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!

Trump Isn’t The Real Problem – We Are!

It’s 14+ months before the 2016 Presidential Election. It’s already been going on too long. Many are overstimulated by the candidates’ and the media’s hype. The overstimulation feeds both numbness and hysteria. And however disconnected from their true selves people were before, they get more and more disconnected with each step in the election frenzy.

What we once thought was a sacred process – and could still be if we utilized it well – has instead been misused and abused and turned into an election frenzy for all of us.

So here we are in September 2015 … well into the fever pitch of the election process and we’re over a year away. Everybody’s surprised about Donald Trump. Everybody’s talking about Donald Trump. Many are concerned about Donald Trump. And Donald Trump is a concern.

He’s lied. Everyone’s talking about Hillary’s lies. But who’s talking about Trump’s lies?

He’s treated women terribly. He’s made blatant racist statements about Mexicans and other immigrants.

He’s mocked foreign countries who are either our allies, like Japan, or with whom we need to collaborate, like China. He’s ridiculed individuals in our own country … Senator John McCain, many of the other candidates running for president, and who knows how many others.

He’s made claims about what he would do as president. Claims like those related to immigrants. Claims like those related to people of color and of other races and nationalities than he. Claims like those related to immigrants that are impossible without violating the Constitution. Claims that no matter how they might be carried out, would be inhumane … would violate any sense of dignity … and would belie our thinking of ourselves as a civilized nation.

His misogyny is legendary. From calling women “pigs, dogs, slobs, and disgusting animals,” to saying about Megyn Kelly that “You could see there was blood coming out of her eyes–blood coming out of her wherever,” as a denigration of her intelligence and ability based on her menstrual cycle, to calling her a “bimbo” and a “lightweight.”

When confronted on what he’d said, Trump denied it and held those who had accurately understood what he’d meant as the problem – “I was referring to nose, ears. They’re very common statements. And only a deviant would think of what people said.” And then he’s turned around and claimed he “cherishes” women. He has, in this instance and at other times, refused to take responsibility for what is actually his responsibility, blaming it on the other person or people. And lying – to others and perhaps himself, too.

When talking about Jeb Bush having mentored Marco Rubio, Trump said: “If I were Bush and I brought somebody along … and all of a sudden the guy, the young guy that I brought along, said: ‘I’m running against you and it’s not my turn but I don’t care because I’m really anxious, I’m really driven’ … I would really go after that guy. I’d say ‘He’s the most disloyal guy. He’s a terrible person. He’s horrible and I hate him.’ ” And then he went on to mock Bush’s and Rubio’s being friendly at the first GOP debate.

This reveals so much about Donald Trump. More than possible to fully do justice to the revelations right now. But for starters … it shows a glimpse of an inability to truly be in a mutual relationship; a vindictiveness, vengefulness that is unwarranted and undermines relationship; an inability to hold more than just one way – his way. And it shows, beneath all his bluster and whatever ability he has developed to make money, just how young and unmatured emotionally he is. A perfect example of what I’ve taught and written about again and again – the child still alive in the grown person; the child driving the show, whether we’re aware of it or not. All these qualities have been, are, and would be dangerous in a leader.

This is not an exhaustive list, but even this list … he thinks he can get away with. The problem is he has been getting away with it. Not only getting away with it, but his support has been growing in response to it. And the problem with that? The problem is not Trump alone. The problem is us! All of us. Those of us who think we’re in the clear because we fight against him, see through him, turn away, sickened or frightened by what he’s doing and how it’s affecting us and our election process … all comforted by the belief that “we’re not at all like him.” And those of us who are disillusioned by our government and thus can be easily roused and seduced by him.

We can look at this phenomenon through many lenses. Today let’s look at it through this lens: the lens of acting out! It will show us why he’s going up in the polls after he acts out time after time.

In depth psychotherapy, we don’t stop at the behavioral level of healing. But we do draw boundaries around people’s behavior to help make it safe for them to explore their thoughts and feelings, no matter what they are. So someone I work with will, for example, make a commitment not to hurt or kill themselves or someone else … so that it will be safe to explore those kinds of angry thoughts and feelings. Making such a commitment doesn’t stop the thoughts and feelings. It isn’t meant to. It’s meant to draw an inviolable line between the thoughts and feelings and the actions. That is what makes it safe to have the thoughts, have the feelings, and bring them out in the open in therapy to talk about them, explore them, find what in the person’s history caused those thoughts and feelings to emerge, and heal that wound to the root.

These lines, these boundaries between having feelings and acting on them are protections that our children need their parents to teach them and help them with. But most children don’t receive this from their parents. Most parents don’t give this to their children, usually because they never received it themselves. Or don’t give it to their children in a healthy way, again because they never received it from their parents. The result is that too many people all over the world are starting more than ever to act out these feelings when they emerge.

Please note: I am not excusing this, just explaining the root cause. It is something that needs to be healed in all of our societies all over the world.

But at the same time as I and my colleagues are working deeply with people and with great commitment to heal to the root and transform this deep wound and its consequences, there are others who are – consciously or unconsciously – taking advantage of that wound and using it for their own purposes.

Dictators have done that and used the wounded to kill in their behalf. Hitler did it in World War II with people who, like him, had been raised in abusive families and thus would respond to his seduction and his cause. ISIS does that with disaffected young people who have their own early wounds and can be lured into the cause. Donald Trump’s cause is “Making America Great Again.” And people are being drawn and seduced into joining.

Significantly, people enjoy Trump’s behavior because he is acting out his thoughts and feelings and then justifying his acting out. On some level people like that he’s doing it and getting away with it. Perhaps they think and feel the same things but feel they don’t dare act out on them. So they secretly – or not so secretly – get off on his doing it. Or perhaps they like that he’s doing it and getting away with it, because then they see it as his giving them permission to do the same. To act out and get away with it. So they are, in effect, ripping off permission from his destructive behavior … permission to act out in kind. In the ways I’ve mentioned above and others as well.

An actual example, an older Hispanic man was recently beaten by two white males in a Boston area neighborhood. The perpetrators justified their actions saying that Trump was right, illegals need to be deported. After first responding to hearing of the beating with “It would be a shame,” Trump then justified their actions, distorting them and normalizing them: “I will say that people who are following me are very passionate. They love this country and they want this country to be great again. They are passionate.”

Hitler could never have come into the power he had without citizens in collusion because of their wounds and their lack of awareness. ISIS could not have come into the power it has without members in collusion because of their wounds and lack of awareness. And Trump (and people like him) will never come into power without our collusion because of our wounds and lack of awareness and refusal to do our own work.

Whether we’re acting out by “ripping off the permission” he’s giving to lie, bully, mistreat women and other people, be obviously racist, and more … or we’re acting out by not taking action at all … believe me: Donald Trump by himself is not the problem. He will only be a real problem if we don’t do our own work with all that’s going on, with all that he mirrors for us within ourselves, and for all that he triggers in us from long, long ago that we have a choice whether or not to act out today. That we have a choice whether or not to explore today. That we have a choice whether or not to work through and heal today.

If we do not pierce our denial, collusion, and whatever else we need to take care of within us … if we do not see the reality and respond to it in a healthy, constructive way … it will be we who cause the harm that comes. It will be we who give Donald Trump or someone like him the permission to carry it out.

© Judith Barr, 2015

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

Acting out is a huge problem facing our world today. We all need to learn how to draw, and commit to, boundaries when we are tempted to act out on intense feelings rooted in our childhood experience.

First we need to learn that our impulses to act out are in response to our young and intense feelings being triggered by something in the current day within us or around us.

Second, we need to learn to be aware of both when we are tempted to act out, and also when another’s acting out is tempting us to normalize and justify our own acting out.

When you see, hear, or read about Donald Trump or another public figure, acting out in a destructive way, what feelings arise inside you? Are you shocked and horrified? Are you afraid? Are you secretly glad the person is acting out that way? Perhaps because you would be too afraid to? Maybe because you wouldn’t be able to get away with it and s/he can? Or is there a hidden place in you, deep down, where you admire and agree with the words and actions of the person acting out? And perhaps make excuses for him/her? Are there times when a public figure’s acting out makes you feel “better” about the times when you act out?

Join me today in committing to explore our own inner reaction to the acting out of others … to draw a boundary when we ourselves are tempted to act out our inner wounding in destructive, harmful ways … and to not stop there, but rather to follow through and explore, with the help of a caring, integritous therapist, the real roots of the feelings that cause us to act out destructively. And in doing so … help create greater safety and lasting change in our world!

WHEN THE ELECTION IS OVER . . .

Many of us – not just in the United States of America but all over the world – are now feeling like Abby Evans, the little 4-year old girl on YouTube who is crying and saying, “I’m tired of Bronco Bamma and Mitt Romney.” We have been stimulated and over-stimulated by media, ads, campaigns, debates, and more . . . for far too long. I don’t know the statistics, but perhaps this has been the longest election in history for everyone to be privy to. It certainly seems that way.

Many of us – not just nationally but globally – are concerned about what’s going to happen on Election Day. Many of us are concerned about what’s happened and what’s happening to the U.S. political system. And many of us are concerned about what’s happening in our world.

When the election is over, we will have a lot of feelings. Some will feel relieved. Some will feel happy. Some will feel scared. Some will feel angry. Some will grieve and some will celebrate. Some will feel it’s all over for four years.  But it isn’t.

What has happened in this election in the outer world is a reflection of what happens within people individually and thus communally in our inner worlds.

If you already do some form of your own inner healing work, you already understand this. If you’ve been receiving my newsletters for years, you already understand this and have been working with it, wherever you are geographically and wherever you are in your healing journey. If you’ve been reading my blog posts and particularly my election blog posts, you have had the opportunity to take in the seeds I’ve offered and hopefully grow them over time. And if this is your first time reading my blog, I hope you can allow it to help you get a bigger picture, a deeper picture of what is going on and what we need to do.

I’m going to repeat the essence in brief: Each of us has some way in which we were hurt, wounded emotionally and perhaps also physically, or traumatized as children. A child cannot tolerate that kind of pain, buries the pain, and reflexively creates immediate protections against the pain. Over time the immediate protections harden and get frozen and even break off from the original intention . . . and they take on a life of their own. When we get to the point of adulthood chronologically, the child we once were is still alive within us . . . even if we are not aware of it, even if we don’t want to be aware of it. And we hold onto our broken-off, split-off defenses for dear life. We believe it is life and death, even as an adult, not to feel what the child we once were, was not able to feel. And we continue to fight against our own feelings, perhaps now not just inside ourselves but outside too. We continue to fight to keep from feeling those feelings.  And the more we do that, the more walls we build to keep us from our real, true, authentic selves beneath the defenses. And the more we do that, the more we create distortions within us, around us, and the more we help to create distortions and destructiveness all over our world.

For example, if your parents believed as children that they could never have enough, very likely they made a decision in childhood that they could never have enough. As a result, they began creating their lives as though what they believed was true; they began creating their lives as though their decision was an accurate decision. And when you came along, they very likely interacted with you in such a way that you came to believe you could never have enough. Or even if they didn’t act it out with you, you watched them act it out in other areas of their own lives. So even if they made sure you had enough, someplace within them, they were torn – perhaps between I can’t have enough but some people can. And so you, in turn, found yourself split – maybe, for example, between I can have enough but not everyone can have enough. If you go out into the world with this split, you will interact with the world in this split way. But not only will you interact with the world in this way . . . your split will be poured into the communal consciousness – as though the communal consciousness were a big cauldron of thoughts, decisions, feelings, and energy – and feed the split. At the same time, everyone else with that split will be feeding the communal consciousness, too. And all those people will believe something that doesn’t have to be true. . . if we don’t create it to be true.

That was one example. There are so many others. I have written about them all through the election. When the election is over, we will still have a lot to do. Not just on the outer level, but even more within ourselves.

For today, tomorrow, and in the days to come, be aware and hold onto this . . .

Out of the experience of the past many, many months of the election process. . .
we see many distorted, destructive things that are coming out into the open from beneath our awareness, from beneath our consciousness –
both individual and communal.

We can simply bemoan these things that are emerging into the light of day.
We can be afraid of them, deny them, run away from them, numb ourselves in the face of them.
We can believe we are powerless, and in so doing, give up the power we have. 

Or we can see that these things are coming out and we can choose to utilize them and our own power
purposefully, consciously, and safely for healing.* 

This is my choice.
This is where my deepest, most important vote goes …
To our seeing them and committing ourselves to utilize them purposefully, consciously, and safely for healing –
our own individual healing and our communal healing, as well. 

What choice will you make?
Where will your deepest vote go? 

*From the Prologue of Power Abused, Power Healing . . .
“Power is like fire, lightning, wind, ocean – like life itself – a raw, vibrant, force of nature. It has the potential for great harm and the possibility for magnificent good. Each of us chooses, whether consciously or unconsciously, how we will use the power of our own life energy.” 

© Judith Barr, 2012.

THE 2012 ELECTION: WHAT IS THE AGENDA…REALLY?

Merv’s father may seem like a god to him. He may worship his father, idealize his father, turn himself inside out to please his father and make his father love him and be proud of him. He may bend over backwards to help his father accomplish his goals, to endeavor to succeed in any of the areas where his father suffered failures, and to make his family name a proud one. From the place of the child he once was – still alive within him today – he would do this rather than displease his father for a moment. Rather than lose his father’s love or pleasure in him. He would do anything at all . . . rather than feel the loss of his father in any way at all.

Bill’s father may seem like a god to him, too. A god missing in action. A god who was absent but for a brief time many years too late. He may make up a myth about his father’s greatness. He may bend over backwards to incorporate little things he experienced of or with his father into his life. He may turn himself inside out to do great things in spite of his father’s absence, and he too may work extra hard to compensate for his own father’s failures, humiliations, and shortcomings. From the place of the child he was long ago – still alive inside him today – he would do this rather than feel the loss he already experienced. He would do anything at all . . . rather than feel the abandonment by his father in any way at all.

When examining politics, people look for the politician’s agenda. What is the candidate’s agenda as he or she campaigns for office? Or . . . when in office? We might think the agenda is one thing on one level of being. Like, for example, raising taxes, cutting taxes, or leaving taxes where they are. Or another example, helping the poor, helping the rich, helping everybody, helping nobody at all except yourself. We can point to parties that advocate these agendas. We can cite philosophies that support these agendas.

But what if these are not the agendas at all? And what if the real agendas aren’t what we think they are? What if the thing we keep missing – if we refuse to truly understand the psyches of human beings to their root – is the unconscious agenda of the psyche? What if the thing we keep refusing to know is that people will do anything to hold their early pain at bay? To keep it away? To keep it buried? To never ever feel it? And that unfortunately our society supports and normalizes this, causing great harm to our society? (But that for another time.)

What if the descriptions of men above are characterizations – however accurate or inaccurate, however complete or incomplete – of Mitt Romney and Barack Obama. And what if their real agendas – perhaps unknown even to themselves – is to keep at bay feelings and fears of the threat of loss of father’s love and or father himself . . . or the actual loss of father’s love and of father himself?

What if these men’s political agendas are reflections of these primal root agendas? Now how do we – as citizens, as voting citizens — think and feel about their agendas? Now how do we, as voting citizens, think and feel about their candidacy? Now . . . how do we discern how our own primal agendas affect our choice of a candidate with his primal agenda? And how do we do this exploration now . . . in the time left between today and the election on November 6th?

Can you see this crucial picture? How we decide who we’re going to vote for depends not only on the primal agenda of the candidates . . . but also upon our own primal agendas. Or more importantly, if we are to be able to truly know and understand someone else’s primal agenda, we’re going to have to truly know and understand our own.

How are you going to explore this before Election Day? What you choose to do – or not do – will have an effect on you, your family, your community, our country, and our world for generations to come.

Imagine what our world would be like . . . if we were to even begin to cultivate and co-create a society in which we reach for and work for deep self-awareness instead of denial . . . healing to the root instead of normalizing and the status quo . . . transformation toward and into our truly greatest potential instead of dumbing down and numbing ourselves and each other.

© Judith Barr, 2012

Election 2012: The American Dysfunctional Family Undeniably Revealed

The 2012 Election process – every moment since the campaign began and even before – has revealed in glaring light not only the dysfunctional political system we live with, but also . . . and actually even more important and basic . . . the dysfunctional personal and communal aspects we live with and act out in our lives.   

In one way or another I have been writing about this since I began writing and then published my book, Power Abused, Power Healed. I have certainly been writing about it in my newsletters, blog posts, and newly in my videos on YouTube.  I just haven’t utilized this title as the umbrella theme.

If I did organize everything under an umbrella title about our dysfunction nationally – and even globally – I could pull together everything I’ve already written, and then I could continue to write ten thousand more hours and a hundred thousand more pages, and still not complete looking at every facet of the dysfunction amongst and within us that we need to see . . . and, of course, resolve and heal.

I am going to take the next step, though, and look at our dysfunction from one perspective . . . through one lens.  I hope you will open your mind and your heart to this, allow it to enter your consciousness, and let it inspire you to take a step in your part in the national healing. 

I’m presenting the picture as many in the media have presented it for the past week plus . . . Not as a partisan statement, but as an example of a mirror for us. If the media reports are accurate, they will offer an accurate mirror. If they are not accurate, they will offer an example of a possible mirror.  A mirror of how to end blame, and instead turn our fingers and our insistence on accountability away from the candidates alone and away from the candidates as they are portrayed to us  . . .  and onto ourselves. We need to look at ourselves. We need to look at our part.

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

********

It’s debate night. The debate has just taken place. One candidate seemed to be again and again in a most animated way, revealing the dishonesty in his verbal contradictions and in his eyes. The other candidate was flat, not very lively, and barely looked his opponent in the eye, if at all.

It’s an hour after the debate. A day later. Four days later. And more. The media people are giving us their perspective: talking about how the enthusiastic one who lied won the debate, and the one who didn’t confront him lost it. Yet another day and the media representatives report the polls and how the “animated liar” is winning now, while the “passive non-confronter” is losing now.  The media folks pretend to be reporting what’s happening. Don’t they see the part they play in the dysfunctional family of America? They are shaping the results, under the guise of reporting them. They are swaying people.

And don’t we see the part we play in this dysfunction? 

Here’s the picture we need to see . . .

It’s time to stop pointing our fingers at the candidates for president (or any other office, for that matter), and look instead at ourselves. (I’m not saying we should be blind to them, just that for right now, we need to look at ourselves.)

Let’s look at the presidential candidates as the two parents of our family. We won’t say who’s the mother and who’s the father. Just the two parents. The two parents who have been deeply, profoundly influenced by their parents. But that story for another time. For the sake of brevity and to avoid any confusion below as I make the bridge between candidates and parents, I will use the pronoun “he” for each parent.

The family’s all together for a big family dinner. One of the parents is very excitedly and animatedly lying about himself and what he’s done, is doing, and is going to do. The other parent is flat, affectless, non-confronting, albeit not silent, not voiceless.  Each, in his own way, is competing for the power. Each, in his own way, is competing for the favor of those in the family.

And what about the other members of the family? Well . . . what if there aren’t many of us in the family who are conscious of what’s going on? No one, after all, is perfectly conscious. Let’s look at two of the main possibilities.

The first possibility . . .

Most of us, somewhere within us, want to be with the winner. Want to be on the winning team. Want to be a winner. After all, who doesn’t want to be a winner? However distorted or not. Especially in a culture that too often teaches win/lose instead of win/win. Most of us, somewhere within us, want to have the power. Given that we were all once babies and therefore we all know what it’s like to feel powerless…who doesn’t want to have power? At least some of the power? And perhaps all the power, however distorted or not. Especially in a culture that too often teaches and models “power over” instead of “power with.” Most of us, somewhere within us, want to have the favor – the love – of those in the family. Who doesn’t want at least some of the love? And perhaps all of the love, however distorted or not. Especially in a culture that so often teaches distortions of love.

If it looks like one of the parents in a family is the strong, powerful parent, winning the competition . . . from someplace inside us – even if we are not aware of it – we will want to side with and perhaps even be like that strong, powerful, winning parent, even if that parent is lying. No matter what else that parent is doing.

What if you are not aware of this and have been swayed over to this parent’s side? Perhaps by the parent himself? Perhaps by seeing other family members being swayed over to this parent’s side? Perhaps by hearing people talking about what’s going on in your family and declaring this parent the strong, winning, favorite?

This would mean you would side with the parent who lies, in order to be on the winning team; in order to be with the seeming powerful parent; in order to be with the one who appears to be favored and loved. If you look at such a scenario through a child’s eyes, you might make the very same choice in this situation. But it’s not a very matured way of resolving a family conflict or competition. And it’s certainly not a very matured way of resolving an election choice.

The second possibility . . .

Somewhere within most of us – hopefully – we feel empathy for someone who seems to be unable to stand up to an energetic, lively person who is lying. We can imagine what it would be like to be in that person’s shoes. Maybe we already know what it’s like to be in that person’s shoes from our own life experience. We have compassion for his seeming weakness, or his seeming powerlessness, or his seemingly not being in the favor of those around. We want to help that person. We want to support that person. We may want to protect that person. We want to hold them up and cheer them on. After all, who doesn’t want some sense that if in the same shoes as that person . . . someone else would support us?

So if it looks like one of the parents in a family is the weak, powerless parent, losing the competition, from someplace inside us – even if we are not aware of it – we will want to side with and perhaps protect and help that person . . . no matter what is really going on with that person. No matter what.

What if you are not aware of this and have been moved over to this parent’s side? Perhaps by just seeing the parent in his relationship with the other parent? Perhaps by seeing other family members being moved over to this parent’s side? Perhaps by hearing people talking about what’s going on in your family and declaring this parent the weak, losing, not-chosen one?

This would mean you would side with the parent who seems to be unable to stand up and confront, in order to help him; in order to be the seeming protector; in order to be the seeming rescuer; in order to be loved by the weak one if not the strong one. If you look at this scene through a child’s eyes, you may very well make the same choice.  But it’s not a very matured way of resolving a family conflict or competition. And it certainly is not a very matured way of resolving an election choice.

So here we are . . . the American family coming close to the election. The parents may be revealing their dysfunction. But if the election votes are cast by our looking at their dysfunction alone, we are in big trouble. Because to not look at our own dysfunction before we go to the polls, means we will be casting our votes as children, and not at all as mature adults.

Imagine yourself a 5-year old. Imagine your 5-year old self going into the polls, going into the voting booth, having to step up on a stool to reach the lever or to mark your ballot. Having to step back down off the stool and walk over to the box into which you put your marked ballot, and having to step up on another stool to enter your ballot into the ballot box.

No matter how old you are. No matter how big your body. There is a child alive inside you that is not yet matured enough to vote.

What will you do between now and election day to help mature that little child so you are not voting from dysfunction, and so that you are not voting for dysfunction?

Will you simply remain a child and let the media tell you what to do?

Will you just look at the candidates and at how they are portrayed and vote solely on what you think you see, letting your own childhood history affect your voting choices without even realizing it?

Or will you find a way to explore how to make your choices not from a child place within you, but rather from a matured, adult place within?

© Judith Barr, 2012.

****

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

As we get ever closer to the 2012 election . . . we all need to explore how our reactions to the candidates – and, just as importantly, the perception of the candidates that the media gives us – can be a mirror to our own inner wounding. This is crucial in all areas of our lives . . . but especially as we head towards casting our vote to elect our country’s leaders.

Ask yourself . . . how do I feel when I hear each of the candidates speak? When I hear reports in the media about how each candidate “performed” in the debate or how each is doing the polls? And who else in my life has evoked this same feeling? Trace back this feeling as far back into your life as you can . . . to try to find the root of your reactions to each candidate.

You may need the help of a really good therapist to help you explore and truly heal to the root so you can make clear, sound decisions. If you would like to explore how you can more deeply explore these issues in your life, I welcome your emails.

Here’s a list of other articles, posts, and videos that can help you as you explore . . .

“The Election Campaign and The Mob Mentality”
Article:
http://judithbarr.com/2016/07/21/the-election-campaign-and-the-mob-mentality-2/
Video:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-FBAySAmO8Q&feature=plcp

“It’s Election Time: Are You A Responsible Citizen?”
Article:
http://judithbarr.com/2012/09/04/its-election-time-are-you-a-responsible-citizen/
Video:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UqHjL_p-RM8&feature=plcp

“Imagine It’s Election Day – Do You Really Know The Person You’re Voting For?”
Article:
http://judithbarr.com/2012/08/30/imagine-its-election-day-do-you-really-know-the-person-youre-voting-for/

“Elections – Yesterday and Tomorrow”
Article:
http://judithbarr.com/2010/11/14/elections-yesterday-and-tomorrow/

Imagine what our country would be like if we all did our own inner healing work, and could choose our leaders from a place of clarity, rather than from our woundedness! And imagine the effect on our world!

THE ELECTION CAMPAIGN AND THE MOB MENTALITY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

As you prepare to vote in the election on November 6th. . . I urge you to search your mind, your heart, your soul. I urge you to explore within yourself . . . Have I been caught up on a wave of mob mentality? Have I been vulnerable in some way unconsciously to allowing myself to be carried onto such a wave? Have I suspended my own thinking? My own true feelings? My own best instincts? If so, how did that happen? If so, how do I get myself off that wave and find a grounded place from which to re-explore? How do I discover what it was in me that caused me to let go of myself and join the wave? What do I need to heal in order to prevent that in the future?

As you and we move toward the election, and a very important election it is . . . Whatever information you gather in the outer world, commit to find the truth.

But most important of all . . . heal within yourself the place where you could be caught up on a wave of mob mentality, completely disconnected from truth. Completely disconnected from who you really are.

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

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

© Judith Barr, 2012

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

Why do they lie? The candidates and their public relations people.
Why do they report the lies as though they’re the truth, with little if any fact checking at all? The media.

What does it say about our politics that there is so much lying? Absence of integrity.
What does it say about our government? Corruption.
What does it say about our country? Weaknesses coming out into the open more than ever.  It could mean deteriorating. Or it could be well utilized for healing and transformation. Which will you choose and participate in?

Now . . . what happens if we shift the focus of our questions?
What happens if we ask about ourselves as citizens?
What does it mean if politicians and government leaders lie . . . and we believe them?
What does it mean if the media reports the lies as though they were the truth . . . and we believe them?
What if the fact checkers expose the lies, but we, believing the lies, move on and don’t even pay attention to the facts?

What does it mean about us if we believe and act on those lies?
Does it mean we’re blind to lies? Deaf to lies? Numb to lies?
Why would we be unable to identify a lie?
Are we not fully present in the current moment?
Have we been triggered by what’s going on and, as a result, regressed to a young age? Regressed to the child we once were who’s still alive inside us? A child who couldn’t bear to know that Mommy and/or Daddy were lying?
A child who made up a lie about what was going on in order to bear the pain of his/her existence in a painful childhood home?

Does it mean we can’t discern the truth from a lie?
Do we just simply not want to know?
How many of us have pain and trauma in our childhoods that drive our lives from beneath our awareness?
How many of us have built defenses against that pain, defenses that we absolutely do not want to take down?
How many of us, if asked straight out, would say we just don’t want to know . . . the truth of what happened to us?
The truth of what we felt when it happened?
How many of us choose lies over truth as a defense against pain?

Does it mean we are “immune” to lies?
That we don’t let them penetrate into our consciousness?
That we don’t let them touch our feeling selves?
That we make ourselves believe they wouldn’t affect us, even if they were lies … but they aren’t?
Does it mean we have deadened ourselves to the pain and so we’re also dead to our own aliveness? And the aliveness of lies that deeply impact us and our lives?
Does it mean that our efforts to hold our pain at bay – both our young pain and that of today – create a blockage within us that keeps us from our true instincts, which could easily discern lies from truth?

Does it mean that our own fear of the truth still alive within us from long, long ago is being manipulated by candidates and their staffs?
Is being taken advantage of by those trying to get certain people elected?
Is being used against us, thus confusing us even more, seducing us and deadening us even more, distancing us from our instincts and wise choices even more?

More important by far than what the candidates and government officials are doing with their lies in so many different forms is what we are doing with ourselves to keep ourselves from seeing the lies, hearing the lies, feeling the lies . . . and knowing the truth. Our lack of introspection . . . our lack of truly knowing ourselves . . . more than anything else . . . keeps us from being truly responsible citizens . . . on election day . . . and on any day at all.

Which will you choose and participate in? Continued deterioration of our society? Or healing and transformation into what we have the true potential to become? The first requires nothing of you … except to purposely block your introspection, continue to accept lies as truth, say ‘no’ and ‘I don’t want to know’ to your part in what’s going on – your wounds unacknowledged, unworked with, unresolved, unhealed. The second insists on your putting your whole heart and soul into being in truth and doing the inner healing work to know the truth, work for the truth, respond to the truth . . . holding yourself and the process with compassion.

© Judith Barr, 2012

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

Imagine it’s Election Day. You walk into the voting booth.

Who are you going to vote for? Do you know how you came to that decision? Do you really know the person you may help put into office?

You may think you do. But it is highly unlikely!

You may think I mean it’s unlikely because so many candidates hide who they really are. Because so many put on a politically correct – or a supposedly politically correct – mask meant to do just that, hide themselves. Because so many candidates are the furthest thing from transparent. That’s part of why we keep discovering abuses of power by candidate after candidate, government official after government official.

But no, that’s not what I mean. I mean because . . . you may think you know e-x-a-c-t-l-y how you came to your decision, but that is more doubtful than you may imagine.

What if you have not been a particularly introspective person . . . and didn’t think that was necessary in relation to elections? What if you always thought you were introspective, but didn’t realize there is more introspection needed to be a truly good citizen, particularly in relation to elections? What if no matter how introspective you have been, you have so much more to understand about how our own unconscious can motivate us to make a choice – including a voting choice – or interfere with our making a healthy choice – including a voting choice?

Over the course of the coming weeks, I invite you to search within yourself to understand what is influencing your vote . . . beneath your awareness . . . to help you make the wisest, most conscious choice you can on election day.

Let me help you begin. Let’s look at an example of a major unconscious influence on your vote. What if when you were a child your father didn’t take care of your needs, but instead promised he would, and then just took care of his own. What if, without realizing it, you want the next president to take care of your needs – not from the adult place within you, but from the child still alive within you wanting a good daddy.

From a young place, you don’t even realize what you’re doing. You’re not even aware that you are going to vote for the “daddy you hope will take care of your needs.” Well, what if your own childhood pain seduces you into voting for the person who promises to take care of your needs and then breaks his promises and takes care of his own?

Did you ever think of that?

In my work, psychotherapy, this is called transference. It’s when you transfer onto a person, situation, or thing in the current day some person, experience, thoughts, feelings, attitudes, perceptions, senses you had with someone in the past . . . particularly an authority figure. It happens not only in the therapist’s office, but all through our lives, every day, often without our even knowing about it. It happens with spouses, partners, employers, employees, friends, neighbors, professionals we go to like doctors, accountants, lawyers. It even happens with our own children.

What if we elect the next president because most of us are in transference with him? We think we know who we’re voting for on Election Day, but we’re really voting for someone from our past that we have transferred onto our candidate. Or we’re really voting for the corrective or idealized antidote to someone in our past who treated us badly, and we’ve transferred the idealized daddy, for example, onto our candidate.

Without our being aware of what can influence our vote, we may elect someone because of our unconscious wounding. Without the understanding and the introspection to find out . . . instead of being truly responsible citizens, we could end up being automatons thinking we’re voting responsibly but not doing so at all.

And without doing the introspective work, the real soul searching to know what in you is causing you to vote for Joe Smith . . . you can so easily be manipulated to vote for someone you would otherwise, with consciousness, not vote for. So easily, so scarily manipulated. That kind of manipulation is done all the time, and in so many ways: by ads, by sound bites, by lies, by covering up the truth, by attacks, by endless chaos and confusion, by months and months and months of hype around the elections, not just by the candidates but by the media, too.

For example, in connection with the example above, what if you have been manipulated based exactly on your fear that the daddy won’t take care of your needs because your daddy didn’t when you were a child? What if the candidate leads you to believe, even promises you that in effect . . . he will fix things and soon, and he will be a good daddy and this time take care of you. Your pain and fear from childhood – the pain and fear that you may not even be aware of and certainly haven’t worked through – will set you up to be seduced to voting for this candidate.

Yes, I did say seduced.

And if you help elect that person, what will you experience when he doesn’t take care of your needs, but instead takes care of his own and the needs of his cronies? Will you realize that what you are feeling is once again the pain from daddy’s broken promises and your unmet needs? Or will you think it’s just a thing of today? And will you realize that because you weren’t aware of the connections, because you hadn’t worked to heal it, you co-created this repeat experience that doesn’t just affect you, but affects our whole country, even the whole world? Will you be able to take responsibility for not having been a fully responsible voter? A completely responsible citizen?

Or will you pooh-pooh it all, brush it all aside, dismiss it all . . . and just be angry at the new president’s broken promises. Or the government? Or politics?

We all have a part – a deeper part than we know, a deeper part than many of us are willing to know – in our political system, our government, our country, our world. We all have a part – more unconscious than we know – in how things are created and co-created in our world. We will all have a part – beyond what we’ve been taught – in what’s happening over the next two plus months of the campaign and in the election itself.

Will you take this in and become more responsible in finding what part you are now playing, what part you would play if you stay unaware, and what part you could play if you really explore your consciousness? On Election Day, will you truly be a responsible citizen? Or will your actions as a citizen have been manipulated by others and driven by your unresolved transference . . . not by the adult you, but rather by the child you once were long ago still alive within you, showing you she or he needs the help to heal?

© Judith Barr, 2012

ARE WE GOING TO PUT OUT ANOTHER BRUSHFIRE? OR . . .

TSA screenings and pat downs.
Our civil rights.
Wikileaks leaks.
North Korean nukes.
The economy.
Jobs – no jobs.
Houses.
Big Pharma.
Drug firms paying doctors.
Food safety.
What to do about Iran?
Social security.
Medicare.
Taxing whom?
Cutting taxes for whom?
Who gets the next bail out?
One election begins right after the previous one takes place.
Republicans or Democrats?
Right or Left?
Far left or Tea Partyers?
Women forced to wear red bracelets when menstruating!

One after another, we put out brushfires, trying to make everything better in our world.
We ask  . . .
our doctors to do this for us
our teachers to do this for us
our clergy people to do this for us
our congress people to do this for us
our governors to do this for us
our presidents to do this for us
our media to do this for us
our military to do this for us
our money to do this for us . . .
and on and on and on.

When are we going to realize that at this level of our evolution, the only thing we can do in the outer world is put out brush fires . . .
and that we will be putting out brush fires forever, if we don’t take a leap of faith in our development …
if we don’t deal with the real cause of the forest fire that lives within each of us.
The forest fire of our own fear of our feelings, our own defenses against our feelings, our own denial of our feelings,
and our own wounds, both conscious and unconscious, burning to be healed.

© Judith Barr, 2010