Unlocking Emotional Growth: Understanding Primary Defense Mechanisms and Working with a Jungian-Based Shadow Work Coach for Transformation
As human beings, we are wired to protect ourselves from emotional pain and discomfort, and our ego takes the driver’s seat in this endeavor. One way we do this is through the use of primary defense mechanisms. These are coping strategies that help us deal with stress, anxiety, and difficult emotions. While these are coping mechanisms that prevent or postpone the feelings of discomfort and / or pain, when we use them too much they prevent us from growing and ultimately may actually block us from getting what we want out of life. To be centered within ourselves and show up authentically we also need to learn to weather discomfort and difficulty, this means facing a tough conversation or situation head on instead of leaning into these primary defense mechanisms.
Every time something awful happens in the world, it makes its way into my clinic. This week Roe v Wade was overturned and it’s been the topic of every patient’s mind and heart. I often hear the words ‘you’re not my therapist but….’ while my patients explain to me their emotional or spiritual troubles. This happens so often that it’s now one of the main things I treat in my clinic - emotional pain, upset and trauma, and it’s also why I’ve become a transformational Jungian Life Coach, so that I can truly help you in the entire process of body, mind and spirit. You might think heading to an acupuncturist to deal with your break up doesn’t make a lot of sense, but the truth is, emotional pain goes far beyond just the mind, it affects our body and our spirit, and Chinese medicine is especially equipped to bridge between these three aspects of our lives: body - mind - spirit.
Maybe the Instagram or Tiktok algorithm has been sneakily suggesting it’s time for you to look at your shadow self by showing you posts about shadow work, or more likely, you’ve been noticing that life feels extra difficult lately - haven’t we all! Perhaps most things in your life are going pretty ok, you may have even gone to some therapy before and are making progress on becoming your best self, but something still isn’t quite right. When things start feeling stuck or prickly in a sort of abstract way, it might be time to look into shadow work.
Having anxiety can be a debilitating experience, it can come on out of nowhere, but even when we have awareness of the triggers, it can still catch us off guard, stop us in our tracks and really put a halt to anything we wanted to do. Having tools and coping mechanisms to help guide us through an anxiety or panic attack can be crucial to our ability to feel like we can release the anxiety and live our lives. While medications can be extremely helpful, they also come with side effects and can cause considerable drowsiness which isn’t always desirable. I’ve found acupuncture treatments on a regular basis to be particularly powerful for helping my patients move through anxiety, stress and other tough emotions. But if you aren’t near your Acupuncturist’s office the following acupressure points can help you become more grounded, present and calm in a matter of minutes.
We live in a world where, for all of our lives - beauty and status have been paramount: we crave it, we seek it, we spend our extra money on attaining it, seek out jobs that can provide for it, it’s ‘necessary’ for assimilating into social culture or being ‘seen’ … It. Is. So. Important. But… is it?
When we first experienced our ‘lockdown’ in the Spring I was aghast at the level of denial and flat out refusal of some people to follow safety guidelines. It made no sense… Why are people so readily willing to throw common sense out the window for a haircut? Are eyelash extensions really that important? Who benefits from outright denying this pandemic actually exists? Why is there so much hostility over a tiny piece of fabric? As time has passed the deniers and rebels against protocols became louder and more polarized, likely due to the politicization of the entire process. And while doing a little self-care to pump up our self esteem and confidence is an absolutely valid process, it always seemed like something much, much deeper was at play.
In Chinese medicine one of the first diagnostic principles we learn is to differentiate the root from the branch. The branch might be the presenting symptoms a patient walks in with, knee pain, insomnia, headaches, stress, anxiety, you name it - it’s the first thing that the patient complains about when you ask what they would like to work on today. The root is that underlying cause that created the environment for the current symptoms to arise in the first place. We often think of this as a constitutional imbalance, meaning that everyone has their own predisposed weaknesses and strengths, perhaps this is passed on from our parents and ancestors, maybe a result of early childhood illness or trauma or other underlying issues. The root is often extremely complex, and can sometimes be difficult to diagnose, but once we can get to it, or pointed in the right direction we often will see transformative shifts occur in the patient. The knee pain that hardly responded to direct treatment now can begin to release because we’ve found the root of the issue in a deficiency of the Water element and Kidneys due to some repressed fear. As we begin to unpack this root cause, the physical or emotional symptoms start to give way to the healing that is present. I also like to look another step deeper, to the soil, this is the deepest layer, this unseen and usually unnameable force that sets us up to create and experience certain things in our lives, perhaps another name for this is fate or predisposition. Dr David Hawkins, PhD calls it the ‘attractor pattern’, it’s the unseeable pattern that sets up the visible and nameable string of events that eventually leads to the presentation we are looking at in our office.
How’s life going for you?
Do you feel like something is missing? A lack of inspiration perhaps? Feeling closed off from others or even yourself? A sense of despair or an absence of the ‘heart and soul’ of life? Maybe you’ve been having trouble sleeping? Feeling anxious? Restless? Difficulty concentrating?
If this sounds a little too familiar read on… it might be a disruption or disturbance of your Shen.
Let me explain…
In traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) the way we look at our mental, emotional and spiritual health is by looking at the Five Spirits - these spirits are aspects of our complete animation as a human on Earth from our Divine spiritual nature to our animal instincts to the connection with the collective unconscious. These spirits all serve different aspects of the self and our interaction and experience on Earth, as such we can address issues that arise in the psyche by addressing these spirits. As goes with all illness and disorder in TCM these issues with the spirits can be experienced in a range of severity and intensity and also duration - meaning we can have a mild and brief Shen disturbance that lasts a day or two or we can have a more severe and chronic presentation that lasts for months, years or a lifetime, there are many causes and reasons why which I’ll get into later on.
Embody Compassion, Neutrality and Self Awareness in Uncertain Times
Part of life is that we are always going to experience a certain amount of uncertainty, unknowns and great changes - we’re currently having an increased experience of this right now - and it brings up a lot of heightened emotions - like fear, anxiety, worry, stress, anger and grief. It’s important to remember that all of these emotions are completely normal to be experiencing, and by processing them personally we actually help the collective consciousness move through them as well.
It’s when we get stuck in these emotions - where we chew on them over and over and get stuck, where they start to take us away from being present in our lives.
When we aren’t present we tend to experience increased amounts of these emotions but we also have difficulty making clear decisions, focusing on daily tasks and our relationships with our family, friends and ourselves tend to suffer.
Paths to Presence is a brief but in depth dive into different avenues we can take to be more present in our lives - through increased self awareness, embodying compassion and having more neutrality we can experience more peace, ease and grace no matter what we’re facing.
This self guided course offers guided meditations, short exercises and transformational tools to help you cultivate each aspect of presence that you can implement into your daily life and reclaim your personal power!
I'm excited for you to take this next step on your journey!
*PS: This course is donation based! Please feel free to use the discount code that reflects what you are able to afford*
What is TeleHealth?
Telehealth, or remote healing sessions are simply sessions that are conducted via phone or online. You can receive healing, coaching and consultations from anywhere in the World with Dr. Kim, so you won't have to break your consistency with treatments during travel, or if you're not local to Marin County you can still work with Dr. Kim!
We serve patients from all over the World! Read below for more information on specific offerings for telehealth visits.
Published in Acupuncture Today February 2020 Vol 21, Issue 2
What do we think of when we hear the word ‘healing’? For many, the first conclusion is that healing means to get better, or to heal from a disease. But what if this belief and concept about healing isn’t the whole picture? If healing doesn’t just mean to get better, then what does it mean? And how can this help us help our patients?
Merriam Webster’s dictionary defines healing as:
heal - transitive verb
1a: to make free from injury or disease : to make sound or whole // heal a wound
B: to make well again : to restore to health // heal the sick
2a: to cause (an undesirable condition) to be overcome // MEND the troubles … had not been forgotten, but they had been healed — William Power
b: to patch up or correct (a breach or division) // heal a breach between friends
3: to restore to original purity or integrity // healed of sin
Our approach in healthcare focuses on the first 3-4 aspects of this definition - to heal a wound, the sick or overcome an undesirable situation. While it is important to help our patients find recovery from the ailments that bring them into our office, in some cases, this isn’t always possible. Chronic disease, terminal illness or life situations that are permanent are not so simply overcome in the sense that we can erase them from reality entirely. It’s in this case where we have to focus on the last definition of the world healing - to restore to original purity or integrity. And while the sample of being ‘healed of sin’ takes on a different tone, what I believe this definition to point to is simply: to return to our original intention.
Bath bombs have become all the rage, from glittery explosions of sweet scents to ones with goodies stashed inside, we love a good and fun bath time! The obsession with these bath time treats has always perplexed me, while I love to take some time out to chill and treat myself, it seemed to me like we had a real missed opportunity on our hands. A fun colored bath is one thing, but as a trained herbalist I am also aware of the power of the herbal bath, that by using herbs we can treat hundreds of conditions and have been for thousands of years. I wanted to take this self care ritual of a decadent bath to the next level, with quality ingredients in an amount that could actually produce a therapeutic effect. In Chinese Medicine we have been using the herbal bath for thousands of years, but in our modern day sourcing these herbs - in the right amounts, is time consuming and can cause some gunking up of the tub, in short it’s not very convenient at all. This is where my Chinese Medicinal Herbal Fizzing Bath Salts come into play!
Dr. Kim Peirano, DACM, LAc is the Owner and Acupuncturist at Lion's Heart Wellness, the San Francisco Bay Area and Marin's #1 Cosmetic Acupuncturist and #1 Holistic Healer.
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Intuitive Traditional Chinese Medicine - Intuitive Acupuncture and Transformational Spiritual Life Coaching. TeleHealth Wellness and Health Coaching, Esoteric Acupuncture, Sports Acupuncture, Transformational Life Coaching, Remote Healing, Reiki, Guided Meditation and Herbal Prescriptions available online! Serving Marin County - San Rafael, Mill Valley, Fairfax, San Anselmo, Greenbrae, Larkspur, Novato.