Psychonaut: deep space.

Psychonaut – a word base on greek roots translating to ‘sailor of the mind’. Also defined as a person who explores his or her own psyche, especially by taking psychedelic drugs. I don’t think we need psychedelics to trip, because when we observe how our mind works, we will discover – as I do constantly – that weird, nebulous, trippy states can be easily triggered through various things.

My most recent musings are on the power of frameworks or labels and the mysterious workings of our psyche.

We constantly use labels or categories to navigate our daily life and experience of the world. Our brain is an efficient beast, and it always seeking ways to save energy. So labels – ways to categorize experiences and impressions instantly and subconsciously – is a highly energy efficient way of conserving headspace and freeing up resources to acutally make decisions. If we had to think about every little input anew, make sense of it from the get go, we wouldn’t be able to function. NEvertheless it is a mechanism we should be aware of. Because it literally has a mind of its own.

I once entered a relationship, and while we entered that somewhat conscious of the pitfuls, I was not prepared for my own mind-trip. I was aware of the fact that the word or label relationship has a certain weight and meaning for me as well as anyone. Words have power, concepts have power. In this case, we all grow up with a certain experience about relationships: The relationship of our caregivers probably being the most important trendsetter here. While I thought – having had previous relationships AND single years – I was well prepared for the pitfalls of the relationship-label, we still set the intention to hold each other a safe space for growth, to try to give feedback to each other about the patterns that would inevitably crop up during our relationship. It’s the nature of the beast – or rather, the blessing in disguise.

For the record, I want to state that intimate relationships are an amazing catalyst for healing, IF we enter them with a certain awareness. We can go in all rosy-eyed and with high expectations and end up wondering why we may end up heart-broken again and why we are not loved the way we imagnes and expected to be treated and loved. Expectations are a trippy thing, right? They are often coupled with the believe of telepathy: you don’t know how to communicate your needs and desires and wounds, and you expect the other to just magically know what you need, want and heal you. If you have ever been there, in a mutually expectant relationship (and I mean that in a very non-judgemental way, because pretty much every relationship offers this challenge) you know probably how … mind-altering that can be.

Attachement styles

When we enter an intimate relationship, our patterns around attachement and intimacy will crop up. Now, I am not assuming you know about attachement styles, but I am claiming you should. So let me just point you in a direction here for your own research: There are basically four attachement styles, and for startes just type ‘attachement theory’ into your search engine.

Attachement styles define in a way how we show up in a close relationship – the style with which we attach to other people – or not attach. Spoiler alert: There is only one of four attachement styles that is … healthy and as such ideal, but let me rephrase: Every attachement style is healthy in so far, as this style was the only way we could cope and survive. Sounds dire, but for a child attachement is life or death. So we always adapt the best way we can. Which, needless to say, isn’t always the best way to show up in an adult intimate relationship.

Our attachement styles make us prone to certain fears and behaviours and patterns, that can get easily triggered. And when we fell triggered in normally means we feel – on some level – threatened, which means our fight, flight, freeze and fawn reactions are triggered. Which, in turn, can put us in state of mind that is … trippy.

It certainly helps knowing about these patterns and styles and childhood traumas, but it does not necessarily prevent the hoopla from happening. The soul needs the lived experience, so even if we think all is going well, we should stay alert to at least notice,
when we slide into internal or relational la-la land.

My experience was such: when me and my then-partner noticed that something was not going well, despite our best efforts for months or… I don’t even know, because it was all in all going well, but there was just some fractures and distance and strain sneaking into our relationship dynamic. We just couldn’t think or feel our way out of that pretzel. So, one day, we mutually decided to give each other space, to basically change the label of our relationship back to friends. In other words (which took us a bit to get there) we officialy broke up to stay friends and save what was most important to us.

That decision obviously needed time to hit home and be emotionally processed by the both of us. So we were back to friends from there on out –  and that was the main goal: to not keep going down the same path until we couldn’t even save our friendship and love for each other. That at least we were adamant about.

Back when we entered our relationship we clearly were aware that it could get tough, so we decided that, if this doesn’t work out we would just switch the label back to friendship. Clearly and fortunately, the power of intention works, even if it wasn’t that easy or painless as I blithely thought then. ;)

We supported each other as good as possible through either steering clear and giving space, talking things through or giving hugs and touch to soothe each other. Soon, we were both surprised to discover that ‘SIMPLY’ by changing the label and thus the framework of our ‘relationship’, the tensions and expectations and projections lifted like mist off a pond when the sun comes out.

This truly was surprising to me, because obviously I knew about pattterns and this stuff so duh, we should have been good, right? No. Turns out, we both – in our own way – entered a new dimension, where in each of us certain attachement patterns, expectations based on our childhood experiences revealed themselves over time and started to cause friction in a very sneaky way. Only when we changed the framework or label of who we are together, did the fog lift. Suddenly, because we had decided to work through this together and look at it in a way of learning, instead of blaming, we could see each others patterns and how they messed with our good intentions and each other. Literally, a fog had lifted. It fels as if the world was brighter and crystal clear. Surreal, trippy and also a bit baffling, right?

What I took away from that was:

  • Words and labels have power. Like certain uniforms put us in a certain kind of headspace, so do labels.
  • Experience supersedes knowledge – even when we think we know, subconcious patterns will sneak in and make us somatically live it.
  • It really pays off to set intentions and use them as guidelines in times of emotional turmoil. Communication is key.
  • A part of our Self, our Energy and our Focus goes into connection with someone else – and gets a mind of its own. Being single, all our dreams, wishes, energy are potentially unlimited. In relationship, there is a certain attachement that binds us. This is not a bad thing, as long as the needs are truly aligned and feel healing.
  • There are no real concepts or labels I have found as of yet, that would have prevented that experience. There were no outright mistakes we made. It was just what came up for us and needed to happen. While I was sad that our relationship did not work out that way, I am so very proud and happy that we could keep our friendship, we could again hold the safe and mutually unexpectant space for each other that we set out to create and that got muddled there for a while.
  • This experience doesn’t apply to all cases: I suppose when each others expectations and needs align, then all could go well indeed.
  • It’s good to know thyself: thy needs, boundaries and patterns, before entering an intimate relationship. Smoother sailings indeed.
  • Expectations might just be in the way of learning opportunity. Just thinking what we’d have missed if we weren’t determined to save our mutual friendship .

Obviously there are other winds that blow our mind easily enough:

The way we think (cue: labels) about something influences how we emote about that, which again loops back to how we think about it and there we go being lost in our own internal movie that very likely has nothing to do with the respective other’s reality.

Our mind is amazing: It’s a super computer that does most of its work, like 96ish %, subconciously. That’s a huge workload off our conscious mind, but it also means that we would benefit greatly to understand our Self, the underlying patterns, what our wounds and needs are. And how we can heal and meet them ourselves, and when to reach out for support.

Attachement styles as well as the whole childhood experience up until the age of 18ish imprints us in a certain way. This time, our womb experience, potential birth trauma – how we entered this world – and our subsequent relational experiences with the world shape us. I do believe it is our responsibility, if we are in the privileged position to have the resources for that, to learn about how we as humans function and to heal. Literally sail into our minds and hearts to reunite with all our lost parts and struggling pieces.

When we heal, our healing has a ripple effect: We heal our ancestorial lineage, we heal our family and friends, we heal the collective: one spark and glimmer at a time.

Psychonaut: diving into the inner universe, wearing his heart on his sleeve.
Tech: digital illustration
Year: 2019

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