Why I Disagree With The “Self-Acceptance” Movement

Why I Disagree With The “Self-Acceptance” Movement

I’ve been outlining the chapter in my book on mindfulness and self-acceptance (Did I mention I’m writing a book?!) and it occurred to me that many people have the wrong idea of what acceptance and self-acceptance really mean.

I hear people say all the time, “I should love myself more” or “I should just accept my job/relationship/life and be grateful for what I have.”

That is not the right way to do acceptance. 

Any thought about your life that starts with “I should” or “I need to” isn’t self-acceptance, it’s self-abandonment. It’s pushing aside your own feelings, desires and intuition for the sake of trying to be happier. 

Let me suggest another way. 

Acceptance (or self-acceptance) is when we accept or notice what’s coming up for us right now, without creating a story about how it should or shouldn’t be. It’s also accepting what comes up without any ideas of how or why it should be any different. 

It’s like a combination of noticing, acceptance and embodying. It’s thinking, “This is what’s happening right now” with no further commentary or evaluation, just embodying the feeling, sensation or thought that’s coming up and being in it. 

Here’s an example: 

Many women I know (and some men) don’t like the look of their bodies for one reason or another. I’ve heard so many well-meaning people talk about body acceptance as learning to love your body just as it is. While I don’t disagree with this in theory, if we try to jump straight from “I don’t like my body” to “I accept my body as it is” we’re going to be bypassing a lot of important feelings and thoughts for the sake of how we “should” think about our body. 

Here’s what I propose instead. When you have a thought or a feeling along the lines of, “I don’t like my body” just notice that you are thinking that. That thought isn’t bad, or wrong, nor should it be any different. Simply notice and accept, “I am having a negative thought about my body.” 

When you’re able to have a thought like that without a judgment that you should be thinking something different or feeling another way about your body, when you are able to be who you are right now, without any judgment that you should be thinking any other way than you are, it opens the portal for true healing. 

Not bypassing healing or “should” healing, but real healing. Compassionate healing. 

When I think the thought, “I don’t like my body” and accept that I am feeling shame, I then can tend to and care for that part of me that feels bad. I don’t need to change it, I just need to care for it. I can sense into what I need to hear to comfort myself in that moment and say the exact right thing to myself. I can say, “Well of course you don’t like your body, Megan, there’s a billion dollar ‘beauty’ industry and a whole patriarchal culture invested in you feeling unworthy. They lie. They make money and retain power off of those lies. You are amazing and your beauty is so much more than the shape of your body. Anyone worth their salt will see that, and you should, too.” (That’s just what I needed to hear in that moment — your version of comfort and validation will sound different. But feel free to steal mine if that works for you!) 

In that moment, I start to genuinely feel better about my body. It’s not bypassing or platitudes, it’s a genuine shift in what I think about not only my body, but the world my body exists in. 

I’m not accepting my body, I’m accepting the thoughts about my body and through that acceptance, I can find what I need to think or hear to heal that shame I feel. 

Let me give you another example. I recently moved to a new city where I don’t know many people. It takes time to develop friendships and create routines and I’m still in that process. Even though I know that’s true, I still feel lonely sometimes. This week I had a friend visit for a few days and after they left, I found myself alone in my apartment and my feelings of loneliness got intense. Rather than try to change it or think of all the good things about my new situation in this place I’ve wanted to move to for years, I simply accepted the feelings of loneliness. 

“Okay, I’m lonely.” 

I sat with the loneliness for a while. I observed it, noticed what it felt like in my body, where it sat and where it moved to. I kept thinking, “Here I am, I’m lonely” or, “I am feeling loneliness right now” without trying to fix or change it. And eventually, I was able to bring some love and compassion to myself. I thought, “This is okay, I just moved here. This loneliness is signaling to me that I need connection, I need community. I’ll find it. It’s important to me, so I know I’ll keep making small movements towards caring for myself this way.” 

In that moment of sitting with the loneliness and accepting it, my view towards it shifted. It’s not that I felt any less lonely, but I saw it as a signpost for what’s important to me — connection and community — and I then felt the peace of knowing myself and the pride of making moves towards caring for myself and meeting my vital needs. 

Only after pure acceptance can we crack open the door for compassion.  If we jump to judgment or a “should” statement, we leave no room for self-compassion. And the door to true healing is compassion, both for ourselves and others. So I invite you to accept what comes up for you, even if it’s not pleasant. Sit with it, don’t try to change it, and accept that you are a human being having this thought or feeling, that’s it. Pure acceptance, just being in the moment of what’s arising. After a while, you’ll sense into what you need to know from that. What message is important to heal you and bring you even closer to that beautiful state of self-knowing and self-acceptance? There’s no greater love than knowing, accepting and validating where you are, right now. 

Xo Megan

Feeling Like Crap While The World is on Fire Around You? These 4 Things Can Help.

Feeling Like Crap While The World is on Fire Around You? These 4 Things Can Help.

It’s been a chaotic last couple of years, hasn’t it? Global pandemics, the rise of fascism, and disconnection from so many of the people and things that keep us sane and grounded.  So many familiar things are falling apart, and I know that I’ve had to figure out new ways to find happiness and connection in these unpredictable times. As with anything new, it’s been a bit of trial and error.

But there are 4 things that I know will help and that I keep coming back to over and over.

  1. Mindfulness. The ability to be in the present moment and have the ability to access two parts of me (the part that is having the experience and the part that is compassionately observing the experience) has been invaluable. When things are rough or when things are good, I can witness myself having that experience from a place of wisdom and compassion. When I am feeling scared I can be scared and at the same time, send compassion and love to the past of me that’s scared. When I’m feeling joy I can actually register that joy and make a mental note of how happy I am, which rewires my brain to seek happiness. It’s sort of like a magic trick – being two places at once – and it’s one of the best tools I know for coming back and caring for yourself in hard times. It can create a new perspective that’s different from the trauma reactions you’ve had in the past.

 

  1. Learning to love your pain. I know, I know. That sounds terrible. But hear me out. I know mental anguish sucks. Anxiety, loneliness, feeling out of control, it all sucks. But those places where we feel pain are signposts to where we need to let in love. Doing shadow work and finding the places where you’ve been hurt can also be seen as finding the places where you can open up to love. This can be self-love (goodbye inner critic!), love from others like friends, pets, etc, or a connection with source, the ultimate field of unconditional love.  It’s not easy, and we often put up barriers in those shadow places because we’ve been burned in the past, but as Rumi says, “Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.

 

  1. Being kind to yourself. I don’t know about you, but I say horrid things to myself that I would never dream of saying to anyone else. Years ago, I made a vow to myself that I would not say anything to myself that I wouldn’t say to my best friend. I’ve found that when times get tough and we feel like we’re not doing a good enough job, those voices can get stronger. Anyone feel like they’re not doing enough when really, it’s a pandemic + past trauma + late-stage capitalism + a society focused on disconnection under the guise of hyperindividualism? Coming to love ourselves takes work in the face of all of this is an intentional act and takes patience, love and care.  

 

  1. Having a spiritual practice. You can call it God, source, the universal field of consciousness, or the flying spaghetti monster, but the ability to tap into this energy and feel it in your bones and feel how much love and support there is for you out there is key. No one can do it alone. But sometimes we don’t have the perfect people around at the perfect moment to help us. That’s when a spiritual connection and a deep knowing that all of this will be okay can come to the rescue. You are part of something so much larger than whatever is going wrong. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been in a pit of despair and the only thing that gave me relief was the sense of grace I get when I meditate and intentionally connect to that field of consciousness. We’re all just little holograms of God, running around having incarnate experiences. And those incarnate experiences can feel BIG and overwhelming at times, but it is not all that we are. We are so much more than that and you can access that expansive feeling anytime you want through your spiritual practice.

 

If you want to know more about any of these 4 tools or want help learning how to use them in your own life, I’m teaching a course all about them and it starts next week. If you’re curious, drop me a line or check out the webpage here: https://megancaper.com/uth

Xo Megan

Romancing Yourself Using Love Languages

Romancing Yourself Using Love Languages

How do I love me? Let me count the ways.

Ask anyone who’s been in a long term relationship what the secret to success is and they’ll likely mention two things: You have to work at it every day and you have to make your partner feel special on the regular.

That’s sound advice, but it’s advice we rarely do in our relationship with ourselves.

Do you work on making yourself feel special every day? If not, why not? We all need to take time to celebrate and love on ourselves daily. It’s important because if we’re only relying on other people to make you feel special and loved and it doesn’t happen, it can trigger self-critical thoughts of being undeserving.

You (yes, YOU) deserve to have something happen each day that reminds you of how lovable, worthy, special and awesome you are. You are a beautiful ball of sentient stardust (shout out to @domesticblisters for that description) and you absolutely should be reminded of this, daily.

Let me tell you a trick for how I started doing this for myself. First, if you don’t already know your love languages go here to find out your top two or three. My top three are acts of service, words of affirmation, and receiving gifts.

Next, figure out ways that you can do these things for yourself!  You’ll have to get creative here. How can I perform acts of service for myself? Well, I can hire someone to clean my house every few weeks. Or order food delivery once per week. What about words of affirmation? I can make a list of all the things I’m proud of myself for that week. Receiving gifts? Easy – I make sure if I see something I like when I’m out, like flowers or a yummy smelling candle, that I either buy it at the moment or add it to a list I have on my phone of stuff to get myself later.

If I find that it’s been a few days since I’ve done any of these things, I make a point to do it. And when life is especially sucky, I make a point to schedule them in. After my last break-up, I scheduled weekly flower delivery for myself for a few months and wrote myself encouraging notes to be included with the delivery. Every damn time I looked at those flowers, I smiled.

Now, I want you to pay very close attention to your inner critic when you start to do this practice. If I’m at the supermarket and I see something I’d like as a treat (a gift for myself) and I think, “Oh, that’s a nice thought, but I don’t really neeeeeeed it,” then I stop and take stock. If I saw my best friend’s favorite candy bar in the whole world at the market right before I was about to meet up with her, would I buy it for her? Of course I would — I would be so excited to do that for her! So, why wouldn’t I be equally as excited to do that for myself? If there’s any part of you that tells you you’re not “worth it”, there’s some shadow work to do, right there. I recommend bringing in your inner caregiver or protector to help you work through feeling undeserving or not worthy.

Because my friend, I promise you that you are worthy of that and so much more.

I hope you try this out and let me know how it goes. Like any change to our belief systems of self-concept you may have to “fake it till you make it” and almost force yourself to do small acts of love for yourself at first as the inner critic “I’m not worthy” voice comes up. But once you make it part of your routine, and part of who you are, then your daily practice of letting yourself know how special you are becomes one of the best parts of your day.

If you want to know more about how exactly to translate your love languages into things you can do for yourself, then check out my group course starting on April 25th, Unconventional Tools for Healing. We go into this in-depth and you can get personalized coaching from me on how to do this to make the most positive impact on your well-being.

Xo Megan

What if You Don’t Know How to Care for Yourself?

What if You Don’t Know How to Care for Yourself?

One of the most insidious aspects of growing up with emotionally unavailable parents is that I didn’t have models of how to be cared for. I didn’t grow up with examples of what it’s like to be comforted when I felt vulnerable, sad, afraid, or ashamed. I also didn’t have examples of what it was like to have a cheerleader, someone who became happy and proud on my behalf when I worked at something important to me.

Without external models of how to be cared for in these ways (comforted and encouraged) I couldn’t internalize these models into my own self-concept. This meant that in times when I was feeling upset or needed validation or encouragement, I didn’t have an inner voice that could give me these types of messages, because I didn’t even know what these messages sounded like.

This didn’t just happen in response to external circumstances, either. When my inner critic would start spouting off, there was no competing voice in my head. Without any other narrative, my inner critic would run rampant and I’d end up feeling awful.

I decided to create another voice in my head, one that was supportive, validating, kind and encouraging. I didn’t want to call it my inner parent because the word parent doesn’t have the best connotation for me. So, I called it my inner caregiver. I used polysensory mental practice to create a new voice in my head that said all the things I needed to hear, all the emotional nutrients I needed but never got when I was growing up.

I soon realized there was a big problem. Sure, it was a great idea to have a part of me say all the right things, but what were those things?

Like I said, I never had a model. If I didn’t know what comforting and loving language sounded like, how could I start to talk to myself this way? I looked to parenting books, positive psychology research, and nonviolent communication and restorative justice models for their language.

I knew my inner caregiver needed two ways to respond to my inner critic, as the comforter and the protector. The comforter says things like, “I am proud of you,” or “You don’t have to be afraid anymore. I’m here for you.” The protector keeps my boundaries with my inner critic and says things like, “You don’t get to talk to Megan like that,” or “No. I don’t receive that message.”

I’ve used this model with clients as well. Each of us has different needs for who this new voice needs to sound like, and even for its name. Inner caregiver works for me, but for others, they need an inner nurturer, inner mentor, inner big brother or sister, inner parent, or an inner protector.

The messages we need to hear are all different too. I was raised by a narcissist, so I need to hear that I am valuable and worthwhile. Others may need to hear that they are prized for who they are, or that no matter what they do, they will never become unlovable.

Your inner caregiver (or protector, nurturer, etc) is a powerful way to develop self-compassion. But discovering what it is you need this voice to say can be hard for all of us who never heard these things from our own parents. We need to look elsewhere.

I invite you to gently and lovingly start to look for messages that feel good to you. They may be loving messages, anti-bullying messages, messages of worthiness or lovability. You may hear them in real life as you watch your friends parent their children, you may hear them in a movie as one character comforts another, or you may sense them deep down as that thing you always wanted to hear from your parents or caregivers, but never did.

You’ll know them because when you hear them, you’ll have strong sensations/feelings in your body and emotions will bubble up. These are the messages that are speaking loudly to you — they want to be part of your inner self-talk and your self-compassion routine.  

If you don’t know where to begin finding them, here’s a place to start.

I’m still working on developing my inner caregiver, and now have both a woman and a man’s voice in there helping me feel worthy, loved and safe. If you like the idea of having this loving and protective voice in your head and want some help and guidance through the process, this is one of the things we do together in my Unconventional Tools for Healing group program. I’m running it again, starting in a few weeks on the 25th April 2022. If you think this course is something that would give you the information and support you need right now, I invite you to join us.

Xo Megan

Why Mindfulness is The Bedrock of Mind-Body Healing

Why Mindfulness is The Bedrock of Mind-Body Healing

Mindfulness is one of the bedrocks of mind-body healing. Without it, you can’t accomplish any significant healing on a physical, emotional or spiritual level.  I want to look at what I mean by mindfulness and then give you some examples of how it integrates with other healing tools.

Mindfulness is really two different things: the ability to be in the present moment AND metacognitive observation of this moment.  

Being in the present moment means you are only experiencing what is going on right now in your environment, body and mind. Mindfulness is our natural state when we are feeling calm, relaxed and connected. When you are mindful, you don’t get swept away in thinking of a conversation you had earlier today, or lost in worry about how things may turn out in the future, you stay grounded in what is actually happening right now.

Metacognitive observation is the gentle, nonjudgmental acceptance of what’s going on in the present moment. It’s observing the situation and our reaction to it without adding any mental chatter about why it may be “right” or “wrong”. When you are mindful, you notice thoughts come up and say to yourself something like, “Ah! It’s worry. I’m worried about how my presentation will go tomorrow.” In this way you are not getting lost in spiraling thoughts about the worry, but rather you observe the worrying thoughts in a nonjudgmental way.

Mindfulness is a prerequisite to almost any other type of healing work because without the ability to be present and observe what’s going on and our reaction to it, we won’t be able to identify or change harmful thoughts, belief systems, or patterns of reactivity.

Mindfulness is the tool we can use to self-diagnose our own maladaptive patterns.

Without mindfulness, we’ll continue to engage in these patterns unconsciously, and the true nature of our difficulties will remain hidden from us. Doing healing work without the foundation of mindfulness is like going to the doctor and asking for treatment without having identified any specific symptoms other than “I don’t feel well”.

Mindfulness is the basis for the best healing tools for stress and trauma. For example, thought work is based on being aware of both our thoughts and our emotions at any given time. Cultivating our inner caregiver can only happen if we can catch our inner critic when they’re in action. You can only develop your intuition in a present and open state. Even physical healing from illness or injury only happens in the parasympathetic “rest and digest” nervous system state. (Note: if you’re curious about any of these tools, I’ll be talking about all of them in the next few weeks!)

Not only that, but mindfulness is incredibly healing on its own. Observing your own emotions, thoughts and reactions from a place of gentle, nonjudgmental acceptance can be the key to undoing years of bullying, emotional neglect and other trauma. Being in the present moment allows us to look around and see what’s good, safe and inspiring right now in both our internal and external worlds.

However, if you’ve experienced chronic stress or trauma, mindfulness may be much harder for you. You may feel pulled out of the present moment by anxiety, depression, hypervigilance or dissociation. For people with anxiety or depression, it can be challenging to observe our thoughts and feelings without internal mental commentary. People who dissociate may not even be registering what’s going on at all, and it’s impossible to observe experiences that you aren’t even aware of. In fact, people who have experienced chronic stress or have C-PTSD may spend most of their time in these other states, which can make both mindfulness and all of the other healing tools that stem from it that much harder to access.

If you’ve tried mindfulness or meditation before and it hasn’t worked for you, then I’d like to invite you to join me for my upcoming group course “Unconventional Tools for Healing” where I’ll teach you my trauma-informed take on mindfulness, and teach how to finally be able to get to that calm, relaxed and connected state even if it’s eluded you in the past. And from that state, miraculous healing can occur

Click here to learn more and feel free to reach out if you have any questions about the course or if it’s right for you.

Xo Megan

This Email Almost Sent Me in a Tailspin

This Email Almost Sent Me in a Tailspin

The term “shadow work” has been everywhere lately. But what is it really? 

I think of shadow work in terms of healing and clearing the way for better spiritual, emotional and intuitive connections. Shadow work uses strategies or tools to look at the parts of ourselves we’d rather not look at like shame, feelings of unworthiness, or our deepest fears (You know, the stuff we’d rather have remain in the shadows if we could help it) and then find ways to heal or bring comfort to those parts. 

If you’re not sure what I mean, think of something you believe about yourself that you’d do anything to prevent from being shared on the internet. There’s a shadow, right there.  

Identifying and noticing your shadows is the first step in shadow work. Sometimes, we already know what our shadows are, like things we’d be embarrassed to admit or fears we have about how other people judge us, but sometimes they’re still in our subconscious and we have to do some work to name them and identify them. Most often, those hidden shadows will be our triggers. Someone will do something that really triggers us, to the point where our reaction seems disproportionate to what happened (“Why am I so mad/sad/terrified about this?”) and that’s often a sign that there’s subconscious shadows influencing our behavior. 

I want to share with you some real-time shadow work I did this week to illustrate both how to identify a shadow and how to work with it, aka “do shadow work.” Here’s what happened…

As part of my marketing strategy for my business, I’ve been reaching out to lots of podcasts lately to see about being booked as a guest. I usually do this by sending an email to the host telling them that I like their podcast, why I might be a good guest, naming a few topics I think could be interesting to their listeners, and linking to a few of my past podcast interviews so they can get a feel for me as an interviewee. Pretty standard stuff. Most often I get either a yes, or I don’t get a response at all. Occasionally, I’ll get a note saying “thank you for reaching out but it’s not a good fit for us.” All of which are fine and just part of the deal. 

Last week, I sent out about 10 emails to various podcasts with the usual ratio of some positive responses and some crickets. But one response I got was unlike any I’ve received before: 

[“Dear Megan,

Thank you for reaching out with your guest interview proposal.

I have visited your website and listened to one of your interviews (one link is not working at all).

While I don’t question your personal experiences or your medical intuition skills, and you can certainly talk to these topics –  when choosing my podcast guests I tune in and look at them holistically, beyond just the good fit of the topics of their professional expertise and whether they interview well.

I’m seeking the energetic resonance.  This means that if something about the potential guest bothers me, anything at all – I don’t invite them to my show, as they are ultimately not a good match at the energy level.

I don’t know how much information on my website you have read, so I will tell you that I’m highly intuitive, and interface with people and the world at the energy level, the 6th sense. I am Reiki Master, I work with energy every day, and so the energetic resonance is the most important qualifier for me.

I could have just politely declined; however, since you have addressed your email to me personally (unlike most guest proposals I receive), I feel that you deserve to hear my feedback and the reason why I decline your proposal, for your benefit – regardless of what you choose to do with it.

When I went to your website and read the big header:

“You’re here because you had a crappy childhood and you’re done letting it affect your life” –  I was INSTANTLY put off and wanted to leave. If I were a potential client – that’s what I would have done. Why?  I didn’t have a crappy childhood (quite to the contrary) and while the heading is generic of course, I found it offensive, presumptuous, judgmental and aggressive. Like many people, I have had a fair (or unfair) share of issues and traumas in my life which happened later on. My childhood was the happiest time.

Now – I know NLP very well, all about using presumptions, embedding expectations, “mind-reading” and all that jazz.  I’m a very experienced Life Coach and use NLP in my work with clients and know-how and when to use it, but my first reaction to your homepage was “how can you know why I am here, you know NOTHING about me, and you are wrong”.

Anyway, this is not a coaching session so I’ll keep it short. 🙂

As I perused your site I found few other points that bothered me (meaning- created energetic dissonance with me, like a scratch on an old record playing lovely music), including words like “shit” and “goddamn” which I would never use in my professional setting.  Your website is peppered with negative energy which you are not even aware of. This is clearly your style, your language which is absolutely fine – for you and perhaps many other people, but not to me.

I read people very well, on many levels, and your website gave me a lot of insight into your personality and your approach. I am not saying it is wrong, right or indifferent. I’m not making any judgment. All I am saying is that as a guest you are not a good match for me and my podcast. That’s all.

Thank you for considering my podcast for your interview.

Wishing you all the best on your journey

XXXX {name redacted} ” ]

I want to take you through what happened to me step-by-step as I read this reply, both to share what a trauma response looks like and how I did shadow work to address the trauma response

  1. I felt terrible. I felt deep fear, almost a feeling of terror, that I had done something wrong (I know, I know— I hadn’t — but this was my unconscious trauma response safety system kicking in) and that I had somehow been inappropriate or overstepped my bounds. Then, I felt myself dissociate, which feels a bit like I’m looking at what’s happening from a distance, with a bit of numbness and brain fuzziness thrown in. 

 

  1. I recognized that my emotional response was BIG and that I was having overwhelming, unpleasant emotions as a response to this. My dissociation happened because the response was so overwhelming that my brain decided it was better to “go offline” than experience something so unpleasant. (Meditation and mindfulness practices have helped a ton in being able to observe and identify both my emotions and dissociation in real-time.) 

 

  1. I understood that this person’s email was inappropriate, but I second-guessed myself and wondered if I was overreacting by being so upset by it. This is a complex PTSD response that happens when, as children, we were consistently told that our reactions to abusive behavior were too much in some way like, “you’re overreacting” or “we can talk about this when you’ve calmed down” or  “don’t be such a drama queen.” When this type of gaslighting happens, we lose the ability to trust our own feelings and reactions and learn to downplay them. (Jeffrey Marsh has some amazing videos on this topic if you want to learn more.)

 

  1. I started 3rd guessing myself and realized that my self-judgement as “overreacting” was also probably a trauma response, so I reached out for help with what I call “reality testing.” I forwarded the email to someone I trust, my business coach Caroline Leon, and said, “I just got this reply to one of my podcast pitches and I’m not sure what to make of it. It seems unnecessarily harsh. I mean, I usually have a thick skin, but this is over the top, right?” She replied and said, “Oh Megan, I am so sorry that you had to receive this email. This isn’t someone you ever need to listen to or feel triggered by. This person is self-aggrandizing, judgemental, lacking in self-awareness and clearly has some personal issues.” 

 

Caroline’s response helped in two ways. First, it confirmed my suspicion that my judgment that I was overreacting was wrong, this email was really terrible. Second, it made me feel seen and heard, something I didn’t get much of growing up, and something I know I need to seek out now as I reparent myself as an adult. She then offered to hop on the phone with me, and my first instinct was to say, “I’m fine, I can handle this” but, lately, I’ve realized how much I’ve “I’m fined” my way through some pretty horrible shit in my life when, in fact, talking to someone and feeling comforted was exactly what I needed to complete the stress response cycle

 

  1. Once I felt sure that this email was in fact an attack and inappropriate, I looked at why I had such a strong reaction to it. I’ve had people be rude to me or say nasty things to me many times which did not cause a trauma response, so why did this one trigger me so much? I realized that this passive-aggressive set-up of “I’m doing this for your benefit” followed by an attack on me was exactly how my mom spoke to me as a child. She’d say things like, “I want you to know that I spoke with your friend’s mom and she only hangs out with you because her mom is forcing her to. I’m only telling you this so you can look at how you could be a better friend and think about why no one wants to be around you.” (None of this was true, by the way, she never talked to my friend’s mom, but I didn’t find that out until years later. This type of abuse is common with malignant narcissists.) 

 

  1. As I came to understand why this email had felt like such an attack, I took care to do some deep self-compassion work for myself. I meditated and brought to mind what I call my “inner caregiver”, a character in my head who is kind, supportive and stands up for me against this kind of bullying. I imagined her coming to be with me, soothe me and defend me. It felt wonderful. 

 

  1. I recognized that the person who wrote this email is likely in a lot of pain themselves. “Hurt people hurt people” as they say. When I felt calm and strong enough to do so, I sent them the Mettā prayer of compassion, “May you be free of suffering and the causes of suffering. May you find happiness and the causes of happiness.” 

 

  1. Over the next few days, I made sure to check in with myself and make sure I was okay, much like I’d check in on a good friend who had been through something rough. I gave myself some extra leeway to take it easy if I felt off in any way. 

 

Within 2 days, I felt much better. I could even read the email and feel only compassion for this person without being triggered at all. (Note: it’s taken me almost 20 years of practicing this kind of shadow work to get to this place. Even 5 or 10 years ago, I would have been a wreck for weeks if I’d received this email and probably would have read it over and over or felt the need to reply and defend myself.) 

I’m sharing this story with you because I know when I first started trying to heal my shadow parts, it felt monumental and insurmountable and I didn’t even know where to start. So, I’m hoping that sharing my process can either give you some ideas for your own shadow work or at least can show you what’s possible if you work at it. Obviously, I’m still a work in progress and I suppose if I’d really worked through all my stuff this wouldn’t have triggered me at all. But I know that I’m in process, I’m doing the healing work of wherever I am, and that’s okay, too.

We’re all exactly where we should be (which may not be where we want to be, but that’s also okay) and I hope you know that wherever you are in your healing process is just as right, just as good, and just as perfect as where I am with mine. 

Xo Megan