A Call to Healing in the Wake of Violence

A few days ago, there was violence at political rallies for Donald Trump. It was disturbing and heartbreaking to watch.

As we become aware of violent events – in the political arena and in any area of our world – we need to also become aware of an important truth: Violence begins within each of us.

There is a current of violence within each of us that we have the potential to act out on. That current can be provoked, triggered, fed, by anyone and anything. Sure as it’s sunny in the day and dark in the night, we are all vulnerable to that current being triggered. It may be triggered by our dreams at night, by our memories during the day. It may be evoked by something we’re aware of – like an interaction with someone close to us – or by something we’re not aware of at all. It may be evoked by our transferring onto a person or situation in today’s world deep experiences we had long ago when we were children. It may be triggered by someone who has no intention whatsoever for us to be triggered. And it may be triggered by someone who definitely has an intention to trigger us and get us stirred up … and then use us for his/her own agenda.

If we are to help heal the violence in the world, we need to heal the violence and potential for violence within us. We each need to find that current of anger, rage, violence, and work with it and through it. Each person who does this makes him/herself less vulnerable to his/her inner current of violence being triggered. And certainly less vulnerable to acting out on that inner current of violence. Every one of us who acknowledges, claims, owns the current of violence within, does not act out on that current, and, in fact, works through that part of us … helps heal the well of violence in the human community.

A clue: When we are stressed in our current day, we regress to the child within us still alive and needing healing. Different here-and-now stresses will cause us to regress to different times, ages, experiences, and moments of suffering in our childhoods. If we don’t know this, we believe we’re simply in the here-and-now suffering today. If we don’t know about our regression, we are very likely to act out with our big bodies today the little child’s feelings from long ago. We may, for example, have temper tantrums, hurting ourselves and other people

If those around us don’t know about the regressions in themselves, us, and others … they are likely to normalize the violence being acted out. They are likely to claim it is just about today because of something occurring today. They are likely to abdicate their self-responsibility in the situation. They are likely deny their part in the violence erupting. They are likely to refuse to own up to how they provoked it, triggered it, used it … even though it’s clear as day to others.

If we are to help heal the violence in the world, we need to heal the violence and potential for violence within us.

I have written about healing violence many times in my blog in the hopes that my posts will inspire us all to commit to heal violence from the inside out. You can find many of my past posts about the true roots of violence and how we can all help to heal it here: https://polipsych101.wordpress.com/tag/violence/.

“Why aren’t our efforts to end the violence working?

“Very simply, our efforts to end the violence aren’t working because we are doing things that don’t work, can’t work, and often include violence within them. For example, punishment for violence doesn’t work. Laws outlawing violence and then punishing it don’t work. Have they ever really worked? Look at our world today before you even attempt to answer that question.

“Gun control – although it may prevent guns from being used for violence in some cases – won’t work to end the violence. Someone who is defending against their pain with striking out will just find another way to strike out. And praying for violence to end – although it may be a useful, even necessary help toward ending the violence – will not work all by itself to end violence in our world. And though it may help on some deep level, some people who pray don’t commit violence (even though they may have it within them as an escape hatch), and some people who pray also commit violence. That may seem like a contradiction, but we human beings are filled with contradictions, aren’t we?”*

We say and maybe even believe that we don’t want violence … that we don’t contribute to violence … that we don’t co-create violence. We say and maybe we’re even sure –  in our own minds – that others have a violent current but we don’t. And we rip off permission to not honestly acknowledge the violence within us and its roots in the child within. And yet here is the violence right in the midst of us. This is a perfect example of the poison-is-the-medicine dynamic I wrote about in November. **

“We can attempt to end violence from the outside in …
And fail.
Or we can commit to heal violence from the inside out, to the root,
and over time succeed.” ***

Right now, we are failing.

It is my hope that my work will help you in your own healing journey, and that together we can help heal the violence so prevalent in our world today.

Blessings,
Judith

© Judith Barr, 2015.

* From my home study course Violence: Finding And Healing The Roots from the Inside Out, © Judith Barr, 2013, page 13.

** http://judithbarr.com/2015/11/19/grief-shock-another-tragedy-and-the-poison-is-the-medicine/

*** Adapted from the opening quote in my home study course Healing Bullying to The Root: A Unique Approach to A Painful Epidemic, © Judith Barr, 2013, page 2.

How Did We Ever Let This Happen?

History repeats itself when we don’t learn from it, when we don’t grow from it, when we don’t find a way to become conscious of the real roots of it.

In the last century, there was a Holocaust birthed and carried out in Germany and all over Europe … a Holocaust which had repercussions globally that many of us worldwide are still feeling today. A child was born and raised who fed, fanned, and used the emotions of the German citizens to get them to elect him. And then once in power manipulated himself into dictatorship … a dictatorship that blamed and scapegoated entire groups of people, terrorized the citizenry that put him in power and those in other countries that hadn’t, and cruelly, inhumanly, monstrously took millions of prisoners, enslaved them in concentration camps, and devastated them mentally, emotionally, and physically.

What were Germans thinking as this was all evolving? Was anyone aware? Was anyone concerned? Did anyone see Nazi Germany coming? Was anyone wondering what they could do to prevent it? Did anyone get what was unfolding? Did anyone comprehend what was feeding it – in the child-now-dictator? Did anyone comprehend what was feeding it in the citizenry? Or what was causing it? If anyone did get it, did they understand what was at the real root of this horror and this tragedy?

*****

Six and a half years ago, I watched on television a memorial ceremony at one of those concentration camps – Buchenwald Concentration Camp in Germany. The speakers at the ceremony were Barack Obama, author and former prisoner in the Auschwitz, Buna, and Buchenwald concentration camps, Elie Wiesel, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel. I was deeply touched, most of all by Angela Merkel. She asked important questions:

   We, the Germans, are faced with the agonizing question.
   How and why?
   How could this happen?
   How could Germany wreak such havoc in Europe and in the world?

Knowing how to respond to her questions, in a heartbeat I was moved to write to her. I shared with her how touched I was by her questions … and by her asking them publicly. For starters, I shared with her that there are those in my field of psychotherapy who are trying to help us all understand the link between politics/government and psychology. That psychoanalyst and author, Alice Miller was one of those working to help. That I was more and more addressing such connections in my country and in our world.

To help her begin to explore the depths of the answers she was seeking, I referred Chancellor Merkel to Alice Miller’s For Your Own Good – Hidden cruelty in child-rearing and the roots of violence, the chapter entitled, “Adolf Hitler’s Childhood: From Hidden to Manifest Horror.” I also sent her a copy of my book, Power Abused, Power Healed.

It was touching to receive a letter back from her thanking me.

For an individual to look back over personal mistakes, and over personal destructiveness, acknowledging them, taking responsibility for them, seeking to repair them … it takes a lot. It takes a lot of healing and creates a lot of healing.

For one to look back on one’s country’s most destructive mistakes and be able to ask, in effect “How did we let this happen?” takes grace, humility, awakened (or at least awakening) consciousness, connectedness, and the ability to feel. To be able to accept and respond to an answer takes, in addition, openness and willingness, and a longing for healing.

Where was that grace, humility, awakened consciousness, connectedness, and the ability to feel when Hitler’s Germany was step by step evolving into a monstrosity? Hidden beneath a country’s blindness to its own normalized violence in house after house after house.

According to Alice Miller, steeped in monstrous practices of parenting, the children of Germany were being abused under the guise of “child rearing,” a normalized national standard of discipline, not limited to Germany alone. Such cruelty, normalized in the home, spread to the culture. This led to a distorted sort of domino effect: When Adolf Hitler came into power, he himself having been mercilessly abused as a child, all the abused children still alive within the actual children, the teenagers, and the supposed adults, reflexively responded in the usual spectrum of ways abused children would respond.

Some froze; some submitted and obeyed; some colluded; some fled; some stayed close to the abuser to protect themselves; some acted out their own violent impulses as a result of their violent upbringing. Most of the society, blindly and beneath individual or communal consciousness, participated in the “march” toward Hitler’s Germany without even realizing they were doing so. Without even realizing it was happening.

Hitler’s ability to foment fear and anger and direct it toward others drew its power not just from the then-current social, political, and economic conditions in Germany, but more accurately, more deeply, more truly from the mental, emotional, and physical conditions in people’s childhoods, in their homes and families.

The havoc that was wreaked on our world was beyond words. It was not Hitler alone that caused the devastation. It was the society – Hitler and the German citizens and the government and citizens before them, and before that, and before that. It was a reflection of the monstrous abuses of children that occurred in individual homes from generation to generation. Abuses that were either kept blocked from awareness, secret, or hidden from view, or were normalized personally and culturally as a justification, finally coming into public view in Nazi Germany – as an out-picturing of what people had gone through as children and lived with inside themselves still. The holocaust discovered in Hitler’s Germany was horrifyingly and tragically real in itself, but it also gave the world a view into the alarming, frightening, heart-breaking holocaust the children experienced in their childhood homes … the children, including Hitler himself.

As many destructive events play out in our world – and as the world watches the unfolding of the presidential election here in the United States – it seems that we’re headed the same way.

For years I’ve been watching as the wounded children in our country and our world have grown up to out-picture the pain and suffering they went through as children. I’ve helped individuals and couples become aware of the anguish they’ve caused those they insist they love, in ways similar to how their own parents caused them pain when they were little. I’ve connected the dots again and again between the individual wounds and the communal/global wounds – evident at the time and continuing to come down the pike.

I’ve worked to show others this connection. Steeped in fear and denial of their own childhood wounds, the supposed grown up leaders and citizens in our world, like Hitler and the German people, have been driven by the child still alive within them, have had their young feelings fomented, have been acting out their own childhoods, and have been busy defending themselves against the needed explorations of the true causes in their childhood and the effects on their lives, the lives of their families, the life of our culture and world … now and to come.

Just as an alcoholic or a parent who abuses his/her child can be completely blind to the damage they’re causing until after they and those around them have hit bottom, so also can that happen to any country.

Angela Merkel could ask these questions after the devastation.
Whatever questions were asked before and along the way were not being asked publicly, and were not being asked in relation to the inner world of the people.
Who amongst us is asking these questions in our world today?
And who instead of asking them is acting out the roots?
Who is saying, “I wish I could change, but there’s nothing I can do about it!”
Who is freezing? Who is submitting?
Who is blind to what is occurring?
Who is closing his or her eyes and not watching?
Who is running away?
Who is lashing out and becoming a bully him/herself?

Who amongst us is truly seeking the inner answers at the root?
Who amongst us is looking at the wounding in the psyches of our children – the child still alive within each of us, and the children for generations back and for generations to come?
Who amongst us is doing the work of the healing and transformation that is needed?

History repeats itself when we don’t learn from it, when we don’t grow from it, when we don’t find a way to become conscious of the real roots of it. It repeats itself when we don’t find the real roots of it personally, individually, familially. And it repeats itself when we don’t find the real roots communally, nationally, and globally.

Yet there are all sorts of signs that we aren’t finding the real roots.
And that we aren’t asking the questions to lead us to the real roots.
And that we aren’t working to heal and transform ourselves at the real roots.

We wouldn’t be re-enacting the same things again and again if we were.

If people did their own work on their relationships with power, we would be able to have the clarity to elect leaders who truly represent our best interests personally and communally, instead of transferring our young feelings onto candidates; instead of colluding with the abuse of power in the electoral process; instead of choosing leaders from our wounded selves.

If people did their young inner work, prejudice would be on its way to deep healing; fear of the other, blaming the other, scapegoating of the other would not be acted out; would less and less exist within the individual psyche; when it did, would be worked with to heal it more to the root; and would exist less and less in the communal psyche as a result.

If people did their work with misogyny, rooted in their perhaps-unconscious hatred and fear of mommy, and their desire to have power over the one person who had the most power over them … there would be no more war on women, no more attempts to control women no more attempts to own women, no more attempts to have power over women. And if women themselves did their work with their own bodies and psyches, their own wombs, their own experiences with menstruation, birth, and menopause … they would no longer collude with the effort to control them and no longer tolerate being controlled – body, mind, heart, and soul.

If people did their own inner healing work with the root of their relationship with money – wealthy people and poor alike – they would pull their own money wounding out of the world’s wounded economy and support others to do the same – creating the space for healing economies.

If people did their own inner healing work with the abuses they experienced as children – both the right out in the open abuses and the more subtle, not so tangible abuses – our country would no longer pander in its laws and other ways to parents abusing their children, to partners abusing each other.

If people did the inner healing work to be able to feel their feelings, long buried from childhood … they would be able to discern which feelings are for healing from the past and which ones are for acting on today. As a result, no bully or dictator in the making could foment their feelings for his or her own use.

If people did their inner healing work from their own ancient past, there would be no haunting pull drawing people to want to take the country or the world back to “the way it once was.”

If people did their own inner healing work with power and powerlessness, the misuse and abuse of power would not be so rampant in our world … and when it came into view, there would be people who could help to heal it at its root.

Without doing our work, our world is headed toward the same kinds of horrors and tragedies as Germany faced … the same kinds of atrocities experienced by our children and the same kinds of atrocities acted out on our world stage.

Actually we’ve done many of them already … under the guise of politics, under the guise of government, under the guise of democracy, under the guise of freedom of speech, under the guise of powerful beloved leaders, under the guise of defense, under the guise of being civilized …

Who is looking at the wounding that caused what we’ve already reenacted?
Who is looking at the wounding that will cause further escalations?
Who is looking at the wounding of leaders, supporters, the media, and concerned citizens, especially in this year of the U.S. presidential race and election?

If we don’t look at the wounding of our children, the wounding within us, the wounding that spreads from generation to generation, the wounding that becomes part of our very culture … we could end up acting out on our world’s stage scenarios like those the people of Germany co-created with Hitler. We could end up with a country in which too many people join with a candidate out of their own wounding and help wreak havoc all over the world that mirrors the havoc they experienced in their childhood homes.

I know what I’m saying is scary. I know it is tempting to push it away. But pushing it away will only help to create anew the nightmare we need to dissolve and heal. The real hope is in welcoming the truth of it, holding it with an open welcoming heart, and knowing that this truth and the healing work that can come of it will set us free, individually and communally, in a way that nothing else can.

© Judith Barr, 2016

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

As we in the U.S. near our presidential election, and as so many events play out on the world stage, we all need to look not only at the actions of others outside ourselves, but even more importantly … we need to look inside ourselves. Each and every one of us needs to explore and heal those wounds within that allow us to tolerate, collude with, and even perpetrate abuses of power in our world.

This election year – and every year – make the commitment to explore and heal your own inner wounds. Look for the ways in which you subtly or blatantly collude with abuses in your families, communities, nations and world.

When you find yourself allowing or fostering a form of abuse, explore within. For example, when you see a candidate slinging mud at an opponent, how do you feel? What does that mudslinging trigger in you? Can you trace that feeling back in your life … to your own childhood experience? To help you truly heal those feelings, and the experiences out of which they emerged, you may need to find a compassionate, healing professional … one who has integrity, one who does his/her own inner healing work, one who can help you heal to the root.

Imagine if all the leaders and all the citizens in our world did their own inner work to heal their wounding! Imagine how different our world would be!

Trump Isn’t The Real Problem – We Are!

It’s 14+ months before the 2016 Presidential Election. It’s already been going on too long. Many are overstimulated by the candidates’ and the media’s hype. The overstimulation feeds both numbness and hysteria. And however disconnected from their true selves people were before, they get more and more disconnected with each step in the election frenzy.

What we once thought was a sacred process – and could still be if we utilized it well – has instead been misused and abused and turned into an election frenzy for all of us.

So here we are in September 2015 … well into the fever pitch of the election process and we’re over a year away. Everybody’s surprised about Donald Trump. Everybody’s talking about Donald Trump. Many are concerned about Donald Trump. And Donald Trump is a concern.

He’s lied. Everyone’s talking about Hillary’s lies. But who’s talking about Trump’s lies?

He’s treated women terribly. He’s made blatant racist statements about Mexicans and other immigrants.

He’s mocked foreign countries who are either our allies, like Japan, or with whom we need to collaborate, like China. He’s ridiculed individuals in our own country … Senator John McCain, many of the other candidates running for president, and who knows how many others.

He’s made claims about what he would do as president. Claims like those related to immigrants. Claims like those related to people of color and of other races and nationalities than he. Claims like those related to immigrants that are impossible without violating the Constitution. Claims that no matter how they might be carried out, would be inhumane … would violate any sense of dignity … and would belie our thinking of ourselves as a civilized nation.

His misogyny is legendary. From calling women “pigs, dogs, slobs, and disgusting animals,” to saying about Megyn Kelly that “You could see there was blood coming out of her eyes–blood coming out of her wherever,” as a denigration of her intelligence and ability based on her menstrual cycle, to calling her a “bimbo” and a “lightweight.”

When confronted on what he’d said, Trump denied it and held those who had accurately understood what he’d meant as the problem – “I was referring to nose, ears. They’re very common statements. And only a deviant would think of what people said.” And then he’s turned around and claimed he “cherishes” women. He has, in this instance and at other times, refused to take responsibility for what is actually his responsibility, blaming it on the other person or people. And lying – to others and perhaps himself, too.

When talking about Jeb Bush having mentored Marco Rubio, Trump said: “If I were Bush and I brought somebody along … and all of a sudden the guy, the young guy that I brought along, said: ‘I’m running against you and it’s not my turn but I don’t care because I’m really anxious, I’m really driven’ … I would really go after that guy. I’d say ‘He’s the most disloyal guy. He’s a terrible person. He’s horrible and I hate him.’ ” And then he went on to mock Bush’s and Rubio’s being friendly at the first GOP debate.

This reveals so much about Donald Trump. More than possible to fully do justice to the revelations right now. But for starters … it shows a glimpse of an inability to truly be in a mutual relationship; a vindictiveness, vengefulness that is unwarranted and undermines relationship; an inability to hold more than just one way – his way. And it shows, beneath all his bluster and whatever ability he has developed to make money, just how young and unmatured emotionally he is. A perfect example of what I’ve taught and written about again and again – the child still alive in the grown person; the child driving the show, whether we’re aware of it or not. All these qualities have been, are, and would be dangerous in a leader.

This is not an exhaustive list, but even this list … he thinks he can get away with. The problem is he has been getting away with it. Not only getting away with it, but his support has been growing in response to it. And the problem with that? The problem is not Trump alone. The problem is us! All of us. Those of us who think we’re in the clear because we fight against him, see through him, turn away, sickened or frightened by what he’s doing and how it’s affecting us and our election process … all comforted by the belief that “we’re not at all like him.” And those of us who are disillusioned by our government and thus can be easily roused and seduced by him.

We can look at this phenomenon through many lenses. Today let’s look at it through this lens: the lens of acting out! It will show us why he’s going up in the polls after he acts out time after time.

In depth psychotherapy, we don’t stop at the behavioral level of healing. But we do draw boundaries around people’s behavior to help make it safe for them to explore their thoughts and feelings, no matter what they are. So someone I work with will, for example, make a commitment not to hurt or kill themselves or someone else … so that it will be safe to explore those kinds of angry thoughts and feelings. Making such a commitment doesn’t stop the thoughts and feelings. It isn’t meant to. It’s meant to draw an inviolable line between the thoughts and feelings and the actions. That is what makes it safe to have the thoughts, have the feelings, and bring them out in the open in therapy to talk about them, explore them, find what in the person’s history caused those thoughts and feelings to emerge, and heal that wound to the root.

These lines, these boundaries between having feelings and acting on them are protections that our children need their parents to teach them and help them with. But most children don’t receive this from their parents. Most parents don’t give this to their children, usually because they never received it themselves. Or don’t give it to their children in a healthy way, again because they never received it from their parents. The result is that too many people all over the world are starting more than ever to act out these feelings when they emerge.

Please note: I am not excusing this, just explaining the root cause. It is something that needs to be healed in all of our societies all over the world.

But at the same time as I and my colleagues are working deeply with people and with great commitment to heal to the root and transform this deep wound and its consequences, there are others who are – consciously or unconsciously – taking advantage of that wound and using it for their own purposes.

Dictators have done that and used the wounded to kill in their behalf. Hitler did it in World War II with people who, like him, had been raised in abusive families and thus would respond to his seduction and his cause. ISIS does that with disaffected young people who have their own early wounds and can be lured into the cause. Donald Trump’s cause is “Making America Great Again.” And people are being drawn and seduced into joining.

Significantly, people enjoy Trump’s behavior because he is acting out his thoughts and feelings and then justifying his acting out. On some level people like that he’s doing it and getting away with it. Perhaps they think and feel the same things but feel they don’t dare act out on them. So they secretly – or not so secretly – get off on his doing it. Or perhaps they like that he’s doing it and getting away with it, because then they see it as his giving them permission to do the same. To act out and get away with it. So they are, in effect, ripping off permission from his destructive behavior … permission to act out in kind. In the ways I’ve mentioned above and others as well.

An actual example, an older Hispanic man was recently beaten by two white males in a Boston area neighborhood. The perpetrators justified their actions saying that Trump was right, illegals need to be deported. After first responding to hearing of the beating with “It would be a shame,” Trump then justified their actions, distorting them and normalizing them: “I will say that people who are following me are very passionate. They love this country and they want this country to be great again. They are passionate.”

Hitler could never have come into the power he had without citizens in collusion because of their wounds and their lack of awareness. ISIS could not have come into the power it has without members in collusion because of their wounds and lack of awareness. And Trump (and people like him) will never come into power without our collusion because of our wounds and lack of awareness and refusal to do our own work.

Whether we’re acting out by “ripping off the permission” he’s giving to lie, bully, mistreat women and other people, be obviously racist, and more … or we’re acting out by not taking action at all … believe me: Donald Trump by himself is not the problem. He will only be a real problem if we don’t do our own work with all that’s going on, with all that he mirrors for us within ourselves, and for all that he triggers in us from long, long ago that we have a choice whether or not to act out today. That we have a choice whether or not to explore today. That we have a choice whether or not to work through and heal today.

If we do not pierce our denial, collusion, and whatever else we need to take care of within us … if we do not see the reality and respond to it in a healthy, constructive way … it will be we who cause the harm that comes. It will be we who give Donald Trump or someone like him the permission to carry it out.

© Judith Barr, 2015

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

Acting out is a huge problem facing our world today. We all need to learn how to draw, and commit to, boundaries when we are tempted to act out on intense feelings rooted in our childhood experience.

First we need to learn that our impulses to act out are in response to our young and intense feelings being triggered by something in the current day within us or around us.

Second, we need to learn to be aware of both when we are tempted to act out, and also when another’s acting out is tempting us to normalize and justify our own acting out.

When you see, hear, or read about Donald Trump or another public figure, acting out in a destructive way, what feelings arise inside you? Are you shocked and horrified? Are you afraid? Are you secretly glad the person is acting out that way? Perhaps because you would be too afraid to? Maybe because you wouldn’t be able to get away with it and s/he can? Or is there a hidden place in you, deep down, where you admire and agree with the words and actions of the person acting out? And perhaps make excuses for him/her? Are there times when a public figure’s acting out makes you feel “better” about the times when you act out?

Join me today in committing to explore our own inner reaction to the acting out of others … to draw a boundary when we ourselves are tempted to act out our inner wounding in destructive, harmful ways … and to not stop there, but rather to follow through and explore, with the help of a caring, integritous therapist, the real roots of the feelings that cause us to act out destructively. And in doing so … help create greater safety and lasting change in our world!

Election 2012: The American Dysfunctional Family Undeniably Revealed

The 2012 Election process – every moment since the campaign began and even before – has revealed in glaring light not only the dysfunctional political system we live with, but also . . . and actually even more important and basic . . . the dysfunctional personal and communal aspects we live with and act out in our lives.   

In one way or another I have been writing about this since I began writing and then published my book, Power Abused, Power Healed. I have certainly been writing about it in my newsletters, blog posts, and newly in my videos on YouTube.  I just haven’t utilized this title as the umbrella theme.

If I did organize everything under an umbrella title about our dysfunction nationally – and even globally – I could pull together everything I’ve already written, and then I could continue to write ten thousand more hours and a hundred thousand more pages, and still not complete looking at every facet of the dysfunction amongst and within us that we need to see . . . and, of course, resolve and heal.

I am going to take the next step, though, and look at our dysfunction from one perspective . . . through one lens.  I hope you will open your mind and your heart to this, allow it to enter your consciousness, and let it inspire you to take a step in your part in the national healing. 

I’m presenting the picture as many in the media have presented it for the past week plus . . . Not as a partisan statement, but as an example of a mirror for us. If the media reports are accurate, they will offer an accurate mirror. If they are not accurate, they will offer an example of a possible mirror.  A mirror of how to end blame, and instead turn our fingers and our insistence on accountability away from the candidates alone and away from the candidates as they are portrayed to us  . . .  and onto ourselves. We need to look at ourselves. We need to look at our part.

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

********

It’s debate night. The debate has just taken place. One candidate seemed to be again and again in a most animated way, revealing the dishonesty in his verbal contradictions and in his eyes. The other candidate was flat, not very lively, and barely looked his opponent in the eye, if at all.

It’s an hour after the debate. A day later. Four days later. And more. The media people are giving us their perspective: talking about how the enthusiastic one who lied won the debate, and the one who didn’t confront him lost it. Yet another day and the media representatives report the polls and how the “animated liar” is winning now, while the “passive non-confronter” is losing now.  The media folks pretend to be reporting what’s happening. Don’t they see the part they play in the dysfunctional family of America? They are shaping the results, under the guise of reporting them. They are swaying people.

And don’t we see the part we play in this dysfunction? 

Here’s the picture we need to see . . .

It’s time to stop pointing our fingers at the candidates for president (or any other office, for that matter), and look instead at ourselves. (I’m not saying we should be blind to them, just that for right now, we need to look at ourselves.)

Let’s look at the presidential candidates as the two parents of our family. We won’t say who’s the mother and who’s the father. Just the two parents. The two parents who have been deeply, profoundly influenced by their parents. But that story for another time. For the sake of brevity and to avoid any confusion below as I make the bridge between candidates and parents, I will use the pronoun “he” for each parent.

The family’s all together for a big family dinner. One of the parents is very excitedly and animatedly lying about himself and what he’s done, is doing, and is going to do. The other parent is flat, affectless, non-confronting, albeit not silent, not voiceless.  Each, in his own way, is competing for the power. Each, in his own way, is competing for the favor of those in the family.

And what about the other members of the family? Well . . . what if there aren’t many of us in the family who are conscious of what’s going on? No one, after all, is perfectly conscious. Let’s look at two of the main possibilities.

The first possibility . . .

Most of us, somewhere within us, want to be with the winner. Want to be on the winning team. Want to be a winner. After all, who doesn’t want to be a winner? However distorted or not. Especially in a culture that too often teaches win/lose instead of win/win. Most of us, somewhere within us, want to have the power. Given that we were all once babies and therefore we all know what it’s like to feel powerless…who doesn’t want to have power? At least some of the power? And perhaps all the power, however distorted or not. Especially in a culture that too often teaches and models “power over” instead of “power with.” Most of us, somewhere within us, want to have the favor – the love – of those in the family. Who doesn’t want at least some of the love? And perhaps all of the love, however distorted or not. Especially in a culture that so often teaches distortions of love.

If it looks like one of the parents in a family is the strong, powerful parent, winning the competition . . . from someplace inside us – even if we are not aware of it – we will want to side with and perhaps even be like that strong, powerful, winning parent, even if that parent is lying. No matter what else that parent is doing.

What if you are not aware of this and have been swayed over to this parent’s side? Perhaps by the parent himself? Perhaps by seeing other family members being swayed over to this parent’s side? Perhaps by hearing people talking about what’s going on in your family and declaring this parent the strong, winning, favorite?

This would mean you would side with the parent who lies, in order to be on the winning team; in order to be with the seeming powerful parent; in order to be with the one who appears to be favored and loved. If you look at such a scenario through a child’s eyes, you might make the very same choice in this situation. But it’s not a very matured way of resolving a family conflict or competition. And it’s certainly not a very matured way of resolving an election choice.

The second possibility . . .

Somewhere within most of us – hopefully – we feel empathy for someone who seems to be unable to stand up to an energetic, lively person who is lying. We can imagine what it would be like to be in that person’s shoes. Maybe we already know what it’s like to be in that person’s shoes from our own life experience. We have compassion for his seeming weakness, or his seeming powerlessness, or his seemingly not being in the favor of those around. We want to help that person. We want to support that person. We may want to protect that person. We want to hold them up and cheer them on. After all, who doesn’t want some sense that if in the same shoes as that person . . . someone else would support us?

So if it looks like one of the parents in a family is the weak, powerless parent, losing the competition, from someplace inside us – even if we are not aware of it – we will want to side with and perhaps protect and help that person . . . no matter what is really going on with that person. No matter what.

What if you are not aware of this and have been moved over to this parent’s side? Perhaps by just seeing the parent in his relationship with the other parent? Perhaps by seeing other family members being moved over to this parent’s side? Perhaps by hearing people talking about what’s going on in your family and declaring this parent the weak, losing, not-chosen one?

This would mean you would side with the parent who seems to be unable to stand up and confront, in order to help him; in order to be the seeming protector; in order to be the seeming rescuer; in order to be loved by the weak one if not the strong one. If you look at this scene through a child’s eyes, you may very well make the same choice.  But it’s not a very matured way of resolving a family conflict or competition. And it certainly is not a very matured way of resolving an election choice.

So here we are . . . the American family coming close to the election. The parents may be revealing their dysfunction. But if the election votes are cast by our looking at their dysfunction alone, we are in big trouble. Because to not look at our own dysfunction before we go to the polls, means we will be casting our votes as children, and not at all as mature adults.

Imagine yourself a 5-year old. Imagine your 5-year old self going into the polls, going into the voting booth, having to step up on a stool to reach the lever or to mark your ballot. Having to step back down off the stool and walk over to the box into which you put your marked ballot, and having to step up on another stool to enter your ballot into the ballot box.

No matter how old you are. No matter how big your body. There is a child alive inside you that is not yet matured enough to vote.

What will you do between now and election day to help mature that little child so you are not voting from dysfunction, and so that you are not voting for dysfunction?

Will you simply remain a child and let the media tell you what to do?

Will you just look at the candidates and at how they are portrayed and vote solely on what you think you see, letting your own childhood history affect your voting choices without even realizing it?

Or will you find a way to explore how to make your choices not from a child place within you, but rather from a matured, adult place within?

© Judith Barr, 2012.

****

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

As we get ever closer to the 2012 election . . . we all need to explore how our reactions to the candidates – and, just as importantly, the perception of the candidates that the media gives us – can be a mirror to our own inner wounding. This is crucial in all areas of our lives . . . but especially as we head towards casting our vote to elect our country’s leaders.

Ask yourself . . . how do I feel when I hear each of the candidates speak? When I hear reports in the media about how each candidate “performed” in the debate or how each is doing the polls? And who else in my life has evoked this same feeling? Trace back this feeling as far back into your life as you can . . . to try to find the root of your reactions to each candidate.

You may need the help of a really good therapist to help you explore and truly heal to the root so you can make clear, sound decisions. If you would like to explore how you can more deeply explore these issues in your life, I welcome your emails.

Here’s a list of other articles, posts, and videos that can help you as you explore . . .

“The Election Campaign and The Mob Mentality”
Article:
http://judithbarr.com/2016/07/21/the-election-campaign-and-the-mob-mentality-2/
Video:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-FBAySAmO8Q&feature=plcp

“It’s Election Time: Are You A Responsible Citizen?”
Article:
http://judithbarr.com/2012/09/04/its-election-time-are-you-a-responsible-citizen/
Video:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UqHjL_p-RM8&feature=plcp

“Imagine It’s Election Day – Do You Really Know The Person You’re Voting For?”
Article:
http://judithbarr.com/2012/08/30/imagine-its-election-day-do-you-really-know-the-person-youre-voting-for/

“Elections – Yesterday and Tomorrow”
Article:
http://judithbarr.com/2010/11/14/elections-yesterday-and-tomorrow/

Imagine what our country would be like if we all did our own inner healing work, and could choose our leaders from a place of clarity, rather than from our woundedness! And imagine the effect on 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

TO SPEND OR NOT TO SPEND – AND ON WHAT?

Among many things that are in my mind and heart after this past week’s election . . .
I keep coming back to the issue of money.

According to NPR’s Morning Edition, literally billions of dollars were spent on the election nationwide!*
Let’s look at some specifics.
Candidate for California governor, Meg Whitman, spent $71 million dollars of her own money on her campaign.*
Rick Scott, Florida gubernatorial candidate, spent about $73 million of his own money to win.**
Linda McMahon – spent at least 50 million dollars, mostly her own money, on her campaign in Connecticut . . . more than any other Senate candidate this year. **
Candidate for New York governor, Carl Paladino, spent $3 million of his own money in the last week of the election alone.*

Extraordinary amounts of money . . . spent on political contests and governmental seats.

Think of all that money.
With that amount of money . . .
Imagine how many people’s houses could be saved from foreclosure!
Imagine how many people could be helped to move from the streets into safe households.
Imagine how many people could be fed.
Imagine how many people could be given good medical care.
Imagine how many children could receive wonderful educations.
Imagine how many people could participate in psychotherapy to heal the wounds of their childhood to the root … so as not to perpetuate them onto another generation!
And imagine the impact on our country and our world if we all had access to the deep inner healing we all need!
Imagine!

What are we doing?
Where are our values?
How distorted our values have become!
Look at all we spend for things outside us!
What about investing in finding the distortions at the roots of our relationships with money?
What about investing in healing the wounds we live with that would cause us to spend all that money on a government position that lasts for just a few years!

© Judith Barr 2010

* http://www.pressconnects.com/article/20101102/VIEWPOINTS03/11020338/Over-the-Top-Election-Spending

**
http://topnews360.tmcnet.com/topics/associated-press/articles/2010/11/07/114854-wealthy-self-funded-candidates-found-wins-elusive.htm

Congress – America’s Biggest Dysfunctional Family

Congress doesn’t work anymore because it is like a dysfunctional family.

A family in which there is a string of successive fathers, who try to do something for the family -to make it like they want it – while bringing their own wounds and dysfunctions to the group. A family in which there is no mother at the head of the family. Where did she go? Who took her? Who got rid of her? Where in the world is she? Her absence leaving the dysfunction that comes of abandonment. Even if she was barred from the family.

A family in which the siblings have learned to fight with each other . . . some of them while pretending they’re not fighting; some of them under the guise of friendship; some of them fighting in public view while being close in private; some of them trying to win; some of them trying to make the others fail; some of them fighting to the death, albeit figurative death . . . to date. None of them seeing what they are doing to each other. All of them blind and uncaring about what they are doing to the family. Fighting for what they want . . . the family be damned! The consequences be damned!

And that’s what our members of Congress are doing. They’re acting like the children in a horribly dysfunctional family. They’re in adult bodies. Some of them even have adult personas. But some of them, many of them, looking and acting like children right out in full view. Meanwhile they are all (or almost all) regressed children . . . as young as the age at which they were wounded in their own early lives. We have regressed, wounded children running our Senate. We have regressed and wounded children attempting to do the business of our House. We have regressed and wounded children claiming to lead our country.

When we are wounded as children, we get stuck at that age, that point in time, that developmental level. We may grow around the wound, but the wound is left there in the center. We may create defenses that help us seem to develop around the wound, but the defenses don’t dissolve the wound. Until we actually heal the wound, we will consistently, under stress, regress back to the level of that small child — mentally, emotionally, in some ways even physically.

No amount of bandaids will heal the wound. No quick fixes, no matter how simple or how sophisticated, will heal the wound. No amount of managing of behavior, thoughts, or feelings will heal the wound and help the development to continue. The dysfunction will continue, even expand and escalate . . . until we heal the wound to its root.

Our Congress is a dysfunctional family. A family of wounded children. The family needs therapy . . . both as a family and every member of the family.

But…is it just our Congress that’s a dysfunctional family?

© Judith Barr, 2010

WHERE IS YOUR VOICE?

In my work as a psychotherapist, I work tirelessly to help people either birth or reclaim their voices.  It’s not that they can’t speak. It’s that they are unable to speak up – for themselves, for someone they love, or for something they believe in. 

Perhaps that ability was squashed when they were babies, before they barely birthed and found their own voices – literally and emotionally.  When they cried – the way babies speak – someone was triggered by their crying and got frustrated, angry, or even abusive.  Or perhaps they were two years old, saying ‘no’ as a way of finding their individuated, own unique selves, and again, someone was evoked by their expressing themselves. That adult someone mistakenly thought the child was trying to control him or her and decided “I’ll show them who’s boss.”

Children can be scared out of using their voice – out of speaking their minds and their hearts – by the threat or actuality of attack or abandonment. When that happens, the work of healing to use their voice is deep, touching, and very real.

In thirty plus years doing this work, I would say every single person I’ve worked with has experienced this wound and needed to do the healing to have and be able to use their voice well and without abusing it. Not because these people were sick, but because they were wounded in relation to their own voices.

Watching our country over the past years, I would say many, many citizens in our country are suffering from the same wound. Some who don’t speak up when they need to.  And some who speak up so abrasively, even so abusively that you might mistakenly think they had no problem with their voice at all.

This shows up in our elections. It shows up in our disagreements about important controversial issues such as healthcare, a woman’s right to choose what happens with her body, and prejudice about people who are different from us. And most recently, it is showing up in the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s decision that a corporation has a voice – a limitless voice – through unlimited use of its money to fund campaign ads for candidates of its choice.*

It is bizarre to give a corporation voice that in the constitution was meant for human beings.  It is bizarre to give a corporation such unlimited voice in elections, and especially under the guise of protecting first amendment rights to freedom of speech. That in itself will likely squash people’s individual voices, especially those of politicians running for office.  That is one of the potential consequences of this decision. But that’s not the voice I’m most concerned about today.

Today I’m concerned that I haven’t heard enough voices of individual citizens expressing themselves about this ruling.  Usually when something that has this much impact occurs, many of my clients talk about it in sessions.  They discuss their feelings about it, and they explore what it brings up in them. Something it would serve us all to do.  Very very few are exploring this event. My colleagues usually speak up about something like this . . . I’m not hearing any talk about this other than passing comments right after the decision.

And I’m concerned that I’m not hearing or reading very much about it in the media. It hasn’t come up on my internet news page since the day after the decision. And I haven’t heard it on the news to which I’ve listened since that same day. 

I shudder to think what such voicelessness can create in our country.
Actually, I shudder to think what voicelessness created an environment in our country in which such a ruling could be made and people would be quiet about it.

We have a lot of healing to do to move from being a voiceless people to a people who will and do use our precious voices to speak up for truth and justice . . . consistently, effectively, and impactfully.

Where is your voice?

*From MSNBC: “In a landmark ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday struck down laws that banned corporations from using their own money to support or oppose candidates for public office. By a 5-4 vote, the court overturned federal laws, in effect for decades, that prevented corporations from using their profits to buy political campaign ads.”
(http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/34822247/ns/politics-supreme_court/ )

(c) Judith Barr, 2010