IT’S APRIL FOOLS’ DAY

It’s April 1st – April Fools’ Day . . . And do we have a lot to talk about this month! So much, in fact, that I’m going to do this month’s newsletter differently from usual. I’m going to touch briefly on a number of themes, planting seeds for you – and for us together – to nourish and grow.

*****

It’s April 1st – April Fools’ Day . . .

People are so afraid of being seen as a fool. The result of horrendous shaming, ridiculing, and humiliation which have been normalized in our world culture – both subtly and outright. As part of this normalized shaming …if people feel the pain of being shamed, their pain is discounted and responded to with contempt. They, themselves, are blamed for being able to feel the pain: You’re too sensitive. Toughen up! I was only kidding. Well if you hadn’t done that, you wouldn’t deserve this. Is it any wonder people don’t want to be seen as a fool?

Yet, the deeper meaning of the fool, as in the tarot card, The Fool, is innocence at the edge of new beginnings with unlimited potential and limitless possibilities. If people are afraid of being the fool, they will withhold themselves from this path. They will block their knowing of who they are. They will not let themselves be who they are, even if they know. They will not choose any of the possibilities to which the path leads. Or they will force themselves to pick one, but not let themselves know the one – or the next one – to which they are truly called. Or they will choose one but not commit to it. And so they will leave it when it seems challenging, difficult. Leave the possibility or even the path itself … leaving themselves in the process. Or if they commit to it, they will not follow through with their commitment … lest they appear to be a fool.

Do you interfere with your own unfoldment into your fullest potential … to keep from appearing to be a fool?

*****

Recently …
I led a new workshop on parenting.

Although I’ve worked with people on the consequences for them of their parents’ parenting of them … And although I’ve worked with people on the impact of their parenting on their children … this was different. This was an expansion of that.

My intention was to help parents give their best to their children in a different way than parents usually hear about. My vision was that if parents knew they were being triggered by their children because of their own childhood wounds; if they were helped to know the signs of their being triggered and the impact on their children; if they were shown and even experienced in the workshop that it’s possible to find the root of the trigger and heal it – for both the parent’s sake and the child’s sake … that more people would do their own deep healing work and it would help everyone … from parent to child, to family, to community, to the world as a whole. In any group I’ve ever led, there has been a kind of magic that occurs. People do their own work and witness each other’s work … and it multiplies, and the healing effect multiplies and grows exponentially. And this was true with my recent workshop.

Participants’ responses throughout and after the workshop were so touching and so powerful! My heart flew open again and again to each of the participants, to the group as a whole, and to the possibilities that could come of the afternoon’s work. My heart also flew open as the inspiration came that this parenting workshop might be yet another doorway through which I might help people both individually and also globally. After all, everyone has parents – citizens and leaders, healing leaders and tyrants, heroes and terrorists – and every parent has an impact on his/her children. I’m reaching out to let you know about my soul’s calling to find people who are called to help in this endeavor … to either attend such a workshop or to organize such a workshop … or maybe who have an already-existing group that would like me to come give the workshop to the members. I’m imagining it might be a lay group, a professional group, or even a group of clients working with a given therapist – perhaps the therapist would like me to come give the workshop to his or her clients. (I’ve done the latter on numerous occasions before.) Or perhaps help in some way I cannot yet imagine. I welcome whatever inspirations and help you can give with this.

*****

Leaders were once children, too!
Another lens through which to look at parenting!

The impact of parenting from one generation to the next is more significant than most people realize. Two parents, unaware of their own deep wounding as children, frightened of becoming aware, afraid of feeling, will pass their wounds onto their children … even though they may love their children whole-heartedly. If the children also choose to remain unaware of their wounding, and if they also are afraid of feeling, they will pass the pain onto their children. And so it goes from one generation to the next. Generations of parents who yell at their children; generations of parents who don’t set boundaries for their children; generations of parents who are incestuous with their children on many levels of being; generations of parents who neglect their children; generations of parents who tease and humiliate their children; generations of parents who discipline their children in harmful ways; – from subtle to blatant; and so on…

Parents are impacted by their parents. Their parents were impacted by theirs. And each generation of parents both impacts the culture and is impacted by the culture. It’s a two-way street. If your parents hit you and told you that was love … and if other parents in your culture were doing the same both because their parents did that to them and also because it had become normalized in society at the time … the back and forth between the individual and the culture becomes very clear.

Some parents try to help their children be empowered in their lives, both as children and as adults – often not being aware if there are any ways in which they may send a double or mixed message. Some parents frighten their children out of being empowered and taking action when it’s needed, the parents preferring to be the ones in power and control. Other parents embolden their children to take power in harmful, destructive ways. Still other parents have children who both copy them in using power destructively and also take revenge against them (the parents) … both personally and individually and also communally. And yet other parents sit on their power, not using it actively, but letting it come out in passive ways. They teach their children to do the same by modeling, by messages … and it affects everyone’s lives destructively.

Think of how Hitler took revenge on his father by acting out the horrific torture of his childhood on innocent people … just like he once was. In other words, Hitler was once an innocent child. He had parents – a father who tortured him and a mother who didn’t protect him. And culturally, the society was one where what was called “child rearing” was really child abuse normalized. So the wounded children grew up to act out and re-enact their own childhoods … for example, frightened children joining with the abusive parent in attempts at self-defense. Or frightened, angry children growing up and joining with the abusive parent and torturing others to act out what was done to them and find a way to act out their rage at what they had experienced.

Who knows what child will grow up to be a leader? Who knows what parents will give birth to and parent a child who grows up to be a leader? Who knows what the childhood was like of each leader in our world today? Who knows how that parent-child relationship affects the lives of all of us here on earth today and tomorrow and the tomorrow after that?

As Putin has been making his moves in and around the Ukraine and the world at large, how come we aren’t all wondering what his childhood was like? How come we didn’t think of that long, long ago? How come his countrymen and countrywomen didn’t think of that long, long ago? How come somebody didn’t wonder how the culture would create fertile ground both for him to take power as he has and also for the country people to support him?

We could and need to be looking at every leader and every society through this lens … the lens of the psyche developed in the children. It is deeper by far than any lens – social-political-economic-religious – people have looked through before.

*****

In honor of Alice Miller

This month will be the one-year anniversary of Alice Miller’s death. Of all the people I’ve ever studied, or even read … Of all the people I’ve ever known, personally or through their work … she, more than anyone else, understood what I am talking about here. She understood and wrote about the impact of parenting on an individual child’s future and on the cultural and global future, as well. At the same time, she understood about the parents’ resistance to doing their own work, finding their own childhood memories, feeling their own early pain. And about the crucial need for them to overcome, work through, heal their own resistance … for their own sakes, for the sake of their children, and for the sake of our world.

Alice Miller’s work was empowering for us all in ways that are vital for us to become aware of. I am so thankful she was present on this earth! I am so thankful for the support her knowing and teaching offers me as I follow my calling and my knowing … to help in the healing so deeply needed in our world.

© Judith Barr, 2014

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

There are so many healing avenues for us to explore this month … and all year long. This April, I’d like to focus on two opportunities to explore and heal.

This month … explore your feelings about “looking the fool.” Are there times in your life when you may have resisted an obvious calling, or resisted being your true Self, for fear of looking foolish? Or in your fear, have you resisted giving your full commitment to a calling? Be aware of the feelings you have when you are inspired by your calling … When have you felt these feelings before in your life? When in your childhood have you felt this same way? Commit today to truly heal those wounds from your childhood that are “holding you back” from fulfilling your true calling – from being who you really are.

As you do this exploration, become aware also of how your own wounds have impacted not only your life, but the lives of the children in your life. Can you trace back – to the root – the feelings you have during your interactions with children – whether they be your own children, the children in your family, friends’ children? Do you know the roots in your own childhood of the feelings you have about children? Commit as well to explore and heal the wounds inside you that affect your children and the children around you.

And … to help bring the much-needed healing out further into our world … if you have an inspiration about how you can help bring my parenting workshop to a venue that would welcome it, please contact me so we can explore the possibilities. Together, we can help heal our world, from the inside out.

IF YOU BELIEVE “THERE’S NO WAY FOR EVERYONE TO WIN” … READ THIS! UPDATED

Recently I included the article below, If You Believe There’s No Way for Everyone to Win, in my newsletter. In response, someone who reads my newsletters sent me an email about this article. With her permission, in this post I share with you the heart of the interchanges she and I had. They expand and deepen the understandings in the article. You can find the update right below the article.

IF YOU BELIEVE “THERE’S NO WAY FOR EVERYONE TO WIN” … READ THIS!

AND IF YOU BELIEVE “THERE IS A WAY FOR EVERYONE TO WIN” … READ THIS!

Recently, a well-known news commentator* – remarking on a comment by Bill Clinton that the only way for us to go is to make sure everyone wins – emphatically stated, “THERE IS NO WAY FOR EVERYONE TO WIN!” 
 
Would you, or do you, follow someone who made a decision that in life there’s no way for everyone to win?

And, whether or not you follow a commentator who believes this…do you wonder where a belief like this comes from…and how it can affect our lives and our world?

When I heard this comment from Glenn Beck,* it struck me so . . . as something so familiar. It sounded just like things I’ve heard from my clients so many times over the years. This statement – There is no way for everyone to win – is a classic example of what I call an “early decision.” 

I’ll explain .  .  .
When we are children, and we suffer pain or trauma that’s too much for a child to bear, we bury the pain and defend against it by making unconscious decisions about ourselves, others, our world, and life in general.  Now when we are children, an “early decision” may be a life-saver . . . it saves us from agonizing pain, perhaps emotionally, perhaps also physically. But as we grow, if we are unaware of this unconscious decision, and if we haven’t healed it, it can haunt us from our own underground, affecting our feelings, thoughts, attitudes, behavior, and choices.  The important thing to remember is that this is unconscious. We are unaware this is happening inside us, and unaware that early decisions like this are driving our lives.

Here’s an example.  .  .
Let’s say you’re a child. Your father files for divorce because of your mother’s alcoholism. However it unfolds, you and your sister end up living with your mother. When you are 15, your mother commits suicide by drowning. Then your step brother commits suicide. You and your sister move to live with your father . . . the same father who divorced your mother and moved away. Without even realizing it, out of each of your traumas or out of the accumulation of your multiple traumatic experiences comes an early decision: There is no way for everyone to win!

Without even realizing it, you make that decision again and again at each painful incident. You also come to use that decision to defend against your pain. And you use everything you can . . . not only to defend against your pain, but also to hold onto that early decision for dear life!

You believe you are proving that decision every time you have a painful incident in your life. Your first daughter is born with cerebral palsy . . . and you prove it again.  You struggle with substance abuse and ADHD . . . and you prove it again. As an adult you use your power to prove to yourself over and over that there is no way for everyone to win.**

And then you draw people to you who also decided as children in their families that there is no way for everyone to win. You use your power and your following to make choices and take actions based on that early decision.  If you have decided there is no way for everyone to win . . . what kinds of choices will you make and what kinds of actions will you take? Likely those that will make you and your following win . . . and everyone else lose. And if your following is filled with people who also made that early decision, how much chance is there that anyone you would listen to can pierce that decision?

Can you see how this would affect all of us? And our world? If our leaders, politicians, celebrities, and media don’t become aware of and heal their early decisions? And if each of us doesn’t become aware of and heal our early decisions . . . we could end up following the cause of someone who decided as a little boy, just like we did, that there is no way for everyone to win.

Remember, you are fighting for dear life to hold onto that early decision, and so are all those around you . . . Because when you let go of that early decision, you will be right back at the scene of the very first trauma out of which you decided There is no way for everyone to win. And back at that first scene, you will be feeling all the feelings you have been defending against ever since . . . which is exactly what we all need to do purposefully, safely, for healing. For once we have gone through and felt the pain we were so relentlessly trying to avoid, we will never have to hold it at bay again, and we can free up our precious life energy for constructive, creative, life sustaining changes for ourselves and everybody else.

Can you see how this would affect all of us? And our world? If our leaders, politicians, celebrities, and media do become aware of and heal their early decisions? And if each of us does the same?

*The well known news commentator was Glenn Beck. My intention for choosing to talk with you about his comment is not a way to comment on his politics, per se, but rather to utilize a perfect example to help us really comprehend the relationship of a child’s painful experiences to not only his adult life, but also his politics, the politics of our nation, the politics of our world and the well being of all involved. And how many times do we get to hear such a public figure, who is a leader in his arena, say one of his/her early decisions aloud and so publicly?

**This example has been created from some of the events in Glenn Beck’s life, beginning with his childhood.

UPDATE

“Thank you, Judith.  That was another enlightening essay.  It made me think of my grandchildren, two of whom are boys who really like to “win” in games and who are learning, little by little, that it doesn’t have to mean something is wrong with them if they lose a game.  But generally, that is what happens, there is some serious loss of self-esteem when there is a loss of a game, yes? . . . One time my grandson went into a huge crying fit when playing chess with his Dad, my son, and lost.  He was mad at my son for playing too hard; he expected him to somehow let him win or at least have a better chance at winning.”
 
When someone loses a game, yes, there may be loss of self esteem. But I think it depends upon the person what the loss is.
And how young the experience.
It could feel like loss of self. There is no me.
It could feel like loss of sanity.  Nothing makes sense . I feel crazy. Everthing’s getting bigger, I’m
getting smaller.
It could even feel like loss of life. I’m not going to survive this. I’m dying. I’m disappearing. I’m falling through the cracks into nowhere.
This is why people’s reactions can be so extreme when they lose.
When they lose a game. When they lose an argument. When they lose a job. When they lose a friend.
When they lose someone they love.
When they lose an early decision . . . 

This is why people will fight tooth and nail to hold onto their early decisions . . .
both the leaders who have the early decision
and the followers who have the same early decision.
This is why the followers are so easily enlisted in the cause and kept enlisted. 

When children respond this way . . . they have little choice.
The loss is too much for a little child to bear.
But when adults respond this way,
in effect, they are using their power to defend against the loss.
In the case of the people in this month’s article, the people who have an early decision
There is no way for everyone to win . . .
they are using their power en masse
to defend, each of them, against the losses they experienced in their respective childhoods –
the losses that led them to decide
There is no way for everyone to win.

How crucial it is for each of us adults to do the inner work
to discover, heal, dissolve, and transform our early decisions
and feel the pain of the losses from long, long ago.
That way we will no longer need to use our power to defend against those losses.
Instead, we can use our power creatively and fruitfully for living fully today and tomorrow.

© Judith Barr, 2010

ENOUGH!

Enough!

Enough of people acting out their feelings
when they don’t get what they want.
A man shot Dr. George Tiller for helping women
preserve and exercise their choices.*
 
Enough of people hurting and killing others
when they want something that isn’t theirs…
when they want power and abuse it horrifically.
 Women in Darfur live a nightmare of sexual violence.**
 
Enough of people hurting and killing themselves
when they can’t do what they want.
Husbands kill their families and themselves
when they lose their jobs and financial security.***
 
Enough!
 
It’s time that people all over the world
learn to want what they want,
but not destroy to get it.
 
It’s time that people all over the world
learn to feel their feelings
and not act out destructively
in response to their feelings.
 
It’s time we stop calling people who act out on their feelings
mentally ill . . .
we all have the capacity to do so.
It’s time we stop deluding ourselves into thinking
that “they are destructive but we are not.”
We all have the capacity to be destructive.
We all have destructive thoughts and feelings
right alongside our creative and loving feelings.
 
It’s time we stop thinking of feelings as something
to be managed and controlled
or out of control.
Instead we need to re-weave the fabric of our world culture
to set as the standard  . . .
working through and healing our feelings
when they are born of early wounds. . . which they so very
often are!
 
Enough!
 
I know we cannot do this overnight!
But every single person who does his or her own healing
contributes to the healing of our world.
And every single parent who does his or her own healing
and teaches his or her children how to be with feelings
contributes to the healing of our world.
And every leader in every arena who does his or her own healing
contributes to the healing of our world.
 
Enough acting out destructively on our feelings!
And not nearly enough healing . . . yet!
 
*http://www.cnn.com/2009/CRIME/05/31/kansas.doctor.killed/index.html 
**http://www.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/africa/05/31/darfur.rape.study/index.html
***http://news.sky.com/skynews/Home/World-News/Credit-Crunch-Killing-Man-In-Los-Angeles-Shoots-Dead-Wife-And-Five-Children-After-Losing-His-Job/Article/200901415211562?f=rss
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/worldnews/article-1070935/American-financier-kills-family-losing-fortune-credit-crunch.html
http://www.cnn.com/2008/CRIME/10/06/california.murder.suicide/index.html

(c) Judith Barr, 2009

THE PRESIDENT REVEALS HIMSELF – AND SO DO WE.

A few nights ago, I saw the movie, Frost/Nixon. It was a profound movie at a crucial time in the life of our country. There were moments when the theater was absolutely silent and still – save the monologue or dialogue on the screen. More silent, more still than at any movie I’ve ever attended.

People told me afterward that many of those moments, they were thinking – Bush. The similarities were consistently in my awareness.

For me . . . I was moved by the humanness. For me . . . I was left in tears . . .
For the former president . . . who was so deeply wounded, he wreaked havoc in our country and our world. Richard Nixon, yes. But also George Bush. And who knows how many other presidents. And foreign leaders, too.
And for us, the citizens, who elect presidents who are so deeply wounded that, without doing their own healing work, will most assuredly wreak havoc in our country and our world.

My tears . . . our world would be so much healthier, so much safer, so much kinder, so much more life supporting and nourishing of our positive potential, if we would really find out about the candidates who plan to run for president – their childhoods, their wounds, their psyches, their hearts – before we vote for them . . . and cry for those who are wounded, cry for those who are too wounded to be president . . . instead of electing them.

This doesn’t mean someone who has seen a psychotherapist or been helped with depression is too wounded to be president. Actually, someone who has really deeply worked with a good psychotherapist may well be even more healthy and able to serve well as president than someone who has never acknowledged his/her wounds and done the work to heal them.

My tears . . . our world would be so much healthier, so much safer, so much kinder, so much more life supporting and nourishing of our positive potential, if we would truly find out about our own childhoods, our own wounds, our own psyches, our own hearts and cry for ourselves and our woundedness. . . instead of pushing ourselves into positions in which we act out our wounds and our defenses against our wounds, wreaking havoc in our own lives and the lives of those around us –
in our families, our neighborhoods, our churches and schools, our communities, our countries, and our world.

If we would do this for ourselves,
we would also do it in relation to our leaders.
We would insist on this as the fabric of our culture.

© Judith Barr, 2009

Welcome To PoliPsych . . . Where Politics And Psychology Meet!

 

Imagine being empowered by the union of psychology and politics!
Imagine utilizing the joining of psychology and politics to heal not only your own life, but also the life of our country and our world!

Have you felt helpless and powerless when you thought about politics, government, and the world situation?
Have news and events in the political arena brought up raw, intense feelings for you?
Have you wanted to help the world situation, but then thought “I’m only one person . . . what can I do?”

Most people think of politics only as “here-and-now.” But I can tell you from hours and hours of experience with clients, colleagues, friends . . . politics, both for those who are directly involved in the political arena and for the average citizen, is intrinsically interwoven with our individual psychological histories.

Those in the political arena are, after all, human . . . with wounds from their own childhood which, if left unexplored and unhealed, can affect how they use their power and how they govern. Only by working with their own childhood traumas can people in office help ensure that they are able to use the power of office for the good of our citizens, our local communities, our nation, and our world.

As citizens, with our own positions of power in our lives, often when we read or hear about political issues, scandals, actions, or appointments, deep feelings are triggered in us. Our voting choices are often colored by our own inner life, and the experiences of our childhood. When something happens in the world of politics, whether it be something we are happy to see happen or something which causes us sadness or anxiety, we may begin to look outside for solutions to the world’s problems, assigning blame or praise, or the responsibility to fix things . . . rather than using the world of politics as a mirror of ourselves, to help us, and our world, heal.

This blog is here to help you navigate the world of politics through the lens of psychology. In this blog, I will explore with you both the psychology underlying political events . . . and also how to use the actions of our leaders as a mirror to ourselves, to heal and transform our individual perceptions of politics and our individual lives . . . and in doing so, help to create the healing we would all love to see in our world.

(c) Judith Barr, 2009