Susan Johnstone: The wisdom of the forgotten self
I don’t believe in coincidences. So when one of the bloggers in the Wisdom Series dropped out, and Susan ‘just happened to’ volunteer to join the series a moment later, I said yes!
Reviewing her blog, I learned that Susan is a molecular biologist turned mystic -How could I resist?- and a coach. As you will see, she’s a beautiful soul, with a bright and clear writing voice who works from the wisdom of her own experience – and generous heart.
I am pleased and proud to introduce her to you:
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My heart was pounding as I prepared to leave the files on the desk and walk out of the office for good.
“What am I doing?” I asked myself.
This is so unlike me! It’s in my nature to seek dialogue and mediate peaceful resolutions. I’m usually so willing to let things go and give people the benefit of the doubt.
Where was this steely-eyed, unmovable, righteousness coming from within me?
The disrespect from this person in my life had been clearly increasing over the last few months. Terse emails and veiled accusations that I couldn’t make heads or tails of.
And I, in my “usual persona”, let it roll. “He’s just stressed”, I said to myself.
But somewhere inside, a wise and long-dormant part of me was railing against every email and every slur. This part longed to lash out and give back exactly what I was getting or at the very least say a big, loud NO to it all.
I’d been taught long ago that this quality in me was “mean” and “spiteful”. It was inappropriate and not to be expressed.
So it went underground.
It’s a curious thing about humans, that we’re wired up to instinctively mold ourselves according to the likes and dislikes of our earliest care-givers, in order to assure that we get all the love and attention we need.
So they didn’t happen to like “loud”? Send that one underground. They labeled the pure energy of anger as “ugly”? Send that away too.
(It’s certainly not any parent’s “fault”, in any way. It’s more like a natural side-effect of our years of dependence when we’re little.)
And there they lie – so many of our essential qualities – dormant, in the perpetual winter of the forgotten self.
Until one day, the thaw comes.
Suddenly a long-buried quality comes thrusting up out of the ground.
And there I was, caught between my usual “let it go” self and this emerging piece of my persona that absolutely KNOWS that standing in the truth of who I am means saying a big resounding NO to the way I’m being treated, questioned and spoken to.
And I did.
It took several days to prepare and deliver my great NO. This forgotten self emerged just when it was needed most, bringing with it the wisdom of knowing that I am ALLOWED to stand for what I know I deserve and set clear boundaries for the things I don’t.
However, I felt anything but powerful in doing it. I went through the entire time with wobbly knees and my heart pounding in my throat, with a near constant desire to flee.
You see, newly awakened qualities just don’t feel natural right away. All the danger signals, and the adrenaline that goes with them, are still firing.
The internal rules that tell us we’re doing something “wrong” by being this way are still in place. They need to see that we can reclaim this way of being and still be OK before they’ll even BEGIN to relax.
Welcome to the great thaw.
In my work supporting others to uncover and claim the lives their hearts are calling them to, I’m seeing this awakening everywhere.
In almost everyone I know, long-buried qualities are breaking through the softening shell of the self, ready to bring a deeper truth and a greater wholeness to their being.
I believe we’re in a time when not much can stay hidden anymore.
Everything is becoming transparent and available – even the things we’re not so sure we want to see.
In order to navigate this time, we’re going to need to deepen our compassion.
Awakening while we’re still hardened in our judgments – good/bad, right/wrong – is a torment.
It’s like expecting new shoots of bright green growth to break through a hard crust of ground that won’t allow it.
When we breathe and soften our responses, we discover that there’s a natural process at work here that we don’t need to control. The new shoot KNOWS how to reach upward. The ground knows how to give way.
And now we see that there’s no such thing as a “bad” quality emerging – only Divine qualities peeking out from behind negative labels.
See – there’s “empowered” peeking out from behind “mean”.
And look – there’s “enthusiastic” shining behind “loud”.
When our forgotten quality first re-emerges, we’ll tend to apply our old judgments saying “What am I doing? This is so wrong…so unlike me!”
Instead, let these be our code phrases; words that remind us “Oh, yes – this is my wise forgotten self returning.”
It must be Spring!
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For the past 14 years, Susan Johnstone’s work with others has combined the practicality of coaching, the softness of counselling and the inner depth of spiritual direction and one of her most difficult tasks has been to sum it up!
Susan is a molecular biologist by training and a mystic at heart and she specializes in transforming and releasing our inner defenses so we can keep saying yes to Love and to it’s Call in our hearts and our lives.
You can find her coaching services (including monthly pay-what-you-can sessions) and her free e-course “Keep Saying Yes” at the link below. Susan is also working on a forthcoming e-book about resistance and the 4 fires of transformation that Love calls us to.