Shifting Our Identity from One of Pain to One of Glory

By Annie Fisher, MSW, LCSW

Through focusing we discover a spaciousness inside that can hold difficult experiences and with continued practice, even an imperfect practice of staying with what wants our inner attention, we discover within the spaciousness, a sea full of long forgotten qualities ones such as the fluid energy of compassion and the tenderness of stillness. These aspects of ourselves, which are innumerable, are what makes our connections within and with others, intimate and healing. For most of us, qualities, ones such as deep love and natural courage, don’t register as familiar or could possibly have anything to do with us but focusing finds a way to awaken us back to our authentic nature. These disembodied qualities collectively begin to form our true identity. We then make the seismic shift from knowing and judging ourselves as someone who is hateful or jealous to identifying with this capacious field of awareness that includes feelings of hate or jealousy. Making the identity shift is a tall order for most of us but focusing is a practice and a process. Once we’ve experienced the possibility, we become hooked because freedom is attractive and feels like home.

And of course because we’ve developed a skill for being able to listen to difficult things within us from this larger place, we become able to listen to difficult things from people in our lives. We grow our awareness about who we are as someone who can hold so much more and not become fully identified with the reaction inside of us about what’s being said or happening to us. Eventually we may not even have the reaction at all when someone says or does something that has the potential to sting but until then it’s experienced more like a deep hurt that is being held by a generous ocean.  And the space within, that was previously taken up with a big reaction, is now available for relating and responding to ourselves and the people we’re listening to.

In focusing we don’t have to start out with a big open heart, thank God. We don’t even have to see ourselves as someone who is compassionate. We can just show up with a little curiosity, be as present as is available to us in the moment and focusing will take us in the direction we need to go.

Annie Fisher, MSW, LCSW