<![CDATA[Inquiry: A Portal to the Heart - Blog]]>Wed, 11 Oct 2017 16:06:34 -0700Weebly<![CDATA[Restorative life force within anger/fear?]]>Tue, 10 Oct 2017 07:00:00 GMThttp://monicaespinozaonline.com/blog/restorative-life-force-within-angerfearPictureby Kathryn Denman http://www.flickr.com/photos/kdenmanphotography/

Faulty, corrupted boundaries...

Confusing gestures, tone of voice and touch.


I felt their anger, rage, sorrow and despair.  

They spoke affectionate words.


It was all so contradicting it made me sick to my stomach. 

So began a struggle within to know intentions and anticipate the uncontrollable....

This post is about unleashing the life-force or medicine within the poison of our unresolved fear or anger. 

Impatience was a daily experience during my childhood.  I wasn't getting the correct answer quick enough for him.  He asked if I was stupid.  His tone was jarring.  I trembled inside.  Rushing me didn't help.  I had to be quick and perfect. 

I was the 'difficult child,' and she would say "see you made your father leave."    He left because he didn't want to unleash his fury.  

Even playful moments turned to dread. 

My body was tickled to the point of feeling suffocated.  My laughter was contrived.  I gasped for air barely able to say "stop,"  yet saying it over and over made no difference.  I felt voiceless, unseen and powerless. 

Paralyzed by their looks.  Slammed by their tone of voice. Tears unacceptable.  Protesting was forbidden.  Anger and frustration from me was 'wrong.' 

Trapped!  No choice, without mercy.  

​Rain of sadness for the anorexia of compassion for their little girl.


My breathing contracted, curved my shoulders to hide, to guard my heart. The fortress around my heart led me to retreat in my head and eventually to lose touch with my body. 

The tiger in me evoked...and caged. 
I came to wonder if being me was ok.  I questioned my existence.  I came to fear living.  

I can understand why I wanted to die before I was 12. 


I learned early on to trust my sixth sense in an environment that was not safe.  I had to play safe and not be me.  

Emotional abuse is invisible, but, still leaves deep scarring.  

Pictureby Zoriah http://www.flickr.com/photos/zoriah/
What if unresolved fears have within them a restorative property?


The ying/yang....


Anger is not the result of a stimulus outside of me. 


It only seems like something outside of me has provoked the experience of anger.


If I had no thoughts about right/wrong, safe/unsafe, good/bad, etc;
would I experience anger?


Anger arises from my way of thinking.


Anger 'tells me' I have unmet needs. 

Anger is a defense to perceived attack. 

We only attack that which threatens us or scares us. 

What scares us prompts us to run and hide. 

Sometimes we come to fear anger in others and in ourselves. 

Anger in all its forms becomes 'an enemy' or a monster' to be feared, fought and destroyed. 

If I destroy anger, does it matter how I destroy 'it'?

What if anger destroys me?  
 
Anger is not out there.  Anger is within me.  

Anger is an energy that lives within me.

Energy cannot be destroyed only transformed.

The repeated experience of anger is toxic to our body when we don't listen to it's underlying fear and needs.  That unmet need deadens us as the energy stagnates.  The result is a feeling of dis-ease.

Feeling the fear and addressing the needs- enlivens us.  

I get to heal when the energy of anger or unresolved fear is alchemized. 


A-L-I-V-E  

Is the acronym that reminds me of the restorative potential of my anger or unresolved fears.  

Unresolved fear is life-force turned against me. 

ALIVE is how I feel when the poison of unresolved fear alchemizes. 

A is for awareness and acknowledgment of my incessant self-talk.
L is for listening to my tiger who protects me.  
I is for identifying the need of my tiger or self-critic.
V is for being vulnerable about my feelings and needs.
E is for empowering my tiger to emerge.  Emergence is possible through self-empathy or compassion. 

The 'A' of awareness is vital to the alchemy process. 

Unless I am aware of the self-talk that often does not quiet, those voices will draw me in like a magnet.  I will get caught up in my self-made stories, drama, and allow that to be my reality.  Like a magnet, it becomes harder to pull away, unless I am mentally aware and fully present in my body.  The key is to witness the stream of self-talk as if it were a foreign language and the images were parts of various films making no apparent sense.   I acknowledge the self-talk as part of my human condition.  I do not have to make myself wrong for having self-talk.  

The "L" of listening means to listen to the tiger who protects us from ourselves.  It cannot recognize that we are the attacker of ourselves.  Our tiger has needs like any living being.  There is no need to judge our tiger. Our tiger only does what is 'part' of it's nature, not it's whole nature.  It is not ruthless or merciless because it has a need to live, eat, play...

The "I" of identifying is being clear about our tiger's needs.  What is it protecting? What is it scared of and needing?  The clearer I am, the greater the understanding I have of myself and the greater the possibilities I can see to meet those needs. 

The "V" of vulnerability is acknowledging our humanness.  It is being brave to feel.  Only then can our tiger emerge and be as it is. 

The "E" of emerging means being as we really are.  Emerging as we really are happens through understanding our needs.  Our needs empower us.  

Understanding my needs gives my tiger a voice and being heard, it can be seen.  My tiger is also a calm, kind and playful kitty.  

Anger is an old protective force that can restore me like rain.  The clouds form, blocking the power of the sun.  A storm forms and comes to pass.  The sun shines again.  
How is your anger speaking through your body?

How are your unresolved fears playing out in your experiences?


Can you feel the sunshine amidst the clouds of anger and fear within you?

Can you see yourself as you really are behind the walls you built long ago?
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<![CDATA[Intimate courthouse intentions?]]>Wed, 04 Oct 2017 14:30:00 GMThttp://monicaespinozaonline.com/blog/intimate-courthouse-intentionsPictureby angus mcdiarmid http://www.flickr.com/photos/angusmcdiarmid/
I was raised in a courthouse with empty chairs....

No jurors or fair trial only tough judges and harsh verdicts. Condemned for life? 

Courthouses serve to bring justice by determining right from wrong and through a fair trial of neutral jurors concludes in sentencing the guilty party.

Within us can exist a similar system and courthouse that developed in our formative years.  

Out of fear I learned... to obey... to avoid further condemnation, knowing there would be no opportunity for a fair trial.  

Fear makes us submit and eventually rebellious and even aggressive. 

This post is about transforming our inner courthouses into compassionate homes by cultivating self-kindness as that leads us to collectively create a harmonious and peaceful world community. 

In order to cultivate compassion, I invite myself and you to recognize those moments where we are everything but kind, gentle, and supportive of ourselves.  

It is about going within and letting go of the continuous chatter of thoughts and who the world busily tells us we are or should be. 


Pictureby Alice Popkorn http://www.flickr.com/photos/alicepopkorn/
The opportunity for self-kindness arises everyday. Those challenging moments when we tend to react rather than check-in with our intentions.

​For me the opportunity comes when the judgmental or critical aspects are barely noticeable.  These aspects can be brutal if we neglect to be fully present to life. 

The unnoticed brutal aspects lead to pain and disease.  

Through my body I can tell when I have been less than kind.  I see bodily pain as redirecting my attention to the thoughts and emotions that led to it's current condition. 

The brutal aspects are not enemies to be fought, ignored, neglected or destroyed. 

Instead, it is important to notice the voice that rarely quiets.  That voice can say wonderful things too, but, it is not who I am.  You and I are the ones who notice...  


My intention for self-compassion starts with a gentle invitation to be the observer of my intimate courtroom.  ​Perhaps, the empty chairs of my courthouse now have a purpose!

I notice that when I am 'the judged and the judge' the verdict is often harsh.  I learned long ago to condemn myself when I did not live up to standards or expectations of my judges. 

I was barely able to utter a word when he said, "don't talk back at me!" He had the look of scorn.  I often tried to explain myself and attempted to get my needs met, but, instead I was shamed for having feelings...

No point in judging my judges as that does not serve me well.  

The process for me is to notice and remain centered in myself rather than over involved in those matters that I wish I could change, but, perhaps have no business in changing. 

Little by little I can turn my intimate courthouse into a safe loving home. 

I make my conscious goal a choice to be the witness that steps outside the courtroom to participate in the greater world or reality.

If the outer world is also a reflection of our inner worlds, then it is important I align in mind, body and spirit.  

Therefore, it is important that there be congruence in what I think, feel and do.  

Pictureby Maria Lavreteva http://www.flickr.com/photos/marlavrik/
As I do the work of aligning wholeheartedly, I realize that it is important I witness the aspects within that do not feel safe, loved, and strong....  

I cannot prevent the experiences that life presents me.  

I cannot always re-arrange the things that challenge or disturb me.

I can choose to stop my usual or habitual reactions and overtime respond in different ways.

I can allow experiences to run their course or pass through.  Experiences are ongoing and only harder when resisted. 

Each time I am thee active observer rather than reactor in my life, I notice a chair is taken up by an aspect that is already within me.   An aspect of self-tenderness, kindness, patience, understanding...

Sometimes she is a wise motherly aspect, other times she is a childlike playful aspect that reminds me not to take 'it' seriously.  And yet other times she is a mature aspect that reminds me to be fearless. 
​ 
It may be the work of a lifetime to transform my intimate courthouse into a safe loving home.  I remind myself that I am kind...with others, so all I have to do is turn that quality on myself when an unresolved fear comes up.

All of us have a part to transform the courthouses of the world into restorative justice spaces.  All of us can start by transforming our intimate courthouses into compassionate homes.  

The space between unkindness and compassion is not void nor hyperactive.  Kindness and compassion may seem dormant at times, but they are within us.

Let us awaken... open our hearts and be compassionate.  No need to fight the critical or judgmental aspects.  No need to hide or flee from those less than kind aspects.  We are evolving beings.   As humans a willingness to notice and an intention to be loving can be enough moment by moment. 


How are you transforming the less than kind aspects and seeing the world around you...?

Are you clear about your intentions when you speak... share yourself?


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<![CDATA[Love junkie...?]]>Tue, 26 Sep 2017 19:30:00 GMThttp://monicaespinozaonline.com/blog/love-junkie
Picture
by DL Duncan http://www.flickr.com/photos/talesoftaromeet/
It was agonizing, aching pain of wanting a relationship that had run its course.   I was fixated on why it hadn't worked and how it might still work.  I sobbed, wept, yet, it seemed the pain had no bottom.  I just wanted the excruciating pain to end.  I needed to convince myself that if letting go hurt so much, that it must be 'real love.'  I couldn't be logical or truly rational with such intense emotions and incessant thoughts.  

I never saw myself as obsessive or addictive...Perhaps, I had traits of codependence.  

But, labeling isn't useful, so I am doing my best to just describe my experience.  


It seemed I had symptoms of "withdrawal from love addiction:"

I was experiencing restlessness, sleeplessness, nausea, achy muscles, unable to focus, exhaustion, craving,..I felt desperate...


Love addiction is characterized by a string or fair share of short-lived yet intense romances.  

At best I was disappointed, but, mostly left bewildered and unconsolable when those romances suddenly ended.  I was consumed by missing the good times and unable to fully acknowledge all that led to the rupture.  The present didn't seem worth living. 

This post is about romance as a form of addiction and the beginning steps of recovery or healing.   See end of post for resource on anonymous help.  

I am writing looking back on 2013 as it is helpful to see what I have learned and what I can continue to work on. 

I was misguided by ideas of what love was and could do for me.  Believing something external to me is what I needed to be 'ok,' is not healthy. Anything we fixate on to stop internal pain, is not effective.  Eventually, the effects of our drug of choice ware off.  It can be utterly unbearable to go on without our fix.  

We can become junkies to romance, love, seduction, and sex. 

I wondered how I could be knocked off, seduced and swept by the current of love.  Only, I was not swept off my feet by love.  I was avoiding the pain of powerlessness or fear of not being loveable.  

When a relationship falls apart or ends, it is normal to experience all sorts of feelings.  However, when one has traits of codependence, unresolved wounds or trauma, the intensity of loss makes one feel out of control. 

What I learned is that I had to 'gather strength from giving in,' as the pain would only cease for a while if I got what I thought I needed.  To give in, meant for me to settle or go back to a relationship that had run its course. Giving in to ease the pain was a "temporary fix."    I was burying the pain deeper and postponing healing and growth. 

Picture
by Arturo Bust http://www.flickr.com/photos/-mouthwash/

I became saavy at distracting from my inner pain.  

Justifying and rationalizing only delayed getting to the fear below my anger and pain.  It was easier to feel angry than to experience the fullness of the shame or guilt.  It was an escape.  Only, we can never escape from ourselves. 

My ego convinced me over and over that if I worked on one more issue, I would be free.  Instead, I found myself in an endless escape loop.

I was entangled by my fear of not being good enough, of being left...


The healing started when I detached...and took responsibility for my pain.  

I detached from my emotions and thoughts to be aware of the entirety of the present moment.  In other words, I felt my feelings and emotions, but was not swept away by them.  

The first step, was to admit the reality of my state of mind and not give in to contacting my ex.  The second step, was to be consistent and gentle if I did reach out.  In time, I felt stronger for not giving- in.  I recognized the end of romance, merely triggered my unhealed wounds.  

I began to self-regulate the intensity of my emotions by diving into my heart.  

I began to confront that it was 'not about him,'  it was about unmet childhood needs that led to core beliefs about my lovability. 

I could see how in the string of short-lived romances, I had taken crumbs of attention and affection.  My longer lasting relationships still involved men who were unable to commit.  I have begun to understand my part in it.

I have come a ways from the excruciating and debilitating experience of despair when romance ends.  I am able to be present to my experience without needing to find the next escape and loop endlessly in despair or feel devastated by loss. 

Am I absolutely loveable?  Of course, yet, I suspect there is still subconsccious part of me that is out of congruence with the reality of my being.  

It is an ongoing love affair of honoring my power and beauty by dancing to the pace of my spirit and surrendering to the grace of this earthly dance floor. 

I am a 'disciple and advocate of Love," and hope to become a devotee of Love rather than a 'love junkie.' 


Are you willing to face your deepest fear to really love? 


How are you learning about love?  


How are you advocating for love in your life?


Resource: Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous check out SLAAFWS.ORG
http://slaafws.org/startagroup
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<![CDATA[Fluid or familiar partner-dance?]]>Tue, 19 Sep 2017 23:00:29 GMThttp://monicaespinozaonline.com/blog/fluid-or-familiar-partner-dancePictureby June Yarham http://www.flickr.com/photos/junibears/
I felt alone in my partner dance.

The dance was familiar....

It was painfully familiar.
 
The elements of dance are found in relationships. 
 
In dance there has to be bodies, space, action, energy, and time. There is also beat, rhythmic patterns, resistance or tension, weight, direction, focus, cues that connect and guide us.
  
In my latest romance, I was dancing to a 'familiar tune.'  

​While familiar is often safer and even comforting my dance with him was not comforting.  

He said, my tears seemed to be deeper than about him and I.  In a way he was right.  My sorrow was about feeling alone many times as a child.  My parent's were unable to be emotionally present to me as they were so caught up in themselves. 

Like my parent's he couldn't be present to me.  That was familiar.   I often did not feel heard or understood.  He couldn't listen  much less understand me as he was checked out of the present.   Being present is necessary to meet other needs. 


It was a familiar sacrifice to put my needs aside.  

I began to mourn before I made the spontaneous and intuitive decision to end the relationship.  I'm grateful to my inner child for getting my attention and for realizing as an adult I have choices. 

For much of my 20s and 30s I was caught up in my own wounding so I can understand others like my parent's and former partner who were unable to be present to me.   

While I have compassion for others struggling to be present, I know compassion starts with me.  

My inner child is happy I am honoring her by choosing a less familiar tune. 
She dances even when the decision to let him go has been tough.  It may be raining for a while in her heart, but, she knows the rain will subside and a rainbow will appear. 

Picture
by Heather http://www.flickr.com/photos/michar/
What I have learned is that a familiar dance can be the impetus to shift a pattern and transform a static dance.   

What is familiar may be comfortable at first, but, it is not necessarily growth promoting.  

In my latest partner dance, the pattern wasn't creating fluidity.  The dance was not expanding my experience.  The familiarity was not comforting as I was ready to break the pattern.

Like in dance, i
f I danced the same all the time, it would not be fun.  If I danced to the same tune, it would not be fun.  If I danced alone all the time, it would not be fun.  

Dance like life is ever fluid.   When dance is familiar or static, some of the beauty and magic fade.  What is beautiful is dancing to the truth that is alive in us, that is fluid. 


Our inner child informs us of what we need and what no longer serves us.

Are you honoring the dance/life/needs grabbing your attention? 


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<![CDATA[Influence v control's shrunk world?]]>Thu, 14 Sep 2017 21:30:00 GMThttp://monicaespinozaonline.com/blog/influence-v-controls-shrunk-worldPictureby Peter Erwig http://www.flickr.com/photos/flex-art/
I admit, sometimes I want to influence... outcomes... to avoid emotional pain. 


Influence is the capacity to change or impact others, outcomes, etc. without directly forcing them.  

​Having influence is being detached of outcomes and not over-exerting energy.  

Unlike influence, controlling behavior exerts tremendous energy as one is attached to outcomes. 


Therefore, while influence sounds better than 'control," to own what is mine, I must name it what it is.


This blog post is about the need to control, our circle of influence and touches on the strength of surrender. 

 

​It is not easy to admit there can still be instances in which it is hard to let go of the need even if subtle to control.   How I know is by how hard I work at something without the results I desire.  I over exert-my efforts or energy by battling with what is. 


I have been at war with my reality. 


It is irrational to compete with reality. 


I have tried so hard to make things better.

 
In wanting to improve matters, I tried to convince, impose my opinions, punish and demand my way.   Wanting some semblance of control used to bring out the worst in me.  
​  
I had to be vigilant of other's responses to avoid suffering.  The truth is that I created more suffering around me by 'influencing' what didn't want to be influenced or improved.  

We all know that the only response we can ever try to 'manage' is our own.  Of course,  that is if we are aware enough or present enough to have a open focus rather than narrow view of the world.

By trying to influence what is out of my circle of influence or control, I paradoxically shrunk my world.  

Control impinges on others and shrinks our circle of support or world. 

The world goes on with or without my perceptions, opinions, or judgments of how the world should or could be.  And while idealists make the world a better place, they do not do it through force or control.

Picture
by Alyce Santoro http://www.flickr.com/photos/alycesantoro/
Force has not worked in the world other than to create more violence. Before I make the world better, I must look at where I am forceful or violent with myself.   

The truth is that any need to control, controls the controller. I am controlled by the need itself which cannot trust Life. 

Needing to control creates anxiety.  My anxiety has it's roots in a very chaotic childhood.  However, since that is the past, I know that in the present I can simply do my best to be aware of situations that trigger me my need to influence an outcome.  

I can be vulnerable with myself about my resistance to a different outcome than the one I desire. 

That resistance creates stress and anxiety. 

Anxiety is just anticipating some outcome. 

There can be no flow or ease when there is vigilance.

Vigilance means I do not relax because I think I 'must do' something to change something....


Vigilance means I am afraid of that something I seek to exert influence over.

Therefore, the need to control sprouts from fear and creates tremendous anxiety.     


When anxiety takes over, 'it' controls me.  

Anxiety like fear are not very graceful.


​While attempting to control may aim to make things easier, it is rarely if ever very graceful or filled w/ease.  

What is graceful is going with the flow.  It doesn't mean I do nothing or give up my desires.  I am learning that it means not having such a tight hold on those desires.  The tight hold can be in expecting what I desire. Instead, if I have a preference, it frees to see a more expansive world of possibilities.  

Possibilities arise when I expand my focus from how it could be or should be to what might be.

My circle of support widens as I am transparent, vulnerable and willing to let go of my ideas of how things could be. 

I have choices and if I do not see options, then, I ask for assistance in seeing other possibilities.  

I can remind myself that the illusion of control is my source of suffering, misery and therefore also within my realm to breakthrough. 

I envision being in my power and without "trying" influencing the world just by being.  I want that kind of Presence.  


Self-Inquiry:​

Do I fear being controlled?  
If so, why would I give over my power...?
What if I am controlled by my own mind?
How can I manage my own mind's thoughts?

How can I open myself up to the flow of Life, as it is, right here and now?
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<![CDATA[Frustration's useless treasure?]]>Thu, 07 Sep 2017 21:55:29 GMThttp://monicaespinozaonline.com/blog/frustrations-useless-treasure
Picture
by Liane Viau http://www.flickr.com/photos/lianneviau/

When frustration is alive in us, there is a treasure buried deep within?

Frustration feels like a ton of bricks on me and I like I will burst in flames because of it's sense of urgency.  It seems I could spin in circles and not get anywhere.  I could scream or cry and then shut down. 

Frustration narrows my focus, so that I cannot see the whole panorama.  It is aggravated by a tough inner voice (internalized critic) that wants things done 'right and immediately.'   

Something tells me to take a break and I resist because the internalized critic demands or wants to force me do things.  Yes, I need to accomplish things but not with harshness. 

I can see the dynamic and now I understand I may live with this voice for a while longer maybe even the rest of my life, but, for sure I am committed to being more gentle and action oriented.  

When frustration hits, it can seem like one is helpless.  

I have been asking myself if the thoughts that lead to my frustration are true.  Because if there is any possibility that they are not, then it means I can find a way to beat my habituated thoughts or overprotective mind. 

Is it true that I can't...?  
Is it true that it is too much?
Is it true that it should be any other way?

Oh, that 'should.." hits the core of it.  

Wanting it to be other than as it is, is a sure way to be discontented and frustrated.

Fighting with what is, is a definite way to be stressed.  

Resisting what is, is stressful even exhausting. 

If I cannot change or control what is, then I have a choice to surrender not give up but offer up and let go.   If I can change what is, then I can expand my focus and make the simple choices or decisions that will step by step lead me to what I hope for. 

Frustration can stop us in our tracks.  The ability to move forward when things seem challenging is what builds confidence.  So why do we avoid challenges? 

According to speaker Mel Robbins, when we hesitate our minds protect us from the challenges (mind's auto pilot) even when the challenges are part of what we want.  She says the key is to count backwards from 5 to stop the old habit.  See the video at the end of blog to move from thought to action.  It is a long video so if pressed for time listen at 33 minutes on controlling our thoughts, overcoming anxiety, self-doubt and more. 

Easier said than done?  Is living with frustration easier?   

On the surface frustration is useless. 

Is frustration useless or does it offer any wealth of information that is useful?

Frustration is only useless if I allow it to keep me idle.  

If one can go deeper from the surface of the waves to what is stirring the current, then there is a treasure there. 

The treasure gets missed.

Once there was a vibrant child who was helpless to change circumstances... 

Feeling helpless overtime leads to internalized anger or depression. 

Depression is a choice.  I've written in the past about this.  I admit, I have to remind myself of this. 

I choose to depress to avoid taking responsibility in some way in my life.

Outwardly my life has not changed very much in the past decade, which tells me I have avoided challenges or allowed my ego/mind to needlessly protect me.

It is not only frustrating for me, but, I can see how frustrating this might be for those who care about me and know I am capable of much more than I demonstrate.

The solution has not been found by overthinking nor in taking my sweet time to act.  However, without clarity I am without a clear direction. Without a clear direction, I am idle.  To have clarity I need to be calm. To be calm I am increasing my self-care and awareness of the only moment there ever is: now.    

Below the surface of frustration is an old helpless-self that needs my inner support to fly out even if it seems there is only one wing. 

The treasure of frustration is making active choices rather than reacting. Knowing what is out of my control helps me to choose surrender rather than to just give up.  Giving up is giving into frustration.  Life moves on with or without us.  

Cannot avoid annoyances nor wish challenges or fears away.  Peace is not found but cultivated.  


The treasure of frustration is freeing my true self who has invisible wings. 


Do you know what lies beneath your frustration and how to support yourself to act in your best interest?

What's the wealth of your frustration?

How can you turn the uselessness of frustration into wings of hope? 


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<![CDATA[Lover's Loss v. Grief?]]>Tue, 29 Aug 2017 18:05:55 GMThttp://monicaespinozaonline.com/blog/lovers-loss-v-griefPictureby Jeronimo Sanz http://www.flickr.com/photos/jeronimooo/
Loss can cause suffering while grief can make me grateful?


Themes of loss have the potential to victimize while grief just means I have loved.


I feel grateful for my human condition allows me to love and be loved.  
If we have loved, we have lived.  As they say we all die, but, not all of us live. 

While it is incredibly wonderful to connect, love and hope for a future with our lover, there is no guarantee that it is forever. 

Loss says it is forever.  
Loss is desire and past focused.  

Loss puts the focus on our lover and what no longer is.  

The loss of a lover may seem permanent, but, grief is not forever.

Grief says it shall pass even when it hurts right now.
Grief is surrender and present focused. 
Grief puts the focus on my feelings and needs moment by moment.  



The experience of loss is part of grieving, but, grieving is never a loss.  

However, loss without grief can cause suffering when we give up on love, ourselves, and/or sink into outdated patterns of despair, hopelessness, depression and self-defeat. 

In those instances, I  ask myself, am I a victor or a victim of what is?

Life is full of choices. Today's choices may not be tomorrow's best decisions, but, in the moment we all do the best we can.  If we could have done differently, there is still a choice to forgive starting with ourselves. Choice of hope over giving up. Choice to align and act out of love rather than fear. 

Loss of lovers is part of experiencing life and ourselves.  Lovers mirror parts of ourselves.  Lovers help us learn about ourselves and how to love more wholeheartedly.   

Even if the loss were forever, I can still choose to be grateful for having loved.  I can be grateful for what I learned while I was with them and even from my time apart from them. 

No connection is ever a loss.  Relationships are happening in the eternal now.  

Who knows the future with absolute certainty?  

Gratitude is a choice I have that allows me to shift not only my mood but my attitude and ultimately my actions. ​

I choose to be victor, to keep hope alive and focus on loving me by amping my self-care.  

Every day I can choose to honor Life by being grateful for everything just as it is.  


Self-inquiry:

I invite you to feel into your being amidst thoughts, sensations,..

I invite you to focus on your heart area.  Breathe and exhale with sound or a sigh.  Repeat until there is a little more lightness in your awareness. 

How does the simplicity of being able to connect and love make you feel?

Grateful I hope!

Now, ask the following:

Am I focused more on what I want, than on what I have (am I missing out on right now)? 

Can I receive what I want, when I am focused on what I do not have?

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<![CDATA[Resentment's harbinger & need?]]>Tue, 22 Aug 2017 19:00:00 GMThttp://monicaespinozaonline.com/blog/resentments-harbinger-needPictureby Oakley Foxtrot http://www.flickr.com/photos/muterach/



Reluctant to express yourself for fear of saying the wrong thing or believing it is unacceptable to express frustration, anger, hurt, or any other emotion that is not sweet and tender?

Ever thought if I express my feelings, then I will ruin the quality of my relationships?

The harbinger of resentment is reluctance to express ourselves or fear of voicing our needs and expectations. 


Not having clarity about what we expect is a set up for disaster. 
Our unexpressed thoughts, feelings needs, and expectations can turn into negative emotions like resentment. 

Recently, a friend gave me unsolicited advice.  I felt angry as my need for empathy and connection was not met.  When I voiced my feelings and needs, his response was to tell me more of how I 'should' be.  I became quiet, realizing all I could do was give myself empathy. Had I not done that, I could have harbored resentment expecting him to put himself in my shoes.  

Resentment is a 'no win' emotion. The one who resents cannot be understood and others feel at a loss for not being able to please....

As a child I grew accustomed to my feelings being denied because expressing them was met with judgment.  So it became easy to deny not only my feelings, but their source, my needs.  It was not an unreasonable expectation to want my parent's to meet my emotional needs,but eventually our needs are inside job or responsibility!

What is resentment?

Resentment is the perception of injustice or indignation over perceived insult. 

Resentment builds because we do not express our feelings, needs and expectations freely in the moment or soon thereafter. 

What is unspoken holds great power.  What is not voiced, isn't just ignored, but, festers and weakens the quality of our relationships including the one with ourselves.  

Ever met 'nice people' who eventually express a lot of anger towards you that you cannot understand? 

Well, sometimes "nice persons" are really very angry (hurt) individuals who withhold a lot and eventually it comes out disproportionately in a present situation.  

Having our needs met help us to feel alive. To deny we have needs is to deny our humanity.  

It becomes disconnecting to deny our feelings and needs.  I used to say 'I am fine,' when I was not and yet held others accountable for my feelings. My sense of self was tied to how others responded to me.  In other words, how I perceived others responding to me, determined how I felt about myself.  Being at the mercy of others is not a very empowered stance. 

Expecting our needs to be met without expressing our needs is unfair.  

NO ONE OUTSIDE of 'me' CAN ANTICIPATE MY NEEDS, it is UNREALISTIC.  
These unrealistic expectations are subtle form of control as we expect others to meet our needs without voicing our needs or expectations.  It is a set up for disappointment.

What is the need that leads to resentment?

Our deep wounds cause us as humans to want to protect ourselves from similar future pain.  A need to control arises out of excruciating pain or overwhelm.  

We can never control anyone nor how others respond to us.  If we worry about how others will respond to us, we misdirect our energy to protecting ourselves by attempting to control or prevent a negative outcome.

A tendency to resent is closely tied to fear of not being accepted as we are. 

If I accept myself as I am, then, I am free to voice what I feel, need, want and expect. 

Freely expressing myself...and being myself prevents resentment. 

We cannot be ourselves if we are not free to express ourselves. 

Picture
by Iqbal Osman http://www.flickr.com/photos/82066314@N06/
It is up to each of us to be versed in our inner world of feelings and needs so that we can confidently voice ourselves. 

Very recently in a work situation I felt hurt, frustrated and even antagonistic as my need for support, understanding, appreciation and fairness seemed compromised.  I voiced some of this, but, the interaction kept replaying in my mind and in my sleep.  Had the matter been limited to that interaction, expressing my feelings and needs would have been enough to let go.  Something deeper and really old had been touched. 

It was old pain of not being heard, emotionally supported, and understood as a child.  It was expecting to be supported and understood.  

How can such an old wound be healed in the present when it has been festering for a long time?

The good news is that awareness and empathy are always great activators of healing and transformation.

If I resent someone, I can become aware of the expectations I hold.

I can forgive myself for not voicing what I felt in the moment and expecting someone else to know my needs and expectations. 

 
I can be compassionate about my unspoken needs.  Some expectations are just old unmet needs. 

My willingness to let go of expectations opens up a world of possibilities, surprises, and even miracles.  

My willingness to be vulnerable strengthens my voice. 

My willingness to express freely is self-honoring. 



Can I have empathy for a need to control arising out of a need to self-preserve?

Do I know when I harbor unrealistic expectations?

What triggers me to withhold voicing my needs?
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<![CDATA[Unforgiveness has a need?]]>Mon, 14 Aug 2017 20:00:00 GMThttp://monicaespinozaonline.com/blog/unforgiveness-has-a-need
Picture
by Noirran Marx http://www.flickr.com/photos/48898524@N07/
It can be hard to hear "forgive, as it sets you free."

But, what if we just have no idea what forgiveness means or how to go about it?


Sometimes some acts seem unforgiveable.  While we may know we are suffering because of what someone did to us in the past we remain powerless in the present. 


This post is about what lies behind the perception that we do not know how to forgive or the need of unforgiveness.   


1) What is unforgiveness?

2) Why is it hard to forgive? 

3) What does it really mean to forgive?

4) Is there a need underlying unforgiveness?


What is unforgiveness?

If forgiveness is a process of freeing myself of old hurt including resentment or desire for justice to be made, then, unforgiveness is an attitude of victimhood that keeps me from living fully in the present.  

If forgiveness is an act of self-love that allows me to embrace the wound with compassion, then, unforgiveness is an act of self-hate that ensures I suffer.

If forgiveness is the ability to hear my pain and grieve the hurt, then, unforgiveness is not listening, feeling or being vulnerable with myself

If forgiveness is letting go of a story that can haunt me incessantly, then unforgiveness is holding on to the story that I think makes me who I am.

Maybe I am more compassionate as a result of what happened, but I do not have to hold on to the traumatic story to be what I am. 


Byron Katie of The Work, asks  "who would I be without my story?"

Without the story we are just free to be. 

We all have a story.  However, when that story includes trauma, there are layers of hurt trapped in the body.  When the memories of trauma surface the need to be heard seems endless.  

Is there an end to retelling our traumatic story?  

Yes, I believe so.  Sometimes, the wounds of trauma run deep and we keep retelling our traumatic story thinking that can heal us.  

When we can integrate what happened by discharging what is in our body, we can release energy in service of ourselves and others rather than using that energy against ourselves and others. 

Integration includes letting go of our ego's need to judge and punish and learning about our humanity.  


Why is it hard to forgive?

It is hard to forgive because the transgression seems so personal and life altering. 

It can be hard to forgive when as humans we are capable of dehumanizing one another.  Atrocities do occur and yet we are capable of great humanity as well. 

It is hard to forgive when we believe the transgression or injustice was about us more than about the other's pain.  

Forgiveness is hard because it means taking responsibility for the current circumstances in my life instead of holding others or some event(s) accountable.  

Forgiveness is hard because it is not just a single act of letting go of horrific moments in our past.  It is a daily practice of letting go of small things with kindness, so I can also let go of the bigger, heavier or harder stuff. 

What does it really mean to forgive?

It means I stop numbing myself, thinking I cannot handle it and allow my e-motion to flow. 

It means allowing any strong emotion like rage to be released from my body through motion like running, dancing or even just moving and making sounds.  

We let out what was let in.

It means being vulnerable and brave to feel even the deepest fear because we have survived what happened.  

It means surrendering and trusting in our strength and/or in a benevolent force much wiser than us to heal.  

Forgiveness means choosing to be responsible when my needs are compromised moment by moment by allowing hurt and grief.   

Forgiveness means willingness to learn when I and others make mistakes or violate my values.    

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by BK Symphony of Love http://www.flickr.com/photos/pictoquotes/
What underlies my unforgiveness?

Unforgiveness is a need to be heard not so much by others as to what was dishonored....



Being unheard can feel disempowering.  

My needs empower me so I do not have to carry resentment, anger or bitterness. 

Even if I think that I do not know how to forgive, I can set an intention to listen to what I need and be patient as it is a process.  

I begin by listening with the intention of going within rather than looking outside.  I reconnect to what has been neglected within. 

I listen to any judgments that point to unmet needs.  

When I listen, I remove the armor that keeps me from feeling.  

I cannot forgive/heal what I cannot feel.  If I cannot feel, I cannot know my needs.  If I do not know my needs, I slowly decay until life loses meaning.  Without meaning, I may be breathing but walking like the dead. 


Forgiveness gives me wings to fly through uncertain times with a little more joy and peace. 


Are you choosing the decay of unforgiveness or love through forgiveness?  


Can you trust that you know how to let go?

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<![CDATA[Overwhelm's voice & response?]]>Tue, 08 Aug 2017 07:00:00 GMThttp://monicaespinozaonline.com/blog/overwhelms-voice-response
Picture
by ccho http://www.flickr.com/photos/ccho/
Being in one place or moving is a matter of timing.  Being stuck versus flowing is based on mindset?  What supports me in stillness and in progressing?  

What I know is that without change there is no progress.  Without progress there is stuckness. 

I have been learning that stuckness is more than a mindset but an amalgam of patterns or defense mechanisms held in my body that served me once but no longer do.  

Stuckness is not stillness.  Stillness, is not doing nothing. Stillness is remaining grounded while there is chaos or unknowns. 
Sometimes in wanting to become unstuck I've ended up overwhelmed. Overwhelm for me is a response linked to self-bullying or criticism of myself. 

Stuckness is sustained by energy held in the body from trauma.  Trauma manifests through outdated defense mechanisms.  

These are a few defense mechanisms that can and do keep us stuck or unable to make progress. 

*Avoidance 

something difficult is avoided (to remain safe) so we do not gain confidence in overcoming it (our fear), the result we remain stuck.


*Rumination

thinking over and over in ways that are unhelpful like asking "why questions" that victimize us.  Or engaging in self-talk that is self-critical like "I am worthless,  I never get it right." 

Self-criticism is disabling.   It is self-bullying.  The voice of self-criticism is an old familiar voice of harshness that was internalized long ago.  Self- bullying is something familiar yet quite hurtful and detrimental. 

The response to self-bullying is overwhelm due to threat.  I may not always recognize that I am being self-critical until I feel overwhelmed.

Time doesn't seem on my side.  I feel as though I am running in a marathon in place. It is exhausting and not much gets accomplished!    

Overwhelm has become my indicator that I am being hard on myself.  I feel tension in my shoulders and then a headache.  ​
Picture
by Edna Wintl http://www.flickr.com/photos/ednawinti/

 

When I am overwhelmed everything can seem ​endless, complex and make it tough to start. 

Overwhelm is paralyzing.  Stuckness sets in.  The bully wins. 


Self-bullying is a familiar voice of harshness that rages against me. What I need is to stand up for myself with gentleness and great compassion. 

In the grip of threat I want a reset button and cannot find it.  

My mind says there is not time for centering myself.  Yet,  from experience I know that stillness can allow me to be clear and avoid overthinking my priorities. 

And that is what has been alive in me for several days.  

The gift in all of this is that I have greater awareness of the ways this old bully likes to push me around.  I also understand and know that running around is accomplishing little.  

A sigh of relief washes over me as I release imprints of trauma stored in my body. I breathe deep and exhale out loud and fully.  Tears flow and cleanse me.   

I notice what the bully wants from me.  I have a choice to be pushed around and be heavy or to just be light. 

I write down all I think I need to do and all I want to accomplish today and in coming weeks.  Some days I cross off more from my to do list and others less.  The key will be to be gentle and keep at it. 

The bully loses each time I choose to act from a place of gentleness and at a pace that is steady rather than rushed and harsh. 
 
Stillness, allows me to witness and notice what I might be avoiding that is actually not gentle but keeping in place or stuck. 


The overwhelm response is understandable given how familiar the voice of harshness is.  Thanks to overwhelm's voice, my body has offered me the message that I am ready for more kindness & gentleness.  I can face my my inner-bully through the courage of my heart rather than from avoidance of threat.  
 

Do you have an inner bully who pushes you to do what he/she wants at your own expense?

What is your body's response to the threat of this bully (tension/pain in your body)? 

With more self-awareness what will or is your response to this self-defeating bully? 
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