Alice Miller – A Gift to Our World

Just recently, while preparing for my web conference on bullying , I looked up Alice Miller, once again, as I had so very many times over the years . . . particularly since publishing my book, Power Abused, Power Healed, and following my own calling to help heal the misuse and abuse of power in our homes, families, communities, states, countries, and world.

Alice Miller wrote some very powerful things relating and connecting the body, heart, psyche, and history of a person’s childhood to the body, heart, psyche and history of our world. Among these are her book, For Your Own Good, and her article, “The Nature of Abuse.”

Only this time looking her up, I found that Alice Miller had died a year ago, April 14, 2010. Instantly, I felt both saddened that she was no longer here on earth active in her work to expose, prevent, and help heal child abuse in individuals and in our world. And I also felt so deeply thankful for all the work she had done in and toward this healing.

Alice Miller was a wise, deep, courageous woman. From what I’ve read, she herself, kept growing and healing throughout her life. She saw the failures in her own field and in our society and worked to help heal them, also.

Alice Miller was an advocate for truth, an advocate for love, an advocate for healing the abuse in our lives and in our world. I consider her, as I’m sure many do, an inspiration to my life and my own work in our world.

May you know you have helped us all, Alice Miller. May you rest in peace.

© Judith Barr, 2011

HAITI . . . AND YOU, ME, ALL OF US!

Haiti —
A tragedy has occurred in Haiti.
A 7.0 earthquake that has destroyed homes, hospitals, whole towns . . .
has broken hearts . . .
has rent daily life in a million pieces.

It is very real.
People are dead, missing, hurt.
People are frightened, lost, at a loss as to how to take care of themselves
and their loved ones.

Those of us outside Haiti are having our own responses.
Thank goodness . . .
so many are feeling deep compassion,
so many are feeling sorrow for those affected,
so many are called to help.
We need to feel compassion and sorrow.
We need to help and they need our help.

But even with the call to help, even with the actual movement to help,
even as we feel the very real here-and-now pain of loss,
we need to look within and find out what is being triggered in us by this tragedy.

We all, once long ago, as babies, had something akin to this painful experience . . .
perhaps it even felt like an earthquake to our young selves and our young lives.

We all, once long ago, as babies, had something akin to this painful experience . . .
whether for a moment, a few minutes,  hours, days, weeks, or years.
We all once felt unsafe . . .
even if it was as we were coming into this world,
even if it was when our mother had the flu and couldn’t get to us when we were hungry,
even if it was when one parent yelled at us, followed by the other rocking and comforting us.
We all once felt powerless . . . even if it was when we cried and cried and couldn’t get anyone to come to take care of us
for what might have only been minutes, but seemed to us like forever.

We all once felt scared about our future . . . even if it was our future at a time we couldn’t even say the word ‘future’
or a time when a few moments felt like an entire future.

What I’m saying is this.
What is happening in Haiti leaves us with much here-and-now pain and fear.
What is happening in Haiti also touches something in us all from long ago that we know . . .
even if we don’t consciously know we know it.
And what we do with that “touching” is very important.

Our reaching out in this time of need is a wonderful thing…but we should not stop there.
If we just let those moments long ago be touched and reach out to the people of Haiti to get away from our own experiences,
we do a great disservice to everyone – the Haitians, ourselves, anyone close to us, and anyone in the future who triggers those
same feelings in us.

If, however, we let ourselves reach out to the people of Haiti and also explore the roots of our own similar experiences,
we can help our world in ways we might never have imagined.

Every one of us who explores the roots of our own feelings of powerlessness, loss, fear, and unsafety …
working through and resolving those experiences from long, long ago …
has a new kind of power, power from the inside out —
power to help us respond to danger in new, more creative, more inspired, more conscious ways —
and power to help create safety in our world today and tomorrow.

(c) Judith Barr, 2010

A Year Ago – Ugly Monday

Today is the one year anniversary of Ugly Monday.
On September 15, 2008, the Dow dropped 500 points,
the economy took a crumbling dive, and took us on a ride that isn’t over yet. . . even though some people believe it is.

One of the not-well-known reasons it isn’t over yet . . .
People have been doing things on the level of outer actions all through the year.
But very few have explored the roots of their thoughts, perceptions, feelings, and relationships with money.  

These unexplored roots actually drive what occurs in our financial lives individually, nationally, and globally.

As I’ve said many times before . . . The anxiety people have in their relationships with money preceded the recession and all the
economic turmoil by a long, long time.  That anxiety will be here after the chaos has been calmed and we are on seemingly solid
ground again, or even actually solid ground.  For many people, that anxiety exists all the time. It’s not going to go away – certainly not
any time soon. Certainly not as a result of things we do on the practical level in the outer world, either – not by selling our assets,
growing our savings, getting another job, cashing in an IRA, buying lottery tickets, or any amount of planning.

The only thing that can help resolve that anxiety is for us to do the work in our inner world – the world of our psyche and soul – to
discover, explore, heal and improve our relationship with money.  In other words, the things we do in the outer world cannot be
sustained without our also doing things in our inner world that bring healing and transformation.

You may have a hard time believing this, but at the root, people’s relationships with money are based on a young child’s thoughts,
feelings, and decisions about money and even more, about the things money symbolizes for them. So when under financial stress,
people regress to a young age . . . even if they’re not aware of it, even if they don’t believe it.   And from this young age, while
believing they are full adults, they make young decisions about things which need an adult to decide them.

So imagine if you, your friends, your parents, your community leaders, your state and federal leaders are all regressed and making
decisions from places within them of which they have no awareness . . . of which we have no awareness.

Sadly, there have been few in the media and financial worlds, and even the therapeutic world, who are talking about this aspect of the solution.
Having this conversation is crucial. Bringing this conversation out into the world for all to hear and take part in is crucial.
Taking action on these understandings is crucial. 

It’s time to become aware. It’s time to heal what interferes with our wisdom and heart.
It’s time.

© 2009, Judith Barr

*I addressed this theme in more detail in my article A Recession Regression. If you would like to receive a free pdf copy of this article, please email me at Info@PowerAbusedPowerHealed.com.

Crowley and Gates “Agreed To Disagree”

I wasn’t there when Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and Cambridge police sergeant James Crowley met at the White House with President Obama.

I don’t really know what happened. I have read multiple times that Crowley said they “agreed to disagree.”

In one report it was reported that Crowley said the two men “have agreed that both perspectives should be addressed.” *

Regardless of what did happen at the meeting . . . I feel called to comment on “agreeing to disagree.”

In Power Abused, Power Healed, as Mita is talking with Jason about her correspondence with Alan, she says:

His phrase, ‘This is my truth and that is your truth’ actually muddies the meaning of ‘truth’ . . .

Statements such as ‘This is my truth and that is your truth,’  and ‘we can agree to disagree’ offer an escape from the need to do the hard work to know, learn, and face an objective truth, a deeper truth. (P 52) **

And in my audio “Woman, Come to Your Self,” I invite you to …

Imagine being that truthful.
Imagine being that much yourself
and still being in relationship.
Imagine being that real
and still being valued.
Imagine being that much yourself
and still being loved.
Imagine being that real, that much yourself
and when the conflicts come
you both stand in your truth
and instead of collapsing your truth,
instead of compromising on the surface,
you trust truth
to take you deeper
into a real solution,
a true resolution
within each of you and between you.
A real resolution created from truth… ***

I know this may seem like it contradicts what I said in my book. But actually it says the same thing. It says that we need to take “our truths” and do the deep work to follow them to the deepest truth and the deepest resolution possible.

Back to Power Abused, Power Healed . . .

Like the old story of the blind people standing around an elephant, each thinking she knows what an elephant is from feeling it, while describing only one part of the elephant – the tail, the trunk, the foot, the ear, the belly.  (p. 187 )**

Is it enough to agree that you think this is an ear and I think this is a trunk? It’s better than warring with each other over who is right. But far better still, is for each of us to do the work – whatever work we need to do – so that we both discover this is an elephant.

Who knows what Crowley and Gates would have discovered at the core? I can tell you that I watch people learn how to do this in every appointment, every workshop I do.  It is a far deeper, far more expansive way to be in life. And it offers far more possibilities!

*http://www.cbsnews.com/blogs/2009/07/30/politics/politicalhotsheet/entry5199511.shtml
** http://www.PowerAbusedPowerHealed.com
*** http://judithbarr.com/shop/

(c) Judith Barr, 2009

Domestic violence abroad . . . and right here at home

In these times of financial, religious, social, and political unrest, those who have not learned to handle their feelings responsibly are increasingly lashing out at other . . . especially those with whom they are closest. The article below is a glimpse through one facet of this issue.*
 
The attitude of men and of the judicial system in Iraq toward women and girls, as demonstrated by the article referenced below – It’s Ok to Slap Spendthrift Wives** – is outrageous, tragic, heartbreaking.
 
You may think this is limited to Iraq . . . or at least countries other than the United States. If you do, you have a shock in store for you!
 
I have worked with women, in the supposedly cultured and advanced northeast United States, who were abused in their marriages and frankly! Even more in their attempts to divorce. These women were, in the process of divorce, abused by their husbands, their lawyers (men and women alike), the judges, and the legal system.
 
Some of the women would have been homeless had it not been for the resources of their families of origin. Some were unable to feed and clothe their children because the courts did not assure them the money to live on even during the divorce process. I’ve seen women lose their children. I’ve seen women lose all their savings. I’ve known of women who stayed with their husbands for fear the courts would make the children have visitation with a father they were terrified by.
 
Don’t tell me courts expected the wives, whose husbands had insisted they stay home and take care of the children, to suddenly be able to get the level of jobs that would support them and their children . . . especially when all the while their lawyers were telling the wives not to get jobs or they’d get no alimony and child support.  Don’t tell me the courts can’t see abuse when it’s right in front of their eyes, for example wives, who had been so abused that they had no confidence in themselves anymore.  Don’t tell me the courts do such voluminous business in divorce and don’t know the shame the wives feel in their plight. Don’t tell me the courts were fooled by the husbands’ attempts to wriggle out of their responsibilities to take care of even their children . . . by claiming they’d lost their business, by claiming they didn’t have the assets they had.  And don’t you dare tell me that the courts are so heartless that they favor the wallet of the abusive man over the means to heal the heart and soul of his wife and children.
 
Now . . . I know that each woman needs to do her own work about the early wounds that may have caused her to end up with an abusive husband. About the early wounds that may have caused her to be frozen when wanting to leave. About the early wounds that may have caused her to perhaps even leave and then return to her abusive husband.  And it is true!

Each woman in this situation does need to do her own inner healing of psyche and soul – so that she doesn’t recreate the same situation all over again! So that she models the deepest healing for her children! So that she heals on the inside, too, to the very root of the wound, and not just the outer level.  
 
So that she knows her part and doesn’t disempower herself by pretending it was only his responsibility. Yes! If she makes it all his responsibility, she does, in fact, disempower herself. She keeps herself from finding the roots in her own life of her becoming entangled in an abusive relationship.  And no matter what anyone says, that is extremely disempowering . . .  for if she doesn’t know her part in the creation and perpetuation of the abusive relationship, she does not have the power to heal it and to prevent a recurrence.
 
Both of these elements must be attended to.
The abuse from the outer world . . . particularly the court system.
And the disempowerment not only from the outer world but also from the inner world of long ago.

If you are a woman who is in an abusive relationship . . . please get the help you need, and don’t stop until you do.

If you are a woman or a man who knows a woman in an abusive relationship and want to help . . . keep your heart open both to her current situation and also to the childhood wounds that are still alive inside her. And please do your own work, so you don’t act out of your own childhood wounds, and so you don’t act in her behalf to avoid your early wounds. If you have additional time and energy, help to work for exposure of and changes in the system . . . the lawyers, the judges, the legal system itself, and, of course, the law.

Now let’s go back to the countries like Iraq, where dealing with domestic violence is different in significant ways than in the USA. Where women are, in essence, prisoners in their own homes and their own countries, by government sanctioned practices? What can we do to help those women? Pray for them. Dedicate our own healing work not only to ourselves but also to them. Find organizations that we know will help them and contribute to those organizations. Found such an organization. Organize a fundraiser to raise money to contribute. Gather our friends and colleagues to brainstorm and heart-storm other ways to help . . . both at home and abroad.

This issue of domestic violence abroad and right here at home is a clear example of the crucial need for prayer, outer action, and inner healing combined if we are going to resolve problems in our lives and our world and sustain the resolution and changes both inside and out.

 (c) Judith Barr, 2009

*I could write on this theme for days . . . months. There are many facets, including domestic violence in which women are violent to their husbands. But today, I am writing about the woman receiving the violence. 

**http://www.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/meast/05/10/saudi.court.wife.slapping/index.html

IF WE ARE EVER GOING TO HAVE A CHANCE OF HEALING OUR SOCIETY FROM THIS KIND OF VIOLENCE. . .

People keep asking ….
How can this happen?
How can someone do such a thing?

People keep talking ….
For example, Angela Leach, a representative of the American Civic Association said . . . “Whatever drove this individual to do what he did I cannot possibly fathom.” 

People blame and have contempt . . .  “He must have been a coward; he decided to end his own life  when he heard police sirens” – Binghamton Police Chief Joseph Zikuski.

People feel and try to figure out what to do . . . “I am heartbroken for the families who survived this tragedy,” Obama said, “and it just underscores the degree to which in each of our countries we have to guard against the kind of senseless violence that the tragedy represents.”

But guarding against it won’t prevent it.

People don’t seem to want to look inside themselves and see how we each contribute and how we each need to be part of the healing.

It begins in our childhood…

Children are afraid to feel . . . their feelings in response to pain and trauma are too much for little children to feel; so they bury the feelings and find a way to escape from the pain. When they grow up they are still trying to keep their feelings buried and escape from the pain.

Other people doing the same thing don’t help! When you are trying to keep something in your own psyche buried, you often have contempt for someone else who is dealing with that same thing openly.  You may call a woman a “drama queen” if she expresses her feelings. You may call a man a “wuss” (or worse) if he openly expresses his feelings. If you are afraid to need, you might have contempt for someone else who shows their need openly…You may term them “needy”. Or if you are afraid to ask for help, you might be contemptuous of someone who asks for help (calling them “helpless” or “incompetent” when they do.)  With this additional layer … adults make children and other adults afraid to feel and express their feelings.

Our world is in such a state now. There is so much fear of feeling that even in the name of helping people many doctors and even therapists give people medication so they don’t have to feel  . . . and teach them ways to manage their thoughts and feelings, instead of working them through.

So … we aren’t taught how to be with our feelings, without either repressing them or acting out on them. We aren’t taught how to express them safely. We aren’t taught how to discern which feelings are those we need to act on and which feelings are those we need to follow into our own hearts for healing.  

Say you’re in your home and you smell smoke. You’re afraid. If that is here and now fear, you will act on it to find the source of the smoke and see if it’s a fire that needs to be put out. Or someone else has just started the wood stove for today, usually your daily task in the house.

But let’s say when you were a child, your house burned down. You smelled the smoke but were so young you didn’t know what it was. Now you smell smoke, and you panic, even the smell of someone having lighted a match to light a candle.  You may go find out if there is danger in the here and now, but the panic you feel is from long ago.

We escape from the pain and the fear . . . just like we did as children.   We probably have many ways to escape. We may know some of them, and we may not be aware of others.  Some everyday escapes:  using alcohol, drugs, work, sex, “tuning out,” exercise, watching TV, escaping into a book.  Even more serious escapes:  running away (when the going gets tough – from a relationship, from a job, from therapy), killing oneself, killing someone else, going crazy…

If we are not helped, held, comforted, and responded to when we feel our feelings as children, how can we be expected to be able to bear them as adults?

If we are not helped to learn how to feel and express our feelings as children, how can we be expected to be able to feel them and express them safely as adults?

If we are not helped to know which feelings are here and now, needing to be acted upon, and which feelings are from our childhood, needing to be healed, how can we be expected to know the difference as adults?

If we are not helped to build the capacity to stay with our feelings and not act out on them, how can we be expected to do that as adults?

There are a lot of outer things people may think of to do in situations like the Binghamton tragedy. There are a lot of people who may think prayer or action is the thing to do. I can tell you from experience . . . in addition to prayer and action, people need to learn to do their inner work with their own feelings – both from long ago in their childhoods and here and now . . . if we are ever going to have a chance of healing our society from this kind of violence.

My hope, my intention, my prayer…is to help reweave the fabric of our society, so the parents can teach their children something new because the parents are doing their own inner work of psyche and soul.

(c) Judith Barr, 2009

EXPLORING THE ROOTS OF A SHOCKING EXAMPLE OF POWER ABUSE . . . AN UPDATE

As of Thursday, April 16, 2009, Hamid Karzai, President of Afghanistan, has responded to demonstrations in his own land and criticism from Western leaders against the bill which he recently signed into law, including a provision which essentially legalizes the rape of womenwithin marriage. Karzai claimed that he was not aware of the provision in the law, and told CNN:

“Now I have instructed, in consultation with clergy of the country, that the law be revised and any article that is not in keeping with the Afghan constitution and Islamic Sharia must be removed from this law.”

We have cause to celebrate all those who took action. We have cause to celebrate that President Karzai did respond. But this does not sound like a clear and solid commitment to remove the article from the law. We cannot stop here. We must continue to keep our eyes, ears, hearts and voices on this issue in Afghanistan until it is resolved in favor of a woman’s right to say ‘no’ to her husband’s request (or demand) for sexual contact.

And we cannot stop here. We cannot limit our attention to the outer world manifestation of such abuse of power. We need to remember that a core part of healing this in the outer world is healing it in our inner worlds, too . . . healing the misuse and abuse of power it reveals in our lives – current and long, long ago – and healing the powerlessness it reveals in our lives – current and long, long ago. Only by including the inner work of psyche, heart, body and soul, will we be able to help make changes that are sustainable.

Please read my original post at
http://judithbarr.com/2009/04/05/exploring-the-roots-of-a-shocking-example-of-power-abuse/
to expand your understanding and inspire you even more to do your part, too.

(c) Judith Barr, 2009

The War On…

War on drugs.
War on terror.
War on the economic crisis . . . defeat it.
War on climate change.
War on fat.
War on crime.
War on feelings.
War within ourselves.

If we’re fighting a war on everything,
how can we expect to heal the wounds that untended are destroying us?
If we must fight everything and everyone,
what is there left to enjoy?
Who is there left to love?
If we must declare war, or even take up arms in war without a declaration,
how can we expect to have time to do anything else?
If we have war eating us from the inside out,
how can we trust what we will create from the inside out?

If we’re even fighting a war on our own feelings …
how can we expect that we will be more than programmed robots?
How can we expect to do more than survive?
How can we expect to be fully alive?

We can’t just stop the wars in the outer world.
We can’t just hold those in the outer world accountable,
those whose wars we can clearly see.
We can’t just pray away the war in our inner world.
If we are at war within ourselves —
which we must be if this is what we’ve created in our country
and our world . . .
then we must resolve the inner war at the root
and create peace from the inside out.

Not an image of peace.
Not a mask of peace.
Not an illusion of peace.
True peace.

With blessings for healing the war within and without.
Judith

(C) Judith Barr, 2009