The blocked self
When we were very young children, we felt free and comfortable to express ourselves authentically and naturally. As we grew older, most of us became more blocked and less free to be connected to our True Self and express it.
Think of very young children you know (up to age 4). Notice a few actions or behaviors that all children exhibit, and which you currently find uncomfortable doing. E.g. you might think of a child laughing wholeheartedly or rolling around on the grass or singing and dancing, where these are things that are difficult or impossible for you to do in certain situations. These are things that you also did easily as a young child that have since been blocked.
What caused the blocking?
One cause for this blocking is imitation of other people in our surroundings. E.g. when children see that their parents are constantly passing judgment on the neighbors and other people, they implicitly absorb these opinions and behavior as their own. This would create an emotional distance between them and some other people, and would make it difficult for them to create social connections even when they want to.
Another source arose when our parents and teachers, and other children, did not accept us as we truly were, or did not allow us to be ourselves. They may have sometimes criticized us, infused us with guilt, shame, and fear, and even ridiculed us or used verbal or physical violence against us. They did not respect our personal sovereignty. (Usually they did not do that our of malice but out of ignorance and fear, because that’s what they absorbed throughout their own lives).
Since we were dependent on their love for survival, we gradually reduced ourselves more and more in order to fit into the patterns that they demanded of us. We alienated ourselves from some natural parts of our personality. Even when we became seemingly free adults, these patterns continued to control us, and prevented us from becoming whole persons. This alienation from our true nature intensified because of limiting cultural norms and common conditioning that we absorbed.
List a few incidents you remember from your childhood when you were criticized by adults for something you did which was a natural expression of yourself that did not hurt anyone. E.g. at one time you may have drawn a picture on a wall, not knowing that this would be considered by adults as “dirtying” the wall. Maybe you peeked into some box or cabinet because of your healthy natural curiosity, but an adult shouted at you not to do that. Or a time when other kids laughed at you for something you said or did. Such incidents were emotionally painful, and may have caused you to learn to limit your True Self in some ways, sometimes unconsciously. Try to also describe how these incidents affected your personality and still have an effect on your beliefs and behaviors today.
What are the consequences of the blocking?
The result of this self-blocking are various pathologies that are experienced to some degree by most people:
- Reduced self-love and self-appreciation, because of internalized self-judgment, being angry or ashamed at oneself, even ridiculing oneself.
- Reduced self-confidence and belief in one’s ability, which may lead to narrowing our ambitions and capabilities.
- Dependence on getting love from others, which leads to destructive relationships.
- Social conformism and lack of independent critical thinking.
- Suppression of one’s emotions, which leads to addictions, depression, anxiety, and possibly physical illness.
- Diminished energy and vitality, becoming “turned off”.
- And many more.
For example, a person who believes there is something seriously wrong with himself will not be able to create a lasting love relationship, because he will never be able to believe that someone else can fully love him. His negative thoughts about himself (such as “I am not good enough”, “I am not capable”) will harm his ability to achieve his goals.
List blocks which accumulated in your personality, and the negative consequences on your life that result from these blocks.
How to reconnect with our True Self?
We need to identify our inner blocks – the fears, beliefs, and patterns – that prevent us from expressing ourselves authentically, as we used to be able to at a very young age. Then we need to challenge ourselves to explore them, and gradually and carefully go beyond them. Read more here…
List several blocks in your personality that you know about. You may later think of a few more and add them to the list. Now select one or two of them that you would like to work on, perhaps because you realize that they are stopping you from achieving the things that are most important for you in your life.
Connecting to Nature
We remind ourselves that humans have evolved during hundreds of thousands of years in Nature – savanna, jungles, forests, hills. Nature has a lot of wisdom, but throughout history, including the Western World today, we separated ourselves from Nature, and thus also from our own nature. We are not only mind and intellect, we also have emotions and drives, and a body which is actually an animal’s body, with needs, urges, and instincts. To act in an optimal and healthy way, we must be in touch with all these parts as well. Connect to our primordial nature. Understand how a connection with nature (trees, animals, natural elements, etc.) can support our process.
In what ways are you disconnected from natural parts of yourself, such as emotions, desires, parts of your body? A disconnection may be – not being aware of them, or not thinking about them at all. It may also be having judgmental thoughts about them (such as they are “bad” or “ugly” or “too long/short/big/small/etc” or “dirty”), or feeling painful emotions about them (such as fear, repulsion, disgust, sadness, anger). Realize you were not like that when you were 3 years old. So where did this negative attitude come from?
The help of a group
This process is very challenging, because painful emotions such as discomfort, fear, shame, and guilt arise. So it is very helpful to do this process in a supportive environment, such as psychotherapy, and especially a supportive group.
Such a group is a lab for exploring ourselves and our relations with others. It is a safe and supportive environment. The group gives us permission to be who we really are, and encourages it. It creates for the participants the opportunity to experience that they are okay just as they are, that everything that arises inside their psyche is legitimate gets understanding and compassion in the group. In this space, nothing is left outside – the “good”, the “bad”, and the “ugly”, and our quirks and vulnerabilities, are all welcome without judgment. We give ourselves permission to connect to everything that is alive within us and express it, and even to fool around like young kids.
Imagine such a supportive group, where you could feel very comfortable to be yourself, to bring to light all parts which you usually hide from others for fear of being judged. What do you need to feel comfortable expressing yourself fully in such a group? E.g. what rules and guidelines, values, activities, environment, etc.?
Form your own development group! Tell about this idea and send the information here to friends who you think might be interested in doing this process together. If you don’t know enough people who might be interested, you could go to a few workshops or classes for self/spiritual development and find relevant people there.
The benefits of the process
When we permit ourselves to experience this inner connection – then magic happens. Our inner inhibitions and obstructions that limit us gradually start to dissolve. All the emotional energy which is stuck in the form of anger, sadness, confusion, shame, guilt, and fear is released and transformed into a powerful life energy that turns us on and moves us to become fully ourselves. Then we begin to return to our essence, to feel what it is to be truly alive, with fullness and presence.
This process transforms us from being fearful and limited to people who act with courage and expansion. It is sometimes a bit scary, because by definition it is uncomfortable to approach the border of our comfort zone. But we allow ourselves to experience emotional release, to feel all our emotions in all their power and glory – both fear, anger, and sadness as well as joy, excitement, and pleasure! We do not allow a momentary emotional pain to stop us from acting in the direction that we understand is good and empowering for us. As a result, our fears also gradually subside, because we get used to new things which are good for us.
Imagine a future version of yourself as you would like to be one year from now, after you will have experienced this transformation process in a supportive group. How are you different from who you are today? In what ways are you more free and less blocked than today? Imagine yourself actually being that person. How does it feel? Are you feeling excitement about it? If not, then come up with a version that will make you feel excited.