What do most women in a relationship want?
A man who is courageous enough to live life with an open heart.
What do most men in a relationship want?
To feel loved.
I’ve just come out of the bush working with some amazingly courageous men to assist them open their hearts. This is a thing I’d challenge most men with; we have a default setting to live within a suit of armour, an act or series of behaviours designed to protect us. This suit of armour closes our hearts.
This bush experience was transformational for all concerned, and we weren’t just dealing with small issues either. Two participants had served their country on operations in the Middle East during their time in the military. Both noted part of them hadn’t returned home. One was welcomed by family and friends, while the other chose a quieter return. Both realized part of them remained “deployed”.
In the Movie “The Lone Survivor”, Mark Wahlberg plays the lead character Marcus Luttrell who talks of part of himself dying on the mountain during his harrowing mission which saw all his team but him killed. We often leave part of ourselves behind after an ordeal. Due to our experiences we leave part of ourselves back there. Be that because of what we were involved in, what we saw or how we felt. It’s not necessarily a conscious decision, but one we often resolve ourselves to because of a belief that part of us doesn’t belong back here, especially around our family, children and friends.
Part of our work was to enable them to bring themselves home. A truly emotional and heart warming experience to be part of.
The Anthony Robbins video above is another great example of a veteran who hadn’t come home. But it’s true message is that we can fully return and be stronger for the experience.
This issue isn’t just for military personnel who’ve deployed on operations. It is relevant to any person who goes on a journey and returns after having experience shifts in themselves. It could be an adventurous holiday where you did things outside your norm; your child goes on a school camp; you attend a meditation retreat, or a challenging business trip where you feel you’ve really grown; or the Awakening The Warrior Within program. Any of these things cause changes within us that can result in some unsettled moments upon return.
There are a number of things at play of which two are acknowledgement and personal integration.
When we go on any journey, the welcome home is very important. If we feel our ‘tribe’ doesn’t acknowledge us, the settling down period will be lengthen, if it is completed at all. We all change when we go away. We have different experiences; see different people and things that broaden our awareness; our paradigm from which we view the world. Often, if we don’t feel this has been acknowledged by our tribe, then we may feel there is something wrong about our new self and disown a part of ourselves. This results in a feeling of isolation and a loss of connection.
There is a flip side of this issue that I became acutely aware of when I returned from leading soldiers in Iraq. To truly feel acknowledge, we must first acknowledge ourselves. When I returned I was receiving many accolades and even put up for an award. Amongst many great feelings, I had a number of demons eating away inside me in the form of guilt and shame. These suppressed emotions resulted in me not being able to acknowledge my own achievements and therefore rebut, avoid or dismiss external recognition. To allow yourself to acknowledge your journey requires you to integrate your lessons from your adventures.
Upon return, we often attempt to simply fit back in, without given appropriate acknowledgement to this growth and integrating it into our daily life. What can happen at a subconscious level is that we judge our newness as unacceptable and therefore reject it in part or as a whole. This results in us not fully coming home.
What can you do as a supporter; a member of the welcoming home party?
Well it all depends on the person and the adventure. If it has been a massive journey, like a military deployment, or high pressure secondment to another position, then the person may need a little space after their return to allow them to contemplate and reflect. The best thing you can do for them here is let them know you’re there for them and ‘hold space’.
Setting up a situation where it is just you and them to quietly debrief can be really good. It’s important during this process to allow them to talk things out with an empathetic ear.
It may be a good idea to prepare yourself for the debrief by becoming relaxed and opening your mind, focusing on actively listening.
Empathetic listening involves being in a state that nurtures and supports the person talking. Being depressed with a depressed person doesn’t help; they need love. Being angry with an angry person results in the intensification of the story; they need a compassionate ear. Being resentful with a resentful person doesn’t aid the situation; they need forgiveness, balance and understanding to be able to move past what it is they are holding onto.
A great question to ask when the time is right is: “So what were your three biggest lessons from your time away?”
After listening you may wish to offer: “Is there anything you’d like me to help you with?”
This ensures you are not seen as attempting to ‘fix’ anything, but there for support.
If you note after a prolonged period the person doesn’t integrate their lessons and is emotionally troubled, then the hard discussion of suggesting they get some assistance with their return, may be required.
What can you do as a traveler?
The biggest things is open your heart and see the love and support you have at home. To allow yourself to feel the feeling that arise and listen to the messages they are trying to convey.
Time for contemplation and reflection of your lessons is a great idea. The output of which should be an integration plan. A series of ways that you intend to live your lessons in your daily life.
Your loved one’s will be interested in your journey and so setting some time aside to share with them can be great for all concerned. You may not be a details person, so your lessons and integration plan may be a great place to start the conversation. And if you’re a person who has some follow through issues, then getting some help from your loved ones to integrate can be a great way to get them involved. With this ensure you give them an idea of how you’d like this done so that you don’t get your nose out of joint at what you may perceive as consistent nagging, when they are just trying to help.
And if you deep down know you’re noting really handling fitting back into your environment, then putting your hand up and asking for help is one of the most courageous things you can do. It will not only help you, but also those you love the most. I know this from personal experience.
Life is a series of days involving growth. Some days have more growth than others; but it’s how we approach this growth that will see us either resist or flourish.