If we want to be be released from suffering we may need to recognize how we are trapped in an ‘old story’ of living up to someone else’s expectations that we have internalized. On a psychological level many of us have internalized the expectations of our parents or primary caregivers, for example to conform, to look or act a certain way, to keep our heads down and not speak out or to invest in a particular narrow definition of success at all costs. We accept ourselves if we live up to these internalized expectations and feel shame, fear or existential doubt if we don’t. We may have internalized someone else’s conditional expectations of us and as a result we only accept and love ourselves only on a conditional basis. In a sense is as if our primary caregivers have inadvertently placed a kind of ‘curse’ on our life.
Every human being needs to experience connection, but due to their own inherited trauma and dysfunction, parents and caregivers are sometimes only able to give love and connection on a conditional basis. As a child, in order to get love and connection from our parents or primary caregivers we may have been compelled to behave in accordance with our parent’s or our caregiver’s expectation. In doing so we may have suppressed our own needs. This is why so many of us don’t know our own needs. As an adult when we are unaware of our own needs we will always feel slightly off center and experience life as elsewhere, not quite here. We may be easily be taken in by disconnected spiritual, religious or secular political ideologies. We may be able to relate to the young poet Rimbaud’s words ‘I is another.’ When we are unaware of our own needs and longings we will never fully walk the path of our own destiny.
As an adult may need to reverse this process of self alienation by bringing consciousness to our own needs, by reconnecting with our body feelings and by learning to follow our own instinct towards joy and abundance. We may need to learn to listen to our ‘gut feeling.’ We may need to descend into the body and bring the full light of consciousness to the body feelings, sensations, emotions, body postures, inner images and intentions that are associated with the expectations that we have internalized. Suppression of our own needs and attempts to get love or connection from living up to an extrinsic internalized expectation unbalance the parasympathetic nervous system and cause stress.
The body’s stress apparatus and particularly its production of the key stress hormone cortisol, become unbalanced through chronic overstimulation when we habitually go along with the other’s internalized expectation rather than our own needs. This causes fear, tension and sometimes illness in the body and reinforces our belief in the need to follow the ‘false self’ or the small self; the expectations of the other that we have internalized. We may need to take time to reverse this process by re-connecting ourselves with our own body, by coming to know our own body and emotions from inside, by learning to regulate our own parasympathetic nervous system, by processing any tension and trauma that may be present, by slowly learning to following our own needs and ultimately by becoming powerful
When we become aware of our ‘old story’ and the expectations we have internalized and when we fully feel, complete and bring consciousness and tender care to all the emotions, inner sensations, inner images, intentions and body movements connected with this old story then these feelings, intentions, body movements and inner images may begin to spontaneously transform. They may begin to transform into dreamfigures and mythic stories. They may lead us to inner mythic figures and mythic ways of being in the body which hold the key to shifting into our big Self; to fulfilling our needs and leading us to power. We may begin to realize which life choices are heartful and lead to sovereignty. We may begin to discern which people make up our true soul community; the ones who need our gifts and who will in turn help us fulfill our dreams. Instead of feeling we are ‘not good enough’, we may need to learn to give ourselves approval and blessing. We may begin to trust ourselves enough to move into the unknown and to do things which we thought we couldn’t do, which we feared to do or which had previously seemed impossible.
By following and bringing the full light of consciousness to the very symptoms produced by the orginal ‘curse’ we may eventually begin to perceive the true magnificent ‘gifts’ that we have to bring to the world. At this point we may begin to long for, and perhaps to begin to allow something greater than healing to emerge. We may realize that healing is helpful but we also long to be free, to experience triumph, to become an elder, to serve our community, to help others to be free and to live our life as a playful, honourable, wild adventure. It may seem that a benevolent force of nature is beginning to move through us and is shaping and guiding our life. Eventually the ‘curse’, the old story, will give way and will reveal the seed of the new story, of the ‘gift’ which is its opposite or exact reverse mirror image. A ‘new story’ of worthiness, freedom, imagination, co-creation and sovereignty will replace the old story of unworthiness and shame.This is the mythic level or the sentient level of our being which leads to triumph, eldership, joy, freedom, honour, responsibility and power