For Passage into The New Year … If Only …

If people would only do their own inner healing work,
They would be self responsible …
taking responsibility for their own thoughts, feelings, and actions,
and making repairs when they are accountable.

If people would only do their own inner healing work,
They wouldn’t blame other people –
individuals, races, religions, or cultures –
but would hold themselves accountable when they are, and
hold others accountable when they truly are …
and work to help bring about a repair –
inside and out, within and between.

If people would only do their own inner healing work,
they would stop acting out their wounds from long, long ago
on others – other individuals and others communally.
They would stop blaming, destroying, impoverishing, abandoning
because of their own feelings about how they were treated.
They would stop doing it individually.
And they would stop doing it communally.

If people would only do their own inner healing work,
they would stop transferring onto others in the current day,
the people and experiences from their early lives as children.
Instead they would come to truly see who the other person is
and come to truly interact with the other person as a real,
live, human being with a heart and soul.

If people would only do their own inner healing work,
they would develop the ability to feel safely and express their feelings safely …
And as a result, they would be more alive and vibrant from within,
not from fixes to charge themselves up,
but from the life that, from the healing, is freed to flow through them within.

If people would only do their own inner healing work,
the grown ups in our world would be true grown ups,
not children in big bodies, who look like grownups but are driven by the wounded child within.

If people would only do their own inner healing work,
it would be worth going through the memories
and buried painful feelings
in order to stop re-enacting and re-creating
those memories and feelings in their life today and tomorrow.
In order to stop recreating the suffering for themselves, those around them, and our world as a whole.

If people would only do their own inner healing work,
they would “get” how their individual journey impacts not only themselves, but others as well …
others as near as their closest intimates and as far as …
yes, further than their eyes can see!

If people would only do their own inner healing work,
they would heal the unsafety that lives inside them –
the unsafety from their experiences long, long ago.
By doing so, they would help to create a kind of safety from the inside out …
in their own lives – inner and outer – and in the life of our world.
A kind of safety that perhaps our world has never known.
A kind of safety not from defense, not from defenselessness,
but rather safety from healing,
safety from undefendedness.

If only …
Will you?

© Judith Barr, 2014

WHAT HAVEN’T WE LEARNED SINCE THE ORIGINAL 9/11?

Today is 9/11. It’s been 13 years since that tragic, shocking, scary, painful day. And today there are many other tragic, shocking, scary, painful things happening all over our world. What have we learned since the original 9/11? Or even more important, what haven’t we learned?

My heart breaks when I look at what we haven’t learned, for I see we haven’t learned what we need to most learn in order to create our lives individually and communally for the long term. My heart breaks when I see that not only have we not learned but we are blind and deaf to the reality that we have shut ourselves down and buried once again the emotional memory of things in our past. We’ve done that individually and communally. And once we bury our own experiences and feelings – whether personal or societal – we are bound to repeat those painful events in some way, shape, or form. A well-known quote by George Santayana says it in part: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

In my field of depth psychotherapy, we understand it even more deeply.  If we are afraid to feel the feelings attached to the memories we buried long ago, usually in childhood, we will live our lives working hard unconsciously to hold those feelings at bay and keep from ever experiencing those feelings again; but those very efforts will drive our lives, and the feelings beneath will haunt us, causing us to somehow  re-enact what we’ve buried in order to bring it back into our awareness so we can heal it. Heal it, not “fix” it. Heal it to the root.

The re-enactment is something we create beneath our awareness.

A baby’s mother yells at him when he asks for what he needs – by crying. He grows up and most likely without realizing it, he draws women to him who do the same; when he tells them what he needs, they get irritated with him, angry at him, humiliate him or some version of what his mother did. A woman’s father threatens her when she doesn’t do exactly what he wants, telling her if she loved him enough to do it right, he wouldn’t have to threaten her. Beneath her awareness, she grows up and chooses partners who abuse her in some way and blame her for their abusiveness.

These are two blatant examples of re-enactments. They are blatant to me. They may well be blatant to those witnessing these people carrying out their re-enactments. But the people in the re-enactments are not even aware of it. They are repeating the vicious cycle they began as children. Each time a person re-creates that original experience in a re-enactment, he proves to himself whatever he decided about himself, others, and life in the core experience. And that’s why people call it a vicious cycle. But also, each time the re-enactment occurs, it is the deep wound that haunts the person calling to her to heal.  If people don’t know it’s a call to healing, they might just believe they will “be there forever and never get out”… also part of the vicious cycle they felt as a child in their home, with their family.

If people do this individually, just imagine the collective impact on a society in which most of its people bury their feelings and their memories and strive to never experience them again, and aren’t aware of it. Imagine the impact on the society. Collectively then, the society will create re-enactments of its own life, its own history … whether that society is a country or a world.

So, in brief, burying the feelings … deadens us to the life of our emotions. The deadening causes re-enactments. Think about Nazi Germany about 70 years ago, where leaders started calling Germany “the homeland.” How many people in any society the world over do not cringe when they hear the leaders in the US say the words “the homeland”? How many in the US itself don’t cringe? Have they forgotten? Have they deadened themselves? And what about the consequence for those who weren’t here then, those who have forgotten and deadened, and those who haven’t made sure those who came after knew about the experience?

On top of a child’s reflex to bury and shut down feelings and memories, to be worked with and healed at a later time, we have people who don’t want to work with the feelings and memories. We have people who, thinking they can just be happy, don’t want to feel the pain and will do anything to keep from feeling the pain. They’ll drink, drug, have sex, work, fight, and more … they’ll become addicted to anything that might stave off the pain, for awhile.  Then the pharmaceutical companies come in and take advantage of that. What might have once been a positive intention to help those who were suffering while they could heal, in a big way turned into a means of making money off people’s suffering. The insurance companies, which also once may have had a positive intention, then jump on the bandwagon … and now you have people who believe they are alive and vital but are actually numbed and deadened to still-buried feelings which drive them and their lives beneath their awareness. People who now are like automatons … easy prey to be dominated by leaders who want to rule because of their own childhood wounds … and who, at least in the beginning, do so subtly.

Alice Miller wrote brilliantly about all of this. In her book, For Your Own Good, and in other writings, she wrote about Hitler and Nazi Germany and the roots of how that re-enactment occurred – not just Hitler’s part but also the part of the German people. In her work toward healing child abuse, she acknowledged that parents’ abuse comes out of their own childhood abuse; and that the abuse of their children won’t stop till the parents do their own healing … which they stay away from because they’re afraid of their own buried feelings and memories.  She also wrote in The Drama of the Gifted Child,* “The true opposite of depression is not gaiety or absence of pain, but vitality: the freedom to experience spontaneous feelings.**  It is part of the kaleidoscope of life that these feelings also can display the whole scale of human experience, including, but not limited to, envy, jealousy, rage, disgust, greed, despair, and mourning. But this freedom cannot be achieved if the childhood roots are cut off.”

Jeff Bridge’s new movie The Giver, based on Lois Lowry’s 1993 book of the same name, offers us a picture of a lot of what I’m talking about … It shows us a society that has cut off its memories and feelings and is supposedly happy, one in which this is done to people without their knowing, and one in which other destructive things are done under a guise. (I don’t want to say any more. Just when you see the movie, I hope you will look at it through the lens of what I’m offering in this post.)

So here we are on 9/11 … needing to learn in order to reclaim our real selves, our real society and world, our real possibilities and potentials.

Would we rather experience the pain and loss and fear that once occurred in our lives and still lives inside us? Or would we rather re-create and re-enact those things in our lives today and tomorrow and the tomorrow after that, creating more pain and loss and fear for ourselves and each other? And if we choose to keep re-creating and re-enacting, when the re-enactments once again bring those feelings up to feel and heal the root experiences … will we then say “yes” to the healing or will we choose to keep re-creating and re-enacting?

The sad truth is … most people prefer to avoid the original pain and create it again and again, not knowing their part in what is occurring in the present and will occur in the future. Not knowing the cause and effect relationship between the two. Not knowing how they have created or co-created what is occurring now and what will occur if they don’t ever know. But if you’ve read this far … now you do know. You may need to know more and understand more and experience more. But now you do know.

So now it’s time to know this also …

The hopeful truth is … feeling the original feelings and working through the original pain will steadily move us toward ending the re-enactments, both the personal and the societal ones. The hopeful truth is … knowing, remembering, feeling – not acting out on the feelings, but feeling them – and healing the deep and buried wounds to the root … will change our world and our universe. I have had the honor to have seen and help it change people’s lives. I have seen it change people’s families. I have seen it change people’s businesses. We can change our world from the inside out in this way. As long as there are painful experiences inside us that despite our burying them are driving our lives … trying on the surface won’t work long term. It may make temporary changes … like bandaids and medication … but the underlying feelings and memories will pop out again … in the re-enactments.

This is what we haven’t learned from 9/11 … and many other tragic, shocking, painful, scary, events. It breaks my heart to know this and to know how to help people in this process, and to see so very many people refusing to say ‘yes’ to the remembering, the feeling, the real healing to the root. It breaks my heart to know that when people say “no” to going through the process of feeling the pain alive within them, they say “no” to going through passageways that could lead them to real aliveness, real vitality, real presence in the current moment, and real hope.

My prayer as I write this to each of you who reads it …is that it will help you choose to work to change your re-enacting in your personal life, choose to participate in healing to the root, choose in this way to help in re-weaving the fabric of your life individually and of our lives communally.

Everything depends upon our healing to the root!

*****

* p 57, © 1981, from release as Prisoners of Childhood:  The Drama of the Gifted Child and the Search for the True Self

** She’s not encouraging people to act out or act on these feelings, simply to feel them.

© Judith Barr, 2014

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

As we experience this “13 year anniversary” of the September 11 terrorist attacks, let’s look at the ways in which our re-enacting of our childhood wounds and experiences affect our lives…the lives of our loved ones … the life of our country … and the life of our world.

Remember, if you can, what was evoked for you on the original September 11th. Remember what was triggered on the anniversaries between then and now. What is evoked for you today?

Can you identify what feelings you have had and have today that are familiar? Can you identify how those feelings are familiar from your childhood?  Can you identify how your responses today are similar to those in childhood?  Or how your responses now are the opposite of what you felt safe to feel as a child, even if it’s safe now to feel them and not act on them?

Part of discovering and re-discovering our feelings is to learn how to discern which feelings are from long ago calling to be felt as part of the healing, and which are today’s feelings calling to be felt and perhaps also expressed and acted upon.  It’s all part of a process of rediscovery and learning that helps us grow strong enough and wise enough to hold it all and feel it all safely.

As you go about your life – on each September 11 and all year – are there times when you have feelings that seem familiar from long ago … feelings that act as clues to times when you are re-enacting some painful experience from your childhood? Ask yourself: when did I have these feelings? Who or what in my long-ago life were these feelings in response to? And is the situation I experienced back then similar to what I’m living now?  Perhaps not blatantly but where might there be some kind of similarity in today’s experience that evokes for me the original one(s)? And … are there things in my past that seem too painful to remember? Am I defending against remembering, feeling, and healing those memories?

Commit to find and heal the root of those unconscious feelings so you can make the commitment to not re-enact painful destructive situations.

And I encourage you to read Alice Miller’s writings about the relationship between our individual wounds and our generational wounds and our global wounds …and the re-enactments that continue to create more wounding. I encourage you to read also my blog, PoliPsych, on the same topic.  Every post reveals this in some way. And I encourage you to go see The Giver, and to watch it at least once through the lens of this post.

There is so much to be learned about ourselves and our world from the roots of tragic events like 9/11, if we’re open and willing to learn, and if we’re open and willing to truly heal to the root, each and every one of us. And this healing is crucial for us if we are to help create sustainable healing, thriving, and safety in our world.

The Heartache of Today

My heart has been aching with all that is going on in our world today that is so painful and so destructive.  My open, aching heart reaches out to you to inspire, teach, and just be with you.

My heart aches
for the suffering in our world today.
My heart aches for the people who are under siege in their own homes.
For those who have fled their homes to escape destruction,
Yet are meeting destruction elsewhere.
For those who are the innocent bystanders of others’ willfulness.
For those who are the innocent yet seduced colluders of fierce willfulness.
My heart aches
for the suffering in our world today.

My heart aches
for those who are suffering in our world today.
For those who have been shot out of the sky,
For those kidnapped and taken from all that they know,
For those who have been used, misused, abused, tortured, and killed.
My heart aches for those who have been forced into slavery
And for those who have been seduced into slavery.
My heart aches
for those who are suffering in our world today.

My heart aches
for those who suffer, finding themselves without what they need –
for whatever reasons –
Starving, working harder than any person should have to work to survive,
And to help their families survive.
For parents who are unable to take care of and protect their children.
For people who live in constant danger …
Adults and children alike,
Even children who are unsafe living with their own parents –
Even in supposedly loving families, even in supposedly civilized countries.
It is more common than we want to realize.
My heart aches
for those who suffer, finding themselves without what they need.

My heart aches
for those who are suffering in our world today.
For those suffering from the experience of and the consequences of
Sexual abuse … greater in numbers than most wish to know.
People sexually abused
In their own homes …
By their parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, older siblings.
By their partners, friends, and people they know.
By strangers.
By those who are overtly violent –
Using it as an act of war or an act of power –
And by those who do it under a guise –
under the guise of play, the guise of taking care of them, the guise of helping them.
My heart aches
for those who are suffering in our world today.

My heart aches
for the suffering in our world.
For the suffering caused by us when we cannot and will not
Feel our own heartache.
For the suffering caused by our defending* against our own heartache.
For the suffering caused by our defenses that
Fight to be right, fight to win, fight to have it our way,
fight to have power over.
Fight to conquer, fight to have the last word, fight for some imaginary gain  —
something we lost long, long ago when we first built our defenses.

But more than anything,
My heart aches
for the suffering that is being experienced now
And will be experienced in the future …
Because over and over we insist on solving things only in the outer world,
Deluding ourselves into falsely believing that will create change we can sustain.

My heart aches
for the suffering we are now experiencing
And we will experience in times to come …
Because again and again we refuse to solve and resolve things at the root –
in our inner worlds –
So the changes would come from the inside out,
And, in truth, be sustainable.

Please don’t defend against your heartache anymore.
Don’t defend against your own feelings both today
And even more from your youngest days.
Don’t defend against your own powerlessness, hurts, fears as a baby
By lashing out at others today because of those who hurt you back then —
By withholding from others today because of those who hurt you once upon a time,
By willfully acting out your revenge on people and life in the current day,
While wanting to do, from underneath, whatever you want to do to those from your youth,
the consequences be damned.
Please don’t continue this normalized, socially accepted nightmare.

My heart will keep on aching
Until the needless suffering is done.
Where are those of you who will ache with me?
Where are those of you who understand the changes need to come from within?
Where are those of you who will help people make those in depth changes?
Where are those of you who do your own inner work  –
As part of daily living?
Where are those of you who will come forward to help?
Come join me.

This is a mammoth task.
But one we need to keep going with.
It covers more ground than I can name.
Yes, we need to stop bullies.
But even more, we need to heal the bully in us.
We need to negotiate cease fires between warring factions in countries.
But even more, we need to heal the splits, the factions within ourselves.
We need to stop the sex traffickers and free those they’ve captured.
But even more, we need to heal the sexual abuse in our societies, in our world,
By healing the sexual abuse and sexual distortions within ourselves…
So we don’t pass it down from one generation to the next.
None of us can do this alone.

My heart will keep aching until
we join together and help people heal the suffering from the past
that is feeding the suffering of the present and the future.
My heart will keep aching every time I hear somebody say,
“Move on. Just forget the past. It has nothing to do with the future. It’s just
dragging you down.”
The only tiny seed of truth in that statement is that
our past will drag us down to it for healing …
Our past wounding and trauma will haunt us …
Calling and calling and calling us
To do the healing we need to do.
Our past will haunt and call us,
Even if the haunting occurs through horrifying suffering
in the world outside and around us.
And even if we don’t understand at first
The calling that is actually occurring.

My heart will keep aching until we
Do the real work called for in front of our very eyes ….
Joining together to end the needless suffering
That comes from defenses we don’t want to dissolve,
Memories we don’t want to remember,
Feelings we don’t want to feel,
Changes we don’t want to make.
My heart will keep aching until …
I hope yours will, too …

*Read “Defenses Destroy” at http://judithbarr.com/2014/06/08/defenses-destroy/ to learn more about defenses and their harmful consequences.

© Judith Barr, 2014

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

Does your heart ache too … as you hear about, read about, see reports of the suffering in our world?  Can you allow yourself to feel the heart ache? Or do you have a reflexive movement to defend against your feelings?

Is your feeling response part of a lifelong pattern of defense against pain?  If so, what will you do to help yourself heal that pattern … for your sake and for the sake of our world?

Is your feeling response open-heartedness – from long ago or relatively new?  If so, what will you do to deepen and expand your open-heartedness and allow it to show you ever-new passageways … for your sake and for the sake of our world?

If you’d like to help even more to heal suffering in our world, help spread the word about the true roots of suffering in our world…and please feel free to pass this article on to others.

We don’t have to accept, resign ourselves to, settle for unnecessary suffering … if we are aware of the roots of that suffering and do the inner work we all need to do to heal our wounding and our defenses to the root.

WHITNEY, TELL THEM WHAT BOBBI KRISTINA IS REALLY SUFFERING FROM

Too many media people have reported that Whitney Houston’s daughter, Bobby Kristina, is suffering from anxiety and stress. This is such a tragic sign of our cultural emotional ignorance. And such a dreadful way to feed that lack of emotional awareness. Such an unfortunate way, perhaps without even realizing it, to prevent the development of emotional maturity in our world.

Emotional maturity is not about diminishing and discounting our feelings. Rather it’s about recognizing them, feeling them, and giving them the importance they have in our beings, in our lives, and in the life of our world. Emotional growth is not about rising above our feelings. Rather it’s about building the capacity to feel and express our feelings safely – safely for us and safely for those around us. It’s about growing the awareness of which feelings are here-and-now feelings and which are feelings from long, long ago . . . so we can discern which ones need to be simply felt and perhaps acted on in the here and now, and which ones need to be felt and expressed purposefully, consciously, and safely solely for the purpose of healing. Emotional maturity is about feeling so safe with our own feelings and our safe, healthy expression of our feelings . . . that we don’t have to defend against them, demean them, be contemptuous of them anymore.

Emotional wisdom is about being able to grieve . . . whatever loss you have experienced. It’s about being able to feel and express safely all the feelings that are contained within the cauldron of grief. It’s about being able to feel the grief in the current day, and tell when there’s also grief coming up from previous times, both recent and long, long ago.

Whitney, don’t let them tell Bobbi Kristina that she’s just feeling anxiety and stress. Let’s make sure your precious daughter knows she is grieving. Let’s make sure she has the help to grieve fully and deeply. Let’s help her know that along with her grief from your death, she will likely also be feeling grief from earlier in her life – like when you and her father divorced, among other times.

Whitney, let’s give our whole hearts to helping Bobbi Kristina and the rest of the world grow their capacity to grieve deeply, fully, and safely . . . in order to grow from and through the grief, instead of getting stuck in it and acting out on themselves, others, and our precious earth. Let’s help utilize your tragic, sudden, premature death, Whitney, for healing our distorted relationships with grief and many other feelings.

© Judith Barr, 2012

The Tragedy in Norway – An Escape Hatch in Action

Violence in our world is multiplying. It’s painful to read about, think about, feel. But if we turn away, instead of really resolving the problem, we feed the escalation.

Last week in Norway, we witnessed frightening, painful attacks. Anders Breivik killed and injured people in downtown Oslo and gunned down teenagers at a nearby camp. The consequences of this tragedy in the present day are huge and deep. Many want to simply blame and punish Anders Breivik. Although he must be held accountable, blame and punishment won’t bring real healing to the individuals affected, the town of Oslo, Norway, or our world. In addition to the present reality, Anders Breivik was almost certainly acting out ‘escape hatches’ developed in his psyche in childhood.

If you were at the point where you felt so much – sorrow, hurt, anger, fear – you thought you couldn’t bear it . . . what would you do? When I ask people this question, we discover their escape hatches.

As children, when we are traumatized, we instinctively protect ourselves, doing whatever we can to get away from the pain. We numb ourselves, close our hearts, deaden our bodies, strike out aimlessly . . . even before we have mental concepts or words. When thoughts and words become available, they are added to these responses – decisions we make about ourselves, others, life, and about how to escape suffering. Among these decisions: I’m leaving – running away. I want to die – kill myself. I could kill you – attack the other. I’ll go crazy!

With time, actions are too often joined to the feelings, concepts, and words . . . usually unconsciously. What was once vital self protection, now becomes a defense – hard, brittle, and even destructive – and typically ends up creating the very thing we intended it to defend us against. Think about it: All of the above decisions created to escape suffering end up creating suffering.

What if you’re a child who spends your first year with parents in conflict – openly or beneath the surface. Then, they divorce, your father leaves but begins a custody battle to take you away from your mother. The tension, split, abandonment, custody fight, create so much suffering for you. You feel you can’t bear it. You decide unconsciously: Someday I’ll get back at them and make them suffer like they’ve made me suffer. You’re bullied and abandoned in later childhood, and you make the same decision again.

You spend your early years being outwardly compliant, but as you grow you become rebellious. Eventually, perhaps unaware you’re fulfilling your early decision to make them suffer, you make an actual plan for revenge – not on your parents, rather on parent substitutes . . . current leaders and future authorities being trained for leadership. Eventually you enact your plan, conceived as a defense against pain, an escape from suffering many years ago early in your life.

Hearing the news, your mother ‘escapes’ and hides out, and your father tells the media you should’ve killed yourself to save him shame. Whether you know their reactions or not, they’re showing the whole world what you grew up with: Your mother would escape and hide out; to escape from his own feelings of shame, dad would have you kill yourself. How tragically painful!

So, unconsciously, adults act on these young, raw, primal feelings. The example above is actually a compilation of details from the life of Anders Breivik, woven together by my understanding of how we try to escape suffering from our earliest time.

Escape hatches aren’t just true of Anders Breivik. They’re part of being human, whether we want to know it or not. People are killing themselves and others – domestic violence, suicide bombings, school shootings, wars, and more. People are wreaking havoc on life . . . in fruitless efforts to escape their own suffering. Until taught, children don’t draw boundaries between feelings and actions. Sadly, many adults don’t either: not knowing they’re having young feelings, they act on their feelings like children . . . only with the force and power of an adult. Children still alive inside adults are running rampant through our world, under the guise of adults. Whatever their childhood wounds, decisions, and feelings, people act them out at the expense of us all.

These childhood decisions – conscious and unconscious – have more power to drive a person’s life and impact our world than most of us conceive.

Denying this won’t help our individual or communal situation. Hate or fear isn’t going to solve this. Punishment is no resolution. Nor is giving up and letting it happen. Responding by creating more suffering isn’t, and never should have been, an option.

We need to handle things in the present, but we also need to understand what’s happening under the surface within us, individually and collectively, and work to heal the way we respond to suffering.

If we don’t hide our heads in the sand, we can utilize our minds and hearts to help resolve the acting out of escape hatches in our individual lives and in the life of our world. It isn’t a quick fix process. But it’s well worth investing our time, energy, and commitments in this task. Here is a handful of things you personally can do to help, for starters . . .

  • Commit to find your own escape hatches. If we each find our own escape hatches, we are taking a first step in taking responsibility for our part in the problem.
  • Commit to not act on your escape hatches, even while you still think and feel about them. If we make acting on our escape hatches unacceptable to us, we give ourselves the task, the challenge, and the opportunity to heal to the root the long-ago pain that caused us to create the escape hatches.
  • Build your capacity to feel your pain, whether pain from the past or pain in the present day. If, instead of escaping, we are willing to feel the pain that existed and is still alive within us, as well as the pain that exists today . . . we will be able to prevent the creation of needless pain and suffering that would come from avoidance and escape of pain.
  • Help your children and the children in your life build their capacity to feel their pain. If we help our children feel their feelings as they come up, we give them an option other than escape hatches.
  • Be attuned to your children and the children in your life to sense if they have an escape hatch they need help with. We need to be very attuned and very sensitive here, but our children really need our help with this . . . and so does our world.
  • Be attuned to family, friends, colleagues in your life to sense if they have an escape hatch they need help with. This is also a very delicate matter, but you could make a real difference in a person’s life if you can help him/her not take destructive action to escape pain.
  • If you can’t do this on your own — and who can? — find a really good therapist who understands escape hatches and isn’t afraid of feelings.

Acting out our escape hatches can undermine our greatest possibilities and dreams and can create terrible destruction. Utilizing our awareness of our escape hatches well — on a thinking and feeling level — can open doorways to healing that most people have no conception of . . . yet.

© Judith Barr, 2011

RESOLVING THE DEBT ISSUES AT THE ROOT!

In our world today, there is a known and much talked about issue of personal financial debt and national financial debt. It is real and it is serious.

But there is another form of personal, national, and even global debt that is just as real and far more serious. It is at least part of the cause of the financial debt, and at the same time, it is also one of the most devastating consequences of the financial debt. This form of debt is numbing . . . emotional numbing.

As babies and little children, when we experience pain and trauma, perhaps one of our only protections is to numb ourselves to the painful experience and the feelings that go with it. But as we grow, what was once a protection against death, either physical or psychological, becomes a defense . . . not only against something in the outer world that will be painful or traumatic, but also – maybe even moreso – against those painful feelings from before being evoked and awakened again. And as we become adolescents and then adults, what was originally a reflexive protection becomes a defense against our own feelings, and then hardens more and more, becomes increasingly more brittle, and breaks off from its original intention, taking on a life of its own. The numbness that was once a young child’s momentary self protection becomes a consistent way of life.

If we numb ourselves to our feelings – in response to pain, trauma, crisis – it makes it impossible for us to consciously, purposefully, safely work with and work through the pain, trauma, crisis . . . to resolution. Instead, our conscious and unconscious energies are dedicated to staying numb, not feeling the pain – not feeling the here-and-now pain and not feeling the buried pain from the past. The consequence of this numbing: it becomes impossible to clearly discern if there is pain, if the pain is here-and-now, if the pain is from long ago still alive within us, or if the pain is a consequence of both. It also becomes impossible to determine if there is a problem in the current day that needs to be resolved, and if so . . . if it is in our inner world, our outer world, or both. And it also becomes extremely improbable that any problem that does, in fact exist, will be resolved with heart. If we are numb, we may feign caring, but where is the real caring? Buried beneath the numbness!

So from this new perspective . . . how did we get to the debt problem in our nation and our world today?

From numbing ourselves to our feelings. Some who experienced pain as children – abuse or huge lacks or excesses – may grow up greedy for money or power. Others who suffered as children, perhaps even from the same things as those who grow up greedy, may grow up resigned and hopeless. Unproductive, unfruitful, even destructive action and inaction will likely result from these places, supporting the numbness that holds at bay the real roots of the pain. Feeding the numbness that deadens us to our own suffering and to the suffering of others. Bolstering our temptation to not contribute our fair share or to turn a blind eye to the needs of others. Reinforcing any difficulty we have asking for help, offering help, and discerning what help will be truly healthy and what help will actually undermine by collusion or enabling, for instance. From our numbed selves, we may relate to resolving the current day problems as well as the childhood, still-alive-within-us inner problems in unfeeling, even heartless ways . . . that continue to cause us and others pain, and that continue to create more numbness.

These examples are just that – examples. And very tender ones, at that. The depth and breadth of the whole reality is much bigger, much deeper, and much more complex. But I invite, even urge you, to take these examples and this essence of the deeper debt problem . . . and to seriously work with this level of debt within yourself. I also invite you to share this with others you know . . . for we deeply, urgently need to resolve the debt issue at this level of our beings individually, nationally, and globally.

©
Judith Barr, 2011

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

As we near the deadline for debt ceiling negotiations in this country – and at any and every time during the year – make time to explore within yourself your own “debt of numbness.”

When and in what areas of your life do you feel numb emotionally?
And how does this emotional numbness affect your life and your interactions in the world?
Can you trace back to much earlier in your life when you began to feel numb? Go as far back as you can trace the numbness . . .

Only by exploring our own emotional numbness can we hope to make meaningful, sustainable change in our inner world and our outer world – in relation to debt, not just in the financial sense, but in any area of our lives and the life of our world. What will you do to help clear the debt of numbness within you?