The claiming of your authentic self starts here.
There are two sides to most of us. A part that we use to exist in the world, and a part that is essentially, our authentic self.
From conception onwards, we are adapting to the environment around us. The hormonal releases of our mother, stream into us as we grow.
We know if she is stressed, or at peace. We know this at a cellar level, for that is all we are at this stage.
What we don’t know, is that we are separate to her.
We experience this unified life, until around 10 months, when we start to see ourselves as having an identity, separate to our care givers.
Until then We are in symbiotic relationship and have no defence against this belief.
At each stage of childhood development, we are given more and more opportunity to experience our own body, choices and emotions.
We may start to reach out for objects, curious to how they feel.
We start to grow a voice and may protest against our nap time or food.
All of these experiences are a healthy and vital part of growth and development.
As a defenceless and dependant infant, it is vital that our caregivers are attuned to our needs, because we cannot defend or provide for ourselves.
We are hardwired to expect our needs to be met, and to feel the connection and safety of having available parents.
Without this, we would not survive.
It may sound like an easy enough task for a parent to do. To respond to babies needs, and it really is, as long as the environment is right.
Plenty of time, space and helping hands, to ensure the care givers can give full attention to the little sponge that has arrived.
Reality however, often tells a different story.
Parents are often stressed, they may have busy lives or other children.
There may have been a challenging birth or perhaps mum was depressed during the pregnancy.
Many things, can interrupt the “ideal” environment.
All of the factors that interrupt the perfect situation, create what we call ‘good enough’ parenting.
This is where the child in some places will experience the loss or wounding of the absence of what they need, but will develop a resilience or ‘armour’ against that pain.
The more the child experiences the opposite of what they needed, the stronger the armour becomes.
Armour is a physical adaptation to the environment. In a similar way, you could consider that if you started a very physical job, your body would toughen and strengthen as a result of the demands you placed upon in. It may get Stronger and fitter as a result.
It may also require more food and rest , and without these things it could suffer.
Armour is also a defence against harm.
When we hear a loud noise, our muscles tense to protect us. Our jaw tightness , our eyes close, the abdominal muscles contract. They protect all the vital parts of us.
When we hear bad news, we may experience a collapse. Our body feels totally weak and useless, limp and lifeless.
This is also a defence.
All throughout childhood, we learn to defend ourselves against the things that hurt us. The emotional and or physical pain from parents, siblings, friends, the wider world.
The more pain we experience, the more imbedded and necessary our armour becomes.
This armour develops in a way that starts to create a set of behaviours.
You can try this yourself for a moment. You’ll need to stand up.
Tighten your abdominal muscles, the ones around your belly.
Tighten your jaw.
Roll your shoulders forwards (as if you are cold)
Roll to the inside arches of your feet.
Hold this for a minute or two.
Notice how it makes you feel.
You might be struggling to breathe. You might be finding it stressful or you may actually start to feel a bit shut off from the environment you’re in.
Imagine being like that all day. Perhaps you can get a sense now, of how physical armouring can change the way you think.
The longer it has been there, the more those ways of thinking start to become part of your character. Who you ‘think’ you are.
This process or armouring at different stages of childhood is called character structure.
The good news, a lot of this armouring has very very intelligent skills and has probably assisted you in your achievements so far.
The bad news, a lot of this drive may not actually be making you happy and there may have been sacrifices along the way.
For example, a brilliant drive for success in work can be the result of some armouring. You may be ruthless, and able to work for hours and produce work quickly.
However, you may struggle to feel intimacy and connection with your loved ones, and find it very hard to relax or wind down. Your body may feel older than its years.
Character structure can absolutely change. Armour can melt, and it is possible to keep ,any of the strengths of the armour, whilst also becoming more aligned to your authentic self.
Firstly however, begins the journey of identifying where it is for you, in your body.
My next series of blogs will identify each character structure to help you to identify yours.