Self-work is challenging but liberating and healing!
Imagine you have a rotten tooth that gives you discomfort and emits a foul smell. How long will you hold on to the discomfort or will you get it removed and cleaned up soonest possible? The later can be more painful in the beginning but once you get it out of the way, you are on the road to recovery. If you are too afraid of seeing the dentist, you will live with the discomfort, the smell and eventually still have to visit the dentist and by then, you would have more work done, painful for the mouth and the pocket. I would liken this to doing our soul work. Growth can be painful, change can be uncomfortable, looking into your past can be challenging and intense, and I will vouch for all of this and I will not sugar coat this. However, the end result is peace, new hope, liberation and a kind of lightness to your soul! How then do you begin? Here are some methods that I have tried but it may not be the same or produce the same results for you. Take what you think will help you.
1) Setting the intention. Once you make an intention to change your limited beliefs, and values that you have learnt and now come to realize are not your truths, the path opens for you. There will be triggers, defensive mechanism that will pop up and make you so uncomfortable that can feel intense, heavy and brooding. You probably don't feel like continuing the path. That, is OK! Take your time until you are ready, but be aware of you bodily responses. Your whole being is ready to change and move ahead and if are not willing to look within, they will seek your attention in physical and emotional manifestations - pain in your leg, ankle, foot, migraine, nausea, tummy discomfort, low mood, etc. Just be aware of it.
2) Take time for solitude. I would emphasize moments in solitude and meditation to remain grounded and look within. I would incorporate EFT tapping to this for further help. (Do find a certified practitioner to assist you should you decide to do EFT tapping). I realize that thoughts of fear, shame, guilt, manipulative behaviors and the distorted beliefs about love / safety that we understand, are not our beliefs. They have been passed to us by those who didn't understand them either. Remember to always journal about what comes up, what are those unhealthy beliefs that you have been living with that didn't serve you.
3) Release those unhealthy beliefs that doesn't belong to you. If you believe that to receive love means to buy for them, if you believe security and safety is about being a workaholic to put food on the table and that extras in your bank account, if you think being confident and fitting in means flashing all those branded goods and spending more than you can afford, think again. Where did you learn all these? It is time to release these unhealthy behaviors and thoughts that has caused you to feel stuck, unfulfilled, like something is missing; LET THEM GO. They are not your beliefs and values.
4) Forgive them for they know not what they do. Those beliefs and values that you have learnt and come to understand, perhaps love and safety were something you had to work hard for, to give something in return for it; you can't imagine that safety and love is actually every child's right. Look back not just at your parents but the generations before them, if they had no way of receiving unconditional love and safety, there is a high possibility they will not be able to hand that down. Now, find compassion in your heart to forgive them, for the struggles and hardship they have gone through, the lack of support and love that had caused them to learn these unhealthy beliefs which they have also thought to be the truths. Forgive them so that you can be set free, and they too can be set free from your anger, and unhappiness. Perhaps, love can be reversed beginning from you. (Why? Because you have the ability, the wisdom, support and care to do so now).
5) Love your neighbor as yourself. Then, make sure you forgive yourself too for not knowing what you do now. Practice kindness and compassion with yourself. Take your time, it is certainly not easy as you have been carrying these old painful feelings for a long time. Be still, put your palm on your heart, and love yourself. Listen to what your heart has to tell you. When you are ready, put that huge burden down. Now, you can feel free and light.
6) Recreate the life you want by the values and beliefs you choose. Now that you are light and free, choose the life you want. Choose the values and beliefs that feel right for you in your heart. For eg: I choose to be safe, to feel safe within me. I have the power to care for myself, to protect myself and I surround myself with healthy relationships, I respect myself, I respect others, I respect love, I respect money (for those who equate love with money, abuse etc), I am open to having healthy relationships towards my family, my friends, etc..
Realize that no one can hurt you except yourself. Choose to take responsibility for your feelings and your life. Other people can only hurt you IF you allow them to- if you believed their words and actions are reflections of who you are, rather than a reflection of how they feel about themselves. When we begin to heal a part in ourselves, we also heal that part in the world.