Many of us come to spirituality, (because of the nature of our insane, egoic, suppressive culture) already emotionally and energetically repressed.
Our state of unconsciousness (caused, we may not realize, by years of accumulating beliefs, or as we call it ‘programming’ from our life experiences) has become painful enough that we begin to seek a way out, which, of course, ultimately means becoming conscious again.
We just want to feel better after a lifetime of suffering – and the promise of consciousness, healing and awakening becomes a major pull.
Leaders in spirituality, who themselves have had either sudden or progressive awakenings, will often, understandably, point to our suffering, negativity or negative emotions as both the result OF our programming AND (if the teaching / method is a good one) as an indicator as to where we should inquire / question our beliefs or ‘deprogram’ ourselves.
Also, understandably, many of us who as children were traumatized, repressed and not allowed by our caregivers or culture to feel or express certain emotions or energies (like anger, fear or sexuality for example) may regress when faced with this open invitation to inquire and utilize our negative feelings and suffering to get free, viewing it as just another parent, abuser or authority figure invalidating, hurting, punishing or even ‘gaslighting’ us. After all, this IS part of what perpetrators do; make their victims question themselves and their realities.
Such is the nature of living life in a traumatized state of repression; everything feels like an attack. Self-trust is out the window. And to make matters worse, there are tons of other traumatized, repressed people in the world who DO shame, blame, minimize, gaslight and invalidate others’ pain because, as we may know from our own experience, people ultimately treat each other the way they feel about themselves. And pretty much everyone is traumatized to some degree if you’ve been born in the last hundred years.
And so, beautifully, many people, spiritual leaders / teachers and otherwise, moved by compassion, empathy and understanding of the suffering state of others, offer their hearts, hands and voice to those of us who’ve been hurt, minimized and disempowered. Advocating for victims of trauma, abuse and neglect is an integral part of the job of anyone who feels called to true healing work.
AND…it’s only part of the job. There can be a massive trap here if we’re not careful.
Because coming out of the fog of denial, confusion and self-doubt and into a space where we’re being truly supported, believed, validated, accepted and loved for who we are is so essential in the beginning stages of healing for trauma and abuse survivors, it’s incredibly easy and tempting to settle and maybe even get stuck in this ‘haven’ or ‘safe space’ zone because it feels so much better than what we’ve hitherto experienced. We now have people who see, understand and truly love us as we embark on our healing journey – and isn’t that all we’ve ever wanted and needed?
The answer to this question depends on asking ourselves what we truly want.
There are plenty of clinicians, therapists, sponsors, guides and spiritual teachers / leaders and maybe even family members who will gladly accept and support us unconditionally and who, since likely we and they have been in the habit of rejecting ourselves, our experience and our emotions, will encourage us to “rest as awareness,” “allow everything to be as it is”, “feel to heal” and “embrace our humanness”. This is excellent guidance and is a great start to the process of healing and embodying awareness.
The problem and pitfall here is two fold;
- IF we begin to settle for the safety, comfort and support of others as a be-all, end-all we will most likely turn the helpful pointers above (such as “embrace your humanness”) into new programs or belief systems that slowly begin to drive our suffering again in the same same way that our negative beliefs did prior to healing. Remember, the programming in our body-minds (including beliefs, belief systems and worldviews) is the original source of our suffering. So taking on more / further programming, even if it’s ‘positive’ or ‘helpful’, can keep us safely repressed, suffering and separated from ourselves and others. Our egos love this because they will literally do anything for us not to inquire / go deeper into the unconscious (which is all ego ultimately really is; unconscious programming).
- If those leading / guiding / helping us heal haven’t gone deep enough into the unconscious and dealt with their own emotional repression they’re likely speaking to us, unknowingly, through the filter of their own programming. And nine times out of ten their message will be over-focused on safety, love / compassion and / or connection / community because these things are all excellent trauma shelters that can keep us from recognizing or, god forbid, accessing the decades’ worth of repressed emotions and energies that lie below the level of conscious awareness. There will also still be talk (albeit more subtle) of “good and bad” people or “us vs them” thinking and identities like “awake”, “authentic”, “spiritual”, “empathic”, “narcissistic” as well as a continued fight against the “powers that be” in whatever form.
This isn’t to say that none of these impulses, concepts or identities aren’t true or valid ways of describing our experience on a relative level or of living our lives if that’s the way we naturally move and express – its more reminder to pay attention to what’s truly running the show in your own experience. What’s driving your suffering? As we’ve seen countless times with ourselves and others in ‘Natural Recovery from Suffering’, the answer to the question (and final frontier) is unconscious emotional and energetic repression.
And so – be discerning and, as best you can, trust yourself (or if you can’t, know that it’s most likely because of your own reversible emotional repression) when gauging which teachers, leaders, coaches, modality or tools you feel drawn to.
Those who over-stress safety, love, compassion, understanding and acceptance as the answer may be unknowingly driven by the idea that suffering is our natural state and are likely repressed and unconsciously committed to staying that way for the time being. They may even couch their resistance in crusades against ‘toxic positivity’ or employ compassionate-sounding rationales like “just embrace your humanness” when what they really may mean is “Don’t bother looking into that because I haven’t either”.
THIS IS THE TRAP: conflating suffering with humanness (or “who we are”) is EXACTLY what our egoic programming does. So to get onboard with those championing “it’s ok not to be ok” or “everything’s fine as it is”, as, instead of practical and helpful pointers / tools of liberation, justifications for staying safe and connected to some tribe is to climb right back into the hands of those who, like in childhood, would keep you from your experiencing own freedom. After all, it’s true what they say; “Misery loves company”.
Author and non-dual teacher Ken Wilber writes;
“Transformative spirituality does not seek to bolster or legitimate any present worldview at all, but rather to provide true authenticity by shattering what the world takes as legitimate. Legitimate consciousness is sanctioned by the consensus, adopted by the herd mentality, embraced by the culture and the counterculture both, promoted by the separate self as the way to make sense of this world.
But authentic consciousness quickly shakes all of that off its back, and settles instead into a glance that sees only a radiant infinity in the heart of all souls and breathes into its lungs only the atmosphere of an eternity too simple to believe.
Transformative spirituality is therefore revolutionary. It does not legitimate the world, it breaks the world; it does not console the world, it shatters it. And it does not render the self content, it renders it undone.”
The Kiloby Inquiries & Natural Recovery from Suffering
Co-Developer, Trainer & Certified Facilitator