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Finding Her - Identifying the Root

What did relationships look like to you as a kid? What do you think caused you to react that way? Those were similar questions a therapist asked me years ago when I sought care while struggling in a web of a toxic relationship. Her probing questions were intended to guide me towards identifying the why {the roots} behind my actions and/or reactions.

I had plenty of ah-ha moments on her couch, correlating this action, with that life experience, trying to make it all make sense.

One might ask, what is a root? Here are a few definitions via a google search:

  1. The basic cause, source, or origin of something,

  2. Establish deeply and firmly,

  3. The part of a plant which attaches it to the ground or to a support, typically underground, conveying water and nourishment to the rest of the plant via numerous branches and fibers.

The Root = The problem | The Fruit = The symptoms/reactions/actions

Numbers 2 and 3 resonate as they are very similar to the resolves of an emotional root. An emotional root is also deeply rooted, attaches itself while spreading {destructive} nourishment to other parts of the body and spirit, and eventually resurfaces. The sad part is sometimes the people who planted the seeds are long gone, and you're left to deal with the wound. On the other hand, some may still be in your life and have no idea of the internal damage they’ve caused.

Examples of common roots: rejection, abandonment, unforgiveness, perfectionism, sexual abuse, lack of affection or I love you’s from parents, family dysfunction…just to name a few.

Some roots aren’t intentional or bad in nature, but can still have a significant adverse effect. For instance, when asked what relationships looked like growing up, I realized what I was exposed to had a tremendous impact on why I remained in that toxic situation for so long. I wasn’t shown what it looked like to leave an unhealthy relationship and demand respect. I saw people remain and work it out (disclaimer: These were nonmarital relationships). So, in my mind, I thought the manipulative and mentally abusive relationship would eventually improve. But that wasn’t the case, and by the time I came to realize it, too much damage was done. I was weak, withered, depressed, and at my wit's end… broken. As a result, new roots (fear of rejection, need for perfection) were planted that later affected my self-esteem and relational compatibility and ability while dating. Another example stemmed from the trauma I experienced when I was abruptly faced with Chronic Pain disorders, which eventually led to negative thoughts of lack of self-worth/identity.

My question for you is: Have you identified your roots? This step can be a paramount part of the healing process in an effort to progress towards restoration, growth, and freedom. Past wounds and roots can be crippling and prevent a person from developing into the fullest version of themselves.

“Don’t let the fruit of those roots hinder you from knowing your true identity.”

As previously mentioned, roots are unseen, and therefore often go unattended. Thus, covered up and masked by “things” that only suppress their existence and the reality of the wounds. Some of us are hurting, but haven’t taken the time to identify the true origin; instead, we remain in these cycles and think we can handle it on our own. We believe: If “I” do or acquire this, all will be well; or life would be great if/when I get promoted or a girl's trip will make everything better. Or even by busyness pursuing purpose. But are those intentional healing methods or band-aids?

  • Has a root planted and attached itself in an area of your life that has unfortunately caused residual damage?

  • Do you keep repeating the same cycles with the same results?

  • Have you stopped to seek the “why” that’s driving your actions?

A few tips for Identifying your Roots?

  • Take time to stop and be in tune with your feelings and reactions: You can do this by journaling, which can be therapeutic and a method to track trends and help identify the root.

  • Think back to your past relationships, situations, and life experiences, from childhood to now, and analyze how they made you feel. What negative things happened or was said in your life that rooted itself? These can be parental relationships, teachers, friends, dating, etc. You’d be surprised how teased and rejected by friends during the adolescent stage, can affect how you present yourself in your relationships today.

  • I encourage you to pray and ask God to reveal any unresolved wounds and roots so you can begin your healing Journey. Confess your actions and reactions to Him, so He can then expose the reason {root} to you. And then pray and ask Him to guide you on a healing path toward transformation (Romans 12:1-2) so you can be healed and made whole.

  • Speaking of therapeutic, therapy is also a great resource for identifying past roots and progress towards healing.

Disclaimer: I am not a professional/licensed counselor. If you need recommendations for finding a licensed therapist or any additional resources, I’d be glad to assist you.

I am praying for you. As you are taking steps towards healing and wholeness, please be gentle with yourself. Nothing that you’ve been through or will go through will go wasted. God can and will use your past experiences to propel you toward His destiny for your life. No matter how bad the roots may seem, they all serve a purpose, and you can be freed and delivered from them.

Until the next iteration of Finding Her…Be blessed. Love you!

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