This is a guest post by Zaki Shafi.
Mental strength is extremely important to develop and we can all easily agree with that. We face difficult situations daily and we need mental strength to move through them effectively and kindly. Also, most of us have experienced traumas that have shaped us negatively. Mental strength is extremely important to view our past traumatic experiences and to gain insight and understanding from them in order to recover what had been adversely affected.
The conventional idea of mental strength is a tough mind that can handle what life throws at you. Typically, images of martial arts, the strength of weightlifting, meditation on mountain tops or beaches, etc. Although the ideas presented here do not preclude that, they stress that the main source of mental strength is authentic connection with close, trusted ones and most importantly, a greater power.
How does mental strength intersect with trauma?
True mental strength calls for being able to view the painful and traumatic experiences of our lives without falling into old patterns of perspective that were engendered by traumatic experience. It is to be able to view them steadfastly with the eyes of a connected Self (I’ll describe what I mean by a connected Self soon) and gain insight. On a micro scale, we see how we moved through the experiences, the mistakes we made, the emotions it brought about, how relationships evolved after the event, how behaviors and beliefs formed to reinforce the emotions and perceptions of self during the trauma, how it affected interpersonal dynamics, and so on. On a macro scale, we see the pre-existing conditions of pain and belief systems that led to the abuse, i.e, the social conditions of the time, how interpersonal dynamics were expected to be, what belief systems and expectations were existing in the greater cultural milieu, and so on. We gain insight into how we can transform ourselves and our interpersonal relationships into more loving and prosperous forms.
Falling into old perspectives that were engendered by trauma often create a victim mindset. There is nothing wrong with this; it makes sense that we see ourselves as victims of something that “happened to us.” That being said, through the eyes of a connected self, we gain valuable insight into how the greater milieu can grow and develop into a more loving, healthy, connected set of expectations and beliefs. With developed mental strength, we are able to speak of the lessons that have resulted from trauma. We continue to take individual action, ultimately contributing to a healthier, wholesome, more connected, and inclusive culture.
How is mental strength developed?
Mental strength requires a developed familiarity with Source and tapping into an inner self state that exists despite harmful traumatic conditioning to our ego selves. This state of self exists at all times underneath the current ego self and we can learn to tap into it at will. Its characteristics are that of childlike innocence and wonder, a natural ease of confidence and connection, and good-natured humor. We get to be rid of anxiety, negative self-image, and isolation. We get to Be, freely.
Developing a Connected Self State and How it Relates to Childhood
A common theme of an ego self state is an ongoing sense of separation, creating an anxious need for an ongoing striving to connect. A connected self state has a sense of being intrinsically connected to others and is free of the underlying anxiety. A common misconception is that those with superior ego self-images are confident and free of anxiety. It’s not true, those with a sense of themselves as superior also experience the underlying anxiety of having to continuously maintain themselves as being superior by whatever value judgement they and their social circle agree upon. A connected self state is neither inferior nor superior, we are simply and authentically connected to others.
A connected self state occurs as a constant and persisting connection with others and with a greater power. We have experienced this state of connection before and we know it because we deeply feel that everything is OK and in alignment. We can learn to consciously create this connection and to maintain it for great healing, joy, and fulfillment by learning to tap into Source. Many words are used for naming a greater power: Universal Energy, God, Love, I prefer Source — the source of everything, like a majestic and everlasting point out of which flows all energy and into which returns all energy. In a connected self state, we are in active connection with Source, with Love energy.
Children are born from Source into an environment that has the potential to pull and disconnect them from where they came. A child moves seamlessly, learns, integrates, etc. in a connected self state. A child does not strive to existentially connect to Life; a child is already connected to Life and sincerely open to connection with others. Parents functioning from an unhealthy ego state imprint misunderstandings and illusions upon their child’s development. The unhealthy ego state of the parent is formed from their own traumatic conditioning and inauthentic demands of civilization. Thus the cycle continues unless we break it in ourselves.
Childhood is an extremely sensitive portion of a human’s life. During childhood healthy or unhealthy self-images form. No one escapes some unhealthy messages – even if parents are kind and loving authentically, school social groups for example may inflict harmful energies onto the child’s open state. As such, an adult that has an unhealthy self-image recovers by tapping into Source. Experientially, when we are connected to Source, we have child-like health: untainted, healthy, joyous, and readily connecting. It’s imperative that we learn how to fulfill and clean ourselves internally. The Universe is an energy system and we are conscious energy systems. Is the universe also conscious? I believe so. We can learn to tap into the origin of our energy systems and thus reboot our entire system.
Adults develop mental and emotional strength by repeatedly tapping into Source; repeatedly rebooting and cleaning ourselves. It’s like taking a shower everyday after a long day’s work or brushing your teeth in the morning to get ready for a day; we all need to consistently tap into Source as a daily routine and not just improve our overall health and well-being, we actually recover that innocent and pure state of Being with which we were born into this world.
What are the specifics of tapping into Source and working with trauma?
Tapping into Source releases pure hope and love into one’s system. Repeatedly tapping into source dramatically improves one’s baseline emotional and mental resilience over time. One needs a relatively high degree of exposure to source in order to withstand the emotional onslaught that comes from reviewing trauma and keeping the mind steady throughout the recall experience. While moving through trauma, keep in mind that the thoughts and experiences that you are experiencing are one layer of meaning, that multiple layers are possible depending on your self-state, and that a victim self-state engenders the most self harmful and self crippling of the possible layers of meaning.
There are other perspectives (people take other perspectives also). In connection to Source, or in other words, tapping into deeper self, by its own virtue, a person cannot be in a victim self-state. A deeper self, a connected self is not a victim by definition. (Nor is one a perpetrator, an instigator, interrogator, etc.) A connected self moving through trauma can see a layer of meaning that reveals information useful for the self’s individuation, how particular pain cycles were present in the perpetrators and victims. Indeed one was a victim when the experience happened, one is not a victim when reviewing the experience and so sees it through a helpful, informative, and restorative lens, and how the pain cycles can be ended. The information pertaining to one’s individuation tell how the trauma will give birth to new meaning, strengths, and skills.
There are many methods of tapping in: chakra work, meditation, prayer, some people run or lift weights, my high school calculus teacher has mystical experiences while swimming. While Source is a universal reality from which we all originate and thus share a deep commonality, we are also deeply unique in our ways of connecting to Source.
A hallmark of this journey is that a spark of love makes contact with your soul, you truly believe that this is possible to magnify, and you slowly allow that love to take over your life and recover your real self forever.
The real Self is colorful and vibrant in love. Recovery isn’t going back to who you once were before you hit the dumps. Recovery is about letting yourself be the colorful, vibrant, and meaningful self that is latent within. A person in recovery radiates their authentic, healthy, and whole unique personality, containing the colorful growth that came from healing their trauma. In recovery, the actions and events of life which hurt us become the very things that give our lives meaning and purpose. Trauma becomes compost out of which grows our success.
The purpose of moving through trauma is to end pain cycles. Enlightenment, or seeing that experience is thinking, is not enough to be rid of this pain. We can see that the experience was an experience and leave it at that, attributing no meaning or story to it; but, the heart still aches and wants to know why. We must move through the trauma experience with a connected self perspective, look for the understandings of how pain cycles caused the situation, and commit to ending them within ourselves. Only then will the experience have any lasting positive meaning and emotional benefit. Trauma is an opportunity to understand, and end, a pain cycle that exists larger than ourselves and our individual stories. It gives new meaning to situations; applying this insight into daily life satisfies the heart’s ache and transmutes it into lasting peace.
We must persist through this healing from trauma with a connected self perspective repeatedly. Often times the journey isn’t fully completed the first go around. To complete the process, we must absolve all the pain cycles within ourselves. Then comes the attainment of selfhood and we blend into complete love. While this may sound esoteric, it’s quite ordinary in its true sense. This loving energy is our natural God given state; we recover a state of inner and outer peace which is our innate potential.