WHAT IS THE REAL CATASTROPHE?

We hear the word catastrophe a lot these days. In the news. In the mental health arena. In the therapy room. In relation to all arenas of life. According to different sources, what’s happening to our climate is a catastrophe. What’s happening to our earth is a catastrophe. What’s happening to people who have lost their jobs and are unable to support themselves and their families financially is a catastrophe. What’s happening to people who will be unable to have adequate healthcare is a catastrophe. What’s happening to people whose homes have been threatened and/or destroyed is a catastrophe. What’s happening to people whose lives in their country are being threatened is a catastrophe. What’s happening to the truth and integrity of our country and our world is a catastrophe. What’s happening to the leadership in our country and our world is a catastrophe.

I could go on and on and on. But I won’t. Each of these is, indeed, a catastrophe in its own right. Each of these is a catastrophe in the current time – 2017.  Step one in responding to a catastrophe in the here and now is to validate it, have compassion for the person experiencing it, and find what actually needs to be done in the here and now.

But there is more to it than this. And given the presence of catastrophes in today’s world, it’s curious, even odd that many people in the mental health world teach their clients not to “catastrophize.”  They are trying to help their clients calm themselves. They are trying to teach their clients that thinking about catastrophic outcomes will upset them unnecessarily. They believe that is a good thing to teach. It might be helpful for a client to have the word “catastrophe.”  When we can name something, it empowers us. But if the therapist stops there … the therapist leaves the client able to know there is a source of power, but unable to see it or find it.

There is also a similar cultural response … as demonstrated in the childhood fairy tale about Chicken Little. Despite some published endings and interpretations of the fairy tale, all the people I talked with about this had the same experience. Basically: When they were told the story as children, it was made very clear that you shouldn’t say what you’re afraid of. You shouldn’t say when you see something happening that feels bad or threatening … or you will be dismissed by people telling you mockingly “The sky is falling! The sky is falling!”

Someone who is afraid of catastrophes certainly doesn’t need to be dismissed, and most certainly doesn’t need to be mocked. And even more certainly doesn’t need to be threatened out of expressing their fears with the warning of humiliation.

Someone who is afraid of catastrophes, doesn’t need to be told to stop “catastrophizing.” He doesn’t need to be told to stop thinking that way. She doesn’t need to be told to stop imagining those catastrophes. He needs to be helped to understand that the catastrophes he’s thinking of are very likely catastrophes he has already experienced in his life – possibly catastrophes he doesn’t even remember consciously. Likely catastrophes he has no words for. Likely catastrophes he had no way out of as a child. He needs help to understand that we can guide him safely as he works his way back to the earlier catastrophes and heals from them. She needs to be taught that as we move toward the original catastrophes, it is likely her fear of catastrophes in the future will ease; she will stop projecting the past catastrophes on the future. That is step two in helping people with catastrophes. If you can help someone know the catastrophe that they’re fearing in the future has actually already happened, long, long ago … that has a calming effect of a different nature. It will likely still be scary, but it’s a different kind of fear. It’s a fear from long ago, still alive within.

It gives the person a chance of having a step three: to find and heal from the original catastrophe… and this time with help. This time not alone. This time as an adult with a little child still alive within.

Here’s an example* …

Burt’s mother hit him from the time he was very, very young. She smacked him anyplace within her reach. He remembers looking down at his leg and seeing her handprint on his little thigh below his diaper. He recalls her holding his hand to pull him close enough to smack, and his trying to stay far enough away that she couldn’t reach him, while she swatted at him again and again. He remembers feeling terrified. These were individual catastrophes for little Burt. But even these two alone would create a fear and an anticipation of more catastrophes to come. A waiting … for the other shoe to drop.

Yet these were not the only two times Burt’s mother treated him this way. In fact, for Burt it was like living in an ocean of abuse and waiting for abuse through his entire childhood. His childhood, in other words, was filled with catastrophes. Catastrophes in the moment and catastrophes about to happen.

Burt’s anticipating and fearing that would continue in his life today and in the future is not catastrophizing, but rather transferring that young ocean of catastrophe onto the future. And since no one helped Burt as a child, or helped him understand and heal the child catastrophes as a young adult, he kept re-enacting and re-creating this in his adult years. He drew to him women who mostly didn’t hit him with their hands, but smacked and swat at him consistently with their words, their looks, their energy, their feelings. That left him continuing to live in an ocean of catastrophe.  And he mistakenly thought it proved that life is a catastrophe. That relationship is catastrophe.

Without even realizing it, Burt contributed to the election of a woman president of his country – one who verbally smacked at those who disagreed with her and those who didn’t do what she wanted. Among the others who contributed to this election’s win by an abusive president were other men and women whose mothers smacked and swatted at them when they were little girls and boys… creating catastrophes in their young lives. And since none of them had the help to heal consciously from the original catastrophes, they were all re-creating their early catastrophes in the life of their nation. And almost everyone in the nation thought it was a current national (and global) emergency only. Only a few knew that the citizens unconsciously and communally had helped to create this national catastrophe out of their childhood catastrophes. And try as they would to inform their country-people … to show their country-people … the citizens didn’t want to know. They seemed to really believe the situation today was the only catastrophe. They seemed to prefer to live in and co-create the current abuse and catastrophe rather than remember, feel, and heal their past young experiences of catastrophe.

Sandy’s experience is another example of the real catastrophe …

Sandy’s father touched her in ways and places he never should have touched her … from the time she was 3 years old – that she can remember –  or perhaps even younger beneath her memory. Sandy’s father would hold her and rub her back when she was crying. He would sing songs to her in a sweet voice, too. It seemed loving and comforting to little Sandy. Eventually, once Sandy became acclimated to this, he began to rub other parts of her body – first with his hands and then with other parts of his body. With each step, what once seemed loving and comforting to Sandy eventually felt alarming, scary, and painful. And his use of the guise of comforting her to cover up his molesting her was terribly confusing to her. Everything got short-circuited for Sandy – love, comfort, pleasure, trust, and even wanting. Her world was one of catastrophe after catastrophe till the air she breathed was made up of molecules of the impending doom of catastrophe or actual catastrophe itself.

Sandy’s mother didn’t help things either. She didn’t protect Sandy. She dressed Sandy up like a little doll from the time she was very young, certainly by 3.  And with each year her mother dressed her more and more like a little model – already looking like a teenager when she was only 8. In this way, Mom colluded in the creation of Sandy’s vulnerability to men molesting and assaulting her. Her high school dates all wanted to get inside her, the consequences be damned, moreso than the stereotype of high school boys. Her first real boyfriend would draw her in with comfort and tenderness and then use her in every way he wanted to satisfy his own appetites. And the same with her first husband.  Sandy was frozen.  She believed she was frozen in the teenage and early 20’s catastrophe of sexual abuse. Having repressed and forgotten her early experiences of sexual abuse in her childhood home with mother and father, she had no way, without help, to realize she was really frozen in her early childhood catastrophes of sexual abuse.

No one helped Sandy as a child. No one helped her as a teen. No one helped her in her 20’s. A whole life-stream of catastrophe. So when she was 28 and the presidential election was coming, Sandy was frozen in the face of the male candidate who promised to provide comfort for the citizens and the country. Comfort in different forms for different citizens. But comfort nonetheless. In her frozen state, and beneath that with such a hunger for comfort, Sandy was vulnerable and, as a result, seduced into supporting him. So she did. Whatever was exposed about the candidate, she still supported him … with no awareness that she had transferred her hunger for Daddy’s comfort onto the candidate. With no awareness that she had transferred the whole catastrophe stream from her childhood onto the process of the buildup to the election.

When the candidate’s molesting of women was unexpectedly exposed to the public, Sandy still supported him. She was still frozen and unconscious in the place of a child, living with daddy, needing daddy, needing attention from daddy, needing comforting from daddy, needing daddy to take care of her, and more …

Other women who had been molested by their fathers as children were split. Some were still supporting the candidate, through mechanisms like Sandy’s frozenness and unconsciousness. And others, triggered by the revelations, woke up and realized what the candidate was doing and what their fathers, uncles, grandfathers, brothers had done. Those who woke up stopped supporting the candidate as the catastrophes from their own childhoods became real and conscious to them again.

Without awareness, those women who continued to support the candidate were participating in the creation of a catastrophe in the current day out of their inability, unwillingness, fear of looking at, working with, and healing the catastrophes in their childhood.  There were others, too, who supported this candidate out of their “no” to making conscious their experiences of sexual catastrophe as children. Men who had been sexually abused as children. Men whose fathers had molested and sexually abused or harassed their mothers, sisters, women out in public … or even women on TV. Many of these men felt powerless in the face of sexually abusive men.  And many of them became like those sexually abusive men as a way to defend against their young experience of powerlessness. The catastrophe of this candidate getting elected was created from many different childhood catastrophes amongst the citizenry. Even the catastrophe the candidate was creating came out of catastrophes in his early life. Catastrophes from long, long ago that he obviously had no intention at all to remember and heal … for his own sake or for the sake of his country.

These profound, deep, raw, and real examples offer a clear introduction to the real catastrophes … and the consequences of not seeing them, finding them, working to heal from them.

There’s another important clue and gem here. If we interfere with a person’s seeking and finding the original catastrophe, they not only will keep being afraid of a catastrophe in the future, but also will unconsciously co-create catastrophes in the future.  Our unconscious selves – our souls – call us and push us to bring the original catastrophes into consciousness however we can. That’s the only way to heal them.  It’s safer if we bring them into consciousness in our dreams. Or in glimpses of waking memories. It’s safer if we bring them into consciousness watching a movie or tv program. It’s also safer if we bring them into consciousness in small benign re-enactments in our lives, re-enactments that trigger memories of the original catastrophe but don’t cause more catastrophes. But if we don’t unearth the original catastrophes in those ways, we will co-create them in other ways … either in our own individual lives, or along with others who are co-creating them in the life of our world.

This is not something to blame people for. This is not something to punish yourself for. It’s something to be aware of. It is a gem to be thankful for. It holds the key to our healing. We are not responsible for what happened to us as children, but we are responsible for healing from the experiences we had as children and the consequences caused by those catastrophes. This is the key to our healing our individual catastrophes. And the key to our healing our communal catastrophes – familial, national, global.

If you know that the catastrophe was long ago…
If you know that you’re afraid of a catastrophe in the future because you’re transferring the original catastrophe onto the future…

If you know that and don’t do the work to heal from the original catastrophe…
and you know that your refusal to do the original catastrophe work will result in your creating a catastrophe in the future…
If you know that if each of us does the exact same thing – refuses to do the original work and so creates a future catastrophe instead…
we will create catastrophes in our world …

The worst catastrophe is to create a catastrophe in the future
because you said ‘no’ to tending to and healing the catastrophe from your past.
The worst catastrophe is to create a catastrophe in the future
because we together said ‘no’ to tending to and healing the catastrophes from our pasts –
individually and communally.

This is what is occurring in our world today.
It has been since ancient times.
It will continue unless … we take responsibility for our part.

I have written to media editors and hosts … who haven’t even responded.
I have written to leaders in power… most of whom haven’t responded. One leader from another country graciously replied. One leader from an organization responded personally – not in a form letter – but offered no help, didn’t even accept my offer to help.
I have written to others with platforms who could help spread this understanding across the world… no response.
People don’t want to know.
People don’t want to take responsibility at the deepest levels.
They’ll take outer action. They’ll pray. Both of which are also needed. But they really don’t want to see, hear, know, and feel their inner responsibility from their own experiences long ago. They really don’t want to take inner action. They really don’t want to take action on the deepest levels.

I hear people in many places say they don’t want to know. They want to live in a bubble. They’re usually talking about the outer world – consciously – but they mean the inner world, too. People I work with get to the point where they realize as soon as they say “I don’t want to know,” they do know that some awareness is right beneath the surface of their consciousness.  And then we explore, at a rhythm and pace they can work with what that awareness is.

We need to know! Our lives and our sanity depend on it. Our children’s lives and their sanity depend on it. The life of our world depends on it. Depends on our preventing future catastrophes by healing from the ancient catastrophes in our lives.

Even if you don’t fully understand this. Let in the essence and create the passageway within … so you can take the next step.

How can you possibly refuse to do the work of the original catastrophe?
How can you possibly choose to be part of creating a catastrophe in the future
instead of meeting and going through the process of healing from your original catastrophe?
How can you possibly choose to be part of creating a catastrophe for perhaps trillions of people
rather than meet and heal your own early catastrophe?

We each have a choice. We each have a choice right now.
How can you not choose healing from the past?
How can you choose to keep participating in the future catastrophes instead?

The worst catastrophe of all is to know you participate in creating future catastrophes
by refusing to heal the earliest catastrophes in your life … and to still refuse.
The worst catastrophe of all is to know you participate in creating future catastrophes in our world by refusing to heal the earliest catastrophes in your life … and still refuse.

 

*All examples are either fictional, composites from many anonymous people, or examples used with permission.

© Judith Barr, 2017

WHAT YOU CAN DO TO HELP KEEP OUR WORLD SAFE
FROM THE INSIDE OUT

Catastrophes, large and small, personal, national, and global, touch all of us at one time or another. What’s important is how we utilize life’s catastrophes to help heal within.

When you experience or witness one of life’s “catastrophes” how do you react? Do you threaten, dismiss, or mock yourself for feeling the impact of the catastrophe?  Do you try to “manage” the feelings that well up within you – feelings that may be both about the here-and-now situation and about a catastrophe from long ago – of which you may not even be aware? Do you try to “hide” from the situation, “forget” about it, jump into bed and pull the covers over your head? Do you try to hide from the reactions of others – discounting, intimidating, humiliating you out of your feelings about the catastrophe?  Or … do you explore the feelings you have in the moment, using those feelings as clues to the catastrophes within – current and ancient – that need to be healed?

Commit to the latter … to utilizing the catastrophe for your own healing. When a catastrophe happens, after ensuring your safety and the safety of others if you need to, allow yourself to feel whatever comes up within you, without acting out on your feelings. Can you remember when in your past you felt this same way? Trace those feelings back as far as you can, and if you need help to explore and heal those feelings, find a compassionate, caring, integritous therapist who can help you do that.

Catastrophes happen to all of us, but if we can see them for the treasure they can be, and use them to help us in our own healing journeys, we can help prevent the re-enacting of those same catastrophes in our lives, in our societies, and in our world.

IT’S A VERY DARK ELECTION BECAUSE . . . PART 3

This article, also, written in response to the US Election cycle,
is not only about the US. It is about all of us… all over the world.

After the election …
we will still not be responsible for the wounds we suffered as children.
After the election …
we will still be just as responsible for healing those wounds as we are now,
maybe even moreso.
After the election …
we will be just as responsible and accountable for the damage we do,
including any damage we have done through the election cycle.

The election is not far away, and there is so much more we need to learn about what is in our unconscious selves and about how we act that out in our world … starting with how we act it out in our elections.

Do you know what transference is? Today I’m going to teach you about transference … and how alive it is within our unconscious. Our unconscious individually, nationally, and globally.

Transference is a word that comes out of the world of psychology. When working with a therapist, a client, among other things, explores their transference onto the therapist. But transference doesn’t exist only in the therapy room. It exists in our relationships with other people, too, every day, day in and day out. We experience transference with our partners, friends, colleagues, bosses, employees, our doctors, our clergy, our other leaders – spiritual, economic, governmental, political, healthcare and more.

What is transference?
When we transfer onto the current time, situation, people, and things the thoughts, feelings, attitudes, perceptions, and experiences we had in the past – in our childhood – particularly with authority figures like mom, dad, grandpa, grandma, big brother, big sister, the babysitter, etc. … we are in transference.

We all experience transference more than we know, more than we can even imagine. It’s something that occurs unconsciously. And even when someone helps us identify and name it, we still have work to do in our unconscious selves to dissipate, heal, and resolve the transference. For it’s not something that can be resolved in our minds. It can’t be resolved just by knowing about it. It needs to be known and understood. But to be healed … it has to be healed on the level of our feelings.

I can’t tell you how many times someone I work with tells me something like, “I understand in my mind that you aren’t going to get fed up with me and leave me. I know you are committed to helping me heal to the root. But my feelings tell me you will get fed up with me.”

And I respond back to them with, “It’s good that you can make that distinction. The feelings you’re having are those that are still alive from when Mommy would yell at you saying, ‘I’m fed up with you. I’m going to my room!’ or ‘I’m fed up with you. Go to your room!’ We need to work with these feelings so you can work through them consciously, so you don’t need to transfer them onto me or anybody anymore.”

Here’s an example outside the election process … one that can easily be tied to it:

Samantha grew up in a home with two parents – mother and father – and 2 older brothers. When Samantha was 5 her parents got divorced and her father moved out of the house and to a town a few towns away from hers. She felt rejected by her dad. And, even more, abandoned.

He promised her she would see him every other weekend … but that didn’t always happen. Sometimes it was once a month. And no matter how much she saw him, it didn’t alter her feelings. She cried when he left their home. She cried when he brought her back home after spending the weekend together. Her parents tried to get her to understand her way out of her feelings; her brothers tried to tease her out of it, both so she wouldn’t cry and to hold their own deep feelings at bay.

Samantha had a number of experiences in her childhood of losing people. Her grandfather died. Her brothers went away to college. And her favorite teacher, Mr. James, got married and moved to California with his new wife. Each time, Samantha re-experienced her father’s leaving. Each time, for her it was a re-enactment of her father rejecting and abandoning her. And each time she went through it unconsciously she proved to herself that if her father didn’t want her, nobody would; and that she would always be left. She had already begun transferring her father and her experience with him onto other people – all other people – without being aware of it.

As she started to date, Samantha, without knowing it, was imagining on one level that this time he (Dad) would stay, while deep beneath her awareness she was knowing he would leave, and in unconscious ways setting it up for him to leave. She was transferring her dad’s leaving onto her dates and boyfriends already, before the relationship even really began.

Beneath her awareness, she would draw people to her who, in an uncanny way, she knew would leave. She would interact with them in ways that would cause them to leave – like pushing them away emotionally, disagreeing with them a lot, questioning them, acting cold. Or worst of all, sometimes she was just going along her innocent way loving them and thinking they loved her, when bam! They were gone. Just like Dad.

All this time, from the time her father left the house, Samantha was terrified she would lose her mother, too. She couldn’t bear that and pushed the feelings of terror down by being extra, extra careful not to do anything that would make Mom leave. She wouldn’t hold on too tight, she would try to take care of Mom just right, she wouldn’t let her mommy know she needed anything. She would just be a really good girl and do everything her mother wanted. And stay with her mother no matter what. No matter how cold Mom was. No matter how much of a wall Mom had up that held Samantha out. No matter how much Mom ignored her. No matter what her mother did.

In summary, Samantha’s painful childhood wounding and potential transference: The father who promises to be there and take care of her but leaves – who she wants more than anything or anyone in the world. The mother who is distant and cold, who she tries to take care of and stays with no matter what to keep from ending up all alone in the world without any parents at all.

So let’s take this example and apply it to the campaign. And even more in our faces, the debates.

Remember the debates? Remember Hillary and Donald on the stage together, debating? Well, transferentially … that’s like Mommy and Daddy arguing. It had the potential to trigger, unconsciously, anyone whose mother and father argued, or fought, treated each other with contempt, humiliated each other, or even downright battered each other in their childhood.

So if in the campaign and during the debates you were in transference – beneath your awareness – like many in the population … there on the stage fighting for your vote are mommy and daddy – fighting like the dickens for your vote, your loyalty, your love. And anyone who’s triggered in this campaign, who sees mommy and daddy and not the two actual candidates … will vote, not for Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump but instead for mommy or daddy. And will vote, not from the adult in them, but rather from the little child still alive within them.

This will all be unconscious. But it will be what is occurring.
Do you understand? Those people will not actually be campaigning for and casting their ballots for the real live here-and-now candidates, but instead will be voting for their parent … or against one of their parents.

Let’s go back to Samantha …
In this example, Samantha might go either way, depending upon what’s triggered unconsciously in her own psyche. She might favor Donald Trump, transferring onto him the father who promises to be there and take care of her but leaves – who she wants more than anything or anyone in the world. Or she might favor Hillary Clinton, transferring onto her the mother who is distant and cold, who she tries to take care of and stays with no matter what to keep at bay even the thought of ending up all alone in the world without any parents at all.

And she would have no idea that she is favoring, and casting her vote, based on transference. Based on her parents, and not the candidates themselves at all. It would all be beneath her conscious awareness.

Perhaps that is why there was truth in the statement by Trump that he could “stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody” and his followers would stick with him. Without his even realizing it, he was speaking to the transference amongst his following.  The transference of a child onto someone, Trump, of their own father, with whom they would stick, no matter what.

Here are some other examples of transference onto the candidates …

A woman* whose mother took care of her and her family and her mentally ill father, is transferring father onto Donald Trump. With each day during Trump’s march toward melting down, this woman experienced panic beyond her comprehension.  She thought she was panicking about Trump’s meltdown. Instead she was, beneath her own awareness, regressed to 5 years old and panicking about her daddy’s impending meltdown – one of his 5 mental breakdowns during the woman’s childhood, breakdowns that sent him to the hospital for months. And from that panicked young place in her, she couldn’t see the candidates.  Certainly not Donald Trump. And not Hillary Clinton either. She could only begin to really see them once she began doing the deep feeling work with her panic as a little girl, leading up to her daddy’s breakdowns. Without doing her work, she might vote in transference for her mother and not her father … in an attempt to make sure the father/president didn’t have a breakdown.

A woman whose father lied mercilessly to get his way – with her, with her mother, and with her grandmother –  found herself in a blind rage at Donald Trump’s and Hillary Clinton’s lies. Enraged way more than any here-and-now anger about lies could be. In fact, it wasn’t all current day anger. About an inch deep of it was about today. The rest, down to the depths, was old anger from childhood at daddy’s lies … lies so obvious even a 4-year old child could tell. Now how was this woman in transference, from a 4-year old part of her, going to vote for either candidate?  Would she instead vote for Gary Johnson or Jill Stein? Would she not vote at all? And as a result, would her transference then help to give the election to one of the major candidates anyway? But not by adult choice?

I could give example after example. For now, just two more:

I could give an example of a woman whose father and brother were bullies and whose mother made her deal with the bullies all by herself. The woman, from a young place inside, would likely transfer the bullies in her childhood onto Trump, and deal with the bully by voting against him. She might also identify with Clinton’s having to deal with the bully herself.**

Or I could give an example of a man whose father was mercilessly competitive and wanted his son to be a winner. A man whose father treated him like a ‘nothing’ if he didn’t win. And celebrated him as a ‘king’ if he did win. This man, from the child still alive within himself, would likely transfer his father onto Trump and be desperate to win with Trump, meaning to vote for Trump. Just so Trump would treat him like a ‘winner’ and a ‘king.’ And he might also identify with Trump having grown up with just such a father, too.**

And all of this would be unconscious. Beneath awareness. Happening in the darkness within these people.

The same or similar processes of transference could be occurring within you … as you step day by day toward the election. This is as vital a time as ever to find out if you’re in transference with the candidates. With these specific candidates. With authority in general, applied to these specific candidates. With authority in general, applied to the government. With authority in general, applied to the President.

After all, the first President was known as “The Father of Our Country.” There’s the transference right there! And will the first woman President be known as “The Mother of Our Country”? Can you see? The transference in an election as usual is already there. The transference in this election is multiplied manifold … since not only do we have the father transference before our very eyes, but now we have the obvious mother transference right there in front of us, too!

Transference is a remarkable phenomenon for healing! For healing to the root! Transference is a way you bring something from your past, of which you are not conscious, into the light of day – awareness – so you can understand it and then heal it, not only in your mind, but also on the feeling and cellular levels.

Transference is the result of wounding from long, long ago.
After the election …
we will still not be responsible for the wounds we suffered as children.
After the election …
we will still be just as responsible for healing those wounds,
including the transference,
as we are now.

We need this healing every day, before and after the election.
We need this healing in our individual lives, in our family lives, in our national lives, and in our global lives.
And …
We so need this healing in our election process right now.

Are you going to vote from the child within you …
transferring onto one of the candidates, not seeing and feeling who the candidate actually is and what the candidate will actually do for and with our country?
Or are you going to vote from the true adult within you …
at least having identified your transference and having committed to do your inner healing work – as part of you and each of us doing our inner healing work in our country and our world?

© Judith Barr, 2016

* All examples are either fictitious or offered with the permission of the person it was based on and crafted so that it is anonymous.

** To learn more, read It’s a Very Dark Election Because … Part 2 at http://judithbarr.com/2016/10/27/dark-election-part-2/.

IT’S A VERY DARK ELECTION BECAUSE . . . PART 2

This article, also, written in response to the US Election cycle,
is not only about the US. It is about all of us … all over the world.

We are not responsible for the wounds we suffered as children.
We are, however, responsible for healing those wounds,
and we are responsible, and accountable, for the damage we do.

In the last post I wrote about our unconscious selves – individually and communally – being the source of the dark election and the destructiveness we are seeing in the election and in our country. I said I would talk with you about how that destructiveness within us came to be.

Our destructiveness, conscious and unconscious, comes from our wounding and trauma long ago in our life journeys. We are all somehow wounded, whether out in the open, or subtly and silently. Whether intentionally or accidentally. Whether actively or passively. Whether physically, verbally, emotionally, energetically, or spiritually. Whether in our homes or out in the world. Whether by those whom we need to be able to trust or those we’re engaged with as we grow –  like playmates. Just as we are wounded, so also, of course, our leaders are wounded.

I have been following the election cycle for months and months. I have watched instance after instance where I felt increasingly … somebody needs to make sure everyone understands what’s really happening here. Somebody needs to make sure everyone sees what’s occurring beneath the surface that’s causing what we’re witnessing … and what we’re part of. Someone needs to help people comprehend and pay attention to what’s happening beneath the consciousness of our candidates, our media, our government, our businesses, our families, and our individual selves.

This is what I have been working to do for many years and many elections.

I’ve been trying to find ways to clearly explain the wounding of leaders. Lately, the leaders running for President, in particular, as a way to help us really understand them better, as a way to help us see them through the eyes of Love and Truth – with compassion and still holding them accountable where they need to be held accountable. And as a way to look in the mirror ourselves, so we can see ourselves through the eyes of Love and Truth.

I have watched a number of documentaries that have revealed the clues to our candidates’ lives that could help me explain how the election process has been a live demonstration of the consequences of each candidate’s wounding in childhood.*

What do I mean?  Follow me carefully:
When we’re wounded as children, we involuntarily protect ourselves against the experience. We need to because little children can’t bear those experiences. So we reflexively bury our feelings, bury our memories, forget both, build walls so we can’t access them, create defenses to help us hold those experiences at bay … we hope forever. As a result, we start becoming a different person than we originally were. We develop thoughts, feelings, behaviors, and patterns of living that defend us against the original wound.

Then, as we grow, those original experiences of wounding keep tugging at us from our unconscious to find a way to get us to heal them. If we can’t or won’t find a way to heal, unconsciously we create repeats of the original wound – repeats called re-enactments – to bring the underlying experiences out into the open. In the open they can be seen, heard, felt, known, and therefore healed. Buried, they can be denied, justified, rationalized, idealized, normalized, and left to create repeats again and again and again. Not only ongoing repeats, but escalated repeats.

In this election we’ve seen many rounds of re-enactment from the very start of the process. And the debates have been live, visible, audible, undeniable demonstrations of the candidates’ reliving and responding to their young wounds.

Both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton had childhood wounds. One or both of them may deny it, or idealize their wounds, but it is obvious to someone who understands and senses wounding and its consequences.

Let’s start with some of Hillary’s childhood wounds as revealed in the documentaries.

What they reveal is that her father verbally abused her mother. Hillary would run into her room and put her hands over her ears when they fought. She couldn’t bear to hear the fighting. Also, if she came home with straight A’s on her report card, her father would tell her that the school must be too easy.

So from early on … her experience was to be demeaned, certainly not given credit for her strengths. Hillary was frightened of her parents’ fighting, and yet her mother made her deal with bullies on her own. At 4 years old, Hillary was already experiencing bullying in the neighbor-hood. By her own words, in her first experience with bullying, she was terrified. She went running into the house and her mother said to her, “There’s no room for cowards in this house. You go back outside and figure out how you’re gonna deal with what these kids are doing.”  No wonder Hillary built a wall inside as a defense against her pain and terror. To take down the wall would be too vulnerable, too painful for a little girl.

As a depth psychotherapist, I know the layers of terror a child can feel in an experience like this.  Not just the layer of terror in the face of the bullies, but also the layer of terror in response to a mother saying “There’s no room for cowards in this house.” Children take things literally. And a such a statement from a mother likely – conscious or not – feels like a threat of abandonment, a threat that she won’t be able to live in this house unless she does what mommy says – figures this out on her own. How frightening! What a painful way to be motivated to figure things out! A little girl of 4 already having to figure things out on her own, scary enough by itself. But then torn between the threat of the bullies and the threat made by her mother.

So here we are in the election and Hillary is being demeaned and bullied – just as her mother was and as she was in childhood. She’s being threatened repeatedly and criticized for her wall. How’s she going to live through it? She’ll keep doing what her mother told her at 4 – go out and figure out how to deal with the bully on her own.

Even if Hillary is not conscious of the repeats, even if she idealizes or justifies how her father and mother treated her … unless she has done her own inner healing, for her as a child, and for the child still alive within her, this is not an adult election. Rather this is a series of primal, unconscious and driven responses to wounding and the threats of wounding, not unlike what she experienced at a very young age.

Now let’s turn to Donald Trump. Again the documentaries reveal major clues that can help us understand his wounding and its consequences.

Donald’s father was a very competitive man. His way of life translated essentially into: Life is a competition. Win or lose. If you win, you’re a killer and a king. If you lose, you’re a nothing and don’t matter. He taught his boys to win at all costs.

Donald’s brother Fred was not a “killer.” And he suffered from it, first at the hands of his father. Donald was a “killer.” And Fred’s death, it seems, reinforced it. Winning infused Donald’s interactions, his responses, his way of life.

We can see that in everything we’ve seen in the election process. He even turns losses into wins, if only in his own mind. And does everything he can to do so. He denies, lies, distracts, and more so he can feel he has won. And when he can’t do that, he turns someone else into the loser, some way, somehow.

Of course Donald Trump would see this as admirable. In the first place, to him that is winning.  And in the second place, it’s how a little boy obeys his father. It’s how he makes sure he matters to his father. Yes, even if his father is no longer alive. That’s because like every other human being, the child Donald once was is still alive within him, even though he is likely unaware of that truth. That child Donald is alive within him and driving him, just as sure as it drove him when he was actually a child. Clearly, Donald from a young age worked really hard to be the winner, the killer, his father said he should be. To a little child, it feels like life and death, to follow his father’s instructions on how to be important, on how to be someone, on how to matter. And that’s how the child survives.

A media commentator said recently that Donald will be humbled after election day. “No, he won’t,” I thought. “He will somehow turn it into a win … fighting for survival.”

And Megyn Kelly in an interview with Donald, said to him, “You are so powerful now.” In response Trump said “I don’t view myself as that. I mean, I view myself as a person that — like everybody else — is fighting for survival.”**

Although he doesn’t realize what he is saying on a primal level from his unconscious self …
Although he doesn’t realize what he is saying on a primal level from the child still alive within him …
He is describing the little Donald, the child, fighting to survive by being a winner.

Everyone has a child still alive within with wounds to heal, and acting out again and again what hasn’t been healed. Just because people are in adult bodies, doesn’t mean they are really adults, or even fully adults. There is that child within that is driving the person in an adult body.

Donald Trump is not only one of many, he’s also a very obvious example. Even his wife recently said in an interview with Anderson Cooper, that she jokes that her husband at times behaves like an overgrown boy. And that sometimes she says “I have two boys at home – I have my young son and I have my husband.” ***

Just as for Hillary, for Donald as a child, and for the child still alive within him, this is not an adult election. Rather this is a series of primal, unconscious and driven responses to wounding similar to that he experienced at a young age… even if he wouldn’t call how his father treated him wounding. Even if he would idealize how his father raised him. Nevertheless, Donald is a man, driven by a boy inside, fighting for survival by winning, always winning.

This is true for each of us. No matter how much the adult within us is present to the election, the child still within us is also very much alive, and is driving us through this election process on a primal, unconscious level in reaction to our own wounding and trauma. And that child within us, now once again repeating the consequences of our wounds, will, in fact, be the one making the decisions at the polls on Election Day. And unless we become aware of that child within each of us, he or she will be electing the next President of the Unites States of America, and co-creating with the child within the other voters, the country and the world we will be living in not just for the next four years, but for many years – even generations – to come.

We are not responsible for the wounds we suffered as children.
We are, however, responsible for healing those wounds,
whether or not we are conscious of them.
And we are responsible, and accountable, for the damage we do…
by not being conscious of our wounds and by not healing them.
If we don’t accept this responsibility,
our fights for survival as children long ago
could and will likely become
our fights for survival in the here and now
and in the future.

© Judith Barr, 2016.

* Frontline:The Choice
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s7uScWHcTzk

CNN All Business: The Essential Donald Trump
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I6yV9N4EC-Y

CNN All Business: The Essential Hillary Clinton
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cAB4-AFYm_0

Hillary
https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=271&v=sUV4Ha_Tf_4

** http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2016/may/16/inside-the-beltway-trump-fighting-for-survival-lik/

*** http://www.cnn.com/2016/10/17/politics/melania-trump-interview/

WHAT YOU CAN DO TO HELP KEEP OUR WORLD SAFE
FROM THE INSIDE OUT

As you see and hear more about the candidates for President, make the commitment to use what you learn about them not only to better understand them, not only to have some compassion for them, not only to hold them accountable from a wiser and more grounded place … but also … to better understand, explore and heal your own inner wounding.

After all, just like the candidates’ inner wounding doesn’t only affect them, your inner wounding doesn’t affect only you. It doesn’t affect just you on any ordinary day. And it certainly doesn’t affect just you on election day.

Ask yourself: When you watch or listen to the candidates speak — “your” candidate or the “opposing” candidate – what do you feel? Can you see and feel the wounding behind the words and actions of the candidates in this election … the children alive inside them acting out their unconscious defenses? And what in your unconscious is triggered in you as you witness the election unfold?  How will your own wounds from childhood, triggered in the election, impact your vote on election day? And your reactions the day after?

As you explore … you can also help make this knowing “go viral” and expand the healing in our world by sharing this newsletter via email and social media.

As we approach election day and as the election race heats up in its final lap, there is a lot we can learn about ourselves and heal within ourselves from what we’ve learned about the candidates … if we commit to utilize what we know and see this election time whole heartedly for healing.

IT’S A VERY DARK ELECTION BECAUSE . . . PART ONE

This article, written in response to the US Election cycle,
is not only about the US. It is about all of us … all over the world.

Many are throwing around the word “dark” in relation to this election cycle…saying things like: “That was a very dark debate.” “That was a dark comment.” “That is a dark candidate.” “Politics are dark this year.”

Whatever is meant by that phrase in each instance, it doesn’t begin to touch what is really going on in this election. What is actually occurring is from the depths of our beings, individually and nationally. There is so much that lives within us – each of us – of which we are not conscious.

Beneath our awareness, in the layers of our unconscious, it is dark. We cannot see … yet. We cannot hear … yet. We cannot feel … yet. We do not know … yet. And in that sense, what lives within us is in the darkness.

What brings it out into the light?  When we dream it and remember our dreams, and then understand and work with what our dream is telling us. And when we create things in our world from whatever lives deep within us. The things we create may seem like they are born of our conscious decisions, plans, actions and words – but in reality, they come from someplace deep inside our unconscious selves.

What lives deep within us beneath our conscious awareness does include our greatest gifts and strengths – most often waiting for us to heal whatever within us gets in the way of our giving them, living them, being them. What lives in the darkness of our unconscious selves that creates “dark” elections (and other “dark” events and processes) are the destructive aspects of our psyches. These may be destructive aspects that we don’t know about. Destructive aspects we don’t want to know about. Destructive aspects we hide beneath a socially acceptable mask. Destructive aspects we deny outright. Destructive aspects we idealize, instead of seeing them for what they are and for the devastating potential they have.

And when we don’t open our minds and our hearts to making these destructive aspects conscious so that we can heal them … it is these parts of ourselves that create destructive things in our lives. Destructive actions. Destructive interactions. Destructive processes that take on a life of their own because they are coming from our unconscious selves. And destructive processes that take on a life of their own because they magnetize the same, similar, or somehow related aspects in the unconscious of others, activating their destructive aspects … whether they are conscious of it or not.

If they are conscious of it, they can do the inner healing work to get to the root of that part of them and heal it, taking their part out of the communal mix. If they are not conscious of it, then beneath their own awareness, they feed the destruction, they help to whip it up and build it, they participate in growing it, they contribute to giving it a life of its own … completely disconnected from consciousness.

We are fooling ourselves if we believe we aren’t included in this “cause and effect” process with our own unconscious selves. We are deluding ourselves if we believe our own personal unconscious destructiveness is not connected with our communal unconscious destructiveness. We are hiding from the truth if we can’t or won’t see that what is happening in our election cycle (and in our world right now) is an outpicturing of our unconscious selves.

I have been watching the list of new television shows emerging over the years. Shows that have been so popular they stayed in the TV lineups. Revenge. Scandal. Secrets and Lies. How To Get Away with Murder. I know people ask questions about whether life imitates art, or art imitates life.  Where do shows like these really come from? From the destructive unconscious currents in our psyches that sometimes act out in our individual lives, and sometimes act out in our communal lives … but that build ongoingly from “unconscious” to “acted out” in our outer world.

My sense as a depth psychotherapist is that regardless of the individual writers who wrote these shows, the destructiveness in the shows comes from those same currents in all of us. How did that destructiveness get there? That for another time … soon.

For now … know that it came from wounding and trauma long ago in our life journeys.

For now … know that the destructive currents are there within each of us.

For now … this is like what I wrote about almost a year ago when I described how the “poison is the medicine.”  In essence, I explained that if we don’t heal in us what is calling to be healed, we will suffer from the consequences of our “no” to healing.  Then the suffering of the consequences, hopefully, will call us to healing.*

For now … if we don’t look deep into our own unconscious selves** – both individually and communally – we will keep creating the kind of destructiveness we have seen in this election and more. This election process is showing us what lives in our unconscious selves. It is showing us what has been creating the escalating destructiveness in our country and our world for a long time. It is showing us up close and personal in our own country, our own communities, our own families…what our unconscious selves, often called our “shadow,” have created and have the potential to create. This election is holding a mirror up to us, a mirror that says “you are part of this.” A mirror that calls us to “change the man or the woman in the mirror.” A mirror that shows us it is time to heal within our own selves, and to encourage those around us to heal, too. For our sakes. For the sake of our country. For the sake of our world.

© Judith Barr, 2016

* To learn more, read “The Poison is the Medicine” here: http://judithbarr.com/2015/11/19/grief-shock-another-tragedy-and-the-poison-is-the-medicine/

** For an inspiring, descriptive look at our unconscious selves, read “Unconscious” here: http://judithbarr.com/2016/03/06/unconscious/

WHAT YOU CAN DO TO HELP KEEP OUR WORLD SAFE
FROM THE INSIDE OUT

Looking at the darkness within ourselves can be a very uncomfortable process. But it is an absolutely necessary process.  Looking at the “darkness” outside ourselves – in the election, in the entertainment industry, in the media, in business, in the government, and in many other places in our world – can be a springboard to help us explore and transform our own inner darkness.

When you encounter “darkness” in one of its many forms in our world … what feelings arise in you? Do you feel disgusted and sad? Do you feel outraged? Or do you – secretly or blatantly – feel the urge to participate in or collude with the destructive, abusive acts and words you witness?

And…can you trace that feeling back to a time in your life when you felt the same way? Perhaps it was in a time in your young life when another’s “darkness” hurt you and you felt powerless. Or perhaps in a time in your young life when you witnessed another being abused and felt too scared to act … or too scared not to collude with the abuser.

The darkness in our election and our world is an outpicturing of the darkness in each of us. In addition to exploring your own inner darkness, you can help in healing the darkness in our world by passing this newsletter on, forwarding it, or sharing it on social media.

If ever there were a time to pass something on, to help something go viral … this is that time!

Imagine a world where we all did our healing work with our inner darkness! Imagine how different our world – and our election process – would be!

For People All Over the World … Don’t Go Into the Voting Booth Blind!

There is so much to say, to teach, to explore about the elections and the process leading up to them. I could write every day, some days many times. But it hasn’t felt in truth to do so. You might get overwhelmed, and I don’t want to add to the election overwhelm. And … I would basically be saying the same things day after day after day that I’ve been saying all along. Things that relate to inner discovery and healing and its absence or reflection in our outer world.

As I sat with all this it came to me: Not much of the depth exploration has been said in the media, or in the public at large. But a lot has already been said related to elections right here on PoliPsych.

Through many election cycles I have informed you about the deeper levels of elections – for the election process itself, for the candidates, for you as a citizen, for our country and our world. So I’m reminding you: You always have access to what is actually right here to help you in your explorations.

If you are not here in the US, I hope you’ll open your mind and heart to this as well. I hope you’ll allow it to inform you that there are those of us here in the US who are working deeply to heal and transform this. And I hope that you will see the mirror of us in your own country … and in our world as a whole.

And as for the elections … I have made a list for you of some of the most crucial articles connected to elections. I have re-read each one, and believe me … no matter the year the article was written, no matter the election cycle it refers to, each and every article applies to this year’s election, too. In fact, they all apply to every election, by virtue of the depth to which they help you explore. And each one offers a different glimpse or a different depth than the others.

May the links below and the articles they lead you to help you find on the deepest levels what you can heal and how you can help our country and world heal, in relation to the election and every day.

And may you utilize these articles in Truth and Love for healing on the way to the election, for participating in the election from a deeper, more healed place within you, and for healing from the election forward …

Many blessings …
Judith

WOUNDED LEADERS – THERE’S SO MUCH WE CAN LEARN AND HEAL THROUGH THE ELECTIONS

ELECTIONS – YESTERDAY AND TOMORROW

ELECTION 2012: THE AMERICAN DYSFUNCTIONAL FAMILY UNDENIABLY REVEALED

IMAGINE IT’S ELECTION DAY – DO YOU REALLY KNOW THE PERSON YOU’RE VOTING FOR?

THE ELECTION THROUGH THE LENS OF POWERLESSNESS

WHERE IS YOUR VOICE?    

AFTER THE ELECTION: TAKE TWO

THE 2012 ELECTION: WHAT IS THE AGENDA…REALLY?

IT’S ELECTION TIME: ARE YOU A RESPONSIBLE CITIZEN?

© Judith Barr, 2016

The Election Campaign and The Mob Mentality

As the campaign for the Presidency has unfolded in our country over the past year, the feeding and fomenting of the mob mentality has been evident. To this date – as I write this article – never more evident than during the Republican Convention the night Chris Christie spoke. His “prosecuting” Hillary Clinton in his speech triggered an ugliness in the crowd, a destructiveness in the crowd, that resulted, right there in convention hall, with the crowd yelling “Lock her up! Lock her up!”

That’s what we saw in the convention hall. But who knows what dire consequences and acting out will occur in other areas of our country and world as a result of Christie’s feeding the fire of violence and destruction.

We need to wake up to this dynamic in the campaign and in our world. We need to look at what part we play in this, each of us … no matter what “side” we are on. We need to ask, “What within me has been triggered to cause me to become part of feeding a mob? To become part of a mob?” We are all affected disastrously by the mob mentality, even if it doesn’t appear so in the moment.

As a result of the mob mentality showing itself so “out there” right in front of us in this campaign, I am re-posting an article from a previous election. We may see some things differently in hindsight, but the causes and effects of the mob mentality stay the same.

****

The conventions are over, there’s a bit of distance from them, and as long as you aren’t someplace where a candidate is “stomping” right now … hopefully you can take a moment to breathe and a moment to be objective.

One of the scary and dangerous things about the election campaigns is the phenomenon of the mob mentality. People get caught up on a wave of energy and feeling … exactly the wave the campaigner intends them to get caught up on … and carried away to exactly the place the campaigner intends. In the midst of this mob dynamic, people stop thinking for themselves, and allow the campaigners to think for them. And allow the campaigners to get them, the people, to think whatever the campaigners want them to think. Carried away on the wave, people disconnect from their own moral compass and their true feelings and instincts, and can no longer sense when a red flag is raised or an alarm bell is ringing. They are so carried away, they cannot even tell when there is danger afoot, let alone respond.

This is one of the things that was of such deep concern during the conventions. The speakers were whipping up the crowd, one by one, building to a crescendo that they hoped would carry people, unwittingly, into their camp. If a convention was for the party you are not part of, it might have been very scary to you to watch that … whether you could name it or not. If a convention was for the party you are part of, it might have been very exciting for you to watch that … whether you could name it or not, and whether you could discern that the same thing was going on in each convention or not. Maybe it just felt less scary to you with the party that believes what you believe. But it’s not less scary really. For in either case, the people in the crowd have suspended their own good sense, thinking, awareness, instinct … and, consciously or not, have said ‘yes’ to being carried away.

Do you like a roller coaster? If so, it’s like you have said “Yes I’ll go on this roller coaster ride … never mind the consequences! Never mind the danger!”

But what happens when you find out the consequences of your having suspended your own thinking? Then what happens? Then do you realize that by saying “yes” to being part of the mob dynamic … You have contributed to the mob? You have fed the mob energy? You have added to the mob frenzy? You have been part of actions taken and actions in process that you never intended to have happen? And that you will not now be able to stop? You have been part of things that you now regret. Or if not now, at some point you will regret?

This can happen on a micro level, like in a family, or on a macro level, like in a society. This can happen to you, too … even if you believe it can’t. Many of us believe we’re immune to this. But honestly, who amongst us is absolutely, perfectly conscious?

Let’s look at an example of the micro-level*: Many years ago a very new friend of mine married someone she’d known since childhood. They had been friends, and their families had been friends for years. I was invited to the wedding and attended. I was also very uncomfortable. Something felt “off” to me about this “match made in heaven.” Some years later, my friend and I were walking, and she said she was getting divorced. We talked about what was going on, how she and her husband came to that decision, and how she felt. And then I told her I had been concerned from the beginning but hadn’t felt it my place to say anything since our friendship was so very new. With tears in her eyes she turned to me and said she wished I had said something. She shared that the families were so excited about the two of them getting married that she got carried away on the wave of the families’ excitement. She suspended her thinking, her real feelings, her instinct and let the mob mentality, so to speak, carry her someplace that wasn’t really good or true for her to go.

This kind of thing happens all the time on a micro level … in families, among siblings, among friends, and so forth. Often with painful, sometimes even truly destructive consequences. Think, for example of a family bullying one of the children in the family.

Now let’s look at an example of the macro level: In the book The Oxbow Incident, three innocent men are hanged by a would-be posse. Although one amongst them tries to save them, being part of the mob carries the others away from truth and justice. Only after the hangings have taken place, does the mob discover that their supposed justification for suspecting and killing the three men had never occurred at all. A truly serious, destructive consequence of getting caught up and carried away by the mob mentality.

Or let’s look at how the charisma of Adolph Hitler – which could have been used for great good – was misused and abused to carry people on a wave to their worst instincts and intentions … without their even realizing it. And how the mob mentality turned into a riot mentality that caused the deaths of millions of innocent people, the torture of millions more, and destruction beyond comprehension. Yet we do need to comprehend that kind of destruction that results from being carried on the wave of the mob mentality.

One final macro example: As I write this article, it has been revealed that there have been riots in two Middle Eastern cities at the embassies of the United States. The cause: Someone in the U.S. put an amateur movie clip and trailer on the internet making fun of Allah. The effect: People in the Middle East who believe in Allah saw the movie and began to protest. The protest (influenced and manipulated by some or not) turned into a mob and then a riot. At least four United States embassy people have been reported killed (so far). This shows that the riot mentality can take place in person, via television or radio, and via the internet, as well.

As you prepare to vote in the election on November 8th… I urge you to search your mind, your heart, your soul. I urge you to explore within yourself … Have I been caught up on a wave of mob mentality? Have I been vulnerable in some way unconsciously to allowing myself to be carried onto such a wave? Have I suspended my own thinking? My own true feelings? My own best instincts? If so, how did that happen? If so, how do I get myself off that wave and find a grounded place from which to re-explore? How do I discover what it was in me that caused me to let go of myself and join the wave? What do I need to heal in order to prevent that in the future?

As you and we move toward the election, and a very important election it is … Whatever information you gather in the outer world, commit to find the truth. But most important of all … heal within yourself the place where you could be caught up on a wave of mob mentality, completely disconnected from truth. Completely disconnected from who you really are.

*I have full and generous permission from my friend to tell her story in its essence, in the service of helping us not be part of the mob mentality during this election process … or any time.

NOTE: Please pass this on to others you know and to places that support consciousness and truth. This is crucial for our wellbeing individually, as a society, and as a world.

© Judith Barr, 2012, 2016

A Call to Healing in the Wake of Violence

A few days ago, there was violence at political rallies for Donald Trump. It was disturbing and heartbreaking to watch.

As we become aware of violent events – in the political arena and in any area of our world – we need to also become aware of an important truth: Violence begins within each of us.

There is a current of violence within each of us that we have the potential to act out on. That current can be provoked, triggered, fed, by anyone and anything. Sure as it’s sunny in the day and dark in the night, we are all vulnerable to that current being triggered. It may be triggered by our dreams at night, by our memories during the day. It may be evoked by something we’re aware of – like an interaction with someone close to us – or by something we’re not aware of at all. It may be evoked by our transferring onto a person or situation in today’s world deep experiences we had long ago when we were children. It may be triggered by someone who has no intention whatsoever for us to be triggered. And it may be triggered by someone who definitely has an intention to trigger us and get us stirred up … and then use us for his/her own agenda.

If we are to help heal the violence in the world, we need to heal the violence and potential for violence within us. We each need to find that current of anger, rage, violence, and work with it and through it. Each person who does this makes him/herself less vulnerable to his/her inner current of violence being triggered. And certainly less vulnerable to acting out on that inner current of violence. Every one of us who acknowledges, claims, owns the current of violence within, does not act out on that current, and, in fact, works through that part of us … helps heal the well of violence in the human community.

A clue: When we are stressed in our current day, we regress to the child within us still alive and needing healing. Different here-and-now stresses will cause us to regress to different times, ages, experiences, and moments of suffering in our childhoods. If we don’t know this, we believe we’re simply in the here-and-now suffering today. If we don’t know about our regression, we are very likely to act out with our big bodies today the little child’s feelings from long ago. We may, for example, have temper tantrums, hurting ourselves and other people

If those around us don’t know about the regressions in themselves, us, and others … they are likely to normalize the violence being acted out. They are likely to claim it is just about today because of something occurring today. They are likely to abdicate their self-responsibility in the situation. They are likely deny their part in the violence erupting. They are likely to refuse to own up to how they provoked it, triggered it, used it … even though it’s clear as day to others.

If we are to help heal the violence in the world, we need to heal the violence and potential for violence within us.

I have written about healing violence many times in my blog in the hopes that my posts will inspire us all to commit to heal violence from the inside out. You can find many of my past posts about the true roots of violence and how we can all help to heal it here: https://polipsych101.wordpress.com/tag/violence/.

“Why aren’t our efforts to end the violence working?

“Very simply, our efforts to end the violence aren’t working because we are doing things that don’t work, can’t work, and often include violence within them. For example, punishment for violence doesn’t work. Laws outlawing violence and then punishing it don’t work. Have they ever really worked? Look at our world today before you even attempt to answer that question.

“Gun control – although it may prevent guns from being used for violence in some cases – won’t work to end the violence. Someone who is defending against their pain with striking out will just find another way to strike out. And praying for violence to end – although it may be a useful, even necessary help toward ending the violence – will not work all by itself to end violence in our world. And though it may help on some deep level, some people who pray don’t commit violence (even though they may have it within them as an escape hatch), and some people who pray also commit violence. That may seem like a contradiction, but we human beings are filled with contradictions, aren’t we?”*

We say and maybe even believe that we don’t want violence … that we don’t contribute to violence … that we don’t co-create violence. We say and maybe we’re even sure –  in our own minds – that others have a violent current but we don’t. And we rip off permission to not honestly acknowledge the violence within us and its roots in the child within. And yet here is the violence right in the midst of us. This is a perfect example of the poison-is-the-medicine dynamic I wrote about in November. **

“We can attempt to end violence from the outside in …
And fail.
Or we can commit to heal violence from the inside out, to the root,
and over time succeed.” ***

Right now, we are failing.

It is my hope that my work will help you in your own healing journey, and that together we can help heal the violence so prevalent in our world today.

Blessings,
Judith

© Judith Barr, 2015.

* From my home study course Violence: Finding And Healing The Roots from the Inside Out, © Judith Barr, 2013, page 13.

** http://judithbarr.com/2015/11/19/grief-shock-another-tragedy-and-the-poison-is-the-medicine/

*** Adapted from the opening quote in my home study course Healing Bullying to The Root: A Unique Approach to A Painful Epidemic, © Judith Barr, 2013, page 2.

An Open Letter to Morning Joe Scarborough and Your Team: The Fish Hook Dynamic!

Dear Morning Joe and your team,

You have recently been asking an important question with increasing frequency and intensity: “Why? What has been causing Donald Trump’s soaring in the polls, caucuses, and primaries?

As a depth psychotherapist, a woman, and a citizen of the United States and of our world, I cannot hear your repeated question without offering an understanding on a different and deeper level than those that have been offered from media, government, politics, historians, and the public itself.

When we connect with someone we connect with them on many levels both conscious and way beneath our conscious awareness: whether up-close-and-personal – a romantic partner, a friend, a boss, – or from afar – a spiritual leader like the Pope, a celebrity like any movie star up for an Oscar, a political figure, like the now-political-candidate Donald Trump.

The level most frequently missed by individuals and culturally is that of the wounds we experienced as children, still alive within us today. Still alive within us whether we are 20, 33, 55, 68, 89, or 106. Since we are unaware that wounded child is still alive within us, we are also unaware that wounded child is driving us in ways we can’t even imagine.

We believe we’re thinking, feeling, and acting in an adult way, while it is the young child within that is acting out in a big body. We believe we’re trying to resolve a conflict in the present moment, when unbeknownst to us, we’re trying to resolve something from long ago that is triggered in the present moment. The more we make it about today, the more we fail in finding a solution. Failing triggers us more because we cannot solve yesterday’s issues under the guise of today’s actions and interactions. Then, in the pain of the past, triggered and enmeshed with the pain of not being able to solve the present, we will likely resort to the defenses our parents used and those we, ourselves, developed, thus frantically escalating the current situation beyond all recognition because we are still driven by our unconscious reactions to painful, even traumatic experiences from long, long ago.

So, when we connect with someone else, we connect on the levels of our wounds and on the level of the child within us unconsciously and often desperately trying to resolve something today that occurred in our past. I call this the “fish hook dynamic.” One person’s wounds hook together with another’s wounds like two fish hooks hooking together. Then as the two pull to get away from the intense tug of war – within themselves and with the other in this dynamic – they are only strengthening the dynamic of the two fish hooks hooked together, pulling against each other. As the hooking intensifies and escalates, so does the trapped feeling from long ago and the thoughts and feelings from the past are more and more intensely acted out today.

Let’s look at an example of how the fish hook dynamic can work in the life of a relationship. A woman who was abandoned by her father in childhood and a man who was suffocated emotionally by his mother in childhood meet and fall in love. She, afraid of being abandoned, clings to him. He, afraid of being suffocated, distances a little more each time she clings. She feels abandoned and clings more; he feels suffocated and withdraws more. Things escalate and escalate until he leaves. They have recreated their childhood wounds unconsciously, and in the end, he has proven to himself that all women suffocate, and she has proven to herself that all men abandon … and so the vicious cycle goes, until they each do the inner healing work to truly resolve the painful wounds at their root in childhood.

This fish hook dynamic doesn’t just occur in individual lives or the life of romantic relationships. It is occurring in many ways all over the world. It is very obviously occurring in the election cycle right now. The Republican Debate this past Thursday night was such a blatant picture of what I’m describing.* Little boys in big bodies all dressed up in suits, yelling at each other, bullying each other, attacking each other as if they were in the school yard, perhaps fighting for the position of leader of the gang … all under the guise of a debate for the office of president.

I’m quite sure if we knew the histories of those little-boys-acting-as-if-they-were-grown-ups, we would know more about how they were unconsciously acting out their wounds and their young defenses against their wounds.

I’m just as sure that each supporter of the candidates has wounds that unconsciously hook together with his or her candidate’s wounds … and that have drawn them to their candidate. I would need to know more about each supporter to be specific about how that person hooks together with Donald Trump or any other candidate, for that matter. But here are some beginning hunches:

Since your question, Morning Joe, was about Donald Trump in particular, we’ll delve a bit into what we know about him in order to give some examples.

It is a known fact that Donald Trump decided he would never be made a fool.** Perhaps some of his supporters were shamed and humiliated as children and didn’t want to become fools themselves. They might project themselves onto Trump and try to help him not be made into a fool. Or they might see him as a role model, or idealized parent who’s showing them how to not become a fool, especially if nobody helped them as a child, or if the person who humiliated them was a parent. They might applaud his every move to dodge being turned into a fool. They might, most of all, applaud his making a fool of the other candidates. They might align with him to keep him – in their imagination – from turning on them and making a fool of them. They might even take permission – I call it “ripping off permission” – to act out in their own lives the way Donald is acting out in his: to act out in a big body a child’s defense against being made a fool. And then we don’t just have a candidate believing he’s being adult while acting out like a child, we have a whole “support team” doing the same.

These are just some of the possibilities. They are limitless … as limitless as the ways in which a child can be wounded. As limitless as the depths to which a child can bury his or her memories of pains and traumas and the feelings with them. As limitless as the ways in which we normalize behaviors that are defenses against the childhood trauma. As limitless as the lack of awareness of our own unconscious selves driving our lives and acting out on the stage of our lives – individually and communally.

Something mysterious is happening deep beneath the surface for Donald Trump to be surging as he is and has been for months. I’ve seen the unconscious wounds hooking together in couples, in families, in groups … and in countries, as with Hitler’s Germany.

We have no contingency plan in our political, legal, media, cultural systems for protecting our society from a presidential candidate triggering the early wounding in the citizenry. Most people don’t even realize what’s happening or that it’s happening beneath the surface. And too much of our mental health treatment has discarded teaching people about the unconscious roots of their suffering and helping them heal to those roots.

We all need to help people understand. We all need to take this seriously. It affects us every day in our personal lives. It affects us for lifetimes in our personal lives. It also affects us every day and for lifetimes in our societal lives. And this “fish hook dynamic” in the race for president, and in Donald Trump’s candidacy most obviously, will affect us for years, decades, generations to come.***

With hope …
Judith Barr

© Judith Barr 2016

* Perhaps this happens in most, if not every political debate, whether Democratic or Republican. Sometimes more subtly than others. Sometimes right out in the open.

**“I realized then and there, that if you let people treat you how they want, you’ll be made a fool. I realized then and there something I would never forget: I don’t want to be made anybody’s sucker.” http://www.nytimes.com/2015/09/01/opinion/putting-donald-trump-on-the-couch.html?_r=0

*** If you want to understand more, Joe, the following links will take you to a trilogy I wrote in my blog, PoliPsych, to help people more deeply comprehend what’s happening in our world today and how each of us can help.

http://judithbarr.com/2015/11/19/grief-shock-another-tragedy-and-the-poison-is-the-medicine/

http://judithbarr.com/2015/12/05/when-are-we-going-to-heal-the-repetitive-vicious-cycle-from-the-inside-out/

http://judithbarr.com/2015/12/28/safety-from-the-inside-out/

WHAT YOU CAN DO TO HELP KEEP OUR WORLD SAFE
FROM THE INSIDE OUT

As we continue on towards the election, commit to becoming very aware of your reactions to the candidates – the one you support and the ones you don’t – whenever you come across them … when you watch them debate, when they show up in the campaign ads, when you read about them in the news.

Be aware that all of us have unresolved wounds and feelings from childhood, and those feelings can color any aspect of your life – including your voting choices. What feelings do each of the candidates trigger in you? Can you trace back those feelings to your early life? Can you identify the fish hook dynamic in your own reactions?

I’m asked sometimes “Where is the hope for healing our world?” If we become aware of and understand the fish hook dynamic, we can choose to commit to explore it for ourselves and find a way to do our own individual healing. In doing so, we can all help to create lasting change for our world. That is the hope!

How Did We Ever Let This Happen?

History repeats itself when we don’t learn from it, when we don’t grow from it, when we don’t find a way to become conscious of the real roots of it.

In the last century, there was a Holocaust birthed and carried out in Germany and all over Europe … a Holocaust which had repercussions globally that many of us worldwide are still feeling today. A child was born and raised who fed, fanned, and used the emotions of the German citizens to get them to elect him. And then once in power manipulated himself into dictatorship … a dictatorship that blamed and scapegoated entire groups of people, terrorized the citizenry that put him in power and those in other countries that hadn’t, and cruelly, inhumanly, monstrously took millions of prisoners, enslaved them in concentration camps, and devastated them mentally, emotionally, and physically.

What were Germans thinking as this was all evolving? Was anyone aware? Was anyone concerned? Did anyone see Nazi Germany coming? Was anyone wondering what they could do to prevent it? Did anyone get what was unfolding? Did anyone comprehend what was feeding it – in the child-now-dictator? Did anyone comprehend what was feeding it in the citizenry? Or what was causing it? If anyone did get it, did they understand what was at the real root of this horror and this tragedy?

*****

Six and a half years ago, I watched on television a memorial ceremony at one of those concentration camps – Buchenwald Concentration Camp in Germany. The speakers at the ceremony were Barack Obama, author and former prisoner in the Auschwitz, Buna, and Buchenwald concentration camps, Elie Wiesel, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel. I was deeply touched, most of all by Angela Merkel. She asked important questions:

   We, the Germans, are faced with the agonizing question.
   How and why?
   How could this happen?
   How could Germany wreak such havoc in Europe and in the world?

Knowing how to respond to her questions, in a heartbeat I was moved to write to her. I shared with her how touched I was by her questions … and by her asking them publicly. For starters, I shared with her that there are those in my field of psychotherapy who are trying to help us all understand the link between politics/government and psychology. That psychoanalyst and author, Alice Miller was one of those working to help. That I was more and more addressing such connections in my country and in our world.

To help her begin to explore the depths of the answers she was seeking, I referred Chancellor Merkel to Alice Miller’s For Your Own Good – Hidden cruelty in child-rearing and the roots of violence, the chapter entitled, “Adolf Hitler’s Childhood: From Hidden to Manifest Horror.” I also sent her a copy of my book, Power Abused, Power Healed.

It was touching to receive a letter back from her thanking me.

For an individual to look back over personal mistakes, and over personal destructiveness, acknowledging them, taking responsibility for them, seeking to repair them … it takes a lot. It takes a lot of healing and creates a lot of healing.

For one to look back on one’s country’s most destructive mistakes and be able to ask, in effect “How did we let this happen?” takes grace, humility, awakened (or at least awakening) consciousness, connectedness, and the ability to feel. To be able to accept and respond to an answer takes, in addition, openness and willingness, and a longing for healing.

Where was that grace, humility, awakened consciousness, connectedness, and the ability to feel when Hitler’s Germany was step by step evolving into a monstrosity? Hidden beneath a country’s blindness to its own normalized violence in house after house after house.

According to Alice Miller, steeped in monstrous practices of parenting, the children of Germany were being abused under the guise of “child rearing,” a normalized national standard of discipline, not limited to Germany alone. Such cruelty, normalized in the home, spread to the culture. This led to a distorted sort of domino effect: When Adolf Hitler came into power, he himself having been mercilessly abused as a child, all the abused children still alive within the actual children, the teenagers, and the supposed adults, reflexively responded in the usual spectrum of ways abused children would respond.

Some froze; some submitted and obeyed; some colluded; some fled; some stayed close to the abuser to protect themselves; some acted out their own violent impulses as a result of their violent upbringing. Most of the society, blindly and beneath individual or communal consciousness, participated in the “march” toward Hitler’s Germany without even realizing they were doing so. Without even realizing it was happening.

Hitler’s ability to foment fear and anger and direct it toward others drew its power not just from the then-current social, political, and economic conditions in Germany, but more accurately, more deeply, more truly from the mental, emotional, and physical conditions in people’s childhoods, in their homes and families.

The havoc that was wreaked on our world was beyond words. It was not Hitler alone that caused the devastation. It was the society – Hitler and the German citizens and the government and citizens before them, and before that, and before that. It was a reflection of the monstrous abuses of children that occurred in individual homes from generation to generation. Abuses that were either kept blocked from awareness, secret, or hidden from view, or were normalized personally and culturally as a justification, finally coming into public view in Nazi Germany – as an out-picturing of what people had gone through as children and lived with inside themselves still. The holocaust discovered in Hitler’s Germany was horrifyingly and tragically real in itself, but it also gave the world a view into the alarming, frightening, heart-breaking holocaust the children experienced in their childhood homes … the children, including Hitler himself.

As many destructive events play out in our world – and as the world watches the unfolding of the presidential election here in the United States – it seems that we’re headed the same way.

For years I’ve been watching as the wounded children in our country and our world have grown up to out-picture the pain and suffering they went through as children. I’ve helped individuals and couples become aware of the anguish they’ve caused those they insist they love, in ways similar to how their own parents caused them pain when they were little. I’ve connected the dots again and again between the individual wounds and the communal/global wounds – evident at the time and continuing to come down the pike.

I’ve worked to show others this connection. Steeped in fear and denial of their own childhood wounds, the supposed grown up leaders and citizens in our world, like Hitler and the German people, have been driven by the child still alive within them, have had their young feelings fomented, have been acting out their own childhoods, and have been busy defending themselves against the needed explorations of the true causes in their childhood and the effects on their lives, the lives of their families, the life of our culture and world … now and to come.

Just as an alcoholic or a parent who abuses his/her child can be completely blind to the damage they’re causing until after they and those around them have hit bottom, so also can that happen to any country.

Angela Merkel could ask these questions after the devastation.
Whatever questions were asked before and along the way were not being asked publicly, and were not being asked in relation to the inner world of the people.
Who amongst us is asking these questions in our world today?
And who instead of asking them is acting out the roots?
Who is saying, “I wish I could change, but there’s nothing I can do about it!”
Who is freezing? Who is submitting?
Who is blind to what is occurring?
Who is closing his or her eyes and not watching?
Who is running away?
Who is lashing out and becoming a bully him/herself?

Who amongst us is truly seeking the inner answers at the root?
Who amongst us is looking at the wounding in the psyches of our children – the child still alive within each of us, and the children for generations back and for generations to come?
Who amongst us is doing the work of the healing and transformation that is needed?

History repeats itself when we don’t learn from it, when we don’t grow from it, when we don’t find a way to become conscious of the real roots of it. It repeats itself when we don’t find the real roots of it personally, individually, familially. And it repeats itself when we don’t find the real roots communally, nationally, and globally.

Yet there are all sorts of signs that we aren’t finding the real roots.
And that we aren’t asking the questions to lead us to the real roots.
And that we aren’t working to heal and transform ourselves at the real roots.

We wouldn’t be re-enacting the same things again and again if we were.

If people did their own work on their relationships with power, we would be able to have the clarity to elect leaders who truly represent our best interests personally and communally, instead of transferring our young feelings onto candidates; instead of colluding with the abuse of power in the electoral process; instead of choosing leaders from our wounded selves.

If people did their young inner work, prejudice would be on its way to deep healing; fear of the other, blaming the other, scapegoating of the other would not be acted out; would less and less exist within the individual psyche; when it did, would be worked with to heal it more to the root; and would exist less and less in the communal psyche as a result.

If people did their work with misogyny, rooted in their perhaps-unconscious hatred and fear of mommy, and their desire to have power over the one person who had the most power over them … there would be no more war on women, no more attempts to control women no more attempts to own women, no more attempts to have power over women. And if women themselves did their work with their own bodies and psyches, their own wombs, their own experiences with menstruation, birth, and menopause … they would no longer collude with the effort to control them and no longer tolerate being controlled – body, mind, heart, and soul.

If people did their own inner healing work with the root of their relationship with money – wealthy people and poor alike – they would pull their own money wounding out of the world’s wounded economy and support others to do the same – creating the space for healing economies.

If people did their own inner healing work with the abuses they experienced as children – both the right out in the open abuses and the more subtle, not so tangible abuses – our country would no longer pander in its laws and other ways to parents abusing their children, to partners abusing each other.

If people did the inner healing work to be able to feel their feelings, long buried from childhood … they would be able to discern which feelings are for healing from the past and which ones are for acting on today. As a result, no bully or dictator in the making could foment their feelings for his or her own use.

If people did their inner healing work from their own ancient past, there would be no haunting pull drawing people to want to take the country or the world back to “the way it once was.”

If people did their own inner healing work with power and powerlessness, the misuse and abuse of power would not be so rampant in our world … and when it came into view, there would be people who could help to heal it at its root.

Without doing our work, our world is headed toward the same kinds of horrors and tragedies as Germany faced … the same kinds of atrocities experienced by our children and the same kinds of atrocities acted out on our world stage.

Actually we’ve done many of them already … under the guise of politics, under the guise of government, under the guise of democracy, under the guise of freedom of speech, under the guise of powerful beloved leaders, under the guise of defense, under the guise of being civilized …

Who is looking at the wounding that caused what we’ve already reenacted?
Who is looking at the wounding that will cause further escalations?
Who is looking at the wounding of leaders, supporters, the media, and concerned citizens, especially in this year of the U.S. presidential race and election?

If we don’t look at the wounding of our children, the wounding within us, the wounding that spreads from generation to generation, the wounding that becomes part of our very culture … we could end up acting out on our world’s stage scenarios like those the people of Germany co-created with Hitler. We could end up with a country in which too many people join with a candidate out of their own wounding and help wreak havoc all over the world that mirrors the havoc they experienced in their childhood homes.

I know what I’m saying is scary. I know it is tempting to push it away. But pushing it away will only help to create anew the nightmare we need to dissolve and heal. The real hope is in welcoming the truth of it, holding it with an open welcoming heart, and knowing that this truth and the healing work that can come of it will set us free, individually and communally, in a way that nothing else can.

© Judith Barr, 2016

WHAT YOU CAN DO TO HELP KEEP OUR WORLD SAFE
FROM THE INSIDE OUT

As we in the U.S. near our presidential election, and as so many events play out on the world stage, we all need to look not only at the actions of others outside ourselves, but even more importantly … we need to look inside ourselves. Each and every one of us needs to explore and heal those wounds within that allow us to tolerate, collude with, and even perpetrate abuses of power in our world.

This election year – and every year – make the commitment to explore and heal your own inner wounds. Look for the ways in which you subtly or blatantly collude with abuses in your families, communities, nations and world.

When you find yourself allowing or fostering a form of abuse, explore within. For example, when you see a candidate slinging mud at an opponent, how do you feel? What does that mudslinging trigger in you? Can you trace that feeling back in your life … to your own childhood experience? To help you truly heal those feelings, and the experiences out of which they emerged, you may need to find a compassionate, healing professional … one who has integrity, one who does his/her own inner healing work, one who can help you heal to the root.

Imagine if all the leaders and all the citizens in our world did their own inner work to heal their wounding! Imagine how different our world would be!

When Are We Going to Heal the Repetitive Vicious Cycle From the Inside Out?

In my article after the attacks in Paris on November 13, 2015, I talked about the healing concept “the poison is the medicine.” Let’s review before going deeper.

Many healing traditions – spiritual and otherwise – have their own version of “the poison is the medicine.”
It is the heartbeat of homeopathy.
It is the transformation in numerous natural healing traditions.
The healing crisis that brings us through a healing passageway.
It’s inherent in the depth psychotherapy I practice.

It says that the effects created by our own experiences …
the effects we create through our own actions and inactions
may be very painful.
Those painful consequences or effects are the poison.
They are the pain that can be used well to help us learn, grow, and heal.
And that is what we are called to do
in our individual lives and in our communal lives as a world.
We are called to use the pain to learn, grow, and heal …
from the inside out …
from the deepest levels of our being.

If we don’t utilize that poison for healing,
we start down a road that is a vicious cycle –
a maze from which we cannot escape
unless we use the poison for healing.
If we don’t use it for healing, the repetitive vicious cycle
escalates the pain and the poison …
until hopefully we will one day utilize it for healing.

The Paris attacks occurred 3 weeks ago as I write this. To my knowledge, there have been two more violent attacks in the public eye since – one in Colorado Springs 11/27/15 and one in San Bernardino, California 12/2/15. I imagine there were more than that all over the world. I imagine there were more not so very public attacks all over the world – in people’s communities, workplaces, neighborhoods, and homes. And here is the key to “the poison is the medicine.”

Whatever outer action is done to change the danger in the outer world, outer action alone is not and never will be enough. Whatever is done to change the danger in the outer world through prayer alone is not and never will be enough. Even the Dalai Lama recently said, “We cannot solve this problem only through prayers.”* Although both outer action and prayer are valuable components in the solution, the real solution is within each of us. The real solution is by each of us doing our own inner healing work within ourselves – mind, body, heart, and soul.

We each need to discover, work with, resolve, and heal that within us which contributes to, feeds, or even acts out the violence we are seeing all over the world. Even if we don’t remember, even if it was too subtle for a child to grasp, we each need to find the root of that violent vicious cycle in our lives long, long ago. Otherwise, it lives on within us. Otherwise without meaning to, we will perhaps consciously, perhaps unconsciously be participants in keeping the violence going in our lives and in our world – however near or far.

Here’s an example. Bob grew up in a violent home. His father abused his mother. Bob witnessed and heard the abuse. And, of course, felt all sorts of feelings in the process, among them terror, confusion, hurt, sorrow, helplessness, rage … Bob never knew when his father would become violent. He never knew when his father would turn his violence on him. He never knew what caused his father to turn on the people he supposedly loved in such violent attacks. And he never knew why the people in his extended family, his neighborhood, his culture normalized his father’s behavior and therefore either abstained from or refused to help his mother and his whole family prevent the terrorizing attacks right there in their home.

Bob grew up. He was very bright. He finished college and graduated cum laude. He entered the workplace in a field for which he had a passion – medicine – and was making a place for himself in the field. Eventually he met someone and developed a relationship with her. And in right timing, they married. While Bob continued to grow in his professional life, his family began to grow, too. Within a period of 6 years, he and his wife had 4 children. Then one night, without warning, without signs, without immediate outer explanation, one night Bob “snapped.” He smacked his wife, yelling at her – something he would never have thought would happen. His wife would never have thought it either. Nor his neighbors, his friends, his colleagues, his mentors, or anybody else who had known him.

The thing that got him to stop was his wife’s screams and the echo inside him of his mother’s screams when he was a little boy, followed by the terrified look on his children’s faces and the mirror that look showed of his own face and his sibling’s faces as children.

Bob apologized to his wife and moved toward her … she recoiled reflexively, scared he would smack her again. He moved toward his kids, apologizing to them, but they also backed away involuntarily, terrified he would attack them. He was in terrible pain himself – for what he had done, that it had come out of the blue, for the looks and reactions of his wife and his children … for the terror he had caused that would now be part of their experience of him forever.

He had many choices. He could lash out some more at their withdrawal. He could storm out of the house. He could get down on his knees and beg forgiveness, even though there would be no guarantee in their minds, hearts, and cells that he would never do that again. How could they trust him now? He could sit on the couch and sob. He could calmly go upstairs to his bedroom, close and lock the door, lie down on the bed, and cry. He could pack a suitcase and leave – till he knew he would never do that again. He could use the power position he had established, to rule over his family in a new way. He could sit everybody down and talk about what just happened, although his family was still too afraid, too much in shock to be able to do that. He could call the head psychiatrist at the hospital where he worked and ask if he could come talk. Bob had these 8 options and many, many more. Others would have picked a different option than Bob … each one creating another step ‘round the vicious cycle again or taking a step out of the vicious cycle.

Bob, thank goodness, took a step out. He made arrangements to meet with his colleague at the hospital in a half hour, and told his wife and children he was going to go get help so he wouldn’t do that again.

At the meeting with Pete, he talked about what happened and cried and cried from his shock, his fear, his confusion, his remorse, and more … Pete asked him some questions and the subject of the echo of mom’s screams and the mirror of his and his siblings’ faces came out into the conversation. Pete hadn’t known Bob’s childhood history until this night. Near the end of their time together, Bob asked Pete for help. He didn’t know how to keep this from happening again, and he didn’t know how to help his wife and kids not be scared of him. Pete said Bob would need to do some depth psychotherapy to really heal this to the root, and to really make sure he wouldn’t be violent like that again. He explained to Bob that he couldn’t do it himself, because of their collegial relationship, and said that he would give him a referral to a therapist he trusted who did that kind of work.

Bob understood, thanked Pete, and knew he would call the referral the next day. He phoned his wife to see if she felt safe enough for him to come home, and she didn’t. So they agreed he would stay at a hotel for the night and call her the next day after his first appointment with the therapist. The therapist explained to Bob that when you have witnessed abuse as a child and been abused during childhood, the experience and the feelings from the childhood experience live on in your unconscious and can be triggered by anything. Something blatant like a person’s actions, look, or words. Something ever so subtle, like the way a person breathes. Or something in the situation. For Bob, for example, being at home with his wife and 4 children and under so much pressure at work and then at home every day … he had begun to feel trapped. On that unanticipated and frightening night, Bob couldn’t contain the feeling of trappedness any longer.

As the feelings of trappedness opened, Bob’s yelling and smack opened, also … along with the memory of daddy’s abuse and all that came with it … including all the feelings and all the memories Bob carried within him. Not the least of those memories and feelings was Bob’s feeling trapped as a little boy, and his witnessing his mother and his siblings feeling trapped, too.

While Bob stayed in therapy and worked through the healing within him, he and his wife and children got the help to repair the damage he had created in the family.

In my example, Bob could have been male or female, any age (and getting younger all the time), of any race, any religion or no religion at all, with a heritage from any country in the world, of any economic standing, with any sexual orientation …

In other words, anybody who has been wounded in any way will unconsciously bring that wounding into his/her life and re-create or re-enact the ancient wounds in some way. Each time a reenactment occurs it is an opportunity to stop the vicious cycle.

Each time a choice is made – consciously or unconsciously – the person is making a choice whether to use the reenactment and the pain it causes (the poison) as a gateway for healing (the medicine). Choosing not to use the poison as medicine will bring about another reenactment, likely escalated to some degree. Choosing to utilize the poison as medicine, will help to start healing the vicious cycle, the reenactments and the wounds at the root.

In the example of Bob, he chose purposefully and healingly to step out of the vicious cycle. If he hadn’t … the vicious cycle would likely have escalated and escalated until he was violent with his wife again and again, and perhaps his children, too.

And then his children might have grown up like him and unconsciously re-created those early experiences and so ended up in situations where they were either abusive and violent or perhaps being the one abused and battered. This would then be passed down generation after generation, as it actually already had been. The escalation would continue until someone somewhere down the lineage stopped it by doing his/her own inner healing work related to the abuse, the being abused, and the terror.

This is what has been happening in our world again and again. Some people who have been wounded have lashed out publicly and not so publicly in abusive and violent ways. Some who have been wounded have run away, either physically or mentally and emotionally. Others who have been wounded have, in effect, become numb, frozen, and figuratively curled up into a ball, becoming passive and submissive in their lives. There are many reactions a wounded person may have. It’s best not to judge them. And it’s best not to oversimplify them. But we can see that the three above represent the standard reactions of fight, flight, and freeze.

And we need to see that the wounded and disaffected people in our families are vulnerable to being drawn into neighborhood gangs, just like the wounded and disaffected people in our countries are vulnerable to being drawn into gangs like ISIS. People reacting to their wounds can find support in groups. That support may be destructive, not random acts of violence, but violence rooted in their history; that support may collude with and help them go around the vicious cycle again. Or that support may be healing, helping them do the work to step out of the vicious cycle for good.

When we don’t stop the vicious cycle in our individual lives, we create families that don’t stop the vicious cycle. When we don’t stop the vicious cycle in our family lives, we create neighborhoods that don’t stop the vicious cycle…we create communities that don’t stop the vicious cycle; we create states and countries that don’t stop the vicious cycle; we create a world that doesn’t stop the vicious cycle.

When we don’t stop the vicious cycle we normalize the cycle itself. When we don’t stop the vicious cycle we collude with others who don’t stop their vicious cycle. When we don’t stop the vicious cycle we give license to continue the cycle – a silent ‘yes’ to people ripping off permission to act out the cycle again and again. And we live in denial of what we’re doing.

When we don’t stop the vicious cycle we reenact the cycle again and again and help others do the same. We act out our ancient wounds both actively and passively, re-wounding ourselves and others, and escalating that re-wounding again and again … till somebody helps us stop.

Of the people who are acting out violently, whether in words or with violent weapons, some are doing so under a guise of a lofty purpose; some are doing so under a guise of divine will; some under a guise of vengeance or retribution; some with no guises, no excuses at all. But the truth is, at the root, all are doing so as a result of wounding – wounding that may have begun with their parents or with generations and cultures many times removed.

But they aren’t the only ones contributing to the vicious cycle and the escalations. Whatever our wounding individually and from one generation to another … Every one of us has currents of feeling in us that are loving, caring, vulnerable, innocent, and devotedly protective … whether we’ve buried those feelings or not. And every one of us has currents of feeling in us that are angry, raging, violent, destructive, with the intention of doing harm to ourselves and/or someone else … whether we’ve buried those feelings and are conscious of them or not. If we do not explore, discover, and heal the destructive parts of ourselves, no matter how buried beneath our awareness they are … we will continue to collude with the vicious cycle of reenacting and re-creating terror in our lives and the life of our world today and tomorrow and the tomorrow after that.

In Power Abused, Power Healed, the quote by Thich Nhat Hanh describes what we each live with and how we are each every side of the problem:

I am the twelve-year-old girl,
Refugee on a small boat,
Who throws herself into the ocean after being raped by a sea pirate,
And I am the pirate, my heart not yet capable of seeing and loving.
**

As I write this, it is 3 weeks since the attacks in Paris. There have already been more attacks and escalated attacks about which we know and many, many more that aren’t publicized. Stop!

We must stop this vicious cycle! Not in the destructive ways that are being discussed and used – for example, not revenge, destruction, and defense – but in the way of real protection, with a real intention of protection. Not in the superficial ways that are being discussed and thrown into the game by people such as the media, the presidential candidates, even the military experts. Rather, stopping the vicious cycle from the inside out, by going inside ourselves and taking responsibility for the violence and the terror alive within us from our own past … and taking responsibility to heal. Stop!

© Judith Barr, 2015

*http://www.alternet.org/world/dalai-lama-stop-praying-paris-humans-created-problem-and-humans-must-solve-it?akid=13672.9560.juPdOY&rd=1&src=newsletter1046025&t=20

**From his poem “Please Call Me by My True Names,” as quoted in the prologue of Power Abused, Power Healed (pp. ix – x)

WHAT YOU CAN DO TO HELP MAKE OUR WORLD SAFE
FROM THE INSIDE OUT

As we take the time to grieve, to pray, to take necessary action in the wake of the recent violent attacks reported around the world, it is so crucial that we also take the time to explore and heal that wounding within us that can contribute to violence in our world.

Take the time – at this time and anytime violence in any way touches your life – to look within.

What does the violence evoke in you? How do you feel when you hear about – or maybe even experience – acts of violence? Don’t act out on those feelings, but don’t try to bury, pray away, or “act away” those feelings either. Instead, make a commitment to explore, as deeply as you safely can, the roots of any intense feelings you have. Do the feelings that rise within you make you recall earlier feelings … feelings from long ago? Did you feel this way in childhood? In response to whom? And in what situation?

To help us safely navigate and heal these intense feelings, we often need the help of a skilled professional, as Bob did. If you feel the call to go deeper into and through these feelings, to truly heal to the root, find a caring, therapist to help, one with integrity, one who does his/her own inner healing work, one who is not afraid of feelings and who is committed to healing to the root.

Prayer and action are important components to help heal violence in our world … but they alone cannot create lasting change. The true heart of healing our world lies in healing our own individual wounding. Won’t you join me in making the commitment to stop the vicious cycle?

Won’t you join me in making the commitment to heal from the inside out?