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?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

© Judith Barr, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“We Need Mothers Who …” Mother’s Day All Over the World

Countries and cultures all over the world celebrate Mother in some way.
It may be a healthy way. It may be a distorted, ritualized, or even an unhealthy way.
Perhaps it’s the personal mother who is celebrated. Perhaps it’s the idealized mother who is celebrated. Perhaps the normalized mother. Possibly it’s the essence of Mother we need.

Our mothers have an impact on us as individuals and on us as a society … whatever society we live in. Both consciously and unconsciously, our mothers have an impact on our personal lives, and an impact on the life of our planet.

There is no perfect mother. We are all human, and we all make mistakes. If someone pretends to be perfect, she teaches her children they have to be perfect. Because they never can be perfect, she teaches her children they can never be good enough. She also teaches them there is no process in life or human relationship. The mother who is human – imperfect but a good enough mother in all the ways children most deeply need – teaches her children it is possible to make mistakes and create a repair for the mistakes they’ve made. She does that with them when she makes a mistake. She helps them do that when they make a mistake. This deepens their trust with her, with themselves, with process, and with life itself.

When have you seen that from a mother in public life? From a mother or a father in public life? It is sorely lacking. Especially in these times.

Just as important as that acknowledgment of a mistake and the repair that needs to follow, is the mother who realizes she has made a mistake out of her own wounding, acknowledges it, and gets the help to do her own inner healing work instead of continuing to act out her wounding with her children, family, and others. This deepens her own and her children’s faith in real repair – for their relationship with mother and for their ability to do the same. It is a profound and wonderful role model for everyone in her life who witnesses her in the process of healing inside and out.

When have you seen that from a mother in public life? From a mother? From a father? It is tragically lacking in our world. Especially in these times.

But … I remember a time not long ago, reading about two public figures who did acknowledge – to themselves and apparently to others – that the work they did in the world was an acting out of their defenses against their wounds. It was a good example of the possibility that we may do important work in our outer world, yet it may unconsciously be a way to hold at bay the pain of our wounding as children that is still alive in our inner world.

Gloria Steinem acknowledged that “being a social activist can be a drug that keeps you from going back and looking at yourself. You keep trying to fill up this emptiness.”* How courageous! How honest! How real! And what a model for our world. Was anybody listening? Did anybody get it? She was acknowledging out loud that she invested herself in a cause in the outer world to avoid the pain still alive in her inner world.

I once led a workshop called Conscious Activism from the Inside Out on the topic of outer activism as a defense against inner activism. As people explored how they used social and political activism to hold their inner world at bay, I was also helping them realize that it is possible to do the inner healing and also help in the outer world. And that it was of great concern how frenzied and distorted the outer activism can become as a defense against the inner. All we have to do to see an example of that is to look at the political scene in the United States today.

Betty Friedan offered an acknowledgement similar to that of Gloria Steinem in a later edition of The Feminine Mystique. She wrote about her hatred for her mother, and then admitted, “It was easier for me to start the women’s movement than it was to change my own personal life.”

These were the “mothers” of the women’s movement. Their acknowledgments don’t discount the actual good done by and through the women’s movement. But they may explain the roots of some of the harms. Here’s a perfect example of no mother being perfect. But by their taking responsibility for the deep roots of their unconscious intentions, these mothers of the women’s movement … freed themselves to do their inner healing and offered a profound model to those who came after them. Who knows how few or many of the “daughters” and “sons” of the women’s movement welcomed and utilized that model in their own lives and their own activism? This brings to the foreground the understanding that the unconscious intentions of avoiding their own inner pain contributed to the unsustainability of many of the outer successes they achieved.

For example, if each of them had first worked with the young pain of not having choices over their own minds, bodies, hearts, and souls … they would have modeled for all those who worked with them and came after them to do their own inner work and then the outer work.

How many other women have made these acknowledgments? How many men have done the same? How very different our political scene would be today if both women and men did their inner work before bringing their energies to such important arenas in our outer world!

But back to mothers … and a deep hope that more mothers – both in private life and public life – will do their own inner healing work for their own sakes, for the sake of their children, and for the sake of our world.

This is my Mother’s Day wish.

This is my Mother’s Day prayer.

© Judith Barr, 2016.

* 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

Whether we are mothers or not, whether we are activists or not, whether we are men or women, old or young, single or married … we all need to very carefully explore and heal the wounded currents within us that affect our lives, our relationships, our world.

This Mother’s Day, make a commitment to begin that crucial healing journey. Or to take that next big step in it. As you reflect on your own relationship with your mother – past and present – allow yourself to feel whatever arises within you … committing not to act out on those feelings but rather to feel and explore the roots of those feelings. What are the earliest feelings you can recall in relation to your mother? And … when in your here-and-now life do you feel those same feelings? About whom in your here-and-now life do you feel that same way?

When exploring, we may find we need the help of a skilled, caring therapist to truly heal many of our deepest feelings about our mothers. Even to bring into consciousness for healing feelings we can’t remember or don’t consciously connect with our relationship with mother. Commit as well to find that help when you need it.

Whether we are parents or not, we all need to do the inner work necessary to explore and heal our inner wounding…for the sake of our families, our communities, and the children in our world – and the adults they will someday become.

If I Were A Rich Man … ‘Twas the Night Before Tax Day!

‘Twas the night before Tax Day
and all through the house
not a creature was stirring,
not even a mouse
who could nibble at a dollar bill
and carry it to build his nest
or back to his nest already-built.  

‘Twas the night before Tax Day
and all through the house
all the creatures were dreaming
of what they would do with nests full of money.
Many dreaming, like Tevye,*
that they wouldn’t have to work hard,
would have big houses right in the middle of town,
and would be thought to be wise and powerful
just because they’re rich.
Many asking, like Tevye,
“Would it spoil some vast eternal plan.
If I were a wealthy man?”**

Any day of the year is a good day to learn about money …
To learn different things about money than they teach you at home, in school, at the bank, on the job, in an accountant’s office, and certainly in the media. To learn deeper truths about money than you learn anywhere else.

Tax day is a particularly good day.

With all the issues we have related to money in our individual lives, in our national economies, and our world economy …
And of course, in our politics …
The Fiddler on the Roof song and fantasy can help us dissolve the illusions we have about money …
And learn the deepest truth about what drives us in our relationships with money.

For example …
Just because a person is rich, doesn’t mean s/he has a healthy relationship with money.
Just because a person is rich, doesn’t mean his/her relationship with money is about the here and now, and not some other time long ago.
Just because a person is rich, doesn’t mean his/her relationship with money is that of an adult.
Just because a person is rich, doesn’t mean his/her relationship with money is really about money.

*****

As a depth psychotherapist and a financial therapist, I have worked with many people over the years to help them discover the roots of their relationship with money. Despite my numerous articles, the most thorough of which is my home study course, A Recession Regression – Finding the Root of Our Relationships with Money, people often, if not usually, have the misconception that if you’re rich, you have a healthy relationship with money. Not necessarily so.

Many people I’ve worked with who were not rich, knew their relationship with money was not good for them. Many even knew it was not good for their family or our world. But until they did the depth work, they often imagined being rich would fix their relationship with money.

Many of the wealthy people I’ve worked with knew something was distorted about their relationship with money and came to me for the help to discover what. Many didn’t know, and were very surprised and thankful to find out.

People willing to go to the depths of themselves consistently discover in our work together that it is the little child they once were – still alive within them – who is truly driving their relationship with money. Sometimes experiences with money as a child do form a layer of that child’s experience driving their financial life today. But almost always there is another layer of early experience that isn’t about money at all. It’s about something going on in that child’s life, in that child’s relationships, in that child’s pains or even trauma, that ends up being transferred unconsciously onto money.

Here’s a profound example that could apply to a child who grew up to be poor or a child who grew up to be rich. Sal grew up, the oldest child in a large family: mother, father, aged maternal grandmother and grandfather, and 8 siblings.  His father worked in a factory long, long hours. His mother took in sewing so she could also be home to take care of her parents and children during the day. They were far from rich financially, and he felt it. But the greatest deprivation Sal suffered was from not having enough of his mother. She felt she had too much else to take care of, and his being the oldest, she enlisted his help taking care of the other children.

Sal decided very early in his life … before he even had words to express his decision: I’ll never have enough. It was a decision that lived in his little heart, his little body, his little mind. Later he might have had, thought, and even said the words. Or perhaps not. If he did, it is unlikely he could have realized how powerfully that early decision would affect his life, even drive his life, from his unconscious self. One thing’s for sure: it definitely would drive his life in very profound ways from the underground labyrinths of his psyche.

For instance, with an early decision of I’ll never have enough, he might struggle and struggle and work so very hard trying to make a good living, and find that no matter how hard he works, he does, in fact, end up never having enough money. He fulfills the early decision by its coming true actually in his finances, followed by his feelings.

He might also find a way to earn a really good living, bring in lots of money, and still feel he doesn’t have enough. He might change jobs, start his own business, hit a jackpot investment, and still feel he doesn’t have enough, even though he has in the current day more than enough many times over. He fulfills the early decision by its coming true in his perception and most of all in his feelings.

In both versions of Sal’s here-and-now experience, he is always experiencing and afraid of not having enough. In both versions, he is blocked by a decision he made long ago in his childhood – the decision “I’ll never have enough.” He is blocked by that decision. He is blocked by his being unaware of it. He is blocked by his transferring an experience he had with his mother onto money. And he is blocked by his own not working with this issue in his life and not healing and resolving it to its root.

Furthermore, he is not the only one impacted by his early decision and his reactions to it – his internal reactions, his relational reactions, his financial reactions. This is one of those places where it is becoming more and more obvious that we’re all connected.

Babies are not born greedy. Babies are born innocent, vulnerable, needing. It is the experiences our babies have and the unconscious early decisions they make from within those experiences that end up driving them to become greedy – greedy for money, greedy for power, greedy for attention, greedy for love … or hopeless in relation to the same things.

When you come right down to it, most of the profoundly intense feelings we feel in today’s world have their roots in the experiences of the child still alive within us from his/her world long, long ago.

If only we would do our inner work to discover the roots and to heal all the way to the roots … our world today could be a very different world.

This is not work for just one of us or just a few of us.
Every one of us who does this work helps him/herself and contributes to the communal healing.
But this is work every one of us needs to find a way to do.
For our own sakes, for our children’s sake, and for the sake of our world.

© Judith Barr 2016

*Tevye is the main character in the popular Broadway musical “Fiddler on the Roof.”

**From “If I Were A Rich Man,” song from “Fiddler on the Roof.” © 1964 Music by Jerry Bock, Lyrics by Sheldon Harnick.

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

As you begin to “wind down” from Tax Day – whether you’re rich, poor, or in-between … whether you get a refund or have to make a payment – take this wonderful opportunity to explore your true relationship with money.

Explore how you felt doing your taxes, or having them done for you. Were you tense or relaxed? Were you angry? Sad? Elated? Scared? And take some time to explore as well how you feel in the wake of this Tax Day. How do you really feel towards money? If you could speak with money, what would you say?

We all sometimes need the help of a skilled, caring professional in the things we do … and the labor of love that is exploring your relationship with money is no different. When you’re ready to go deeper into yourself, and truly heal your relationship with money, seek out a caring, integritous therapist to help you find and heal your early decisions about, and wounding to your relationship with, money.

Imagine if we all, rich and poor, did the crucial inner work to heal our relationships with money! Imagine how different our economy – and our world – would be!

A Call to Healing in the Wake of Violence

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Right now, we are failing.

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

Blessings,
Judith

© Judith Barr, 2015.

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

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

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

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

Dear Morning Joe and your team,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

With hope …
Judith Barr

© Judith Barr 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Safety – From the Inside Out – For The New Year and Years To Come

This is the third in my series of articles following the tragedy in Paris on November 13. The first was Grief, Shock, Another Tragedy and … the Poison is the Medicine … The second was When Are We Going to Heal the Repetitive Vicious Cycle From the Inside Out?
The article below takes us ever deeper into the cause and the solution.

Every child comes into this world needing to be safe;
needing a mother who keeps him safe,
needing a mother who keeps her safe;
needing a father who keeps him safe,
needing a father who keeps her safe;
Every child comes into this world needing to be safe;
needing at least one truly loving person
to keep him safe,
needing at least one truly loving person
to keep her safe.

When safety is missing from a child’s original home environment …
the consequences in that child’s outer world are mind-boggling;
and if the outer consequences weren’t more than enough to live with…
the consequences in that child’s inner world are almost
incomprehensibly mind-boggling and heart-boggling.

Whatever unsafety a child experiences in his or her young life
causes him to think, feel, grow, and act differently
than he would have without the unsafety.
The child’s young fear in reaction to the unsafety gets felt,
however briefly,
then reflexively buried so the child can survive.
But this innate self-protective reflex quickly changes from pure protection into defenses:
defenses against the unsafety just experienced in the outer world;
defenses against the feelings triggered by the outer unsafety;
but also defenses against the unsafety that remains
alive in the inner world;
and defenses against the feelings that remain alive in the inner world.

The child who innocently felt safe,
no longer feels safe in the outer world or the inner world.
The experience of unsafety and all the feelings that go with it
now are alive within that child …
whether right at the surface or buried deep within;
whether streaming through his self or
encapsulated and held off in the background;
whether consciously or deep beneath awareness.

The unsafety may have been blatant –
smacks on the face, beatings, rape, being thrown across the room …
hunger and famine …
experiencing or witnessing torture or the horrors of war …
Or it may have been more subtle –
being molested under the guise of caretaking,
being used under the guise of love,
being controlled under the guise of good parenting,
being humiliated under the guise of just kidding around,
or being made unsafe in any way … under the guise of safety.

That unsafety, whatever it was, still lives within the child –
that day, that week, that month, that year,
for years and years and years after…
even after the child has grown into adulthood.
That unsafety experienced in childhood
and the little child who experienced the unsafety
are still alive within the adult …
until that person has the help to heal and transform the unsafety from the inside out.

The experiences of unsafety and the defenses
against them, alive within,
create more unsafety without the child or the adult realizing it.
He may lash out and fight, firmly believing that will protect him.
She may withdraw, flee, and hide, certain that will protect her.
He may freeze in his tracks, doing nothing, sure that will protect him.
They may do any one of these things or others
because the unsafety within from long ago has been triggered,
perhaps by nothing unsafe at all in their present day outer world …
by only a misperception or misunderstanding that
sets off the inner and outer reaction to unsafety.
And if that happens,
their reaction could create unsafety in the outer world today
where none had existed.

Or there could be unsafety in the current world,
but the child still alive in the adult person –
about whom the adult is unaware –
could react to the current unsafety
with a charge, an intensity, and a rawness
far, far greater than the current unsafety warrants.

For instance,
someone switching lanes on the highway right in front of the adult
could set off the unsafety from long ago
that results in the adult pulling up too close to the car now in front,
passing the other car dangerously close,
rolling down their window and shouting obscenities,
or even pulling out a gun and shooting.
Any one of those responses would be
millions of times the warranted response –
of just feeling the fear of the moment of unsafety
when the other car pulled in so close.
And all caused by young reactions to and defenses against
unsafety from childhood.

This happens over and over again in our world…
Parents who experienced unsafety in their childhoods will somehow,
even without meaning to consciously,
even without realizing it,
create unsafety for their children.
Somehow unconsciously the child still alive within the parents,
in an effort to hold at bay their own unsafety when they were young,
will act out with their children, creating unsafety
for the next generation …
and the generation after that and the generation after that.

And it’s not limited to our homes.
This happens again and again in our world today …
in our homes –
in our schools and churches –
in our workplaces –
in our governments –
between nations and peoples of nations …
people all over our world creating unsafety
as a consequence of the unsafety they experienced as children.

Yes, there are things in the outer world we need to do to help us be safe today and in the future.
But our reactions to the unsafety in our world today
are intensified and magnified by the triggers we have to the unsafety we lived with in our childhoods …
even if we do not yet remember that unsafety;
even if we feel sure there was no unsafety;
even if that unsafety was passed down psychically
through the generations;
even if any unsafety in our childhood has been
normalized by our families;
even if any unsafety in our childhood has been
normalized by our cultures.

Yes, there are things in the outer world we need to do to help us be safe today and in the future …
but too many of the things people think we need to do will only create more unsafety
and start the cycle again.

The one most crucial thing we must do –
the one thing most people don’t know about at all –
the one thing most people deny as vital to us all …
is to do the inner healing to work through the experiences and feelings of unsafety we had as children.
Without that healing work,
we will continue to create and recreate unsafety
in a vicious cycle in our lives and in our world …
we will continue to create the poison
without using the poison as the medicine.

The original poison was the unsafety each child experienced originally.
The medicine is his or her reaction to real or perceived unsafety
in today’s world.
Using the medicine well:
using the trail of unsafety to heal unsafety –
not just in the outer world, but in the inner world, too.

The cure:
Creating safety from the inside out.

© Judith Barr, 2015

 

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

With commitment and honesty, you can search deep inside yourself to know – even if you are not yet aware –

-how you were unsafe as a child;

-how you have contributed to unsafety through the years as a consequence of the unsafety you experienced in your childhood;

and

-how you contribute to unsafety today as a consequence of the unsafety you experienced in your childhood.

With commitment and honesty, you can find a therapist with integrity and skill, who has done and continues to do his/her own work with safety/unsafety, to help you explore the issue of safety/unsafety to the root. You can work with it to the root and heal it to the root within you. And as a result … create safety from the inside out in your life, and help to create safety from the inside out in the life of our world.

Grief, Shock, Another Tragedy and … the Poison is the Medicine …

I learned about the attacks in Paris early Saturday morning.
It broke my heart … all through the day.
It still breaks my heart.

It breaks my heart …
For all the people who were right there, who experienced it first-hand.
The shock. The terror. The pain on every level of being.
The fear and the horrible grief that remains.

It breaks my heart …
For all those who were in Paris and nearby.
The shock, the terror, the pain …
the fear and the horrible grief that remains.

It breaks my heart …
For all those who were called, emailed, and texted.
The shock, the terror, the pain …
the fear and the horrible grief that remains.

It breaks my heart …
For all those all over the world who learned about the attacks through the media.
The shock, the terror, the pain …
the fear and the horrible grief that remains.

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

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

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

In our world, we are experiencing “the poison is the medicine” yet again.
We’ve been living it over and over and over since …
I’m not certain when.
But I have certainly been witnessing the vicious cycle since 9/11/2001…
right here at home in the US and in our world as a whole.
The attacks in Paris happened not even a week ago …
and we have already launched into the vicious cycle yet another time.

This is a call to do our deep inner healing work …
if we don’t use the current round of “the poison is the medicine” for healing this time …
it will escalate further and further.
If we only respond to it with outer actions …
it will escalate further and further.
If we only try to pray it away …
it will escalate further and further.

It is heartbreaking to me to witness those refusing to use the poison as the medicine.
It is heartbreaking to me to witness those who don’t understand, not reaching out to try to understand,
not opening themselves to attempt to understand.
It is heartbreaking to me to witness those who are ready, to not have access to those who can truly help.

If you will find someone to help you do your deep inner healing
you will be using the poison as medicine.

This is just the first of my responses to the Paris attacks.
If you will help spread the word and share the series, entry by entry…
you will also be helping to use the poison as medicine,
for yourself and for our world.

With thanks and many blessings to you for joining me …
Judith Barr

© Judith Barr, 2015

Haunted by … Ghosts and Goblins and Our Own History

Halloween is a time when ghosts and goblins are turned into fun. Haunting and being haunted are transformed into entertainment. But every other day of the year being haunted isn’t fun at all … especially when we are haunted by our own history. Haunted by our own histories personally. And haunted by our own histories communally.

We are haunted by our own histories when we carry the wounding we experienced long ago consciously or unconsciously into our adult life, and act out what we suffered on those around us. In this way we impact our partners, our children, our friends and neighbors, those with whom we work, and others with whom we come in contact close by and far away. In this day and age we can have an effect globally through the internet without even leaving our homes. For example, cyber-bullying can hurt people right next door, beyond country borders, or across the earth.

Bullying* is a helpful, though painful, example of how we’re haunted by our history. If we were bullied as children, it is traumatic. We struggle with the experience of the bullying and how to respond inside and out. We also try to repress the memories and feelings they evoke in us, often succeeding in pushing them away or numbing ourselves to them until someone can help us safely face them and work through them inside ourselves. That pushing away of the experience can save our sanity or even our lives originally. But there is a consequence: we will re-enact the original bullying experience within ourselves and with others. We may bully ourselves internally and sometimes even silently, or right out in the open. We may criticize or even shame ourselves inside ourselves or aloud for those around us to hear, perhaps never realizing we are saying to ourselves what our parents (or some other bully) said to us or even felt about us – as their parents said to or felt about them, and their parents before them, too, back many generations.

As we unconsciously draw to us or re-create the original scenarios in our current day lives, we may find ourselves bullied by others again and again, subtly or blatantly. Or we may become a bully and do to others what was originally done to us, whether in dreams, fantasy, or in our day-to-day reality, almost imperceptibly or audibly, visibly, and ever-so-palpably.

All of this can happen in our private lives right in our own homes, or in our public lives. Some but not all … spouses bully their partners … parents bully their children … teachers bully their students … clergy bully their parishioners … doctors bully their patients … police officers bully those in their communities … government officials abuse the citizens they are governing. And all of this because they are haunted by their own experiences from long, long ago.

Last month’s blog article gave examples of how presidents and presidential candidates may have been haunted by their histories – affecting themselves and others nationwide and even globally. Many of the posts in PoliPsych show how this occurs and discuss how to heal the haunting. Without the healing, we will keep being haunted, not only on Halloween, but every single day. Without doing the inner work to heal our past traumas, we will keep being haunted ourselves and we will keep haunting those our own haunting trauma impacts, both up close and personal and far, far away.

George Santayana’s wisdom could inspire and help us all at this time in history.

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”**

Please join me in the work of remembering and working to heal your own past that is still alive inside you, whether you’re conscious of it or not. Your own personal past. Your own familial past that gets passed down generation after generation. Please join me in healing your individual past and in so doing, join me in healing our communal past … the communal past that is showing up right out in the light of day, as well as the communal past that lives invisibly in the communal unconscious (also known as the collective unconscious.) ***

Every time we do our own inner healing work, we change our own inner lives, our own outer lives, the impact we have on those around us, and the communal unconscious itself.

Will you join me in healing the haunting we live with day by day by day?

Will you join me in healing the haunting that escalates until we finally heal it?

Will you join me in healing the haunting that is not fun at all – the haunting that multiplies itself until we finally heal, resolve, and transform it?

© Judith Barr, 2015

*To learn more about bullying and its roots, see Judith’s home study course for laypeople and professionals: http://judithbarr.com/portfolio/healing-bullying-to-the-roota-unique-approach-to-a-painful-epidemic/

**George Santayana (1905) Reason in Common Sense, p. 284, volume 1 of The Life of Reason.

***To learn more about the wounding and how to heal the wounds that haunt us, read Judith’s book, Power Abused, Power Healed, Mysteries of Life, 2007. (Available at www.Amazon.com and www.PowerAbusedPowerHealed.com.

 

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

This Halloween – and all year ‘round – you can begin or take the next step in the journey to heal the haunting within yourself … and help heal the haunting in our world.

You can read and reread this article … letting it help you find examples of being haunted by history in your own life and examples in the life of our world.

You can read other articles in PoliPsych that explain in even more depth and give even more examples of the haunting and the healing.

You can read Power Abused, Power Healed to understand and experience even more deeply and thoroughly the causes and the healing of the haunting.

You can find a therapist with the integrity, skill, and heart – someone who has done the healing of his/her own haunting and continues to do so – to help you go through the process of healing your own haunting.

You can help heal the haunting … for your sake, the sake of those you hold dear, and the sake of our world.

If You’re Going to Be a Candidate for President – Little Children in Big Bodies, Acting Out Their Wounds on The World Stage


For Starters …

Sometimes people don’t want to look at their part in something that’s gone awry in their lives or the life of our world, because they don’t want to have aspects of themselves considered pathological that they and many others normalize or even idealize. They don’t want to think of themselves, or have anyone else think of them, as “mentally ill.” What if we didn’t label people as “mentally ill”? What if we didn’t label people as “pathological”? What if we simply understand that we all have wounds from our childhood and probably beyond? I don’t think of our wounding as being our pathology. It is wounding. We all have wounding. It is part of our being here on earth. It has an impact on us, on those close to us, on those in our everyday lives, and on our world. It has an impact whether we act out on it or not. It is safer if we don’t act out on it. But even if we don’t act out on it … its aliveness within us still has an impact. Not only on us but also on generation after generation after generation in our own families and the family of beings in our world. It has an impact when it remains unconscious in the shadows within. It also has an impact when it is conscious but we don’t tend to it, work with it, and transform it. That’s not pathology. That’s the truth of us as human beings … and the calling we have to help heal and transform ourselves, our families, our communities, and our world.

 

Introduction

Out of our wounding … we want to think of ourselves as civilized, even when we’re not. We want to see ourselves as grown up, even when we’re not. We want to feel like we are “together,” even when we’re not. What we do to hold onto those cherished but false beliefs about who we are – in the name of something good, and in order to defend ourselves against our wounding – is unimaginable. And, in the end, horribly destructive – blatantly or ever-so-subtly.

We live in denial. Normalizing it somehow … any way we can find. Not wanting to know the truth. The truth about our experiences once upon a time in our youth. The truth about pain we experienced. The truth about abuse we suffered. The truth about trauma we may have suffered or inflicted. We cut off our feelings and wall off our hearts. Under the guise of something supposedly righteous. Not wanting to feel our feelings … sometimes our feelings of pain and fear, sometimes our feelings of pleasure, hope, and even love. Certainly our feelings from long, long ago when we were children. And as a result, also our feelings today.

But in doing so, we cannot see the real truth in front of us today. In doing so, we cannot feel the feelings of either real danger or real safety when we meet them today.

And paradoxically enough … our denial and shutting down emotionally, which were once long ago intended to protect us, create danger in our lives and in our world today. This is what happens with defenses, they end up creating the very thing they were meant to defend us against.

If we are unwilling to see this in our personal lives … how will we be able to see it on the stage of our national politics? We won’t! If we are unwilling to take responsibility for this up close and personal in our individual and our family lives … how will we be able to hold candidates running for leadership offices accountable for these things in their lives? We won’t! If we are unwilling to get the help to heal this in our own minds-bodies-hearts-and-souls … how will we be able to insist that our leaders all over the world get the help to heal their wounds so they can actually be civilized, adult, wise, compassionate, and heartful leaders? We won’t. That leaves us in a terrible dilemma … doing the same things over and over, like hitting our heads against a brick wall, but refusing to do the one thing that can help us truly resolve the situation.

And then we turn the whole thing upside down: If our leaders don’t come out of denial … if our leaders don’t melt their numbness … if our leaders don’t stop pretending that there are no little children inside them acting out their wounds on the stage of our world … what kind of leadership are they providing? Defective leadership. What kind of modeling are they providing? Distorted modeling. How can they hold us accountable to do our own healing work? They can’t.

They’re like the wounded parents in a dysfunctional family who are in denial, attempting to parent from the wounded child within themselves, and wounding their children in the same ways they were, themselves, wounded as children.


If You Are Running for President …

If you are running for president, you need to do your own therapy beforehand. Otherwise, you will simply act out your little boy or little girl wounds on the stage of the campaign. And if you should win, on the stage of the Presidency, the country, and the world.

Whatever wounds you had as a child will drive you in your life – personal and political – from deep down in your unconscious self … no matter how aware or unaware you are! No matter how much you want to deny it! No matter how good things look on the surface! And no matter how fiercely you claim you are not acting them out.

I don’t usually speculate about people’s wounds, especially people I’m not working with. Especially people I don’t know personally. Especially people I have just bits of information about. But I am going to offer some possible hunches about some of our presidents and some of our candidates … as a way to show you how our childhood wounds can drive us from within, even when we have grown into big bodies and may look like we are grown-ups. As a way to show you how these leaders and would-be leaders’ childhood wounds could have affected their leadership. It is my hope that seeing these hunches as examples, will help you and millions all over our country and our world to see more clearly, for starters … what’s happening on the election stage, what’s happening in our leaders … and what’s happening within us.

I have read or heard a couple of things about Bill Clinton’s childhood. I don’t know if they are true, but if they are, here are the hunches … One: that he was sexually abused. As a psychotherapist who works with people who were sexually abused, I know clearly that one of the symptoms of sexual abuse is promiscuity. It’s a way people unconsciously act out that there’s a problem needing to be resolved. If Bill Clinton was sexually abused as a child, it is no wonder that he had multiple sexual entanglements with women – Gennifer Flowers, Paula Jones, Monica Lewinsky, and how many others! His having been sexually abused doesn’t excuse him. It doesn’t give him a “get out of jail free card.” It doesn’t make him not accountable. It simply speaks to the root of where he went awry in his life and his leadership. It speaks to the source of his acting out – in him and in his history. It speaks to what he needed to heal.

Be very clear here: Our wounding doesn’t give us license to do whatever we want, to act out however we’d like. We weren’t responsible for our wounding as children. But we are responsible to do the work to heal from that wounding.

I have also read that Bill was caught in between his mother and his grandmother. Whether he was sexually abused or not, that experience of being caught between two women in his young life would set up a dynamic for him to repeat that in his adult life. Again … caught between Hillary and Gennifer; and Hillary and Paula; and Hillary and Monica. The caught-between dynamic could even be set up to repeat itself not between two women, but between two entities. Perhaps caught between his oath of office as President and his own wounded drivenness to act out his childhood.

Another example, Barack Obama. My understanding is that his mother and father got divorced. And lived far apart from each other – at times, continents apart. My hunch from many years as a therapist: even if he wasn’t conscious of it, I imagine little Barack had a desire and maybe even a fantasy of bringing his parents back together. No matter how impossible that might have been, somewhere within him, albeit it unconsciously, he may well have continued to want to bring mommy and daddy back together.   How might that play out in the world of the Presidency? Somehow little Barack’s desire to bring his parents together could impact Barack the President’s ability to bring together two conflicting sides in any issue.   And look at what a painfully horrible time he’s had with Congress. People tend to blame that on all sorts of things socially and politically. But I’ve never heard anyone talk about the underlying dynamic from his childhood. And what if that same dynamic affects his negotiations with leaders of other countries, as well?

This is not a political article. It is not showing political bias. It is an article to teach … to inform … to intrigue … to inspire. So my talking about Bill Clinton earlier and Hillary Clinton next is not my picking on the Clintons. It is simply an offering of profound examples, based on hunches, of childhood wounding driving people, leaders in their adult lives.

I don’t really know much about Hillary’s history. Except that her mother was abandoned. But if I put aside all the superficial criticisms of Hillary in the media. If I put aside all the political and social judgments … I find myself as a depth psychotherapist wondering why this smart, passionate, hard-working, capable, woman has had trouble in her runs for high leadership offices – particularly the presidency. I’m not wondering “what is her fatal flaw?” as some might wonder. I’m wondering – what is it in Hillary’s childhood that would cause her to start out ahead with a wonderful chance of succeeding, only to sabotage herself on the way. I wish I had the opportunity to help her discover the young, feeling level answer to that question.

Finally, Donald Trump. I recently read an article in which I found the following statement by Trump:

“I realized then and there, that if you let people treat you how they want, you’ll be made a fool. I realized then and there something I would never forget: I don’t want to be made anybody’s sucker.” *

In the understanding of the depths of our psyches, this was an early decision made by Donald Trump, “I don’t want to be made anybody’s sucker.” He was 18 at the time. That may have been the first time he decided that consciously, in words, or in those words. And it may seem not such an “early” early decision. But I have found in my many years as a therapist that usually a decision like that made consciously as a teen was also made either unconsciously, or in different words in different situations as a younger child, and perhaps even beneath words in the heart and cells of the child earlier than that.

Someplace inside him, that early decision is driving Trump in his life and his candidacy for the presidency. Some people may believe that will help him in the campaign and as a leader. But making decisions in order not to be made a sucker, does not mean the decisions are going to be healthy, wise, compassionate, effective, successful decisions. It simply means they will be made in the service of not being made a sucker. So who really benefits from that wound, that decision, those actions… perhaps for a while the little boy who decided not to be made a sucker. And only perhaps. Because that driving decision will also undermine Trump and probably leave him open to being a sucker, or as he also said, a fool.

Our leaders and would-be leaders are just like us. They are human beings with childhoods and childhood wounds and traumas. They have defended themselves against the pain of those wounds, created ways of being and acting that would hide the wounds from others and themselves, while acting out the wounds beneath the blinders. They have denied the wounds existed and that the acting out has existed, too.

Yet, they are acting out their own wounds as they campaign to lead or as they actually lead. If we vote for them without knowing this … we shirk our responsibility to be the kind of citizens needed in the world today. If we vote for them without realizing that our wounds, defenses, and denial might be colluding with or somehow hooked into theirs … we shirk our responsibility to be the kind of citizens deeply needed in the world today. If we don’t hold them accountable for doing their own deep inner therapeutic healing before becoming President, we shirk our responsibility for taking a stand for the one major thing that hasn’t been done in working to resolve the misuse and abuse of power in leadership … and the one thing that could truly work. And if we don’t hold them accountable for doing their own deep inner therapeutic healing, we shirk our responsibility for holding ourselves accountable to do our own healing.

It’s not just them. They are not the only ones acting out their wounds. They’re just running for leadership. They’re just executing the leadership they showed us they would execute as they were campaigning. It’s also us. We are the ones electing them. We are the ones acting out our wounds as we respond to them, as we are drawn to them, as we support them, as we oppose them, as we vote for them.

© Judith Barr, 2015.

*http://www.nytimes.com/2015/09/01/opinion/putting-donald-trump-on-the-couch.html?_r=0 


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

Indeed, we are the ones who vote for our leaders … and if we can become aware of our candidates’ and leaders’ wounding, we can also be the ones who utilize that awareness for our own healing.

As we continue on in the race to the presidency, are you aware of the wounding each of the candidates have deep inside? Ask yourself as you follow the race to the election: Are there things – words, actions, decisions – that each candidate has said or done (including “your” candidate) that help to bring to light his or her own wounding?

Now, let’s take it one step further: is there something in the candidates’ behaviors and words and perhaps decisions that can help you find the wounding in yourself? When a particular candidate speaks or acts in a destructive or self-destructive way, do you find yourself agreeing so intensely with him or her, that it feels as though s/he is speaking or acting in the way you’ve always wanted but couldn’t? Can you see shades of your own wounding in each candidate?

Election-time or otherwise, it is crucial that we make the commitment to not only become aware of our wounds but also explore and heal them. This is what I, and other committed, integritous, compassionate therapists and counselors help people do.

Won’t you join me in this individual healing … healing that can not only help your own life, but the life of the world as well?