A Journey into Adulthood: Finding Jewels in the Cave of Self-Worth

The cave you fear to enter holds the jewels that you seek” – Joseph Campbell. This quote was how we prefaced this conversation, but more importantly a concept that I’ve grown to love and embrace.

Another quote that I feel holds the same concept is  “The wound is the place where the light enters you” by Rumi.

This interview was complex, vulnerable and uncomfortable at times. However, it was incredibly healing and reaffirming by being able to speak of what I believe has made me the adult man I am today.

I have had the pleasure of facilitating and supporting many people in their processes while in ceremonies with sacred plants. During these events, I have seen many “before and after’s” when they remove the roles and stories they have told themselves throughout their entire lives and see things for what they are.

This interview was a great reminder that I have been doing what I have invited so many people to do. The moment I removed the stories I told myself and the roles I’ve given and been given throughout my life, I was able to see who I really was as a person in order to keep on evolving.

It has been a very deep lesson to be able to see myself as not a son, husband, father, co-worker, friend,… but as a human being finding his own way.

I’ve been making and telling stories to myself since I was very young. I mean, what else was there to do in order to experience life but to put labels on the I liked and to the ones I didn’t. Some of these stories helped me stay safe. I touched the hot stove once and then I knew not to do it again if I didn’t want to burn myself. Other stories created a sense of safety or protection, but they were actually just keeping me from opening up to new experiences after a heartbreak is it easier to not go out anymore in order not to get hurt, but then I run the risk of not loving or feeling love again.

One of the earliest stories I remember telling myself was that my dad was always right, because he was my dad. He was the role model I had and who I was supposed to look up to in terms of the type of adult I should become. This was a cornerstone of my childhood and nothing could tell me otherwise. During my late childhood and early teens, I started living a reality that was not fully supportive of that story. There are many cases where my moral compass and my loyalty to my father created very deep confusion and inner struggle of what was right or wrong. 

This story created many disappointments and dissolutions throughout my formative years, creating a lot of shame, guilt and confusion. How could the person I was supposed to learn from not be perfect? How could I be questioning the framework I had on how to be an accountable, integral adult? Maybe I was the one that was wrong and my father was right. 

It was not until I was sitting with my father on his deathbed that I was able to see him as a human being for the first time, and not as the role I had put on him my entire life. I felt like it was a new beginning of our relationship.

Last year I did a fast quest where I was able to revisit important relationships and how they have affected and supported me in my life, like the one with my father. During my fasting I was able to talk to my father for a long time, not as a son but rather as a father myself, as an adult, as a man. This was liberating and powerful, because I was able to speak as the person I am and share my opinion on what he did without the guardrails of a pre-established relationship.

As I’ve worked on embodying the adult I already am vs trying to walk in someone else’s shoes, I’ve been able to honor my story. The real story, not the one I created to protect myself from getting hurt. 

I’ve been able to honor my childhood and not feel ashamed or guilty about it. I had a happy childhood, loving parents, a supportive family, many friends and a privileged life. But I also had heartbreaks, dissolutions, roadblocks and frustrations. Life is non-binary, it is not 100% good or bad. There are millions who had a challenging childhood, with serious abuse, traumas and violence. My story is not better or worse, but mine to learn from, to take what serves me and leave what doesn’t.

One of the biggest teachings on my journey into adulthood is the understanding that there is learning in every experience, and the ability to rewrite the story. By removing the stories for a moment one can see the events for what they really are. Roles and relationships tend to muddle events and even memories. If someone has an abusive mother or husband, it is hard to see the abuse or trauma because there is an underlying link that “normalizes” it. Mothers and husbands are supposed to love us and protect us, so it can’t be them, maybe it is me? What if for a moment we removed the role of mother or husband from the equation and see the events for what they are? Would I want to spend time with a person that treats me like that if they were someone I had no relationship with? I don’t believe so. 

This practice not only creates a sense of self compassion and safety, but it also creates a level of empathy for the other person because we see them as a human being and not just what they are to us in terms of relationships. We are all more than the roles we are given and the ones we give.

Throughout our lives we will have infinite relationships. From our closest ones with family and loved ones, to the millions of people we will cross paths with during our lives. All these relationships will be unique, allowing us to show up as infinite versions of ourselves. Not just as a role, but as our true selves. 

This is what I would like to strive for. To be able to rewrite my story as I go. 

Carlos Rangel

Carlos Rangel is a Sacred Plant Facilitator with years of dedicated experience in holding transformative spaces for individuals seeking profound healing and self-discovery. Passionate about the potential for personal growth and spiritual exploration, Carlos has cultivated a rich tapestry of skills and knowledge to guide others on their sacred plant journeys. Carlos brings a unique blend of expertise to the realm of plant medicine. In addition to his personal experience of sitting with sacred plants in different countries, cultures and facilitators, Carlos has also devoted himself to a life of continued learning and self development. A graduate of the Synthesis Institute's trauma-focused facilitator training, Carlos is well-versed in navigating the delicate terrain of psychological wounds, ensuring a safe and supportive environment for participants. This commitment to safety extends to comprehensive screening processes and thoughtful integration practices, fostering a holistic approach to healing. In addition, Carlos holds an Inner MBA in Mindful Leadership and Management from Sounds True, showcasing a dedication to combining traditional business acumen with mindful and compassionate leadership practices. This dynamic background allows Carlos to bridge the gap between spiritual exploration and practical, grounded approaches to personal and professional development. A firm believer in ongoing learning, Carlos will continue to expand his skill set with additional training in integration, death and dying, liminality, and Integrative Psychotherapy. This commitment to continuous growth reflects Carlos’ belief in the ever-evolving nature of both personal and collective transformation. Central to Carlos’ facilitation approach is the emphasis on attentive listening and compassionate presence. By attuning to the unique needs of each participant, Carlos creates a space where individuals feel seen, heard, and supported throughout their sacred plant ceremonies. The integration of mindfulness and sound healing further enhances the depth of the experiences Carlos facilitates, offering participants a holistic journey towards self-discovery and healing. As Carlos continues to evolve on his own journey, he remains steadfast in his commitment to facilitating spaces that empower others on their path to healing and self-realization. Collectivetransformation.com

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