This is Part 2 in a succession of posts about my experiences noted during a burnout. Read the first post here.
I would say that shifting my thoughts towards my spiritual intake has been the most significant life change that has happened due to my burnout, and due to that, it was of course one of the last things that I discovered when I was working through my subconscious and the influences and wounds from my life so far. This is another reason why I believe we must do deep emotional work, because we are often the furthest away from the things we need to see the most clearly.
Since I first mentioned discovering psychological wounds received from new age ideas and spiritual teachings I have had countless feedback from readers who were finding that my discussions on the topic were hitting something that they had been feeling but hadn’t been able to put into words. Again, like last week, this isn’t a ‘How To’ post, but instead a sharing of my story and a posing of questions that I wish I had asked myself, but maybe you can, if you wan to look into the same subject yourself.
We are at a place in the world where we have a crisis of connection, with us being pulled in a million directions away from each other, and unfortunately often some of those directions are good looking traps disguised as connection, but that actually lead us to more feelings of isolation.
There is one thing that was the major factor in why my breakdown was so traumatic and significant.
I hadn’t been listening to myself and so had been in a lot of contradictions.
No, not I hadn’t been listening to my higher self, or spirit or The Universe, or the ‘signs’.
I had not been listening enough to ME. MY spirit, MY brain. My story. My influence on myself. My thoughts had taken a sideline to other peoples. I wasn’t the one totally in control of me, and it broke me.
I had been living in some sort of a state of contradiction for a long time. Not matching my voice and my outsides to what I was thinking and feeling on the inside. I had held back my opinions and not listened enough to my true feelings.
How do we miss the warnings coming from ourself?
Because we have blindspots that have been created from the traumas we have experienced over our lives. When we are blinded we will fall into traps. None of us are exempt from this. And if we are in contradiction, we find it very difficult to see what is true and what is not.
The traumas we have experienced make us feel ungrounded and unsafe, and that causes us to feel so alone that we will always reach outside for safety. When we are in a moment of crisis or feeling wounded, or when we have not explored those wounds directly, we are extremely vulnerable.
The parts of ourselves that have never felt safe, or able to be open will fall for the unhealthy relationships, for people who only give love with conditions, for addictions, for trying to fit into any group, for becoming the tough superhero, or for everything that is unavailable.
The sensitive, weird feeling, overwhelmed and intuitive parts of ourself will fall for being told they have a special mission or purpose, are magical like no one else, are a lightworker here to save the planet, are weird and different, or here to answer the calling to heal the world.
The parts of us that have felt physical or mental agony will fall for a belief that we are broken, alone, unable to be helped and also lead us to those who promise to ‘fix’ us.
It is our natural and perfect deep feeling selves that will fall for other peoples ideas that we are too much, too loud, too big or too opinionated.
It is all of our wounds that make us fall for the traps that cause us more pain.
None of us were born with a hole that something or someone is supposed to fix.
It doesn’t matter whether it is physical, material or spiritual – When we reach our lowest points in life there is always a full menu of that which can save us and what we think might save us.
This menu is full of the usual addictions, alcohol, drugs, addictive love, food, putting other people on to pedestals, tv and media distractions and so on. There is also an entire menu from the self help industry. The myriad of options to save us from ourselves is endless, and we could be working through courses and books for our entire lifetime. The self help industry is actually now at a patriarchal peak. There is a multi million dollar industry based on showing us we need to be healed and go within, and then teaching us how to go within… via going outside of ourselves… and believing anything that the latest wellness influencer or guru who pretends they aren’t a guru but acts like a guru tells us. It is an industry full of contradiction, because it is now trendy and all the latest buzzwords are woven in.
With all this available, the idea that we could just accept ourselves totally as we are, now seems like a totally radical idea.
The other problem is that in our crisis moments, in times where we do feel the most wounded and alone – these things can save us. And I am not going to downplay some of the benefits of say mindful meditation, but as I mentioned last week, we cannot run away from ourselves forever, even if we have run permanently to a place that seems magical and safe. Ignoring things makes them worse. I know people who have been in crisis one minute and two days later they are spiritual enlightened and high as a kite on light. High might feel good for a period but the wounds that caused the crisis have not gone anywhere. At some point they have crashed back down to earth and had to do the emotional and traumatic work that they had tried to sidestep. Our intake and practice from spiritual or self help ideas should never be in lieu of emotional processing. Layering on more meditations, mantras or turning of oracle cards is an easy bypass that can seem comforting but doesn’t tend to bring lasting ease.
I had remnants of trauma within me from a PTSD experience in 2003 and from years of extreme pain and trips to the hospital. I realised that some of the spiritual ideas that I had taken on to help me see it a better light that had actually restricted me from finally completing the emotional processing I needed to do.
My blindspot in that case was that I was too afraid to look deeply at that time of extreme pain, and my trap was that instead of continuing to look at that time, I managed to jump into super hero warrior mode and be a survivor. Note to self: We can be a survivor AND be soft at the same time.
In the last 9 months, during breakdown and recovery process, the Universe did not save me. I did not recover with the help of meditation, mantras, self help books, energy work or chakra realignment. My Tarot practice did not heal me. I did not sit and change my thoughts, I did not choose happiness, I did not try and purge my traumas out of my system. I did not go deeper into spirituality in order to feel better.
The Universe was not going to save me so I had to remember that I was going to.
On the day I experienced breakdown, I received in an instant an extreme fear of things that had a link to a contained psychological wound from somewhere in my 35 year span so far. I was actually afraid of most things to start with. It makes sense now, it was some sort of protective warning and start of a series of guideposts to help me work through things. A lot of the things made sense, as they were to do with my past traumas, but not all made sense to me. I was very confused as to why if I saw any spiritual mantras, or big teachers, e.g. pretty pink quotes on Instagram, new age teachings or ideas – especially those linked to ACIM (a text which I later found had a dangerous brainwashing effect on me). I would get an adrenaline hit so strong that It would knock me out for up to a few days. It was at this point that I became completely overwhelmed by how I was going to survive, because I had been influenced so strongly that the last resort is always the spiritual practice, and when nothing else works, you hand it all over to ‘the Universe’ and you start your true healing.
Even though I have always promoted and practiced feeling my feelings, and never given things over like that before, I still felt that in this crisis I should have something else to ease the extremed pain, like we all do. We all want an easy route to feeling better, after all, why wouldn’t we?
But of course, my healing practice was going to take the route that I always knew to be true, but had never had to practice during a crisis so severe. I was going to take the not sexy, not cute, and not instagrammable route. I was going to do look to the past, do emotional and trauma processing, connect to my humanness and discover ALL my blindspots. I was going to learn how to stay in my body, feel my pain on a level I didn’t even know possible and grieve for my self deeply. I was going to show up for it all, and with no numbing options (I don’t drink and have adverse reactions to medications) available to me, this was the one shot.
Four months later there were still some parts of what had been revealed in my psyche that didn’t make sense to me and I sat in front of my therapist, took a deep breath and said “I think that I have trauma associated with spiritual teachings as an adult and new age influences as a teenager.” When my discovery was not met with disbelief, but deep understanding and empathy, I knew that I had reached the crutch of my chaos. I have previously had clients who have left certain Religions due to finding trauma, but I again didn’t really think this could happen to me!
Of course once I looked with my logic and intelligent mind, I had my my history on my side. I had been disagreeing with practices and responsibility in my industry fully for years, and once I hit this thought, they all laid out in front of me.
I did not want to be part of an industry that promoted bypassing human emotions. I did not want to ignore the pain of the world by pretending it wasn’t there. I did not want to support a growing trend of irresponsible teaching. I did not want to think of myself in duality terms and work with my ‘shadow’ nor did I did not want to rise above my feelings and thoughts. I did not want to promote any teaching that told people they had a special mission. I did not want to be part of an industry that promoted superiorty due to energy levels. I did not want to sit blindly anymore and wonder why this industry was predominantly white and priviledged. I did not want to only feel my emotions for 90 seconds, try to eliminate fear, choose happiness or be the light.
I wanted to now express my thoughts and I didn’t want to stay silent in places when I clearly did not. I feel as though there is enought NOT speaking up these days in regards to important world events, and as I had been getting more in touch with my natural activist it was time to commit to my own story too.
I did the work to find the point in my life where I had stopped expressing my opinion in favour of blending in. I looked at those sad moments, I felt and grieved. And then was able to finally listen to my adult self, rather than the child inside that was afraid of speaking and not being heard. I guess you could say that this is the moment where I re-found my voice.
I wanted to practice what I always knew, that every part of me was lovable. I am not a light and a shadow. I am a spectrum and all of me was worth feeling. All of me was enough.
It was at his point I started operating as if I had left a cult, with an extreme detox of all spiritual teachings and a study into what my personal beliefs were before anyone had told me theirs. I took myself right back to what were only MY experiences verses what were other peoples ideas, or imprints. For me this meant going back to a teenager when I first started intaking the ‘new age’. We do this with enough areas of our lives, look at what has influenced or imprinted on us, so why not so much with our spirituality?
I felt very strange, like I was disobeying this stream of light and love that was being directed at me. I felt quite guilty about rejecting the teachings, but this was actually what helped me do so. I knew that if I felt guilt about disagreeing with all of this stuff, then there was a reason to be doing it. It did not matter if anyone else agreed with me. I was listening to myself and I was saving my health.
It was at this point that my recovery tripled in speed because I had found the roots.
I was very fortunate that as I started unravelling these ideas, I found that a friend was going through a similar discovery. Every time we shared something it would echo what the other had found too. We has not both got there by the same experience, but our different paths had lead to the same conclusions. I am very thankful that we are able to still share and walk each other through our continued healing.
spiritual influence – and OUR DESIRE TO BE SPECIAL
When you first find your blindspots you get angry, at, well basically everything. I have been angry at myself, my parents, God, things that pretend to be God, my school, my therapist. Getting angry is an important part of the grieving process. I am fortunate to have had that friend going through what I was discovering and it enabled me to have a safe place to really vent. Like go totally wild and point fingers and all the other important stuff you need to do when you are PISSED OFF CAUSE YOU HAVE TO LOOK AT ALL YOUR STUFF!
In this case was angry because I felt brainwashed, my skin was crawling wanting to take away everything out of my mind that I had vacuumed up or been told when I was young and sensitive. The reason I wrote about media intake on my last post was because so many of the things I had found to be damaging to me, were not through my own study. I have never been a self help addict, I don’t read all the books or do all the courses. I had just taken a lot in from just seeing it. I received an email after my last post from an old client who told me that she had changed her intake of social media to great effect. Her most interesting discovery was that during her detox she would find quotes and visuals from Instagram popping up unexpectedly into her psyche. She mentioned looking into the effects of subliminal messaging and learning about the brain, and finding it very relevant to her experience.
However, after the anger, at some point of course there also has to be the ‘looking at your contribution bit‘, because this isn’t a blame game and I wasn’t going to get anywhere thinking it was anyones fault. I wanted to know what had caused me to be in the place I was in, and this is where I started investigating what I call the desire to be special.
We all have a desire to be special. We all want to be seen and heard. No one is exempt, it is just finding out in what way it appears for us.
I looked right back to myself as a child. I always liked magical things, but I also always felt different and alone. I am deeply loved and cared for by my family and have always been safe. I am in fact quite obsessed with how much I love my family, however communication between us isn’t always very healthy. Everyone in my family likes to be right more than they like to listen (ugh – we gotta get humble when we look at our behaviours!) and also is an over helper or advice giver and prone to avoiding things, often our own stuff. I did not know what to do with my extreme feelings or my extreme sensitivity as I was growing up. When I was little I would fly into a rage, and as I got older, when I felt overwhelmed I learned to run away and hide because I didn’t really know how to express myself. I wrote my feelings but I did not tell them to anyone. Something that I maintained for a long time, right up until quite recently actually. I have always been able to put up a warrior wall, a skill that I think we all know. As I grew up I was learning quickly how to numb out my sensitivity. For me it meant often blending myself in with others, rather than looking at what was causing me pain.
Feeling different makes way for falling for all sorts of things. When you feel different in some way, you want someone to explain why and at aged 17 when I saw a ghost in my bedroom, I finally had it! I was then able to fall into what I believe is the easiest and most common spiritual trap. No I didn’t learn to manage my high sensitivity and deep feeling through vulnerability, or learn how to express my emotions healthily (I WISH!). Instead I was given the perfect trap – that I was special. Suddenly I wasn’t just a normal teenager with a lot of body image issues, feeling terrified of the future, worrying about boys and friendships and life. I had a reason for my sensitivity. I was psychic! At that point, external Tarot readers, Astrologers and Psychics became a part of my life, and my ‘life purpose’ started to be imposed on me by people. I was told on repeat that I was a healer, here for a special purpose on Earth blah blah blah.
I learned to believe that I was only enough because I was special, not the truth, which was that I was always enough.
Also we LOVE to tell each other that we are wonderful based on what we do rather than who we are. I have been praised a lot over my life for my collection of interesting careers and somewhere along the lines I took them on as my identity – hence how easy it was to spiritually burn out. My life became an open door to help other people with their problems. I did not put in the healthy boundaries which meant no one had any to respect (next post topic!) and I was basically a therapist or magical for everyone all hours, and I was exhausted.
This is of course why when I started working with Tarot many years later I did my very best to not do any future telling or make anyones life decisions for them, and started to deconstruct the influenced that I had experienced. As a teen I would have readings and believe what they said and then be upset when it didn’t become true. After my experience of learning I was special I was thankfully distracted for many years by being chronically ill, falling in love, dancing, making art and being a high speed I HAVE SURVIVED MY ILLNESS warrior. But about 6 years ago my desire to feel special caught up with me again, because I was feeling lonely, because I had wounds that still needed looking at and my super warrior protective shell wasn’t helping me connect to the people that I really wanted to.
I was feeling healthy and so afraid of being un well again that I had forgotten to let my walls down to make the connections. This time I was in the falling for everything that was unavailable trap as mentioned above and I didn’t like it, I tried to help myself with another trap instead.
I chose to become a therapist to help others, and the reason for that has never changed. I had learned a lot of things from being unwell and I loved holding space for those in need. I have never tried to be popular, enlightened, spiritual, or rich and neither have my clients. My clients have been some of the most wonderful people I have ever met, showing up to work through their traumas and pain, and feel their feelings. I have loved every inch of my work, from writing Tarotscopes to hosting workshops and speaking events. I do not regret any of my work, but I do wish that I hadn’t attached my identity to it.
I loved the work but never felt connected to my industry, within it I instead have felt more more alone, and at my worst, felt superior. I have met a handful of very lovely people and gained success, but have also found the community to be one of the most isolating, and disconnected, full of a hundred and one ways to cut someone out of your life because their vibrations are too low, and a mad chase to become fixed, healed or enlightened, and then famous for it.
But of course in the majority. It is a space full of beautiful wounded humans just wanting to be seen. In every one of us seeking some sort of spiritual safety there is an unloved trauma. Getting involved in being special or having a mission can help that go away, but it does not always translate to great healing, and often to spiritual addictions.
A few years ago I experienced a very traumatic weekend at a Spiritual Retreat, hosted by a woman who was channelling a certain goddess. Their big thing was that you could sit in a special chair, connect to certain star systems and they would tell you your life purpose. It is fortunate that I disliked the woman on sight, a red flag I thankfully saw, and was also able to help a wonderful woman there leave, after she had been being used as a channel for 8 years. It didn’t however stop me from a traumatic experience from an irresponsible teacher. When I had a chance to look back at that time this year, I didn’t see anything spiritual about the place. All I saw was a very traumatised woman who for years had handed her human self over to channel spirits, given up her human life and helped others do the same.
I have observed over the years people starting to hand themselves over the ‘The Universe’ and instead of listening to themselves, only listening to channelled messages from spirits, angels or from teachings from a guru. There is a mass practice of just doing and believing everything that any spiritual teacher shares, and much less sticking to what we have originally experienced. I was very protected due to family helping me with psychic ability and to years of sitting in psychic school learning how to safely connect, if I wanted to. I looked around me this year and realised that there are thousands of people just opening up and talking to ‘the universe’ or ‘spirit’ but having no idea what that means. I was naive because I forgot that I had been taught safety, and perhaps others hadn’t, and didn’t know that just calling out to spirit, is like opening your front door, saying all welcome, and then going to sleep.
The problem with the part of us that feels broken or special is that we will put other people on pedestals. If we think we are not enough then we will stop listening to ourselves and think that someone else has a higher connection to us than we do, and that they know more about us, that they can heal us.
If we have not looked at our own feelings we will believe that someone else can read our soul.
I remember when I was doing some Tarot training and my mentor said to us to be careful with sessions because many people will put you on a pedestal and you have to be responsible in what you share with them. I have always tried to be responsible and not imprint a purpose or a future onto my clients. Something that hasn’t always been well received. I have had points where I know my sessions haven’t been esoteric enough for clients, who were hoping to get through their crisis with a reason to be special. I remember the teenage high from being told I was super magical, but it never lasted. I was still a human with pain.
Now when I look back to my teenage self who first discovered new age teachings, all I see are my child and teenage wounds, and the trap that held it’s arms wide open for me. Now that I have been working through all of those difficult times, I no longer feel any need to ignore my blindspots. I know that if I choose for it to be so, there is a new age or spiritual meaning for EVERY single one of my crisis symptoms. In fact I know the spiritual reason for all things, and I realised I didn’t often know the logical one. This year however I had no interest in seeing the box of band aids. I wanted to see my truth.
I welcomed my traumas back in and I have and am still, focussing very seriously on relearning fear.
Q: Can you locate in which areas of your life that you desire to be special?
I have had to do a lot of reclaiming of my dictionary. A huge blindspot for me was not noticing how the spiritual/new age industry changes the meanings of words and then teaches them to become certain concepts. So over the years in my industry I had been taking in a distorted dictionary and brain scrambling contradictions. So as of this year I have had to relearn the true meanings of fear, love, miracle, ego, truth and more, then understand how the created versions had caused me chaos and then to redefine them back into my mind. It is a long process I am still working on.
A very popular new age and spiritual teaching is that fear (or often any emotion we don’t like) isn’t real, is is an illusion or has been created by the ‘ego’. The problem with this is that fear is a natural human emotion. We have fear because we need it, the same way we need all of our emotions.
Now this isn’t a concept I ever practiced myself, but it was within me causing a contradiction because the idea is engrained into almost all new age teachings, whether you can see it directly or not. The problem being that if you buy into these concepts then, in moments when you are actually afraid, you are causing complete trauma in your own mind, and in some senses, trying to eradicate yourself.
In every person I have seen sharing the idea of fear and the past as an illusion I have seen a history of pain, suffering and un addressed trauma.
I read a newsletter yesterday where the teacher was talking about spiritual bypassing and said beautifully how spiritual practices should never be in lieu of our humanity and emotions. However in the same sentence she then said that we shouldn’t however get fixed on our negative emotions because they are low vibration. This is a perfect example of brain confusing contradiction, and a nod to spiritual superiority.
I am relearning fear, in fact it is currently my most treasured emotion.
I have learned that if we listen to and then explore the emotions under fear then our blindspots and red flags will appear. But if not then we fall into traps. In the past few years I have experienced many fearful feelings towards some new age concepts and towards some of the people in my industry. At times I allowed these fears to be be-littled down to my own blocks or resistance. This meant that instead of seeing the message that was flashing in front of me, I instead would think it was something to do with me.
Fear can be a beautiful warning light that can show us:
That we still have a wound to be looked at. A trigger has been hit or a vulnerability is being experienced.
Something about our physical health (eg. I can get shots of adrenaline because of my AI disease and it is very important for me to know.)
That we are being warned that something in the present isn’t right for us.
Or that we are experiencing too much stress or adrenal stress and we need to look into how we are leading our lives and what our main stressors are.
None of these things mean that our fears have authority over us, hell no they don’t, but they are a natural part of our beautiful human design, and fear is not here to be eliminated. Remember that fearless means LESS fear, not NO fear.
Q: What blindspots and wounds could some of your current fears be pointing you to?
It was only early this year that I was in talks with a publisher about writing some books. I really really like and respect the woman who was helping me out with my ideas and that became the blindspot that stopped me from acknowledging that I didn’t actually resonate with the other books that the publisher puts out or the company itself. I also felt special because they wanted to talk to me and my wounded teenage self, wanted to be part of something. This blinded me from stopping to really think and go, no they aren’t the right people for me, and that is ok. but my experiences
I have now given up all spiritual and new age teachings. I have realised if I do not resonate with the whole teaching then it is not for me. I have been reclaiming my identity before I gave it away to my work. I am re finding my faith and what that means to me, and it will be an ongoing and personal process. I want to cultivate something that as an adult really works for me, rather than bits and pieces that I picked up from my wounds over my life so far.
All I know is that the day three months ago when I cut off being too open to ‘the Universe’ and stopped talking to Spirit, I recovered more quickly, stopped seeing nebulous new age signs (e.g. repeating numbers etc) and started seeing signs of life, signs of real human love, deeper connection to my friends and a more loving connection to myself. For me right now, my God is Life and my human spirit is my guide. I am practicing being dogma free whilst looking at whether some of my old practices such as Astrology and Tarot still have a space in my life.
I have also learned to be discerning. A blind spot of mine was forgetting to take a teaching back to its root. For instance I knew that I did not like ACIM but I in took many teachings from people who use it as their bible. If I had been less naive I would not have done so. It has taught me that if you like someones teachings then make sure to look into what they study in their personal practice. Because if you don’t like it, then know that this is what your brain is receiving, even if it has been watered down.
I realised that a part of me had always felt a little like I had things figured out. Recently I very much resonated with Brene’s words:
“As I continue to study vulnerability and examine the intersection of vulnerability and faith, it’s becoming increasingly clear to me that faith without vulnerability is extremism – it’s using faith as a tool of certainty. Faith becomes bankrupt on its own terms.” – Brene Brown
I realised that I had been a part of a group of thinking that sells everything as love and truth, and gives a reason for everything. That to me is extremism and blind certainty.
Instead I choose uncertainty, humanness and a desire to be enough exactly as I am.
I have been grieving a lot as I have peeled back the layers within this subject. It is actually the area of my life that is going to make the most significant difference to me moving forward. I am, however, so excited to be free of a space within me that did not feel like home and for a freedom to reclaim my identity, beliefs and choices.
I mourn my feelings of needing to be special and feelings of believing I was broken. I keep looking to my intuitive teenage self that felt not good enough, pretty enough, fun enough, thin enough and all the ‘enoughs’ and keep feeling the events and feelings through. I look to every crisis in my adult life and try to love the wound, and forgive the blindspot.
My own process in these moments of heaviness in my chest, is to remember that self love will never arrive via a book or a teacher. It can only be revealed through looking carefully and deeply, with the harsh realities of feeling shame and humility, at the events, influences and traumas in my life that installed the ideas that I was either broken, special or both.
We are never special or broken because we were born whole.
We are never alone or strange because we were born whole.
We are never taking up too much space because we were born to stand our ground.
We are perfectly designed to be us, to fulfil our only purpose, of being alive and filling ourselves up with ourself.
We are magical and special because we always were.
We have to be nothing more than more of who we want to be.
I love you as I continue to love me.
I write all my posts based upon my own personal experiences. I always encourage discernment when reading anything. Take what resonates with you and leave the rest.