How We Love | What is Soul Level Comfort?
What is Soul Level Comfort?
Have you ever known someone who will not let anyone see them cry? You can be sure the last time someone did see them cry, it was not a good experience for them.
So what is soul level comfort? Soul level comfort is when another person sees your distress and moves in with physical touch and listening so that you feel understood, seen, validated, valued and cared for. Listening in this way means this person is able to ask you questions in such a way that they are really able to understand what is going on in your heart and mind.
“You look sad. What is bothering you?”
“You don’t want to go. I understand that. Can you help me understand why you don’t want to go?”
“I can see why you feel that way. That makes sense to me.”
“I might feel the exact same way in the same circumstances.”
This is validation.
See a lot of time we reassure “things are going to be O.K.” but we don’t actually listen and validate.
“This is really hard. I can understand why you are so upset.”
We are created for connection. We all want to be seen, known and valued. Comfort is not possible without an emotional connection. If your parents listened to you talk about your inner emotions and experiences, they got to really know you and you got to know yourself. You got help understanding your reactions, behaviors, needs and inner conflicts and this ability is one of the most important skills we can bring into our marriage. But most of us did not get that.
Another important question to ponder is how was conflict handled in your family? For example was there ever a time when you weren’t getting along with a parent? Or when stress or a specific problem caused a lot of tension in your family? Did disagreement leave you feeling alone and disconnected? When conflict ruptures a relationship, repair brings relief. If you were able to experience that relief when you were young, you’ll seek the same experience in your marriage. If you didn’t, you might have difficulty expressing yourself, trusting your partner with your pain, finding solutions or finding relief.
Would you believe that 75% of adults do not have any memory of receiving soul level comfort from a parent? Your answers to these questions may give you some insight into your families’ ability to form emotional connections.
Maybe your parents discouraged the expression of certain emotions or responded poorly to your feelings:
“Nice girls don’t get angry. Go to your room and when you can be nice, you can come out.”
“Crybabies aren’t winners. Stop crying.”
When emotional connection is lacking, you learn to restrict or minimize what is bothering you and you don’t expect comfort.
Most of us actually learned that it is unsafe to expose our feelings. Along with more pain when we were distressed, we got the message that there was something wrong with us or that we weren't acceptable to our parents. This is the birthplace of shame. When vulnerable feelings go underground, most commonly, the only acceptable emotion will then become anger. Anger is definitely NOT vulnerable. Anger becomes a very effective block- a way to stay away from anything that feels remotely close to vulnerable.
So, don’t despair if you have an impaired imprint. You can begin the healing journey to health and maturity. You can transform an impaired imprint into a healthy secure imprint that forms healthy expectations and positive beliefs about all of your relationships. When life gets hard, we need a safe, secure connection to find comfort and relief. It is actually our most basic human need. We are tribal animals.
So our imprint can be thought of as a love style. It’s just the way we approach our relationships. These love styles are the sum of our negative relational experiences and they show us the degree to which we’ll risk emotional vulnerability with others.
I hope you are beginning to see the importance of emotional connection. Understanding your childhood experiences is foundational; not so you can blame your parents but to understand yourself. A lot of people are very resistant to looking back. This is not for wussies. It can be very difficult. The goal is to get past the past; don’t continue to live it or battle it in the present. We have to clearly see how our past shaped us so that we can reshape our present.
Here are some good resources for you:
If you are wanting to explore this more, please reach out to me, Malia, at firstname.lastname@example.org or call our intake coordinator to schedule an appointment today 720-370-3010 x100.