings, they can transform and we will know: Our darkness is full of light. Taking the ‘husband is late’ example again. I would be able to notice what is happening, starting with a few fearful and judgemental thoughts (can’t he be bothered to call? Who does he think he is? Doesn’t he care about me and my feelings…) and I could have STOPPED them right there and then. ‘Stop! Connect to my body. What am I sensing.What are my needs? Security, continuity, acknowledgement.’ Once I would connect to these needs by sensing them in my body, the situation would completely turn around, because connecting to your needs is enough, they don’t even need to be fulfilled! And my husband would have had the chance to say: sorry I didn’t call, my battery was down, my day was really hard…or even, I just forgot.
Once connected to our needs we don’t take things so personal anymore! Communicating and acting without the soldiers will feel different: slower and softer.
You will experience a sense of opening, softness or at least neutralness when you communicate from this connected place. Some also call it: communicating from your heart!
Improving relationships with yourself and others! This can improve your relationships no end, because it opens the door to self – love, self – responsibility and thus compassion. Fulfill your needs by giving them to somebody else first!
And last, but not least: receive by giving! If…
• You want to be loved – love first.
• You want a hug – give somebody a hug.
• You want to be listened to – listen to someone today.
Try it today and switch from the reactive/defensive level to a connected/open one and switch ALL the lights on in that beautiful house of yours! Give those soldiers a rest!