Invincible, not Invulnerable
In my last post we spent a great deal of time talking about what I mean when I say “Invincible”, because it was important to me that I do my best to help get you started in the right direction along this journey. Regardless of the reason you have taken an interest in Becoming Invincible, today I wanted to spend a bit of time talking about what this process and path is not. When you think of the concept of invincibility in modern media, perhaps you think back to a childhood playing Super Mario Bros where the Invincibility Star allowed you to move through the map without taking any damage or you get the image of Superman who is seemingly impervious to any form of harm. As the author of this blog I consider it my utmost responsibility to dispel this myth before the idea takes root in any of my readers. Becoming Invincible has nothing to do with achieving a state of mind wherein you feel no pain — it is the exact opposite of those.
Nobody who follows the path which I have been walking can become Invincible without intentionally interacting with the feelings of hurt and pain which become the well that feeds into addictive behaviors. As I mentioned before, I draw upon the Latin origins of the word “Invictus” where “In-” means “Not” and “-victus” comes from the word “vinco” which means “Conquer”. Being Invincible means to be Unconquerable. Giving in to addictive behaviors is a means of getting a quick escape from a feeling that causes us pain, discomfort, or anything generally unpleasant. They are an outlet we avail ourselves to because we either lack the tools to engage in healthy coping mechanisms or because we’ve fallen into the trap of physical addictions which require a different form of work to overcome.
As I mentioned in my first blog post, it is our mistaken internalized Conflict Paradigm which feeds into the process by which we divide ourselves into a Light and Dark self. We otherize our own emotions, distancing ourselves from them because we think that gives us some kind of control or power over them. We do it because it is easier than engaging directly with our own emotions, and because most of us don’t know how to do it in a healthy way. Silent internal struggles lead us down the path to addiction and substance abuse, which are isolating as a primary feature even if some of those behaviors are done in groups.
You’ve heard it before, right? Maybe you’ve even said it yourself. “I feel alone, even when I am surrounded by other people.”
That’s because whatever you’ve done to avoid dealing with your trauma has disconnected you from yourself. It’s almost ironic, really. When we bisect our souls we like to think of the Light Side is our true self, our rational, functional, presentable self. By virtue of being the opposite the Dark Side becomes the broken, unwanted, hidden thing. Notice what I just said right there — the Light Side is viewed as “self” and the Dark Side is viewed as “thing”, specifically the thing we are trying to kill in our little mock war. However, this could not be further from the truth. That Dark Side is exactly who is most in need of healing, but we identify it as the villain. Remember, all that can ever exist in a healthy way is ourselves, the single and integrated whole.
Rather than do an act of spiritual mutilation, I would offer up an alternative solution — be vulnerable. Maybe you aren’t comfortable reaching out to others at once, I get that forces like shame can play the role of obstacle in the process of healing. Start with yourself. At one point I described my mind like a great prison complex in which I tried to keep my “demons” locked up with my “Light Side” serving as a super powered warden that could put down any riots or capture any escapees. During that time, I would relapse and rationalize it by saying my darkness had escaped. Then, one day, I admitted to myself that the game I was playing with myself wasn’t working.
Have you ever seen the movie Spirited Away? It’s a magical animated masterpiece that tells the story of a little girl who wanders into the world of spirits with her parents, and how she has to save her parents after they were turned into pigs for eating food meant for the spirits. For a time, Chihiro works for a witch at a bath house where spirits come to relax after a hard day performing their mystical duties in the physical world. At one point a filthy spirit arrives that she’s forced to serve because nobody else is willing to do so, but through a deep sense of empathy she is able to give a helping hand that allows this stink spirit to purge itself and reveal its true identity as a River God which was the manifestation of a real world river that had become polluted. The overt environmentalist message can be applied in a similar way to each of us who experience trauma in childhood, or even as adults.
That scene captured the essence of what I realized I needed to do for myself. I didn’t need a paragon guardian to do battle against a demonic shadow and lock it up in prison. I needed to be willing to show empathy for the part of myself I was trying to reject and show it some hospitality, even if it meant getting my hands dirty in the process. At first, I started by journaling, but that’s because I have always been one to use the written word to process. Maybe some of you would be more comfortable making art or composing music, the medium through which you begin to take time focusing inwards does not matter. Heck, it doesn’t even have to be artistic — you could achieve the state that allows for inner reflection by gardening or working on a car engine. What matters is the intent that you put into whatever you’re doing, not the means by which you execute your intent.
You will meet Resistance along the way. The longer you have put off healing your trauma, the more resistance you will meet. Like all great challenges, it does not hurt to try to get a little help along the way. Just because this is your responsibility does not mean that you have to do these things alone. Opening up to people, being vulnerable with them, is likely something of a bit of a resistance point itself if you have a fixation upon not feeling like a burden to others. I will hammer this single point until it lands home — let people make their own choices. Do not decide for the people you love that you are not worth the effort, it robs them of their own agency. Maybe you’re scared of rejection, but if you face down that fear and reach out you will have already taken one step simply by risking rejection to begin with. Vulnerability in the face of Resistance is an act of conquering your fears, and each time you do that you come closer to becoming Invincible.