“WE’RE NOT AFRAID!” – That’s Not The Truth!

“Don’t be afraid.”  “Don’t live in fear.”  “Don’t feel terror.”
This isn’t just the American way. It isn’t just the way of the West.
It’s likely the way of the world.
And contrary to the perhaps well-meaning intent of those who say it,
teach it, encourage it … rather than helping us,
that philosophy and way of life cripples us, individually and communally.

After the attack …

After the recent terrorist attack in New York City, many people responded by saying things like Mayor Bill DeBlasio said on the “Morning Joe” television program:1

“And I talked to a lot of them Joe, I talked to a lot of them. I’ve got to tell you their attitude was one of resilience, strength, persistence. They’re not going to let terrorists change our way of life. It made me very proud of New York City.”

What if their attitude wasn’t one of resilience, strength, and persistence? What if it was one of defending against the fear they felt?  What if it was a coping mechanism to cope with their fear without feeling it, working with it, utilizing it to move toward real resilience and strength?

And what if our way of life does need to change? What if the very occurrence of a terrorist attack is a mirror to us of something we need to examine within ourselves, something within that we need to heal or resolve, something in our lives – inside or out – that does need to change? Perhaps even our attitudes about feeling our fear?

Mayor DeBlasio continued with:2

“But to the point you made – we made a decision last night to keep those schools open, to keep people on their everyday lives because, look, it’s so important to not give in, to not blink when we are affronted. And I got to tell you – I’m sorry those kids have to go by that site but I also think it says to them, we can overcome this, we are stronger than this, we’re better than this.”

What is so important about not giving in to feeling our feelings? What’s so important about not blinking when we are affronted? Why are we so afraid of feeling our feelings? That’s the important question to ask ourselves: How and why have we created a world in which we are more afraid of our feelings than anything else?

How and why does this fear of our feelings get passed on generation after generation after generation …
in families … and from there, into societies?
3

How has it become a part of the fabric of our culture?  Here’s a nutshell description of something that has a deep, destructive effect on all of us:

     As babies and small children, pain and even more, trauma, are unbearable.  When we’re that young, we will feel and express our feelings for a time, but our reflex is to shut them down, cut them off, bury them … even moreso if our parents don’t respond to our feelings and our expression of pain in a healthy, soothing, way. Even moreso if our parents don’t take our feelings seriously. Even moreso if our parents caused our painful feelings. Even moreso if our parents are triggered by our feelings. Even moreso if our parents can’t tolerate our feelings because they can’t tolerate their own. Even moreso if our parents’ parents were the same way with them when they were babies and young children. 

     This can take place without a word spoken. Just putting a crying baby in the crib and walking out, closing or perhaps slamming the door behind you. Standing over the child in a threatening way. Refusing to respond at all, and just going on about your business.

     Of course it can take place with words, too. Telling the baby to ‘shut up.’ Telling the child, “Don’t cry or I’ll give you something to cry about.” Calling a little one a “scaredy cat” or a “big baby” when the child is crying to express feelings.  Telling a crying child “you’re too sensitive.” Insisting, “boys don’t cry,” or “big girls don’t cry.”  Or even imposing, “People in our family don’t cry.”  All of these interfere with a child’s natural way of feeling and expressing feelings.  All of these rupture the connection to self and to knowing self, within a little person – and then the big person that child becomes.

     This happens to too many children in our world.  More than we know. More than we can even imagine … but need to imagine.

     And once a child’s natural flow of feelings and expression is cut off, that child will then impose the same on others. Peers, partners, and children in his/her life.  

     This gets passed onto others and also taken out into society.  And then all the children, now adults, in society make this the societal norm.  Just as our leaders have done in the face of terrorist attacks. And then the leaders are re-enacting what they experienced in their own childhoods … but this time with their citizens. And then the leaders are also re-enacting what the children-now-adults experienced in their young lives – not responding to the real feelings their citizens are having. And the citizenry responds in the re-enactment like automatons, not feeling, just functioning to please the authority figures in their lives. 

So what’s so good about not giving in? What’s so good about not blinking? What’s so good about not feeling?  It makes it possible for the authority figures to control us. It makes it possible for the authority figures to not be confronted with their own feelings, fears, and re-enactments from their childhoods. And it makes it possible for us not to be confronted with our own feelings, fears, and re-enactments from our childhoods.

Leaders saying “Don’t Be Afraid!”

Again after the recent New York City attack, Stephen Colbert said on his show:  “New Yorkers will never live in fear.” How many millions of people watch Stephen’s show? How many millions of people are affected by him every day?  How many millions of people take what he says to heart? And for how many of those millions is his statement a repeat of what they grew up with?

Our leaders can be people in every arena of life who impact us. Comedians, media people, spiritual leaders, doctors, business leaders, and more. And this isn’t only occurring in America … UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said on “Morning Joe” after the terrorist attack in London:4

 “The city is now getting on with its business.
All our transportation systems are running.
Parliament is continuing its work.
It is business as normal.
That is the way to defy these people.
The worst way to lose the war on terror is to be terrified for a second.
We are not terrified and we will go on.”

When I heard him speak, I could hear his parents teaching him this. I could hear him being told “don’t be terrified for a second.” I could hear him being told “You are not terrified and you will go on.”  I could hear him making decisions to not be terrified so he would win, not lose. I could hear him making childhood decisions to defy those who terrify him … and imposing those things from his childhood on his followers.

What is so good about defying?

In my experience as a depth psychotherapist, I have witnessed the damage caused by defiance. I have seen people who have used defiance as a defense in childhood when they needed it, but when they carried it into adulthood, it has undermined them, sabotaged their possibilities, and caused harm to them and others. Maybe it saved their lives as children. Maybe it helped them feel powerful to be able to be defiant – although in truth, it was pseudo-power. But as adults, there is a more truthful, integritous way to take care of ourselves than to defy.

A related example: Many years ago I worked with someone. I’ll call her Sharon. She was in a group of therapists I was leading. Over time, she shared that she had a successful practice, was close to her family of origin, had a family of her own, and numerous friends. She didn’t reveal many wounds from childhood. She seemed to the group members to be, as people would say, ‘together,’ and was respected by all of them. I saw all of this, but I was uncomfortable. Something wasn’t revealed yet that reflected itself in the angry set of Sharon’s jaw, the way she was in her body, and the invisible wall she put between herself and others, including me.

One day in group, a very long time after the group was formed, following another member’s deep feeling anger work, Sharon said to him, meaning to support him: “The best revenge is living a good life.”  There it was. The clue I needed to what wasn’t in alignment for Sharon. The clue for what was distorted and unhealed.  The “good life” she was living was her way of carrying out revenge. On whom?

Now I could offer her help I wasn’t able to offer before … so she could heal to the root the revenge she was taking and the wound(s) from which it originated.  As we worked deeply, her jaw softened over time. She held herself differently in her body – not like she was fighting all the time. The invisible wall thinned and thinned allowing people to be truly close with her, not just the guise of closeness. And the good life she was living was real, an act of truth and love, not a guise for revenge.

The impact of revenge and the impact of defiance are very similar… both often hidden under a guise of goodness and both harmful and destructive, each in its own way.

More Leaders And Citizens Saying, “Don’t Be Afraid!”

After the attacks in London, Theresa May said:5  “We are not afraid and our resolve will never waiver in the face of terrorism.”

After the terror attacks in Brussels, the Archbishop of Wales counseled, “Don’t be afraid.”6

Following the Charlie Hebdo and Hypercacher shootings in France, citizens of Paris were heard repeating,  “Meme pas peur,” the meaning of which is roughly, “Who, me, scared?”7

Michelle Obama, in her final speech as first lady insisted:  “So don’t be afraid —- you hear me, young people? Don’t be afraid.” 8

To top it all off … we have accepted Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s famous quote, from his first inaugural address, as almost an American motto:9

“This great Nation will endure as it has endured, will revive and will prosper. So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.”

And my response, from decades of helping people do inner healing, from a lifetime of seeing the impact of an individual’s wounds on society …What if the only thing we have to fear is not fear itself, but our fear of our fear?  What if our fear of our fear keeps us disconnected from ourselves, from our feelings, from the life that flows within us, from the truth of who we are? And from the possibility of the healing that can help us move on in truth and integrity?

It is not fear that cripples us …

And what if Roosevelt’s fear of fear was his own personal fear, from his own young wounds? And what if he thought it was his fear that paralyzed him? What if he transferred his own experience onto our country and added his own personal injunction not to feel to the cultural injunction against feeling that already existed?

It is not fear that cripples us. It is the fear of our fear, our burying it beneath our awareness, and from that buried fear, our creating frightening things in our lives and our world – without even realizing it. It is not fear that cripples us. It is the fear of our fear and the resulting inability to safely feel it, process it, utilize it for healing, and to let that help us move on openly, naturally and organically, rather than hardened, defensively and forcibly.

We can utilize these times we are in to weave a new underlying fabric of our societies:

From one that cuts us off from our feelings and therefore from ourselves
to one that supports us to feel our feelings safely –
name them, know which are for just feeling and expressing safely,
which are to use as healing,
and which are to act on in safe and healthy ways.

From one that cuts us off from our feelings and therefore from ourselves
to one that helps us, through our feelings,
reconnect to ourselves, each other,
and the Earth we live on.

I can imagine our world with that new fabric of feeling.
Can you?
Will you create it with me?

© Judith Barr, 2017

NOTE:  If you are from the Middle East or the Far East and know examples of leaders who have told their people not to be afraid, please send the examples to me. It will help me to help people see that this occurs all over our world, and the effect it has on us.

NOTE 2: Feel the difference between what the leaders above have said to us and what German Chancellor Angela Merkel said after a terrorist attack in Berlin:  “”We do not want to allow ourselves to be paralysed by terror. It might be difficult in these hours, but we will find a strength to continue living life as we want to live it in Germany, in freedom and openness and together.”  She didn’t say, “Don’t be afraid.”  Instead she said, “Don’t be paralysed by terror.”  What a difference to have a leader who doesn’t banish our feeling our fear, who encourages us not to be paralyzed by our fear, who acknowledges it might be difficult, and who offers to us a way to accomplish this – find our strength.
(http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/angela-merkel-berlin-attack-terrorism-response-statement-germany-lorry-christmas-market-a7486246.html)

http://www1.nyc.gov/office-of-the-mayor/news/710-11/transcript-mayor-de-blasio-appears-live-msnbc

http://www1.nyc.gov/office-of-the-mayor/news/710-11/transcript-mayor-de-blasio-appears-live-msnbc

3 You can read more about this dynamic in other blog posts on Polipsych. And you can hear more about it on the mp3 or audio cassette, Feeling: A Form of Prayer, part of the series: The Spoken Word on Behalf of the Feminine, for men and women alike.  http://judithbarr.com/audio-tapes/feeling-a-form-of-prayer/

http://www.msnbc.com/morning-joe/watch/boris-johnson-attacker-s-values-will-not-prevail-904638531896

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C0rJrIcKvvg

http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/wales-news/its-hard-not-afraid-leaders-11097237

http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2015/11/paris-france-scared-reason-151116055018370.html

8 https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/answer-sheet/wp/2017/01/06/michelle-obama-dont-be-afraid-you-hear-me-young-people-dont-be-afraid-text-of-her-final-speech/?utm_term=.d1b6874be106

http://historymatters.gmu.edu/d/5057

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

THE POWER OF ONE,
THE POWER OF A FEW

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

© Judith Barr, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The lesson at a deep level – inner and outer …

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Brian signs the letter: The Breakfast Club

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

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

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

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

My prayer … that we use it for healing.

© Judith Barr, 2017

*Morning Joe, June 15, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

WE’RE ALL HUMAN

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

© Judith Barr, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So Andy has a choice:

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

or

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

© Judith Barr, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

THE YOUNG POPE: A CANDID MIRROR FOR US ALL

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

~~~~~~~~

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

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

You’ve never budged…”

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

“You want to make the world pay…”

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

“You’ll be a terrible pope…”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

© Judith Barr, 2017.

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

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

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

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

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

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

INNER ACTIVISM IS CRUCIAL, TOO.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

With thanks, hope, and many blessings …
Judith

AS WE ENTER THIS NEW YEAR . . . KNOW THAT WE ARE NOT POWERLESS

Even though we are witnessing people misusing and abusing their power
right out in full view . . .

Even though we know there are people misusing and abusing their power
in hiding and under the guise of something good . . .
We are not powerless.

Even if we are misusing or abusing our own power –
consciously or beneath our awareness –
as a defense against our feelings of powerlessness . . .
We are not powerless.

Even if we are working in the outer world
to keep from feeling powerless . . .
We are not powerless.

Even if we are praying for Divine power
to help us, or even save us . . .
We are not powerless.

Even though we are feeling powerless . . .
We are not powerless in the ways we are feeling.

Even though we are feeling intensely powerless . . .
We are not powerless in the ways we are feeling.

If we follow our feelings of powerlessness
to deep within ourselves,
to ancient times early in the history of our being . . .
We can find our ancient experiences and feelings of powerlessness. . .
We can feel them . . .
We can heal them . . .
We can tease them away from our feelings of today . . .

Bringing about a transformation
that enables us to feel the reality of today . . .
whatever feelings of powerlessness are actually from the current situation . . .

And even more, it enables us to feel . . .
whatever actual power we have in today’s world.
And even more still, in this communal journey we are on together . . .
it enables us to end our personal part
of creating powerlessness today and tomorrow
from our powerlessness once-upon-a-time, long, long ago.

We have the power of centered, grounded prayer . . .
We have the power of centered, grounded action . . .
And
The hope that springs from deep within . . .
unlike any other . . .

We have the power of doing our own centered, grounded inner healing work . . .
Of following that feeling of powerlessness
deeper and deeper
to its ancient origins within us . . .
Of healing that ancient feeling of powerlessness at its root . . .
And of leaving ourselves free to feel and use our power well . . .
From the inside out . . .
Individually and communally.

Free to use our power
Wisely, responsibly, committedly . . .
From the inside out . . .
In Truth and Love . . .

Many blessings in these times . . .
Many blessings as we begin our year of 2017
Individually and together . . .
Judith

© Judith Barr, 2017

DARKNESS FALLS

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

Darkness falls …
when we make a mistake.

Darkness falls …
when we experience failure.

Darkness falls …
when we fall down.

Darkness falls …
when we suffer a loss.

Darkness falls …
when we experience tragedy.

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

Darkness falls …

 

Darkness falls …
when someone hurts us.

Darkness falls …
when someone scares us.

Darkness falls …
when someone lords their power over us.

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

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

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

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

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

Darkness falls …

 

Darkness falls …
when we hurt someone.

Darkness falls …
when we scare someone.

Darkness falls …
when we lord our power over someone.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Darkness falls …

 

Darkness falls …
at the end of the day.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

© Judith Barr, 2016

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

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

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

 

After the Very Dark Election …

How Did We Get Here?
In The U.S. and All Over the World?

All over our country people are trying to explain how we got here. All over our world people are trying to explain how we got here.

There are many, many explanations at so many different levels of understanding. But I rarely hear anyone talking about the deepest levels of all, the place within each of us where beneath our awareness, we have participated in co-creating “here” – this time, situation, circumstance we’re in both individually and communally.

Each of us was once a child. Each of us experienced pain and wounding of some kind as a child. The limitless possibilities include these: It may have been a parent’s illness or death. It may have been the divorce of parents. Perhaps it was an alcoholic parent. An abusive parent – emotionally, verbally, even physically. A parent who sexually abused the children in the family.  A parent who didn’t protect the children. A parent who didn’t make enough money to support the family. A parent who left.

The wounding we experienced as children calls on us to heal. If we do our own inner healing work, we are less likely to pass our wounding onto our children. If we don’t do our own healing work … whether we realize it or not, whether blatantly or ever so subtly, we will wound our children and others around us in ways similar to or related to how we were wounded.

Over the many years of my life as a depth psychotherapist and “Spiritual Midwife,” most of the people I’ve worked with – no matter how outwardly functional and even successful – have been deeply wounded – whether they were aware of it or not. And almost all of them had parents who never did their own healing work. Yet, somehow, the people who came to work with me were called to do their work – most of them consciously for their own sakes, many of them also purposefully for the sake of their children, and some of them, in addition, intentionally for the sake of our world.

These wise, courageous people have either known already or learned quickly how painfully we wound others when we don’t tend to our own wounding. If we’re afraid of being attacked in some form, we may hide ourselves deep, deep within, and not take part in life, as a result. Or we may harden our hearts, build walls, and push others away as a defense. We may even learn to fight hard, perhaps viciously, in an attempt to make sure we’re not hurt again in the way we were hurt originally.

At the heart of it, though, is a very young child within us, who was wounded long, long ago – who was hurt, frightened, attacked, abandoned, confused, blamed, scapegoated, bullied and more … long, long ago.

When we get older – to the age we think of as “grown-up,” we believe there is no longer a little boy or a little girl still alive within us. But that belief is not true. We may have been told to “stop acting like a baby,” “grow up,” “get over it,” and “move on,” Yet no matter what we’ve been told by individuals or society, in every one of us there is still alive within that child we once were. And no matter how adult we appear or would like to believe we are … that little child is driving our lives more than we can even imagine.  It is not just coming along for the ride. It’s driving our lives from beneath our awareness.

That child is driving our lives with …
decisions we once made about ourselves, others, and life;
defenses we created to keep the bad memories away;defenses we built to keep the painful feelings at bay, usually buried deep within us;
coping mechanisms we devised to manage our young lives in the midst of painful experiences and feelings and responses;
a child’s plans to stay in control no matter how out of control we felt or we actually were.

Our country and our global society is made up of billions of people who suffered as children in wounded cultures with wounded parents who didn’t do their own inner healing work, and, as a result … wounded their children.

We, the people who look and seem like adults, are again at a major crossroads. We can once again ignore the fact that it is the untended wounding that has brought us where we are … the child within who wants mommy or daddy to make everything better and is blinded and disempowered by anyone who promises to do that. Or we can see that healing the wounding within is critical at this juncture: for without the healing, we remain little children, blinded by our wanting what little children want, idealizing the “mother” or “father” who falsely promises things as a way to seduce and grab power for herself or himself, and then never delivers a healthy solution for the children, for the people, for the country, and for the world.

In my journey these past few weeks I have been reaching out to people again and again, to teach this to more people.  I have been again and again sharing what I have for years … prayer is important, but prayer alone isn’t enough; action is important, but action alone isn’t enough; in addition to prayer and action, we each need to do our own inner work with the child still alive within us, driving our individual and communal lives.

In these past few weeks, most of the people with whom I work have been doing this work within themselves. On my professional listservs and online groups, a few have spoken of looking within themselves to find what their part is in what is going on.

One of my listserv mates sent out a quote that is quite profound and akin to what I am saying.  The quote is from Norman Mailer, American novelist and journalist.*

“I really am a pessimist. I’ve always felt that fascism is a more natural governmental condition than democracy. Democracy is a grace. It’s something essentially splendid because it’s not at all routine or automatic. Fascism goes back to our infancy and childhood, where we were always told how to live. We were told, Yes, you may do this; no, you may not do that. So the secret of fascism is that it has this appeal to people whose later lives are not satisfactory.”

This is so important. Please cut through it to the heart of the matter. Our youngest selves are helpless, powerless, wanting our parents to make it better. Because we are vulnerable little beings, we submit to the mother or father telling us what to do, under the guise of the promise to be taken care of or the threat to be punished. And we act this out in our school years, our marriages, our jobs, and our lives as citizens.

This has to be healed. We have to – not by some imposition from the outside, but by an inner core calling – we have to heal this.

A dear friend asked me a few days ago, “How did we get here?”

I asked her: “Are you needing me to just listen to your expression of your feelings? Or are you asking for my understanding of how we got here?”

She said she was asking for my understanding.

I explained to her in essence what I’ve explained to you above.

Her response: “So it’s that simple? It’s primal? And no matter what else is happening, the primal takes over?”

“Yes,” I said. “You said it perfectly! It’s primal! And the primal takes over.”

Thank you, dear friend. For your simple, concise, powerful, accurate summary of what I shared with you.

It’s primal! And no matter what else is happening, the primal takes over.
We are being called to heal at the primal level.
All of us.

We have been called to heal at the primal level many times individually, and many times communally.  In the US we were called to heal at the primal level right after 9/11. And we were called to heal at the primal level right after the 2008 recession began.

Instead we chose to only think of the cause of those events as here-and-now occurrences.
Instead we chose to only think of the feelings triggered by those events as here-and-now feelings.
Some of the causes and some of the feelings were from the time of those two events. But the most intense, most raw, deepest, and most core causes and feelings were from our own individual primal experiences as children. And our ‘no’ to tending to those root wounds fed and contributed to where we are today.

So I remind you once again …
so that now you can become aware of it …
How did we get here?
It’s primal!
And no matter what else is happening,
the primal takes over …
until we heal it!

© Judith Barr, 2016

* http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/108634-i-really-am-a-pessimist-i-ve-always-felt-that-fascism
** NOTE: To read the articles that preceded this one in the series, go to http://judithbarr.com/the-election-trilogy/

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

The safety of our world is in our hands.
The safety of our world is in our hearts.

We can all help to create the safety so crucial to our lives and our world…Won’t you join me and…
…Refuse to normalize what is unhealthy and destructive.
…Say “no” to idealizing what is painful and even cruel.
…Resist being seduced by what is, in reality, harmful for us.
…Dissolve our denial.
…Realize we each have an impact.
…Commit to healing our own childhood wounds.
…Get the help we need to do that.
…Don’t give up!

Imagine if everyone in our world committed to do just that! Imagine how different our nation and our world would be!