Carrying an Emotional Burden as Atonement

emotional burden as atonement

Do you ever wake up in the morning with a certain feeling or emotion for seemingly no reason at all? With a mental disorder, every day is like a challenge, and oftentimes upon waking up, coming into the realization that the beginning of another day is like preparing for another battle. Sometimes I wake up feeling like it’s not going to be a good day, that I will lose the battle this day, and I will experience the consequences of that loss. I have only recently begun to ask myself how much of this is self-created, how much of it is a self-fulfilling prophecy?

In this blog I will look at how defining this morning experience in words, tracing back the source of how I created the experience, and then creating new more supportive words to live instead has changed the way I live out my days and determines so much of who and how I am within them. This application was created by Sunette Spies, who you can watch HERE for a deeper understanding of many aspects of what we live and experience within ourselves and our minds. In this blog, I will describe my own personal experience with this application.

I woke up one morning with an underlying emotional experience of frustration and agitation. It’s interesting, because there was no apparent reason for it. I was on vacation from work so the usual stresses and rush are far from my conscious awareness. What I realized is that we as humans are so programmable that we can condition ourselves into certain experiences, wherein our bodies can carry within them energetic charges that can influence who and how we are throughout the day.

What I ask myself is: where within this is my choice? Where is my decision-making ability where I decide who and how I am and experience myself throughout the day, and what I accomplish and whether or not I stand or fall? What I understand is that we do in fact have a choice, and we can in fact be the decision makers in our realities simply because we are here, living in our bodies, making those decisions and choices every day.

What we end up doing a lot of the time though, is succumbing to these un-named and un-identified emotional experiences we just seemingly feel as if it were all of who and how we are. But what if this experience is changeable? What if we have simply programmed ourselves to feel this way over time, but it doesn’t necessarily mean we have to follow through on the feeling? The unavoidable fact is that it took time to do this programming, so it will also take time to undo it. The realization is that it just takes a patience, practice and application.

Over time, we accept an allow our minds to run rampant, thinking all sorts of thoughts that are rarely directly connected to actual reality, however these thoughts do have an influence on how we feel about ourselves and our participation in life. When I woke up with frustration and agitation I had a look at how I had, over time, actually grown used to this underlying experience within me. Upon looking a little deeper I realized that, not only had I become used to it, but I had also been using it as a weight to carry around as my burden, a burden I carried around as if I deserved it, and as if it were some kind of atonement for past bad behaviour and bad decisions or choices.

I realized that, due to not having directed my experience with OCD my whole life, and having instead constantly and continuously submitted to it, I had an awareness on a deep level that I was harming myself in every way possible and on so many levels. Common sense would dictate a change in self and living is necessary, but how rarely do we look at and listen to common sense? What I had instead been doing was carrying around frustration, agitation, and even guilt, anger and regret, mostly due to self-judgment,  as my emotional burdens in a way to atone for the sins I had committed against myself.

It is as if we look to burden ourselves to make up for the harm we do and have done to ourselves and others. This religion of the self where self-flagellation takes on the form of self-criticism, self-sabotage, self-judgement and the carrying of emotional burdens. What is not realized here is that two wrongs don’t make a right. All we are doing is making it more difficult to self-correct. That the best and only way we can atone for our sins (real or imagined), is to invest into ourselves and our process of self-forgiveness and self-change.

This is where we come to the concept of self-forgiveness. Although I don’t associate self-forgiveness with religion, I am aware that Christ taught of forgiveness, and despite many manipulations and harms caused by religion, forgiveness is a concept of immense value that stands and can be taken and applied in one’s own life. This can be done in a way where the forgiveness is like a gift to ourselves, regardless of whether or not we judge ourselves as worthy or deserving. If you take away the judgment and view all life as equal – equally deserving, equally valuable, equally worth the opportunity for a chance to make it right – then the concept of self-forgiveness is one that atones for any sin, so long as it is accompanied by self-understanding and self-change, because it allows us to let go of the burdens we carry (much like forgiving someone in your life can have the same effect).

I realized that I had been carrying around an emotional burden that actually caused me to be and live less than my utmost potential throughout the day, the week, the month, the year, my life. If I choose to accept and allow this experience to be the deciding factor of who and how I am throughout the day, then what I am that day is someone that is impatient, someone that explodes in frustration and irritation at others due to nothing they themselves have actually done wrong, but due only to my own impressions, judgments and perceptions of their behaviour and actions. But the truth is, I am only looking at and projecting myself, and all that have done unto myself onto others, and reacting towards that mirror instead of forgiving myself and changing.

Conversely, I have also been on the receiving end of such treatment and outbursts, whether at work, with family or in my relationships, and I must say, it does create a lesser experience of what is possible. When the experience is not checked, it creates sub-par relationships and interactions between human beings. It creates hell for some, depending on the situation and context, where the hell is created for both the giver and the receiver of the outburst reaction. Where depth of communication and intimacy is possible, only protection and defence is expressed and lived. This is the type of day I was setting up for myself if I had just let myself go with that flow.

When I woke up with this particular experience, I decided to step up, to be instead the decision-maker in my life, to check myself and really have a good hard look at who I would be and how I would behave if I were to submit and succumb to the emotional energy of frustration and agitation I carried within myself the moment my eyes open in the morning. What I saw, when checking myself in awareness, was that there are so many other possibilities that I could live instead throughout the day, the week, the year, my life.

The word I chose to support myself with in this instance was ‘Release’, wherein I give myself a re-lease on how I am living, like a new lease on life, one where self-responsibility is taken, things are faced and forgiven, I move me, and I do not punish me and hold charges against myself. I instead live Real Ease, as I ease myself into my day. Release, let go, move on.

There is the path of following the reaction or emotional experience, and treating myself and others in a way where I use that interaction as my outlet to indulge in the frustration and agitation, letting it explode in an apparent release of tension, where I end up not only diminishing myself and making myself less than I am capable of, but also diminishing anyone else that I react towards, causing and creating reactions in them instead of assisting and supporting them to create and maintain stability and balance in their lives as well. But there is also the path less-traveled, the one where I decide – in this case- to instead release myself of this burden and this weight by taking self-responsibility for it, and go about my day with a clean slate, bringing the best of me forward to live and experience with myself and others.

What I saw is that we all have the choice every day; The choice to correct ourselves, to check ourselves, to step up and forgive ourselves in order to understand and release our energetic build-ups in our own time, on our own watch, how it should be done, in self-responsibility – not exploding at ourselves or others due to all the build up.

It’s not being tough or strong to become emotional, angry, frustrated… it’s actually the weaker alternative. Real strength is defined in our ability to take responsibility for ourselves and everything we are and have become. To really stand as that example of what is possible for humanity. That is how we create a better world, through simple participation in our reality, that little slice of it within which we have an influence. It’s how we teach our children and show our peers what we are capable of, and each and every one is in fact capable of it. And that is how we show ourselves what we can be.

This is a daily practice that is necessary in all of our battles. I have OCD and that is the hand I was dealt, that is what I must step up to and overcome and manage for myself. So every day, upon waking up, I take a good hard look at what I’m feeling and what that will create. I take that moment to define it in words, to self-forgive, and to create new more supportive words to live instead.

In this, I am actually creating living words – a living vocabulary- which over time can be used to live and apply in many different situations, not just for that day. And what also happens over time is that the words can be used in conjunction with each other, to compliment each other. As each word is lived it becomes stronger, and I define myself more and more within these words, instead of defining myself within and as feelings and words that I had programmed over time to be filled with hidden friction, anxieties, stresses and frustration among other things. There is another way.

 

OCD and Compulsive Skin-Picking; Causes, Solutions

man-2196323__340

What happens to the thoughts we suppress? The question is whether they simply vanish and cease to affect us, or whether they remain within our physical bodies and manifest physically such as symptoms, emotions/feelings and disorders? Unfortunately, what I have seen in my personal experience within myself over the years, is that all suppressed things are still here in the present moment. They exist in the form of the sometimes ‘childish’ reactions in moments, the inner tantrums, the stress and anxiety that has morphed over time into adult themes, and they exist within the patterns lived and within for example, dermatillomania. It requires only to be triggered, and it will re-emerge again, having never really left.

That being said, what I would like to do from here, is to ‘unpack’ this experience of suppression which is hidden from the world, and dwelt with, alone within oneself as one’s secret burden. Unpacking through taking self-responsibility for the reactions that have been suppressed in the past and which live in the present as they come up again and again, impossible to ignore.

To ‘take responsibility’ by looking into the reactions and seeing them for what they are. Isolation and loneliness are only valid if we accept and allow them to exist in us, and then we participate in actually creating them in our realities. The thoughts, ideas, beliefs and perceptions we hold about ourselves as dermatillomania sufferers are made real only through our participation within them by constantly thinking about them and acting on them. We are most certainly not the monsters we believe ourselves to be! We do not have to carry a burden or be the prisoners of our own minds. We have created this inner prison, and now it is up to us to learn how to better manage it and free ourselves.

And this is what I intend to do. Here, starting with myself, by having a look at some of my own personal examples of suppression. I am going to start by locating a pattern of suppression and concealment by looking at a recent experience where I went into a reaction which I dwelt with instead of finding and living a practical solution for myself.

1)  I had made a mistake at work, and I perceived a woman in my environment as being annoyed. She reacted in what I interpreted as impatience.

Instead of simply brushing it off, because there is no possible way I can know what someone else is thinking, and focusing instead on why I made a mistake and how to avoid it in the future, my mind was occupied with reactive thoughts. I reacted in self –judgment and began thinking negative thoughts about myself through the eyes of my colleague. I imagined the colleague thinking that I’m slow, that I’m not too bright, that I can’t be depended on, that I ‘m difficult to work with, and so on. In retrospect, I can see that the thoughts were very harsh towards myself, it was like putting myself down and then continuing to kick. Consequently, what I was doing was setting myself up to make more mistakes as I distract myself with these imaginary play-outs and as my confidence diminishes with each and every self-deprecating thought: thus manifesting the actual reality I was creating in my mind. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy made real through my participation in thoughts; participation through thinking them, fueling them, and focusing on them without directing myself to do otherwise.

To continue: I can see that the particular reaction was intensified within this specific situation for two reasons:

  • I had built up ideas charged with positive energy around the particular task I was working on, and it had become part of my self-image: me being a ‘star’ at work, getting praise from my bosses, getting a promotion, taking on more responsibility and being seen as ‘dependable’ by all.

My critical error here is Instead of humbly and diligently investing myself and my focus into my learning process (which is bound to be full of mistakes and mishaps till I get it), I instead invested into an idea of myself at the end of that learning process, focusing more on how I am perceived at my job, gaining a better title, or being capable of taking on more responsibility. This causes me to, during the learning process, feel insecure and constantly ‘at risk’ of losing that idea or image with every mistake and blunder, because in this particular situation, it is based in nothing real or of substance (yet). If I should ‘fail’ at it in any way, the failure is now absolute because it had become about how I define and see myself within myself.  I would feel like a fraud because what I had presented as ‘who I am’ has now been proven faulty, causing every mistake to be a blow to the entirety of how I view myself, which causes all sorts of reactions.

In the self-forgiveness and self-corrective application to follow, I will direct myself within how to now instead invest my self-image or self-definition within and as ‘Who I Am’ instead of ‘what I do’ or what labels I carry.

2) (Reaction intensifier #2) I had built up ideas around the woman.

When the thoughts seemed innocently ‘about her’ (she’s so organized, professional, responsible, beautiful, feminine etc…), they are really all about me. What I’m really telling myself is: “I’m so dis-organized, un-professional, irresponsible, ugly, masculine etc…”. The consequence of this is that I would begin to place her above myself in some kind of imaginary ranking system wherein she is exalted in my own mind, and now her words carry more weight and power over me.

With these two trigger in mind, the pattern I see here is:

1) Placing my value on something outside of myself, such as a job, title, promotion or recognition, causing insecurity and therefore stress and worry, because I have placed myself in an ‘at risk’ situation where I become defensive instead of embracing opportunities of learning.

2) Not viewing myself as equal to everyone around me, thus giving my power away to others.

All of this re-enforces my negative self-image, and places me squarely into a position of apparent powerlessness.

As multiple such reactions take place throughout the day, the pressure builds and intensifies. To me, the pressure feels as if it were ‘festering’ inside of me. It is very uncomfortable and distracting. It is heavy and burdensome, and it leads to the feelings of, for example, the self-disgust experienced by dermatillomania sufferers which is NOT improved by the appearance of blemished and irritated skin.

Altogether, this creates a toxic environment and sets oneself up to live out this pattern of self-belittling internal conversations, which become a self-fulfilling prophecy, which makes the thoughts seem as though they were real and true in the first place. This leads to the feelings of, for example, the self-disgust experienced by dermatillomania sufferers which, after a day of talking down to oneself, one would get home feeling terribly anxious about of whole broad spectrum of things.

Stay tuned! I will continue in my next blog with self-forgiveness statements.