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

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

WE’RE ALL HUMAN

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

© Judith Barr, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So Andy has a choice:

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

or

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

© Judith Barr, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

DARKNESS FALLS

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

Darkness falls …
when we make a mistake.

Darkness falls …
when we experience failure.

Darkness falls …
when we fall down.

Darkness falls …
when we suffer a loss.

Darkness falls …
when we experience tragedy.

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

Darkness falls …

 

Darkness falls …
when someone hurts us.

Darkness falls …
when someone scares us.

Darkness falls …
when someone lords their power over us.

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

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

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

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

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

Darkness falls …

 

Darkness falls …
when we hurt someone.

Darkness falls …
when we scare someone.

Darkness falls …
when we lord our power over someone.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Darkness falls …

 

Darkness falls …
at the end of the day.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

© Judith Barr, 2016

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

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

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

 

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!

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

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