S2:E5 Healing the Need to Be Heard: A Shamanic Perspective

Welcome to Shaman talk. My name is Rhonda and I'm your host. And today I'd like to dive into a common problem faced by many of my clients and students. It is the need to be understood at all costs. Let me give you an example of this from my life, so you know what I mean. Many years ago, my husband and I had a disagreement about parenting styles. Now, I believe that Eve should be kept home from an event that she really wanted to go to. I thought that was a suitable consequence for some questionable behaviour. And Scott disagreed. And he thought we should try and stay away from punishment based parenting. I was so infuriated that he wouldn't see my point of view that I was wholly unable to listen or understand his point of view. Now, reflecting back on that situation, I recognized that my justice orientated mindset played a huge role in escalating a conflict that really didn't need to be escalated.

I was so focused on highlighting my perceived unfairness that Eve was getting away with it and I was seeking validation for my feelings. So not only was I unable to think through my reasoning, I was also unable to listen to his reasoning. It was just a big mess anyway. I've since realized the importance of prioritizing understanding and emotional maturity over just being right. I am right because I said it, and for anyone interested, it turns out he was actually right. But that's besides the point. Another example, I think, is when I used to feel wholly overwhelmed by worldwide events, I had no control over just worrying about war and famine and indigenous rights and childhood abuse and just anything that crossed my awareness. It was consuming and depressive and controlling. I had to really find a way to interact with the world differently. I came across the term justice sensitivity to help me with that and it gave me a foothold into escaping these unwanted behaviors.

Let me start by describing what justice sensitivity is. It's the tendency to notice and identify wrongdoing and injustice and have intense cognitive, emotional and behavioral reactions to that perceived injustice. Now, people who are just of justif people who are justice sensitive tend to notice injustice more often than others. They tend to dwell on it longer and more intensely and they feel a stronger need to restore balance or restore justice. I think for me, this is where the need to be understood at all costs came in. And at all costs to the point of losing all sense of self or conscious ability to listen, or just any sense of self control really. If you relate to some or all of the things I'm going to mention here, you may have a scale of injustice. Sensitivity, frequent episodes of anger and resentment about being a victim or about other people being a victim and wanting to restore some sort of perceived balance, fear about being a victim in the future or indignation about injustice done to others.

And a strong drive to restore justice is really strong. Perceiving injustice where other people do not, that's a good clue. And feelings of hopelessness and despair about large scale world issues, as I've mentioned already, feelings of worthlessness when you think you've been treated unfairly, an inability to communicate that, and persistent thoughts about social inequity and social injustice, and maybe intense guilt or shame about causing injustice to others as well. That's a really wide net. I'm going to hone in one area that sometimes is overlooked, and it's been my observation that justice sensitivity can be a driver of poor relationships with communication, listening and explaining oneself to others. And I've kind of given examples of that already. If peace and being more relaxed in life as a goal are a value of yours, then overcoming the issue of a needing to be understood should help you along the way.

Now, the need to be understood is a deeply human desire. It's rooted in our evolutionary history, where being understood by our tribe was often a matter of survival. However, in our modern, complex world, this need can become a source of endless stress and emotional turmoil. There are some good reasons why letting go of the need to be understood can be a game changer for you. And these are some of the things I experienced when I let that go. I experienced such a massive emotional freedom. Wow, it was really so amazing when you let go of the need to be understood, turns out you free yourself from so many emotional roller coasters that are based on other people's opinions and judgments. You become less reactive, more proactive, and it really allowed me to navigate my challenges in life with much greater ease. Inner peace, cliche alert.

But the constant striving to be understood is really exhausting. Letting go of that allows you to find some peace, even in small moments. Rather than seeking this external validation, you must understand me. And this peace really is a stable foundation upon which you can build a more fulfilling life, as my experience anyway. Ironically, the less you try to force people to understand you, the more likely they are to try and understand you on their own terms. Not everyone, of course. There are some people who are committed to misunderstanding you, and that's a whole boundary issue and a whole other podcast topic. But with healthy, normal people, it will create a healthier dynamic in your relationships. It will foster mutual respect and deeper connections. What is great about letting this go is that you regain energy and power, personal power. This time you once spent trying to be understood by other people, you can redirect it towards understanding yourself.

This self awareness is the cornerstone, I think, of emotional intelligence and personal growth. Much of the conflict we experience comes from the tension of not feeling understood. And when you let go of this need, you often find that the level of conflict in your life massively decreases, as does the stress associated with it. Now, from a shamanic perspective, letting go of the need to be understood can be seen as a form of ego death, a step towards greater spiritual enlightenment. And it allows you to connect more deeply with the universal energies and wisdom that transcend everyday understanding. Now, when you're not tied to other people's perceptions, you become the sole author of your story. And this sense of empowerment will enable you to make choices that align with your true self, with your goals, with where you want to end up in life, rather than choices aimed at gaining other people's understanding or approval, which is quite a big difference, actually.

And understanding that everyone is on their own journey, they might not have the capacity honestly to understand you. And by connecting with that idea you can cultivate compassion both for yourself and for them. It's not an excuse to allow bad behavior, of course, but compassion can be a powerful healing force for you. In essence, letting go of the need to be understood is not about giving up on meaningful connections, it's not about ceasing to communicate. It's about releasing the emotional burden that comes from tying your sense of worth to other people's understanding of you. It's really a liberating shift. Hopefully you connect with that idea and you want to kind of give that a go. And if you do, maybe it will be helpful for you to figure out where the feelings come from in the first place. They need to be understood. And the emotional weight that comes with it often have deep psychological roots.

Understanding these origins can be the first step in healing and transformation. And here's a deeper look into maybe where some of your feelings might come from. Children it's always back to the childhood time, isn't it? Children who grow up in environments where their emotions are ignored and invalidated really well develop a sense of emotional neglect. They may feel as though their feelings are not important, leading to this lifelong quest for validation from other people. And it's so common. Your parents may have loved you, worked hard and given you a good life and you may love them dearly, and rightly so. But sometimes our parents were unable to meet our emotional needs and both things can be true. Our parents loved us and maybe also didn't manage to be perfect. You think about it that way. Of course, none of us escaped unharmed from childhood. None of us had perfect parents.

But it's about how we choose to interact with that information that counts. Ignore it at your peril. Other seemingly innocuous things you could look out for is that in some families, love and attention are given conditionally based on achievements or behavior. And this can lead to a belief that one must be perfect or meet certain criteria to be worthy of love and understanding. Inconsistency and emotional support can be really confusing for a child. One moment they might receive that attention and be the center of attention even and the next they might be ignored or dismissed. If mum, dad or parental figure is having a bad day and that happens really regularly now and again is fine. We all have bad days. But deep inconsistency can create a deep rooted sense of insecurity and a strong drive for external validation. Parents who are emotionally or physically absent will leave a void in their child's life and the child will then seek to fill that void, possibly through the approval and understanding of others.

Often, as we've seen, at great emotional cost all of these experiences, individuals may develop various coping mechanisms like people pleasing perfectionism, emotional withdrawal and an attempt to secure the understanding and the validation that they crave. But this sneaky little one that often slips under the radar is needing to be understood and being swept away by the injustice of being misunderstood. And it affects so many of my students lives in this deep seated need for external validation triggers feelings of injustice, anger, helplessness. This is often the psyche's way of signaling to you that you have a need that is not being met. I like to just give you some things that you can work on if you recognize this in yourself self reflection and awareness. The first step is to recognize the trigger when it occurs. So pause, identify what specifically has made you feel misunderstood or unjustly treated and maybe write that down.

You don't have to do anything with it in the moment, but be aware of it and make note of it if you can. Try to ground yourself emotionally through deep breathing grounding exercises like being outside barefoot brief shamanic drum connection to connect with your middle cauldron. Settle your nervous system, your lower cauldron, which is your lower cauldron. And then the aim is to move from a reactive state to a more balanced one. And you can do that by saying to the person you're speaking to look, I'm having a really hard time right now. Just need a minute. I just need five minutes and I'll come back and you can go off and do that. Start to ask yourself what fundamental need is not being met? Is it validation? Is it love? Is it a sense of belonging? Identifying that need can help you address it.

And maybe some people will call that reparenting. To find ways to deal with that for yourself. Give yourself that which you were not given in childhood. I invite you to work on finding validation from within rather than relying on these external sources affirmations, journaling and engaging in activities that make you feel competent and valued. And just don't go to things that don't make you feel that a cauldron's path will support you with that. Talk about this in the series a bit, but I take the reader through the cauldron's path in my new book, which is out in January 2024. And if you're listening to this before, January 2024 is now available for preorder anywhere you buy your books. I invite you to try setting healthy boundaries. So if you're in situations or with individuals who constantly trigger you, it really might be necessary to set some boundaries.

It could mean limiting the time you spend with a person or clearly communicating your needs and expectations. There's no blame here. It's not someone else's fault that you are feeling this way, but you do need to look after yourself in these situations. So you can also work with your guardian guide, and there's a free how to Meet Your Guardian Guide on my website at in the free resources section, which is quite large, by the way. There's quite a lot in there, so you can check that out when appropriate. You can express your feelings and needs clearly and assertively without blame. Use I statements to avoid sounding confrontational. That can really help. I feel misunderstood in this conversation. Now, for deeply ingrained issues around justice sensitivity, it might be helpful to consult with a therapist, a talking therapist, or engage with another practitioner who has experience of this issue, and they can offer you more tools and insights that you might not discover on your own.

Lean on your spiritual practices, on your guides, and on your spiritual or everyday community for support. Shamanic circles, rituals, ceremonies being in groups with other people can offer this sense of belonging and understanding that you might not find elsewhere. If you're looking for a shamanic community, check out our monthly membership. You'll find that on our website as well. membership of Gosh there's lots of links in this podcast episode today. I don't normally have that many anyway. By integrating these strategies into your life, you can work more effectively with the trigger of needing to be understood. This will not only foster your personal growth, but it will enhance your emotional well being and the quality of your relationships. It was certainly a game changer for me when I figured this out for myself. Once again, thank you so much for tuning in. If you enjoyed this episode, the best thanks you can give me is to hit the subscribe button wherever you listen.

Until next time. May the wisdom of the ancients guide you, the warmth of your hearth comfort you, and the sacred cauldrons within you find harmony and balance.

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Unlock live healing circles, ceremonies, a growing library of Shamanic workshops & more!

 Step into the Centre’s very special Shamanic sanctuary. Inside Spiritual Momentum. you’ll find live bi-weekly gatherings, skill-building courses, and near-daily support from Rhonda and her team of trusted practitioners. 

Oh, it gets better! Get full and immediate access to ALL THE PERKS when you start a risk-free* membership today

*30-day ‘no questions asked’ money back guarantee.

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