IT’S APRIL FOOLS’ DAY

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

*****

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

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

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

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

*****

Recently …
I led a new workshop on parenting.

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

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

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

*****

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*****

In honor of Alice Miller

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

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

© Judith Barr, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

If We Stay on The Surface . . . We End Up Suffering and Creating More Suffering . . .

PART 5: Calling

This month’s article is a somewhat unusual article. It is meant to inform, intrigue, and inspire . . . in a slightly different way than, perhaps, other articles.

The overriding theme of this month’s newsletter is the same as the previous four newsletter articles: We in our world today are mostly staying on the surface of life . . . more than we even know. As a result of staying on the surface, we end up suffering needlessly and needlessly creating more suffering both for ourselves and for our world.

The specific theme of this month’s article is different from the previous.  It’s about our calling . . . and the distortion of the meaning of the word calling.

Just like so much else in our world today, people are focusing on the outer meaning of calling and missing the inner, underlying meaning at the heart of what calling is.

Some synonyms for the word calling include: vocation, profession, occupation, business, work, mission, passion.

I understand those are amongst the meanings that have come to be common over time. But think about what else has come to be common over time. For example, bullying, war, lying, cheating, domestic violence, attempts to overpower someone – women, African Americans, Muslims, homosexuals. Just because it is common does not mean it is healthy, just, or leads to our being the best we can be individually or communally.

Numerous people have come to me wanting to find their calling. Thinking, because of all that’s been distortedly taught in our New Age world, that their calling is their purpose in life.  Searching, desperately, to claim a purpose to their life. Terrified they won’t find one. This is one of the most cruel effects of the New Age teachings about calling.

Even Oprah has talked about calling as an outer “thing.”  She has said things like, “It’s what I’m called to do.” and “The real work of your life is to figure out your function . . .”  [Bolding is mine.] *

Doing is not our calling. Our function and how we function is not our calling. They are what we get all tied up into knots about when we don’t know what we really think, feel, need, and when we don’t know who we really are. Our function is not who we are. And if that is what we have been taught and swallowed whole . . . no wonder equality doesn’t exist in our hearts and in our lives! No wonder people don’t get the essence of themselves and those who share this planet. No wonder people aren’t inspired to dig through the layers and layers of defenses they have built –within and without – in an effort to protect the essence of who they are.

To me, after over thirty-some years as a depth psychotherapist and student of humanity . . .

It is clear that our calling is to find ourselves. In order to truly do that we need to explore within . . . Not get busy in the outer world “doing” and “functioning.” It’s not that we don’t need to function. It’s not that there isn’t anything we need to do. It’s just that we need to stop pretending doing and functioning is foremost.  It sets us up to stay disconnected from who we are. It sets us up to be brainwashed and taken advantage of. It sets us up to be used, misused, and abused. It sets us up to be unable to stand up for ourselves and our world in the healthiest ways needed.

Calling, at heart, is not about doing. It’s not about functioning. It’s an exploration within. It’s a mystery within each of us. It’s about knowing who you are. It’s about discovering aspects of yourself you didn’t even know were part of you before. It’s about discovering gifts within yourself that were buried when you buried your feelings and memories long, long ago. It’s about discovering unconscious yet destructive parts of yourself that were buried or came into being when you were wounded in days long ago. It’s about working with what you find in order to go deeper and deeper to who you really are. It’s about dissolving the walls you built between who you think you are and who you really are at your core . . . and transforming the walls, one by one, into part of your underlying essence and the gift of who you are.

After thirty plus years of both my own explorations within and my helping others with theirs . . . I believe we’re called to know ourselves . . . to spin the straw of our wounds, our defenses, and our compensations into the gold of who we really are. Then we can live our lives from the inside out, bringing the gold of who we really are out into the world, truly enriching ourselves and the world around us.  That is our calling.  Nothing less. Nothing more.  That is our Calling.

© Judith Barr, 2013

* http://www.oprah.com/spirit/Oprah-on-Finding-Your-Calling-What-I-Know-For-Sure

****

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

As you go on your healing journey, and as you contemplate your calling, ask yourself what finding that calling means to you. Does it mean something exterior . . . “doing” and “functioning”? Or do you really hear and recognize the call to do the inner healing work that will help you come to know who you really are, to uncover the perhaps hidden gifts and talents within yourself that are interwoven with the core of who you really are?

Make a commitment today to focus on truly going within, so that eventually, you will be rooted deep enough within to be able to live from the inside out. You may find you need the help of a caring, integritous therapist to do this sometimes delicate exploration. Commit to your own inner exploration and healing first and foremost – to find yourself as you truly are, and to not stop doing this inner work, as you continue to do those things in the outer world that your calling may lead you to do.