Aquarius Full Moon practice

Today’s Moon is in Aquarius, a sign that ignites our ideas and curiosities about a future that, collectively, we yearn to create.

It’s in opposition to the Sun, symbol of the Self, which is in Leo right now, a very Self-y sign if ever there was one.

This gives us a very interesting push-pull between…

…the urge to create and belong to a greater whole versus the drive for autonomy and individual expression.

In Jungian psychology, the tension between opposites, as uncomfortable as it can be at times, is the primary driving force for change and growth within the psyche.

So with that in mind, let’s roll up our sleeves and see how we can use this Full Moon friction to expand into a fuller version of Self.

Did I mention this is also the last supermoon of the year?

Supermoons occur when the moon’s orbit brings it closest to the earth, which means that it’s even easier to tap into the moon’s energy and power.

Today, I want to focus on a very specific collective-versus-individual dynamic, one that’s quite common in wounded family systems (WFS).

In WFS, boundaries are often blurry or nonexistent, and instead of connection and closeness, there is often enmeshment, perhaps punctuated by bouts of withdrawal and rejection.

Given that connection is a fundamental human need, if you grew up around this dynamic, chances are good that you have inner child parts whose job it is to figure out how to “earn” closeness and avoid rejection.

But because closeness, in this dynamic, is usually enmeshment, being close to someone becomes equated with losing your sense of Self.

In other words, unless you want to be rejected and alone, you have to sacrifice your autonomy and selfhood.

It’s quite the devil’s bargain, isn’t it?

Over the years, as I continue to map my own internal patterns, one WFS coping strategy in particular has become a focus of my inner work.

Growing up, I learned that the only way I could avoid becoming totally submerged in someone else’s sphere–

which meant agreeing with them on every level, adopting their beliefs and worldview, matching their feeling state, anticipating their wants and needs, etc.

–was to “justify” my need to separate and explore my autonomy by making them bad and wrong.

Said another way, the only acceptable reason for setting a boundary and being my own Self was to convince myself (and often others) that this person was a turd.

Otherwise, according to the rules of the pattern, I had no right to honor my needs, thoughts, and feelings.

If I honored my needs without building an iron-clad case, then I was the turd–or, more precisely, I was selfish, demanding, and mean, and therefore deserved any rejection or punishment that followed.

In the present day, when I notice myself wanting to judge someone…

…and make them “bad” in my mind, this is a wonderful invitation for me to pause and get verrrry curious.

Chances are, I need something, and my inner parts have kicked in, convincing me that I’m not allowed to need it unless I can convince myself that the other person is wrong.

If we break it down, what I learned in childhood is that two people can’t need different things (even though this is totally normal and extremely common!).

In a WFS, when people are enmeshed, they’re “supposed” to behave as one, more or less. They’re not allowed to have independent thoughts, feelings, or needs.

If they do, one person must be wrong.

And being wrong means that your needs are wrong, and thus, you’re not allowed to have them.

This adds a LOT of unconscious pressure to interactions…

…because instead of talking about whatever’s on the surface, people are really fighting for their right to have needs.

But guess what?

We all have needs! Lots of them, in fact. All the time.

And if our inner child parts see life as a battle to prove that our needs are valid, otherwise we’re not allowed to have them, this means a big chunk of our time and energy is going to be devoted (perhaps unconsciously) to fighting for our right to have needs.

And a “great” way to do this is to focus on other people…

…scanning for ways that they might be wrong (which also fosters the belief that other people must be constantly looking at us in this way, trying to find proof that we’re wrong).

It’s exhausting and isolating.

When I’m feeling judgy, one of the stickiest parts of this pattern is training my focus back on myself, on what this situation is activating within me

…rather than trying to control the externals, whether that’s racking my brain, figuring out how to “handle” the other person, and/or obsessing over why they’re doing what they’re doing.

To be clear, it’s not that we can’t spend time thinking about how we want to approach a situation or have a desire to understand what’s driving someone’s behavior.

But when we’re doing this from our inner child parts (which is often the case when strong emotions or childhood patterns have been triggered), the conclusions we come to usually aren’t helpful.

Our inner child parts are…well, they’re kids–sometimes even infants! They don’t know how to figure this shit out.

They can only repeat what they learned in childhood, which usually doesn’t work any better now than it did then.

And in this example, when our inner parts learned that making other people bad and wrong…

…is the only way to justify being ourselves, we’re not able to set healthy boundaries and express our authenticity while also enjoying connection with others.

We have to pick one or the other.

When I’m in this headspace, my view of other people becomes rigid and brittle.

For instance, if my inner child parts have determined that so-and-so is “bad,” I have to continue seeing them that way or my internal logic falls apart, triggering a sense of unsafety, because the pattern dictates that unless they’re proven bad, I must be bad.

Which, hey–it’s like cancel culture in a nutshell!

These rigid views actually leave me feeling less safe, because instead of focusing on what I need to do in order to regulate my inner system, my focus is on whether or not other people are “good” or “safe.”

This Full Moon, one of the ways we can contribute to creating a collective that allows for differences, that values genuine dialogue about how we might honor our differing needs while minimizing harm to one another…

…instead of creating a world where we can only be safe by making those who are different from us wrong and bad, and attempt to eradicate them…

…let’s start within.

Let’s start by noticing when we’re reaching for judgment because, under the surface…

…there’s something we need that we’re not acknowledging.

For me, whenever I notice myself judging, I ask, “What do I need right now?”

And if you have inner parts crowding your mind with thoughts like, “Oh, I can’t need that. It’s too much!” or they’re worrying about how you’d communicate this need to others…

…I like to say to my inner system, “I never have to tell another soul–what do I need right now?”

Sometimes, that’s enough to create more internal space, allowing needs to bubble to the surface.

And then, once I’m clear on what I need, how can I go about honoring that?

Do I need support, perhaps from a therapist, as I step out of my comfort zone?

Do I need to learn a new skill and give myself room to practice?

If I don’t feel ready to fully honor this need right now, what’s a baby step I can take?

And how gentle can I be with myself as I learn how to honor my needs?

The more I stay focused on taking care of myself, the less apt I am to judge others.

This doesn’t mean I’m oblivious to other people’s behavior and how it’s affecting me, but when I’m prioritizing self-care, I’m less reactive, which makes it easier to take action from the heart, not out of fear or spite.

I don’t know about you, but I want to work towards a world where everyone gets to feel safe

…safe enough to lower our locked-down defenses, so we can connect and grow and change, together.

Happy Full Moon in Aquarius!

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