HARVEY AND IRMA

The foreboding that came with the forecasts of Harvey and Irma was real.
The trepidation that preceded the hurricanes was real.
The dread as they came closer and closer escalated.
The panic as they hit was beyond measure.
The surges after the landfall, terrifying, as well.
The devastation done on every level of being, surreal, yet all too real.
The trauma experienced mentally, emotionally, and physically was massive.
The impact long-lasting … longer lasting than we even want to know.

For those of us who don’t live where the hurricanes caused their visible, physical damage … most of us are on to other things. Certainly, the media is. Those, however, who lived right there in the wake of the storms are left with unimaginable months and even years of grieving, clean-up and restoration, along with triggers to be triggered every time clouds darken the skies, winds start to blow, rains come, there is a forecast of a hurricane … who knows what might trigger the memories and feelings from Harvey and Irma?

Who knows what might trigger the memories and feelings for those who witnessed these mammoth storms? And who knows what these storms themselves may have triggered for those living through it up close and personal, as well as those living through it from afar?

We all go through storms in our lives – inside and out – and those storms stay with us, some in our awareness and some beneath our conscious memory. Birth is a storm common to us all. Being born is like a storm to a tiny being. Just imagine – pushed, out of control, by forces bigger than you, out of your home toward someplace unknown, flooded with feelings you can’t even express, and it feels like – and may even actually be – life and death!

Even if we just explore the example of birth, the original experience is a trauma. The memories and feelings of that trauma are long-lasting. The cues that can trigger memory and emotion are beyond count. The attempt to hold at bay the experience in all its painful and frightening aspects is beneath consciousness for most of us. And how many of us realize there are consequences in our lives – individual and communal – that come from the storm of being born and our attempts to bury and hold that storm at bay?

For starters … we hold back on giving birth in our lives. Perhaps we hold back on allowing new inspirations that could change our lives – our personal and our global lives – for the better. Perhaps we hold back on putting those inspirations into action. Perhaps we put them into action but then freeze half-way through, three-quarters of the way through, or just before the moment of birth. Defending ourselves, without our even realizing it, from feeling again and re-experiencing the storm of our own birth into this world.

And if this is true of something so natural as birth, imagine how true it is of other traumas – unnatural traumas we experience even as tiny little children! Abuse, neglect, loss, abandonment, and more. These traumas occur more often than we imagine. To more children than we want to imagine.

Those children – each in their own way, each related to their own personal storms – are triggered when, for example:
The foreboding comes with the forecasts of a storm. (Dad comes home to find Mom in a bad mood.)
The trepidation comes that precedes yet another hurricane, real in their own life. (Dad storms out and slams the door.)
The dread escalates as the storm comes closer and closer. (Dad calls from the bar and says he’ll be home in an hour.)
The panic is beyond measure as the next storm hits. (Dad walks in the door and yells at Mom as he walks in their room.)
The surge after the new storm’s landfall is terrifying, as well. (Mom is sobbing and screaming; the children are sobbing, too.)
The devastation done on every level of being, is surreal, yet all too real. (The imprint of the storm on everyone is real.)
The trauma experienced mentally, emotionally, and physically is massive.
The impact of the storms before and yet-another-storm is long-lasting … longer lasting than we even want to know.

And those children – ourselves included – take steps to defend ourselves against the floods of memories and feelings. As children, these steps are crucial for our sanity and our lives. As we grow, those same defenses are in place as part of our being, and they become reflexive and involuntary in response to certain triggers. But those steps may also create new steps and new storms and new terror and devastation.

One of the first things I learned in my training as a depth psychotherapist – our defenses end up creating the very thing we are defending against. So, we end up creating more storms when we defend against the original storms. The storms we create may be emotional, mental, physical, spiritual. This could help us understand how we have played a role in the drastic changes in our climate that are giving birth to new bigger, and more devastating storms.

If we don’t heal our storms, we won’t be able to sense, see, hear, feel, or act upon dangers when they are right in front of us. We may freeze, fight, or flee instead of taking the kind of action that is needed.

As harm begins to appear on the horizon, if more of us had healing from our once-childhood storms – now storms within us – the dangers we are experiencing now in our world might have been stopped … awhile back, long ago, or in their tracks.

With each original storm, there is so much grieving, clean up, restoration, and healing that needs to be done – within ourselves. And with each storm after that, the repair needed on every level of being is multiplied beyond measure.

But we can heal from our original storms, and the many storms we experienced after that in our young lives, and those we re-enacted in our lives as we grew. By healing, we can help decrease the storms in our lives, in the lives of our children, and in the lives of our world.

By healing, we can help decrease the storms that are within our control. And perhaps there are more storms within our control than we can imagine before we do the healing. This is the hope! The healing is the hope!

© Judith Barr, 2017.

NOTE: This same understanding could be related to the earthquakes in Mexico and New Zealand, wildfires in the western US, flooding in India, terrorist attacks in Europe, and more …

The Patriarchy’s Greatest Weapon Is To Get Us To Not Feel

Healing the Patriarchy From the Inside Out – Not Just From the Outside In

In the 1980’s, I took a leap of faith into a journey unlike any I’d taken before. Having been a psychotherapist in private practice for over a decade, poetry started flowing through me … poetry related to women and the healing of our wounds. *

It began with the wounds to our menstrual time,1 a call to turn what had become known as “curse” back into the sacred time it truly was on all levels of being – continuous cycles of birth, death, and renewal, month after month after month, leading us home to our deepest core selves.

It deepened further and expanded to wounds to our sexual selves through incest and other forms of sexual abuse, blatant and subtle, personal and cultural … wounds that had disconnected us from our own experiences of birth, growth into fullness, and death (orgasm itself is known as “la petite mort,” meaning “the little death”.) Painful wounds that had disconnected us from union – with ourselves and others.

It stretched across our lives into wounds experienced in our elder years, when “menopause” had also been seen as a curse, as a time when life was over; and when women had been seen as “useless hags” instead of as the wise women we truly are.

It reached into our emotional and spiritual selves through our feelings, our sense of connection, and our own deeply feminine power.2 It brought to light the profound power of our feelings (used well), out of the shadows of the wounding – humiliating degradation of feelings as “illogical,” “irrational,” “too sensitive,” “weak,” “crybaby,” “hysterical,” and more.3 From the very beginning of this journey, it called me to call women to become our true selves, or as I came to name it, “ourselves in truth and love.” 4

Many women were helped to heal through my poetry readings, workshops, newsletters, and then audio recordings. Many were helped to discover and work to heal deep wounding and trauma through these opportunities. This work I was so deeply called to was referenced by other women responding to their own parallel call, including Lara Owen in Her Blood Is Gold, and Alexandra Pope in The Wild Genie.

Many men were also deeply touched by my work, which surprised, yet delighted me. There were times in poetry readings and workshops when men were moved to tears. It was such a blessing to see in relation to the wounding I was helping to bring out into the open.

It didn’t take me long to realize I was not only working to help women heal their own wounding and trauma, I was also being guided to help heal the patriarchy in our country – and our world.5 Actually, this was evident from the beginning, from my very first audio recording, ”The Call of My Blood Mysteries.”  In some poems it was more subtle: “A Menstrual Journey: The Old and The Dark” and “A Menstrual Journey: The New, The Light, and The Possibility.” In others it was downright obvious: “I Live in The House of My Father.”  This poem named the psychological, emotional, energetic, spiritual levels of the patriarchy we grew up under. Here’s the beginning of the poem:

I live in the house of my father.
I cannot feel.
It looks like I have a mother,
but elsewhere she lives,
not with me.
I live alone in the house of my father,
and I dare not feel. 

Feeling is safe only with a mother
t
o hold me, feel me, let me know I’m safe.
It looks like I have a mother.
Not really. I don’t.
She lives in the house of her father.
No mother has she,
so she cannot feel either,
neither herself, nor me.

So I live in the house of my father,
and I dare not feel.”

This expression of the effects of the patriarchy not only reveals its impact on women, it also reveals the consequences for men. Men who cannot feel, men who dare not feel. Men who cannot feel their own authentic feelings. Men who cannot connect with themselves deeply and vulnerably. Men who cannot connect with others undefendedly (but not defenselessly) … because they lived in the houses of their fathers, with mothers who lived in the houses of their fathers.

If I had spoken only of this aspect of the patriarchy, it would touch every other aspect that existed and exists.

Without knowing how to feel safely,
without knowing what feelings it’s in truth to act on,
without knowing what feelings are guides to follow for healing,
without know what feelings it’s in truth to only explore safely
  with someone else or ourselves,
without knowing the boundary between having feelings and
  acting them out . . .
we inevitably contribute to the patriarchy, with or without our
  awareness.

Without being able to feel, we collude with the patriarchy. Without being able to feel and know what to do with our feelings, we feed the patriarchy. Without being able to feel safely, connect with ourselves and each other deeply and safely … we become part of the patriarchy.

My book and my blog6 illustrate how important our feelings are – both our conscious and unconscious feelings. Here I’m reflecting that importance in yet another way – through the lens of the patriarchy.

Some all along have been focusing on ending the patriarchy from the outside in – efforts and steps that needed and still need to be part of the response to the patriarchy, just not the only response.  Those efforts brought to the foreground the truth that men were not the only participants in the patriarchy. Women also acted in behalf of the patriarchy in many ways, both passive and active. Among limitless examples are these: Not only men, but also women who were misogynists, who hated women, including themselves. Women who handed their daughters over to their husbands – consciously or not. Women who supported male sexual abuse and harassment – like the women who supported Clarence Thomas against Anita Hill. Women like the Chief Elder played by Meryl Streep in the recent movie, The Giver, based on the 1993 novel by Lois Lowry. Women, like the wives and female “enforcers” in Margaret Atwood’s 1985 book, The Handmaid’s Tale, revived in Hulu’s video series last year.

Others, including me, were focusing on healing the patriarchy from the inside out. Healing the patriarchy as it exists within each one of us, male and female. Healing the vicious cycle of the patriarchy within that has been wounded by the patriarchy and that, as a consequence, wounds from the patriarchy. Amongst us was Sue Monk Kidd, who followed and shared her journey from “daughter of the patriarchy” to “dissident daughter” to her own “feminine soul.” 7

As time wore on and our work went deeper and broader, we realized that there would, at some point, be a backlash from the patriarchy to our healing work. That backlash has been coming for a long time. And now it has come with a vengeance. It is right here in our country and world today, trying to impose its power and force upon us all, acting out in destructive ways – destructive to all of us, even those who are most obviously active in enforcing its distorted power.

This doesn’t mean we were unsuccessful at our healing steps. It means we were so successful that the patriarchy in all its forms, in all its embodiment was threatened and instead of surrendering to a healthier way within and without, it prepared to resist.

We will not give up in the face of the patriarchy’s vengeance and fear. We will once again surrender – in the best sense of the word – to our call to heal the patriarchy… not just from the outside, but from the inside out.

Not just in others, but from within our very selves.

Here are vital clues to help in our healing …
Patriarchy is not just about men. Their part in the patriarchy may be the most visible, audible, and palpable. But …  the patriarchy is about men and women, and even children. It’s about all of us.

Patriarchy is not about politics. Politics is one of the venues through which the patriarchy has its most visible, most undeniable impact.

Patriarchy is personal. It is communal. It is global.
Patriarchy is about human nature in the need of growth, evolution, and healing.
The patriarchy’s greatest weapon is to get us to not feel safely –
to not heal and go through our own renewal.

Without being able to feel and feel safely, we all lose.
Without being able to feel and know what to do with our feelings safely, we all lose.
Without being able to feel safely, connect with ourselves and each other deeply and safely, we all lose …
individually and communally.

© Judith Barr, 2017

*The original recordings of this poetry have been transformed into mp3’s for current day audiences.
1 “The Call of My Blood Mysteries,” mp3 by Judith Barr
http://judithbarr.com/audio-tapes/spoken-word-on-behalf-of-the-feminine/
2 “Weeding Through Distortion to The Truth,” mp3 by Judith Barr
http://judithbarr.com/audio-tapes/weeding-through-distortion-to-the-truth/
3 “Feeling: A Form of Prayer,” mp3 by Judith Barr
http://judithbarr.com/audio-tapes/feeling-a-form-of-prayer/
4 “Woman, Come to Your Self,” mp3 by Judith Barr
http://judithbarr.com/audio-tapes/woman-come-to-yourself/
5 “Healing The Feminine Betrayal of The Feminine,” mp3 by Judith Barr
http://judithbarr.com/audio-tapes/healing-the-feminine-betrayal-of-the-feminine/
6 Power Abused, Power Healed, by Judith Barr
http://judithbarr.com/power-abused-power-healed/
“PoliPsych,”  http://judithbarr.com/blog/
7 Dance of The Dissident Daughter, by Sue Monk Kidd, HarperOne, 1996.

 

 

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

THE POWER OF ONE,
THE POWER OF A FEW

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

© Judith Barr, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The lesson at a deep level – inner and outer …

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Brian signs the letter: The Breakfast Club

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

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

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

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

My prayer … that we use it for healing.

© Judith Barr, 2017

*Morning Joe, June 15, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

IT’S A VERY DARK ELECTION BECAUSE . . . PART 3

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.

After the election …
we will still not be responsible for the wounds we suffered as children.
After the election …
we will still be just as responsible for healing those wounds as we are now,
maybe even moreso.
After the election …
we will be just as responsible and accountable for the damage we do,
including any damage we have done through the election cycle.

The election is not far away, and there is so much more we need to learn about what is in our unconscious selves and about how we act that out in our world … starting with how we act it out in our elections.

Do you know what transference is? Today I’m going to teach you about transference … and how alive it is within our unconscious. Our unconscious individually, nationally, and globally.

Transference is a word that comes out of the world of psychology. When working with a therapist, a client, among other things, explores their transference onto the therapist. But transference doesn’t exist only in the therapy room. It exists in our relationships with other people, too, every day, day in and day out. We experience transference with our partners, friends, colleagues, bosses, employees, our doctors, our clergy, our other leaders – spiritual, economic, governmental, political, healthcare and more.

What is transference?
When we transfer onto the current time, situation, people, and things the thoughts, feelings, attitudes, perceptions, and experiences we had in the past – in our childhood – particularly with authority figures like mom, dad, grandpa, grandma, big brother, big sister, the babysitter, etc. … we are in transference.

We all experience transference more than we know, more than we can even imagine. It’s something that occurs unconsciously. And even when someone helps us identify and name it, we still have work to do in our unconscious selves to dissipate, heal, and resolve the transference. For it’s not something that can be resolved in our minds. It can’t be resolved just by knowing about it. It needs to be known and understood. But to be healed … it has to be healed on the level of our feelings.

I can’t tell you how many times someone I work with tells me something like, “I understand in my mind that you aren’t going to get fed up with me and leave me. I know you are committed to helping me heal to the root. But my feelings tell me you will get fed up with me.”

And I respond back to them with, “It’s good that you can make that distinction. The feelings you’re having are those that are still alive from when Mommy would yell at you saying, ‘I’m fed up with you. I’m going to my room!’ or ‘I’m fed up with you. Go to your room!’ We need to work with these feelings so you can work through them consciously, so you don’t need to transfer them onto me or anybody anymore.”

Here’s an example outside the election process … one that can easily be tied to it:

Samantha grew up in a home with two parents – mother and father – and 2 older brothers. When Samantha was 5 her parents got divorced and her father moved out of the house and to a town a few towns away from hers. She felt rejected by her dad. And, even more, abandoned.

He promised her she would see him every other weekend … but that didn’t always happen. Sometimes it was once a month. And no matter how much she saw him, it didn’t alter her feelings. She cried when he left their home. She cried when he brought her back home after spending the weekend together. Her parents tried to get her to understand her way out of her feelings; her brothers tried to tease her out of it, both so she wouldn’t cry and to hold their own deep feelings at bay.

Samantha had a number of experiences in her childhood of losing people. Her grandfather died. Her brothers went away to college. And her favorite teacher, Mr. James, got married and moved to California with his new wife. Each time, Samantha re-experienced her father’s leaving. Each time, for her it was a re-enactment of her father rejecting and abandoning her. And each time she went through it unconsciously she proved to herself that if her father didn’t want her, nobody would; and that she would always be left. She had already begun transferring her father and her experience with him onto other people – all other people – without being aware of it.

As she started to date, Samantha, without knowing it, was imagining on one level that this time he (Dad) would stay, while deep beneath her awareness she was knowing he would leave, and in unconscious ways setting it up for him to leave. She was transferring her dad’s leaving onto her dates and boyfriends already, before the relationship even really began.

Beneath her awareness, she would draw people to her who, in an uncanny way, she knew would leave. She would interact with them in ways that would cause them to leave – like pushing them away emotionally, disagreeing with them a lot, questioning them, acting cold. Or worst of all, sometimes she was just going along her innocent way loving them and thinking they loved her, when bam! They were gone. Just like Dad.

All this time, from the time her father left the house, Samantha was terrified she would lose her mother, too. She couldn’t bear that and pushed the feelings of terror down by being extra, extra careful not to do anything that would make Mom leave. She wouldn’t hold on too tight, she would try to take care of Mom just right, she wouldn’t let her mommy know she needed anything. She would just be a really good girl and do everything her mother wanted. And stay with her mother no matter what. No matter how cold Mom was. No matter how much of a wall Mom had up that held Samantha out. No matter how much Mom ignored her. No matter what her mother did.

In summary, Samantha’s painful childhood wounding and potential transference: The father who promises to be there and take care of her but leaves – who she wants more than anything or anyone in the world. The mother who is distant and cold, who she tries to take care of and stays with no matter what to keep from ending up all alone in the world without any parents at all.

So let’s take this example and apply it to the campaign. And even more in our faces, the debates.

Remember the debates? Remember Hillary and Donald on the stage together, debating? Well, transferentially … that’s like Mommy and Daddy arguing. It had the potential to trigger, unconsciously, anyone whose mother and father argued, or fought, treated each other with contempt, humiliated each other, or even downright battered each other in their childhood.

So if in the campaign and during the debates you were in transference – beneath your awareness – like many in the population … there on the stage fighting for your vote are mommy and daddy – fighting like the dickens for your vote, your loyalty, your love. And anyone who’s triggered in this campaign, who sees mommy and daddy and not the two actual candidates … will vote, not for Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump but instead for mommy or daddy. And will vote, not from the adult in them, but rather from the little child still alive within them.

This will all be unconscious. But it will be what is occurring.
Do you understand? Those people will not actually be campaigning for and casting their ballots for the real live here-and-now candidates, but instead will be voting for their parent … or against one of their parents.

Let’s go back to Samantha …
In this example, Samantha might go either way, depending upon what’s triggered unconsciously in her own psyche. She might favor Donald Trump, transferring onto him the father who promises to be there and take care of her but leaves – who she wants more than anything or anyone in the world. Or she might favor Hillary Clinton, transferring onto her the mother who is distant and cold, who she tries to take care of and stays with no matter what to keep at bay even the thought of ending up all alone in the world without any parents at all.

And she would have no idea that she is favoring, and casting her vote, based on transference. Based on her parents, and not the candidates themselves at all. It would all be beneath her conscious awareness.

Perhaps that is why there was truth in the statement by Trump that he could “stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody” and his followers would stick with him. Without his even realizing it, he was speaking to the transference amongst his following.  The transference of a child onto someone, Trump, of their own father, with whom they would stick, no matter what.

Here are some other examples of transference onto the candidates …

A woman* whose mother took care of her and her family and her mentally ill father, is transferring father onto Donald Trump. With each day during Trump’s march toward melting down, this woman experienced panic beyond her comprehension.  She thought she was panicking about Trump’s meltdown. Instead she was, beneath her own awareness, regressed to 5 years old and panicking about her daddy’s impending meltdown – one of his 5 mental breakdowns during the woman’s childhood, breakdowns that sent him to the hospital for months. And from that panicked young place in her, she couldn’t see the candidates.  Certainly not Donald Trump. And not Hillary Clinton either. She could only begin to really see them once she began doing the deep feeling work with her panic as a little girl, leading up to her daddy’s breakdowns. Without doing her work, she might vote in transference for her mother and not her father … in an attempt to make sure the father/president didn’t have a breakdown.

A woman whose father lied mercilessly to get his way – with her, with her mother, and with her grandmother –  found herself in a blind rage at Donald Trump’s and Hillary Clinton’s lies. Enraged way more than any here-and-now anger about lies could be. In fact, it wasn’t all current day anger. About an inch deep of it was about today. The rest, down to the depths, was old anger from childhood at daddy’s lies … lies so obvious even a 4-year old child could tell. Now how was this woman in transference, from a 4-year old part of her, going to vote for either candidate?  Would she instead vote for Gary Johnson or Jill Stein? Would she not vote at all? And as a result, would her transference then help to give the election to one of the major candidates anyway? But not by adult choice?

I could give example after example. For now, just two more:

I could give an example of a woman whose father and brother were bullies and whose mother made her deal with the bullies all by herself. The woman, from a young place inside, would likely transfer the bullies in her childhood onto Trump, and deal with the bully by voting against him. She might also identify with Clinton’s having to deal with the bully herself.**

Or I could give an example of a man whose father was mercilessly competitive and wanted his son to be a winner. A man whose father treated him like a ‘nothing’ if he didn’t win. And celebrated him as a ‘king’ if he did win. This man, from the child still alive within himself, would likely transfer his father onto Trump and be desperate to win with Trump, meaning to vote for Trump. Just so Trump would treat him like a ‘winner’ and a ‘king.’ And he might also identify with Trump having grown up with just such a father, too.**

And all of this would be unconscious. Beneath awareness. Happening in the darkness within these people.

The same or similar processes of transference could be occurring within you … as you step day by day toward the election. This is as vital a time as ever to find out if you’re in transference with the candidates. With these specific candidates. With authority in general, applied to these specific candidates. With authority in general, applied to the government. With authority in general, applied to the President.

After all, the first President was known as “The Father of Our Country.” There’s the transference right there! And will the first woman President be known as “The Mother of Our Country”? Can you see? The transference in an election as usual is already there. The transference in this election is multiplied manifold … since not only do we have the father transference before our very eyes, but now we have the obvious mother transference right there in front of us, too!

Transference is a remarkable phenomenon for healing! For healing to the root! Transference is a way you bring something from your past, of which you are not conscious, into the light of day – awareness – so you can understand it and then heal it, not only in your mind, but also on the feeling and cellular levels.

Transference is the result of wounding from long, long ago.
After the election …
we will still not be responsible for the wounds we suffered as children.
After the election …
we will still be just as responsible for healing those wounds,
including the transference,
as we are now.

We need this healing every day, before and after the election.
We need this healing in our individual lives, in our family lives, in our national lives, and in our global lives.
And …
We so need this healing in our election process right now.

Are you going to vote from the child within you …
transferring onto one of the candidates, not seeing and feeling who the candidate actually is and what the candidate will actually do for and with our country?
Or are you going to vote from the true adult within you …
at least having identified your transference and having committed to do your inner healing work – as part of you and each of us doing our inner healing work in our country and our world?

© Judith Barr, 2016

* All examples are either fictitious or offered with the permission of the person it was based on and crafted so that it is anonymous.

** To learn more, read It’s a Very Dark Election Because … Part 2 at http://judithbarr.com/2016/10/27/dark-election-part-2/.

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!

For People All Over the World … Don’t Go Into the Voting Booth Blind!

There is so much to say, to teach, to explore about the elections and the process leading up to them. I could write every day, some days many times. But it hasn’t felt in truth to do so. You might get overwhelmed, and I don’t want to add to the election overwhelm. And … I would basically be saying the same things day after day after day that I’ve been saying all along. Things that relate to inner discovery and healing and its absence or reflection in our outer world.

As I sat with all this it came to me: Not much of the depth exploration has been said in the media, or in the public at large. But a lot has already been said related to elections right here on PoliPsych.

Through many election cycles I have informed you about the deeper levels of elections – for the election process itself, for the candidates, for you as a citizen, for our country and our world. So I’m reminding you: You always have access to what is actually right here to help you in your explorations.

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

And as for the elections … I have made a list for you of some of the most crucial articles connected to elections. I have re-read each one, and believe me … no matter the year the article was written, no matter the election cycle it refers to, each and every article applies to this year’s election, too. In fact, they all apply to every election, by virtue of the depth to which they help you explore. And each one offers a different glimpse or a different depth than the others.

May the links below and the articles they lead you to help you find on the deepest levels what you can heal and how you can help our country and world heal, in relation to the election and every day.

And may you utilize these articles in Truth and Love for healing on the way to the election, for participating in the election from a deeper, more healed place within you, and for healing from the election forward …

Many blessings …
Judith

WOUNDED LEADERS – THERE’S SO MUCH WE CAN LEARN AND HEAL THROUGH THE ELECTIONS

ELECTIONS – YESTERDAY AND TOMORROW

ELECTION 2012: THE AMERICAN DYSFUNCTIONAL FAMILY UNDENIABLY REVEALED

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

THE ELECTION THROUGH THE LENS OF POWERLESSNESS

WHERE IS YOUR VOICE?    

AFTER THE ELECTION: TAKE TWO

THE 2012 ELECTION: WHAT IS THE AGENDA…REALLY?

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

© Judith Barr, 2016

We’re Forgetting and It’s Dangerous: Don’t Forget! Remember …

In these crucial times in our world and our countries,
and in this election time in the U.S …
there are many times between my usual once-monthly newsletters
that I feel called to write to you
for teaching, intriguing, inspiring, and awakening.
In these months you may receive more frequent articles,
as I am called to write them. 

I hope you will use these well …
for yourself and for our world.
I hope you will use these well …
to help inform, intrigue, inspire, and awaken others with me. 

Many blessings …
Judith

In a world that too often naively and carelessly, though authoritatively, tells us to “get over it” and “move on,” we each need to know how damaging that advice is and how damaging the consequences. If we ignore the damage, we will individually and together continue to wreak havoc in our world … in our own lives and in life on our earth. That is especially and more obviously true right at this point in our individual and communal crossroads.

One of the most vocal spokespeople for the importance of remembering has been Elie Wiesel, Holocaust survivor and Nobel laureate. When Elie died July 2, 2016, he left that responsibility to those of us who know the profound and crucial need for us to remember. The need for us to remember individually. And the need for us to remember communally. What we don’t remember, we will inevitably repeat – consciously or unconsciously; by ourselves or with others; intentionally or unintentionally; obviously or obscurely; right out in the open or under a guise.

This is a time in our world where the need to remember is perhaps more important than ever before … both in our world, and in our own countries. And certainly in the U.S.

Elie Wiesel spoke brilliantly about forgetting and remembering in his Nobel Prize lecture in 1986:

“Of course, we could try to forget the past. Why not? Is it not natural for a human being to repress what causes him pain, what causes him shame? Like the body, memory protects its wounds. When day breaks after a sleepless night, one’s ghosts must withdraw; the dead are ordered back to their graves. But for the first time in history, we could not bury our dead. We bear their graves within ourselves.

“For us, forgetting was never an option.

“Remembering is a noble and necessary act. The call of memory, the call to memory, reaches us from the very dawn of history. No commandment figures so frequently, so insistently, in the Bible. It is incumbent upon us to remember the good we have received, and the evil we have suffered.”*

And a student of Elie Wiesel, Sonari Glinton, wrote beautifully of the lessons he learned from Wiesel about forgetting (emphasis mine):

“I remember him leaning in and asking why I would want to forget.

Memory, he said, wasn’t just for Holocaust survivors. The people who ask us to forget are not our friends. Memory not only honors those we lost but also gives us strength. In those office hours, he gave me a shield, practical words and thoughts that would help me — a gay, Nigerian, Catholic journalist. He gave me tools that would aid me in an often hostile world. Over the years, I have found myself quoting Professor Wiesel to white people who want me to ‘get over race.’ ‘That’s old.’ ‘It was a hundred years ago.’ But Professor Wiesel had been emphatic: Nothing good comes of forgetting; remember, so that my past doesn’t become your future.**

This more communal understanding of Wiesel’s insistence is more common in our world than the individual. I have quoted George Santayana in previous posts to illustrate this related to communal history. Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” ***

We need to awaken to that truth communally. But we also need to awaken to other truths that are intimately and intricately related to that one.

We need to awaken to the truth that what we repress and forget from our lives long, long ago, doesn’t disappear from our psyches and souls. And it isn’t without impact on us and those around us. In fact, it drives us from beneath our memory, to think, feel, act in ways we may not even be aware of. It drives us to repeat in our lives again and again, until we finally “get” the vicious cycle we’re in and find a way to heal it to the root.

We need to get that what we repress from our lives long ago is likely the memory and the trauma not just from our own individual ancient experience, but also most likely from the parallel experience in the culture. What is repressed and forgotten by individuals is then acted out in the culture; it is then normalized, repressed and forgotten in the culture; and that feeds its being acted out and repressed both in families and in the culture at large. It may be the extended family culture, the community culture, the state or area culture, the nation culture, or the world culture. Whichever culture it is … there is a definite vicious cycle from individual to culture to individual to culture … over and over again, until individuals start to change it in their own lives and birth that change out into the culture at last.

A brief, but blatant, example:

James grew up in an extended family where there was rampant abuse: physical, sexual, verbal, emotional. The abuse was mostly perpetrated by the men on the women and children. But in another family, it could be by the women on the men and children; or by the women, too.

In James’ family, the abuse was the weapon of the men. James was abused in all of the above ways by his father, who experienced the same in his early life, and then forgot most of it consciously and normalized the rest.

James suffered profoundly from the earliest age, when his father didn’t want to hear him cry in his crib; as a result, his dad yelled at him, threatened to throw him in the garbage, shook his crib wildly, and left the room slamming the door so hard that it came off its hinges.

James was traumatized, repressed the memories for his sanity and safety, and swore – once he was old enough to be aware – that he would never treat his children that way.

Yet, James grew up, married, and had a family. And sure enough, when his children cried (or even his wife), he would erupt into a rage and hurt the one who was crying. Rage at their crying expanded into rage at their expressing their feelings, telling the truth, holding him accountable for some hurt or mistake, and on and on…

James found himself at work trying to contain his rage when employers or co-workers triggered the same young feelings his wife and children triggered. And finally one day he attacked his boss in response to his being so deeply triggered. He swore it was a “current day” issue. He had forgotten its link to his childhood. He had no conscious connection with the link between his violent eruptive response at home or at work and the rage he felt toward his violent father from the earliest days of his life.

Too many in his life normalized all of his triggered responses, including the attack at work. Certainly his extended family did. Others weren’t so vocal about normalizing his behavior, but were afraid to confront him.

Eventually he gathered members of his family and a few co-workers who had grown up the same way he had. They all banded together to go after the boss, sure nobody could stop them. They had no idea that they were all going after their own abusive fathers, grandfathers, older brothers, uncles. They had no idea they were taking out on the boss, the abuse that had been perpetrated on them as children.

If only they had remembered what was done to them.
If only they had been able to feel the pain of what was done to them.
If only they had had the help they needed to discover which feelings to act on and which to simply feel for healing to the root.
If only they had had the help in their adult lives before the office incident.
If only they had had the help they needed as children.
All of them.
Not just James.
But even James’s having the help would have made a huge difference…
in his individual life; in his family life; in his work life; and in the impact his life had on the society.

We have to forget as children. That kind of remembering is too much for a child to bear. But when we grow up … we need to remember. We deeply need to remember so, to paraphrase Elie Wiesel, “our pasts don’t become someone else’s future.”

© Judith Barr, 2016

*http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/peace/laureates/1986/wiesel-lecture.html

**http://www.npr.org/sections/codeswitch/2016/07/14/484558040/forgetting-isnt-healing-lessons-from-elie-wiesel

*** George Santayana The Life of Reason: Reason in Common Sense. Scribner’s, 1905

WHERE IS OUR SAFETY NET? WHICH ONE?

Nik Wallenda is a daredevil and a high wire artist. Part of the famous Wallenda family, originally circus performers, he carries on the family tradition by walking the wire across dangerous places at dangerous heights, for people to see both in person and via television. In recent years, he has walked across Niagara Falls, the Grand Canyon, and the Chicago Skyline canyon of skyscrapers.

He walks the wire without a safety net!

Yes, he walks the wire without a safety net. And that’s his choice. But what about the rest of us? Those of us who aren’t high wire artists, and don’t choose consciously to walk the wire of life without a safety net?

We are born into many kinds of families … some families with, as they say in my field, “good enough” mothers and fathers. That doesn’t mean they’re perfect. It doesn’t mean they haven’t been wounded themselves in some way. It just means that somehow they have managed to be good enough parents, give their children a good enough experience in their development, and prepare their children enough to know themselves and find themselves when they lose their way.

How have the good enough parents done that? Maybe they’ve done their own inner healing work. Maybe they, themselves, have had good enough parents. Maybe they somehow have had a sense of responsibility and a sense of commitment that guided them to find out how to become a good enough parent – inside and out. Maybe a combination.

However the good enough parents do it, bonding with a good enough mother and being held by her physically, mentally, emotionally, energetically, and spiritually … is like being given a safety net. In other words, attachment to a good enough mother is a safety net – outer and inner. Most importantly it is an internal safety net that makes a deep and lasting imprint.

Although we don’t want to know it, don’t want to even imagine it, would likely deny it’s true for us … most children in our world today do not have “good enough” parents. And most adults in our world today did not have “good enough” parents, either. The history of wounding in our families in our world goes back more generations than the famous Wallenda family’s talent as high wire artists.

Family wounding can start in an instant – an instant of neglect, an instant of abuse, an instant of loss, an instant of abandonment, an instant of insanity …

It gets compounded generation by generation, as members who were impacted by that first instant carry it on through their lives, acting it out consciously and unconsciously – through repressing and defending against the wounding experience and its impact on their minds, bodies, hearts, and souls.

Family wounding starts in an instant, but it certainly doesn’t stop in an instant. Family wounding doesn’t stop even in a generation unless that generation doesn’t have children, and even then it still lives on and gets acted out by those who are still alive. But the end of family wounding can begin in a generation if that generation takes responsibility to end it, enters a deep process of psychotherapy to heal the family wounding to the root … and passes that healing tradition onto the next generation to continue.

The result of the family wounding … most children don’t have a safety net. And most adults – within whom the child they once were is still alive – don’t have a safety net either. And the safety net that was needed and either never existed or was shattered … that safety net needs to be replaced or re-created from the inside out. That takes time. It takes time individually. It takes time as a family. And it takes time as a community – local, national, and global.

It’s part of what I offer to help people do when they work with me … replace or re-create a safety net within. And then from the inside out into their lives.

To do that, they need to allow themselves to come to realize – if they haven’t realized already – that living without a safety net as a child led them to build a safety net themselves, as a child. So although they did the best they could for a youngster trying to take care of themselves, they built the kind of safety net a child would build – perhaps a 1-year old’s safety net; perhaps a 4-year old’s safety net; perhaps an 8-year old’s safety net. So the safety net may have helped them as a child, but it is a twisted, distorted, not really safe safety net for an adult. It has holes and knots in it and isn’t really very strong as a here and now safety net – inside or out.

Maybe a little boy had no safety net in his family. Maybe he was sexually abused as a child. Maybe he cried out ‘no’ when his abuser held him down, only to be smacked by the perpetrator in response. So in the face of no safety net, the little boy’s safety net in his mind became to never cry out ‘no.’

As time went on maybe he extended what he thought was his safety net to not saying ‘no’ at all. It might have kept him from being smacked, or worse, as a child. But it also kept him from saying ‘no’ or crying out as an adult at times when he needed to in order to keep himself and his loved ones safe.

Perhaps a little girl had no safety net in her family. Perhaps she was tricked by her family and then humiliated when she discovered she was tricked. Perhaps she built what she imagined as a little girl was a safety net – inaction. Just hiding out in her room and not taking action on anything when at all possible. It might have saved her from humiliation as a child, but as an adult, it led her into unsafety in ways she could have never imagined. For example, people could take advantage of her and her inaction. People could corner her and make her even more vulnerable than she already was and felt from childhood.

In these examples of safety nets lacking in childhood and built by children … we see a tragedy not only in the life of children in our world, but also in the life of the adults they become. Because growing in years and growing in size does not mean maturing. It just means growing in years and size. The child you once were is still alive inside you … needing help, needing healing, needing maturing, and needing real safety.

But who in our world offers to help children and adults create a new inner safety net?
A world so very focused on the external. A world so very focused on functioning. A world so very focused on symptoms. A world that supports the child alive inside, still starving for safety, to continue to use young ways to try to feel safe, and to find more and more ways to feel a respite from the unsafety s/he grew up with and the unsafety s/he still faces today. An example of this is the government suggested practice in the 1950’s of practice drills in case of a nuclear bomb – having children get under their desks in school “for their safety.” So … no saying ‘no’ and no taking action expands into addictions of all sorts to hold the pain and fear of the unsafety at bay. Drugs – street and medicinal – alcohol, television, politics, guns, football, sex, fights, and more. Even prayer and meditation can be misused to mask the lack of safety net that exists within and without.

Because we ignore the lack of safety nets we had as children … Because we ignore and hide from the continued lack of safety nets we have within as adults … Because we reflexively hold at bay the experience of young unsafety … we also hold at bay the experience of unsafety we live with today.

Unaware that any unsafety today will trigger our young experiences of unsafety …we are blind to the unsafety we live with. We are blind and deaf and numb to the truth that we have created the unsafety we live with today … out of our defenses against the unsafety we lived with as children. And we are blind, deaf, and numb to the awareness that the sense of powerlessness we feel in the face of the unsafety today is mostly the experience of powerlessness we felt in the face of unsafety as children long ago, being transferred by us onto today.

Perhaps we tried to get more and more safety by making more and more money, believing that huge amounts of money would one day make us safe. But then comes something like the recession of 2008 and … the safety net we tried to create in the outside world as a way to defend against the lack of safety net on the inside came crashing down. The safety net we tried to create in our late 1990-early 2000 world to defend against the lack of safety net in our world in the years of our childhood … disintegrated.

Maybe we tried to do all sorts of things, unconsciously believing they would create the safety net we didn’t have as a child, and hold at bay the pain and terror of that young lack of safety that still lives within us. Maybe we have destroyed our air and our water, destroyed our forests, our food, and our weather. Maybe we have destroyed our infrastructure. Maybe we have destroyed our travel. Maybe we have destroyed our health. Perhaps we’ve destroyed our politics, our government, our economy, our culture by indiscriminately falling for, accepting, and normalizing the destructive acting out by anybody at all – the lies, sexual abuse, cheating and stealing, bullying and threatening, and more.

Perhaps we have been unconsciously destroying our safety net in the outer world today as a result of trying to avoid facing the shattered safety net from long, long ago, still living in our minds, our hearts, and our bodies.

This is what happens when we defend against what lives within us instead of tending to it and healing it. What we originally defended against ends up being the very thing we create. Defending against a shattered or missing safety net, creates defenses that in the end create the very thing we were trying to defend against … a shattered safety net.

That’s what we’ve done in our world.
That’s what we’ve done in every arena of our world.
And no matter how big or how small, we have all played a part in it.
We all have to take responsibility for it.
We all need to take our part in healing and repairing it …
Starting with healing from the lack of safety net in our lives long ago.
Starting with healing from the lack of safety net still within our psyches and souls.
Starting with healing ourselves – from the inside out.

If we do not start from within ourselves, the safety net will never be truly repaired or re-created – within or without. Because we create from the inside out.
We cannot repair safety nets from the outside in and expect them to sustain over time.
We cannot repair individual safety nets from the outside in and expect them to sustain over time.
We cannot repair communal safety nets from the outside in and expect them to sustain over time.

Do you want a safety net in your outer world?
Then begin now:
Commit to get the help to heal to the root from the lack of safety net in your childhood and within yourself today.
Don’t be tricked by others who are also creating unsafety today by defending themselves against feeling the unsafety from their childhoods that still lives within them.
Don’t be duped or seduced into believing you can continue to hold at bay that painful lack of safety that’s been with you for years and years without consequences.
Don’t be fooled into thinking your holding your unsafety at bay will be safe for you, those you love, or the world as a whole.
It won’t. It isn’t.
Look what it has created in your world already.
Look what it has created in our world already.

Get the help to face it and work through it …
This is the real hope.
We all have this choice.
We all have this opportunity.
We all have this possibility.
And we all live with the consequences of our choices.
This is the real hope …
Choose well!

© Judith Barr, 2016

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

If you grow up without someone to welcome you, who you really are….
You don’t have a safety net.

If you grow up without someone to nourish and help you become more and more fully who you are, mind, body, heart, and soul …
You don’t have a safety net.

If you grow up without someone to nurture you into thriving as you …
You don’t have a safety net.

If you grow up with someone who interferes with who you are and who you are meant to develop into …
You don’t have a safety net.

If you grow up with someone who neglects the essence of who you are and your development of that essence into fullness …
You don’t have a safety net.

If you grow up with someone who colludes with someone else’s neglecting or interfering with who you are and have the potential to become …
You don’t have a safety net.

If truth be told, there are very few among us who had “good enough” parents who helped us to form a healthy, lasting internal safety net. And for those of us who didn’t … it is crucial we explore how our self-created safety nets were distorted.

Commit today to explore ways in which your own childhood experience affected your internal safety net. In the absence of the true safety net of attachment to a good enough parent, did you create your own distorted “safety net,” maybe one which led you to avoid owning your ‘no’ or led you to inaction, like the examples in the article … or maybe one which you act out in other ways, with the potential to create unsafety for yourself and those around you?

Working with your internal safety net can be very delicate work. Find a compassionate therapist, one who can safely help you explore and heal the wounding within, and help you create a truly healthy safety net inside.

Imagine what our lives, our children’s lives, the lives of our families, our communities, our world would be like if everyone worked to heal their inner wounding … creating lasting safety nets within themselves … and in doing so creating true, healthy, lasting safety in our world!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is my Mother’s Day wish.

This is my Mother’s Day prayer.

© Judith Barr, 2016.

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

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

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

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

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

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