Savannah Hanson: Unique gift
Something stopped me in my tracks the other day. I was in a Zoom room with about 18 people and one man said he perceived himself as uniquely flawed. The facilitator asked how many in the room saw themselves the same way and everyone in the room raised their hand. I was thunderstruck by this revelation.
For the last few weeks I have been asking myself how what I perceived as my greatest challenges or weaknesses could be gifts. The primary challenge has been sensitivity which contributed to anxiety and a sense of being traumatized by the harshness of the world. Gift? You must be crazy.
In 2016 I was able to stop hating this aspect of myself as I became willing to consider it as neutral. But see it as a gift? Felt impossible. Yet with this gift I can feel subtle energy, read other people’s energy, and receive powerful downloads of information that are very useful in guiding my life and interacting with others.
Then someone suggested taking our difficult aspects on a walk with us, inviting them for tea. I took two of mine for a walk and at the end of the walk laid on a rock and cried. I cried at the harshness with which I had treated this tender aspect of self. I saw that while I had never identified with the persecutor part of the drama triangle, in fact I had been persecuting these aspects of myself from the moment I recognized them as “broken” or a problem. Now this is very subtle, yet I saw that every attempt to fix myself was a subtle form of violence.
The Psychotherapist Fritz Perls had a theory called the Paradoxical Theory of Change. This theory says that the best way to attain wholeness is to allow ourselves to be fully who we are in the now moment. It asserts that the more one tries to be something they are not, the more things stay the same: stuck. Rather, change is a paradoxical offshoot of making full contact with our current experience, staying rooted in what is arising in the moment. From this place of full attention to what is arising in the now, an organic process occurs. Until we can accept fully who we are, change is thwarted.
The more we can accept ourselves, our partners, our children, the more likely change is. This is my direct experience with myself and particularly with people close to me. Since I adopted the practice of celebrating and thanking these difficult aspects of self, the more quickly they seem to shift. I literally thank them and witness how they wanted to protect and support me, albeit not in a way that is currently skillful. Maladaptive habits are formed in childhood when no other options seem available.
My inquiry/circling practice has this as a central tenant. Undoubtedly the nine months of weekly exposure to how effective it is to be held in an accepting presence that asks for nothing and no one to change has helped anchor this awareness .
Franco DeNicola of Advancing Consciousness offers the same suggestion. Witness the pattern, be willing to see how it has supported us, thank it and then be willing to make a new choice.
In my experience, this has not been the easiest practice to integrate. It may happen slowly. First we may learn to be neutral and stop judging ourselves for an unskillful habit. Over time it may move into neutrality. Yet the real magic happens when we can sincerely thank this pattern and see the gifts it has brought.
Perhaps it is no surprise that just recently an old friend I had not seen in years seemed to be amazed by the gifts the sensitivity I experience has brought me. To have someone mirror delight and acknowledgment rather than compassion or even pity was quite an eye opener.
Would you be willing to experiment with this? We practiced this in the Wild Hearts group recently and each member felt a rapid and remarkable shift in their relationship to lifelong challenges. Shoulders dropped, stomach unclenched, space opened up. Try it and see, nothing to lose except stress.
For information on private sessions or classes or to schedule a free 30-minute consultation, contact Savannah Hanson, M.A., MFT #40422 at 530-575-5052 or RisingasLove@gmail.com
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