INSTEAD OF FORCE, WHAT ABOUT MAGIC?

In a number of days, I will begin leading a six-day intensive
with participants who are deeply committed to their healing and growth.
Over time, they have come to know there are depths within them
they didn’t know before,
and that as they meet themselves in their own depths,
they will have the opportunity to discover or re-discover
traumas they experienced long, long ago,
feelings they buried in the midst of the trauma,
thoughts, decisions, behaviors, physical responses, and plans (conscious and unconscious)
for how they would relate to others and life itself.

They will have the opportunity to find where they are stuck within
in their own healing and their own development.
In a world where so much is attempted by force,
they will get to experience the reality of healing.
In a world where so much seeking is done in the outer world,
they will have a chance to search for themselves in their inner world.
In a world where so many attempt to accomplish in the outer world,
they will have the chance to open into their inner world
to make felt but unseen changes within
from which something new will be birthed inside,
and something new will be created from the inside out.
In a world where so much seeking to connect with the Divine
is done through prayer,
they will have the opportunity to dissolve within their very selves,
the blocks between them and the Divine.

They will meet within themselves
the light and the dark
and go through the gateway of each.
They will meet what they experienced long, long ago;
they will meet their involuntary responses to their ancient experiences;
and they will meet the defenses they created in response –
once protections for the child they were,
now, if acted out, destructive for themselves and perhaps others.

They will do this safely,
and purposefully for healing,
and at their own organic rhythm and pace.

They will do this for themselves.
They will do this for those they hold dear.
They will do this for our world.
For every piece of work we do during this intensive
will have a healing effect on us all.
There is a magical mystery in this healing work
that changes things inside and out.

I am so thankful for these people committed to healing to the root …
for themselves …
for all of us.

© Judith Barr, 2016

WHAT IS THE REAL CATASTROPHE?

We hear the word catastrophe a lot these days. In the news. In the mental health arena. In the therapy room. In relation to all arenas of life. According to different sources, what’s happening to our climate is a catastrophe. What’s happening to our earth is a catastrophe. What’s happening to people who have lost their jobs and are unable to support themselves and their families financially is a catastrophe. What’s happening to people who will be unable to have adequate healthcare is a catastrophe. What’s happening to people whose homes have been threatened and/or destroyed is a catastrophe. What’s happening to people whose lives in their country are being threatened is a catastrophe. What’s happening to the truth and integrity of our country and our world is a catastrophe. What’s happening to the leadership in our country and our world is a catastrophe.

I could go on and on and on. But I won’t. Each of these is, indeed, a catastrophe in its own right. Each of these is a catastrophe in the current time – 2017.  Step one in responding to a catastrophe in the here and now is to validate it, have compassion for the person experiencing it, and find what actually needs to be done in the here and now.

But there is more to it than this. And given the presence of catastrophes in today’s world, it’s curious, even odd that many people in the mental health world teach their clients not to “catastrophize.”  They are trying to help their clients calm themselves. They are trying to teach their clients that thinking about catastrophic outcomes will upset them unnecessarily. They believe that is a good thing to teach. It might be helpful for a client to have the word “catastrophe.”  When we can name something, it empowers us. But if the therapist stops there … the therapist leaves the client able to know there is a source of power, but unable to see it or find it.

There is also a similar cultural response … as demonstrated in the childhood fairy tale about Chicken Little. Despite some published endings and interpretations of the fairy tale, all the people I talked with about this had the same experience. Basically: When they were told the story as children, it was made very clear that you shouldn’t say what you’re afraid of. You shouldn’t say when you see something happening that feels bad or threatening … or you will be dismissed by people telling you mockingly “The sky is falling! The sky is falling!”

Someone who is afraid of catastrophes certainly doesn’t need to be dismissed, and most certainly doesn’t need to be mocked. And even more certainly doesn’t need to be threatened out of expressing their fears with the warning of humiliation.

Someone who is afraid of catastrophes, doesn’t need to be told to stop “catastrophizing.” He doesn’t need to be told to stop thinking that way. She doesn’t need to be told to stop imagining those catastrophes. He needs to be helped to understand that the catastrophes he’s thinking of are very likely catastrophes he has already experienced in his life – possibly catastrophes he doesn’t even remember consciously. Likely catastrophes he has no words for. Likely catastrophes he had no way out of as a child. He needs help to understand that we can guide him safely as he works his way back to the earlier catastrophes and heals from them. She needs to be taught that as we move toward the original catastrophes, it is likely her fear of catastrophes in the future will ease; she will stop projecting the past catastrophes on the future. That is step two in helping people with catastrophes. If you can help someone know the catastrophe that they’re fearing in the future has actually already happened, long, long ago … that has a calming effect of a different nature. It will likely still be scary, but it’s a different kind of fear. It’s a fear from long ago, still alive within.

It gives the person a chance of having a step three: to find and heal from the original catastrophe… and this time with help. This time not alone. This time as an adult with a little child still alive within.

Here’s an example* …

Burt’s mother hit him from the time he was very, very young. She smacked him anyplace within her reach. He remembers looking down at his leg and seeing her handprint on his little thigh below his diaper. He recalls her holding his hand to pull him close enough to smack, and his trying to stay far enough away that she couldn’t reach him, while she swatted at him again and again. He remembers feeling terrified. These were individual catastrophes for little Burt. But even these two alone would create a fear and an anticipation of more catastrophes to come. A waiting … for the other shoe to drop.

Yet these were not the only two times Burt’s mother treated him this way. In fact, for Burt it was like living in an ocean of abuse and waiting for abuse through his entire childhood. His childhood, in other words, was filled with catastrophes. Catastrophes in the moment and catastrophes about to happen.

Burt’s anticipating and fearing that would continue in his life today and in the future is not catastrophizing, but rather transferring that young ocean of catastrophe onto the future. And since no one helped Burt as a child, or helped him understand and heal the child catastrophes as a young adult, he kept re-enacting and re-creating this in his adult years. He drew to him women who mostly didn’t hit him with their hands, but smacked and swat at him consistently with their words, their looks, their energy, their feelings. That left him continuing to live in an ocean of catastrophe.  And he mistakenly thought it proved that life is a catastrophe. That relationship is catastrophe.

Without even realizing it, Burt contributed to the election of a woman president of his country – one who verbally smacked at those who disagreed with her and those who didn’t do what she wanted. Among the others who contributed to this election’s win by an abusive president were other men and women whose mothers smacked and swatted at them when they were little girls and boys… creating catastrophes in their young lives. And since none of them had the help to heal consciously from the original catastrophes, they were all re-creating their early catastrophes in the life of their nation. And almost everyone in the nation thought it was a current national (and global) emergency only. Only a few knew that the citizens unconsciously and communally had helped to create this national catastrophe out of their childhood catastrophes. And try as they would to inform their country-people … to show their country-people … the citizens didn’t want to know. They seemed to really believe the situation today was the only catastrophe. They seemed to prefer to live in and co-create the current abuse and catastrophe rather than remember, feel, and heal their past young experiences of catastrophe.

Sandy’s experience is another example of the real catastrophe …

Sandy’s father touched her in ways and places he never should have touched her … from the time she was 3 years old – that she can remember –  or perhaps even younger beneath her memory. Sandy’s father would hold her and rub her back when she was crying. He would sing songs to her in a sweet voice, too. It seemed loving and comforting to little Sandy. Eventually, once Sandy became acclimated to this, he began to rub other parts of her body – first with his hands and then with other parts of his body. With each step, what once seemed loving and comforting to Sandy eventually felt alarming, scary, and painful. And his use of the guise of comforting her to cover up his molesting her was terribly confusing to her. Everything got short-circuited for Sandy – love, comfort, pleasure, trust, and even wanting. Her world was one of catastrophe after catastrophe till the air she breathed was made up of molecules of the impending doom of catastrophe or actual catastrophe itself.

Sandy’s mother didn’t help things either. She didn’t protect Sandy. She dressed Sandy up like a little doll from the time she was very young, certainly by 3.  And with each year her mother dressed her more and more like a little model – already looking like a teenager when she was only 8. In this way, Mom colluded in the creation of Sandy’s vulnerability to men molesting and assaulting her. Her high school dates all wanted to get inside her, the consequences be damned, moreso than the stereotype of high school boys. Her first real boyfriend would draw her in with comfort and tenderness and then use her in every way he wanted to satisfy his own appetites. And the same with her first husband.  Sandy was frozen.  She believed she was frozen in the teenage and early 20’s catastrophe of sexual abuse. Having repressed and forgotten her early experiences of sexual abuse in her childhood home with mother and father, she had no way, without help, to realize she was really frozen in her early childhood catastrophes of sexual abuse.

No one helped Sandy as a child. No one helped her as a teen. No one helped her in her 20’s. A whole life-stream of catastrophe. So when she was 28 and the presidential election was coming, Sandy was frozen in the face of the male candidate who promised to provide comfort for the citizens and the country. Comfort in different forms for different citizens. But comfort nonetheless. In her frozen state, and beneath that with such a hunger for comfort, Sandy was vulnerable and, as a result, seduced into supporting him. So she did. Whatever was exposed about the candidate, she still supported him … with no awareness that she had transferred her hunger for Daddy’s comfort onto the candidate. With no awareness that she had transferred the whole catastrophe stream from her childhood onto the process of the buildup to the election.

When the candidate’s molesting of women was unexpectedly exposed to the public, Sandy still supported him. She was still frozen and unconscious in the place of a child, living with daddy, needing daddy, needing attention from daddy, needing comforting from daddy, needing daddy to take care of her, and more …

Other women who had been molested by their fathers as children were split. Some were still supporting the candidate, through mechanisms like Sandy’s frozenness and unconsciousness. And others, triggered by the revelations, woke up and realized what the candidate was doing and what their fathers, uncles, grandfathers, brothers had done. Those who woke up stopped supporting the candidate as the catastrophes from their own childhoods became real and conscious to them again.

Without awareness, those women who continued to support the candidate were participating in the creation of a catastrophe in the current day out of their inability, unwillingness, fear of looking at, working with, and healing the catastrophes in their childhood.  There were others, too, who supported this candidate out of their “no” to making conscious their experiences of sexual catastrophe as children. Men who had been sexually abused as children. Men whose fathers had molested and sexually abused or harassed their mothers, sisters, women out in public … or even women on TV. Many of these men felt powerless in the face of sexually abusive men.  And many of them became like those sexually abusive men as a way to defend against their young experience of powerlessness. The catastrophe of this candidate getting elected was created from many different childhood catastrophes amongst the citizenry. Even the catastrophe the candidate was creating came out of catastrophes in his early life. Catastrophes from long, long ago that he obviously had no intention at all to remember and heal … for his own sake or for the sake of his country.

These profound, deep, raw, and real examples offer a clear introduction to the real catastrophes … and the consequences of not seeing them, finding them, working to heal from them.

There’s another important clue and gem here. If we interfere with a person’s seeking and finding the original catastrophe, they not only will keep being afraid of a catastrophe in the future, but also will unconsciously co-create catastrophes in the future.  Our unconscious selves – our souls – call us and push us to bring the original catastrophes into consciousness however we can. That’s the only way to heal them.  It’s safer if we bring them into consciousness in our dreams. Or in glimpses of waking memories. It’s safer if we bring them into consciousness watching a movie or tv program. It’s also safer if we bring them into consciousness in small benign re-enactments in our lives, re-enactments that trigger memories of the original catastrophe but don’t cause more catastrophes. But if we don’t unearth the original catastrophes in those ways, we will co-create them in other ways … either in our own individual lives, or along with others who are co-creating them in the life of our world.

This is not something to blame people for. This is not something to punish yourself for. It’s something to be aware of. It is a gem to be thankful for. It holds the key to our healing. We are not responsible for what happened to us as children, but we are responsible for healing from the experiences we had as children and the consequences caused by those catastrophes. This is the key to our healing our individual catastrophes. And the key to our healing our communal catastrophes – familial, national, global.

If you know that the catastrophe was long ago…
If you know that you’re afraid of a catastrophe in the future because you’re transferring the original catastrophe onto the future…

If you know that and don’t do the work to heal from the original catastrophe…
and you know that your refusal to do the original catastrophe work will result in your creating a catastrophe in the future…
If you know that if each of us does the exact same thing – refuses to do the original work and so creates a future catastrophe instead…
we will create catastrophes in our world …

The worst catastrophe is to create a catastrophe in the future
because you said ‘no’ to tending to and healing the catastrophe from your past.
The worst catastrophe is to create a catastrophe in the future
because we together said ‘no’ to tending to and healing the catastrophes from our pasts –
individually and communally.

This is what is occurring in our world today.
It has been since ancient times.
It will continue unless … we take responsibility for our part.

I have written to media editors and hosts … who haven’t even responded.
I have written to leaders in power… most of whom haven’t responded. One leader from another country graciously replied. One leader from an organization responded personally – not in a form letter – but offered no help, didn’t even accept my offer to help.
I have written to others with platforms who could help spread this understanding across the world… no response.
People don’t want to know.
People don’t want to take responsibility at the deepest levels.
They’ll take outer action. They’ll pray. Both of which are also needed. But they really don’t want to see, hear, know, and feel their inner responsibility from their own experiences long ago. They really don’t want to take inner action. They really don’t want to take action on the deepest levels.

I hear people in many places say they don’t want to know. They want to live in a bubble. They’re usually talking about the outer world – consciously – but they mean the inner world, too. People I work with get to the point where they realize as soon as they say “I don’t want to know,” they do know that some awareness is right beneath the surface of their consciousness.  And then we explore, at a rhythm and pace they can work with what that awareness is.

We need to know! Our lives and our sanity depend on it. Our children’s lives and their sanity depend on it. The life of our world depends on it. Depends on our preventing future catastrophes by healing from the ancient catastrophes in our lives.

Even if you don’t fully understand this. Let in the essence and create the passageway within … so you can take the next step.

How can you possibly refuse to do the work of the original catastrophe?
How can you possibly choose to be part of creating a catastrophe in the future
instead of meeting and going through the process of healing from your original catastrophe?
How can you possibly choose to be part of creating a catastrophe for perhaps trillions of people
rather than meet and heal your own early catastrophe?

We each have a choice. We each have a choice right now.
How can you not choose healing from the past?
How can you choose to keep participating in the future catastrophes instead?

The worst catastrophe of all is to know you participate in creating future catastrophes
by refusing to heal the earliest catastrophes in your life … and to still refuse.
The worst catastrophe of all is to know you participate in creating future catastrophes in our world by refusing to heal the earliest catastrophes in your life … and still refuse.

 

*All examples are either fictional, composites from many anonymous people, or examples used with permission.

© Judith Barr, 2017

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

Catastrophes, large and small, personal, national, and global, touch all of us at one time or another. What’s important is how we utilize life’s catastrophes to help heal within.

When you experience or witness one of life’s “catastrophes” how do you react? Do you threaten, dismiss, or mock yourself for feeling the impact of the catastrophe?  Do you try to “manage” the feelings that well up within you – feelings that may be both about the here-and-now situation and about a catastrophe from long ago – of which you may not even be aware? Do you try to “hide” from the situation, “forget” about it, jump into bed and pull the covers over your head? Do you try to hide from the reactions of others – discounting, intimidating, humiliating you out of your feelings about the catastrophe?  Or … do you explore the feelings you have in the moment, using those feelings as clues to the catastrophes within – current and ancient – that need to be healed?

Commit to the latter … to utilizing the catastrophe for your own healing. When a catastrophe happens, after ensuring your safety and the safety of others if you need to, allow yourself to feel whatever comes up within you, without acting out on your feelings. Can you remember when in your past you felt this same way? Trace those feelings back as far as you can, and if you need help to explore and heal those feelings, find a compassionate, caring, integritous therapist who can help you do that.

Catastrophes happen to all of us, but if we can see them for the treasure they can be, and use them to help us in our own healing journeys, we can help prevent the re-enacting of those same catastrophes in our lives, in our societies, and in our world.

WE’RE ALL HUMAN

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

© Judith Barr, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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!

IT’S A VERY DARK ELECTION BECAUSE . . . PART 2

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

We are not responsible for the wounds we suffered as children.
We are, however, responsible for healing those wounds,
and we are responsible, and accountable, for the damage we do.

In the last post I wrote about our unconscious selves – individually and communally – being the source of the dark election and the destructiveness we are seeing in the election and in our country. I said I would talk with you about how that destructiveness within us came to be.

Our destructiveness, conscious and unconscious, comes from our wounding and trauma long ago in our life journeys. We are all somehow wounded, whether out in the open, or subtly and silently. Whether intentionally or accidentally. Whether actively or passively. Whether physically, verbally, emotionally, energetically, or spiritually. Whether in our homes or out in the world. Whether by those whom we need to be able to trust or those we’re engaged with as we grow –  like playmates. Just as we are wounded, so also, of course, our leaders are wounded.

I have been following the election cycle for months and months. I have watched instance after instance where I felt increasingly … somebody needs to make sure everyone understands what’s really happening here. Somebody needs to make sure everyone sees what’s occurring beneath the surface that’s causing what we’re witnessing … and what we’re part of. Someone needs to help people comprehend and pay attention to what’s happening beneath the consciousness of our candidates, our media, our government, our businesses, our families, and our individual selves.

This is what I have been working to do for many years and many elections.

I’ve been trying to find ways to clearly explain the wounding of leaders. Lately, the leaders running for President, in particular, as a way to help us really understand them better, as a way to help us see them through the eyes of Love and Truth – with compassion and still holding them accountable where they need to be held accountable. And as a way to look in the mirror ourselves, so we can see ourselves through the eyes of Love and Truth.

I have watched a number of documentaries that have revealed the clues to our candidates’ lives that could help me explain how the election process has been a live demonstration of the consequences of each candidate’s wounding in childhood.*

What do I mean?  Follow me carefully:
When we’re wounded as children, we involuntarily protect ourselves against the experience. We need to because little children can’t bear those experiences. So we reflexively bury our feelings, bury our memories, forget both, build walls so we can’t access them, create defenses to help us hold those experiences at bay … we hope forever. As a result, we start becoming a different person than we originally were. We develop thoughts, feelings, behaviors, and patterns of living that defend us against the original wound.

Then, as we grow, those original experiences of wounding keep tugging at us from our unconscious to find a way to get us to heal them. If we can’t or won’t find a way to heal, unconsciously we create repeats of the original wound – repeats called re-enactments – to bring the underlying experiences out into the open. In the open they can be seen, heard, felt, known, and therefore healed. Buried, they can be denied, justified, rationalized, idealized, normalized, and left to create repeats again and again and again. Not only ongoing repeats, but escalated repeats.

In this election we’ve seen many rounds of re-enactment from the very start of the process. And the debates have been live, visible, audible, undeniable demonstrations of the candidates’ reliving and responding to their young wounds.

Both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton had childhood wounds. One or both of them may deny it, or idealize their wounds, but it is obvious to someone who understands and senses wounding and its consequences.

Let’s start with some of Hillary’s childhood wounds as revealed in the documentaries.

What they reveal is that her father verbally abused her mother. Hillary would run into her room and put her hands over her ears when they fought. She couldn’t bear to hear the fighting. Also, if she came home with straight A’s on her report card, her father would tell her that the school must be too easy.

So from early on … her experience was to be demeaned, certainly not given credit for her strengths. Hillary was frightened of her parents’ fighting, and yet her mother made her deal with bullies on her own. At 4 years old, Hillary was already experiencing bullying in the neighbor-hood. By her own words, in her first experience with bullying, she was terrified. She went running into the house and her mother said to her, “There’s no room for cowards in this house. You go back outside and figure out how you’re gonna deal with what these kids are doing.”  No wonder Hillary built a wall inside as a defense against her pain and terror. To take down the wall would be too vulnerable, too painful for a little girl.

As a depth psychotherapist, I know the layers of terror a child can feel in an experience like this.  Not just the layer of terror in the face of the bullies, but also the layer of terror in response to a mother saying “There’s no room for cowards in this house.” Children take things literally. And a such a statement from a mother likely – conscious or not – feels like a threat of abandonment, a threat that she won’t be able to live in this house unless she does what mommy says – figures this out on her own. How frightening! What a painful way to be motivated to figure things out! A little girl of 4 already having to figure things out on her own, scary enough by itself. But then torn between the threat of the bullies and the threat made by her mother.

So here we are in the election and Hillary is being demeaned and bullied – just as her mother was and as she was in childhood. She’s being threatened repeatedly and criticized for her wall. How’s she going to live through it? She’ll keep doing what her mother told her at 4 – go out and figure out how to deal with the bully on her own.

Even if Hillary is not conscious of the repeats, even if she idealizes or justifies how her father and mother treated her … unless she has done her own inner healing, for her as a child, and for the child still alive within her, this is not an adult election. Rather this is a series of primal, unconscious and driven responses to wounding and the threats of wounding, not unlike what she experienced at a very young age.

Now let’s turn to Donald Trump. Again the documentaries reveal major clues that can help us understand his wounding and its consequences.

Donald’s father was a very competitive man. His way of life translated essentially into: Life is a competition. Win or lose. If you win, you’re a killer and a king. If you lose, you’re a nothing and don’t matter. He taught his boys to win at all costs.

Donald’s brother Fred was not a “killer.” And he suffered from it, first at the hands of his father. Donald was a “killer.” And Fred’s death, it seems, reinforced it. Winning infused Donald’s interactions, his responses, his way of life.

We can see that in everything we’ve seen in the election process. He even turns losses into wins, if only in his own mind. And does everything he can to do so. He denies, lies, distracts, and more so he can feel he has won. And when he can’t do that, he turns someone else into the loser, some way, somehow.

Of course Donald Trump would see this as admirable. In the first place, to him that is winning.  And in the second place, it’s how a little boy obeys his father. It’s how he makes sure he matters to his father. Yes, even if his father is no longer alive. That’s because like every other human being, the child Donald once was is still alive within him, even though he is likely unaware of that truth. That child Donald is alive within him and driving him, just as sure as it drove him when he was actually a child. Clearly, Donald from a young age worked really hard to be the winner, the killer, his father said he should be. To a little child, it feels like life and death, to follow his father’s instructions on how to be important, on how to be someone, on how to matter. And that’s how the child survives.

A media commentator said recently that Donald will be humbled after election day. “No, he won’t,” I thought. “He will somehow turn it into a win … fighting for survival.”

And Megyn Kelly in an interview with Donald, said to him, “You are so powerful now.” In response Trump said “I don’t view myself as that. I mean, I view myself as a person that — like everybody else — is fighting for survival.”**

Although he doesn’t realize what he is saying on a primal level from his unconscious self …
Although he doesn’t realize what he is saying on a primal level from the child still alive within him …
He is describing the little Donald, the child, fighting to survive by being a winner.

Everyone has a child still alive within with wounds to heal, and acting out again and again what hasn’t been healed. Just because people are in adult bodies, doesn’t mean they are really adults, or even fully adults. There is that child within that is driving the person in an adult body.

Donald Trump is not only one of many, he’s also a very obvious example. Even his wife recently said in an interview with Anderson Cooper, that she jokes that her husband at times behaves like an overgrown boy. And that sometimes she says “I have two boys at home – I have my young son and I have my husband.” ***

Just as for Hillary, for Donald as a child, and for the child still alive within him, this is not an adult election. Rather this is a series of primal, unconscious and driven responses to wounding similar to that he experienced at a young age… even if he wouldn’t call how his father treated him wounding. Even if he would idealize how his father raised him. Nevertheless, Donald is a man, driven by a boy inside, fighting for survival by winning, always winning.

This is true for each of us. No matter how much the adult within us is present to the election, the child still within us is also very much alive, and is driving us through this election process on a primal, unconscious level in reaction to our own wounding and trauma. And that child within us, now once again repeating the consequences of our wounds, will, in fact, be the one making the decisions at the polls on Election Day. And unless we become aware of that child within each of us, he or she will be electing the next President of the Unites States of America, and co-creating with the child within the other voters, the country and the world we will be living in not just for the next four years, but for many years – even generations – to come.

We are not responsible for the wounds we suffered as children.
We are, however, responsible for healing those wounds,
whether or not we are conscious of them.
And we are responsible, and accountable, for the damage we do…
by not being conscious of our wounds and by not healing them.
If we don’t accept this responsibility,
our fights for survival as children long ago
could and will likely become
our fights for survival in the here and now
and in the future.

© Judith Barr, 2016.

* Frontline:The Choice
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s7uScWHcTzk

CNN All Business: The Essential Donald Trump
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I6yV9N4EC-Y

CNN All Business: The Essential Hillary Clinton
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cAB4-AFYm_0

Hillary
https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=271&v=sUV4Ha_Tf_4

** http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2016/may/16/inside-the-beltway-trump-fighting-for-survival-lik/

*** http://www.cnn.com/2016/10/17/politics/melania-trump-interview/

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

As you see and hear more about the candidates for President, make the commitment to use what you learn about them not only to better understand them, not only to have some compassion for them, not only to hold them accountable from a wiser and more grounded place … but also … to better understand, explore and heal your own inner wounding.

After all, just like the candidates’ inner wounding doesn’t only affect them, your inner wounding doesn’t affect only you. It doesn’t affect just you on any ordinary day. And it certainly doesn’t affect just you on election day.

Ask yourself: When you watch or listen to the candidates speak — “your” candidate or the “opposing” candidate – what do you feel? Can you see and feel the wounding behind the words and actions of the candidates in this election … the children alive inside them acting out their unconscious defenses? And what in your unconscious is triggered in you as you witness the election unfold?  How will your own wounds from childhood, triggered in the election, impact your vote on election day? And your reactions the day after?

As you explore … you can also help make this knowing “go viral” and expand the healing in our world by sharing this newsletter via email and social media.

As we approach election day and as the election race heats up in its final lap, there is a lot we can learn about ourselves and heal within ourselves from what we’ve learned about the candidates … if we commit to utilize what we know and see this election time whole heartedly for healing.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

© Judith Barr, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

WHAT HAS HAPPENED TO MY WORLD?

What has happened to my world?

There was a time when I was a young woman, when people were increasingly beginning to realize the truth. The truth about themselves. The truth about their childhoods. The truth about their families. The truth about their communities. The truth about their countries. The truth about our world.

They were more and more beginning to learn the truth about how real change is made. About really why we’re stuck. About how to do the underlying work to become unstuck for real – not as a band aid or quick fix, not as a way to get rid of symptoms, not as a means to just function, not as a guise, nor a defense.

It was a hopeful time, filled with possibility, because it was filled with the unfolding of truth.

What has happened to my world?

In those times, people were starting to grasp that they were living with wounds from long ago and with the consequences of those wounds. They were starting to grasp that the painful feelings they experienced when they were wounded were still alive within them. They were becoming conscious that their wounds and feelings were causing them to act in ways that were harmful to themselves and to others. Perhaps they were humiliating others as they were once humiliated. Or yelling at others as they were yelled at. Or smacking someone as they were smacked. Or sexually abusing someone as they were once sexually abused. Perhaps they were doing some version of these things to themselves – in public, alone, or just inside their own minds, hearts, bodies, and souls. Or perhaps they were allowing some version of these things to be done to them.

As much as people were beginning to realize that the buried wounds could be causing harm in their lives and the lives of others, they were becoming conscious that their early wounds and feelings were holding them back, keeping them from growing into the gift of who they really were at their essence.  And they were getting glimpses of the reality that they could become the gift of their Self … if only they would do the exploration and healing that their own soul was calling them to do.

It was a hopeful time, filled with possibility, because it was filled with the opening of the passageways which people intended to utilize for healing.

What has happened to my world?

Back then, instead of banning the wounds and feelings as they had done involuntarily as children, and as the society was prone to do – since the same thing had happened to everybody in the society – people were beginning to explore their inner worlds to find and heal those wounds, to be aware of and feel those feelings more and more deeply – purposefully, consciously, safely, for healing. In doing so, they were beginning to learn which feelings were coming up from the past for healing (not to act out on) and which feelings were emerging in the here and now to act upon wisely.

They were recognizing that it wasn’t their responsibility that they were wounded, but it was their responsibility to do their own healing of those wounds.

It was a hopeful time, filled with possibility, because it was helping people become more self-responsible, live more consciously, and be more alive.

What has happened to my world?

In that same time, people were starting to recognize that no matter how much we took action in the outer world, if we weren’t aware of our inner worlds and how they drove us and our actions beneath our awareness … our outer actions could never fulfill our best hopes and dreams, personally, nationally, or globally. Or if they seemed to, those best hopes and dreams could not be sustained, until we found and healed our inner worlds.

And in that time, people were starting to realize that no matter how much we prayed, meditated, chanted, if we weren’t aware of our inner worlds and how they drove us and our actions beneath our awareness … our outer actions could never fulfill our best hopes and dreams, personally, nationally, or globally. Or if they seemed to, those best hopes and dreams could not be sustained, until we found and healed our inner worlds.

Yes, I have deliberately said almost exactly the same thing in the past two paragraphs.  As I’ve said many times over the years:  Outer action is definitely needed. Prayer in its many forms is needed. But so also is the inner work that is done purposefully, safely, with consciousness and commitment, for healing to the root. And in those times long ago, people were beginning to realize the truth of this.  But perhaps they weren’t yet aware of the dangerous consequences of not doing the healing work!

What has happened to my world?

Somewhere along the line, people’s excitement and commitment started to dissipate and even dissolve. People were starting to become aware of their childhood wounds. Their memories were emerging, and with those memories lots of feelings.  People were starting to know they had been abused, neglected, hurt.

People were starting to remember what had been buried. And people began to be afraid. How do they go to holiday dinner with family, when one or more people in those families had caused them so much pain, even trauma?  How do they stay in contact with people who were cruel to them, without bringing it out in the open?  How do they not show up for gatherings, or even one-to-one get-togethers, without talking about it? And what would happen if they did?

And what would happen if they did? Ah! That’s the question that changed my world. Whether asked consciously or unconsciously … that question brought up people’s primal fears. That question opened the wounds. And many people didn’t want to go there.

So the possibility that was right there in those questions, the gems of clues that were pointing to the root of the wounds … were left in the ground. They were left in the ground of people’s own beings. They were left in the inner ground of people’s own minds, bodies, hearts, and souls. And the people – too many of them – ran away.  They moved on to something else. Under some guise. Under some pretense. With some excuse or rationalization … not only to others, but more importantly to themselves.

What has happened to my world?

Too much that people were afraid to know was coming up. Too much that people were afraid to feel was coming up. Too much that people needed to know, needed to feel, and needed to heal was coming up and then being dropped.

Too much childhood abuse. Too much childhood sexual abuse. Too much childhood neglect.  Too much family dysfunction that came to be simply normalized. So much individual, familial, and cultural information started coming out into the open … but people didn’t want to know.

It was like the three monkeys: “hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil.” As though discovering and recovering the truth is evil.

Although there has been some awakening, there is still in our world …
more childhood abuse than anyone knows or wants to know. And it is normalized.
More childhood bullying than anyone knows or wants to know. And it is normalized.
More childhood sexual abuse than anyone knows or wants to know. And it is normalized.
More childhood neglect than anyone knows or wants to know. And it is normalized.

Most people don’t want to know. Most people still don’t want to know. Most people don’t want to know their part in it. And most people still don’t want to do their own work with what happened in their childhoods, and what happened in the lives of their children as a result.

All this wounding still alive inside us – feeds the abuse, bullying, sexual abuse, neglect, greed, terrorism and acting out that is going on in our world! And all the not wanting to know and not wanting to do the inner work feeds the acting out in our world – personally, nationally, and globally.

If we just look at the United States – only because I’m right here and I see what’s happening more clearly here than I do in other countries – the masks have been dissolving and it is much easier to see that there is deep, young wounding in our leaders and in the people who are running for leadership positions. It is so obvious in some trying to become leaders that often people find it laughable, although in truth it is tragic. Tragic that they are acting out their wounds on the political, national, and world stage. Tragic that they are causing so much harm to the process, the people, the country, and the world. Tragic that their wounds, like magnets, are drawing to them those who respond from their own wounds.

Tragic that no one is talking about this in the public space.

The masks have been dissolving and it is much easier to see that there is deep, young wounding in our economic realm. The greed that is causing so much suffering economically is obvious in those who have more than enough but don’t feel they can get enough.  Their own wounding coming into sight.  And the wounding of the people who really don’t have enough and don’t believe they’ll ever have enough is showing itself here, too.

The masks have been dissolving and it is much easier to see that there is deep wounding and subsequent abuse reflected in our insurance system, our pharmaceutical system, and the consequences for our medical and our mental health systems.

The insurance system, once intended to help people take care of their health, has been reduced to disconnection from that intention and from the people as well. The pharmaceutical system, once based on the longing to alleviate pain and suffering, has descended into a heartless, greedy money-making system. For example, charging $600 for a double pack of epi-pens, used to keep people from dying if affected by an allergenic substance – like a bee sting, peanuts, or anything else that could send them into anaphylactic shock. What early wounds in the pharmaceutical and insurance CEOs, boards, and staff are being revealed and acted out this way in their companies and on their society?

How many doctors do you know who not only respond to your physical medical need, but also ask you how you are? Talk with you about your life as a whole? Talk to you by phone if needed?  Too many in the medical system, driven by their own early wounds, allow themselves to be driven also by the insurance system, and the economic system, to disconnect from the heart and soul of their patients – and themselves – and in that way violate their Hippocratic oath to do no harm.

And the mental health system – what has happened to my world? I’ve had so many people talk with me about their distress related to finding a therapist who’s a right match. And how they haven’t been able to find someone who would go to the root with them – not only mentally, but emotionally, too. The therapists they found used techniques and recommendations – and medical drugs – to get them functioning again. Perhaps the therapists they tried did care about their suffering; but they couldn’t go beneath the functioning, beneath the coping, beneath trying to remove the symptoms, to the heart of the suffering. The therapists couldn’t go to the source of the suffering deep within their clients because most likely they themselves were afraid of those primal places – in their clients and in themselves.

If people don’t want to know about their early wounds, if people don’t want to feel their early wounds, if people don’t want to face the feared consequences of bringing them out into the open – the very consequences they were afraid of in their most primal, vulnerable times as children – then people won’t participate in really healing themselves. They won’t participate in helping others really heal themselves. And they won’t participate in really healing the systems … even the mental health system, even the medical system, even the security and defense systems, even the political and governmental systems, even the family systems.

What has happened to my world?

Yes, I know doing the real, healing to the root is challenging. It’s both challenging and exciting. Both painful and joyful. Both deep within, where you may feel you’re trapped, and freeing beyond what you can imagine!

Here we are … we have co-created the things in our world that are most damaging and that we most fear. We may have co-created wonderful things, too. But we have all co-created the things in our world that are most damaging and that we most fear.

We can utilize all that we feel in response for our healing; or we can just keep on co-creating more of the fearful things in the outer world, in an attempt to avoid our inner worlds.

The possibility is here! To utilize what we’ve co-created for healing. But how long are you going to wait till you do your part in the healing? How long are you going to wait till you want to know? Till you you’re willing to remember; till you’re willing to feel; till you’re willing to use it all for healing in a safe and healthy way?

How long?

© Judith Barr, 2016