10 December 2010 4 Comments

Betrayal as a Journey of Transformation, Part 4: Betrayal and Inner Work

P1010527While one of my brightest and most loyal-hearted clients wrestled with an inner conflict about his marriage, I had an interesting window into our humanness. As we explored feelings, actions, and possibilities it stuck me that we were skimming the water line between the airy realm of the mind and the deeper waters of the heart.

I noticed in a new and immediate way that these two realms have quite different physics, laws, subtle structures, and sensations. I sensed almost physically the way these different “realities” touch–like the great expanse of sky kissing the sea, stirring together surface-to-surface during storms but never merging or become like one another.

I was tracking my client’s buffers—the residues of trauma; invisible walls that keep threatening feelings and memories apart from awareness like a sheet of one-way glass in a fish tank. His buffers were thin. Like pointing from a boat into the depth; at certain angles of light we could see in. From the realm of mind we watched the movement of emotion like fish beneath the surface. He had enough awareness to stay with his feelings while using his skills to go up to bat for his needs. He remained loyal.

On the heels of these observations I saw the way unprocessed trauma–with thicker and more numerous buffers—can make balancing thought and feeling nearly impossible. Buffers cause thought and feeling to alternate without awareness, so they cannot modify one another--different realms a mirror surface away. Our motivations can be invisible to us even while they take shape in action.

Conflicts build up inner pressure when parts of us do not have a voice. The actions that spring from these hidden parts are not consistent with our stated values. Frightening feelings and unthinkable motivations activate the buffers that make us unaware, turning these hidden parts into exiles. So unresolved trauma can make us emotionally and spiritually deaf to the effects of our own actions. Survival mechanisms have no principles.

Reclaiming the brighter legacy of our humanity by becoming self-aware results from courageous Inner Work. As we explored in my post series on this important topic, we can develop an unshakable habit of deep yet detached self-observation.

Yet even Inner Work does not guarantee that we integrate buffered material. I am thinking of someone who excels in self-observation yet fails to apply it when triggered. He has an allergy to psychology, denouncing it frequently in favor of spirituality as a superior practice.

The role of psychology is to assist us to approach and manage the trauma hidden beneath our buffers. Once we are able to feel, identify, and interact with the issues that trigger us, drive us to dissociate, or make us act against our values, Inner Work on its own may be enough. If we cannot approach buffered issues we need frank, experienced assistance to reflect us to ourselves and free our inner exiles.

P1000907We all know people who do what they think or fear is expected of them to hold on to relationships. They resent their weakness while blaming the other person and feeling controlled. When we lack the inner strength to remain loyal to our own needs, feelings, ethics, boundaries or beliefs, attempting to be loyal to others brings up traumatic inner conflicts. These conflicts usually originate in childhood and reside behind buffers.

We may experience the other person as interfering with our ability to take care of ourselves or get our needs met. What is usually going on here is a lack of self-honesty and awareness about real needs, and about who is responsible for our care. We can ask others to participate in meeting our needs, but not to read our minds or to step in without a direct request.

Even in actual situations that force us to choose between our own needs and those of another, we can be forthright, sincere, and loving.

What do YOU do when you feel like someone is stopping you from doing what you want to do? Can you take responsibility for your feelings and remain loving even as you free yourself?

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4 Responses to “Betrayal as a Journey of Transformation, Part 4: Betrayal and Inner Work”

  1. Greg 10 December 2010 at 9:24 am #

    Remaining loyal to my inner needs has become a major focus for me as I grow older. Reflecting back on my past, seeing how that really served me to be loayal to my self and being more self aware of my hearts desire and how my mind can take over to control decisions is quite a revelation to me.

    I always need to check in with my hearts desire, that seems to reflect a true intuitive nature of self. That serves me well in decision making for my greater good. Emotions can cloud my clear intuitve feelings, with practice I become stronger in visioning what will work for me and what will not work me.

    Working on being grounded with the earth helps me keep my mind out of the sky and in my heart and soul. Being centered in my true being is where I can find the calm that helps me focus on what is clear and right in decision making in a heartful intuitive direction.

    Thank you,
    Greg

    • Teresa Dietze 17 December 2010 at 11:00 pm #

      Thank you Greg. There is a huge difference–as I am quite certain you know–between the “desire” of the deep heart and the type of desire that is like a craving. It’s almost like the difference between the feeling we get when the body wants and needs a really healthy meal and craving for junk food. Once this distinction is clear to us we become able to use the heart as guide.

  2. Michele Marie 12 December 2010 at 10:21 am #

    I really appreciate what you both wrote Teresa and Greg.
    I honor deeply your skills Tereasa and when I read this passage of yours:
    –I was tracking my client’s buffers—the residues of trauma; invisible walls that keep threatening feelings and memories apart from awareness like a sheet of one-way glass in a fish tank. His buffers were thin. Like pointing from a boat into the depth; at certain angles of light we could see in. From the realm of mind we watched the movement of emotion like fish beneath the surface. He had enough awareness to stay with his feelings while using his skills to go up to bat for his needs. He remained loyal.—

    I am very happy and grateful for the work you are doing to help others. It is not easy and it needs a lot of patience and understanding on both side client and healer.

    I like to remember this prayer in difficult time

    From a buddhist prayer The Eight verses of Mind Transformation by Geshe Langri Tangpa I will share the 3rd verse:

    ” In all action I will examine my mind
    And the moment a disturbing attitude arises,
    Endangering myself or others,
    I will firmly confront and avert it.”

    When you wrote this:

    Buffers cause thought and feeling to alternate without awareness, so they cannot modify one another–different realms a mirror surface away. Our motivations can be invisible to us even while they take shape in action.

    I really see how it is not so easy to just confront a situation and avert it unless I also have a clean clear motivation with a pure heart.

    Your work is so beneficial especially if one is ready to do it and go all the way. You are a very precious guide and I thank you for all the precious help you have been giving.

    Humbly and sincerely,

    • Teresa Dietze 17 December 2010 at 10:57 pm #

      Dearest Michele. Lovely, kind and clear contribution to the conversation. Thank you for participating!


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