The fourth video in this series on Recovery from Childhood Trauma looks at the transformative and tumultuous processes of acknowledging and taking ownership of the internal conflict we are caught in.
Taking ownership moves us beyond awareness to a growing acknowledgment that the wounded child self, the harsh and controlling judgmental self, and the observing, compassionate self are truly parts of our psyche. The goal of taking ownership is to allow God’s Spirit to transform us. The compassionate part of us gains strength, the wounded part of us gains freedom, and the judgmental part of us begins to release control. All of this leads to less internal division and moves us toward integration, or wholeness.
Taking ownership of our wounded self brings to the surface the pain that this part of us carries. We find ourselves feeling ashamed, afraid, angry and reactive. As we say, “This is me” about our wounded self, we face our deepest pain without the protection of our defenses. This can feel impossible. It can feel like it will kill us. We have pushed this part of ourselves away and said “This is not me,” because of the depth of the pain that this part carries. But in doing so we have abandoned ourselves.
As we invite this wounded part of ourselves to come out of hiding, and as we engage the observing, compassionate part of ourselves to listen to our wounded child, the judgmental part of us is likely to move into action–shaming and attacking both the wounded self and the compassionate self. This internal conflict might continue for some time, but it is necessary for lasting transformation to take place. It will clearly take a great deal of courage, humility and support to begin to say, “This is me” about this part of ourselves. Two things can help us stay with this often painful and tumultuous process: remembering that this internal battle is part of the healing process, and recognizing that true healing requires strengthening the compassionate self and making lots of room for the wounded self.
The act of taking ownership of our compassionate self is the act of intentionally stepping into this part of ourselves. It is comparable to taking ownership of various underworked muscle groups by going to the gym and lifting weights. We start by doing just a few repetitions with five-pound weights and slowly build up to more repetitions and heavier weights. In much the same way, we actively choose to extend grace and compassion toward ourselves, a little at a time until this ability becomes stronger in us.
This is not as easy as it might sound. We will often find ourselves under attack from our judgmental self who is quick to tell us that being compassionate with ourselves is weak and selfish. The reality is that receiving grace from God and others and actively extending grace toward ourselves is an act of humility. It is an acknowledgment of our need and of our deep longing for love. It moves us away from the defenses and pretense we have been hiding behind and allows our heart’s deepest desires to come out into the open. We need grace and compassion and help. We long for love.
As we own our compassionate self this part of us can bring the light of Christ’s love and presence to our wounded self and to our judgmental self, inviting God to heal the wounded child from its burden of shame and despair and to free the judgmental self from its burden of fear and resentment.
Taking ownership of our judgmental self may begin with a growing awareness of how much we believe we need this part of ourselves–how much we fear we may lose control without it and how much we believe we deserve harsh treatment. The accusations that we hurl against ourselves have come to feel like truth. So the thought of giving them up or even modifying them feels like we are being asked to lie. We may have been telling ourselves in one form or another that we are unlovable and without value. And now God and others and even our compassionate self are telling us that this is not true. No matter what happened and no matter what we have done, we are loved and valued.
Taking ownership of our judgmental self means bringing this part of ourselves into the light of God’s love and allowing God to change us. This part of us both resists this and desires this. So conflict ensues.
As we say about our judgmental self, “This is me,” we move out of our defensive pride into a place of humility. Our hearts that have been closed to our longing for love begin to open up to love from God and love from others. The transformation that takes place in the judgmental part of us is the transformation that comes as we let go of control. As we let go and let God, God’s love enters our hearts and minds and this part of us begins to learn the amazing freedom of walking humbly with God. As a result, we begin to experience the freedom of not having to be in charge, but instead, of seeking God’s guidance and loving will for our lives.
In the video for this session I describe this process in more detail and talk about what was helpful to me as I did this healing work.The workbook questions (in the User’s Guide) for this session invite you to practice stepping into your compassionate self in order to offer healing to your judgmental self and your wounded self. And the audio meditation for this session invites you to rest in a peaceful place and to be there with your younger self and with Jesus–something I found (and continue to find) to be a deeply healing practice.
As always, your comments and stories are invited and welcomed.
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