➣ Personal Healing: Re-owning & Re-homing Pieces of Self
by Deborah Grassman
No one taught me how to fail. No one showed me how to lose, and because I never learned these things, I felt alone when they occurred. Sometimes, I felt more than alone. I felt incompetent if I didn’t win; I felt rejected if I wasn’t the chosen favorite. I felt worthless or guilty if I couldn’t please someone. As a result, pieces of myself got lost, like puzzle pieces that no longer fit into the big picture. I spent the first half of my life running from my losings and failings. I’ve spent the last half learning how to show up for the hidden treasures they contain. I discovered that, paradoxically, the things I had been so fearfully fleeing were the very things that would free me to grow into my larger self—the hero that lies within. The secret for growing into my larger self was that I needed to learn how to let go of who I was so I could open up to the person I was capable of becoming.
I have come to conceptualize a three-step process that facilitates access to the interior hero. The three steps are:
• Abiding: Showing up “openheartedly” to all of the emotional dimensions of life: the good, the bad, and the ugly, and more importantly, embracing the part of self that is generating that feeling.
• Reckoning: Changing our relationship to problematic situations, relationships, or aspects of self by cultivating the honesty, courage, and humility to face the source of distress.
• Beholding: Experiencing a newfound peace with the circumstance because the relationship to the problem has shifted. As a result, we feel at one with our soul.
I believe that we are born whole with an imprinted destiny we are designed to fulfill. Each time we close down to a feeling we don’t like, the part of self experiencing the feeling is disconnected from the whole; we lose our integrity by closing ourselves off from the message this silenced self is trying to tell us so it can be rejoined to the conscious self. We turn away from the very piece of self that we need to be facing. More importantly, we lose the energy of this exiled self. Failing to gather these pieces of self means we do not inhabit ourselves completely, distancing ourselves from our imprinted destiny. To the extent that we don’t completely inhabit ourselves, we live an unused life. The abiding, reckoning, and beholding processes facilitate gathering these aspects of self so they can be welcomed back home, and we can regain our integrity.
The abiding, reckoning, beholding process has practical applications in daily life. Although not as dramatic as stories in my book which highlights the abiding-reckoning-beholding process, the following example provides insight into the practical application.
On the first day of our vacation to the canyons in Utah, my friend Shaku said to me, “Teach me more about abiding.” She was participating in a book circle based on my book, The Hero Within. The group was studying the chapter on abiding.
“But you know how to abide already,” I responded. “You’re a good abider,” I laughingly said.
“I want to be better,” Shaku responded.
I didn’t think much more about it until a few days later. I had rented a bicycle for the day. I was told there were two routes I could consider: a tree-lined bike trail that meanders along the river or a trail that hugs the ridge at the city’s edge. I chose the former. I was sorely disappointed. Interstates and traffic noise abounded. The river was low and I was unable to see the water beneath the tall weeds that flourished on the banks. I never did find the “tree-lined” portion of the trail. Clearly, I had made the wrong decision. I returned to the Bed and Breakfast Inn where we were staying, reporting my disappointment to Shaku. She listened sympathetically before responding.
“That’s okay. At least you got to see the city,” Shaku said.
“I had no desire to see the city. I came out here to see the terrain so I feel like the day was wasted,” I replied.
“It’s not wasted if you learned from it,” Shaku persisted.
“I’ve invested a lot of time and money to be here. I’m just disappointed. That’s all,” I replied.
“You’ll be back. You’ll know where to go next time you come here,” Shaku said trying to reassure me. I didn’t feel reassured.
“Shaku. I’m not coming back here. This is a one-time deal.”
Shaku was at a loss for words. She wanted to console me and it wasn’t working. That’s when I remembered her desire to become more intimately acquainted with abiding.
“Shaku. I’m okay with my disappointment. It’s not going to ruin my vacation. I’m not afraid of disappointment. What would be helpful is if you wouldn’t be afraid of it either. Stop trying to talk me out of it by trying to make me think positively. If you’ll just abide my disappointment with me, then I’ll be able to figure out a positive relationship with my disappointed self.”
Shaku looked at me with excitement in her eyes. “I get it! I get it! I get it!” she exclaimed. She was like a kid in a candy store who had just been given her long-awaited favorite flavor of gummy bear.
Reckoning – changing my relationship to my disappointed self…that came next. I decided to drive up to the canyon ridge at the edge of town to survey the bike trail there, considering the possibility of renting the bike an extra day. But, alas, although the trail was nice, it paralleled a busy street abuzz with traffic noise. We drove out past the edge of town and spotted a tell-tale brown sign indicating parks or points of interest. As soon as I turned into the state park, I felt like I had entered the gates of Paradise. This would be my dream bike ride. There was just one problem. It was 10 miles outside of town – 20 miles roundtrip plus biking the canyon, more than I wanted to do in half a day. An idea started formulating…
“Let’s see if the back seat goes down,” I told Shaku. Our rental car was tiny – so tiny that our large suitcase couldn’t even fit in the trunk. Shaku looked at me skeptically.
“Haven’t you always wondered what it feels like to be a sardine in a can?”
“Not really,” Shaku lauged, “but I’d like to now.”
With a little rearranging, grunting, and bicycle-chain oil on our hands, we maneuvered the bike into the back seat/trunk. We were ready for tomorrow’s canyon adventure!
“We can thank the disappointed part of Deborah for figuring this out,” I told Shaku.
“What do you mean?”
“If I would have tried to shut down my ‘disappointed self’ with positive thinking or ‘rising above’ the situation, I would have lost her energy – her vitality. By abiding with my disappointment without fear and without trying to control the outcome, I used my disappointment to expand me and get closer to my intentions – to what’s really important to me. My ‘disappointed self’ gave me hope to stay open to alternative possibilities, which precipitated searching further. I can’t wait for our adventure tomorrow!”
“Yes! Yes!” Shaku says with excitement. (Shaku never turns down an opportunity for adventure.)
The next day proved beyond my wildest expectations. We arrived early in the day, climbing a canyon peak where Shaku would remain while I biked. When we reached the top, Shaku was in tears: “I can’t believe I did this. I can hardly walk; who would have ever thought I could get up here?” Pure joy exuded beyond her self-disbelief.
I headed back down to the canyon floor, disentangled my bike from the car’s interior, and pedaled toward the entrance of the bike trail. Little did I know the thrill that awaited me. Towering, red-cragged, canyon walls hauntingly surrounded me. I mounted my bike in awe. The bike path had a meandering, medium-grade, downward slope. Initially, I was undecided how fast to descend. I started out braking, but soon asked myself: “Can you risk no brakes? Can you play the edge of control?” I decided I could. Flying down the canyon at 30 miles/hour, wind whooshed into every pore of my face, my body, and my soul. I felt like I was flying. The tears in my eyes were the beholding evidence – a gift from my ‘disappointed’ self who had sought redemption.
A week after we returned from our trip, I saw Shaku again: “It was such a small thing, Deb, but such a BIG lesson.”
“What do you mean?” I replied.
“The abiding. It has made such a big difference.” She went on to tell me how she had applied the concept in some of her daily situations and relationships. “And to think it all started with a prayer before we left on vacation.”
“A prayer?” I queried. “You didn’t tell me about any prayers.”
“Before we left, I prayed, “God, show me how to abide.”
I don’t know which Shaku was more excited about: learning the value of abiding or rediscovering the power of prayer.
Opus Peace provides 1, 2, or 3-day healing retreats. The experience is designed to cultivate pervasive personal peace by learning how to re-own and then re-home pieces of self scattered by: self-disregard, heartache, neglect, abuse, trauma, death, or war. Commonly, we turn away from these pieces of self, banishing them into unconsciousness, losing the energy of these exiled selves. The re-owning and re-homing process can be used to increase self-regard, heal neglect and abuse, bring peace to broken relationships, lose weight, and face aging, death or any challenging situation. Therapeutic tools for soul-integration are used: therapeutic letter-writing, meditation, mythological stories, integrative music, shadow confrontation, and therapeutic rituals. You will achieve what Derek Walcott so eloquently describes: “The time will come when, with elation, you will greet yourself arriving at your own door, in your own mirror, and each will smile at the others’ welcome.” Within the sanctuary of a healing community, participants learn how to stop running away from the very things that will free them up, paradoxically, becoming more whole and empowered in the process. Each participant also receives an autographed book, The Hero Within: Redeeming the Destiny We Were Born to Fulfill, as a “Welcome your Self home” gift. If you are interested in participating in or hosting a retreat in your area, contact us at Pat@opuspeace.org.
1-Day Workshop: Forgiveness & Healing
Would you like to recover the energy of pieces of self you may have knowingly or unknowingly lost through: self-disregard, heartache, neglect, abuse, trauma, death, or war so you can inhabit yourself more completely? Deborah Grassman joins forces with Dr. Abi Katz to provide an unforgettable day. E-mail Pat@OpusPeace.org to schedule them to come to your event.