I often talk about the grounded adult self and the importance of connecting with it for healing. But many survivors don’t believe they have a grounded adult self. It is understandable why they would feel that way. After childhood trauma, it can seem like we live in a constant state of enmeshment with a traumatized part. We will swing between a panicked part and a futile part and an angry part without ever feeling a moment of calm or peace. It can feel ridiculous to believe there is a true self, whole self, empowered self or a self untouched by trauma. But it is there. This self does not live in the mind. It doesn’t grow up (or not grow up) with the psyche. It is who we are. And it wants to help those lost parts come back to team self.
In order to find the grounded adult self, we have to do two things. First, we have to believe there is a grounded adult self. Our defenders will try to convince us it isn’t there. They will tell us we have made it up. They will tell us we are tricking ourselves to believe in such a thing. When the grounded adult self communicates to us through intuition, the defenders will discount every word of it as a figment of our imagination. So we must be strong in our understanding that a grounded adult self is present. Second, we must recognize the grounded adult self when they are stepping forward. If we recognize them, we can build our ability to get back to them. Over time, we can strengthen our access to the adult self to the point we can call on them in the worst of moments. This is incredibly powerful for our healing because the grounded adult self can hold space for the emotions of our traumatized parts. This creates a much higher tolerance for our traumatic emotions as we heal.
To help build your awareness of the grounded adult self, I will give you some personal examples of what it feels like to embody them. To be honest, there are many degrees of that embodiment. It runs on a continuum. It is not a switch we flip. But the more we work at it, the stronger our connection can become. Let’s take a look at what the grounded adult self brings to our lives.
New Realizations. Sometimes I will have an epiphany, an A-HA moment. In this moment, it will become clear to me that I have an unconscious belief driving a particularly frustrating pattern in my life. I will suddenly see a connection I have never seen before. I will figure out where a belief started. Sometimes this understanding stays conscious. Sometimes it disappears into the unconscious for a while longer. But in that moment of epiphany, I am with my grounded adult self.
Emotional Tolerance. I feel lots of emotions on this recovery journey. But there are moments when I can recognize that these emotions are about the past and coming from an inner part. In these moments, I am embodying the adult self. The recognition that my current emotional state has nothing to do with this moment can only be facilitated by the grounded adult self. And it reduces the fear of that emotion dramatically. In those moments, I am able to hold space and heal my inner parts with empowerment.
Intuitive Wisdom. When I say or write things that did NOT come from my mind, I am embodying the grounded adult self. My blogs and programs come from this place. When we are grounded, we have a much more direct and unfettered channel to our intuition and higher-self wisdom. In these moments, we will often find new solutions to old problems. We will potentially uncover ideas that go against conventional wisdom. But we will feel highly confident in the accuracy of the information. If someone challenges it, we won’t feel the normal defensiveness coming from the controller.
Patience. When I suddenly have patience, I am accessing my grounded adult self. None of my unhealed parts (or anyone’s parts) have real patience. They may be able to fake it for a while, but they can’t sustain it. I mostly see this in my parenting. I will have amazing moments of patience and clarity with my children that will shock me. These are the moments my grounded adult self is present. Unfortunately, they don’t happen enough. But when they do, I am impressed with my ability to “go with the flow”, something that I have never excelled at.
Creativity. When I am accessing my creativity, I am embodying the grounded adult self. This comes from the same place as the intuitive wisdom. They usually come together. We can come up with a brilliant new idea for how to solve a problem and the details will start to flow forward. This can last a few minutes or an entire afternoon. But the results are generally not conventional. The most brilliant artists and creators in the world are accessing this place.
Connection. My recovery has been a lonely journey (until I found all of you). But when I am embodying my grounded adult self, I feel a bit different about that aloneness. It feels more superficial. I get a sense of a connectedness with those who are not directly with me in the moment. The tolerance to being alone is something the grounded adult self helps us with. The ability to cope with the lack of approval from external people is strengthened when we are embodying the grounded adult self.
Inner Calm. Over the course of my recovery work, I have had moments of peace that have swept over my entire system. In those moments, my body feels relaxed and lacks tension. There is a sense that everything will be okay and that external events and obstacles matter much less than I think. In general, these moments have lasted for minutes before they vanish. Sometimes, they can last a bit longer before the defenders take over with their fears. But those moments are a connection with the grounded adult self.
While the grounded adult self might not be present often, the moments they are present are powerful. These moments bring the inspiration to keep driving forward in recovery or to try something new and brave. They are the times when we feel less alone or tolerant of the aloneness. They are moments when our perspective changes and we can bring ourselves through the darkest emotions. It is what we were meant to embody and it has lived within us all these years. So take the time to look for the grounded adult self in your life. It is always waiting to help you through your trauma.
Join us in June in Survivor’s Guide for Life as we explore our connection with the grounded adult self.