The story of defeat we all can relate to in different areas of life and with different levels of intensity and duration.
The term “dark night of the soul” may speak to a time in life, or a lifetime for some, where loss leads the soul on a journey of healing, redemption and transformation. We all experience the dark night when a loved one dies or we lose something precious such as our health, a job, home, reputation, partner or any fundamental experience that gives our animal natures a sense of security and satisfaction. For some, not having the fundamental experience is a life long karma. Being chronically single or in unsatisfying relationships. Being chronically impoverished or chronically ill physically, mentally, or both.
Again, the duration and intensity is different for each of us and we all can relate to the story of defeat that comes with loss or the never having. This story of defeat is groomed by culture, family of origin, and the soul’s karmic journey.
American culture places value on youth, physical beauty and health, wealth and financial independence, and being the best or number one-getting that attention. These are only a few values out of many that are highlighted while the other values are suppressed into the shadow.
Systemic cultural oppression adds to the stew pot of creating the juiciest of defeat stories. You are not valued the same way in our culture if you are a person of color, a female, in the LGBTQIA community, over the age of 40, disabled, physically or mentally challenged in any way, low in income, not American, or a child. Family of origin and our upbringing also grooms the character and contains all of the ancestral wounds, patterns, and illnesses born of an oppressive cultural narrative that lacks love, care, depth, awareness, and compassion. The soul also carries defeat stories through the lifetimes.
To be quite honest, with all of the restrictions we face, anyone who is free of the story of defeat is a living miracle! And those who claim to be may have the lofty ego compensating an insecure self hiding in the recesses of the shadow. These types project outwardly onto others as the problem. But that’s another topic.
Back to the defeat story. It is a story made by the mind based upon the felt experience of being human. If you get rejected over and over it hurts the heart and the mind will create a story such as, “I am unlovable” or “people are terrible.” For those who meet the cultural standards for what is of value, they may have all the things, the home, partner, thin body, good health, accolade, success yet still feel unworthy and defeated. Or they may suddenly get ill or lose somebody precious and face the defeat story later in life. Realistically, if the ego does not experience the defeat story it may be suppressing childhood trauma or pain and use the cultural value system unconsciously as a way to feel victorious and worthy.
On the surface our karmas look very different but get beneath the surface and we are all in the same stew pot of being human in a sick world, with most of us having endured some level and at different levels; abuse, poverty, oppression, addiction, being rejected, not receiving the proper love and care we needed as kids, and ancestral trauma. As a result, we do not know how to connect to the true self and express our uniqueness, connect with the divine or nature, connect to our philosophy of life, connect to our value system, our dreams and our true self worth.
The ego tries to compensate for defeat by achieving victory. Victory good. Defeat bad. Attention good. Lack of attention bad. Money good. Lack of money bad. Partner good. Single bad. Successful career good. Low paying job bad. Independent good. Dependent bad. Pretty good. Ugly bad. On and on.
This can also be translated into those seeking healing. Enlightenment good. Not enlightened bad. Faith good. Unfaithful bad. Love good. Hate bad. You can plug in the struggle of the soul to be whole into any value paradigm, be it the mainstream American value system or the offshoots such as the New Age, Mindfulness, Yoga, Witchy or whatever subcategory rooted in healing and wholeness of the individual. The value categories are many but all touch upon the fundamentals of relationships, security, happiness, morality, and self worth.
It is important to discern between when your ego is trying to achieve victory over defeat versus when you are authentically connected to and acting from your true self. It is also important to not judge the ego for wanting victory. We don’t judge the cute little doggie for begging for food no matter how much they won’t stop whining. The ego is a cute little doggie that can develop into a mature ego which would be the true self expressed in the world. But the ego is never something to punish, see as bad, or judge. Our egos need our love.
Having discernment between what is true self and what you have been groomed to value is a process. Transcending the victory/defeat ping pong game is also a process. We have to make a new recipe in the stew pot of the inner self and we also have to survive. Disclaimer: many don’t have the luxury to express the true self through their work and lifestyle, which is unfortunate and unfair. But everyone has the ability to transcend the victory/defeat story through connecting to the true self and being who we truly are designed to be, in character.
The true self can be felt and known even in the most grave of human experiences. But it’s not easy. Nor is it easy to make true self the inner compass, anchor, and love generator which is what is needed to transcend the victory/defeat narrative that enslaves the ego.
This blog is not a “how to” in “ten easy steps” blog. I am not about that mentality. But there are methods to help and results are real. The methods I use are fourfold which coincide with the four sacred directions.
North is the physical world and here we can do the work of differentiating self from family and ancestral wounds, we can heal trauma in the body, and we can yoke mind and body through a disciplined practice which is necessary for the true self to marry and mature the ego. The North speaks to somatic healing, family systems and ancestral healing through telling the stories of the past and understanding the patterns. To do this we need to release trauma and anxiety from the body so it may support this investigation that makes self a pioneer seeking to manifest true self destiny. Healing in the north is connected to earth and hence process oriented, slow, pragmatic, and linear.
East is the mind and here we can find the mindfulness practice that allows us to be witness to the story of defeat versus buying what it is selling. When we can watch the mental stories and the mind blah blah blahing while knowing true self is not the thoughts, we free ego from being enslaved to the story of defeat. This gives space for true self to rise up from the shadow and synthesize with the ego. No need to understand how this works. If you learn to watch your thoughts but not believe in them and if you learn how to be the witness to your mind but not identify with mind as self, the true self will rise, synthesize and become ego. The healing of the east is connected to the air, seeing the big picture like a wise eagle up in the sky.
The south is the will. Here we can heal through intention, conviction, and courage. Most of our wills are reactive to what others think of us and how the world treats us. The will is what motivates us. When we are groomed to be reactive to the outside world as the thermometer of how valuable and good we are, the will acts like a ping pong ball always bouncing around based upon circumstance and other’s opinions of self. In the south we learn how to make the will our center. Our true worth stems from the will which is a sturdy yet supple knowing within self and not a temporary emotional reaction. Learning how to live intentionally with every aspect of life builds the will. Making ritual a daily hygiene practice strengthens the will. Healing the will through releasing guilt, shame and other toxic stories connects to the work of the other directions. In the south the healing is one of purification through fire which is using courage, conviction and physical expression to burn away the old.
The west is the heart. Here we heal through connection. The attachment wounds live here and are healed here. In the west we also dive into the deep sea of the psyche to discover and awaken the true self, archetypes, wounds, gifts and all aspects hidden from ego that are asking for acknowledgment. The west is where psychological depth work is helpful to integrate the aspects of self through differentiating them. Uncovering, acknowledging, and expressing all that wants out from the unconscious happens here. This is the direction of the heart. Honoring feelings. Going with the flow of inner wisdom. Being in relationship of all kinds, romantic, therapist, healer, friend, mother, father, sibling, pet, teacher, co-worker, etc. Through being in relationship with others outside the self and aspects within the self, we heal. The heart is purified in the west which is connected to water. Water cleanses and renews. Forgiveness, acceptance, letting go and surrender all happen in the west.
This is how I see it and there are many ways to see it. In my work with clients and on myself I use this basic framework as I learn new skills along the path. I am walking it with you and beside you. Not ahead or behind. Not better or worse. There is no victory to gain over defeat. The story is a creative quest of the soul seeking sovereignty. Say that ten times fast.