HOOKED – AT THE DEEP LEVEL OF OUR WOUNDS

We are hooked . . . personally and communally –
and most of us don’t even know how!
Let me show you . . .

A few years ago, I wrote a newsletter about the levels on which we connect with others. It was the February issue, and with Valentine’s Day mid-February, I wrote specifically describing romantic relationships.

As we enter February once again, it’s time to review those levels of connections related to romantic partners, and then expand past that into other relationships … both up close and personal and way out into our world communally.

On the romantic level, one-to-one –

Remember that very first moment you met? There was so much more to that moment than you can even imagine! If you open your mind and your heart to the deepest meaning of that moment, you can bring true love to yourself and your partner on Valentine’s Day … and every day.

In that first moment you met – in that single moment – more occurred than you can possibly imagine. I’m sure more occurred than I can even name, but I’m going to name a number of things, many of which most people either aren’t aware or don’t think about.

In that single moment, the two of you connected in so many ways, on so many levels. Of course you connected visually, and if you found your partner visually attractive, that was level one. When you spoke with your partner the first time, if his* voice appealed to your auditory sensibilities, and your voice to his, that was level two. Depending on how close you were to each other, you might have connected on the olfactory level – did he have aftershave on? Did you have perfume? Or was there a connection on the level of your natural body scents? If there was any physical touch at all, was there already a physical connection? Did you drop something and both of you reach to pick it up, brushing against each other’s arms? Did one of you trip and the other reach out to help you keep from falling? Did someone introduce you and shaking hands was the initial physical touch?

We can consider all of these elements part of the physical connection you and your partner made with each other. I am distinguishing here the physical connection from the sexual connection. For example … you can put your hand on someone’s shoulder in compassion or comfort, without any sexual energy involved at all. You can reach out and hold someone’s hand in a way that has nothing sexual involved at all. You can rub someone’s shoulders or even give them a back rub, no sexuality included. Massage therapists do that on a daily basis … that is, most of them do. There are, sadly, those who do cross that boundary and violate the ethics and safety of their practice. But back to the main point …

Also in the beginning, you connected on the level of mind. Did you have the ability to discuss things with depth and intelligence of thought? Could you discuss what your thoughts are about many things in life? Family, children, education, decision making, religion, how to grow yourself, help each other grow, help your children grow? Were you able to share your opinions about things, like politics, without bashing and dissing each other? Did you find your partner to be deeper in thought than you? Or you to be deeper than your partner? Were your conversations stimulating, thought provoking, satisfying, fruitful?

Then came the emotional level of connection. Was your partner able to feel his feelings? Safely? Did he let his feelings flow through him? Could he express them safely? Could he cry, could he feel his hurt, his fear, his anger? Could he express his anger without lashing out at you, lashing in at himself, or damaging property? Could he talk about his feelings – meta-communicate about them? Did he know which feelings to act on and which were guides to something within himself  he needed to work with? This may seem like a series of strange questions. But they help us know how conscious a person is about his or her feelings and how capable a person has become in experiencing and responding to his or her feelings. Was there empathy between the two of you when you were suffering? Did you and his impact on you matter to him? As much as your impact on him mattered to him?

Next is the sexual level … was there that sexual sizzle between the two of you? Or a slow easy heating up? Or not a sign of it yet, but you knew as the other connections developed, the sexual connection would emerge? Did you dive right into the sexual relationship? Or did you wait until you knew this was someone you connected with in other ways? It’s important to note that once you are sexual with someone, there is a blinding effect. First, you become blind to other things as the heat of the sexual connection takes over. Second, the skin to skin contact reawakens the early bond with mother … a primal experience once lived or a never experienced longing that is all consuming, although most often unconscious. This, too, is blinding, especially since it’s beneath your awareness.

Now we come to the spiritual level … the level at which two people connect soul to soul. Did you connect at that level? Did you even ask yourself if you connected at that level? Did you let your religions or differences in religions block your knowing whether there was truly a soul connection or not? More than anything did you feel the joining between the two of you at the place where truth and love are one? More than anything did that joining of truth and love bring you to want the best for him as well as the best for you? To want to help him fulfill the potential within his soul as well as to fulfill the potential within your own … whether that needed to happen with the two of you together or by your going your separate ways?

And finally … in addition to the connection on all the above levels, when you connected with your partner, you connected on the level of your wounds. Yes, your wounds. Each time we connect with a partner – or anyone, for that matter – there is a connection between the wounds we experienced as a child and those the other person experienced as a child. The connection is often like two fish hooks hooking together and tugging against each other with an intense tension.

When the honeymoon phase of the new romance is over, either the wound level emerges into the light of day, or the wound level begins to have an undeniable impact. At this point in the relationship, often people decide it isn’t the “right” relationship and break up to find another partner. They hope that next time there will be no wound connection, even if they can’t name it. But that is not the truth.** It is at this very point in the relationship that the partners can utilize what is coming to the surface for them – from within them –  for their own healing, while supporting their partner to do the same. I have worked with many women, men,  and couples where this has occurred … deeply and successfully.

The need for healing on the level of our wounds is the one most frequently not known by people. It’s the one most frequently ignored. It’s the one most frequently denied. And it’s the one most often avoided and run away from.  For these reasons, it is the level that, in the end, drives the relationship and the potential for the relationship. And if this level is not tended to, no matter what else is done, the re-enactments of the childhood wounding will keep occurring, within and/or without, however subtly or blatantly, and they will likely escalate until the healing is finally done.

Here’s a brief example:

Sunny meets Robert. They connect on so many levels, known and unknown. They enjoy each other in so many ways, getting closer and closer to each other, “falling” in love, deepening their relationship over the course of a year. It certainly seems to be mutual. But on Valentine’s Day, as a way to express her love for him, Sunny gives Robert a key to her apartment, inviting him to move in. She gives him a beautiful written invitation, telling him she loves him so much, she can’t get enough of him, and she wants to be with him.

She’s horrified by his response to her gift of love. Robert is frozen in fear and the feeling of “too close!” He can barely talk. The smile on his face disappears. Sunny’s reaction, panic! A deep feeling in the pit of her stomach – rejection! Now what?

On the supposedly most romantic day of the year … the honeymoon phase of Sunny’s and Robert’s relationship has ended. Will they see the gift that has just emerged? Or will they be blind to it? Each of them has experienced a trigger to something early in their lives. Robert has been evoked by Sunny’s invitation. Up to a certain point, and with either his initiation or mutual initiation, moving closer and closer has been fine. But Sunny’s initiation of the next step … that evokes Robert’s fear of being suffocated and consumed emotionally, just as he was by his mother from the very beginning of his life. Terrifying for a little baby and a little boy, still alive within this 30 year old man … even though he isn’t conscious of it. And Robert’s frozen state takes Sunny back to her own young childhood and many experiences, both small and large, of abandonment, ending with her mother’s divorcing her father and leaving the children with Dad. She’s not aware of the terrified abandoned child still alive inside herself either.

So here they are on Valentine’s Day. Sunny inviting Robert closer; Robert pulling away; Sunny pulling him towards her; Robert pulling away with more force; Sunny clinging onto him to keep him from leaving; Robert, in desperation, wanting to flee; Sunny, in desperation, wanting to capture him. Ay ay ay! Transaction after transaction they are re-enacting individually and together reactions to painful early childhood wounds. That wound level of their relationship. The one that drives the relationship if they don’t work through their own issues and the way in which those issues are hooked together. The one that could be played out, escalating and escalating until there is no more relationship. Or the one that could be utilized for healing – deep healing in each of them and deep healing of the relationship. But not only deep healing, also deepening connection within themselves and with each other.

Will they do the healing work, giving the greatest gift of love there is … not only on Valentine’s Day but every day?

How many of us bring this kind of love to our partner?
How different our relationships would be if we did.
How different our families would be if we did.
How different our world would be if we did.

On the group level –

The connection between people on the level of our wounds doesn’t apply only in romantic relationships.

It applies in every relationship there is. Friendships. Teacher-student. Spiritual leader – spiritual follower. Employer – employee. Doctor – patient. Parent – children. This last one is a bit different, because it is the parent’s wounds that get acted out with the children – obviously or imperceptibly – causing the children’s wounds.  The children then grow up and are drawn to relationships – romantic and non-romantic – where those wounds are driving them beneath their consciousness. And when they have children, they act out their wounds with their children.

This goes on generation after generation after generation … until there’s a generation that stops the cycle and does its own work decreasing, as much as possible, the wounding that gets passed forward. In some families this is already happening. In others it hasn’t even been allowed into awareness.

Do you see what I’m saying here? Then let’s keep going.

Let’s imagine there’s a family who hasn’t brought the wounding into awareness yet.  The father of the family is a meek, passive man. The mother of the family has abused her husband and children mercilessly for years. The eldest daughter, Karla, is the founder and CEO of a corporation.

Her wounding as a child and the consequent defenses against it will drive her connection with the staff of her corporation. We would have to be in the corporation to see exactly how that plays out. We would have to be there on a day by day basis to see how she re-enacts her childhood trauma. But we can imagine.  She might be meek and passive like her father. She might be mercilessly abusive like her mother. She might be a combination of the two, depending upon who she interacts with. Or in an attempt to not be like either of them, she might become a detached, cold, calculating business woman either right out in the open, or with a mask of warmth and connection.

In that first moment people take that first move to create a corporation – in that single moment – more occurs than you can possibly imagine. Whatever wounds the founders have from their youth becomes part of the wounding of the corporation. And whatever wounds are part of how the corporation begins … those wounds drive that corporation and the people in the corporation throughout its life, until there is real healing done.

Back to Karla. Those drawn to her employ will likely have their own underground wounds that would interconnect with hers, like two fish hooks hooked together. And that hook would drive their interactions … and perhaps many of the interactions in the company. But it would be underneath the surface awareness, and unless someone realizes what is happening and helps Karla heal, the company will continue to be driven in just that way. And unless some of the employees become aware of what is happening and do their own healing, they will stay locked in the wounded level of connection being re-enacted once again at their place of work.

Do you see what I’m offering here? The bridge from the level of wounding that connects individual to individual extends even further … into groups of people: from the family group to the company group, for example. Or the religious group. The social group. Perhaps the activist group, even.

On the world level –

Let’s take this another step … to the national level.

A country on a deep level, is like a family. In that first moment people took that first move to create that country – in that single moment – more occurred than you can possibly imagine. Whoever came together to form that country are like the parents of that country-family.  Many even call the leaders in certain positions in their country the Father of the country. Or the Mother of the country. Whatever wounds the founders had  became part of the wounding of the country. And whatever wounds were part of how a country began, those wounds on a very deep level drive that country as it goes through its life and its history… until purposeful healing is done deep down to the root. In other words, that country will re-enact its earliest beginnings and childhood just as an individual will do.

The examples I’m using are not in any way chosen out of disrespect to or prejudice against the countries I’m utilizing as examples. I just have some understanding of the depths revealing the level of wounding that could be related to these countries … at least enough understanding to offer hunches about the essence of the ways in which these countries are driven by their own deep wounds.

Let’s begin with Germany. Alice Miller wrote about Germany in the time of Adolph Hitler, the Nazis, and the Holocaust. She talked about the prevalence of child abuse in German homes, including Hitler’s home, where Hitler was abused by his father and disconnected himself from the pain of his father’s beatings, priding himself on his ability to not even cry. She showed how Hitler’s early rage and disconnection against the torture he experienced as a child drove him to torture and destruction beyond comprehension. She demonstrated how many other children who were abused became active participants in Hitler’s forces. Some of them perhaps joining with him to keep his wrath from turning on them (like they may have with their own fathers or mothers),  and some perhaps joining with him to release their own rage at being abused onto others … the prisoners they took, the people they tortured.

That was certainly a snapshot of Germany in the 1930’s and 1940’s. Is it also a picture of how Germany began? Another snapshot: Germany’s history seems to be a history of fighting – to survive, to avoid invasion or takeover, to unify or prevent unification. The Thirty Years’ War was one of the longest and most bloody conflicts in European history. Perhaps we saw re-enactments of these beginnings in the 20th century with Hitler’s takeover, Hitler’s holocaust, the split into East and West Germany with the Berlin Wall, and then the wall coming down and re-unification.

Let’s move on to another country – Israel. Although there are many arguments that could be offered in response to this hunch, I am looking for the essence of the deep wounds that keep getting re-enacted, and my understanding is that the Jewish people have historically experienced being  victimized again and again.

It is a thread throughout the Bible and beyond. Enemies against them. Enemies fighting them. Enemies harming or threatening to harm them. Enemies enslaving them. Whatever the root of that experience, and whatever the historical reasoning to make a home state in Israel … to make as one’s home state a parcel of land in the midst of countries who hate you, or even simply hold animosity toward you, is something driven from deep in the wounding of the people. And it gets re-enacted again and again and again. By the country – and the surrounding countries – and also by the leaders.

Each leader with his or her own early wounding, as well as the cultural wound that gets passed on and passed down to members of the culture for generations without end … until the healing is begun. The healing of this early wound.

And finally, for now, there is the United States of America. The US started its existence by people rebelling against and running away from England. They may have been taking action to prevent their being unfairly taxed, but they still rebelled and ran away. They came to America and took over the land of the people who lived here. They fought the people they were running away from and the people whose land they had come to. And they took as slaves people from another land, treating them as poorly as, or even worse than, how they were originally treated in England. If we take this seriously, we can see some of the very deep wounds that have never been healed in US history. We can see some of the deep wounds that drive US interactions – and re-enactments – with other countries and other peoples to this day, under the guise of current day “foreign and domestic policy” and under the guise of “defense.” *** And we can see some of the deep wounds that drive US interactions –and re –enactments – even with the people who live in the US today.

I’m pulling out the essence of the wounds in all of these cases. I’m trying to show what’s driving not only people but also countries. I’m trying to show that our countries are wounded, too, and that as a result our countries interact with other countries from that deep, unconscious, level of woundedness … re-enacting the same things over and over again. And that as a result, our countries interact with their own people from that deep, unconscious level of woundedness … re-enacting the same things over and over again.

The examples I’ve given above … are just a few. I am quite sure there is a similar example for each country in our world.

This is the most patriotic thing I, or any citizen, can do for his or her country.
To bring out into consciousness the truth of the deep wounding that is driving the destructive re-enactments in our world.
This is the most loving thing I can do to help in the healing of our countries and our world at this crucial time in our world …
other than helping individuals in their healing,
other than helping couples in their healing,
other than helping parents in their healing,
other than helping other therapists in their healing and in their work with their clients.
This is the most loving thing I can do to help.
To reveal this truth for those …
who can learn it,
who can get it,
who can help with it,
by sending it to others,
by teaching it to others,
by getting involved in the healing.

 

If we are to heal, we need to heal at the level at which we are hooked –
at the deep level of our wounds.

If we are to heal in our own lives, we need to heal at the level of our young wounding.
If we are to heal in the life of our families, and not perpetuate our wounds generation after generation, we need to heal at the level of our early wounding.
If we are to heal our groups and organizations, we need to heal at the level of our wounding which became the wounding in the groups and organizations.
If we are to heal our countries, we need to heal at the level of our early wounding and at the level of the early wounding of our countries.
If we are to heal our world, we need to heal at the very core of what’s occurring,
the level at which we are hooked …
the level of our wounding and the level of communal wounding  …
the wounding within ourselves …
the wounding between us …
the wounding amongst us …
and
the wounding around us.

Yes, it is a big task.
Yes, it will take time.
But this level that is most frequently not known by people,
this level most frequently ignored,
this level most frequently denied,
this level most often avoided and run away from,
this level that drives the relationships and the potential for the relationships …
This is our hope.
This level is our hope
to really heal at the root of the wounding …
so we don’t keep re-enacting the individual and communal wounds over and over again.

Will we do the healing work, giving the greatest gift of love there is to ourselves, each other, and our world … not only on Valentine’s Day but every day?
How many of us bring this kind of love to ourselves and our world?
How different our relationships would be if we did.
How different our families would be if we did.
How different our world would be if we did.

© Judith Barr, 2015

*This article applies to romantic couples of all kinds. My using the male pronoun for male-female relationships is simply to for clarity and not meant to exclude or be insensitive in any way to gay couples or to imply that this learning is meant only for women.

** I am not in any way encouraging someone who is being abused to stay with an abusive partner. I am not in any way saying that you have to heal your childhood wounds within an abusive relationship. Quite the contrary. So please, do not misinterpret this section of the article to in any way continue your being abused.

*** To learn more about defenses, read my article, Defenses Destroy, at http://judithbarr.com/2014/06/08/defenses-destroy/.

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

On the one-to-one level –

As we approach Valentine’s Day, it’s crucial that we explore our own relationships – whether they be romantic relationships, familial relationships, professional relationships, or friendships.

In addition to the other factors that brought you together, can you see how your own wounds entangle, like fish hooks, with the wounds of those around you? When you have a challenge in one of your relationships, can you trace your feelings in the midst of that challenge to other feelings you’ve had in your life – to events and experiences you had in your own childhood that may color your here-and-now life … and in turn affect our world?

Relationships present opportunities that sadly most of us miss … the opportunity to truly explore within ourselves the long ago wounds that affect us every day. Only by taking this opportunity to heal can we make lasting change in our life and the life of our world.

On the national and world level –

And as we approach Valentine’s Day, it is crucial that we explore how our own early wounds are entangled, like fish hooks, with the wounds of our country. How without even realizing it, our wounds contribute to the re-enactments of our country’s wounds … the re-enactments of our world’s wounds. And how the ongoing reenactments create more wounding and re-wounding with an ever increasing frequency globally.

Imagine, for starters, how the deep wounding in any one of the three countries used as examples above, might be similar to your own young wounding. For instance, have  you, like Germany, been fighting since you were a child? Have you been fighting to survive, to prevent invasion and takeover, to unify or prevent unification?  And if that is true and you are a German citizen, can you imagine how you feed that wounding in your country?

Go through each of the other country examples and see if that helps you deepen and develop your understanding of these dynamics … so clearly at play in our world today.  See how, if you were a citizen of those countries, your wounds might entangle with those of your country.

Add your own examples, too. Make it a priority to explore how your own wounding affects your individual relationships and also the life of our countries and our world.

Will you do the healing work, giving the greatest gift of love there is … not only on Valentine’s Day but every day?

TORTURE … IT’S INFILTRATED OUR LIVES MORE DEEPLY AND PERSONALLY THAN WE WANT TO ADMIT

How to communicate with you about the issue of torture has been cooking within me.
The inspiration came today.
I’m writing this article about my country, because of all that is taking place about the issue of torture in the U.S.
But don’t think that takes any country off the hook …
We all need to look at this more deeply than people seem to realize.

Andrew O’Hehir’s article in Salon.com on December 14th found its way to my desk, and gave me an opening to express in a new way, what I’ve expressed in many other ways. The title of the article was “America’s Torture Machine Is No Aberration—It’s Part of Our Imperial Decline.” Even more important … its subtitle was the first opening I felt called to utilize to invite you to the truth.

The subtitle: “Can we quit pretending torture is some huge departure from America’s behavior?”

My response on a very different level than the one he’s offering:

We have to quit pretending torture is some huge departure from America’s behavior. It isn’t.

We have to deal with it on the national and international levels because that is actually more difficult to hide. But we also have to deal with it on the individual and familial levels – where it is too easy to hide. And in fact, it is from the individual and familial levels that it gets to the national and international levels. Read on to understand.

From my experience as a psychotherapist, workshop leader, media guest, speaker, and author … I have come to believe there is more child abuse in our country than anyone is willing to know.

O’Hehir wrote in his article, “Sure, there were a handful … who sounded the alarm, but most of us just nodded knowingly.” Just like with the torture that’s being revealed and discussed nationally and internationally today, most of us just nod when the issue of child abuse is brought up in our country. Maybe we nod, maybe we shake our heads, maybe we just move on to something else, maybe we talk about it with emotion and then move on … allowing it to continue. Many of my colleagues and I have experienced the nod of Child Protective Services when we reported child abuse (as we are required to by law.) We had to report it, and we should never use failure to take action on the part of CPS as an excuse not to report it. But the nod has come in many forms, thus allowing the abuse to continue:  often in the form of their saying they know – albeit perhaps in some kind of “coded message” – but they aren’t able to do anything about it; frequently in the form of their missing it completely, as though they were totally blind.

Too frequently in our society, child abuse is denied. It is normalized. It is masked over as ‘needed parenting’ or ‘needed discipline.’ It is rationalized and justified. The pretense that there is no child abuse individually, familially, culturally, is immense. I was shocked to read how the United States compares to other countries on what is actually legal child abuse – meaning on the lack of laws truly prohibiting child abuse in our country.*  For example … I have read that in some states, you can hit a child, but only with your open hand. Or you can hit a child, but can’t leave a bruise. Or you can hit a child, but as long as it’s legally considered to be “reasonable force” and “non-excessive corporal punishment.”

So back to the nod … Yes, most of us nod knowingly because someplace within us – even if we don’t want to know – most of us know that child abuse is an infection that festers in our lives and the life of our country … and world. Child abuse as torture, and then domestic violence as torture, and more. The examples of this that we see in the media are just the very surface layer of a deeper infection.

And as abused children grow up, they, in turn, often abuse their children. And if not their children, someone else in their lives. Their partners. Their employees. Their neighbors. Children in a school. People in a movie theater or mall. On and on … including, often themselves.

People don’t only start torturing once they’re in the military. They don’t only begin torturing once they’re in government. They don’t only start torturing as adults. It is deeply related to their own experiences of torture in some form as children … whether it was physical, mental, emotional, energetic, or spiritual torture.

People are looking at the torture issue through many lenses. Here’s one lens we must look at the issue through or we will never truly resolve it in our country …  we will just continue to be complicit and collude with it, in order not to experience our own memories, our own pain, our own torture and the consequences of it in our lives.

Here’s an opening we must look through and resolve within ourselves. Or we will never resolve it in our country or our world.

*http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corporal_punishment_in_the_home#United_States
Note: Although some countries have banned this form of child abuse, it is lawful in Australia, Canada, Ireland, South Africa, The United Kingdom, The United States.


© Judith Barr, 2014

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.

Power Corrupts, and Absolute Power Corrupts Absolutely . . . But Is It Really the Power That Corrupts?

The well-known statement “Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely” is attributed to Lord Acton, an English Catholic politician, writer, and historian in the1800’s. This statement has been made again and again over time since then. The media of our century uses it quite frequently . . . especially nowadays. And many believe it. But actually, there’s much more under the surface we need to take into account.

“Absolute power corrupts absolutely” is a blanket statement that doesn’t give responsibility to anyone for misusing and abusing power. It is a statement that doesn’t hold anyone accountable for misusing and abusing power. It makes the power itself responsible and accountable. Not the person. No wonder we’re in the fix we’re in.

It is not power itself that corrupts. It is the people who use the power that corrupt . . . by misusing and abusing the power they have.

Whether they are the president of a country, the CEO of a business, the religious or spiritual leader in a house of worship, the teacher in a classroom, the doctor in a hospital, the parent in a family, the driver behind the wheel in a car on a road . . . people utilize their power – both consciously and unconsciously – in relation to how power was used with them when they were tiny, vulnerable children. How power was used with them often even before they had words to think about or talk about it with. How power was used perhaps so painfully, perhaps so brutally, that they buried the memory of it and the feeling of it, and then start acting it out when they become adults, if not sooner. They act it out without realizing they are perpetuating the abuse of power that they experienced, whether they remember it or not.

One example on the more subtle side might be Cindy’s experience as a child. Her parents, older siblings, and extended family members all ridiculed and humiliated her with their words, meaning, and intention, while using the guise of a loving tone to hide their abuse. Again, under the guise of fake lovingness, they would tell her things like:

“Your crying is the worst sound I’ve ever heard. Shut your mouth.”

“You’re a bad girl for keeping mommy and daddy awake all night.”

“You’re a little monster. You’d eat everything in sight if you could.”

“What an ugly little girl you are. Why can’t you have blond hair and blue eyes like me?”

All of the family members, without realizing it, did to Cindy what was done to them as children.

Or another example . . . Jimmy was a scared little baby. The doctor could see that every time she picked him up, put him down on the examining table, talked to him, touched him. But the doctor couldn’t understand why Jimmy was so scared. His parents, Jim Sr. and Molly, seemed so loving when they were in the office.

But what the doctor couldn’t see was this: At home, Jim Sr. was yelling at Jimmy every time he started crying. The father was yelling and handling Jimmy roughly. Jimmy couldn’t stop crying, and his father’s response to him made him cry all the more. In reaction to the increased volume, intensity and fear in his crying, Jim Sr. would leave the room, slam the door behind him, and start yelling at Molly: “Get your son to shut up!”

Jimmy was just a baby. He didn’t know what was happening. He was completely unable to understand that his father was triggered by his little baby crying. That Jim Sr. had had his own frightening experiences in his infancy, experiences that had been deeply buried and he didn’t even know were there. That his father’s father had been triggered by Jim Sr.’s little baby’s crying and had treated him just like Jimmy’s father was treating Jimmy. And what’s more . . . Jim Sr.’s father didn’t know what was happening either. He was completely unaware that his yelling, roughness, and slamming doors were his own efforts to defend himself from his own early memories and feelings.

In addition, the doctor couldn’t see that a similar thing was occurring with Jimmy’s mother. And Molly couldn’t see it either. Nor could baby Jimmy.  Molly was triggered by Jimmy’s crying and by Jim Sr.’s response.  Molly herself as a baby had cried and cried in fear because of her own father’s violent responses to her crying. And because her mother had shrunk in fear in response to the violent behavior of her husband.  All of this was buried in Molly, even beneath her awareness.

But here they all were . . . baby Jimmy suffering from his parents’ acting out of what they had experienced as babies, without their remembering it, without their having any connection to the feelings they had at that young age. Yet inflicting all of their own wounding on their baby.

This is an explicit picture of people misusing and abusing their power…without even realizing it. It is also an explicit picture of impacting someone else – the next generation – in such a way that they will do the same. It occurs all the time in our world . . . all over our world . . . passed down from one generation to the next. Our relationship with power is passed down the generational line sometimes consciously, but mostly unconsciously.

Sometimes it gets normalized. Like in Joe Sr.’s and Molly’s families. Sometimes it gets confronted, but the power of the family gets misused and abused once again, and instead of allowing the confrontation to create an opening for healing, the group turns against the person confronting . . . just like the parents turned against the baby. At times the person, perhaps like Joe Sr., is asked to become aware and accountable. He will take in his impact on someone else, maybe even say ‘I’m sorry,’ and then go on about his way – without any intention to find out what was triggered in him that caused him to abuse his power with violence – only to continue to abuse his power again and again.  He doesn’t realize it, but he is too afraid to explore the cause in him. He is too afraid to remember how he was treated as a baby. He is too afraid to feel once again what he felt as a helpless, frightened baby at the hands of his violent father and his fearful, shrinking mother – both forms of misuse of power.

This is why people continue to misuse and abuse their power. They are afraid of remembering what they have repressed deep within … the memory, the experience, the feelings from long, long ago when they were helpless. They are afraid to experience how power was used with them and what they learned, decided, and created in their own relationship with power. This fear, if not met and healed, will perpetuate the abuse of power in our world. And it will perpetuate people’s not taking responsibility for their misuse and abuse of power, and instead putting it on other people and things. On people – their children, their partners, their friends, and more. On things – on that toy a parent trips over, the milk the baby has an allergy to, even on power itself. As though it is power itself that corrupts . . . not the person’s own relationship with power.

The reason it appears to people that absolute power corrupts absolutely is that having power triggers and brings up for people a whole host of their wounds. Perhaps most of their wounds. Perhaps even all of their wounds. As you saw in the examples above, most of the time  this occurs unconsciously. Too many times people are triggered, but one way or another normalize their state of mind, heart, and behavior. Because having power, and especially absolute power, brings up our wounds … it makes parenting a prime arena for our wounding and our defenses against that wounding to be evoked. After all, parenting is the situation in which absolute power occurs most naturally … so of course, it would be the most likely place for the most triggering and the most potential for abuse. This can explain why we don’t consciously give people absolute power. No one is completely aware. No one can be completely aware. And up till now, few have been completely committed to continuously looking for and finding the places they have wounds in their relationship with power … and healing them to the root.

What happens in the individual gets carried into the family. What happens in the family gets carried out into the world . . . into every arena including the government.  If you look at the recent events in the US Congress, you see a painful example. Even the people in the media were saying things like: “Where are the grownups?” and “Why can’t they act like adults?” and “They’re acting like little children.”

My response: Yes, you’re right. They’re acting like little children because the little children they once were are still alive inside them. The members of Congress were revealing themselves, but they had no idea they were doing so. They were showing us how they were treated as children.   Perhaps some were showing us how their parents would hold the family hostage to get their own way. Perhaps others were showing more specifically how their parents had a scorched earth policy, willing to destroy everything to have what they wanted. And maybe others were showing us how one or more of their parents wouldn’t protect the family, but instead would protect themselves . . . for fear of the hostage taker turning on them and punishing them.

I’m not a gambler, but from my experience with people and their psyches and souls . . . I would bet that if we could witness what happened in the childhoods of the congress people, even the parts of their childhoods that they don’t remember . . . we would see abuses of power just like the ones the congress people themselves just acted out.

It is so clear. It is right out in the light of day for all of us to see. If we don’t see it . . . what memories and feelings are we, ourselves, defending against?  What memories and feelings that shaped our relationship with power are we hiding from ourselves?  And how do we act out our misuse and abuse of power as a result?

It is not a simple, easy, quick process to heal our relationship with power. It is not simply a mental process, but includes our minds, our hearts, our bodies, and our souls. It is not a straight, linear process, but rather a serpentine path unique to our particular unfolding, our particular development, and the mystery of our particular healing journey. But if we are going to help heal the abuse of power in our world, that is what’s needed to make it possible . . . to one by one by one explore and heal our relationship with power – how it developed, what it felt like, how we’ve buried it, how we act it out, and how we could, with true healing, use our power exquisitely for magnificent good.

© Judith Barr, 2013

****

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

All of us have times in our lives when we have power of some kind…and in those times, it’s crucial for us to thoroughly explore our relationship with power.

As you go through your life, try to become aware of times when you have power in relation to a situation, thing, or person. How do you react when you have power? What feelings are triggered in you? Do you know when you first had feelings that were the same or similar? Try to trace that feeling as far back in your life as you can. It will enlighten you about your relationship with power and the roots of that relationship.

Now imagine you’ve been given absolute power…power over everything and everyone around you. What would you do? How do you feel at the thought of having that much power? What feelings come up in you and how intense are those feelings? Can you trace back those feelings too…back to the first time you ever felt that way?

Continue exploring . . . remember how power was used with you by everyone in your childhood — parents, other adult relatives, older siblings, other adults like doctors, clergy, teachers, coaches, babysitters, and more. This is a crucial key: how others used their power in relation to you, and how they treated you in relation to your power.

None of us is so completely aware of ourselves that we have a perfect relationship with power.  Each of us has something evoked – however consciously or unconsciously – when we have power or when we have the choice to be in power. And all of us have power in some form or other, at some time or other. What you can do in order to actively do your part: Commit today to explore and heal your relationship with power…so you may use the power you have for magnificent good!

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

Part 6: 
It Is Time to Go Deeper Now! 
What Are We Waiting For?  

I have been writing about the consequences of our staying on the surface in the outer world and not doing the deep work in the inner world from which outer occurrences and events spring. It has been an ongoing part of my writing for years. I have been writing about it in this series for months. Usually I write about it in relation to a specific person, event or theme. This month, I offer a broader view, an overview that will hopefully catch your attention and move you into action deeper than you have known before.

If a family is dysfunctional, most of the members ignore it, rise above it, pretend it isn’t true, live in denial, or walk away from it. Some of the members sometimes try to fight against it, often without success, often being dismissed, ridiculed, shunned, as a result. It takes a lot for a dysfunctional family to truly get the help needed . . . for the family as a whole and for each impacted member of the family to get the help needed to heal the causative and consequent wounds to the root. We see this in all sorts of dysfunctional families – those with alcoholism, gambling, sexual, abuse, physical abuse, emotional abuse, domestic violence, religious intolerance or fanaticism, and more. And if the family does get help, it is often – all too often – only on the surface. Perhaps the most obvious behaviors change. Perhaps the family members try to stop themselves from acting out on their impulses and their feelings. Perhaps, just perhaps, they even get some insight into why they have been dysfunctional. But it is a rare person, and certainly a rare family that truly heals the dysfunction from the outward behavior to the very root of the dysfunction . . . to the very root of the wound.

This would mean feeling the pain of the wounds, which most people are totally against. Which most people are completely afraid of doing. Which most people haven’t had anyone help them with from the time they were very, very, tiny beings . . . when the pain began. This would mean putting down the defenses – dissolving the defenses – people have constructed and hardened since their youngest days to defend them against the pain.  This would mean feeling finally that which people have worked so hard to avoid – hurt, fear, the anger experienced by young, vulnerable children being hurt or wounded or traumatized, the powerlessness we all feel, and more.  And this would mean remembering who hurt us, who wounded us and how. It would mean exposing our parents and their parents before them and their parents before them. The piercing of the idealization of our parentage would bring its own consequences . . . probably very similar to the wounding experienced in the first place. The hurt, fear, anger, and powerlessness of family and family members, beneath their defenses, being revealed and exposed. And likely lashing out at those doing the exposing.  Lashing out physically, verbally, emotionally – directly at those doing the revealing. Or lashing out behind their backs. Arguing with them, discrediting them, accusing them of being disloyal to the family, making them “bad,” punishing them, shunning or outright exiling them from the family.

It is a rare family that one-by-one and as a whole is willing to dive into the ocean of healing and committed to working all the way through to coming out the other side, healed and transformed to the core. It is a rare individual who is committed to this – fully and whole-heartedly committed.

But now is the time for individuals and families to come forth and do this work. For it is not just our individual selves that are dysfunctional. It is not just our families that are dysfunctional. It is our society that is dysfunctional . . . as a result. Our national society and our global society.

What occurs individually also occurs communally. Not just communally in our families, but communally in our communities, our states, our countries, our world. And if we ever were able to see the communal version, we are seeing it now.  This is one thing the media and the internet are helping us do. See . . . if we are willing to take our blinders off. Hear . . . if we are willing to take our earplugs out.

People are actually calling the US government dysfunctional – which it most certainly is. And what a mirror for us all.  The country and the family . . . both lashing out at those doing the exposing.  Lashing out physically, verbally, emotionally – directly at those doing the revealing. Or lashing out behind their backs.  Arguing with them, discrediting them, accusing them of being disloyal or unpatriotic to the family or country, making them “bad,” punishing them, shunning or outright exiling them.

There are people in our world working to help with the healing, each in his or her own unique way.  There is, for example, Margaret Heffernan, teaching about “willful blindness,” teaching that we refuse to see and acknowledge what is right there in front of us, causing damage to ourselves and others. There is Josh Oppenheimer, who has directed a painful but revealing movie about death squads in Indonesia, with, it seems, the hope that people will realize we all have an underbelly, we’re all perpetrators . . . even if only by wearing the clothing made by victims of those terrors.

But there are also those who seem to be trying to help, yet are feeding people with distortions that end up making things worse. For example, the teachers – spiritual and otherwise – who teach that whatever you put out there comes back to you. Yet . . . they fail to teach people about what we human beings put out there beneath our own  consciousness, without our own awareness, and how that creates things in the world that have a way of coming back to impact us painfully, individually and communally.

Whatever there is within us individually or communally – whatever is harmful or even distorted – that gets normalized, has a way of coming back to haunt us. Whether that’s an incomplete teaching like the one above, an outright lie, or even a destructive force that is right out there in the open  . . . the normalization feeds it and makes it grow under a guise – the guise of being normal.

Alice Miller taught about this again and again. She is no longer alive on this earth, but her wisdom and compassion live on. I hope I can do justice to her in this summary. She taught that no one is “born evil,” not even Hitler. That we bury the memories and feelings related to painful, even unbearable personal childhood experiences and then act them out later in our lives, without even realizing it. We act them out within and all around us, and most particularly on our children. For Hitler this included merciless beatings by his father and an absence of protection by his mother.

Miller taught that when parents’ treatment of children is normalized – like the cruel treatment of children in Germany and other parts of Europe when Hitler was growing up was normalized under the tag “child rearing” – many act out their experiences communally as they grow up.  So . . . those who joined with or served Hitler in his brutality in Germany were also acting out the brutality they grew up with and their defenses in response. And how about those who somehow colluded with his rule? How were they acting out their childhood experiences?  This is true of any tyrant. And it is true of any society.  What does that mean about our society now? What does that mean about our societies now?

It is not only true of families and societies led by tyrants. It is also true of families and societies led by seemingly benign people, who are nevertheless impacting those under and around them from their own wounds and defenses against their own wounds.

Finally, Alice Miller acknowledged that the acting out occurs unconsciously because the child was not allowed to know and remember what was actually going on. This part of her understanding reflects the family’s and society’s attempts to keep from being exposed. But it also reflects the individual’s own attempts to keep from having those memories and feelings exposed, remembered, and felt – not only by others, but most especially by their own self.

Yet . . . we deeply need to expose, reveal, remember, and feel what is in our past that creates our today and tomorrow. There is no way around this. Many have tried to go around it. Many keep trying. Even in my own field, many techniques are developed in an effort to go around it. It is all part of the dysfunction.

We must expose, reveal, remember and feel what is in our past, for it is still alive within us and is creating our today. It is still alive within us and will most certainly create our tomorrow.  We must expose, reveal, remember and feel it for our individual selves and our own individual healing. We must expose, reveal, remember and feel it for our communal selves and our communal, even global healing.

© Judith Barr, 2013

****

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

We all have wounds . . . all of us. If we are unaware of those wounds, they will almost certainly create dysfunction in our lives.

Ask yourself and honestly answer . . . what are the wounds in my history?  The history of my individual life, my family’s life, my country’s life? And how is that life dysfunctional as a result?  How is my own life dysfunctional?  How is my family dysfunctional? How is my country dysfunctional?

We all have wounds . . . all of us. If we are unaware of those wounds, they may lead us to knowingly or unwittingly commit, feed, or tolerate abuses of power in our lives, our society and our world.

As you go about your daily life…explore the ways in which your own wounding may lead you to be apathetic towards, or even collude with, abuses of power in all arenas in your life . . . your personal relationships, your professional relationships, your relationship with your clergy, your children’s teachers, your government, any authority figures, your relationship with your children or the children in your life.

When you hear about a questionable action taken by someone in your life, how do you feel? What feelings are evoked in you, for example, when you hear of the misuse of power by a corporation’s CEO or when you learn about a politician’s abuse of power? What feelings are evoked in you when you learn of the incident of domestic violence down the street, or the abuse of a child right next door?  And, most importantly, when before in your life have you felt that way? When from your young adult years, your teen years, your childhood? How far back can you trace that feeling? Go back as far as you can in search of the root . . . and take a real look at how you may be acting out in a way that feeds the abuse of power.

Imagine what our lives, our societies, and our world would be like if we all became aware of, and committed to heal, the inner wounds that, untended and unhealed,  create dysfunction and abuse!  Both the most obvious and the most subtle. Both the most out-in-the-open and the most hidden.

Changing Things From The Inside Out: The Bankruptcy Is Within

It’s 2013. There is so much in our world that is distressing and frightening in these times. And we keep trying to fix it all by doing things out there in the world!  But no matter how hard we try, even if we seem to succeed – for a while – the changes we make in the outer world unravel and threaten to return to the way they were, or worse.

We’re not looking at what’s happening through a big enough lens. We’re not looking at what’s happening through enough dimensions . . . our view is so limited. To put it simply . . . We’re not seeing the big picture. We’re not seeing the whole picture.

We’re not looking far enough. We’re not looking close enough. We’re not looking wide enough. We’re not looking deep enough.  Stay with me to really understand.

As a depth psychotherapist, when I work with an individual person, (I use the masculine pronoun here to simplify, though it applies to both men and women) we look at what has happened in his life that has affected not only his outer world but also his inner world – the world of mind, heart, and soul. We look at how he reflexively protected himself against the pain of the distress or even trauma he suffered. We look at how the originally involuntary protections took hold and became defenses, hardening as time went on and eventually splitting off from their original intentions – first protection against what for a child was unbearable suffering, and later defenses against the pain that was still alive within that child.  We look at inner defenses and outer defenses. And we look at how those defenses created problems that a child couldn’t possibly foresee . . . including distortedly proving to that person what he originally decided about himself, others, and life in response to the original painful events. We look at the vicious cycle all of that sets up for the person’s life, both in his inner world and his outer world.  And the illusion that he and others believe as he grows into what we think of as an adult – a person in a big body with the child still alive within. We also look at how that vicious cycle in his life affects those around him – both up close and personal and also not so close. And, of course, we look at, talk about, and help him truly enter into the deep healing that is possible for him.

That’s a lot to take in and digest in one paragraph. Let me give you an example.

Joe is a 43-year old businessman. He’s married and has two sons, one 6 and the other 12.  He has a wife who loves him, but can’t tolerate his walls, his outbursts, or the power struggles she witnesses and experiences with him.

As a tiny baby, Joe had colic that went on for far too long.  He cried in pain too much of each day. His mother was, herself, distressed that she could not soothe him. Eventually at some point in the day she would put him in his crib, leave the room, closing the door behind her and turning up the volume on the music or T.V. to drown out his crying. His crying would change again and again from that of a hungry, wet baby needing to be responded to, held and loved, to that of a baby with a tummy in pain, to cries of frustration and finally rage at being left alone, hurting, uncomforted, unaided, till he cried himself to sleep. When he awakened, the cycle began again. Mom and Joe pretty much lived in the house without much exposure to the outside world until Joe grew out of the colic. So the only other person who would see this cycle was Joe’s dad. When his father was home, sometimes his father would become so triggered by Joe’s inconsolability and ceaseless crying, that he would throw Joe into the crib yelling at him and leave the room, slamming the door behind him . . . sometimes off its hinges.

Joe did eventually, thank goodness, grow out of the colic, and there was so much less crying. By comparison, almost none.

But when Joe did cry, even as an older baby, even as a toddler, even as a little boy . . . both mom and dad had reactions.  What was triggered in them when he was a baby, was again and again activated by the slightest sign of crying, as if it were a hair trigger. Joe learned to suppress and then completely turn off his crying. He learned to keep his chin from quivering. He learned to keep his eyes dry – no tears. He learned not to do the things that would cause his parents to react in ways that might hurt him enough to cry . . . or if they did, he would either pretend they weren’t hurting him or count the seconds until their verbal lashings or spankings were over. One day he told his sister that he made it through 5 whole minutes without shedding a tear or even wincing.  From his once vulnerable, powerless state as a baby, he had grown defenses that made him feel like the powerful one; he had become contemptuous, proud of his strength, and determined to show his strength whenever he wanted.  He had decided:  I’ll never be powerless again; those monsters’ll be sorry they ever hurt me; and life is a long wait till you get ‘em back. Only no one knew he’d made those decisions, nor that he was busy re-deciding them, even in his dreams and fantasies . . . not even Joe himself.

Yet unconsciously, just like the rest of us, he re-enacted his earlier experiences again and again, transferring his parents and his experiences with them onto other people and his experiences with these people – like his teachers, his boy scout leader, his coaches, his minister. And every time someone hurt him, he hid the signs of the pain – even from himself – and instead acted strong and felt contempt for them that they had to hurt other people. But one day, when he was 12, his minister lashed out at him. Joe saw red and lashed back, this time physically, giving his minister a bloody nose. Joe’s father had a fit about what his son had done and hit Joe so hard he had black and blue marks. Joe took his defensive position with his father and decided again the same decisions he’d decided earlier in his life, this time more specifically personalized to his dad:  I’ll never be powerless again; you’ll be sorry you ever hurt me, you horrible monster; and life’ll be a long wait till I get you back.

In essence, Joe had run through a whole vicious cycle or maze, as I call it.

He’d gone from being powerless with the minister; he’d come to the end of the long wait till he could “get him back” and made the minister-monster sorry, only to be powerless with his father once again and reinforce those decisions for himself all over again. Joe’s classmates cheered him on for decking the minister (which they were afraid to do); they empathized with him for the bruises his father left on him; and secretly they were afraid of him. Somewhat consciously and somewhat beneath his awareness, Joe felt this combination, especially the fear, gave him a lot of power with them: he could turn them into monsters and get them back at any time, too. They knew their fear meant he had a lot of power with them, and did their best not to antagonize him.

But Joe’s father was oblivious. He had no fear of Joe, no inkling Joe was waiting to get him back, and not the slightest awareness that one day Joe would beat him up at the slightest provocation . . . when Joe’s own son was 12. Joe’s twelve year old son hadn’t a clue that his father would yell at him for what seemed like hours on his 12th birthday. And his business partners couldn’t even imagine the potential of the same occurring at work with one of them on that very day.  No one understood the trigger that age 12 had become for Joe.

Do you see how the cycle works and affects everyone? What occurred in Joe’s childhood, so early he didn’t remember it consciously, affected his life and everyone in it . . .

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Now let’s take a big step. There are many, many, many more people in our country than most people can imagine . . . who experience trauma in the form of some kind of abuse.* There are many more than most can imagine – both children and adults. Many more than most want to imagine. Many more than most want to know.  But we need to know. Because these people are not just the guy or gal across the world, across the country, or across town. They are the guy and gal across the street and next door. They are also us, right in our own homes, right in our own lives.

Some of them know they have been or are being abused. I’ve known people, even therapists, who are glad they were hit every day of their childhood . . . because compared to some of their patients who were more subtly humiliated and otherwise emotionally battered, they knew they were being abused. I’ve known others who were so glad they weren’t hit and used that as a defense to prove to themselves they weren’t abused, hiding from their own awareness the more subtle – but equally damaging – forms of abuse they experienced.

So again . . . if we weren’t in denial, we would find there are many more people in our country who have been abused and experienced in that abuse some form of violence. They are people who have buried their memories and their feelings, built defenses against the pain, made decisions about themselves others and life, and are haunted by all of this. They’re haunted by the buried memories, the buried feelings, the defenses they spend their energy keeping strong to hold the memories and feelings at bay . . . and the thing they’re unconsciously waiting to have happen as each cycle comes to a close.

This makes the possibility of abuse and violence acted out physically much more likely than most want to know. But it also increases the likelihood of our unconscious support of violence, a support that ends up as acting out violence and feeds the violence amongst us. For example . . . sports like football and boxing during which fans cheer the violence on; movies and T.V programs that are filled with violence, during which many cheer the violence aloud or secretly get off on the violence; there are those who disparage the paparazzi, yet it is our population who reads the “rags”; many decry human trafficking, yet it is our citizens who buy the humans and use them for sex; the whole political campaign season we just went through was violent in its own right – from lies to verbal attacks and more; not to mention the wars we are waging, often under the guise of laws, righteousness, patriotism, and “helping others”; the violence that’s been done to our economic system; and now after the Sandy Hook tragedy, mental health is in the spotlight – but mental health as a bankrupt system, without the necessary leadership, tools, support, and means with which to truly bring about the healing needed . . . all through society, all over the world.

Here’s where the larger picture really needs to be seen.  .  . or we will never work our way through the painful crossroads we’re at. If Joe, as I described him to you, were to be in serious financial debt and even go bankrupt, I, as his therapist, would not only work with him on the issues on the here and now practical level, recommending he talk with an accountant and/or a financial planner, and working with him on his relationship with money . . . I would also work with him on the debt within himself. I would work with him on the bankruptcy I have described to you above. I would help him acknowledge the bankruptcy within and heal it debt by debt by debt.  I would help him become conscious of his early decisions about himself, others, and life. I would help him both utilize them to access his early memories and feelings and heal them so he isn’t driven by them in his life in the future. I would help him build his capacity to feel the feelings he has been defending against.  I would assist him as he transforms the use of his energy to defend against his early experiences and feelings into a use of his energy and other inner resources for constructive, creative possibilities in his future.  It will be crucial that he does all this, beginning with acknowledging the inner bankruptcy, in order to resolve things from the inside out. He cannot simply fix the outer bankruptcy and stop there . . . it will just occur and recur again and again till the inner bankruptcy is acknowledged and healed.

And this is true of our society, too. What happens within individuals, happens also within societies.  What happens within individuals, happens within the society of the family, the community, the business world, the country, and the global society, as well. You can see it in the example of Joe above. And you can see it in our society today.  While our Congress purports to be trying to help us at the edge of a fiscal cliff, too many of its members are revealing their individual inner bankruptcies and our country’s inner bankruptcy. While our country purports to be fighting against violence, it is acting out its inner bankruptcy of violence right and left. While our country purports to value women and want to keep them safe, the inner bankruptcy of our relationship to woman and the feminine reveals itself in both male and female leaders and citizens every day.

It’s 2013.  It’s time to look at the big picture. It’s time to look up close – at ourselves individually and communally. It’s time to look to the depths – within ourselves and our national and global communities.  It’s time to see the bankruptcy that has been revealed both financially and in other areas of our lives.

It’s time to see the inner bankruptcy from which the outer bankruptcy has been created. It’s time to go to the root and heal this within ourselves and our society – from the inside out.

Each one of us who does that in ourselves, helps not only ourselves but also our society.  You can’t just work to heal societal inner bankruptcy and neglect your own.  It may not be obvious to you, but from my breadth and depth of experience . . . I’m quite sure there is some aspect of inner bankruptcy within us all. Where will you start? What will you do to heal your own inner bankruptcy and our global one as well?

It’s 2013. It is time to begin reweaving the underlying fabric of our society. It is the time of healing from the root, from the inside out . . . within each of us and all over our precious world.

************************

* Today I’m using the violence facet of the big picture – I could use any side to help us see the relationship between the inner and its outpicturing in the world outside. To help us see the relationship between the inner in the individual and society and the outer for the individual and society. The grief side, for example. It’s less than a month after the violence at Sandy Hook. The grief is tremendous. But instead of grieving, which would help us turn within . . . we’re fighting. About guns. About violence. About the mentally ill. About the fiscal cliff. About who’s right and who’s wrong. And instead of grieving, we’re pushing ourselves and those who have lost so much to get back to normal, albeit perhaps, another new normal. To let go of grief. To not weep for those who are in a better place. All showing our inner bankruptcies, personal and communal. Our fear of grieving and the resulting layers and layers of grief within us just waiting to be triggered.

After 9/11 instead of grieving, we began fighting. We went to war. We declared we were the axis of good and others the axis of evil. A sign of our inner bankruptcy. When the tragedy occurred in Norway, I wrote a public letter and urged them not to make the same mistake we made. . . not to let the grief ungrieved create still more events that would cause yet more grief. Are we really going to make the same mistake again? Or are we going to heal the inner bankruptcy now?

To learn more, you can read these articles at my Huffington Post blog:
An Open Letter to Norway… Don’t Make the Mistake We Made at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/judith-barr/an-open-letter-to-norway-_b_911739.html

Help Your Family and You Through 9/11 Anniversary and Terror Threats at
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/judith-barr/911-anniversary_b_956015.html

and these articles on my blog, PoliPsych:
Healing Clues in the Aftermath of The Sandy Hook Tragedy – in Newtown and All Over The World – The Clue Of Grief at
http://judithbarr.com/2012/12/17/healing-clues-in-the-aftermath-of-the-sandy-hook-tragedy-in-newtown-and-all-over-the-world-the-clue-of-grief/.

Healing Clues in the Aftermath of The Sandy Hook Tragedy – in Newtown and All Over The World – The Clue Of Safety at
http://judithbarr.com/2012/12/18/healing-clues-in-the-aftermath-of-the-sandy-hook-tragedy-in-newtown-and-all-over-the-world-the-clue-of-safety/.

© Judith Barr, 2013.

****

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

This year, make a true commitment to explore, find, and heal the bankruptcy within you . . . as one aspect of doing your part to help reweave the fabric of our society and our world. And as part of healing the bankruptcy within, make a commitment to explore the feelings that arise as you go about your day, tracing those feelings back to their roots in your early life,

And this year, make a true commitment to help bring this message to others in your world – the message of change from the roots, from the inside out.

If you feel called, pass this post on to those in your life you feel would be open and ready to receive the message. It might inform them, inspire them, intrigue them, or simply plant seeds in them. It might help them. It might help someone they know. It might start a dialogue between them and you that would, perhaps, not otherwise have begun.

We can all work together to heal our world, fully and sustainably – from the inside out — if we can commit to doing the inner work we all need to do to help create true and lasting change.

THE PETRAEUS SCANDAL – WILL WE UTILIZE IT TO STAGNATE OR TO GROW?

Most every year at the end of December or in early January, I write an article about commitment, since making and breaking New Year’s Resolutions is such a hot topic at that time. We’ve just had news, though, of one of our country’s esteemed and powerful leaders having broken his marriage commitment. So it seems to me, now is the perfect time to write about commitment.

*****

Friday, November 9th 2012, CIA Director David Petraeus (and former four-star General of the U.S. Army) resigned his position, based on his having had an extra-marital affair. It has become a scandal with threads and perhaps webs way beyond Petraeus’ affair (as, of course, breaking a commitment will do). While people are focusing on many difference aspects of the situation, I’m going to focus on the core aspect. Commitment.

It seems important as I begin, to talk about how our society holds commitment. If you listen to the media’s response to the Petraeus affair, it will be obvious. I’ve heard media pundits – mostly men but some women, too – say things like: “It’s human nature”; “Many powerful leaders have done the same thing before him and kept their positions”; “Thomas Jefferson and Dwight Eisenhower had affairs, too”; “They were just ‘randy buggers’”; “Men just like sex”; “It doesn’t affect his judgment in his military position, or his presidential position, or whatever high position he holds”; “It’s just between him and his wife, a family matter.”

Could they normalize the breaking of commitment any more? Could they accept the abuse of power that breaking a commitment actually is any more than they have by what they’ve been saying?

The task of leaders, among others, is to help us evolve into more matured, more developed beings – individually and communally. The response of our media to Petraeus’ affair is totally the opposite. They’ve been passing down myths of . . . “Boys will be boys;” and breaches of trust in one area don’t affect breaches of trust in another; and it’s none of our business, a private matter; and more. That’s how slavery was sustained; that’s how domestic violence has been sustained; that’s how the abuse of power has been supported and sustained for far too long. And if we accept that, we are part of sustaining some of the worst of what goes on in our leaders, our communities, our families, and ourselves. And we collude in keeping ourselves small, unempowered, and unmatured. Are we going to collude? Or are we going to make the choice to support, help, and take part in the growth that is possible here?

My intention is to help with our growth. So let’s talk deeply about commitment. When we make a commitment, we pledge our word and our trustworthiness to fulfill the vow we are making. We accept as our responsibility the fulfillment of that commitment. If we commit in a marriage to love, cherish, and be faithful to our spouse . . . we are giving our word that we will fulfill that commitment.

If we do not make a full commitment, we will not keep a full commitment. In other words, we will end up breaking our commitment in some way. Perhaps we will break it externally, as with having an affair. Or perhaps we will break it internally, as with feeling anger toward our spouse and not exploring the anger and what is causing it – in our relationship or within ourselves alone. Instead we will take our anger into our sexual relationship with our spouse and instead of being in connection with our partner . . . fantasize about other partners. Either way we break the commitment, we break it. In thought, feeling, or action.

It is broken. And so is our word. And so is our trustworthiness. There is a rupture not only between us and the one or ones with whom we have made the commitment, but also within us. Most people don’t really understand commitment. Most people don’t really understand what happens once we make a commitment. Most people don’t really get what happens that leads us down the path to breaking our commitments . . . or what could happen to prevent the breaking of our commitments.

Let’s look at commitment – the breadth and depth of it. First, if we don’t make a full commitment, we definitely won’t keep the commitment fully. Something will inevitably emerge that will either “lead” us to break the commitment or that we will use to justify breaking the commitment. And the outcome will not be all it could be. Making a full commitment means committing 100% of yourself to that to which you are committing. That could be, among other things, to a marriage, a child, a career, your own healing, growth, and development. It means committing your mind, heart, body, and soul…every aspect of your being.

Here’s an example of making only a partial commitment. You marry your spouse. You commit to love, honor, and cherish your spouse “till death do us part.” If you don’t really love your spouse, but have just settled for a companion, you have already broken your commitment. If you love your spouse, but when the honeymoon phase of the relationship is over, the underlying issues surface, and you start to have uncomfortable feelings come up – which they always do – you take some of your energy away from your spouse and start giving that portion of your energy to a co-worker who interests you, and with whom you can feel the new, honeymoon-like feelings again. With a partial commitment, this kind of thing will occur again and again. You will create, find, or stumble upon all sorts of excuses for breaking your commitment. You’ll basically be saying, whether you put it into words or not . . . “This is happening, and it is a reason not to keep my commitment,” or perhaps, “This is happening, and it is a reason not to keep my commitment fully.”

If, on the other hand, you have made a full commitment, when the honeymoon phase of the marriage comes to an end, and issues and feelings come to the foreground . . . you will see clearly what is happening: that the part of you who made the full commitment is showing you right out in the open, this is the next thing in you that needs to be healed in order to take the next steps in following through with and fulfilling your commitment. This is a more matured way to understand commitment. That once we make a commitment, whatever exists in our psyche and soul that needs to be healed in order for us to fulfill that commitment will definitely surface for healing. And it is up to us to see that and utilize that for the purpose of healing . . . not for the breaking of the commitment.

So let’s say you have been married for a year and things have settled down from the excitement and the high of the courtship, the marriage, and the start of your life together. And now you are finding you’re hurt by certain things your spouse does. Maybe he’s not spending all his spare time with you anymore, but starting to do some of the writing he’s always wanted to do instead of taking dancing lessons with you. Or maybe she’s not spending all her spare time with you anymore, but beginning to meditate early every morning, just the time you like to cuddle and be intimate. If you haven’t made a full commitment, you could use this to justify doing more things on your own, drawing further away from your spouse, investing some of your energy in someone else, or eventually, even having an affair. If you have made a full commitment and you understand the process of step by step following through on and fulfilling your commitment . . . you will first explore within you what is getting stirred up.

If your husband is spending time writing that you want him to spend with you, maybe it’s triggering a memory – even if you’re not conscious of it yet – when you were a year old and your mother got pregnant again, giving a chunk of her attention to her pregnancy that had been going to you. And maybe if your wife is spending early morning time meditating when you want to be close to her, it’s triggering when you were a year old and your father was working the night shift. He would come home early in the morning and want to be cuddly and intimate with your mommy, when you wanted her to sit and rock you back to sleep after you awakened too early to get up for the day. These are things that, with a full commitment, you would, of course, find a way to work with and work through – not just on the level of understanding, but on the feeling level, too. Perhaps you would find a good therapist who would help you heal these early places of hurt to the root.

I hope you get the essence of the difference between making a full commitment and only a partial one. The difference between breaking your partial commitment or having made a full commitment, finding a way to heal what comes up inside you that needs to be healed. This difference is crucial.

Further, if you break a commitment in the face of something in your life – inside or out – bringing up uncomfortable or painful feelings within you . . . that isn’t just contained in one area of your life. You can have uncomfortable feelings that you aren’t aware of triggered by anything in any arena in your life. What is triggered could cause you to exercise poor or distorted judgment in any arena in your life, even to break a commitment in any arena of your life. Any arena, personal or public.

The other important thing to be aware of, when you break a commitment: you have an effect not only on yourself, but also on the person to whom you made the commitment . . . and even to others, as well. In the example of a partner in a marriage having an affair and breaking a commitment to the spouse, not only will the spouse be affected, but also the children, the extended family, the person with whom the affair is taking place, that person’s family, and perhaps many more. If the affair is with someone at the office, the whole office can be affected. If the affair is at the office and the office is a country’s government, who knows how many people will be affected…people not only in the country but all over the world?

I teach all of this to my clients over the course of their working with me. I help my clients step by step in the process of learning about and working with their commitments. I assist them in seeing what is coming up that tempts them or leads them to break a commitment, and to see it as something within them calling to be healed . . . so they can return to their commitment and continue with it to fulfillment. And I have the privilege and honor of watching them grow and develop as a result. This is what our leaders need to be modeling for us. This is what our media needs to be helping us to learn just in the way they present the news to us. This is what we need to be insisting on from our leaders, from our media, and both from and for ourselves. Otherwise, we stay undeveloped, unmatured beings who don’t expect any more of ourselves today than we did yesterday or tomorrow than we do today. Is that what we want for ourselves and our children?

© Judith Barr, 2012.

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

As we near the end of the year, and the beginning of a new year, instead of making a resolution this year, commit to explore your own relationship with commitment, and the impact it’s made on your life and the lives of those around you.

Ponder the commitments you’ve made in your life . . . commitments to your relationships, to your children, to your career, to others, to yourself . . . What did you feel when you prepared to make that commitment? When you actually did make the commitment? Was it a full commitment, or were you only partially committed? Were you aware of the partial or full nature of the commitment you were making? And after you made that commitment . . . did feelings arise in you that led you to want to break your commitment?

Before, during, and after you make a commitment, explore the feelings that arise in you, things that may lead you to break your commitment. Have you felt this way before? When? And when before that? Trace those feelings back as far as you can in your life. And, of course, if you need help exploring and healings those feelings, rather than acting out on them, seek the help of a good therapist to untangle your present feelings from your ancient wounds, and truly heal your feelings about your commitment to the root.

One of the most important commitments we can make is to the healing of our relationship with commitment. Imagine the effect on our lives, the life of our country, and the life of our world . . . if everyone healed this to the root, and could make full, real, lasting commitments!

WHEN THE ELECTION IS OVER . . .

Many of us – not just in the United States of America but all over the world – are now feeling like Abby Evans, the little 4-year old girl on YouTube who is crying and saying, “I’m tired of Bronco Bamma and Mitt Romney.” We have been stimulated and over-stimulated by media, ads, campaigns, debates, and more . . . for far too long. I don’t know the statistics, but perhaps this has been the longest election in history for everyone to be privy to. It certainly seems that way.

Many of us – not just nationally but globally – are concerned about what’s going to happen on Election Day. Many of us are concerned about what’s happened and what’s happening to the U.S. political system. And many of us are concerned about what’s happening in our world.

When the election is over, we will have a lot of feelings. Some will feel relieved. Some will feel happy. Some will feel scared. Some will feel angry. Some will grieve and some will celebrate. Some will feel it’s all over for four years.  But it isn’t.

What has happened in this election in the outer world is a reflection of what happens within people individually and thus communally in our inner worlds.

If you already do some form of your own inner healing work, you already understand this. If you’ve been receiving my newsletters for years, you already understand this and have been working with it, wherever you are geographically and wherever you are in your healing journey. If you’ve been reading my blog posts and particularly my election blog posts, you have had the opportunity to take in the seeds I’ve offered and hopefully grow them over time. And if this is your first time reading my blog, I hope you can allow it to help you get a bigger picture, a deeper picture of what is going on and what we need to do.

I’m going to repeat the essence in brief: Each of us has some way in which we were hurt, wounded emotionally and perhaps also physically, or traumatized as children. A child cannot tolerate that kind of pain, buries the pain, and reflexively creates immediate protections against the pain. Over time the immediate protections harden and get frozen and even break off from the original intention . . . and they take on a life of their own. When we get to the point of adulthood chronologically, the child we once were is still alive within us . . . even if we are not aware of it, even if we don’t want to be aware of it. And we hold onto our broken-off, split-off defenses for dear life. We believe it is life and death, even as an adult, not to feel what the child we once were, was not able to feel. And we continue to fight against our own feelings, perhaps now not just inside ourselves but outside too. We continue to fight to keep from feeling those feelings.  And the more we do that, the more walls we build to keep us from our real, true, authentic selves beneath the defenses. And the more we do that, the more we create distortions within us, around us, and the more we help to create distortions and destructiveness all over our world.

For example, if your parents believed as children that they could never have enough, very likely they made a decision in childhood that they could never have enough. As a result, they began creating their lives as though what they believed was true; they began creating their lives as though their decision was an accurate decision. And when you came along, they very likely interacted with you in such a way that you came to believe you could never have enough. Or even if they didn’t act it out with you, you watched them act it out in other areas of their own lives. So even if they made sure you had enough, someplace within them, they were torn – perhaps between I can’t have enough but some people can. And so you, in turn, found yourself split – maybe, for example, between I can have enough but not everyone can have enough. If you go out into the world with this split, you will interact with the world in this split way. But not only will you interact with the world in this way . . . your split will be poured into the communal consciousness – as though the communal consciousness were a big cauldron of thoughts, decisions, feelings, and energy – and feed the split. At the same time, everyone else with that split will be feeding the communal consciousness, too. And all those people will believe something that doesn’t have to be true. . . if we don’t create it to be true.

That was one example. There are so many others. I have written about them all through the election. When the election is over, we will still have a lot to do. Not just on the outer level, but even more within ourselves.

For today, tomorrow, and in the days to come, be aware and hold onto this . . .

Out of the experience of the past many, many months of the election process. . .
we see many distorted, destructive things that are coming out into the open from beneath our awareness, from beneath our consciousness –
both individual and communal.

We can simply bemoan these things that are emerging into the light of day.
We can be afraid of them, deny them, run away from them, numb ourselves in the face of them.
We can believe we are powerless, and in so doing, give up the power we have. 

Or we can see that these things are coming out and we can choose to utilize them and our own power
purposefully, consciously, and safely for healing.* 

This is my choice.
This is where my deepest, most important vote goes …
To our seeing them and committing ourselves to utilize them purposefully, consciously, and safely for healing –
our own individual healing and our communal healing, as well. 

What choice will you make?
Where will your deepest vote go? 

*From the Prologue of Power Abused, Power Healing . . .
“Power is like fire, lightning, wind, ocean – like life itself – a raw, vibrant, force of nature. It has the potential for great harm and the possibility for magnificent good. Each of us chooses, whether consciously or unconsciously, how we will use the power of our own life energy.” 

© Judith Barr, 2012.

THE 2012 ELECTION: WHAT IS THE AGENDA…REALLY?

Merv’s father may seem like a god to him. He may worship his father, idealize his father, turn himself inside out to please his father and make his father love him and be proud of him. He may bend over backwards to help his father accomplish his goals, to endeavor to succeed in any of the areas where his father suffered failures, and to make his family name a proud one. From the place of the child he once was – still alive within him today – he would do this rather than displease his father for a moment. Rather than lose his father’s love or pleasure in him. He would do anything at all . . . rather than feel the loss of his father in any way at all.

Bill’s father may seem like a god to him, too. A god missing in action. A god who was absent but for a brief time many years too late. He may make up a myth about his father’s greatness. He may bend over backwards to incorporate little things he experienced of or with his father into his life. He may turn himself inside out to do great things in spite of his father’s absence, and he too may work extra hard to compensate for his own father’s failures, humiliations, and shortcomings. From the place of the child he was long ago – still alive inside him today – he would do this rather than feel the loss he already experienced. He would do anything at all . . . rather than feel the abandonment by his father in any way at all.

When examining politics, people look for the politician’s agenda. What is the candidate’s agenda as he or she campaigns for office? Or . . . when in office? We might think the agenda is one thing on one level of being. Like, for example, raising taxes, cutting taxes, or leaving taxes where they are. Or another example, helping the poor, helping the rich, helping everybody, helping nobody at all except yourself. We can point to parties that advocate these agendas. We can cite philosophies that support these agendas.

But what if these are not the agendas at all? And what if the real agendas aren’t what we think they are? What if the thing we keep missing – if we refuse to truly understand the psyches of human beings to their root – is the unconscious agenda of the psyche? What if the thing we keep refusing to know is that people will do anything to hold their early pain at bay? To keep it away? To keep it buried? To never ever feel it? And that unfortunately our society supports and normalizes this, causing great harm to our society? (But that for another time.)

What if the descriptions of men above are characterizations – however accurate or inaccurate, however complete or incomplete – of Mitt Romney and Barack Obama. And what if their real agendas – perhaps unknown even to themselves – is to keep at bay feelings and fears of the threat of loss of father’s love and or father himself . . . or the actual loss of father’s love and of father himself?

What if these men’s political agendas are reflections of these primal root agendas? Now how do we – as citizens, as voting citizens — think and feel about their agendas? Now how do we, as voting citizens, think and feel about their candidacy? Now . . . how do we discern how our own primal agendas affect our choice of a candidate with his primal agenda? And how do we do this exploration now . . . in the time left between today and the election on November 6th?

Can you see this crucial picture? How we decide who we’re going to vote for depends not only on the primal agenda of the candidates . . . but also upon our own primal agendas. Or more importantly, if we are to be able to truly know and understand someone else’s primal agenda, we’re going to have to truly know and understand our own.

How are you going to explore this before Election Day? What you choose to do – or not do – will have an effect on you, your family, your community, our country, and our world for generations to come.

Imagine what our world would be like . . . if we were to even begin to cultivate and co-create a society in which we reach for and work for deep self-awareness instead of denial . . . healing to the root instead of normalizing and the status quo . . . transformation toward and into our truly greatest potential instead of dumbing down and numbing ourselves and each other.

© Judith Barr, 2012

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.

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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.

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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!