The emotional body can become as unbalanced and dis-eased as the physical body. I have, personally, calamitously cultivated patterns that have wreaked havoc with my emotional state. Ultimately, I’ve managed to convert negative spirals into catalysts for growth. Three cycles tend to stand out: cultivating co-dependency, nurturing negatives, and persisting in procrastinating. Transforming these has effected a great spiritual cleanse and freed up creative energy:
• Co-dependency — Familial patterns, media standards and peer pressure all influence our most intimate relationships. In my case, I was bullied by teens in middle school and high school. I hid out in drama, debate and academics. I arrived at the college dating scene, therefore, with virtually no skills at romance. After an orientation talking circle, I found myself fought over by two of the brightest and cutest pre-med guys on campus. Jess won out, and it was with him that I made all the classic mistakes. I was the first to announce “I love you,” and rather unsubtly. I was clingy, needy and demanding. Jess dropped me like first period French.
Fearful of abandonment in every relationship that followed, I was the poster child for co-dependency. Eager to please, I surrendered completely to my partner’s needs. His stress was my stress; his joy was my happiness. None of this was easy, considering I am empathic. I have learned to embrace the vulnerable but wiser self within; through time, I have let go of allowing myself to be taken advantage of by others. I radiate competence. I am centered in my life, fulfilling my purpose as a writer, teacher and ceremonial singer.
• Negativity — When I traveled to Memphis to meet up with Cedric Red Feather in May 1995, the journey toward emotional cleansing truly began. Cedric taught me to transmute every negative thought to a positive one instantly. A skeptic at heart, my mind naturally perceived the downside of any endeavor. By becoming more positive, doorways magically opened in many directions. Cedric also modeled self-reliance. I had grown up on praise and recognition from parents and teachers. Cedric encouraged me to live without seeking the approval of others. This was like sage-ing out the emotional body. I was then able to grow spiritually and become more assertive and independent.
• Procrastination — This destructive pattern has been the most long-standing and, befitting its nature, I have saved it for last. Taking stock of my emotional journey, I acknowledge there are still traumas I need to confront and heal. The first step is to stop postponing the internal work. I let myself relax and reflect upon erstwhile devastating events. This time, though, I replay them as the more wise and skilled adult, instead of the silent, mute, helpless, speechless little girl unarmed against a sea of tormenters. I encourage everyone to look within and embrace life experiences as welcome catalysts for growth. We can’t change the storyline of the past, but we can carry more healing thoughts and assumptions into the future.
I procrastinate on banal life tasks, as well. My classic pattern is allowing laundry to accumulate for three weeks, thereafter dragging out the cycle of washing, drying and folding into a four-day marathon. Now, I make it a point to declare my intent, either in writing or verbally to Cedric; then I hasten to finish what I had determined to do. If I don’t complete something, I face Cedric’s dreaded reminder: “You know what they say about people who only TALK of doing things,” he will comment, wryly. That’s enough to motivate me. I then internalize his voice, and I’m all set. I break each task down into mini-steps, punctuated by predetermined, intermittent rewards.
The act of contemplating this month’s topic made me aware that I have allowed myself to settle into all-too-comfortable patterns — familiar as pairs of fuzzy old socks. They may have proffered comfort previously, but their utility has long since been compromised. It’s time to identify the patterns that weigh us down; replace old patterns with newer, more productive ones; and finally Feng Shui our emotional space.
How else can we invite our lives to be charmed by new synchronicities?