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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The lesson at a deep level – inner and outer …

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Brian signs the letter: The Breakfast Club

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

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

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

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

My prayer … that we use it for healing.

© Judith Barr, 2017

*Morning Joe, June 15, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

When Are We Going to Heal the Repetitive Vicious Cycle From the Inside Out?

In my article after the attacks in Paris on November 13, 2015, I talked about the healing concept “the poison is the medicine.” Let’s review before going deeper.

Many healing traditions – spiritual and otherwise – have their own version of “the poison is the medicine.”
It is the heartbeat of homeopathy.
It is the transformation in numerous natural healing traditions.
The healing crisis that brings us through a healing passageway.
It’s inherent in the depth psychotherapy I practice.

It says that the effects created by our own experiences …
the effects we create through our own actions and inactions
may be very painful.
Those painful consequences or effects are the poison.
They are the pain that can be used well to help us learn, grow, and heal.
And that is what we are called to do
in our individual lives and in our communal lives as a world.
We are called to use the pain to learn, grow, and heal …
from the inside out …
from the deepest levels of our being.

If we don’t utilize that poison for healing,
we start down a road that is a vicious cycle –
a maze from which we cannot escape
unless we use the poison for healing.
If we don’t use it for healing, the repetitive vicious cycle
escalates the pain and the poison …
until hopefully we will one day utilize it for healing.

The Paris attacks occurred 3 weeks ago as I write this. To my knowledge, there have been two more violent attacks in the public eye since – one in Colorado Springs 11/27/15 and one in San Bernardino, California 12/2/15. I imagine there were more than that all over the world. I imagine there were more not so very public attacks all over the world – in people’s communities, workplaces, neighborhoods, and homes. And here is the key to “the poison is the medicine.”

Whatever outer action is done to change the danger in the outer world, outer action alone is not and never will be enough. Whatever is done to change the danger in the outer world through prayer alone is not and never will be enough. Even the Dalai Lama recently said, “We cannot solve this problem only through prayers.”* Although both outer action and prayer are valuable components in the solution, the real solution is within each of us. The real solution is by each of us doing our own inner healing work within ourselves – mind, body, heart, and soul.

We each need to discover, work with, resolve, and heal that within us which contributes to, feeds, or even acts out the violence we are seeing all over the world. Even if we don’t remember, even if it was too subtle for a child to grasp, we each need to find the root of that violent vicious cycle in our lives long, long ago. Otherwise, it lives on within us. Otherwise without meaning to, we will perhaps consciously, perhaps unconsciously be participants in keeping the violence going in our lives and in our world – however near or far.

Here’s an example. Bob grew up in a violent home. His father abused his mother. Bob witnessed and heard the abuse. And, of course, felt all sorts of feelings in the process, among them terror, confusion, hurt, sorrow, helplessness, rage … Bob never knew when his father would become violent. He never knew when his father would turn his violence on him. He never knew what caused his father to turn on the people he supposedly loved in such violent attacks. And he never knew why the people in his extended family, his neighborhood, his culture normalized his father’s behavior and therefore either abstained from or refused to help his mother and his whole family prevent the terrorizing attacks right there in their home.

Bob grew up. He was very bright. He finished college and graduated cum laude. He entered the workplace in a field for which he had a passion – medicine – and was making a place for himself in the field. Eventually he met someone and developed a relationship with her. And in right timing, they married. While Bob continued to grow in his professional life, his family began to grow, too. Within a period of 6 years, he and his wife had 4 children. Then one night, without warning, without signs, without immediate outer explanation, one night Bob “snapped.” He smacked his wife, yelling at her – something he would never have thought would happen. His wife would never have thought it either. Nor his neighbors, his friends, his colleagues, his mentors, or anybody else who had known him.

The thing that got him to stop was his wife’s screams and the echo inside him of his mother’s screams when he was a little boy, followed by the terrified look on his children’s faces and the mirror that look showed of his own face and his sibling’s faces as children.

Bob apologized to his wife and moved toward her … she recoiled reflexively, scared he would smack her again. He moved toward his kids, apologizing to them, but they also backed away involuntarily, terrified he would attack them. He was in terrible pain himself – for what he had done, that it had come out of the blue, for the looks and reactions of his wife and his children … for the terror he had caused that would now be part of their experience of him forever.

He had many choices. He could lash out some more at their withdrawal. He could storm out of the house. He could get down on his knees and beg forgiveness, even though there would be no guarantee in their minds, hearts, and cells that he would never do that again. How could they trust him now? He could sit on the couch and sob. He could calmly go upstairs to his bedroom, close and lock the door, lie down on the bed, and cry. He could pack a suitcase and leave – till he knew he would never do that again. He could use the power position he had established, to rule over his family in a new way. He could sit everybody down and talk about what just happened, although his family was still too afraid, too much in shock to be able to do that. He could call the head psychiatrist at the hospital where he worked and ask if he could come talk. Bob had these 8 options and many, many more. Others would have picked a different option than Bob … each one creating another step ‘round the vicious cycle again or taking a step out of the vicious cycle.

Bob, thank goodness, took a step out. He made arrangements to meet with his colleague at the hospital in a half hour, and told his wife and children he was going to go get help so he wouldn’t do that again.

At the meeting with Pete, he talked about what happened and cried and cried from his shock, his fear, his confusion, his remorse, and more … Pete asked him some questions and the subject of the echo of mom’s screams and the mirror of his and his siblings’ faces came out into the conversation. Pete hadn’t known Bob’s childhood history until this night. Near the end of their time together, Bob asked Pete for help. He didn’t know how to keep this from happening again, and he didn’t know how to help his wife and kids not be scared of him. Pete said Bob would need to do some depth psychotherapy to really heal this to the root, and to really make sure he wouldn’t be violent like that again. He explained to Bob that he couldn’t do it himself, because of their collegial relationship, and said that he would give him a referral to a therapist he trusted who did that kind of work.

Bob understood, thanked Pete, and knew he would call the referral the next day. He phoned his wife to see if she felt safe enough for him to come home, and she didn’t. So they agreed he would stay at a hotel for the night and call her the next day after his first appointment with the therapist. The therapist explained to Bob that when you have witnessed abuse as a child and been abused during childhood, the experience and the feelings from the childhood experience live on in your unconscious and can be triggered by anything. Something blatant like a person’s actions, look, or words. Something ever so subtle, like the way a person breathes. Or something in the situation. For Bob, for example, being at home with his wife and 4 children and under so much pressure at work and then at home every day … he had begun to feel trapped. On that unanticipated and frightening night, Bob couldn’t contain the feeling of trappedness any longer.

As the feelings of trappedness opened, Bob’s yelling and smack opened, also … along with the memory of daddy’s abuse and all that came with it … including all the feelings and all the memories Bob carried within him. Not the least of those memories and feelings was Bob’s feeling trapped as a little boy, and his witnessing his mother and his siblings feeling trapped, too.

While Bob stayed in therapy and worked through the healing within him, he and his wife and children got the help to repair the damage he had created in the family.

In my example, Bob could have been male or female, any age (and getting younger all the time), of any race, any religion or no religion at all, with a heritage from any country in the world, of any economic standing, with any sexual orientation …

In other words, anybody who has been wounded in any way will unconsciously bring that wounding into his/her life and re-create or re-enact the ancient wounds in some way. Each time a reenactment occurs it is an opportunity to stop the vicious cycle.

Each time a choice is made – consciously or unconsciously – the person is making a choice whether to use the reenactment and the pain it causes (the poison) as a gateway for healing (the medicine). Choosing not to use the poison as medicine will bring about another reenactment, likely escalated to some degree. Choosing to utilize the poison as medicine, will help to start healing the vicious cycle, the reenactments and the wounds at the root.

In the example of Bob, he chose purposefully and healingly to step out of the vicious cycle. If he hadn’t … the vicious cycle would likely have escalated and escalated until he was violent with his wife again and again, and perhaps his children, too.

And then his children might have grown up like him and unconsciously re-created those early experiences and so ended up in situations where they were either abusive and violent or perhaps being the one abused and battered. This would then be passed down generation after generation, as it actually already had been. The escalation would continue until someone somewhere down the lineage stopped it by doing his/her own inner healing work related to the abuse, the being abused, and the terror.

This is what has been happening in our world again and again. Some people who have been wounded have lashed out publicly and not so publicly in abusive and violent ways. Some who have been wounded have run away, either physically or mentally and emotionally. Others who have been wounded have, in effect, become numb, frozen, and figuratively curled up into a ball, becoming passive and submissive in their lives. There are many reactions a wounded person may have. It’s best not to judge them. And it’s best not to oversimplify them. But we can see that the three above represent the standard reactions of fight, flight, and freeze.

And we need to see that the wounded and disaffected people in our families are vulnerable to being drawn into neighborhood gangs, just like the wounded and disaffected people in our countries are vulnerable to being drawn into gangs like ISIS. People reacting to their wounds can find support in groups. That support may be destructive, not random acts of violence, but violence rooted in their history; that support may collude with and help them go around the vicious cycle again. Or that support may be healing, helping them do the work to step out of the vicious cycle for good.

When we don’t stop the vicious cycle in our individual lives, we create families that don’t stop the vicious cycle. When we don’t stop the vicious cycle in our family lives, we create neighborhoods that don’t stop the vicious cycle…we create communities that don’t stop the vicious cycle; we create states and countries that don’t stop the vicious cycle; we create a world that doesn’t stop the vicious cycle.

When we don’t stop the vicious cycle we normalize the cycle itself. When we don’t stop the vicious cycle we collude with others who don’t stop their vicious cycle. When we don’t stop the vicious cycle we give license to continue the cycle – a silent ‘yes’ to people ripping off permission to act out the cycle again and again. And we live in denial of what we’re doing.

When we don’t stop the vicious cycle we reenact the cycle again and again and help others do the same. We act out our ancient wounds both actively and passively, re-wounding ourselves and others, and escalating that re-wounding again and again … till somebody helps us stop.

Of the people who are acting out violently, whether in words or with violent weapons, some are doing so under a guise of a lofty purpose; some are doing so under a guise of divine will; some under a guise of vengeance or retribution; some with no guises, no excuses at all. But the truth is, at the root, all are doing so as a result of wounding – wounding that may have begun with their parents or with generations and cultures many times removed.

But they aren’t the only ones contributing to the vicious cycle and the escalations. Whatever our wounding individually and from one generation to another … Every one of us has currents of feeling in us that are loving, caring, vulnerable, innocent, and devotedly protective … whether we’ve buried those feelings or not. And every one of us has currents of feeling in us that are angry, raging, violent, destructive, with the intention of doing harm to ourselves and/or someone else … whether we’ve buried those feelings and are conscious of them or not. If we do not explore, discover, and heal the destructive parts of ourselves, no matter how buried beneath our awareness they are … we will continue to collude with the vicious cycle of reenacting and re-creating terror in our lives and the life of our world today and tomorrow and the tomorrow after that.

In Power Abused, Power Healed, the quote by Thich Nhat Hanh describes what we each live with and how we are each every side of the problem:

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

As I write this, it is 3 weeks since the attacks in Paris. There have already been more attacks and escalated attacks about which we know and many, many more that aren’t publicized. Stop!

We must stop this vicious cycle! Not in the destructive ways that are being discussed and used – for example, not revenge, destruction, and defense – but in the way of real protection, with a real intention of protection. Not in the superficial ways that are being discussed and thrown into the game by people such as the media, the presidential candidates, even the military experts. Rather, stopping the vicious cycle from the inside out, by going inside ourselves and taking responsibility for the violence and the terror alive within us from our own past … and taking responsibility to heal. Stop!

© Judith Barr, 2015

*http://www.alternet.org/world/dalai-lama-stop-praying-paris-humans-created-problem-and-humans-must-solve-it?akid=13672.9560.juPdOY&rd=1&src=newsletter1046025&t=20

**From his poem “Please Call Me by My True Names,” as quoted in the prologue of Power Abused, Power Healed (pp. ix – x)

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

As we take the time to grieve, to pray, to take necessary action in the wake of the recent violent attacks reported around the world, it is so crucial that we also take the time to explore and heal that wounding within us that can contribute to violence in our world.

Take the time – at this time and anytime violence in any way touches your life – to look within.

What does the violence evoke in you? How do you feel when you hear about – or maybe even experience – acts of violence? Don’t act out on those feelings, but don’t try to bury, pray away, or “act away” those feelings either. Instead, make a commitment to explore, as deeply as you safely can, the roots of any intense feelings you have. Do the feelings that rise within you make you recall earlier feelings … feelings from long ago? Did you feel this way in childhood? In response to whom? And in what situation?

To help us safely navigate and heal these intense feelings, we often need the help of a skilled professional, as Bob did. If you feel the call to go deeper into and through these feelings, to truly heal to the root, find a caring, therapist to help, one with integrity, one who does his/her own inner healing work, one who is not afraid of feelings and who is committed to healing to the root.

Prayer and action are important components to help heal violence in our world … but they alone cannot create lasting change. The true heart of healing our world lies in healing our own individual wounding. Won’t you join me in making the commitment to stop the vicious cycle?

Won’t you join me in making the commitment to heal from the inside out?

Healing the Roots of Slavery and Prejudice

In the heartbreaking midst and aftermath of the Charleston, South Carolina massacre, many are claiming change. We can change our behavior. We can change our symbols. We can change our words. We can pass laws that seem to claim we’ve changed our attitudes or even our values. But unless we really dig deep into our feelings and heal what is at the root of racial prejudice … the changes on the surface will only be a guise of change. And they won’t last. They will only conceal what is still festering beneath the surface within us individually, and also societally. Hidden within, masked by outer changes, the roots will continue to create the painful, destructive outcomes within us and all around us. 

This is as true with racial prejudice as it is with anything else that is unresolved deep within.

I have many times thought of writing about the deep roots of prejudice, and the cruelty that people act out on each other as a result. This week as I’ve sat with the events in Charleston, I felt deeply called to write about a different root than I have in the past. I hope this will be food for your wondering. I hope you can let this inform you, intrigue you, and inspire you to look deeper into yourself – for the sake of your own healing, for the sake of those around you, for the sake of our country, and for the sake of our world.

*****

Please wonder with me …
Where do we get the idea we can own other people? And do whatever we want with them and to them, just because …? How did we ever come to believe we had the right to enslave beautiful dark skinned natives of one continent and bring them to our own to do our bidding? Or to receive our wrath if they didn’t? Even receive our murderous rage when they didn’t do what we wanted, when we wanted it, how we wanted it?

Where did this start?
How did this start?

Some might look at it historically, perhaps working backwards beginning with human trafficking today. Some might go all the way back to Ancient Egypt. And some even before that.

Here’s another way to look at it.

When a child bonds well, meaning healthily, with mother … that healthy mother – the one we call in my field the “good enough mother” – does our bidding. She is focused on us, protecting us, nourishing us, taking care of our needs, and doing so with love. No, she isn’t perfect. Not even the “good enough mother” is perfect. But when she makes a mistake she is self-responsible, acknowledging her mistake and finding a way to repair the mistake and its consequences. She does this from love and consciousness, a good heart. And as a result, she creates trust.

When we have this as a child, the attachment with mother becomes internalized and helps us feel secure. It helps us give what we received from mother to ourselves, and often to others as well. When a child has this from mother, the child feels something kindred to owning mommy. But it’s not the same thing. Because in this healthy scenario, mommy gives herself to her child. She whole-heartedly surrenders to the care of her baby … while hopefully still taking good care of herself.

But when a child does not have this healthy attachment, there is no real sense of security. There is a deep hole within and the person feels a sense of starvation for some way to get someone to focus on him, protect him, nourish him, take care of his needs … to do his bidding. There is a deep urge – whether conscious or unconscious – to find or create a way to have someone give what was missing in childhood. A craving to own someone.

From here the cycles upon cycles of damaging and destructive “owning” begin. This child grows up and finds someone to own. It might be his wife. It might be his child. It might be both. It might be his own unhealthy parent who didn’t give as he needed in childhood. His craving to own is truly insatiable – whether he’s aware of it or not, whether it shows on the outside or not. No amount of owning someone today or tomorrow can fill the emptiness of lack of attachment with mommy long ago. But as the current experience of insatiability grows and grows, at some point he moves on from enslaving those who are supposed to be his loved ones to others in his life and then to someone he can make his slave.

All along, over time the other little boys and girls who didn’t attach healthily with mother have been finding ways to own people in their lives, too. And eventually they join together to make people their slaves. To bring people home as slaves from the other side of town or the other side of the country or even the other side of the world.

Others see they can make money off of satisfying the very young craving to own somebody that lives in so many people. And these “money makers” find ways to bring many who will become slaves to the people who, at the root, are starving for mommy.

This owning and money making becomes normalized in the minds and hearts of the individuals and in the minds and hearts of people communally. And it gets passed down from generation to generation, even if not in awareness. The mothers who didn’t have a bond with mommy feel like they own their children, and treat them that way. And those children feel the same about their spouses and children. And on and on and on …

Those who suffer from being owned, don’t know what to do.
Those who suffer from owning, don’t feel consciously like they’re suffering.

Most importantly … nobody is aware that this stems from the earliest times in childhood, when a baby does need mommy to do his or her bidding.
Most importantly … few are aware of how starving we are in our world for healthy attachment from the earliest times in our lives.
Few are aware of how painful it is for a child to be without the deeply needed bonding.
Few are cognizant of the damaging consequences of lack of bonding on an individual, a family, and communally for generations to come.
Few let themselves feel what a trauma this is for all of us.
Few realize how much of what happens in our cultures and in our world is the damaging consequence of unhealthy attachment.

One of the tasks we have ahead of us as we work to end racial prejudice is the same task we have in other arenas of our lives: we need to heal our wounds from the earliest ages, even from the times when healthy attachment needed to occur, so there is healing from the inside out … and not just a guise of healing.

This is courageous, honorable, transformative work.
We all need you – and all of us – to participate in it.

© Judith Barr, 2015

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

None of us is immune to wounding, and even if we don’t actually “own” slaves or consciously feel entitled to “own” others, we may still be feeling the effects of wounding to our early attachment that cause us – consciously or unconsciously – to seek in people in our current lives the healthy “owning” of mommy that we missed as a child.

What you can do:

Commit to explore within yourself if and when you feel entitled to “own” others. You can start by exploring what you feel when someone in your life says “no” to something you’ve asked of them. Do you have strong feelings anytime someone says “no” to you? Do you only have strong feelings when the “no” comes in response to something you feel is really important to you? Do you only have strong feelings if the “no” is a response to something critical to your health and wellbeing? Do you feel scared? Hurt? Angry? Vengeful? Do you feel indignant that they are not “doing your bidding”?

Now ask yourself: “Is my response a here and now response or a young response from long ago that is still alive inside me today? Or is it a combination of the two?” To find out, trace those feelings back, as far back in your life as you can. Maybe you felt this same way – with good reason – when you were a child or even an infant, when mommy withheld the care she should have given you … care you deserved and were truly entitled to. Keep tracing these feelings back as far as you can. And, if the wounding at the root of these feelings calls you to seek help, commit to finding a good, integritous, caring therapist to help you truly heal these feelings to the root.

What else can you do?

After you have explored your craving to own someone, you can also explore the other side of this coin. Perhaps your experience was not only the absence of mommy giving herself whole-heartedly to you in a healthy attached relationship. Perhaps you also experienced her trying to own you. As a result, in addition to your trying to own people in your current life, you might also transfer mommy trying to own you onto other people in your life today.

You might think people want to own you when they really don’t.You might feel people want you to focus only on them when that isn’t the case at all. You might accuse people of wanting you to do their bidding, when that isn’t true. Those transferred feelings may be so strong that your insistence on and defense against the other person trying to own you may in itself enslave you, the other person, and your relationship in a scenario that isn’t here and now and isn’t the truth. This often happens between people in all kinds of combinations, including people of different races.

If this is the case, you can also trace those feelings back, as far back in your life as you can. Maybe you felt this same way – with good reason – when you were a child and mommy tried to own you, enslave you, trap you … instead of take good care of you. Keep tracing these feelings back as far as you can. And, if the wounding at the root of these feelings calls you to seek help, again … commit to finding a good, integritous, caring therapist to help you truly heal these feelings to the root.

Whatever our skin color, gender, nationality, creed or affiliation, we all need to do this inner healing work, before we can even hope to help our world heal from prejudice and the tragedy it often brings. Imagine what our world would be like if we all committed today to do just that!

Beneath The Violence in Aurora, Colorado…

The tragedy yesterday in Aurora, Colorado, is heartbreaking. The cauldron of feelings it must have stirred in people in the theater, those left in grief, and those watching and hearing about it . . . also heartbreaking. But the cauldron of feelings in the ones who commit the acts of violence and destruction are also necessary to consider. We need to let those feelings break our hearts, too.

How many times are we going to have violent, destructive attacks – in our country and our world – and not look for the deepest root? How many times are we going to just look at why the shooter did what he did? How many times are we only going to look at computer games, television shows, movies  – or other superficial things – as possible causes? How many times are we going to call them “bad” and that’s it? How many times are we going to split hairs about who is mentally ill and who is just looking for revenge? Revenge is a sign of something unhealed.

Any person (male or female) who commits an act of violence and destruction is deeply wounded and needs help. No one is born destructive. Nobody is born violent. Not even Hitler. We are born and wounded by our families, communities, society. And we all need to look at this, to understand this.

Any person who commits an act of violence and destruction is deeply wounded and needs help. He needs help with feelings he has never had the help to build the capacity to feel and know what to do with. And how is he going to get that help in a family where the parents don’t have that capacity – were never helped, themselves, to be able to feel and use their feelings well. And how is he going to get that help in a society that doesn’t have that capacity to feel and use feelings well. A society in fact, that is complicit in numbing feelings, burying feelings, moving away from feelings any way possible. A society, for example, that supports taking medication to stop the emotional pain, instead of working to find the root of the pain and heal it. A society that allows its insurance companies to limit the kinds of therapy and the number of sessions for someone to do their healing. Limits that are bizarre in terms of any real healing being done. And therapies that can only possibly, perhaps, help the symptoms temporarily – like bandaids – never truly resolve the wound and its inner and outer consequences.

How is he going to get that help in a society that calls certain people ‘mentally ill,’ and refuses to look at the wounding in us all and in our society?

If we want this violence to stop, we’re going to need to find a way to look at our own wounding – individual and societal – build our capacity to feel our feelings healthily and tell which feelings we need to safely explore for healing and which feelings we need to act on safely, and do the deep inner work to heal our wounds that caused us suffering, continue to cause us suffering, and will continue to cause us unnecessary suffering until we heal them.

NOTE: If you have read this and think I’m making excuses for those who are violent and destructive, or not holding them accountable, you have completely misunderstood or distorted the purpose and meaning of my words. I hope you will read it again and open your mind and your heart, so that you can see and feel my efforts to help us go beneath the surface to the levels from which we can truly help ourselves heal this kind of destructiveness in our world.

© Judith Barr, 2012