A Prisoner of Our Own Internal War

Perspective view of new barbed wire.At some point we all make mistakes. Unless one is a sociopath, guilt and remorse are felt, experienced and possibly expressed. Forgiveness is asked for and usually given. But what about those deep, vague, internal mistakes – the kind that are made over and over again unconsciously – mistakes against oneself that were habituated long ago?

We hold life against ourselves on such a subtle level that there are not exact words to describe, just a feeling in the gut. The belief that I made a mistake, did something wrong, am something wrong, or do not deserve to have a fulfilling life is pervasive and unconscious. It determines virtually our every movement and yet cannot be quite described or understood without bringing consciousness to it.

How does one transform one’s self on this level? One cannot just change their eating habits, exercise more, drink more water, learn to act more appropriately, communicate more honestly and clearly on top of this so subtle energy and expect different results. I watch so many people put all of the effort available to them to this task of transformation and the results are not forthcoming. Frustration takes over and there is more proof that life is not going to give what is wanted and worked for. How does one get to the most subtle of energy that is the real boundary?

Mindfulness is key – watching the thoughts, beliefs, and attitudes you hold toward yourself in each and every situation. Watch what your mind tells you. There is a war going on, and you are your own prisoner.

Compassion is called for. Beliefs and images about who you are were determined at a very early age and then never readjusted. Consider all of the mistakes a three-year-old might make and realize that you are still punishing yourself for these mistakes. Add to that the way your parents interacted with you about these mistakes, and you may begin to see what it is you are up against in this internal war.

So much of the stress we experience today around relationships, career, self-esteem, lifestyle, etc., has more to do with the unexpressed emotions from these tender years than from the present day. The level of fear, anger and frustration, when observed honestly, does have a childlike quality.

We know this on one level, and so try to cover up our childish behavior by giving more energy to the current situation than is rational. We embellish, hyperbolize and dig in our heels to prove our position. All of this because it feels safer to continue to make the same mistakes over and over than to risk going back, feeling the emotions that, at the time felt life threatening, and risk making a new mistake.

We hold ourselves hostage rather than take a risk that could open up new possibilities. I invite you to make a new habit of watching your emotional reaction to everyday occurrences and to be willing to see them for what they really are. Then, in your own time and way, allow yourself to feel the true emotions underneath. Be willing to forgive yourself, forgive earlier and current authority figures, forgive life and live a life of new possibilities.

Free yourself from your own internal war.

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