If you insist on clinging to the metaphor of yourself as a warrior, don’t be surprised when your entire life feels like a war.
Maybe that’s okay to you. Maybe, for that matter, the reason you chose to self-identify as a “warrior” in the first place was because life ALREADY felt like a war, and you needed to adapt to your circumstances.
Branding yourself a “warrior” is certainly preferable to branding yourself a perpetual victim of your circumstances. It’s proactive, and carries with it overtones of fearlessness and passion.
What we need to remember when we’re choosing which metaphors we embrace for ourselves and our lives is, life requires a great deal of flexibility.
Metaphors that are useful in one context sometimes don’t translate well to other circumstances.
You may have to be a “warrior” when functioning at work or when confronting aspects of your past in therapy. But to take that metaphor of self-identification into your intimate relationships may be asking for a level of tumult that you don’t need or want in your close connections.
“Warriors” primarily problem-solve by fighting. They use their training and passion to identify and nullify threats.
You probably wouldn’t want to be in a relationship with someone whose primary mission in life was to seek out and deal with threats or was most comfortable on the attack.
Be a “warrior” in those times and places when it pays to be one. But remember that the “warrior” side of you is, in fact, only one aspect of the complex human being you are— and you are free to connect with and bring out other aspects of yourself as needed.
What other aspects of you are there?
Who are you beyond the tough exterior you’ve had to develop in order to survive life so far?
What aspects of yourself might you have forgotten about in your struggle to make it through?
Who is in there besides the proud, passionate “warrior?”
Is there a lover inside of you, who values romance, sensuality, and passion?
Is there a priest, monk, or hermit, who values contemplation and who holds wisdom?
Is there a nurturer or caretaker inside of you, who creates meaning from the role he or she is able to play in making life more livable for those close to him or her?
The fact of the matter is, there are multiple versions of us inside us all.
When we grow up struggling with traumatic or dysfunctional relationships, emotional difficulties like depression or anxiety, or physical limitations such as disability or illness, we tend to kind of phase out multiple “layers” of who we are and focus on the tough, proactive “selves” inside of us. Pushing aside the vulnerable versions of ourselves for the tough, proactive versions is a defense mechanism we use to increase the odds that we’ll survive day to day.
The thing is, though, we can get kind of “stuck” in those tough, proactive versions of ourselves after awhile and forget that there are many layers to who we are. Many layers that require acknowledgement if we are to feel whole.
As far as I’m concerned, the process of healing is in large part about becoming flexible and intentional about the metaphors and images we all use to construct our reality.
Trauma, depression, and anxiety have a way of convincing us we have to live life reactively— that all we have to work with is what life or our experiences handed us. Often negative thoughts, feelings, behaviors, and images.
It’s my view that, yes, we have to react and respond to those negative things. But we can also proactively use our own images, metaphors, and narratives to construct a different reality.
You may need your “warrior self” to endure a subset of your memories. You may even need your “warrior self” to endure a subset of your current relationships and circumstances. I’m not in any way suggesting you leave your “warrior self” aside.
I’m saying that flexibility in toggling between our various “selves” is a skill that can be cultivated and used judiciously and intentionally.
Be your “warrior self” when you need to.
But be willing and able to be your “lover self” when you want to.
Be willing and able to access your inner priest, monk, or Jedi, as your life and relationship needs warrant.
Healing is about learning to use the vast array of images, voices, and identities available to you at any given time as a function of your magnificent mind.
Be the “you” you choose to be— based on your real needs in the real world.
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