Growing and Healing through Relationships, Part lll
The Gateway to the Heart
Our defenses that we learn as a young child sabotage our experience to connect and be intimate with others. As I’ve mentioned in my previous blog posts, so many of our patterns have originated during childhood. This is why I don’t find talk therapy to be all that beneficial. Patterns exist for many reasons, and some of them may be never understood but that doesn’t mean they can’t be changed. Understa
nding our patterns and our wounds intellectually does little to actually bringing about transformation.
We may have well-established defenses to protect our hearts from getting hurt and feeling vulnerable. And the walls we put up around our heart become apparent in our personal relationships as we desire to be closer, more connected and intimate. Defenses can appear as anger, shutting down and not talking, being right, blaming, control, talking over another person, and being overly nice. We have so many clever ways we defend ourselves in order to not get hurt, but they leave us also with feeling alone and never experiencing the deep intimacy with another person. I believe everyone inherently craves intimacy and connection but its easy to keep ourselves busy and distracted in order to never touch upon our craving.
How do your defenses show up? What walls do have? How are you preventing the gateway to your heart from fully opening?
If you're having a challenging moment with your partner, are you aggressive? Do you bully? Or do you disappear or clam up? Do you talk in a way to your partner as if they don't understand, holding the "I'm smarter than you card and you just don't get it?", or do you suddenly become the pleaser in an attempt to diffuse the situation or make the other happy? Is your defense that you are too busy to even have the conversation? Or do you blame, subtly turning the situation back to the other person claiming it to be their fault? These are all very common defenses and we can be 100% convinced that we're right and justified.
But what if you agreed to open yourself to another possibility? What if you, in the moment of a situation where your usual response is one of defense, you chose a different route than your usual response? Or atleast agreed to not respond in the way you have been and just be silent, checking in with your heart and what you are feeling in the moment? This is one of the most powerful ways to experience change where you become acutely aware and present in the moment and you choose a different response. Suddenly the whole experience shifts and transforms and you begin to realize how the way you are showing up dictates your experience.
One of the ways that I’ve found to be very helpful in understanding my defense responses is to write out my feelings to someone I may be having challenges with or the person I want to experience intimacy with. Whether or not you’re going to give them the letter doesn’t matter, it’s the process of writing that is so useful. Imagine the person standing in front of you as you write. What do you want to say? When you say it, imagine how the other person is going to feel upon hearing it. Do they get defensive? Can you feel them tighten or soften? This exercise provides you with the mirror to your own defenses. If you are expressing something from a place of defense, then you are most likely going to experience that back. But if you are speaking your own truth that has nothing to do with the other person, no blame or holding the other responsible, just your own truth, you will feel the other person be able to receive in what you’re saying. YOU will be able to feel the difference in your own body. You will feel energized by speaking truth and allowing yourself to be vulnerable. You will begin to establish a pattern where the other person will move closer to you rather than further away. You will begin to experience the flowing energy of love between you and the other person that cultivates intimacy and connection. Let the other person be your mirror in this process of understanding how your actions and your words are aligned with defense patterns or speaking your truth with an open heart.
Another way I have found helpful to remove the patterns of defense is through movement and meditation. It's still important to recognize your defensive patterns in the moments of conflict or struggle, but engaging in yoga or dance as a way to re-pattern your body is excellent. Work with movements that are flowing, more feminine in nature rather than warrior type movements. And as you move, imagine your layers of armor coming off, disengaging from your physical body. Feel the difference? Do you feel lighter, more free? What does it feel like to be disarmed, naked in your own truth? Meditate and visualize someone coming to you and gently lifting your armor off and peeling away the layers of protection and opening the gateway to the heart.
Be gentle, loving and trust this process.
Blessings on your journey, Trista