What If The 1% Had Their Own Awakening?
Five years ago I started to question a lot in my life. At 40, I’m sure it could be put down to a midlife crisis. Why was I like this? Why did I behave in certain ways. What do I want? Why did I feel empty, lost. Or no matter how many friends I had, feel like I didn’t fit in anywhere. There was a lot of introspection and spiralling thoughts that were bringing me down. I was crying a lot. There were nights when I went to bed wishing I wouldn’t wake up. I needed to figure out what to do about it.
I started seeing a counsellor, ordered a book to do the uncomfortable inner child work, began reparenting, booked an expensive hypnosis style therapy session, meditated and continued getting my endorphins from the gym. Since then, I’ve barely had a day when I haven’t been trying to figure myself out.
My ‘aha’ moment
At the start of this year I read Susan David’s, “Emotional Intelligence”. Emotions weren’t a ‘thing’ when I was growing up, certainly not difficult or ‘negative’ ones. Something I think a lot of people in my age group can identify with. I wasn’t allowed to feel anger, frustration or be upset. If I heard, “children should be seen and not heard” once, I heard it a thousand times.
After reading Susan David’s book, I thanked her on her Instagram page and commented that I still struggled with feelings of shame about my past. She directed me to Dr Nicole Lepera, the Holistic Psychologist’s page. I scrolled.
And then I had my ‘aha’ moment.
My jaw dropped and from those words on one small square on my phone, everything seemed to fall into place.
As a child I was conditioned to put other’s needs before my own. As I’ve only recently learned, I was given the role of ‘caretaker’, always watching what I said or did so as not to upset ‘people’. And that’s what I continued to do throughout my teenage years, twenties and thirties.
I’d often want to speak up but my stomach would churn, I’d feel sick with nerves about saying something stupid or coming across as demanding or needy or any other shame inducing emotion. Often when I did try to stick up for myself I got shot down. Which would only compound the feelings of nervousness, of ‘being seen and not heard’.
I realise now I’ve always worried about what the people in my life thought of me to the detriment of my sense of self. I have been the ubiquitous, chronic over thinker. If I spoke my mind, I’d worry about it. And then I’d end up apologising. Even if I hadn’t said or done anything wrong. I suffered massively because of it.
A lot of the time I know I was being overly critical and very hard on myself. On many occasions though, I know I could have handled situations better.
Those difficult emotions
One such occasion was when I was 26 years young. I attended the funeral of my 20 year old cousin who had taken his own life. I had an interview the same week that would turn my temporary role into a permanent one. I made a mess of one of my responses. After being offered the job, my manager took me into her office and told me where I’d gone wrong. My reaction? Anger. How dare she. She knew my situation. So I did what any mature 26 year old would do. I threw my toys out the pram and started to look for another job.
I now know this was one of my ego stories. A big brick wall I’d built to protect myself from being treated badly or taken advantage of. Of course, that’s not what was happening. I simply didn’t know how to take care of myself, to put boundaries in place, to manage my emotions like an adult. So I fled.
If I’d had the emotional intelligence to deal with that situation, first, I would have shown myself compassion and moved the interview back to give myself time to process what was going on in my personal life. Or I could have spoken to her about how I was feeling. She had every right to do her job, what she thought was the right thing to do. But equally, I had every right to feel what I was feeling. As long as I communicated it respectfully. Or managed those feelings like an adult.
Doing the work
Dr Nicole Lepera has over 3M followers. The ‘self help’ industry is a multi billion dollar goldmine. And according to ‘recognizetrauma.org’, 60% of adults report experiencing abuse or other difficult family circumstances. We now know abuse isn’t just physical, it’s emotional. And often subtle, and unintended. So it’s not just me then. Oh good.
Her book “How to do the Work” is a book I wish I’d had when I was 18. It could have saved me a lot of embarrassment and shame. I would have been able to use my voice better, to communicate authentically, to unlearn my conditioning and cope better.
I’ve thought about how different my life would be if I had had the opportunity to do the work sooner. I can’t change any of it. But I can try to shape myself into the type of person I was always supposed to be.
Doing the ‘work’ is uncomfortable. I had to look at my life through an honest lens. I noticed when I internalised my feelings, they crept up in other ways. Towards others. Sarcasm, moodiness, derision, dismissiveness, defensiveness, withdrawing. Using my ‘career’ as a distraction.
Observing those difficult aspects of myself has allowed me to overcome them. I now accept those ‘off’ moments are because I was never given the tools to know how to love myself, to manage my emotions, to put up boundaries and ultimately, take care of me. Doing the work has been the only way I’ve been able to truly forgive myself.
Imagine if doing the work, fixed the world
When I see stories or hear tales of vandalism or destruction carried out by teenagers or kids, I can’t help but think that they must be unloved. That their home life must be rubbish. Why else would they set a play park on fire or, in worse case scenarios, kill innocent people.
My own experience made me wonder if the bigger problems of the world could be a byproduct of childhood emotional neglect. I wonder if many of us are taking our unresolved shit out on others, on animals, on the planet.
And what if some of the 60% of adults who have had less than perfect childhoods, are the global leaders, or the elites?
Well then we really do have some serious problems to contend with. Those people aren’t just taking their shit out on those around them. They’re taking their unresolved trauma out on us all and the world we live in.