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


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.


It doesn’t take much to normalize humiliation in our families, in our country, and in our world. It doesn’t take much to normalize it as a way of being . . . without even calling it the abuse that it is.  It doesn’t take much to normalize it as a way of thinking and feeling, or as a way of interacting – with ourselves and with others.  The following steps are examples of how we’ve come to be part of a country and world in which humiliation is an all-too-common form of abuse.

Step 1:

On Monday, September 27, Michael Bolton dances to the song “Hound Dog” on Dancing with The Stars.
He is humiliated that night by judge Bruno Tonioli.

Step 2:

On Tuesday, September 28th, Michael Bolton has to leave the show. He doesn’t have enough points to stay…possibly in part because of the humiliation the night before.”   People are affected when they see someone humiliated. How depends upon their own experience with humiliation.

Step 3:

Michael Bolton’s wanting an apology from Bruno is discussed on Good Morning America. The hosts of the show seem to think Michael’s the one with the problem – as though humiliation is ‘normal’ and asking for an apology is ‘abnormal.’  Who once humiliated the hosts, making humiliation seem normal in the process?

Many of those commenting on the ABC blog (about half) joined in the humiliation of Bolton.

“Bolton is a cry baby loser.”
“Bolton ought to be apologizing for the way he talked after the show. He sounded like a spoilt brat…pleeze!!!”
“Guess what Michael? You can’t sing either.”

If this is what we say to Michael Bolton, this is what we say to our own children.
And this is probably what was said to us.

Step 4  . . . or is it really step 1?

Under “Bruno Tonioli” in Wikipedia,  Bruno acknowledges having been humiliated as a child for being gay.
What was done to us we do to others.
So what was done to Bruno – humiliation – he did to Michael Bolton . . . humiliate him.
No matter how much the producers of Dancing with the Stars claim Bruno was just doing his job as a judge and giving his honest opinion . . . Bruno was humiliating Michael Bolton. Who humiliated the producers when they were young, under the guise of giving their honest opinions?

Step 5:

Within the same week’s time . . . a suicide occurs in response to humiliation.
A young man’s roommate announces the secret, live streaming online of video of this young man’s sexual encounter with another student. The young man, humiliated beyond words, jumps off the George Washington Bridge.

Who humiliated the roommate – that he would humiliate this young man?
And how?
Why won’t we look at the truth?
Why won’t we see the roots of humiliation in our lives and the life of our country?

Step 6:

Members of the United States military humiliate prisoners of war at Abu Ghraib!
Who humiliated those members of the military in their childhoods that they would demean, steal the dignity of other human beings?

And how does the military itself humiliate those it trains and employs to protect US interests and fight our wars?

Step 7:

Anyone who runs as a candidate for election in the U.S. puts him/herself on the chopping block to be grossly humiliated.  Humiliated by misusing the truth. Dishonestly humiliated. Heartbreakingly humiliated. How did this become such a part of who we are as a country? Not that other countries don’t have this trait also, they do. But many of us think of ourselves as so civilized, while doing things that are so uncivilized . . .  like brutally humiliating people.  Our country. Your country. The important question is: How did this become such a part of who we are as a country? As a world?

Why won’t we look at the truth and heal it?

Because we would see a mammoth malignant growth larger than we can even imagine?
Because most people don’t want to know this?
Because most people don’t want to do the work to heal it, individually or communally?
Because most people don’t want to feel the pain of our own humiliation?
Because most people don’t want to feel the pain of our having humiliated others?

If we don’t look at this, own this, and heal it . . . Who have we become?
If we don’t?  What will we become . . . individually and communally?

© Judith Barr 2010