Posts Tagged ‘Self’

When you were young

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Rick Hanson:

Every child is particularly vulnerable during the first few years.

One reason is that the primary neural trigger for experiences of stress and fear—the amygdala—is fully formed before most babies are born.

This “alarm bell” in your brain was ready to ring loud as you took your first breath.

Second, a nearby part that calms down the amygdala–the hippocampus–deoesnt become completely developed until around the third birthday.

The hippocampus is key to forming episodic memories—specific recollections of personal experiences—and it’s slow maturation is why we we don’t remember our earliest years.

It also signals the hypothalamus to quit calling for more more stress hormones (”Enough already”).

The combination of a ready-for-action amygdala and a needs-years-to-develop hippocampus is like a one-two punch: young children are easily upset while lacking internal resources for calming themselves and putting events in perspective.

Third, the right hemisphere of your brain got a jump start in development during your first eighteen months.

This matters because that side of the brain tends to emphasize the perception of threats, painful emotions such as fear, and avoidance behaviors such as withdrawing or feeling… which intensify the negative effects of the amygdala-hippocampus combination.

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Self-Authorship part 2: “Living with your Heart Wide Open”

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We see ourselves in the mirrors of others’ eyes and behaviors, and our stories reflect what we see there.

Who you believe you are began in your early relationships with your caregivers, and it was in these exchanges that you decided if you were worthy or unworthy, adequate or inadequate.

Your story has developed within this original theme from then on.

If you feel inadequate, for example, you may seek a sense of adequacy from people or things, from what you’ve done, or from your appearance, your talents, or your performances.

This never works out.

A sense of adequacy doesn’t come from any of these things; it comes from who you are. This is why so many of us feel deficient and unworthy no matter what we do.

We perform. We get wonderful things.

We may even succeed in proving our adequacy to others, but we never quite prove it to ourselves.

Shortly after every standing ovation, the sense of inadequacy returns and follows us as inexorably as a shadow.

The sense of inadequacy also follows us into our love relationships, where we tend to play out our role in some of the most dramatic ways.

Surely the one who loves us will give us what we always longed for.

Surely this person’s love will be enough, and through it, we will finally be enough.

This never quite works out either, even when our partners do their best to assure us that we’re okay, or even far more than okay.

In fact, the distortions of our self-authorship often manifest more dramatically in these relationships than anywhere else, due to the extraordinary perceptual distortion known as projection—attributing your own thoughts and judgments to others.

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Self-Authorship part 1: “Living with your Heart Wide Open”

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The stories you repeat make up your personal history and identity.

They include the place and time you were born, the way it was in your family, the things that happened to you, the things you did, the things others did, your first love, and your first betrayal.

It goes on and on—as long as you repeat it.

When you really look at your self-stories, you may discover that they’re repetitive and even arbitrary, depending on your mood.

It’s likely that the details don’t even match up with those in the stories of your parents or closest siblings.

A good question is “Who would you be without your story?”

Seeing yourself without your story is an excellent way to let go of taking things personally (which can be very helpful with shame and inadequacy).

Self-authorship begins very early in life in our responses to our caregivers.

If we are raised in a safe and secure environment in which we feel accepted and validated, we tend to have more self-compassion and less self-criticism (Neff and McGehee 2008).

But if our caregivers are more critical or aggressive or we feel unsafe with them for any reason, we tend to become more self-critical and insecure as we grow older (Gilbert and Proctor 2006).

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The Self: Living with your Heart wide open 

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The self is conditioned primarily in early interpersonal relationships, and we then tend to see only those things that confirm who we think we are, and we screen out everything to the contrary.

This is what it means to self-seal: closing off possibilities for yourself and sealing your identity, and your fate, within whatever self-construct was created when you were quite young.

This self becomes a prison of beliefs that color and distort your experience of who you are.

Margaret Wheatley’s quote offers insight into how we can free ourselves from this prison of funhouse mirrors with distorted reflections that we mistake for reality.

If you can experience yourself from the immediacy of here-and-now awareness rather than through the narrowed perceptions of a self created long before this moment, you can find another way of being in the world.

How do you develop this here-and-now awareness?

Mindfulness is the key, and as you work your way through this book, we’ll offer many practices that will help you develop this perspective.

Because it’s important to understand where you’re starting from, in this chapter we’ll explore how an identity of deficiency is constructed and persists from a Western psychological perspective as well as from the point of view of Buddhist psychology.

As you learn to bring mindful awareness and inquiry into these self-limiting constructions, you’re likely to discover possibilities for greater freedom and peace.

It’s like the Zen cartoon that shows an anguished prisoner clinging to the bars of his cell while a small door in a dark corner of his cell is clearly open.

Until you let go of the bars of your prison of self and begin to explore the dark and unlit places within yourself, you can’t find the door to freedom.

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“Living with your heart wide open”: Self Authorship

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“Author and organizational consultant Margaret Wheatley describes this dynamic well: “We notice what we notice because of who we are.

We create ourselves by what we choose to notice. Once this work of self-authorship has begun, we inhabit the world we have created.

We self-seal.

We don’t notice anything except those things that confirm what we already think about who we already are…

When we succeed in moving outside of our normal processes of self-reference and can look upon ourselves with self-awareness, then we have a chance at changing.

We break the seal. We notice something new”.

This is a powerful insight into not only how the concept of self is perpetuated by habits of mind and perception, but also how you can free yourself and discover a much larger experience of who you are.

Perhaps none of us discovers who we really are until we free ourselves from concepts of who we are and are not.

Therefore we begin this book by exploring how the fiction of self is created and maintained.

The sense of self is formed in early childhood and gradually hardens into self-concepts and beliefs, creating a personal identity that can define and restrict you for the rest of your life.”

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Peeling the Onion: A meditative journey

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Think about the traumas in your life, it maybe one horrific accident or a complete childhood, as an onion, each one different than the next in size, taste, color and texture.

Our Onion grew as we aged, more layers added over the years.

Think of some of our awkward or embarrassing moments in life as smaller onions or scallions, much less formidable or detrimental than our big trauma Onion.

PTSD and our onion open up the same way, peeeling back the outer layers, exposing deeper trauma (Layers).

Meditation helped me first become aware of the subtleties of each layer, then helped me peel back the outer layer.

The process like meditation is repetitive.

I meditated everyday, observing my traumas storyline from a distance, becoming familiar with my fight or flight mechanism.

Our trauma Onion is extremely strong, capable of making us cry and suffer if not handled properly.

If we assume healing is the peeling away of all the layers until we hit our core, meditation was the scalpel that made the cuts.

We peel the onion by surrendering to the fear it lays at our doorstep. The deeper layers cause us to stop peeling, the fear is more formidable at these inner layers.

I have healed by sitting prone, focused, while surrendering to my fears, being vulnerable in the face of perceived danger.

Conclusion: That trauma Onion is a mirage, a past traumatic event, stored as an implicit memory with all the fear and emotion of that moment.

No real danger existed in any of my triggers.

The same external triggers exist, however my same mind does not react to them now.

I figured out organically, sitting quietly observing my trauma it was benign.

PTSD is the rerun of a traumatic event that we watch on our personal trauma T.V.

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A closed circuit showing of a past horrific event.

So why did ptsd live after my abuser, my father, died?

The memory does not need him being alive to exist. The onion has grown and now has a life of its own, inside our head unfortunately.

I have never seen an Onion peel itself or PTSD to heal with time.

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I am Responsible: first three words of healing


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We are Responsible for our life, our behavior, our reactions and our attitude.

 

Realize excuses are failures to take responsibility.

 

My father was an abusive, violent narcissist.

 

In spite of my father, I am responsible for how I live my life, treat other people and treat myself.

 

If you want to heal this bridge needs to be crossed.

 


We need not forgive but we must take total responsibility for our life.

 


Next, Wellbeing will be harder for me to achieve, it is the challenge I was born into.

 

My responsibility let me accept the challenge of changing it.

 

The buck stops with us, we are the captain of the ship, the quarterback of the offense, the one who is responsible for our actions.

 

Hard to avoid giving all out effort, if you take responsibility.

 


If you do not take responsibility, victim will be the label you earn.

 


Conclusion: Do not compare your challenges with another, think of your challenges as a heavy sled, we are tasked with pushing a certain distance everyday.

 

Focus intently on moving the sled, distractions will find it harder to break through.


Responsibility brings the gift of purpose.

 

My father wins if I fail.

 

That’s all the incentive I have ever needed in the dark times of doubt and helplessness.

 

What is your incentive.

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I have absorbed the body trauma meditating yesterday

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Yesterday, I meditated five hours total in one hour increments. A past Trauma popped up with all its emotional terror, being trapped inside my body.

Trauma is stored at the time it occurs and with the ability at that age. My 19 year old self is much different than this 68 year old self.

The power, the intensity, the sheer anger and hurt shocked me.

All my skills had not stopped this trauma from taking over for a week.

Yesterday during my meditative sets, I brought the event to the surface, then observed all the fear, shame, anger and confusion without reaction.

I learned this as titration, you bring your trauma up for a couple minutes of thought, then meditate. The goal is to settle the nervous system back to normal.

Yes, I triggered myself, so I could integrate the fear. It is the road less travelled for sure.

That’s how healing happened originally. Triggers always caused me to avoid until I realized healing goes directly through the center of our fear (trauma).

The goal is not to squash the danger, it is to do nothing, accept and surrender from a distance.

This process integrates the stored trauma from the body and amygdala.

It is a very simple process, however it takes a strong ability to focus and courage to face our fears.

As long as our trauma has these strong negative emotions to reinforce its storyline, we lose.

For a couple of days, I was a victim, experiencing the tragedy in its full power.

It takes me a while for the mind to grapple with the demon.

Today, my system has absorbed most of the stored trauma, settled closer to my normal existence. I have separation of my 19 year old ego and my 68 year old ego again.

I forgot the intensity, the confusion and the outright terror PTSD wields when aroused. It’s been five years since anything like this has happened.

What seemed overwhelming last week, has shrunk to very unpleasant.

Settling the nervous system makes PTSD much easier to handle.

Thoughts?

Writing a few post with me suffering with PTSD, was difficult sharing the last couple of days. I knew everyone would be watching to see how I would handle it.

Do I just talk the talk or walk the walk. I have an added responsibility to not feel sorry for myself or be a victim. That actually adds to my motivation to never give in, never give up.

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Part 2: narrative based and immediate based selfs

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Neurological research using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) has shown that these two forms of self-awareness—narrative-based self and immediacy-based self—are located in two separate areas of the brain (Farb et al. 2007).

Using neuroimagery, which can detect which “self” people are operating from, this study compared novice meditators to people who had participated in an eight-week program in mindfulness meditation.

When participants shifted from a narrative focus to their immediate experience, fMRIs indicated that the experienced meditators had less activity in the region associated with the narrative-based self.

In other words, through the practice of mindfulness meditation we can disidentify from the self we’ve created with our stories and discover a new sense of self based in the present moment.

The narrative-based self lives in a continuum of past and future, and as such is the source of wanting, dissatisfaction, and judging—in short, suffering.

The immediacy-based self exists only in the here and now.

These two orientations in the world are fundamentally (and neurologically) different.

The immediacy-based self lives with the inescapable emotional pain of being human, yet it is also present for the breeze on your face or the birdsong that you cannot feel or hear when you’re preoccupied with thoughts and stories.

The narrative-based self can help you avoid much of the emotional pain that’s inevitable when living in the here and now, but you pay the price, as you must instead live with the suffering that self-limiting stories create.

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Part 1: narrative based and immediate based selfs

Pixabay: ToNic-Pics

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“Living with your Heart Wide Open” by Steve Flowers

“The hunger from unmet needs can form a central theme in the story you repeat to yourself, creating a narrative of a wounded self.

As described above, the narrative-based self exists across time and continuously creates itself through the stories it repeats.

We mistakenly believe this “self” is a somewhat permanent entity that endures through the constant changes of life.

(my two cents: this self is our created “Ego”)

Psychologist William James characterized the narrative-based self as a construction of narratives woven together from the threads of experiences over time into a cohesive concept we reference as “me” to make sense of the “I” acting in the present moment (James 1890).

The immediacy-based self, in contrast, is a creature of the here and now.

It is grounded in the experience of who you are in each moment.

This sense of self exists only in the present moment and therefore is ageless and timeless.

It is the primary orientation from which awareness is experienced and thus is not characterized by concepts such as gender, race, religion, and personal history.

As such, the immediacy-based self is not a thing but rather an active center of awareness from which you can acknowledge moment-to-moment experience.

From this perspective, Descartes’s famous dictum becomes “I experience what’s happening, therefore I am.”

Neurological research using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) has shown that these two forms of self-awareness—narrative-based self and immediacy-based self—are located in two separate areas of the brain (Farb et al. 2007).

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