Healing the World Through Truth and Love – Real Truth and Love

THE POWER OF ONE,
THE POWER OF A FEW

Margaret Mead said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”* There are ways in which a single person and a small group of committed people can change the world, ways about which many do not know.

In my work with people, I teach about commitment. Full, whole-hearted, both-feet-in commitment. Commitment that is kept and deepened because it was made in what I call “truth and love.” Commitment that was made not because somebody taught or said you should. Commitment that was made not because you were forced. Commitment that was made not because you thought you were obligated.  But rather . . . Commitment that was made earnestly and commitment that was and is truly aligned with your soul.

I teach that contrary to popular lore, as we proceed with our commitments, the “obstacles” that emerge are not really obstacles. Rather they are signs of our fears emerging to be met, faced, and worked through. They are signs of wounds crying out to be healed. Signals of places within us where we are split, or where there is a rupture in our own wholeness …showing us the need for repair, for unifying within. Inviting us to do the inner work of healing and transformation that again and again leads to a deepening of our commitment.

I help those with whom I work discover, through experience, making their commitments more and more full commitments … until eventually, they are, themselves, becoming more and more “full commitment.” The miracles that come of this work are awe-inspiring.

Last month I shared with you about my then-upcoming week-long intensive with some of the women with whom I have worked deeply and in this way. These are women who, on many levels, have already become some of the most committed people I know. So committed, in fact, that they keep discerning where there are currents within them in which they aren’t fully committed – currents that are undermining them in some way.

This past weekend, we have done a follow up weekend intensive. And on the heels of the long intensive, the work has been breath-taking. Or should I say “breath-giving.”

Every piece of work was beautiful. Deep. Tender. Heart-wrenching, but healing. Vulnerable yet powerful. Profound. Courageous. A birthing of the women more deeply into themselves. And as with every time we work, we lit a candle to symbolize that our work would affect us individually, as a circle of women, those in our lives, those we touch as we walk through life, and our country, our world, and our universe. Often, as someone does her work, it is clear how that piece of work will have an expansive positive impact.  For example, if a woman does work expressing her prejudice, that she never felt safe before to express because she feared she would be shamed for it, we knew that by doing that work, she was pulling her portion of the prejudice out of the cauldron of prejudice in the global consciousness. Or if she did work expressing her fear of people – because the people in her childhood family were not safe – we knew that was part of her contribution to healing the unsafety in our world. We knew, for example, that work would help her distinguish who is really safe from who is not. And that it would assist her in not re-creating and re-enacting unsafe situations from her childhood in her life today and our world today.

This past weekend, there was one piece of work done the second day of the intensive, that was particularly magnificent and clear … in what it meant not only for that woman, not only for the circle of women, but also for our world.

Sara was struggling with following her profession, the one that is her gift and her passion. She felt like nothing was going right. Everything was getting in her way. And she was considering leaving the profession she loved so much and doing something else. At the beginning of the workshop, we had talked about the possibility of her work starting with her saying in the circle “I quit,” meaning “I quit my job,” and then opening that up more deeply.

In my work with people I have found that if I can help people do what I call “inhabiting their feelings,” it will help them refrain from acting out those feelings out in the world, while at the same time helping them heal from the wounds long ago that caused those feelings. I teach them how to very safely “enact” those feelings in their session or in an intensive … helping them, supporting them all the way through the piece of work.

So back to Sara … although we had talked about her inhabiting “I quit,” as she was sharing, she also said she was aware she wasn’t committed to truth and love. That she was committed to what she wanted and she was committed to having her way, but not to truth and love. I knew that was an important clue. I sensed it was bigger, deeper, more impactful than “I quit.”
So at the beginning of her time working in the circle, I suggested she start by expressing just that:
“I’m not committed to truth and love.”
She did … and let it unfold …
“I’m not committed to truth and love.
You can’t make me. I’m not going to.
You can’t force me.
I won’t.
No. No. Noooooooooooooooooooooooooo.”

With deep, involuntary crying all through what she was saying,
and saying it again and again and again.
At times it sounded like she was raging.
At times like she was scared.
At others it sounded like she was hurt.
Still others in pain.
At times she sounded like a baby.
Most of the time her crying sounded much younger than the words she kept saying …
because, of course, the words were the thread that was helping her open up something deep within her.

Just short of an hour later, it was clear she had done what was needed for this piece of work, and that she needed the time to be, to rest, to integrate what had just happened … even though she didn’t know what it meant, didn’t understand where it had led or where it was still headed. She had simply trusted to let herself safely, for the purpose of healing, feel and express what had been calling from her depths.

There is still more for her to do with this thread. More entering and deepening the path of commitment for her. Later, though, after she’d had a chance to integrate a bit, she realized that if what she saw as a child was truth and love – she didn’t want any of it. She didn’t want truth that was a front for lies and deceit. She didn’t want love that was a guise for objectifying, controlling, and hurting her.

In those moments, right after her work, before she integrated, before she could move from the primal feelings, I shared the inspiration that had come to me during her work. I knew she was doing the work for herself in her own healing and growth. I knew it would also be helpful to the other women in the circle. And I knew it would be helpful to our world … a world that is in great difficulty right now. A world in which so many are acting out in such damaging, destructive ways. A world in which others are unaware of their complicity. A world in which too many are focused on fixing things on the outside. A world in which still others aren’t aware of how to help in the healing, or even that there is a way to heal from the inside out.

My inspiration:
Each woman in the group likely had the same current within herself – “I’m not committed to truth and love.”
Each person in the world probably had the same current within him/herself.
And one of the best things we, as a circle of women, could do to help our world right now, would be if each member of the circle would do her version of the same work we had just witnessed – inhabiting “I am not committed to truth and love.” By doing that … we could pull out of the cauldron of the collective unconscious our portions of “I’m not committed to truth and love.  And not only that, but also … by doing so we would give an emotional and energetic imprint to our world and the people of our world of healing the place where each one is not committed, or not fully committed, to truth and love.

It is my prayer that you will let this article be an invitation to you …
to explore the current in you that isn’t fully committed to truth and love;
to explore the place in you where you need to work more deeply to heal from the root;
to explore the place in you where you need to learn how to utilize your feelings for healing;
to explore the place in you where you could help our world from the inside out …
in ways you have never before known possible.

© Judith Barr, 2017

NOTE: This article was posted with the permission of the members of the group.

* https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/m/margaretme100502.html

A Lesson from The Breakfast Club: The Shooting of the Lawmaker

Recently, at a morning baseball practice for a political party’s team, planning to play its opposition team in a charity game … some of those present were shot by a single shooter. The member of the team most seriously injured was GOP Representative Steve Scalise, House Majority Whip.  I’m so sorry he and others were injured. I’m sorry the others there at the practice were traumatized by the violence. They are all in my heart and prayers.

At the same time, there is so much for us to learn from this incident.

After the shooting, there were many responses … from members of Representative Scalise’s own party. Representative Mark Sanford said on the “Morning Joe” show that the President has unleashed demons.*

“I would argue that the president is at least, is partially – not totally – but partially to blame for demons that have been unleashed … The fact that you have the top guy saying I wish I can hit you in the face. If not, why don’t you and I’ll pay your legal fees. That’s bizarre. We ought to call it as such. What I’ve said back home, some of these people have been frankly weird and different in a town hall meeting. I say what is going on. They’ll say look, if the guy at the top can say anything to anybody at any time, why can’t I? I think we all need to look for ways to learn from what happened yesterday and to say, wait a minute, this is a pause moment. What might I do a little differently in the way I reached out to other members.”

Other representatives said they would be more careful of how they speak.  And the House Majority and Minority Leaders spoke of unity. Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, maintained, “We are united. We are united in our shock. We are united in our anguish. An attack on one of us is an attack on all of us.” **  He followed up, claiming, “… but we do not shed our humanity when we enter this chamber. For all the noise and all the fury, we are one family.” ** And Nancy Pelosi shared about praying. “And so I pray, my prayer is that we can resolve our differences in a way that furthers the preamble to the constitution, takes us closer to e pluribus unum … It’s in the family.” ***

And while Ryan spoke of unity, the same party is sneaking a health care bill through congress with the intention of no one being able to read it or know what it says before the vote on it. The bill, it is said, may be devastating for millions in relation to their insurance, their financial well-being, and their standing vis-a-vis the wealthiest in our nation.

The lesson at a deep level – inner and outer …

So let’s start with the claim that we are united and the prayer for “out of many, one.”  There is within each of us a longing for unity – unity in the outer world and unity in the inner world.  There is within us the longing for union … union as we knew it when we were babies, union as we envision it when we fall in love, and union as we envision it when we reach for the Divine as we know it.

This is definitely part of us. Whether we know it or not, whether we can claim it or not, whether we create it or not.

Right there inside us, though, along with the longing for union, are other aspects of each of us … again, whether we know it or not, whether we can claim it or not, whether we act it out or only fantasize it.

There is the part of us who sneaks and manipulates to win and get our way.
There is the part of us who lies, or wants to lie, or wonders how come “they” get away with lying.
There is the part of us who bullies, or wants to bully – mentally, emotionally, verbally, and even spiritually.
There is the part of us who takes that bullying, or fantasizes taking that bullying, to the level of physical violence … anywhere from spanking a little child, to beating up a school mate, to shooting a lawmaker, to bombing or running a car into a crowd of innocent people.
There is the part of us who is and/or feels powerless.
There is the part of us who is powerless and finds or fantasizes a way to be powerful by misusing and abusing our power, in all sorts of ways small and large, hidden and obvious.
There is the part of us who finds or fantasizes a way to be powerful by fanning the flames of others’ bullying, of others’ acting out the misuse and abuse of power… by giving false permission to others to unleash their demons.
There is the part of us who is powerless and finds or fantasizes a way to be powerful by using our power for magnificent good.

Years and years ago, famous actor Cary Grant spoke of this simply, when he said: “You have all things inside you: love and hate. You can use your love to exhaust your hate.”****

Current day spiritual teacher and activist, Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh speaks to this same truth, that we are each every side of the problem, or situation, when he says in his poem, “Please Call Me by My True Names,”

“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.”*****

Brother Phap Dung, who lives at Nhat Hanh’s Plum Village monastery in France, teaches that our greatest enemies are gifts to us. ****** They show us aspects of ourselves that we cannot see directly in ourselves. In that way, they give us the possibility for healing. Trump can be our scapegoat, or we can see him and heal through the knowledge that we have elements of Trump in us.

Even before 9/11, I taught this in my sessions and workshops, and especially in workshops in response to current events. After 9/11, however, I felt called to take this understanding further out into the world. Many people were afraid to see and explore it. Nevertheless, teaching people that there is a terrorist in each of us, felt, was, and still is a profound part of our healing individually and globally. If we don’t see it … If we don’t feel it … If we don’t know it … we can continue to believe that the other guy or the other gal is the terrorist, not us. The result: we can continue to bad-mouth and fight against the other.  If we do see it, feel it, know it … we can do our own inner work to heal the terrorist within (or some other aspect of ourselves); and by doing that we can remove some of the energy of terrorism from our life and the life of our world.

And finally for now … there’s “The Breakfast Club,” the 1985 John Hughes movie about life through the eyes and hearts of teens.  Five students in 1984 are sent to detention on a Saturday morning. The assistant principal, who is in charge of detention, instructs them to write an essay of 1000 words, saying “who you think you are.”

Right before the end of the day, four of the five ask Brian, the student considered “the brain,” to write the essay for all of them. He does, and he writes a letter that definitely speaks for them all.

“ … we think you’re crazy to make us write an essay telling you who we think we are. You see us as you want to see us—in the simplest terms, in the most convenient definitions. But what we found out [today] is that each one of us is a brain … and an athlete … and a basket case … a princess  … and a criminal. Does that answer your question?” *******

Brian signs the letter: The Breakfast Club

All of this and more is within us. Even the teenagers in The Breakfast Club learned this.

We, who think of ourselves as adults in our world, can refuse to see what’s within ourselves, and instead see it only in those around us. In that way, we continue to create further conflict, separation, and destruction.

We can choose to see what is within us and can choose to utilize our seeing it to create further conflict, separation, and destruction. We can see the destructiveness in ourselves and others and instead of holding ourselves and others accountable, call both bad for it, making matters worse. We can see what is within us and refuse to understand and acknowledge the effect it has on others, even if we don’t act it out.

Or we can utilize what we see to help ourselves do the healing that is crying out for help all over the world. To see the destructiveness in both ourselves and each other, hold both accountable but not call anyone bad, and utilize the destructiveness in ourselves for healing.

My prayer … that we use it for healing.

© Judith Barr, 2017

*Morning Joe, June 15, 2017

** http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2017/jun/14/paul-ryan-we-are-united/?utm_source=RSS_Feedutm_medium=RSS

*** http://www.democraticleader.gov/newsroom/61417-3/

**** Becoming Cary Grant, 2017 movie. “Now I know that I hurt every woman I loved. Oh my God, humanity please come in. My attitude toward women was now different. I could be a good husband now.”

*****“Please Call Me By My True Names” by Thich Nhat Hanh, 1978

****** http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/zen-and-the-art-of-activism_us_58a118b6e4b094a129ec59af

******* http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0088847/synopsis

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.

WE’RE ALL HUMAN

Sitting in the waiting room before a checkup,
I witnessed everyone sitting by themselves –
looking at their mobile phones, staring into space, just looking down,
or watching other people without any contact at all.
Except one golden skinned, middle-aged woman,
who said “Good morning,” as she came in
and sat down a few seats away from me.
“Good morning,” I replied, with a smile.
A moment later I leaned toward her and said,
“That’s lovely of you to make contact with me.”
She smiled.
And a few moments later, I wanted to –
but didn’t – stand up and say to everyone in the room:

Hello, everybody …
We’re all human beings
with hearts that love
and hearts that have been hurt,
whether we let ourselves feel it or not.

We’re all human beings,
with hearts that feel
happy and scared, angry and sad, confused and hurt
and more.

We’re all human beings
with hearts that feel
hope and hopelessness,
power and powerlessness,
connected and disconnected,
companioned and isolated.

We’re all human beings
with hearts that need to matter,
with hearts that need to be their selves …
with hearts that need to not have been frightened or
threatened out of being our-selves.

We’re all human beings
with hearts that have learned, been “taught,” induced, or threatened
to not feel –
to not feel safely –
to hide our feelings,
to close ourselves off and bury our feelings …
to defend ourselves from pain.
Defend ourselves.
At all costs defend ourselves!
Keep our deepest thoughts and feelings
to ourselves, even from those closest to us.
Build a moat …
So we can’t be hurt.
Build a gate, a wall, a steel door, a trap door …
so we can’t be hurt.
Gather an army that can lash out and protect us …
so we can’t be hurt.
Keep our deepest thoughts and feelings
even from ourselves.
Numb ourselves. Deaden ourselves…
So we can’t feel the hurt.
Defend ourselves.
At all costs defend ourselves!

Where has this led us?
‘Round the world in however many years we’ve been alive …
and right back into the patriarchy.
All those years we’ve lived in the patriarchy and didn’t know it …
here we are again, with a patriarchy stronger than ever.
All those years we’ve worked so hard to move out of the patriarchy …
here we are again, seeing how deeply entrenched we still are in the patriarchy.
All those years we’ve thought we had moved out of the patriarchy …
here we are again, seeing “out in the open” the patriarchy
that was alive and well beneath our view.
All those years we’ve thought we were free from the patriarchy …
here we are again, needing to see the patriarchy alive outside us
and needing to see, hear, experience the patriarchy alive within our very selves.

The patriarchy within and without.
The patriarchy that refuses to feel real, authentic feelings.
The patriarchy that feels and acts out intense, raw, destructive feelings
from long, long ago …
giving others pseudo-permission to do the same.
The patriarchy that disconnects itself from the heart,
while acting out under the guise of goodness.
The patriarchy that refuses to feel real, authentic feelings.
The patriarchy that refuses to go through its own renewal.
The patriarchy that would rather be shot by an assassin’s bullet
than go through its own renewal …
its own death and rebirth right here in this life.

And where has this led us?
Right here into the mess we’re immersed in right now —
in the U.S. and all over the world.
And repeating it over and over again.
Making the mess worse and worse with each repetition.

UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said on “Morning Joe”
after the terrorist attack in London:
“The city is now getting on with its business.
All our transportation systems are running.
Parliament is continuing its work.
It is business as normal.
That is the way to defy these people.
The worst way to lose the war on terror is to be terrified for a second.
We are not terrified and we will go on.”

In my heart, I could hear the little boy, Boris,
saying what he had decided as a child.
And I could hear the parents of young Boris
telling him to do the same thing he had already decided reflexively.
Defend against your feelings no matter what.
Defend against your terror no matter what.
Let your defiance defend you against what you’re really feeling.
Let your defiance be yet another defense against what you’re really feeling.
Let your defiance numb you to your terror,
making it impossible for you to feel your terror …
making it impossible for you to utilize your terror
in a healthy way …
as part of bearing your own renewal,
as part of your country’s bearing its own renewal,
as part of our world’s bearing its own renewal.

There are many social and political steps we need to take
right now in our world.
But there are steps so much more deeply needed than those
outer steps.
We need to heal the patriarchy within ourselves – men and women alike.
We need to go through our own death and rebirth
right here in our lives.
We need to safely do the inner work of renewal
that helps us go back through
the feelings we buried from our long-ago wounds …
so we cannot be cruel to another without feeling the pain ourselves.
so we cannot be cruel to ourselves without feeling the pain.
so we cannot feel the cruelty of others without feeling the pain.
so we cannot normalize, rationalize, justify anyone’s cruel actions
and the pain those cruel actions cause.
so we cannot allow ourselves or anyone else to go unaccountable for cruel actions…
so we can hold responsible those who are creating havoc in our lives –
in our families, in our churches, in our schools, in our businesses, in our government.
So we can hold ourselves and each other responsible for
going through our own renewal…
our own healing of the patriarchy within us and all around us.

We are born into this world defenseless.
We are also born into this world undefended.
We reflexively defend ourselves and, at the same time,
are taught and pushed into defending ourselves
by the others around us who are doing the same.

But did you know …
the choice is not between
being defended or defenseless?
Did you know …
we can be undefended
without being defenseless?

© Judith Barr, 2017

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

It’s so easy for us to forget our own humanity and each others’ humanity.  And it’s so easy for us, to try to “forget” our own feelings, as we have been “taught” to do – blatantly and subtly. But our feelings don’t just “disappear” if we defend against them … and our buried feelings still cry out from deep within us to be felt, explored and healed.

As you go about your day, begin first to notice the humanity in those around you. Each person you encounter has a heart … with both here-and-now feelings and ancient feelings under the surface. Many people you encounter may be defending against painful feelings in a myriad of ways … by becoming numb, for example, or by acting out in a multiplicity of ways, from the extreme of attacking to that of retreating.

Then, take a look at your own humanity. Are there feelings you have within you against which you feel you need to defend … even beneath your awareness? Is there pain within you that seems so overwhelming that you feel you need to repress or bury it … without even realizing it? Commit today to begin (or deepen) the journey to feel, explore and heal the feelings against which you’ve been defending, with the help of a caring, feeling therapist when you need the help to go deeper than you can on your own.

I welcome your sharing this article – on social media, in email or by word of mouth – with those you feel may be touched or inspired by its message. It’s my prayer that it inspires anyone who reads it to truly feel their own humanity, to feel the humanity of others, and to make the commitment to learn to feel undefendedly, knowing that we can truly be undefended and not defenseless. Imagine if all of us – including those in positions of power in our world – made that commitment!

WE’RE ALL TRIGGERED – WHETHER WE KNOW IT OR NOT

There is plenty for us to have feelings about in today’s world. Plenty of feelings in the here and now. And what is going on in the U.S. today is an ample source of our current, in-the-moment feelings.

But in addition to the current feelings we’re experiencing, all over the world we’re all “triggered” by what’s going on in the U.S. – whether we know it or not. And if we don’t know it, we feed the triggers, the being triggered, and the lack of awareness in both ourselves and others.

Triggered. A word in the healing arts that means something is being awakened beneath our awareness, buried at some time in our past – especially our early life – something we are reacting to with feelings, thoughts, and actions, while either having no idea of what we’re doing or why, or while believing our thoughts, feelings and reactions are in response to some experience in the current day.

If that is where we stay, we will be stuck. Stuck believing we’re acting in response to the here and now, while we’re really reacting to something in our past. Stuck believing we’re acting as mature adults in the current day, while we’re actually acting like children in a time long, long ago. Stuck believing we are helping to solve or resolve what’s going on right here and right now, while we’re really still defending against what happened to us in days long past. Convinced we are having truly here and now feelings – and nothing but – while we are having feelings that are more in the range of 95% from the past and 5% here and now.

How do we resolve something in the here and now, when we’re still stuck in the past? We don’t! No matter how hard we try!

In order to resolve something in the here and now when we’re still stuck in the past . . . we need to become aware. We need to tease apart the past from the present. We need to heal the place(s) we’re stuck that are still alive within us. We need to use our feelings from that stuck place in the past to help in the healing. So that when the healing is done – and even in process – we’ll have a better sense of which feelings are here and now and which are from long, long ago.

Here’s an example:
Andy is terrified by all the lying that is going on in the US Government. He’s afraid of the lying taking place in the US public. He’s afraid of the lying that is being acted out and of the lying that is being believed. It terrifies him. If you ask him what it reminds him of, he says “Nothing. It’s just scary to see so many people lying day in and day out. And it’s as scary to see how many people accept the lies as the truth.”

But if I were able to help Andy go deeper and younger into his childhood experiences still alive inside him, we would find out … he was terrified as a little boy, day in and day out. His father lied every day when he smacked Andy’s mother and claimed it was her fault, that she wasn’t loving enough. When he punched Andy’s older brother and said if he’d gotten better grades, this wouldn’t be necessary. When he kicked Andy and told him if he were better behaved, there would be no need for these kicks. Andy was terrified of his father’s lying, and of his brutality.  Of course his brutality. But there was something about his lying that turned Andy upside down and inside out.

No one contradicted Andy’s father’s lies. Not his mother, not his older brother, not anyone in the family or neighborhood who witnessed these scenes. It appeared to little Andy in the silence that everyone believed father’s lies, and that everyone thought they were true. And it made it hard for Andy to stay with his gut instinct that father wasn’t telling the truth. In that sense, it made him feel kind of crazy. And that, also, was terrifying.

If Andy will only allow me to help him with the young experiences and feelings, he can come back from the deep work – the deep inner exploration and healing – more able to stand in the here and now knowing of the culture of lying that people are attempting to create … not feeling crazy, without the real here and now fear impinged upon by the real once-upon-a-time fear from his childhood, and having a deep sense of knowing how he needs to respond in the face of today.

So Andy has a choice:

*to keep avoiding his own early pain and fear; and, as a result, be out of touch with the here and now reality; and, as a result of that, help to co-create even more the culture of lying that is both being attempted in the here and now and also existed in his childhood.

or

*to do the inner exploration in such a way that he discovers the root of his terror of the lying culture, so he can take responsibility for his own healing; be accountable for the way in which his wounds had contributed to the development of the lying culture; stop feeding that cycle; and have a new sense of how to respond in the face of lying – in a matured way in the here and now.

We each have this choice.
We can each take responsibility for our part in what’s going on.
Or we can disown our responsibility.
We can each take responsibility for our triggers.
Or we can refuse to be accountable for the reality that we have been triggered.
We can each follow our triggers to their root …
or we can insist that our feeling responses to things that are going on are only here and now responses.

We can each insist that our responses are righteous and warranted in the here and now,
even if we are working for truth.
Or we can realize that there is some way in which we are being triggered
that will, in the end, not serve the greatest good …
if we don’t follow the triggers and resolve them at the root –
even if all our actions seem to serve the greatest good;
even if all the intentions we’re aware of seem to serve the greatest good;
even if we can convince ourselves that we are serving the greatest good.

Some of us are acting out – lashing out – sure our anger is justified and will help,
even if it is really destructive and not helpful at all.
Some of us are becoming activists in the outer world, each in our own way…
making calls, signing petitions, sending out information, going to protests, volunteering our help.
Taking action is absolutely needed, but it also can be a way to defend against
the deep feelings within.
And as Gloria Steinem, an activist par excellence, has said,
“Being a social activist can be a drug that keeps you from going back and looking at yourself.”*

Some of us are watching and reading reports about what is happening.
We want to know what’s going on.
We don’t want to be in the dark.
But we can become addicted to those reports.
We can use them for an adrenaline rush.
We can, unknowingly, hope they will hold our own deep feelings at bay.

Some of us are stepping away from the television and the internet. Some saying we’re trying to achieve more balance. Some, in truth, putting our head in the sand or hiding under the covers.

Whatever we are doing that is, in fact, in the greater good, that doesn’t mean we have no triggers that need to be tended. We all do.

All of us. Everyone on every level of the government in every country in the world. Every member of the media all over the world. Every citizen in every country in the world. And not only are we feeling the impact of our triggers … our children are feeling the impact of our triggers, too.  With no way to hold it, no way to ask about it, no way to process it.

If you ask me if I’m having feelings in this time, I would say, “Of course I am! We all are.”
If you ask me what I do with these feelings, I would say, “I do my own inner work to find out which are here and now feelings and which are feelings from the past that are being triggered.
I follow the feelings to times and feelings long, long ago and utilize what I discover for healing.  I utilize the current feelings and the healing I do with the past feelings to support me in finding what I’m called to do today … in Love and Truth.”

If I ask you if you’re having feelings in this time, what would you say?
If I ask you what you do with these feelings, what would you say?
If I ask you what you do when you’re triggered, what would you say?
If I ask you what efforts you’re making to do your own inner healing, what would you say?
If I ask you if you are truly serving the greatest good or merely defending against your own early feelings and wounds, what would you say?
If I ask you what are you going to do now, what will you say?

© Judith Barr, 2017

* From the synopsis for the HBO documentary, “In Her Own Words,” http://www.hbo.com/documentaries/gloria-in-her-own-words/synopsis.html

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

We are all triggered sometimes … more often than most of us can imagine. It is crucial that we become aware of the times we’re being triggered and commit to explore and heal the ancient feelings that can become enmeshed with our here-and-now feelings.

Whenever you have feelings that are much stronger than the situation truly warrants … refrain from acting on them. Rather, trace those feelings back as far as you can into your past. When, and in what situation, was the last time you felt this particular feeling? And when was the time before that? And the time before that? Trace the feeling as far back as you can … and, with the help of a caring, integritous healing professional, begin or deepen the journey to heal those feelings to the root.

Won’t you join me, and commit to truly healing the feelings triggered in you to the root … for your sake and for the sake of our world?

THE YOUNG POPE: A CANDID MIRROR FOR US ALL

“Cut the dime store analysis out and work with me,” said the tyrannical “young pope.”
“I don’t work with 9-year-old boys,” his mentor, the cardinal, courageously responded.
You’ve never budged* from the front gate of that orphanage, where one fine day,
with no explanation, your parents abandoned you.
May God help us!
You want to make the world pay for the wrong it did to you.
You’ll be a terrible pope. The worst.
And the most dangerous in modern times.
And I don’t intend to waste the few years I have remaining
being an accomplice to a vindictive little boy
!”**

~~~~~~~~

This could be from biblical times.
It could be from Roman times.
It could be from medieval and renaissance times.
It could be from the times of colonial Britain.
It could be from the times of the World Wars.
It could be from today’s times in the USA.
It could be from our very own times in the world today.
Or … it could be from times in our world a year from now, 10 years from now, half a century from now, or more.

It’s not just about leaders – world or national, major or minor.
It’s not just about their advisors – with advice that’s legitimate, valid, just, in truth, or not.
It’s not just about their supporters – whether well-informed or seduced and deluded.
It’s not just about their opponents – fighting for what they believe is right and good and safe.
It’s about all of us.

You’ve never budged…”

Each of us has never budged from some painful point in our childhood. Perhaps some point physically, like the front gate of an orphanage, the corner of a crib, a closet in the bedroom, a cellar. But most importantly, from some point emotionally that was traumatic for us – such as an event that created in us primal terror, rage, hurt, heartbreak, or a cauldron of all those feelings cooking in our being.

“You want to make the world pay…”

Each of us, whether or not we realize it, buried our feelings and made some decision way back at the time of that trauma – some decision about how to relate to ourselves, others, life itself, even The Divine. Maybe we decided to make the world pay overtly. Maybe covertly. Maybe we decided to do a better job of “ruling” the world than those who ruled our childhood world. Maybe we decided we’d punish the ones who hurt us and save those who, like us, needed to be rescued.  Maybe we even decided to hurt ourselves in order to make the other pay. Whatever we decided, most of us didn’t realize we were making a decision we would actually carry out in our lives. Most of us didn’t realize we would carry out our actions, driven by the decision of a 9-year old – like the young pope from the series quoted above – a 5-year old, a 2-year old, or even a tiny baby whose decision was beneath thoughts and words.

“You’ll be a terrible pope…”

Maybe we thought all this primal wounding and our early decisions from it would make us the strongest, the smartest, the most skilled, the richest, the best. The best at whatever we tried. But most likely, our primal wounding actually made us the worst. The worst parent. The worst partner. The worst employee or boss. The worst leader or follower. The most dangerous in modern times. The most dangerous as we continue to enact again and again some version of the wounds we experienced onto those in our lives today – both people we are close to and people we’ll never ever even meet.

… And I don’t intend to waste the few years I have remaining
being an accomplice to a vindictive little boy
!”

If nobody insists we face what we’re doing, how will we know? If nobody teaches us … If nobody stops us … If nobody shows us the truth … How will we know that we’re acting out our wounds from our youth on people in our lives today? How will we know that in the guise of an adult, we’re carrying on our lives as a child?  How will we know that beneath the appearance of someone who has grown big and tall … is a little girl or boy (us) who is going through days and nights pretending to be a grown up?

And if nobody insists we face what we’re doing in public … how will anyone in the world know there is a child driving the world in a big person’s body, with a big person’s mask, in a big person’s role, with the power of a big person … to do anything that child wants – out in the open or under cover of secrecy, acknowledged in truth or supposedly hidden by lies?

And if no one knows there is a child driving the world – whether that world be a family, a school, a company, a town government, a country, our Earth – how will anyone know that child-pretending-to-be-an-adult needs to do the inner healing work to stop the travesty the child is re-enacting of creating trauma in an attempt to defend against the buried-yet-still-alive pain of the trauma the child once experienced?

And how in heaven’s name will we find our way to facing and healing the damage we are creating in our attempts to keep the trauma we once experienced at bay? And how in heaven’s name will we find our way to facing and healing the trauma at the root of our own personal acting out?

It’s a gift when one person can see this and name it. Why can’t more of us do so?  Because we, too, are still little children inside, trying to hold at bay the memories and traumas and painful feelings from back when we were actually little children. So we do collude with the person like the young pope in the series. And we do collude from our own young woundedness that we have never healed. Our own young woundedness that we have not yet healed.

We are seeing this all over our country in the US. We are seeing this all over our world. We wouldn’t be here, where we are in the life of our world today, if each of us hadn’t contributed in some way, big or small, from the traumas in our personal histories that we have left unconscious and unhealed.  From the traumas in our family histories that we have left unconscious and unhealed. From the traumas in our communal histories that we have left unconscious and unhealed… up until now.

Here we have it. A summary and mirror of the choice each of us has in our life.
A summary of the choice we have as a country.
The choice we have as a human race:
Face and heal the ancient wounding we carry within us.
Or continue to wound ourselves and others in the world today and tomorrow –
in a futile attempt to get away from the ancient wounds living within us,
and the painful feelings that go with them.

Thank you to all those involved in the production of The Young Pope.

You have held a mirror for us. A mirror for what is happening and a mirror of our choices. The dialogue between the cardinal and the young pope has shown us the point from which the young pope has never budged. We see other glimpses into the places from which others in the cast of characters have, themselves, never budged. A clear mirror in which we can see ourselves.

Without helping the child within get unstuck from that place s/he hasn’t yet budged from … without helping the child within heal so there is no longer a need to hold the ancient pain at bay by creating the same pain in the world today … that person cannot act from an adult place in these challenging times.

Your efforts have contributed to helping us in this process of healing the stuck children so we can take steps toward truly acting as adults.

Thank you. Please continue to find ways to show us where we have blocked our own way and how to get ourselves unblocked as soon as possible, as deeply as possible, as much in Truth and Love as possible.

This is my work, and I am so thankful to have your crystal-clear help.

*Italics mine for emphasis.
**From the third episode of the HBO series, “The Young Pope.” The pope played by Jude Law; the cardinal played by James Cromwell.

© Judith Barr, 2017.

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

It can be very difficult to see ourselves, or even want to see ourselves, when we are acting, feeling, and thinking from a very wounded young place within. But it is crucial, for our sakes and for the sake of our world, that we become more aware of those times when we are unconsciously regressed.

To truly help in the healing of our world … commit today to become aware of those times when you’re being “a child in an adult’s body.” Are there times when you feel, think or even act in a way that reminds you of a time long ago in childhood when you felt, thought, and acted the same way? Or maybe you wanted to feel, think or act in that same way as a child but were too afraid?

When witnessing events unfolding in our nation and our world, either in fiction or in the real world … can you see the same regression in world leaders and their followers – in your own nation and in the world at large? What comes up inside you when you see or hear leaders who are acting from a young, wounded place? Do you collude? Are you stirred strongly, angrily or maybe even violently?

There may be those in your life, like the cardinal quoted above, who can see your regression when you cannot. Most of all, you may need a good, caring therapist to help you see the regression you and others cannot see … and who can help you to explore and heal the young wounded self still living inside you.

Imagine if everyone committed to use the mirror of The Young Pope – and the many other mirrors we are presented with every day – to explore and heal the wounded child within …our leaders … their followers … their opponents … ourselves … all of us!

INNER ACTIVISM IS CRUCIAL, TOO.

An Open Letter to the Citizens of Our Country and Our World

In our world today, with so much abuse of power coming out into the light of day, it is crucial that we all work to help create the healthy, healing change we want to see in our world. Often, we call this crucial work “activism.”

As a psychotherapist in private practice, I am, in my own way, an activist. And I have helped other activists learn about an important part of helping our world that most of us overlook.

As I have said many times in my work – aloud and in writing – action in the outer world is very important to help create change in our world. However, there is an element that many of us overlook in our activism that is equally crucial, and must be included in our activist efforts: doing the inner work within our own individual selves to explore and heal our inner wounding. I call this “inner activism,” and it is essential that we do this inner work so that our efforts at outer change – no matter how devoted they are – are not “secretly” driven by unconscious wounding from our past which actually undermines the outer work we’re doing, and sabotages the sustainability of the changes we’re working to make in our world.  This is what we have witnessed in the civil rights movement, the women’s movement, the peace movement, the movement toward financial and economic stability, and more … Our not having done our inner healing has undermined the outer efforts we’ve made.

It is essential that we become “inner activists” as well. Especially in these times where we are called upon to yet again make important lasting changes in the outer world, but cannot do so without also making the changes in our inner worlds.

It is unfortunate that we, whether we are activists or not, are often not taught this one important thing: that if we try to simply change things in the outer world and not the inner world, too, we will then find ourselves creating the same things in the outer world all over again. If we don’t explore and heal our own wounding, we will keep recreating – and escalating the re-creation of – the very country and world we have already created.

Thank you for your own efforts to create change in our world. To help in those efforts, I would be open to exploring with you how I may offer my services and this healing message about “inner activism” to your group, your organization, your community, your government.

With thanks, hope, and many blessings …
Judith

DARKNESS FALLS

“One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light,
but by making the darkness conscious.”  – Carl Jung

Darkness falls …
when we make a mistake.

Darkness falls …
when we experience failure.

Darkness falls …
when we fall down.

Darkness falls …
when we suffer a loss.

Darkness falls …
when we experience tragedy.

Darkness falls …
when we witness tragedy, from near or from afar.

Darkness falls …

 

Darkness falls …
when someone hurts us.

Darkness falls …
when someone scares us.

Darkness falls …
when someone lords their power over us.

Darkness falls …
when someone has a perverse disregard
for our feelings, our needs, our safety.

Darkness falls …
when we are helpless in the face of abuse.

Darkness falls …
when we are powerless in the face of cruelty.

Darkness falls …
when we try to fight abuse by responding in the outer world alone.

Darkness falls …
when we try to fight abuse by retreating into our inner world alone.

Darkness falls …

 

Darkness falls …
when we hurt someone.

Darkness falls …
when we scare someone.

Darkness falls …
when we lord our power over someone.

Darkness falls …
when we have a perverse disregard
for someone’s feelings, someone’s needs, someone’s safety.

Darkness falls …
when we are helpless in the face of our own abuse of power.

Darkness falls …
when we are powerless in the face of our own cruelty.

Darkness falls …
when we try to fight our own abuse of power by responding in the outer world alone.

Darkness falls …
when we try to fight our own abuse of power by retreating into our inner world alone.

Darkness falls …
when we don’t even acknowledge our own abuse of power and cruelty,
when we don’t even try to heal our own abuse of power and cruelty.

Darkness falls …

 

Darkness falls …
at the end of the day.

Darkness falls …
at the end of the moon’s cycle.

Darkness falls …
beginning the day after the summer solstice,
and the light only slowly begins to return
on the day of the winter solstice.

In the cycles of nature to this point …
all we had to do was wait till the darkness passed
and the light came once again.

In the cycles of our own nature it isn’t quite so easy.
We need to work with the darkness within.
We need to find the ancient wounds in the darkness within.
We need to find the suffering and trauma we experienced once
long, long ago,
and utilize that darkness to heal the darkness within.

And utilize that darkness within to heal the darkness we create
in our outer world.
And utilize the darkness within from once upon a time …
to heal and preserve the
cycles of nature that flow from dark into light and dark into light,
again and again and again.

And utilize the darkness within from once upon a time
to weave a new fabric of our inner lives and outer lives …
so that we can flow from darkness to light and darkness to light
inside and out …
without making darkness a bad thing and light a good thing …
any more than it is in the cycles of nature.

My prayer for this season of darkness
is that we work with and through the darkness within
to find the true light within us –
individually and communally.

© Judith Barr, 2016

“Grief and loss and suffering, even depression and spiritual crisis,
the dark nights of the soul
only worsen when we try to ignore or deny or avoid them.
The healing journey begins when we turn toward them and learn how to work with them.”
Jack Kornfield, Your Difficulties Are Your Path

“If we cannot face the darkness, we will not see the light.
There’s beauty in the day,
but there is healing in the night.”
Jennifer Berezan, Open It Up

“The light at the center of our inner darkness
is unlike any light in the world outside.
The only way to reach it is to go through the darkness within our very selves.”
Judith Barr

 

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.