Why am I confused?

This month’s theme – why am I so confused?

If you are like me, every situation and challenge seems to present a range of choices, all carrying different feelings. Being human can be confusing.

What helps me understand this confusion is the possibility that we are not one singular mind or essence struggling for clarity, but a composition of many different parts that have been formed through our personal experiences, culture and family history.

These parts all have their own opinions and feelings, as would any room full of human beings. This concept could be called ‘shadow work’ under Jungian psychotherapy, or ‘parts work’ under the Internal Family Systems protocols designed by Richard Schwartz. Shamanic teachings also recognise this splitting – both at the soul level and in terms of our wounded core beliefs.

The essence I take from all these teachings is that we have 3 aspects of self:

The true self – I see this fundamentally as soul essence, higher self, superconscious, or whatever term you prefer. It is the part of us that is connected to Spirit and is eternal, a source of love, truth, clarity, healing and wisdom. There is no confusion here.

Some teachers suggest that this part cannot be wounded, but, personally, I’m not so sure. If this is soul essence, then I believe it can be depleted and aspects may leave this place of truth and wisdom until healed and re-integrated.

Wounded parts – these are the exiled parts of our essence that hold limiting beliefs along with difficult feelings and behaviours. They may feel unwelcome or unacceptable to the world around.

Protectors – I have heard these called a range of names like managers, loyal soldiers or gremlins. Their role is to keep the wounded parts safe and largely hidden from the world. They can use a whole range of limiting behaviours to avoid exposure of the wounded self, including addiction, distraction, avoidance, obsession, compliance, even illness.

These coping strategies may feel like a practical way to manage the parts of ourselves we judge unacceptable, but they only work for a while, if at all. The parts of ourselves that are judged as ‘less than’ in some way do not sit comfortably in exile – they can feel abandoned, shamed, angry.

Over time the wounds deepen and they need more extreme management to keep them locked away from the public eye. Eventually, they leak into our daily lives when we are under pressure, creating a confused and muddled expression of self. Their appearance may even be dramatic and seemingly ‘out of character’ to those who know us.

This can be a challenging experience but also potentially cathartic. Once revealed, it is possible to acknowledge and validate these wounded parts, taking steps to re-integrate them back into the true self. You might consider this the Tower card in Tarot, when everything comes crashing down but with that comes the chance for a fresh start.

I journeyed shamanically with the intention of finding a helpful perspective on this and was shown a series of 3 Russian dolls. The first represented the protectors, the face we present to the world. They can give the illusion of stability and ease, like the swan floating serenely on the surface of the water, but actually are working hard underneath to maintain the illusion.

The second doll hidden underneath was the wounded part, hiding behind the protectors and largely invisible to the outside world until deeply triggered.

The third part was the true self. Interestingly, this was the most hidden and the smallest of the 3 dolls. When I enquired with Huascar, the guardian of the underworld, about this I got that this was true, that as a species we live more in persona and protector than in our true essence. If you like numbers, the average percentages I was shown were 45% for the protectors, 35% for the wounded self and 20% for our true self.

That is a pretty sobering thought, that we might show only a fraction of our true selves.

The solution to this confusion and muddle? In the underworld I was shown the 3 Russian dolls separated out, each standing shoulder to shoulder with the other.

Historical harm needs to be unravelled gently in stages but, as a goal, we should try to let the world see all of us, with transparency in each moment about how we are feeling. Wounded parts and protectors are still valid parts of us and need to be accepted with compassion.

When the loving and gentle eyes of consciousness shine on an unhealed part of us, then what was previously hidden can be seen and deep healing can begin. The wounded parts can express themselves in their healed state and the protectors can go back to what they were doing before they took on this role. Confusion and competing beliefs can be replaced with alignment and clarity.

With love


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