Is Someone Shoulding on you? Are You Shoulding on Yourself?

One of the words Patricia Evans talks about in her book “The Verbally Abusive Relationship” is the word “should”.  To tell someone they “should” do this, or “should” do that, is a controlling way of communicating.  Shoulding is of the ways we abuse ourselves and others.  Shoulding suggests shame if you don’t do what you “should” do.  A less abusive way of communicating with others, or with yourself, is to say, “You might like to do this,” or “Have you considered doing that.”

This approach may sound mambsy pambsy, but in reality it is simply more respectful.  To tell someone they “should” do something is implying you know better than they do and have the authority to tell them what to do.

Changing the way we communicate can be challenging.  I should on myself all the time, and on other people too, and don’t realize it.  My daughter Melissa, the amateur psychologist in the family, catches me doing this and calls me on it.  She was visiting the other day and pointed out that not only was I shoulding on myself, I was shoulding on everyone else as well.  When Melissa pointed this out, repeatedly, I began to catch myself and correct myself before she could chime in with, “You’re shoulding on yourself again.”

Shoulding is a way of putting pressure, or putting power over on someone else, or on yourself.  Shoulding can kill happiness, making life a chore instead of a joy.  This nerve condition I have (see My Very Spoiled Nervous System) is teaching me the evils of shoulding.  I had a conversation with my husband last night and he was directing me by using sentences beginning with, “You need to . . . ” and, “You should . . . ” etc.  All the things he said were valid things I “should do”, but because he was shoulding on me, I began shoulding on myself and woke up with burning skin and scrambled brain.  I overloaded myself with shoulds.

Honestly, a person could think of so many things they “should” do, it would take them many lifetimes to do them.

The only cure for my burning skin and scrambled brain, aside from increasing my medication again, is to relax, stop shoulding myself, and ask myself, “What is most important to me today?  What would bring me joy?  What does my heart long for?”

This sounds idealistic, I know.  I have a difficult time letting myself do what I want to do and not what I think I should do.  It’s working for me though.  Even though there is a very angry dragon inside me (see The Dragon and Guardian of Memyselfandi), I am happier than I have ever been in my life because I am learning to follow my heart.


The Belly Brain: Exploring Emotions

I have noticed in the last couple of years that my belly thinks . . . or rather, I should say my belly feels.  When I want to know how I am feeling, my awareness falls into my belly to see.  When my awareness is in my brain in my head, I think, I don’t feel.

I took The Family Herbalist class from Emily Ruff, of The Florida School of Holistic Living, and she said she believes the belly is a brain.  She mentioned that the belly and all the nerves that go into the intestines and digestion are much larger and more complex than the brain in our heads and our spine and nervous system.

If that is true, the belly must be a brain!  As I have become more in touch with my feelings, and the energy in the belly, I find that I do a sort of “wide angle thinking” with my belly.  It is a type of thinking that is on a broader scope and includes feelings and emotions.  The belly is also a place to sense things.  I think the brain in our heads may be an augment to the belly brain, and not the other way around.  Maybe the belly is the center of intuition.  That’s why we get a “gut feeling” about things.  We are sensing things energetically that we can’t detect otherwise.

There is a point of awareness that can be moved around your body.  Notice what happens when you put your hand to your cheek and you want to know if your hand or your cheek is warmer.  To find out, you have to move that point of awareness to either your hand or cheek to see.  To be able to tell if your hand is warmer than your cheek, you have to move your awareness to your cheek and feel your hand.  To notice if your cheek is warmer than your hand, you have to move your awareness to your hand to see if the cheek feels warm or cold to your hand.  You can move your point of awareness to any part of your body to see how that part feels.  If you move your point of awareness to your belly, notice what you experience.

“How am I feeling, and why?” is a question that can help you explore your emotional state at any given time.  The question can be asked over and over to tease out the various emotional ingredients that make up the cookie dough mix of your emotional state at the time.  After asking each time, and surrendering to nothingness to see what emotion emerges, you can ask why you are feeling that emotion.  When you surrender and get the answer, you can say, “Great, that’s good to know.”  Then you set that emotion aside and ask, “Aside from that, how am I feeling?” and surrender to the answer.  Doing this over and over separates the emotions and reasons to make understanding yourself easier.  This is a technique I learned from Tom Brown Jr., and he mentioned that it is also described in a book called “Focusing”.

There are many layers to our emotions and when I do this exercise, I am often surprised that a buried emotion is often stronger than the emotions on the surface.  If you write down the emotions that come up for you, when you are done you can ask yourself, “Which of these emotions is most important right now?” Circle the one that stands out to you.  Then you can ask, “Aside from that one (the circled one), which one stands out the most?” and circle that one and put a little #2 by it.  Do this until none stand out to you as important.  By doing this you can see which emotions are the most important to be aware of at that time.

For me, all the emotions seem to emerge from the “belly brain” and not my head, which never feels like the belly.

If anyone tries this, I would love to hear how the exercise worked for you.

Conversation With Darkness

I sat on the wooden steps of my back porch.  Though the day was sunny and warm, the  feeling of darkness inside me was consuming.  The feeling was that of anger, fear, and hatred, but mostly hatred.  I wondered if the darkness was the influence of some evil spirit, or if it was a part of me, so I asked the darkness a sacred question, “Why are you here?”  Then I surrendered all thoughts and went to nothingness to see what would come to me as an answer.

The darkness said, “I’m here because I make you feel strong.”

‘That’s true,’ I thought, ‘I do feel strong when I am full of hatred.’  Again I asked the darkness, “Why are you here?”  I surrendered for the answer.

The darkness said, “I’m here to protect you.”

‘Hmmmm,’ I thought, ‘that’s interesting, I do feel safer.  When I feel this way, no one can get close to my heart.’  I asked the darkness, again, “Why are you here?”  I surrendered to see what would return.

The darkness said, “I make you feel powerful!”

‘Yes, yes,’ I thought, ‘you do.’   I asked again, “Why, are you here?” and surrendered for the answer.

I’m here to protect you because you won’t protect yourself!”  The answer was strong, emphatic, almost annoyed by my ignorance.

‘Yes, that’s true.’ I admitted, ‘ I don’t protect myself,’  I began to realize that this darkness was not such a bad thing after all.  It was keeping me safe.

Then I asked a different sacred question, “How can I heal this?”

When I surrendered for the answer, I saw pink flowers.  ‘OK, I thought, pink flowers . . . I like flowers.’

I asked again, “How can I heal this?”

I saw an alligator.

‘An alligator?  Really?  That seems odd, but OK.’  I asked again, “How can I heal this?”

I heard the darkness say, “Understand me.”

‘OK,’ I thought, ‘I’m beginning to understand.’  I asked again, “How can I heal this?”

I surrendered and heard, “Love me.”

I thought that was an unusual answer.  Why would the darkness want to be loved.  That was new to me.

I was beginning to understand that the darkness that surrounded me was a buffer of anger to keep others away.  For the first time in my life, I began to understand that there was more to anger and hatred that I had ever imagined.  Things inside me shifted.  My perspective was changing.  I was growing.  I felt grateful for the the darkness that protected me, and in that gratitude I felt love and appreciation for the darkness and all the feelings that were within that shadow.  To feel anger, fear, and even hatred is not bad, it is a part of life and our experience here on earth.  I had no clue, before, that those feelings existed for important reasons.  I had always thought those feelings were bad and I should not feel them.

Then I had a new thought and I asked the darkness, “What if I do protect myself?”

Immediately, the darkness began to dissipate, leaving behind a clear energy surrounding me, just as powerful as the darkness but without the feeling of hatred.  I perceived that if I would protected myself I would not need anger or hatred to protect me.

The next day I went out and bought myself pink flowers, and a little plastic alligator to put on my mantel.  Those feelings, anger, fear and hatred, which were once very confusing, had become clear and beautiful to me.  My curiosity served me well that day.  Asking the sacred questions* and knowing how to listen, to go to nothingness and surrender to the answers, taught me to understand and love a very misunderstood part of myself.

————————————————————————–Is all darkness as wonderful as this “protector” darkness turned out to be?  Is there darkness that is really evil?  What is the source of negative emotions?  Why is hatred so destructive?  Is there a good time to feel hatred?  The questions about darkness, emotions, and mental health, are endless.  Learning to ask yourself “sacred questions” and surrender to the answers inside yourself, being still enough, going to a state of nothingness and letting the answers come to you without controlling what the answer will be, is a skill that can be cultivated by anyone.  I have to thank Tom Brown Jr. for this technique.

*Asking the sacred questions and surrendering for the answers is something I learned to do in a philosophy class at Tom Brown Jr.’s Trackerschool (see resources).

How This Illness Served Me

I scheduled an appointment with a therapist about a week ago (if I am suffering from conversion disorder, therapy is key in recovery) and one of the things she said to me before we got off the phone was, “I also do medical hypnotism which I think could help you get better.”  My first reaction was panic and the thought ran through my head, ‘I don’t want to get better!’

That deserved some exploring.  I began by asking myself why I didn’t want to get better.  In surrendering deeply to the question and feeling what my core feelings were, I realized that I believed if I got better I would have to do things I don’t want to do . . . like living in Florida again, going to work outside my home away from my children, spending my time fulfilling other people’s expectations of me instead of doing what brings me joy.  Those answers were very revealing.

In knowing what was causing me to be afraid of getting well, I also realized that those fears no longer had any foundation.  Maybe I needed an excuse in the beginning to move to Oregon, stay home and rest, and do the things that bring me joy, but not any more.  I can continue living in a way that brings me joy and not worry about what other people expect, or think, of me.


Tracking Your Emotions.

Tracking intense emotions . . . . . ..   . … .  .. . .   . ..   . ..   . ..  . … .

In my last post I made this brash statement:
Understanding how shame is affecting me, and understanding how shame began when I was young and how I continue to pass it forward to everything I do, allows me to discontinue that shaming voice within me.”

Well, that sounds nice, but HOW does one understand shame and how it began.

I would not have thought to track my emotions to their origin if it had not been suggested to me by a friend in my Healing Class at Wilderness Fusion, so since I brought it up, I am going to share the process with you.




The next time you find yourself triggered by an event into an intense emotion, especially the negative emotions, instead of reacting, take some time, get some space away from others if you can, and allow yourself to go deep within yourself and say, “Show me when I first felt this emotion.”  Surrender all thoughts and allow something to come forward.  You may find yourself streaking back through time and experience.  You may notice experiences flying by as you go back in time, experiences that triggered that particular emotion in you.  You may come to the beginning and everything will slow down and you will be at the origin of that emotion, at the event that first created it in you.  When you get to that event, examine it, feel it, relive it!
I have used this tool many times now.  As I re-live the original event that created a particular emotion in me, I understand that I felt overwhelmed by the emotion, to the point of feeling out of control and afraid, along with anger, or sadness or whatever.  I saw how that original feeling of helplessness and “out of control” was being brought forward instantly, along with similar emotional baggage from other events, and all in a bundle being dumped on me as I experienced a present event triggering that same emotion.  The fact that I am no longer a child, and supposedly an adult who can handle things better (ha ha), didn’t stop the flood of emotion which could throw me into a depression, or feeling frustrated and helpless, or at least throwing me into a bit of a funk.
These events have been described by one of my teachers as a string of pearls.  Each pearl being an event along a timeline.  As I fly by these pearls on my way to the original event, I find that in the awareness of each event the baggage is staying with the event and being dispersed along the time line.  When I am done with this exercise, the current event, the one that triggered the emotion in the NOW, is left with only the appropriate amount of emotion due it; not the whole bundle, gathered from the timeline.
If you want, you could slow down the movement of the tool by asking a different question: “When was the last time I felt this emotion?”  Surrender all thought.  An event will emerge.  Notice it with gratitude, then ask, “When else did I feel it?”  Notice it, and ask, “When else?”  Continue doing this and eventually you will get the origin of that emotion.  At any time, during this slower process, you could pick up the speed and ask, “When was the first time I felt it?” and fly through time to the origin.
This is one of those tools that, when first given to me, I couldn’t see how well it would work, or that it would work at all.  I’ve learned to trust my teachers and my classmates though, and I experiment with the tools I am given.  I am always amazed at what happens.

So Where Does Shame Fit In?

What I realized, as I relived those first experiences that brought on my extreme emotions, was that those feelings of being out of control I had as a child made me feel helpless, small, confused, afraid, and even outraged.  Those feelings created a feeling of being less than capable of handling what was going on.  I was a small child, and sometimes even an infant, and of course I was not in a position to handle or even understand my world yet.   As I looked for how these early experiences contributed to shame, and disconnection, I found that I did feel shame because I didn’t understand.  The shame was deeply buried, and intellectually it may not make sense, but the shame was there, and it may be the first time I ever felt it.  What is interesting, too, is that in my earliest experience with shame, no one told me I was less than, no one shamed me, but I felt, in my helplessness, like I was not enough.  That feeling of “not enough” is a basis for shame.
I do not know how well this tool will work for you, whether you will have a similar experience or not, but perhaps you, like me, at least have a new tool to play with and learn from.
Dare Greatly everyone!
Karl Direske’s Wilderness Fusion healing classes


Brene Brown’s book “Daring Greatly”


Shame on me . . . OR NOT!



“Daring Greatly”!

I’ve been reading Brene Brown’s book called Daring Greatly.  Brown is a shame researcher and her book is hitting home with me, big time!  I even dreamed last night about all the ways I feel shame.  Let’s see, there’s the mother in  me, the father in me, the little girl in me, the little boy in me, the employee in me, the employer in me, the friend to others in me . . . and there were probably more, but those are the ones I could remember consciously so far.

Shame is different from guilt.  Shame is the one where one thinks ‘I am not good enough.  I am not enough.’  Guilt is the one where one thinks ‘I am good enough, but I did something that was not good.  I did something wrong.’  Shame is stifling and causes one to contract and feel helpless and hopeless.  Guilt can bring one to action and prompt one to make things right.

In the healing series I am currently involved in, through Wilderness Fusion with Karl Direske and the other teachers, I am looking at my main addiction: disconnecting (I have learned I disconnect with myself, my emotions, and with other people in order to feel safe), and holding that evaluation up to the shame model in Brene Brown’s book.  I can see how my feelings of shame and “not good enough” are contributing to my constantly disconnecting from others and from myself.

Shame is painful.  Disconnecting from myself, or my pain, or disconnecting from others eases the pain of the shame.  Understanding this is very healing because the “shame gremlin”does not like to be seen and understood.  Understanding how shame is affecting me, and understanding how shame began when I was young and how I continue to pass it forward to everything I do, allows me to discontinue that shaming voice within me.

I highly recommend the book “Daring Greatly” by Brene Brown.  I want to underline every sentence in that book!  There is so much important information in there for healing and understanding shame in our lives!!