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?

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

Why do they lie? The candidates and their public relations people.
Why do they report the lies as though they’re the truth, with little if any fact checking at all? The media.

What does it say about our politics that there is so much lying? Absence of integrity.
What does it say about our government? Corruption.
What does it say about our country? Weaknesses coming out into the open more than ever.  It could mean deteriorating. Or it could be well utilized for healing and transformation. Which will you choose and participate in?

Now . . . what happens if we shift the focus of our questions?
What happens if we ask about ourselves as citizens?
What does it mean if politicians and government leaders lie . . . and we believe them?
What does it mean if the media reports the lies as though they were the truth . . . and we believe them?
What if the fact checkers expose the lies, but we, believing the lies, move on and don’t even pay attention to the facts?

What does it mean about us if we believe and act on those lies?
Does it mean we’re blind to lies? Deaf to lies? Numb to lies?
Why would we be unable to identify a lie?
Are we not fully present in the current moment?
Have we been triggered by what’s going on and, as a result, regressed to a young age? Regressed to the child we once were who’s still alive inside us? A child who couldn’t bear to know that Mommy and/or Daddy were lying?
A child who made up a lie about what was going on in order to bear the pain of his/her existence in a painful childhood home?

Does it mean we can’t discern the truth from a lie?
Do we just simply not want to know?
How many of us have pain and trauma in our childhoods that drive our lives from beneath our awareness?
How many of us have built defenses against that pain, defenses that we absolutely do not want to take down?
How many of us, if asked straight out, would say we just don’t want to know . . . the truth of what happened to us?
The truth of what we felt when it happened?
How many of us choose lies over truth as a defense against pain?

Does it mean we are “immune” to lies?
That we don’t let them penetrate into our consciousness?
That we don’t let them touch our feeling selves?
That we make ourselves believe they wouldn’t affect us, even if they were lies … but they aren’t?
Does it mean we have deadened ourselves to the pain and so we’re also dead to our own aliveness? And the aliveness of lies that deeply impact us and our lives?
Does it mean that our efforts to hold our pain at bay – both our young pain and that of today – create a blockage within us that keeps us from our true instincts, which could easily discern lies from truth?

Does it mean that our own fear of the truth still alive within us from long, long ago is being manipulated by candidates and their staffs?
Is being taken advantage of by those trying to get certain people elected?
Is being used against us, thus confusing us even more, seducing us and deadening us even more, distancing us from our instincts and wise choices even more?

More important by far than what the candidates and government officials are doing with their lies in so many different forms is what we are doing with ourselves to keep ourselves from seeing the lies, hearing the lies, feeling the lies . . . and knowing the truth. Our lack of introspection . . . our lack of truly knowing ourselves . . . more than anything else . . . keeps us from being truly responsible citizens . . . on election day . . . and on any day at all.

Which will you choose and participate in? Continued deterioration of our society? Or healing and transformation into what we have the true potential to become? The first requires nothing of you … except to purposely block your introspection, continue to accept lies as truth, say ‘no’ and ‘I don’t want to know’ to your part in what’s going on – your wounds unacknowledged, unworked with, unresolved, unhealed. The second insists on your putting your whole heart and soul into being in truth and doing the inner healing work to know the truth, work for the truth, respond to the truth . . . holding yourself and the process with compassion.

© Judith Barr, 2012

WHAT DO LYING AND SEX SCANDALS REALLY MEAN – IN ELECTION SEASON AND EVERYDAY?

DSK, Arnold Scwarzenager, The Egyptian Banker, John Edwards again, and now Anthony Weiner . . . all within a month’s time. Do we have any idea what this means?

Misuse and abuse of sexuality is a red flag for the woundedness of our sexuality in this world we live in. Lying about it is a red flag for the wounded integrity in this world we live in. The wounded integrity and the broken trust. Being a leader who does both is a sign of the woundedness not only in the public but also in the leadership of our world.

We all have wounds to heal. The dearth of “good” leadership in our world is not due to people who are leaders having wounds. It is due to people who are leaders not working with their wounds to heal them to the root. When are we going to insist our leaders do their inner healing work? Apologizing is not enough. Resigning is not enough. Being investigated and tried isn’t enough. Having to experience the consequences of their actions is not enough all by itself.

When are we going to insist? When are we going to do our own inner healing work so that our insistence has real meaning . . . and integrity and trustworthiness?

© Judith Barr, 2011

AFTER THE ELECTION: TAKE TWO

The election itself may be over, but the effects of the election and how it was carried out will not be over for a long time to come.
The awareness of this cycle of cause and effect continues to be with me.
And the feelings in response to the damage revealed and the damage caused are palpable. 

The degree of lying in this election was mind-boggling. Heart-boggling!
How can so many candidates simply make up facts and stories and present them as if they were the truth . . . just to get what they want?
What does that say about them?
What does that say about their childhoods…
about what they did and didn’t have as children?
about what they felt they had to do to get what they needed?
about what their parents did to get what they needed . . . or simply wanted? 

If the candidates lied to get into office, doesn’t that mean they would lie in office,
in the course of their carrying out their job . . .
or their own agenda?
How could it mean anything else?

What does it mean that we let it happen?
That we let the lies go on, knowing they were lies.
That some of us didn’t even know they were lies.
That some of us believed the lies.
What does it say about us and our childhoods and our wounds . . .
the lies we were told, the lies we told ourselves, the lies we thought we had to tell others?

And what does it mean for our country and our world?

© Judith Barr 2010