As human beings, we need to have connection with others and the more disconnected we feel, the more difficult it can be to have healthy relationships with others.
The original cause of human disconnect happens in infancy when there is a lack of connection with the Mother and Father. This lack of bonding or connection with Mother can happen for a number of reasons including premature births, resulting in having to be in an incubator, postpartum depression or any other kind of depression, rigid rules having to do with allowing the baby to “cry out” rather than comfort and soothe the baby, personality disorders, mental illness, physical illness, addiction and even death or divorce of a parent. We also have extreme circumstances such as childhood abuse and incest.
Rosenberg says that breast feeding, eye contact and skin to skin contact is very important for the infant to build a strong sense of self. When a mother or father looks lovingly into the eyes of the baby, the baby is provided healthy mirroring and gets the sense he/she is loved and valued. If a parent is “distracted” or preoccupied, this kind of connection may be limited, or not happening at all.
Once we are adults, we can’t go back and change the circumstances of our childhood but we can heal by understanding and learning how to connect with ourselves.
Understanding that the original relationship of baby to Mother and Father is the cause of the disconnect wound, does not mean we “blame the parent.” Developing this understanding helps the “adult child” to realize the disconnect wound was not his/her fault but healing it in adulthood is his/her responsibility.
The disconnect wound, like the sins of the Father, are passed down from generation to generation and until someone in the family tree breaks the chain by healing their own disconnection wounds, the problem will continue to be passed down.
There is a huge difference between fault and responsibility. Blaming anyone for how we feel will not help us to heal. But truly accessing our “feeling” states will help us reconnect to ourselves, to God/ Spirit and to each other in a more authentic way.
Personality disorders such as borderline and narcissism are the result of painful disconnects in childhood and the child learns he or she can’t trust the parent to be there for him/her. He or she doesn’t receive the love, comfort, mirroring or soothing he/she needs to develop a strong sense of Self, and so a “false self” is constructed to create a sense of control over one’s environment.
The false self is often the “self” that wants to please the parent because he/she depends on that parent for his or her very survival. The child will cut off from parts of himself or herself that a parent or teacher doesn’t approve of, in order to feel more accepted, or to avoid ridicule or abuse.
Creative or artistic talents may be discouraged in narcissistic family systems and anything in the child that is “different” from the parent may be undermined. The child gets the message “who I am is not okay, so I have to be what they want me to be.” The true self is thrown under the bus and the false self emerges.
Cutting off from the true self does not automatically result in a personality disorder. Our society and family systems set us up to be what is expected of us, rather than encourage us to discover who we really are. So in large, people are walking around wounded and disconnected from themselves and each other. Personality disorders are an extreme result of this disconnect.
The true, authentic self is often missed and longed for. One may have a feeling that something just isn’t right or something is missing. He or she may feel s/he is not “on purpose” and just living to please others. At some point, this becomes a “calling” and the individual may embark on a personal/spiritual healing path which may result in walking away from the life he or she thought they should live and seek out the life they were truly born to live
Those who are still living from the false self, may blend in nicely with society but unconsciously feel something is “not right.” When exposed to people who have broken free from the status quo and living a life true to the self, a variety of feelings can be provoked including jealousy, fear, admiration, and anger. Instead of understanding one’s own feelings he or she may lash out towards those who unconsciously provoke what is unhealed within.
Of course, much of what goes on in the “false self” is unconscious. The individual is not truly aware of what is going on beneath the surface. They are very skilled at justifying their behavior towards others.
Blaming others for one’s uncomfortable feelings is common. The deeper one lives in the “false self” the more he or she is unaware that the “true self” even exists. A forty five year old man may still be trying to please his Mother (unconsciously,) by doing what he thinks will make her happy, rather than exploring who he really is and what would make him happy.
Those living in the “false self,” feel disconnected from others and will often blame others for that disconnect. Deep down there is a fear of intimacy and a lack of trust that one can get what he/she needs in relationship to others. Therefore, they push others away through alienation and abuse.
We often mask our fears and insecurities by surrounding ourselves with people who are just like us or don’t stray too far from our own perceived norms. A religious man hangs out with others from his church. An alcoholic surrounds himself with other alcoholics. Insecure people find other insecure people to be around. People who identify with material accomplishment will surround themselves with others who are at a similar level of accomplishment. Even the black sheep’s join together. The more we align with those who are most “like us” the less we will feel our differences or even our own inadequacies.
The more we can fully embrace our “true” selves, the more we can embrace others, even if they are completely different. We learn to see the beauty in variety. The hatred that emerges from our fears gives way to the love that emerges from our sense of Unity. The more we can love who we really are, the more we can love who others really are.
When we are disconnected from ourselves and our feelings, we can easily project our fears and insecurities onto others. An example is an overweight woman who imagines that she is being judged by others when she is really judging herself. A struggling businessman may feel he is being judged and perceived as inadequate by a successful businessman, when he is really judging himself and finding himself inadequate.
People create stories in their imaginations that make sense out of what they are feeling inside. But those stories often don’t have anything to do with reality. This is what we call projections.
I see this type of dynamic in my work when I write an article or post a video. Someone who reads or listens may be triggered by something I say and lash out at me with a story that has nothing to do with what I was writing or speaking about. In one episode, I talked about taking personal responsibility for healing from abuse and a woman replied with “are you telling us that the abuse is our fault and that we should blame the victim?” Through her own lens of fear, she interpreted my words to mean something completely different then what I was saying. This woman may have felt guilty, believing that she was to blame for the abuse and anything she read that even got close to that belief triggered her fear. It is our fear that causes us to lash out at others.
Engaging with someone who is lashing out from their own fear is not generally productive. We can’t reason with someone who is “flared up.” It is better to wait until after the waters have calmed down.
Self awareness involves catching ourselves when our emotions “flare up” and ask the question, “what is being triggered in me right now? We need to realize that all feelings are emerging from “within” us. Other people don’t cause our feelings but they do provoke or trigger them. Taking responsibility for what is being triggered is an act of self love and self soothing.
This kind of work is a practice and it takes time to develop a different kind of relationship with our feelings. We have to learn to really love and accept ourselves. The more we can love and accept ourselves the less we will fear the negative opinion of those who we believe are judging us. If someone is judging you, it is likely coming from his or her self judgement.
The more we can be anchored in love, the more we can love others, even when they judge us and lash out at us, because we understand that it really has nothing to do with us. It is coming from that persons unhealed wounds.
When our goal is to align with love and experience a deeper connection with ourselves, with life and with each other, we learn to really do things differently. We take responsibility for our own reactions to what life throws our way and we trust that each experience is an opportunity to break through to higher levels of awareness.