THE TRUTH ABOUT FREEDOM …

It’s the day after Independence Day and we Americans think we’re so free.
It’s the day after an election and the winners think they’re free.
It’s the day after the Brexit vote and too many British people think they’re now free.
It’s the day after a terrorist attack and the attackers think they’re free.
It’s the day after a major Supreme or High Court case and the winners think they’re free.
It’s the day after a divorce, and the party who wanted the divorce thinks s/he’s free.
It’s the day after graduation – high school or college – and the graduates think they’re free.
It’s the day after someone’s finished therapy to get rid of symptoms, and the person thinks s/he’s free … and the therapist thinks so, too.

But who can be truly free when beneath our awareness we are unconsciously compelled to repeat the same patterns we have lived out all our lives up till now? Who can be truly free when this is going on deep down within us … even if we think we’re free? Even if we believe we’re free. Even if we would swear we’re free. Even if we would try to prove to you and even more, to ourselves, that we’re free. Even if everyone around us would agree that we’re free.

On the individual level … imagine a child who experiences some kind of trauma – it could be physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, neglect, or even the grief of losing a parent to death, to a sickness, or to a divorce. The pain of any one of those experiences will be unbearable for the child, who will grow up to, without even realizing it … re-enact one side or the other of the same or similar experiences again and again. If she was physically abused as a child, she may choose a partner, boss, or even raise a child who physically abuses her; or she may enter a relationship with a partner whom she physically abuses and have children she physically abuses. If he was sexually abused in his youth, he may, without realizing why, be drawn to partners who will sexually abuse him; or he may become the sexual abuser – the harasser, the molester, the rapist of others – his partner, children in his life, strangers old and young. This will continue on and on until someone stops him and makes it impossible for him to act it out. But stopping him will not heal it so that he would not act it out again. And he will continue to act it out in limitless ways, from the very subtle to the most obvious, undeniable ways.

Children who are deeply wounded will somehow repeat their wounding experience. They may do it by themselves. They may do it to others. They may even, in search for “family” and “connection,” join groups and do it with others.

So at the heart of it, these re-enactments will continue until the child-now-adult finally chooses to heal it to the root. To do the inner work to end the compulsive repetition of the wounding. To end a way of life in which s/he tries to stop the wounding by wounding again – wounding oneself, wounding others, or both. To end a way of life in which s/he tries to hold the early memories and feelings at bay, by re-enacting them – wounding self and other over and over again. By wounding people, animals, the environment … as an escape from the original pain and the layers and layers of pain created again and again with every cycle of re-enactment.  

Again, these re-enactments will continue till the adult person chooses to heal it to the root. And then each step in the healing process begins to help that person end the re-enactments. Maybe he’ll see the red flags that he couldn’t see before. Maybe she’ll be able to use the new red flags she sees to help her not get into a relationship with someone she’s attracted to (from the wounding) but isn’t good for her. Maybe he’ll be able to tolerate the feelings that emerge when he does something different to take care of himself, instead of just repeating the same old things. Maybe she’ll even be able to feel the feelings and utilize them to help in the healing of the early trauma.

One thing’s for sure … recreating the wounding in ourselves or others will not stop the wounding. It will only perpetuate it. It will only feed it. For example, if she physically abuses her partner, it will likely be part of a re-enactment for the partner, repeating in some way wounds from his/her childhood, and feeding the cycle once again. Or, if she physically abuses her children, they will likely take that trauma into their beings and then re-enact it in their lives … again either exposing themselves to abuse over and over again, or ending up abusing others repeatedly.

This doesn’t occur only on the individual and family level. It occurs communally, too. The individual re-enactments contribute to and even create the communal re-enactments. And unless we understand this, we will not only continue the individual re-enactments, but also the communal re-enactments.

On the national level … imagine a country that created itself by its people fighting against their original country, leaving it and moving away. Then fighting their old country in their new country. Fighting and killing to be free. And then fighting and killing the natives in whose country they built their own new country. Fighting against and killing to be free and to have power is a basic underlying dynamic in this new country. Of course, it probably was already an underlying dynamic in the original home country, too.

At any rate, the dynamic will be there under the surface, even when it’s not actively being carried out. Somewhere within the heart of the entity of the new country, and within her citizens, as well, the fighting against and killing to be free dynamic will be alive, simmering, and waiting to bubble up and get played out all over again in the outer world.

Maybe the fighting that erupts into action will be against other countries. Maybe it will be against the natives of the new country. Maybe it will be against groups of the new country’s citizens. Maybe the fighting will start silently. Maybe in words. Maybe in actions, like taking groups of people hostage. Perhaps in actions like violence against them. Maybe in actions like blocking them out of the new country. Whatever action … this country and its citizens, once under the illusion that they were free, are now compulsively in the process of acting out their original wounds. The ones that were part of how they came here. The ones that were part of the country they lived in before. The ones that were part of the old country generations ago. And also, the ones that were part of the individual citizens’ minds, bodies, hearts, and souls for generations back in time.

And the country and its citizens, under the illusion of freedom – or perhaps under the guise of freedom – will continue to re-enact and act out the underlying dynamic in limitless ways, from the very subtle to the most flagrant, manifest ways of fighting against and killing to be free.

This doesn’t occur only on the national level. It occurs globally, too. The individual and national re-enactments contribute to and even feed the global re-enactments. And then the global re-enactments in turn feed the individual and national ones. It’s a vicious cycle. And unless we understand this, we will not only continue the individual re-enactments and the national re-enactments, but also the global re-enactments … and the vicious cycle, too.

On the global level … imagine the whole world is struggling with the same experience – re-enacting again and again what was once acted out and ended, but never really healed. World War II, for example, was an atrocious acting out of not only Hitler’s childhood waking nightmares, but those of other German children, too, who also had been horribly abused under the cultural guise of child rearing. And for each country and each people who became part of that torturous world war experience, it in itself was a re-enactment of earlier wounds. And although the horrifying cruelty and destructiveness needed to be stopped … each effort to stop the war, win the war, end the war was part of that re-enactment. But without healing what caused the war from the inside out, individually and culturally, we were bound to see new repetitions of the original wounding.

Even Churchill’s intention to have the European Union created to make sure European countries would never fight against each other again … wasn’t enough. As we can see, countries could always leave the union. But that isn’t the reason it wasn’t enough. The reason is – the healing on the inside didn’t happen. The healing of the root cause for each person and each country to be part of that re-enactment was not healed.

There have been many people, like Hitler, who became the leaders of their country as part of their own personal re-enactments and the re-enactments of their country and its citizens. And in the process, great cruelty and destruction have been acted out. Sometimes all through the country. Sometimes all through a continent. Sometimes extending even further to other continents.

And eventually it extended all over the world in groups that are not bounded by countries, but rather exist in different bases, in different locations, and invite and feed re-enactments through the internet. Not limited by time and space.

And our response is to fight against and kill them …
“the war on” cancer, drugs, ISIS.
And our response is to respond in the outer world …
And our response is to once again call them “evil” …
And our response is once again to feel the painful impact of the terror…
But our response is once again to turn away from the inner causes.
To turn away from the inner causes within them.
To turn away from the inner causes within us.
To turn away from the truth that on both sides, these are re-enactments of childhood wounds … childhood wounds, trauma, nightmares, and terrors.
To turn away from the truth that on all sides these are re-enactments of childhood wounds, trauma, nightmares, and terrors.

On all sides what is becoming more and more unbearable today is an ongoing series of re-enactments from our childhoods and the childhoods of those before us. We may not want to see it. We may not want to know it. We may not want to feel it. But if we don’t see it, hear it, know it, understand it, feel it … we will continue to be participants in the escalating re-enactments. But we will continue to be unknowing participants. We will continue to be unconscious participants. And as a result, we will continue to be disempowered participants, preventing ourselves from helping ourselves in the healing – our own individual healing, our national healing, our global healing.

Who can be truly free when beneath our awareness we are unconsciously compelled to repeat the same patterns we have lived out all our lives up till now? Who can be truly free if we refuse to become aware and conscious of what we’re doing beneath the surface?

We can’t stop the wounding by repeating it.
We can’t stop the wounding by wounding.
We can only stop the wounding by healing from the inside out …
And to the root.

And this is the hope –
We can stop the wounding by healing from the inside out …
And to the root.

It will take time.
It will take work.
It will take our investment.
A better investment than staying in the vicious cycle and watching the escalation.
And it will take our commitment.
A better commitment than the unconscious commitment to stay in the vicious cycle and feed the escalation.

But it is possible.
We can stop the wounding by healing from the inside out …
And to the root.
This is the hope.

© Judith Barr, 2016

 

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

No matter where you are in your life, whether you feel “free” or not in your own personal circumstances… no matter what area of the world you call home, whether you’re celebrating a “freedom” achieved long ago or a “freedom” recently decided upon … in order to achieve true, lasting freedom, we all need to do the inner work needed to explore and heal our own inner wounds.

As we collectively and individually contemplate what it means to be free, commit to explore your own inner “freedom.” What wounds are still alive within you that prevent you from teasing yourself free from re-enacting destructive or self-destructive patterns from your own past? And how do those wounds affect not only your own life, but also the life of your family, your community, your world?

Many of our wounds are so deep within, so unconscious, so delicate, that we often need the help of a caring, integritous therapist – one that won’t help us settle for quick fixes, but will truly help us fully explore and heal to the root.

No matter where you are in your life, commit now to not settle for temporary, partial “freedom” in the outer world, but rather to begin or continue the journey towards true, lasting freedom. Imagine what our world would be like if everyone – leaders and citizens – made this commitment!

NEEDED NOW MORE THAN EVER …
UPDATED THIRD EDITION OF POWER ABUSED, POWER HEALED

Recently, I shared the following news with subscribers on my mailing list. I now feel called to share this announcement with all those who read the newsletters themselves in my blog. It is my prayer that my book helps all of us to bring healing not only into our own lives, families, and communities, but also into our whole world.

When I first published my book, Power Abused, Power Healed, nine years ago, I knew that the hopeful, healing message in its pages was so needed in our world – a world rife with abuses of power in all arenas of life.

In that time, so many more abuses have come out into the open, calling for us to begin the journey – or go deeper into the journey – to heal misuse and abuse of power from the inside out. In response to this urgent call, I am issuing an updated third edition of Power Abused, Power Healed.

Sylvia Brinton Perera, Jungian analyst, author of Descent to the Goddess: A Way of Initiation for Women, said this upon reading Power Abused, Power Healed:

“Using Hans Andersen’s fairy tale about the emperor whose vanity lands him naked on parade, Judith Barr explores the stories of many kinds of power. While her accounts are mainly focused on power abuse in families and the helping professions, we know only too well how the same dynamics surround us. In politics, in the corporate world, in church institutions, even in our news sources, we can see many forms of abuse that distort reality, silence questioning, crush empathy, and build empires based on greed, power, and righteous self-aggrandizement. Because Judith Barr’s parables are enjoyable and deceptively simple, they help to raise consciousness in non-threatening ways. They creep under our defenses to wake us up. Thus they can be used by parents, family therapists, pastoral counselors, and group leaders in their work. They can also be used for self-reflection, for it is not hard to find aspects of ourselves mirrored in them.

I would also like to see this book as mandatory reading for politicians and CEOs. Everyone claiming authority needs to know the dire consequences to self and to others of the power shadow. When we are not aware, we may find ourselves parading our grandeur and goodness as foolishly as the naked emperor, or as cruelly as any tyrant.”

While most of the specific stories in Power Abused, Power Healed are about individuals, the larger context of the wrap around story is that of an empire – government, politics, and a whole citizenry – and about an emperor who is the head of government – even a dictator – who threatens anyone who doesn’t see the clothes. Those affected include his advisors, other government officials, and ordinary citizens. Their response mirrors a possible response of any citizenry in similar situations … a mirror that reflects much of what we see in our national and international political scene today.

To learn more, visit www.PowerAbusedPowerHealed.com, and to order your copy, visit http://judithbarr.com/shop/.

I hope you find Power Abused, Power Healed to be a valuable and inspiring resource in your healing journey, in your life, and in holding and helping to heal what’s going on in our world.

A New Look at Independence: True Independence

As another Independence Day has come and gone here in the U.S.A.,  I have been called again to speak a deeper voice, a deeper truth about what independence is and isn’t.  All through the weeks leading up to July 4, I kept hearing in my heart … shall I feed the illusions about independence that so many of us believe and live in? Or shall I pierce those illusions and help people part the veil to see where they are not really independent?  My life, my work, my heart is always to find the truth, to teach the truth … even though many may run from it. So this year, in the afterglow of July 4,  I am offering the truth about independence to citizens of the U.S. and citizens of the world, as well. We all need to understand true independence.

Many people believe that if they rebel against their parents, they are free.  And many believe they claim their independence by doing just that – rebelling.* But look at the dynamics beneath the outer action. Look at the dynamic that sets up for the children as they age and for the relationship over time.

Sharon’s mother wants her daughter to be “a good girl” and do what “mommy says is right.”  First of all, what is mother teaching Sharon?  Is she teaching her wonderful values? Is she teaching her to discern the truth for herself? Or is she teaching Sharon not to do anything that will trigger mommy? If the latter, what will little Sharon do? She may comply with her mother and do only what mommy wants, defending herself against mommy’s triggered reactions. Or she may rebel against mommy and do the opposite of what her mother wants, however triggered mommy gets. This may develop into consistent oppositional attitudes and behavior – overt and covert – throughout Sharon’s life, in her relationship with everyone and everything, even life itself. (We’ve seen a lot of this in our Congress for the past many years.)

Sharon may believe that complying with mommy’s wishes takes away her own young independence, while also believing that rebelling against mommy’s wishes and doing the opposite of what mommy wants gives her freedom. This reveals the underlying dynamic that so many of us – all over the world – don’t want to see. Rebelling against does not make us independent, does not make us free, does not make us grownups.  Complying with and rebelling against are both in reaction to “the other,” meaning another person.  Neither is an individuated action in behalf of one’s self.  Once you understand this, you will never be able to see independence, individuation, freedom the same way again.  You will never again be able to see someone in an adult body and be sure if that is a grown up – if that is a grownup standing in individuated truth, or if that is a child in an adult’s body rebelling against mommy and daddy.

I teach my clients this in many different ways.  For instance, if you want to truly individuate, that occurs in the context of the relationship.  It requires a relationship in which a child experiences he can have both himself and also his mother (or father or both).

An example: If the parent sets up the relationship so the son, Sam, cannot have, be, develop into the self he is at essence … Sam will give up himself to have the parent. Or Sam will give up the parent and risk abandonment or abuse on many levels. Or Sam will vacillate between the two options one way or another – perhaps out in the open, perhaps in his own mind and heart, perhaps beneath his own consciousness. And often Sam, like many other children in the same situation, will fantasize the time when he grows up and can get away from the parent … run away from the parent … and at long last be free. Note again, that this is not true freedom, for Sam is getting away from his parent, running away from his parent.  That may be the only way Sam, with his child’s mind, thinks he can become himself. And perhaps he’s right that he will never become himself in that particular parent-child relationship. But, if that’s what Sam is living with, if that’s what Sam is growing up with, if that’s what Sam decides is the solution … deep inside his own psyche and soul, then Sam will be as tied to his parent if he runs away as he will be if he stays.  He will act this out both within himself and in the world outside … somehow … even if other people can’t see or know it, even if he himself isn’t aware of it. And he will not be able to truly individuate – become his own person inside and out — until he finds a therapeutic relationship in which he can heal the wounds that prevent him from both being himself and “having” the other person. This, of course, requires a therapist who has done his or her own deep healing work with individuation and independence.

The person who rebelled to try to get away from her parent as a way of attempting to be independent – to be her own self – will approach the crossroads of working through the childhood dilemma with as much – maybe even more – fear and defense as the person who complied and submitted and never rebelled at all.

This is all to bring us back to the truth: Are you really independent? Or are you just deluding yourself to keep from experiencing your own early pain?  And your own early longing for a parent who has done his or her own work and can both be their full individuated self while at the same time supporting you to become your self?

Sadly, what people will do – as individuals and as groups — to try to avoid this pain, while at the same time pursuing this longing, is mind- and heart-boggling.  They will abuse themselves and each other. They will abuse the earth that is our home. They will try to control others’ hearts, minds, souls. .  . and, of course, bodies. They will submit or rebel against. And while doing these things, most of the time they will be claiming, to themselves and others, that they are independent.  Most of the time asserting that they are free. Most of the time pretending they are in power, or fighting to be the ones in power.  Anyone who gets power that way isn’t really in power. Anyone who lives that way isn’t really independent.

How can people be truly independent unless they do their own work to resolve their issues from the inside out.  How can people be authentically independent if they have no willingness to be interdependent in the most healthy way?  Look out into our world and ask yourself … How much true independence do I see? Not much. How much true interdependence do I see? Not much.

How are we going to become truly independent from the inside out unless we do our own inner healing work to the root?  We’re not. Don’t be deluded or seduced into thinking otherwise.  Don’t be fooled by distorted new age spiritual teachings, or old-age traditional ones, either. Don’t be duped by personal growth leaders who haven’t really been trained to do the deep work with another’s psyche and soul, and even worse, haven’t done their own deep healing to the root.  Don’t be hoodwinked by the quick fix treatment of symptoms by techniques that may help you make believe you’re independent because you can function again, while just hiding the deeper cause and root of the symptom.

Don’t be deceived. Our real independence – individually and communally – rests on our own healing one by one by one.

These truths about real independence are reflected not only in the minds, bodies, hearts, souls, and lives of individuals, but also in those of couples, families, organizations, communities, countries, and our world at large. How often have we seen violent rebellion in which the rebel faction ends up enslaving the populace as much as the old regime did? How many times have we seen rebellious action on the part of a portion of the populace only to have their ideals and goals disintegrate, or the changes they want to enact, however lofty, fail to materialize, or even materialize and then fail to be sustained? This is a reflection of the need for each and every one of us – even the activists amongst us – to do the inner work necessary to truly make change…not out of “rebellion” against past or present authority but from true, conscious longing and commitment to heal ourselves and to heal our world.

We cannot afford any more to delude ourselves. To pretend with ourselves or others. The rich and powerful are not necessarily any more truly independent that those in their employ or those who are impacted by their actions, who are poor and oppressed.  If you have to amass limitless resources to feel secure, how independent can you really be? If you have to use your power over others or at the expense of others, how truly free and independent can you be?

Don’t be deceived. Our real independence – individually and communally – rests on our own healing one by one by one.

© Judith Barr, 2014

*I am not saying that children who are being abused – or adults for that matter –shouldn’t find their way to safety.  But there are more grounded, more truly effective ways to do so than rebellion.

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

As we go about our daily lives – both in the afterglow of Independence Day and all throughout the year – we need to explore within ourselves how independent we truly are.

As you go through your day, explore what your early experiences with independence were. Were you encouraged to individuate, and to truly be who you are, with gentle guidance and teaching? Or were your attempts to be your true self stifled? Or alternately, were you given “free rein” with no guidance at all?

And, how did you react as a child? Did you try to do everything you could to please mommy and daddy, in spite of who you truly were? Or did you perhaps rebel against everything, the consequences be damned?

Then…as you experience authority in whatever form you experience it today, take note of how you feel. Is the feeling familiar? Can you trace that feeling back to your childhood experience? Is the feeling similar to your own childhood feelings, as best as you can recall them, in response to the authority of your parents or other adults?

We all feel the need to make change in our world … a world which so desperately needs change. But in order to make true, sustainable change, we need to explore and heal the wounds which prevent us from truly being independent.