Have you ever found yourself getting angry with someone, and wondering why? Chances are they were stopping you in some way from getting your needs met. For instance, I was recently at a Shamanic Journeying and Soul Healing workshop, where I found myself getting increasingly angry with an obese woman who was dominating the workshop with her stories of past lives, astral traveling and other new-age nonsense. We ended up in a conflict which ultimately led to me getting what I wanted, and reminded me of some of the secrets to getting what you want in life.
The workshop leader explained that the idea behind Soul Healing, also known as Soul Retrieval, is that during our lives we have experiences that are so painful and emotionally overwhelming that our soul can't cope and gets pushed away for safe keeping. Soul Retrieval involves bringing it back when the danger has passed.
The “soul” here is a essentially a metaphor for our true self, complete with our deepest longings and inner feelings. Pushing our soul away in times of emotional overwhelm is a protective mechanism that allows us to function in the face of otherwise overwhelming feelings by suppressing them temporarily. We bring our soul back naturally by allowing ourselves to experience the suppressed feelings in smaller doses within a safe environment.
But this is where things often go wrong: we may be denied the opportunity to retrieve our soul because we're never allowed that safe healing environment, or perhaps we're taught to just keep pushing those uncomfortable feelings away, or our intellect gets in the way and stops us from feeling them at all.
During the explanation, I started feeling irritated with some of the other people who kept interrupting what the leader was saying by tossing around their own wacky ideas. The obese woman sitting next to me talked profusely about how she went astral traveling, what she'd got up to in past lives and all sorts of other rubbish that clearly seemed real to her. Another woman sitting opposite me started talking about how she could talk to Leprechauns when she was a child. All of this was taking up valuable time that the leader could otherwise be using to teach us what I had come to the workshop to learn. So I decided to speak up and point out what I thought was really going on for these people:
“Some of the ideas I'm hearing are causing me some conflict.”, I said feeling nervous about causing a stir, “The idea behind Soul Healing seems to be that overwhelmingly unpleasant feelings cause us to push our soul away, and the key to getting it back is to allow ourselves to feel the feelings that we've been avoiding. Yet what you guys are describing are just imaginative ways you use to keep avoiding these painful feeling.” Then turning to the woman who said she spoke to Leprechauns but seemed otherwise fairly sensible, I continued “For instance you're talking about how you spoke to Leprechauns when you were a child. I'm wondering how you felt at that time?”
She rambled on about where and how the Leprechauns came to her and how she felt different to everyone else and didn't seem to fit in; a very common painful childhood experience. In other words, she felt lonely. But I noticed that she didn't actually say that directly. It was pretty obvious to me that the Leprechauns were an imaginative childhood way of avoiding this painful feeling. Problem was, she was now an adult and still pretended that the Leprechauns had been real. In other words, she was still avoiding reality; and continued avoidance was just going to get in the way of the healing working for her.
Then the overbearing obese woman sitting next to me piped in yet again and began to explain to me in more detail the concept of astral traveling. I was really finding her annoying by this point. My guess was that she was avoiding feelings of powerlessness, but she clearly wasn't open to hearing what I was saying and getting into an argument about it with her was just likely to waste even more time. I could feel my heart beginning to race with a mixture of anger at her overbearing dominance, and fear at the conflict I was about to engage in with her:
“I feel like you're not listening to me”, I said interrupting her mid-sentence. “I'm not wanting a detailed explanation of the concept of astral traveling. What I want is for the leader to show us the process he has for doing the soul retrieval.”. She was about to open her mouth again when one of the other more experienced workshop participants gestured to her to stop talking, and she finally shut up leaving the leader to guide us through the Shamanic Journeying process.
The idea behind Soul Retrieval is pretty much identical to those behind the emotional trauma model: Traumatic experiences in life occur whenever we are overwhelmed with more emotion than we can handle, causing us to suppress our feelings. We become overly sensitized to experiences similar to those that caused the trauma, and out of touch with both our true feelings and our true selves. Memories of traumatic experiences buried in our subconscious massively undermine our self-confidence and our ability to get what we want in life. The key to healing them is to allow ourselves to re-experience the suppressed emotion at levels that don't overwhelm us, in a safe environment.
Shamanic Journeying is one process for doing this. It uses drumming to get the intellect out of the way, and imaginative visualization to allow us to feel the emotions and gain the insights that we need to get the healing that will recover our true sense of self. In the process, we get our soul back.
At the end of the workshop, the obese woman who I had assertively interrupted came up to me and said “Thank you for telling me that I wasn't listening; because if I wasn't listening to you, I probably also wasn't listening to myself”. Fair point.
“You're welcome”, I said, and we parted on good terms. I got what I wanted by speaking up assertively. Which leads me to the secrets to getting what you want in life that I was reminded of:
Learn To Deal With Reality
Creative imagination is a great asset, but many people confuse their imagination with reality. In fact, none of us have a truly objective model of reality in our heads. Everything we think and feel is colored by past experience and the limitations of our senses. Any time the world or the people in it don't act the way we think we they should, it's a clue that our model of reality is out of whack and needs some tuning.
The problem with avoiding reality is that we don't interact with the world around us powerfully, and we avoid experiencing the painful feelings which could potentially heal us and give us our true sense of self back. You'll find more on dealing with reality in Section 1: Mindset of Confident Man.
Learn To Handle Unpleasant Feelings
If you look at any area of your life where you don't currently have what you want, you'll find an unpleasant feeling which you're currently avoiding that's getting in the way. Once you realize this, it becomes self-evident: if you weren't avoiding the feeling that stops you getting what you want, you'd already have it. Or at the very least, you'd be confidently working towards getting it.
Stop avoiding unpleasant feelings and start using them as pointers towards what you need to do in order to get your needs met. The key to doing this is emotional mastery, which you'll learn in Section 2: Emotional Mastery of Confident Man.
Learn To Ask For What You Want
You have a much better chance of getting what you want from people if you know how to ask for it. Many of us have been conditioned with shame to stop asking for what we want, to the extent that we even deny to ourselves what it is that we want. We've also had ineffective role models who weren't able to teach us how to get our needs met, especially when it comes to needs involving other people. Learning to ask for what we want is an important step towards regaining our sense of what is really important to us, and getting it.
Learn To Deal With Conflict
Asking for what you want can lead you into conflict with other people who may get in the way of you getting it. They are not necessarily doing this deliberately; they're simply using the best strategies they know of to get their needs met, and many people are using ineffective strategies because they too have been shamed and/or had ineffective role models and teachers.
In my interaction with the obese astral-traveler, I needed to engage in a conflict that was making me angry, while keeping a level head so that I could stay focused on stating what I wanted. It was very tempting to go off on a tangent and attack her for believing in nonsense; but that wasn't going to get me what I really wanted. I also had to deal with the anxiety that I felt about the possibility of upsetting her, which is just a projection of my controlling mother who used her anger to dominate everyone around her.
Avoiding conflict is a classic dis-empowering nice guy behavior which stops us getting our needs met; a good antidote is to get in touch with the anger that you feel towards people who stop you getting what you want. You will learn more about anger in Step 16 of the Confident Man program.