In this Healing Chronic Illness blog series, author, Gupta Program Coach and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome survivor Jen Evans shares how developing the courage to walk into the shadow-self let her access the miracle of recovery.
The crash of a hundred competing thoughts throws me into a panic again. I’ve only just awoken. But I know better now, I know where my power is. The thoughts, even if they try to convince me otherwise, are not my power. Working it all out, doing it all, doing it all perfectly, gaining praise and respect, attracting approval... these look and feel like power, but no, we’ve been here a million times before.
We know now, this is not power. This is fear.
I stop, close my eyes, take a deep breath, touch my heart. I ask it, ‘what do I need?’
Immediately it answers, 'stillness'.
I fight the hundred competing desperate thoughts telling me they MUST BE DONE, and I take my hearts advice. I go and mediate.
This morning during the meditation, my heart whispers to me, “ Peace is all there is”. In that moment the to-do list that had been filing through my mind, stimulating the spiky, tense, aching feeling of overwhelm and ‘I’m not good enough, I can never do enough’ just melted away.
I dropped into a deep and grounded feeling of oneness. There is nothing to do, no one to please, no one to defend against. Peace is all there is.
Within moments of this blissful experience, a thought swept into my mind, ‘hold on to it, I don’t want to go back’. And there I was, back, the spikiness, the tension, the fear. As I witnessed the familiar negative feelings return, I looked back and could see my heart, a blinding light in the near distance, and its voice was still loud and clear. ‘It’s always here,’ it said.
Within the tension and fear of a hundred things to get done, I again dropped down into a sense of serene calm and peace. Safety. Grace. A wonderful feeling of allowing washed through me and from that moment this morning I became the witness, untethered but grounded, allowing all the thoughts and feelings to pass through but not needing to pause them, to hold onto them, to collect and examine them for clues or interrogate them for information.
I don’t need to know anything else today. I know that peace is all there is.
This is how many days go for me. I have a routine that includes gentle exercise, meditation and journalling. I didn’t heal the mainstays of fatigue, migraines, pain, reoccurring respiratory illnesses, weakness, and post-exertion malaise, with a sudden and permanent shift into a fully healed consciousness. I have to choose my life according to my experience and my faith, my values and knowledge, but mostly, my self love. This includes time to listen to my heart, the truth and love of intuition. It includes time to allow my body to be in deep restoration and rest. It includes continuing to dig into self-awareness and have the courage and commitment to work with what I find within the shadow side.
I used to live in permanent darkness. I thought the way out was escape. I was wrong. The way out was to turn to look into that darkness, reach out for a comforting hand to travel with me, and then step into it, into its heart, to find out what it needs, what it believes, what is left to resolve from a past of deep hurt and fear.
Are you looking for the way out of your darkness? The fear, the pain, the physical symptoms? Are you lost in a sea of negative belief, anchored in challenging feelings, swimming through the overwhelm of it all just to stay afloat? Yes, I know that feeling, I am with you as you gasp for air and use every last molecule of energy just to stay in this realm, praying for a miracle, the answer, the relief.
The greatest gift that I carry, the truest privilege, is that I can assure you that the miracle does exist. It happened, it happens, it is happening. It is already here, and you’ll have heard it a thousand times, but it is within. There is no secret formula or magical pill, no definitive set of rules to follow that brings us all we ever wanted. No, I’m sorry, it’s not that easy. Because suffering is a message, and until the message is heeded, truly heard, and acted upon, our deepest and most loving parts will keep carrying the message to us, to give us yet another opportunity to hear and know the way.
This is where we turn to look into that darkness, where the message is calling from, screaming from, desperate for our attention. This is where the miracle happens.
When I turned towards it, that excruciating pain that I avoided at all costs - using drugs, alcohol, over-achieving, over-pleasing, giving up myself in every way possible so that I could feel safer, unreachable by other’s judgements and insults - it gave me answers.
It told me, ‘I feel like nothing’, ‘No matter what I do, it’s never enough to receive love, acceptance, respect’, ‘No one will ever take care of me, I’m worthless trash’. A lifetime of familial experiences, and then projections into the adult world, created a bedrock of evidence for these crushing beliefs and the pain of rejection, humiliation, attack and defeat that came with them.
At first I tried to tell the pain, the broken little inner children locked in trauma, that these things are not true. I told her what to believe instead. But this only got me so far. The scared and vulnerable child stuck in survival mode fought back, she was too convinced by terrible experiences that all the negative beliefs were true.
But then I learnt a new way to communicate with the pain within the shadow. I started to ask, ‘What do you need?'. Through listening, witnessing, allowing, just opening up the safe space for the pain to talk to me and teach me what I needed to learn, I gave all the broken parts of myself a space to release, resolve and transform the past into something very different.
I learnt I had a choice. I could use a negative experience to believe something terrible about myself - when the conscious mind can not find an adequate explanation for something in the outer world i.e. being treated badly, the mind looks inwards for an explanation and by turning inwards it tends to ‘create’ an explanation to fill in the gaps of our experience based on the limited resources it has at that time. Therefore someone treating us badly can turn from the truth i.e. ‘This is a hurt person lashing out indiscriminately from their own pain, its nothing to do with my worth as a human’ to a made up explanation i.e. ‘I must be worthless and useless for someone to treat me so badly. It’s my fault. I must try much harder to have any value and to be loved by other people’.
Or I could choose to use a negative experience to believe something true and positive and strong about myself - I can revisit my past self, the child who was powerless to defend herself, to defend those around her, to escape or fight back. I can teach her where her worth truly is - and how no one ever needs to prove or earn worth, that we are born as an essential part of this wide and joyous universe, and our reason for being here is to share our great love and passion and purpose, our skills and gifts, with the world. No wounded person, even if they were a parent or a teacher or a best friend, can ever take away the truth of my being. I can re-teach that inner child this truth and help free her from her pain, her suffering, her stored hurt and anger. As I do this, she frees me, today, to live in ease and love and peace.
The choice is not always easy. Survival mode is convincing. But thriving is our truth, and every time I make that choice to listen to my heart and not my head, my path is clear.
It’s the path where I love myself, no matter what. It’s the path where there is healing, connection, joy.
It is my use of, and commitment to, healing tools like Emotional Freedom Technique, The Gupta Program techniques, visualisation, yoga nidra, meditation and journalling that empower me to gain awareness of the negative beliefs that formerly kept me in permanent darkness and to release, re-wire and transform them into positive and healing beliefs. Every thought is energy, every thought affects our biology. As Bruce Lipton explains in The Biology of Belief, “Our beliefs control our bodies, our minds, and thus our lives.”
When we have a worldview set up in childhood that is many creative but false explanations for why we were experiencing pain and hurt, we move into adulthood with these beliefs and live a life using strategies to avoid the pain, make up for it, or force a different feeling from people in our lives. Thats where the achiever, people pleaser, helper, attention seeker, victim, protector parts come into play. Constantly trying to get what we never had originally - complete acceptance and unconditional love, safety, support from our family, school, church, friends. And the by-product? It’s not usually the love and peace and support and satisfaction we are so desperately trying to achieve. No. It’s the opposite - exhaustion, panic, fear, loneliness, defeat, despair.
The shadow, that pain we have spent a lifetime avoiding, is the stored pain of believing these negative things about ourselves and the world, and the exhaustion of trying to use a child’s strategy to overcome them. It’s time for a different approach.
Do you have the tools to do this? And if you have the tools, do you have the support and inspiration you need to walk the path into darkness with courage and compassion? We’re not meant to walk this world alone, so reaching out for that guidance and safe spaces to do this work in is often a truly transformational part of the process.
There are many of us walking this path, many more offering the support and guidance to help you find the health and joy you were born to experience. The miracle is within reach. Just remember, “Peace is all there is”.
Get Jen's support in 1-1 or in small group coaching, book a free 15 minute consult now for more on how you can deepen your healing and transformation. Email firstname.lastname@example.org
Jen Evans: Women’s Wellness Circle Co-Director and Coach
Jen is a dedicated and compassionate Wellness Coach, EFT and Matrix Reimprinting Practitioner (EFTi Accredited), teacher, writer and (slightly obsessive!) herb gardener.
Jen spent a lifetime with stress-related illnesses that culminated in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome in 2012. Through her recovery journey she tried – well, everything – and truly started to heal after joining the Gupta Program (for which she is now a coach).
She now strives to support and develop nurturing spaces for others to connect with their true self, and realise their abundant power to heal and live purposeful, passionate, fulfilled lives.
For more information on working with Jen in one-to-one coaching sessions via Skype, please see her website www.balanceandflow.org or email her at email@example.com