Welcome to Devotional Anarchy, a podcast about intimacy, attachment, sexuality, spirituality, self expression and other relational themes from a trauma responsive somatic energetic lens, and with a queer polyamorous twist, of course. I’m Isha Vela trauma psychologist somatic intimacy Alchemist shadow doula love at our guest, intuitive channel and sovereignty coach. You’re here because you understand that integrating intimacy wounds build safety and trust within your body. And that safety and trust is what allows you to fully own and direct your erotic and creative lifeforce, in your relationships in purposeful work. My intention is for the conversations and tools shared in this podcast, to light a fire in your heart and under your magical ass while supporting you on your kinky human journey to owning all of yourself.
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I am so excited to record this episode of the podcast because it’s one that I’ve been wanting to talk about for a while. And I know that this conversation is going to be incomplete. So I’m feeling some discomfort around that. And I’m also really excited.
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been aware and I’m becoming increasingly aware of the very subtle ways we weaponize spiritual shame.
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Mostly I experience it with my clients with how they are weaponizing it within themselves, how I have weaponized it against myself. And I’ve also become aware of how it shows up in coaching containers and healing spaces, etc. So what I’m going to offer you or what I’m going to share with you comes from a place of humility, of having made some or all of these mistakes before and sharing ways that maybe we can do better.
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you can disagree with me.
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You may feel called out. And if you do I invite you to feel into your discomfort into the emotions. Obviously, don’t shame yourself.
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Just get curious. Just meet yourself with curiosity and be willing to feel that that comes up. Right? Just letting it go. Don’t believe the story that you’re wrong or bad or any of that stuff.
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Okay, so most of us are familiar with how certain sectors of the spiritual and personal evolution movement have been known to bypass or deny the human experience. Right? We all know about spiritual bypassing, right? It’s or bright siding is another way to say that. What what spiritual bypassing is is just denying like, you know, being perpetuating a belief that being spiritual is being above
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human emotions, human experiences, messiness, fallibility, there is this striving, of perfection of spiritual perfection. And, you know, sometimes that comes through comments, like, everything happens for a reason, good vibes only, right? All of that kind of stuff, where we can’t have our upset where we can’t have our, our rage, right or real, our true feelings, we don’t give ourselves permission to really be that or express that. And denying our humanity is a shame based way that we that we sort of exist in spiritual spaces.
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And we deny often the real complexity that exists. And in being a human, right, there’s a lot of, there’s a lot of complexity and nuance in being human. And I wanted to offer you the more subtle ways that we weaponize spiritual shaman healing spaces. And of course, the point of all of this is to recognize how you might be doing that within yourself within your own internal experience, especially because when we’re, when we’re not doing it to ourselves, we’re not going to do it to other people. We only do it to other people when we do it to ourselves. And that’s what I found to be true in my experience that I was doing it to people when I had this expectations. I had this expectation of myself that I wasn’t going to be not feeling my feelings, but like doing better. Like even even the phrase that I use just earlier, like doing better, being better, right? I’m, you know, I’m not fully bought into that.
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I feel like the process is really much more about self acceptance and, you know, just being with what is and not having a super huge charge around it.
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Some examples of
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some examples of more like subtle examples of spiritual shaming and healing spaces, right or even in, let’s like not even say healing spaces, relationships,
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right, guiding someone to feel better because you’re uncomfortable with their pain. I’ve seen parents do this with their kids. I’ll give examples of that later, but, but generally speaking, guiding someone to feel better because you’re uncomfortable with their pain, trying to rescue people from their feelings, helping someone by promoting their dependence on you.
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protecting people from moving at their own pace, like in their personal process,
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being in the discomfort of their own messy, imperfect process. So I’m going to go over just a few of these examples in more detail. So the first one guiding someone to feel better because you’re uncomfortable with their pain. So our discomfort with pain as a culture is pretty obvious, right? We have pills to make us feel better. Right? We have phrases like good vibes only, you know, when you look at your Instagram and your Facebook feed, it doesn’t show people crying. It shows people smiling, you know, most the time.
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And even like, the really, really subtle stuff, like for example, when somebody cries, we immediately hand them a tissue, not fully realizing there might be like a subtle messaging there about having to clean themselves up.
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Right, we offer screens and distractions to children to quell their upsets. I remember when my when my youngest got upset, she fell one time she like she hurt her toe. And an extended family member
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picked up my child because I wasn’t immediately in the room to pick her up myself.
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My my extended family member picked her up and was telling her they were that she was okay. When my youngest was clearly in pain. And so I stepped in, I stepped in like mama bear moment, I was like, Don’t tell her she’s okay. She’s clearly in pain, and she’s not okay right now. And so this was like this gaslighting. And it was because,
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you know, my extended family member felt uncomfortable with the pain that my child was expressing.
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And when we do these things, we like we’re, we’re lying, we’re lying to people, right? In this in this example, it’s a lie. gaslighting is lying.
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And we’re limiting our children’s in this example, capacity to feel, to trust their feelings to express their feelings. This stuff starts really, really early. So
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and, and my youngest will now tell you like if you try to distract her now she will be like, I need to calm down on my own. Like, don’t try to take me out of this, I need to feel it all the way.
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So when I was first starting out as a therapist before my somatic training, I thought it was my role, my job to help people feel better, right. And we had like, the whole, the whole, the whole wellness industry is, is structured around like treatment plans, getting people from feeling this symptom to feeling no symptoms or a reduced number of symptoms. Right symptom relief, I was there to reframe, to support to offer consolation and comfort. And by stepping into that role, I was stepping into the role by agreeing to that culture. I was stepping into a caretaking role.
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And by stepping into a caretaking role, I was replicating a familiar pattern of holding other people’s pain for them, right was something that I was good at, because I had done it for a long time as a child. But obviously I should not have been doing because it was harmful to me to my system. And because I’m quite permeable. You know, this, this ultimately led to my burnout and resentment.
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And what I learned in my somatic training was to move towards pain instead of over it or around it. And it was a huge was a huge shift from the way I had been doing therapy, the huge shift. I released myself of the other person’s outcome, right I was all I was there to do was to support other people in their process, but from a way of just holding space, like I was there just as part of the container. I didn’t need to do anything for them. Right
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part of part of the the gift to my clients, by me leaning back in the holding space role was that it was a gift to them to feel all the way through, right to have all of their feelings to have, right, all of their tears, all of their rage, and that I was just there to witness it.
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it was so freeing because it absolves me of, of the responsibility that I had learned to bear that I had learned even in my psych training to bear. And I was just there as a guide, right. And what clients learned when I leaned back, was that they could handle it, right, they could handle their emotions, they developed a deeper sense of trust. Because by feeling all the way through by feeling, like how big their feelings were, right, and feeling all these little corners of their humanity and expressing them, they trusted themselves, and that they were like, oh, okay, this is here, right, and they didn’t need to feel a charge around it, it felt safer to feel instead of a void, they knew they weren’t going to die by feeling, right. And so that’s where the safety and trust came in. They weren’t coming to me, right? Because when I was in the role of helper,
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then I was also then I was also like, undermining their authority, by making them dependent on me, they would come to me because I was going to give them something. But I wasn’t there to give them anything, I was only there to affirm, validate, and hold space for all that was wanting to come up and through them. That’s it. Right? So I thought that was really, really powerful. These are the more subtle, these are the more subtle ways, right.
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And so the another example that I had mentioned earlier, is rushing someone along their process.
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And, you know, this is this is a more challenging one for me, because I often can see people’s potential like I can often I often have visions of how powerful people are like I can see people’s core selves, I can see their authentic selves, I can see how big they are. Or, you know, sometimes it’s kind of funny, sometimes I can when people come to me for, for entrepreneurship stuff, career related stuff, I can often see the direction they need to take, I can often see that they’re, you know, a closeted witch or a healer or anything like that. So I can see people’s potential. And I have sometimes gotten invested in that potential. And a lot of a lot of coaches a lot of healers can see, right we can we see people in a way that they can’t see themselves, right, which is part of the gift is like, you can hold them in that higher vision as they scaffold themselves to it right through that relationship they have with you.
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But obviously, growth isn’t linear.
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It involves forward steps. It involves missteps. It involves corrections, it involves retracing steps. Again, it’s messy, right? And
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the job as a coach, I’ll say for myself, I’ll speak for myself here is to lean back and hold the space for the client to feel gentleness and acceptance for their process and for the learning. Right for the way they process. Not a process away but their way their unique way. Right because my way when I’m a client and I’m in the client’s chair, or I’m you know, I’m in that but I want to express all my feelings I want to like have it all like my youngest daughter, like let me feel all the things don’t tell me that I need to mindset my way through right because that’s also a form of like, having people bypass their humanity or their humanity their process.
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And yeah, because there’s each person has their process their way and through their way is how they access the learning, right? It says individual as our learning styles, whether we’re a visual learner, an auditory learner or a feeling learner, I’m a feeling learner so and, and that’s how life works, right? Like, you know, sometimes like, life hands shit to us and
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If we don’t choose a lot of things
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Yeah, it’s, and then we just deal with it, we just deal with what comes. And that’s the whole point, right? A lot of the ways we culturally hold trauma is in our, in our denial of humanity and have cycles and in the individual ways that we process that our uniqueness as well as our collectivity, our collective identity. You know, and if you want to talk about cycles as being feminine, whatever, go ahead and do that. For me, it’s really about how nature works, without having to assign gender
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cycles or just right seasons, or cycles, like bodies or cycles, this shit works in cycles.
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right, so you’re, you’re off often, our growth process looks more like a spiral because of cycles, our growth process looks more like a spiral versus a line, right. And again, you can talk about linear processes, having been sort of more perpetuated by a masculine form of spirituality, blah, blah, blah, not that interested in that conversation. But But I feel very much like, our personal evolution is cyclical, it is a spiral process, it is a deepening, and sometimes we revisit places that feel similar that feels the same, but we’re just approaching them from a different vantage point. Oftentimes, we find ourselves,
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you know, healing something that we thought we had, we had felt before we had worked through before, and then we shame ourselves. We’re like, why am I still here? Right, we start to weaponize that spiritual shame, like, Oh, I thought I was better than this, or I thought I had already done that. And so we hurt ourselves by we’re not acceptance in that moment.
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I often feel to like,
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you know, this whole idea of, of spirituality is like rising above the mess, right? Humanity is not separate from spirituality. It’s actually right there in it.
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Our fragility, hour, I find the mess to be magnetic, and beautiful and fascinating, so much more than perfection. It’s there’s so much more richness in.
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Right, the way that it’s not set up for us to get it right. I feel like that’s a lot more fun than
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Yeah, than just having something be so manicured. And an outlined.
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And, you know, oftentimes even in, in spiritual circles, there’s there is that subtle expectation of perfection of getting it right, of not being reactive, right, like, when you talk about trauma and reactivity and responsiveness versus reactivity,
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or improving of doing better, right, something that I had mentioned before, little earlier.
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You know, I,
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I really feel like we, we hurt ourselves, by believing that we’re not going to be reactive. I certainly like as much work as I’ve done. as much work as I’ve done. And as aware as I am, like, I am hella reactive, I am really reactive, I’ll be like, What did you say, you know, I can feel the part of myself that just like lights up like a flame. When I feel like somebody is lying to me, or somebody’s trying to mess with me, like all of my old defense patterns, I can feel like it. The point is not to get rid of your defenses. And I’ll say this again, a little later.
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But to be aware of them that like, that’s all we have is awareness.
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So, you know, one thing that I struggle with, also is like, you know, in terms of rushing someone along their process, sometimes I want to rush the collective evolution along a little faster. So,
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so yeah, so I have to, like, I have to get lean, I have to remind myself to lean back like and sometimes I’m uncomfortable with how messy the collective is, and I want to like, slap, slap, slap, like, you know, snap out of it, kind of reaction. And it’s like, no, it’s not, it’s not my job to rush it along. It all happens at its own pace, right, just like flowers blossom at their own pace. We don’t rush them along. They just unfold at their pace and it’s just just
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right moment, you know. And so leaning back into that trust into the belief that it’s all happening at the time it needs to happen and that I can feel my frustration around it too.
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like I said earlier, too, like,
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we sometimes make our defenses bad.
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We make our defenses wrong. Like we have this expectation of ourselves that we like in our relationships. We’re not supposed to get defensive. We’re not supposed to have reactions, but we have reactions, right? We all have these, these wounds, right that we incurred growing up. We’re all doing our work. We’re all doing the best we can we get all we all get Pat’s on the back for that. And sometimes our defenses are necessary, right? Like sometimes I need to wrangle the part of me that is like a jerk, that can be really like a total bitch a total asshole. Sometimes I need that part of myself that just like get away from me. We need those parts of ourselves. It’s really about again, choice, knowing when and where and with whom to use them.
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Sometimes we even get upset with ourselves. When we have what you know what a lot of in the industry we call self sabotage. Well, these are an involuntary freeze responses, sometimes they’re not things that we induce, there are things they are things we have learned, and that we can unlearn. But for right now, our body is having an involuntary freeze response, I’ve felt plenty of them over the last couple of years during COVID. Especially. And, and then you know, it’s not self sabotage. It’s just having a freeze response, my body is just responding in this particular way. And let me slow down and rest and care for myself, as I help my body move through this.
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You know, and there’s, you know, we all want to break out of our patterns, we all want to transform some part of ourselves, right? We want to, like we want to do better, we want to, like, we want to evolve, we want to grow that is awesome, right?
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And that growth happens from a place of acceptance, like, I feel like the growth accelerates when you just say,
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Okay, this is not this is how I am and that you’re gonna, you’re just gonna stick to that stubbornly. But yeah, like, it’s messy, right? It’s okay, I accept the process, that it’s not gonna, it’s not gonna look the way I want it to look, you know.
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And there are, there are some things
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in your life, that some patterns that say some patterns that you can let go of in your life. Like, you know,
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like, shame, shame is something that I, I don’t give, I don’t give space to, I don’t hold space for shame. Unless it’s leaving my body. In that case, I’m like, All right,
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And some of our patterns, some of our defenses, just stick around. There’s just stuff that we have to keep an eye on more closely. Like, maybe there’s addictive patterns, I know that my addict has been slowly loosening its grip, but not before it got a lot stronger. And I began to notice, like how powerful it was, and I’m not ashamed of my addict. I’m like, I love my addict so much, because my inner addict is also evidence of the way that I can that I’m a super connector. I love connecting with people and the same place you know, that part loved connecting with people and didn’t get the connection that they needed and wanted and so that’s where the addict was born was in the gap between what they were capable of and what they actually received. So I don’t make that part of me mad like yeah, hurray addict, it just shows me how how hardwired and ready for connection I actually am. So and I feel like another thing I want to add to this I know that I’m jumping around a little bit Hello nonlinear.
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You know, oftentimes when we when we get into doing the work right, we can like
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we want to do better we think we have to do better we think we have to strive and again it coming from a place of acceptance like
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when we find parts of ourselves that are not savory, let’s say well, we don’t have a good relationship with
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it can be part of your shell.
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So it can be a defense. It can be your inner asshole, whatever you want to call it.
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Be No, our next step is to say like, I don’t want to do that anymore. Okay? Well, you don’t want to do that. But you have to be with this part of yourself, you have to like, Let’s pause for a second before you go running away from it. Like, let us hang out with this part. Because this part has something to tell you this part needs listening to their hurt. So you want to be with them, instead of like, pushing them down again, shaming them saying, I need to get rid of you. I can’t have you here, right. And you’re sending them away. So.
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Yeah, so I just want to ask you like as you’re listening?
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How does it make you feel, to know that you don’t need to rise to an expectation to an expectation of perfection, that there’s nothing wrong with you that there’s nothing to fix
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that you don’t have to do better. You just have to, like show up really the best that you can and be willing to be in your discomfort.
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Right? How does that feel to you? Knowing that you don’t need to like, do better.
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Right, you just show up? Okay, showing up is is like what we do, right?
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And let me tell you something, that I that has been such a gift to me. I have no expectation of doing better.
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Mind you, I love to grow. I love the process of uncovering new parts of myself.
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I am so willing to grow.
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And when I when I get into my reactivity, when I get into all of my protectors and defenses and my shadowy bitchiness, I’m just like, Oh, there you are, like, Look, I’m not gonna lie. I’m kind of like, oh my god, there you are, again. Yeah, I do have those moments where I’m just like, I’ve done so much shadow work this year that it’s really like there’s been like, there’s been moments where I’ve just sort of plucked myself out of bed in the morning and been like, Oh my God, just get your ass on a bike. And let’s grind this out. Like, this just feels like shit.
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And I’m also like, there you are, I’m not going to play the blame game, I’m not going to play the shame game. I’m not going to like whip myself and just like self flagellate, because
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I’m so I’m so I’m this, I’m a coach, and I do intimacy healing, as you know, for a living and I’m supposed to, I’m supposed to know better? No, I know, as much as I know. And there’s a lot I don’t know, there’s a lot I don’t know, and I’m always open to learning, like, Can you just be willing? Can you just be willing, because you’re just gonna receive the lessons that you need, you don’t need to go find them and like, grow, grow, grow, grow, grow, they’re just gonna come to you naturally, just be open to them.
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So yeah, and that has been a much bigger gift to me than an attempt to get rid of or, or to, like, seek out transformation, seeking out to transform something in particular. Yeah, so acceptance is a more much more powerful Alchemist than improvement or striving.
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Yeah, and then, and again, like speaking of reactions, I welcome you to have them. I’d love to hear what they are. I’d love for you to share them on social media and tag me so that I can see them, maybe share them in your stories and,
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and tag me and if you want me to respond, I’ll respond. Let me know. And, again, this conversation is not complete. There’s a lot of ways that
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I haven’t fully addressed weaponizing spiritual shame within yourself within your growth process within healing containers within relationships.
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Yeah, there’s so much more to touch on here. But I felt it was really important just to
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to just name
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this and what’s here right now, and offer you this little tidbit. All right. Thanks for listening. Thank you for listening to today’s episode. Remember to hit the subscribe button to get notified of new episodes dropping on the new and full moons of each month. And if you haven’t already, leave us a five star review on iTunes to make sure that everyone who needs this transmission receives it. Until the next episode, I’m sending you fierce, fierce love.