Just as drugs seem to protect us from pain, then backfire as the disease progresses, so our adaptations to living in a hurtful environment initially protect and eventually engulf us in deeper hurt. Addictions and overused defenses remove our abilities to solve problems because they remove honest, uncensored thinking. What we think is protecting us, is actually setting in motion new problems. To deny our true feelings and desires and adapt to dysfunction means that we change ourselves to accept, expect and pass on the dysfunction to others.
The wounding which began long ago continues of our own volition. There is a desperate need to drown out the old childhood voice of pain and need, but it is only replaced with a new version of pain and need. Unhealthy habits generate dishonesty, destructiveness, disease, and denial of what lies deepest within us. Adrenalin and chaos replace hope and excitement. Depletion and depression replace relaxation and replenishment. Fleeting fantasies of euphoria and relief replace contentment and gratitude. A treadmill of goals and achievements replace our soul’s purpose. Authentic life is held within our true self and we can’t get to it without a courageous struggle. At the very least, this leaves us confused and constantly craving what we think will make us whole. At the very worst, we feel as if we want to die, because this life is so oppressive and draining.
So how do we reclaim our spirit and its truth? First we recognize that the defenses which initially protected us, are now causing harm. Many of us then use counseling to encourage the original hurt and yearning parts behind the defenses, to emerge. This brings back the fear, pain and powerlessness we felt at the age we first experienced it. If we persist with helpful support, however, we grow in our ability to distinguish between painful past events, and present life circumstances. Examining and healing old wounds allows us to identify and take responsibility for our current healthy needs. Letting go of old fears enables us to confront and resolve problems and pain with courage and compassion. As we surrender defenses and free ourselves from outdated scripts, we get a glimpse of our true self.
Therapeutic environments stimulate our long forgotten inner hope, excitement, relaxation, replenishment, contentment, gratitude, and awareness of our soul’s purpose. We can no longer settle for mere survival and we understand that chasing cravings only brings more cravings. Now we can focus on living from the full spectrum of our potential. Exchanging our adversarial role with life for a complementary role propels us into perpetual growth. The paradox of dysfunction is that the parts we hold hostage behind defenses contain all of our solutions. They are our greatest teachers when we set them free.
By. Mary Cook