The Examined Life
Kyle Christensen, DC – April 2013
Socrates' boldly stated "The unexamined life is not worth living." He doesn't mince words. He doesn't say that the unexamined life is "less meaningful than it could be". He simply and clearly says it's not even worth living. Our lives truly are to be ones of spiritual growth and development, yet too many of us are so caught up and overwhelmed with the busyness of each day that rarely do we spend serious time in thought and introspection. As a result, we can lead lives of RE-ACTION, rather than ACTION.
In my practice, my patients work with releasing trapped emotions. There are several methods taught today on how to release these trapped or repressed emotions. We all experience emotions for which we may not have the tools, support or experience to adequately deal with. As a result, the subconscious mind, in an effort to protect us, will stuff these emotions down. We have learned that “feelings buried alive, never die” but can later manifest as physical, emotional or spiritual symptoms.
I have been troubled a bit by so many of the natural therapies that are designed to relieve or remove spiritual or emotional issues with the wave of a wand (or magnet). And while I have seen miraculous results with some of these, there are many for whom these treatments are only marginally effective or ineffective all together.
Recall the story in the New Testament in Matthew chapter 17. Christ is up on the Mount of Transfiguration with Peter, James and John. Returning they discover the remaining apostles who have unsuccessfully tried to heal a young man possessed. Christ heals the young man. Later, the disciples inquire of the Lord, “Why could not we cast him out?” He tells them it is because of their unbelief and goes on to say “this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting.”
I believe that there are many of us who may require more to heal than sometimes the more simple approaches. In dealing with emotional scars and wounds, it may not be sufficient that the well-intentioned practitioner run through the prescribed course of treatment and expect complete healing. How many of us have “the kind of spiritual or emotional wound that goeth not out but by prayer and fasting”.
In my searching for what I call Christ-Centered Healing, I have come upon a procedure that I believe can help and guide us through the healing process. It requires some effort, but can result in a deep and lasting healing of deep wounds that have long been resistant. This also is in line with Socrates’ statement of the unexamined life. Sometimes we need to face our demons and by so doing we can discover that our hardships, trials and adversity can also be our teacher and our personal refiners fire. By examining our life, including abuses and tragedy in the extreme, we may be able to find meaning, purpose, strength and the power to overcome.
When we talk of Christ-Centered Healing, we enter into the realm of the Atonement, Repentance and Forgiveness. Healing through the Savior is much more than lip service and professing believe. The power of healing through Christ is transformational. It is that of becoming a new person, who has truly partnered with Christ (becoming yoked together with Christ – Matthew 11:28-30). It is being Born Again, experiencing that Mighty Change and becoming a child of Christ.
Orson F. Whitney said
“No pain that we suffer, no trial that we experience is wasted. It ministers to our education, to the development of such qualities as patience, faith, fortitude and humility. All that we suffer and all that we endure, especially when we endure it patiently, builds up our characters, purifies our hearts, expands our souls, and makes us more tender and charitable, more worthy to be called the children of God . . . and it is through sorrow and suffering, toil and tribulation, that we gain the education that we come here to acquire and which will make us more like our Father and Mother in heaven.”
The process I invite you to go through will take some time. It is important that you begin with a prayerful heart that God may reveal to you the words that you should write. Your objective is listen to the Spirit and truly strive to “come clean” and “get it all out” – the hurt, the suffering, your part in it and the resultant blessings that may have been disguised in your experiences.
Letting Go (Forgiveness) and
Obtaining a Divine Perspective of your Life’s Journey
TRANSFORMATIONAL HEALING EXERCISE
Adapted and based on the work of Samantha Hudson, M.A.
Write all 3 parts for each person in one sitting before reading it aloud to your therapist or trusted partners! Do NOT write the first part & walk away. You will get stuck in the victim realm of experience again.
PREPARATION: PRIOR TO WRITING
Letting go of your past is the most essential step in the healing process. It is quite expensive, as far as the energy it consumes in your life, to have emotional attachments to the past. By releasing the past, you make available much more energy for creating joy in the present moment of now and the future “nows” to come. This is why all religions teach forgiveness of the past, and to love and forgive your enemies. Also, when you cancel the past, meaning that you understand why you attracted the particular experience and don’t play the victim/aggressor game, you no longer focus any present thoughts on the past so as not to re-create the same or similar experiences in the future because you have heeded your lessons and gleaned the blessings that have been disguised as a result of your experiences.
This process is powerful because it helps you to detect how a destructive belief or behavior pattern, which can be compared to running a damaging computer virus, has operated in your family’s lineage causing feelings of unworthiness through a cycle of victims and perpetrators often through generations of family members. A passed down, defunct viral/behavioral program eventually portrays itself as genetic or inherited behavioral, relationship, emotional or physical issues, ailments, diseases or pain. Mapping or charting out these issues in your family will help you better inform yourself to call this demon by name, so to speak, so that you can disarm this viral/behavioral program (it really can act like an infectious contagious illness) and its destructive effects. Revealing or uncovering the family’s skeletons in the closet and studying these in order to identify the associated patterns is much easier to do when you are able to examine at least three generations. Of course, not all traumatic events in life come through family relationships, but many do. So we focus on that. Understand that this process can and should be used for all behavioral, relationship, emotional or physical issues, ailments, diseases or painful issues.
The letter writing process that you will go through is designed to energetically dispel or diffuse any emotions that you have not allowed yourself to express or release for one reason or another. When you complete each of your letters, you will find that miraculous physical, emotional, situational and relationship healing can take place in your life. These letters are meant for your individual healing and do not have to be sent or given to the people involved unless you feel it would be advantageous to do so. If indeed this is something that you feel called to do, be sure to read it aloud to them as opposed to simply just giving it to them. Be sure to include a copy of this letter writing process with them prior to your sharing, so that they understand your intention of the engagement as healing and not blaming. Healing will occur on both behalves with or without physically sharing the information or the letters. Please do not be dissuaded from writing these out for the mere fact that you can’t even fathom sharing this information with the subject individual. I repeat, that you do not have to share this with them. This is for YOUR healing. Do it for YOU.
The first step prior to beginning this letter writing process is to take the time and focus on what and who you are still hanging on to. Sit quietly with yourself with the intent to bring to your conscious mind any situations or people that you harbor resentment or guilt feelings for. On a piece of paper, make a list of anyone that springs to mind. Do not resist writing someone down because you think it is too minor. If you are having a difficult time, first make a list of any resentments or regrets and then note the people associated with these situations. Now, prioritize this list of people. Take the first person on your list that you have the most unresolved feelings for and move on to the next step.
For many it is best to begin with one 3-part letter to either mom or dad ( or your main caregiver) as this illuminates many of the behavior patterns that are repeated later with romantic partners, grown children or ex-spouses when you do finally address these individuals too. Often we go into relationships that mirror or attract to us the unhealthy relationship we may have had with a parent. This can be a necessary experience in the healing of dysfunctional behavior patterns that have been passed down from many generations. Often I see those who have become saviors to future generations as they break the cycle of unhealthy parent-child patterns.
After you have completed the entire process with the one parent, wait about a week or two and then address the other parent. You don't realize how much of your life is hinged upon these emotional attachments until the emotional shifts begin to occur following each letter to caregivers. These particular letters spawn many changes in your life and environment for the better. Even though the internal and emotional changes are for the best, can be difficult readjusting our life as we may still be attached to the old people, routines & structures that have caused us distress. So, please do not complete both parents within the same week as this can stimulate too much change too quickly for you. Letting go of these, even if it brings welcomed relief, can still be a bit destabilizing or disconcerting for a while. However, it is essential to let go of these familiar people, habits, situations and circumstances, so that "the highest in us" can honor your new perceptions of the world by restructuring your new perspective of the world with gifts of new, more joyful & abundant experiences. (After your caregivers are completed, any other letters that you feel you must complete, can do so as close together as you choose as these will be more minor clean up issues.)
(Note: It is important to write all parental types in your life, even if the were completely absent from your life (birth parents if adopted, orphaned or abandoned), as this will explain a lot about attachment & relational issues that come later. This abandonment pain must be addressed, expressed & transformed. If they are no longer living today, it is still greatly important to write these and share them.)
PART 1: PLAYING THE VICTIM & RESTORING POWER
Begin this letter with a pray that you may be able to think clearly and express the pain and issues that are your true feelings. Call upon the Lord to assist you in unleashing pent up and hurtful emotions.
A: Expressing Your Emotions as the Victim
B: Restate Your Worthiness that was lost as a result!
Write in first person like you are speaking to this person right in front of you. Say everything that was left unsaid and restate what (power) it is that you sense you lost at the time. Express all of the pain, anger or grief you felt in the past and also presently.
IMPORTANT: It is usually helpful to take a walk prior to writing as this opens up your insight (connection to God and tune in to that highest perspective) and can offer insights by gaining a new perspective with which to see this situation or relationship.
EXAMPLE: If you lost your voice, then you would restate;
A: "I am angry and hurt that you did not listen to my pleas for help or my desires of what I wanted to do with my life. For years I have lived with feelings of insecurity and for this I am sad, angry, depressed and ashamed. You should have allowed me to speak my mind. You were wrong for not teaching me that I am important and that I am worthy of speaking.
B: Today, I am choosing to see myself as important & do know that my voice is worth hearing. From now on, I will invoke it with love, tactfulness and mutual respect when I have something to express or share. I will honor myself, despite the fact that you did not. You no longer hold my power. I am reclaiming it."
PART 2: TAKING RESPONSIBILITY FOR BEING A PERPETRATOR TOO
Because you were acted upon, human experience has shown that we also act out based on the forces and pressures we experience. As a result of our experiences, we too can and may have acted inappropriately or less that we should have. In this part of the exercise, do not attempt to justify any feelings, behaviors or attitudes. Plead for divine guidance to direct your thoughts and words. Each of us fall short, sin and need the blessings of repentance. This part is not for you to accept blame for abuse or harm that came upon you, rather it is an open and full acknowledgement for your shortcomings and behaviors. Do not take the opinion or attitude of “Well, I guess I deserved the abuse or the misbehavior acted upon me was somehow justified”. We are shedding the victim persona. This step acknowledges our sins, misdeeds and imperfections as it relates to any person, but also in our life in general. Understand that we are in the process of transforming into the person God intends us to become. As we humbly accept responsibility for every aspect of our lives, we can be comforted and healed.
A: Recognizing & Taking Responsibility for Perpetrating Similar Behaviors to others in the past and currently.
B: Restoring Power to Your Victims through Resolve
C: Understanding the Compassionate “Being in their Shoes” Perspective: Relieving the Personal Attack Component from any Party Involved. (Forgive them for they Know Not what they Do; Separating the Behavior (Viral Program-Sin) from the Individual.
D: Discerning and Transforming any Associated Destructive Beliefs
When we feel victimized, it stimulates us to judge our perceived perpetrator. Judging actually generates urges within you to act out the very same behaviors as the person(s) you judged. You either acted these urges out and became the perpetrator of the very same act to another, or you have denied these urges as they have arisen, thinking that you won't pass it along. The disturbing fact here is, if you deny urges that arise, they actually are suppressed and become trapped emotions that will eventually begin to effect the physical or chemical aspects of your body, creating emotional issues, physical disease (cancer) or injury (pain). Meaning that you actually gave the viral/behavioral program (the effects of the harmful experiences) to yourself instead, and in so doing, you perpetrated the negativity to yourself, making you both the perpetrator and the victim; which still puts you in the shoes of your perpetrator of Part 1 so that you may now be able to understand the non-intention of your loved one harming you, but understand their ignorance; just as you repeated this pattern upon your subconscious self in ignorance too. (“Forgive them, for they know not what they do.” -Jesus)
A: The topic that you are addressing here is along the lines of: Where have you repeated the same pattern? Without any doubt, you have given this viral/behavioral program to others or quite possibly, yourself. You must discover how & where in order to fully understand the nature of this viral/behavioral program & how it spreads to become the antidote. This is where you must become an objective investigator researching the nature of this viral or behavioral program and how it worked it’s way through you to others. (Be aware that viral/behavioral programs often skip a generation by flipping opposite judgments & resultant behaviors. For instance, a prude mother will parent a daughter who will be promiscuous who will become an overly open mother who will generate a prude daughter. Another example is that a strict parent usually produces an overly permissive parent creating the very same hardships for the offspring. These are harder to detect, but you must notice them.)
B: Once you discover from whom you have taken power (who you have offended because your behavior has reflected the behavior imposed on you), it is important that you take responsibility for your part and give this power back. Seek resolve by reaching out to each victim. Restore the worthiness/self-esteem that you ignorantly took from them and set the record straight (turning the tables over in the temple to remove the imbalances caused by karma or the ledger). We seek and ask forgiveness. In the Lord’s Prayer, in essence we are asking to be forgiven to the degree that we forgive. Or put in another way, “Lord forgive me, only to the extent that I forgive others”.
C. Realizing that you have been both a perpetrator and a victim makes it easy for you to find compassion for those that you have resented/been hurt by in the past by putting yourself in the very shoes of the person you felt/feel resentment for when you were younger. This is now an opportunity to "understand" your enemy (love your enemy) to learn that the person you are writing to most likely didn't mean to affect you like they did. You will learn that they did not take your power (self-esteem and emotional well-being) on purpose or because you aren't worthy of love, attention, etc. They were acting out the same viral or behavioral program that was imposed on them. (Forgive them, for they know not what they do –said Jesus Christ). Just as you are realizing that you didn't want to send that same message to the person(s) you have perpetrated the same act toward
D: In addition, TAKING RESPONSIBILITY allows us to identify any false or destructive agreements/beliefs that need to be weeded from your garden as well. You must shift these beliefs or they will continue to attract the same destructive circumstances or events via the laws of manifestation and attraction that you would like to dispel or get rid of even though you completed this process. Remember that true repentance is a change of heart. It is not simply forcing behavior. When the heart is changed, changes in behavior can more easily occur. The true message and power of the Atonement of Christ is one of Transformation, not just acceptance or belief.
EXAMPLE: If you took someone else's voice, then you would restate to them;
A: “I realize that I have passed on a destructive pattern to you.
B: Your voice is worth hearing and I apologize for not allowing you to have one. From now on I will allow you to share or express your feelings to me in a respectful manner, and I will listen with love, understanding and mutual respect.
C: I apologize for doing the same thing to you that my parents did to me. I realize now that my parents were just repeating what their parents had taught them and that they didn’t purposely teach me that I am not worthy to express myself. I forgive them because I really do understand how we ignorantly pass these along.
D: I realize now that my parent’s belief became my belief by default. I no longer believe that “You are to respect your elders and not ask questions when you are given direction" is not one I choose to have anymore.”
PART 3: MAKING THIS EXPERIENCE PERFECT TODAY
Here is the key, the blessing and the true purpose of all of the hardships and trials we are call upon to suffer in this life. Please understand that each of our lives, no matter how difficult have meaning and purpose. And though we suffer injustices and abuse, Christ also suffered. Our lives were not meant to be easy. Finding meaning and growth through the things we suffer is how we can become sanctified and purified before God. Even as the refiners fire.
See the Blessings in Disguise:
No regrets and no grudges! Going through the duality experience of perpetrator/victim brings you back into balance, but it will not stabilize in this balanced position unless you affix the perfection of this experience to the memory.
You will discover that going without or feeling abandoned or neglected builds strengths, passions, gifts, aptitudes & relationships that would not exist presently, without all of the strife or suffering from before. In other words, all of the darkness that you have illuminated and shined light upon in this healing process actually holds the keys to your Divine Life Purpose, and if acted upon, culminates into the very passions, directions, skills and strengths that you will joyfully utilize when operating at optimum (following God’s will) capacity that will attract to you more blessings and joy than you could have ever imagined before when you were stuck in your unworthy, disconnected state of mind. Be sure to thank your loved one that played the perfect perpetrator for you to develop all of the hidden blessings that were reaped from your lack in that relationship. Also, thank your Heavenly Father for loving you enough to provide difficult life experiences that, for you, were perfect in that it has guided you to become who God intends for you to be. Without your unique experiences and trials, you could not become a son or daughter of Christ.
This is the part that makes it different from what you get in traditional therapy. You must change your story. No longer do you tell the same stories over and over seeking sympathy, that’s the victim’s way that only attracts more situations and circumstances to feel victimized. You now understand the purpose in suffering and will no longer participate in pity parties. This is where you understand the “bigger picture”! A good way to begin this part is to use phrasing similar to the following: “I am so grateful for this experience because today…“ or “This experience was exactly perfect because I learned…”
EXAMPLE: If you had an abusive father who battered you with defeating comments and was neglectful of your feelings and non-consoling, you would begin by thanking him.
Write something similar to this:
“Thank you, dad, for playing the perfect character in my life to teach me that I must love myself and build myself up, and that no one would do it for me. Thank you for teaching me self-reliance and how to forgive. Thank you for being all the things that I don’t want to be, so that I could easily recognize what I do want to be. I know that this experience was exactly perfect because I am now in a position to empathize and help others who are going through similar circumstances and I can be the example of how these experiences can serve them as they have me today.
In addition, I have gained amazing skills during the course of our relationship. I became very intuitive because I was in a constant state of alertness and awareness in order to survive your perpetual beat-downs, which are now skills I regularly utilize as my work to thrive. In fact, I realize that I would go through this again in order to gain these, as this gift is what I most like about myself today as I serve God, others and myself with it. This brings me great joy and would not exist if we actually got along! Thank you, God, for giving me this perfectly strained unharmonious relationship that made me search for comfort in YOU. All of these experiences have led me to this very moment, where I am becoming enlightened and for that, I am eternally grateful.”
COMPLETION: YOU ARE NOT DONE YET!
This is the most important part. If you skip this step, you did not balance the two hemispheres of your brain by listening to your own words from all three perspectives. Now that you have completed all three parts, share this ALOUD with trusted individuals that support your healing journey. A therapist can help you glean anything that you may have missed, so that you do not have to repeat the process. If you are short on friends and family, then seek a counselor who is knowledgeable in spiritual matters. Share it several times. Keep sharing it until you feel that all of the strong negative emotions attached to the person or situation are no longer there. It will eventually need to feel as if it is old news and no longer important to share. Once your work is complete, destroy the letter and rejoice for you are healing on many levels. You may want to burn your letter, symbolically allowing the smoke rise us to heaven. You can definitely expect changes in your physical, relational, spiritual, financial, familial, situational, mental and emotional health. This is healing that comes through the power and atonement of Jesus Christ. These are truly glorious moments when all of the "old" garbage just simply ceases.
Repeat this method with as many of the individuals on your list as necessary. You will find that after you complete a few letters that you will only need to mentally fulfill the exercise with the remaining people on your list. If you are really hard on yourself, be sure to include a letter to you as well. Sometimes you may need to revisit this process if more information is revealed to you later, but now you have it down, so that should not be a problem.
Congratulations on your courage to face your demons or better said, viral patterns or destructive behavioral patterns (past). Pat yourself on your back for a job well done and share your healing with anyone and everyone. Now, you are off to discover your purpose as you serve and bless the lives of others. You are now better equipped and prepared to live joyfully in the present moment.