How To Bring Care And Love To Pain That Is Hard To Feel

By Marshall Burtcher.

“I Love You Anyway…”

Codependency is a biologically driven reaction to toxic relationship systems. 

These toxic systems activate codependency through systemic, chronic rejection of the person’s individuality, sovereignty, needs, wants, and feelings.  This kind of repetitious rejection deeply injures the individual’s sense of belonging, safety, and self-worth, triggering the body’s biological defense reflex called “fawning”.

Fawning drives the individual to build tolerance for the toxicity through the intermittent reinforcement that comes from breadcrumbs of “love”.  Further, to survive, they prune and shape themselves to the ideals of the toxic system, and to be void of a sense of self, desire, and purpose.

At least, this is what I personally did in my family’s toxic culture and religious system.

This is why we carry so much shame, so much emptiness, so much of a sense of “being half a person” and ache for some kind of acceptance, belonging, and being needed.

We’re starving relationally, and aching to become ourselves while being known and loved with warmth and care.

We did not earn this.

I start healing this deep rejection wound with a gentle invitation to my students.  I ask them to approach all their pain (even the parts of themselves that do not like the pain!) with a gentle practice I call, “The Warm Witness”.

This means that all pain, all judgment, all resistance, all attachment, all yearning, all emptiness, all joy, all peace – all that you might feel or experience – is received with energetic openness.

This is the opposite of the rejection we’ve received throughout our lives.  It is the experience of acceptance of what we feel and where we’re at in that moment – the very thing we’ve been seeking for so long from others.

This does not necessarily feel all that comfortable initially.  I hated it initially.  It felt so shameful, disgusting, and awful to acknowledge myself this way.  Parts of me felt like I was admitting to my flaws and “shameful nature”. 

I soon learned that these parts were the holders of deep hurt, rejection, and emotional exile.  

I brought them home again through this act of receiving them openly despite the discomfort, the shame, or the beliefs that said I didn’t deserve it.

This involved a practice of gently saying this simple phrase toward my pain, “And I love you anyway”.  

I said it slowly, pausing for a while after stating it to let my body feel it and register it.  

Sometimes I would practice it while making eye contact with myself in the mirror.

Sometimes I would put my hand on the place where I felt the shame and would gently say it audibly to myself.

Then I would pause to notice how my body responded and what came up.  

“And I love you anyway”, I would gently repeat to whatever arose within me.

These were words I needed to hear so deeply, so badly growing up, and now I was taking the big risk in offering them to myself.

Sometimes I would experience big relief and emotional soothing.

Other times I would feel numb, flat, unchanged.  

Always I received whatever was there because I was loving myself as I was – not how I thought I should be.

Later I learned that if I offered a bit of trust to this process, the impact was amplified.  I used a What Shift’s Question to do this:  “What shifts if I trust, just a bit, that I love myself anyway?”

My friends, the deep work of healing codependency is that of Becoming Yourself.  This starts with healing the deep rejection injuries we carry.  

Try this approach out this month and record what you discover. 

Loving yourself – all of yourself – is the deep work of Becoming Yourself.

Go gently.

Marshall Burtcher, Codependency Healing Expert. Marshall specializes in helping codependents accelerate their healing, freedom and peace after codependency. Learn how in his free workshop here: https://workshop.freetheself.com

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