HAUNTED – NOW WHAT?

We are haunted. Not only on Halloween, but every day of the year.
Not only every day, but every month. Every year. Every decade. Every century.

We are haunted not only by our own personal ghosts, but also by those of our ancestors. And if we don’t find a healthy way to heal the haunting  …
… we will continue to create and escalate destruction and trauma for ourselves, our children, and each other.
… those who come after us will be haunted not only by their own personal ghosts, but also by those of their ancestors – us.

What is this haunting?
The traumas we experienced long, long ago that we have buried,
that we insist on keeping beneath our awareness,
that we persist in holding at bay,
that we refuse to heal.

What is this haunting?
The traumas that have collected in our minds, bodies, hearts, and souls
and are still alive within us today.
Those still-living traumas that – whether we realize it or not – keep creating traumas …
for we, ourselves – inside and out.
for those around us, close by and far away – inside and out.
for those in our communities, neighborhoods, nations, and planet.

What is this haunting?
The individual and collective traumas of our ancestors – yours and mine –
that were not healed, so instead got passed down …
to us, to our families, to our societies, to our world.

It boggles minds and hearts that so many of us
do not want to know we have trauma still alive within us
that is driving us – too often destructively – both subtly and blatantly in our lives.

It strains credulity and breaks hearts
that we choose to create more and more trauma in our world
today and tomorrow …
rather than face and do the inner work to heal
the trauma still alive within us
from yesterday and yesteryears.

It breaks my heart
that we choose to create trauma in our world
now and in the future
rather than face ourselves and
do our inner healing work
to heal the trauma we carry with us from our own past.

What is the state of your heart
if you can continue to make such a choice …
knowing the consequences?

 WHAT YOU CAN DO TO HELP HEAL THE HAUNTING?

*You can read How Did We Get Here? My recently published book that explores our haunting by trauma much more deeply. It can help you in many ways, including … informing you and helping you reflect more deeply.

*You can work with me individually.  If you are able to do in-person sessions at least periodically, and live in Connecticut, New York, or Florida and can do phone sessions for the remaining sessions . . . we can work together towards your healing your trauma.

*You can work with me in community.
Margaret Mead’s words have always touched hearts and souls:

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world;
indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

I lead a group of women who meet on a monthly basis, who have worked deeply and committedly for years to heal their wounds and traumas to the root.
These women know that they are not only doing their own healing, but are also participating in the healing of our country and our world.
They know the real healing needs to be done from the inside out.

They know the truth – that every one of us, even if we don’t blatantly act out destructively, plays a part in the destructiveness that is occurring and escalating today.
They know the reality that we all are part of the patriarchy, and they are working to heal the patriarchy within themselves.

They are unique, self-responsible, integritous, caring women, passionate about doing their own healing work, and aware of how combining individual work with this group work multiplies boundlessly both the support and the healing.

They would welcome new women to join this safe group — women who have these same qualities, intentions and the commitment and longing to heal and help heal.

This group is certainly one that fits Margaret Mead’s description of a group that can change the world.

© Judith Barr, 2018

WHERE HAVE I BEEN? WHERE AM I GOING?

WHERE HAVE WE BEEN? WHERE ARE WE GOING?

Hello dear readers …

I’ve been on a very different schedule with my blog posts lately.
It feels important that I don’t leave you wondering, but instead let you know why.

The last articles you received from me were
April 1st, June 15th, and June 21st.
Between April 1st and June 15th, I was leading my annual Sacred Circle 6-day residential intensive.
And . . . in the midst of the intensive, we experienced the tornado that hit my state, town, neighborhood, and my own home and grounds.
I felt I could offer you so much in a preview on trauma, as related to the tornado.
And then I sent you a more in depth article on trauma in our world today on the day of the summer solstice.

Since then . . . no blog post has come forth.
I have been witnessing, holding, and feeling what is going on in our country and our world.
I have been seeking within to find what is in truth and love to offer to you . . .
What would be most useful and valuable to you individually and to us nationally and internationally.

I have been consistently aware of the tale of the frog in the water.
If the frog were put in a pot of water that was boiling,
it would jump right out.
But the frog isn’t put in boiling water.
It is, instead, put in a pot of just warm water.
It stays there contentedly.
Gradually the water temperature is raised.
The frog is not aware of the impending danger…
until it is too late.

The tale of the frog is a mirror to us
to be aware of and to respond – from the deepest levels –
to the threats that have been coming gradually
in our lives, in our country, in our world.

As I’ve been attuned moment by moment to what is occurring …
my muse has helped me give birth to a book, deeply explaining how we really got where we are today
and what we need to do in response.
I’m in the midst of getting the book ready to make available to you and others all over the world.

Many blessings to you all until . . .
Judith

PS If you would like an inscribed copy of the book, I will let you know how you can make that happen
in my newsletter.  Sign up for it at:  https://judithbarr.com/judith-barr-newsletter/

 

 

 

SEXUAL ABUSE: OUR COUNTRIES MIRROR OUR FAMILIES

Although it is starting to come out in the open in the U.S. …
This occurs not only in the U.S. but all over our world.

There is a growing list of men who are being exposed for having sexually abused women, men, and children … not only in the recent past but in years long ago. This ugly and painful aspect of the patriarchy has been known, yet kept secret, for far too long.  For too long there have been:  the one who perpetrated the sexual abuse, the one who was victimized by him, and those who colluded with the perpetrator – each for his or her own reasons. We recently got a very public glimpse into this dynamic when the accusations against Harvey Weinstein in the U.S. (and abroad) started coming out into the open in the public realm. An even more public view of the perpetrator-victim-colluder dynamic is being seen as Roy Moore, candidate for Senate from Alabama and former Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, denies his sexual abuse of young women and even worse … of children. Those in collusion with him, support his denials with all sorts of guises – from his “godliness,” to the guise of his “innocence,” to claims of dirty politics by the other side, to the insistence on voting for him even if he did these things … just to keep the other side from winning.

This plague of sexual abuse – isn’t only limited to male abusers. It also includes women.  But still it is part of the patriarchy – which includes men and women. And the women who stand by their abuser husbands are definitely part of the patriarchy.  Just like the women who stood by Clarence Thomas were part of the patriarchy, when Anita Hill was exposing to the world his sexual abuse.

The sexual abuse aspect of the patriarchy – and the destructive patriarchy itself – must end. How? Through healing to the root. When? Now.

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

When the sexual abuse is over…
The end has only just begun.
The end of sexual abuse in the church.
The end of sexual abuse on the couch – in the therapy room.
The end of sexual abuse in entertainment, by producer, director, agent, actor.
The end of sexual abuse in business – the board room, the CEO’s office, the supply room.
The end of sexual abuse in the doctor’s office, the hospital, the ambulance.
The end of sexual abuse in sports, by coaches.
The end of sexual abuse by national and world leaders, by government officials, and
candidates running for office.
These brave women and even men … they’re exposing the abusers, one by one by one.
The numbers grow and flood the news.
The exposure gives hope to millions of women and also to men.
Hope for the end of sexual abuse.

But alas, that will not come
until …
the exposure of sexual abuse in families
all across our nation,
all across our world,
has taken us closer to the roots of the painful experience …
closer to the source of the wound that causes the wound of sexual abuse.

Though committed by men and women alike,
sexual abuse is a scourge in our world.
In too many places, an accepted scourge,
a normalized scourge,
a way of life.
A wound that’s passed down,
generation to generation,
mostly by men.
Acted out upon women, and other men,
and innocent children.

Innocent children …
needing, trusting, loving freely,
hopeful, growing, expressing, being.
Innocent children
stopped in their tracks.
Frightened, frozen, running away,
frightened, angry, fighting against …
Stopped on the path to becoming their selves.

Innocent children …
Powerless in the face of the sexual abuse.
Powerless in the face of the grossly distorted sexuality.
Powerless in the face of the grossly distorted use of power over them.
By someone who …
once was an innocent child sexually abused himself.
Once was an innocent child powerless in the face of distorted sexuality.
Once was an innocent child powerless in the face of distorted use of power.
Once was an innocent child who so deeply wounded,
turned into someone else.

Those who have been sexually abused in their families,
alone in a patriarchal family culture,
are terrified of telling their experiences of being sexually abused.
They’re frightened of not being believed.
They’re frightened of being blamed and scape-goated.
They’re afraid of being humiliated, threatened, abused.
They’re terrified at the possibility of being cast out, abandoned.
If all those possible consequences of talking
are intolerable to an adult in the entertainment industry,
how can they be at all bearable to a child?

When the sexual abuse is over …
The end has only just begun.
The end won’t be completed until
we want to know.
But we don’t want to know.
Too few of us want to know.
Too few of us want to know the truth.
Too few of us are willing to go through the fear
and through the painful feelings
the truth will bring.
Too many of us want to defend ourselves against
the truth and all those feelings …
the consequences be damned.

And they are …
the consequences are damned by the willful defense
and denial of the painful truth.

So when you defend against the reality of sexual abuse –
somebody else’s or your own …
you fan the flames of sexual abuse at its roots.
And when you defend against the reality of sexual abuse –
the abuse you, yourself have committed …
you fan the flames of sexual abuse at its roots
in your family and in families all over our world.

But should you dare to end your denial …
you have begun to contribute to the end of this horrible wound.
And should you dare to dissolve your defenses against this painful wound …
you have begun to feed the end of this terrible wound.
You have begun to feed the end of the wound of sexual abuse
not only out in the world in public arenas,
but even more importantly …
right at its source …
right in the homes of families all over our world.

© Judith Barr, 2017

 

 

 

 

 

IT’S A YEAR LATER AND …

It’s anniversary time!
Anniversaries are deeper, more complex, and more profound than we know …
including the anniversary of the 2016 election in the U.S.

Almost a year has passed since the 2016 election. The anniversary will be on November 8th. Anniversaries are intriguing times. On some of them we celebrate. On some, we mourn … or continue to mourn. Some we acknowledge and honor the occasion. And others we may not even consciously remember. But somewhere inside us, there is an awareness or memory of the anniversary … and it is experienced by us in different ways, no matter how deep it is buried, no matter how aware or unaware we are of the experience.

Let’s say a parent or a sibling died when you were very young … too young to know dates. Every year on the anniversary of that loved one’s death – leading up to it and following it, too – you might feel lost and alone, and not even realize why. You might feel heavy-hearted, or you might cry easily and frequently without any obvious here and now cause. Maybe your chest will ache, right where your heart is.

Or perhaps you were in a car accident when you were a teenager. Whether or not you even remember the actual date or the event itself, when the anniversary comes ‘round, you may have physical symptoms that are your body’s reactions to the accident and its aftermath … perhaps back spasms, headaches, or even an illness that is your body’s way of remembering the accident.

Maybe you needed surgery at some point in your life. On the anniversary of the discovery that you were ill, on the anniversary of the surgery itself, or even through the time and space between the two, you might find yourself ill again … once more, without any awareness at all of the anniversary or the events that originally occurred.

On the anniversary of a painful event in your life, both childhood and beyond, it’s also possible that you might create something in your life that could show the anniversary memory is in the process of trying to come into consciousness. You might act out in some way. You might find yourself drinking, binge eating, being short-tempered, driving less safely than you usually do, picking a fight with someone close, or not wanting to get out of bed.

To help resolve the “anniversary syndrome” (my phrase), it takes bringing the anniversary and the original event into awareness. It takes working with and through the experience that occurred the first time. It takes feeling the feelings and expressing them in a safe and healthy way, with someone who can support and help you with all that’s inside, and for the purpose of healing.

In the United States, we are right now in the immediate lead-up to the first anniversary of the 2016 election. It is affecting all of us … not just in the U.S., but all over the world. Not just in our awareness, but also beneath our awareness. Not just the adults of our country and world, but also our precious children. The impact is from the here and now – the current year since November 8, 2016. And the impact is from long ago – anything from our past that has been triggered by all that has occurred in the outer world since last year’s election.

It is impacting us in ways we need to explore. It is impacting us in ways we need to work with. It is impacting us in ways we need to heal … first within ourselves and then in the world outside us.

It’s the anniversary of 11/8/2016 – the election in the United States.

How are you reacting … on the surface, a little beneath the surface, and way deep within yourself? For your sake, for your children’s sake, for the sake of us all … I urge you to do your healing work with this anniversary.

© Judith Barr, 2017

HARVEY AND IRMA

The foreboding that came with the forecasts of Harvey and Irma was real.
The trepidation that preceded the hurricanes was real.
The dread as they came closer and closer escalated.
The panic as they hit was beyond measure.
The surges after the landfall, terrifying, as well.
The devastation done on every level of being, surreal, yet all too real.
The trauma experienced mentally, emotionally, and physically was massive.
The impact long-lasting … longer lasting than we even want to know.

For those of us who don’t live where the hurricanes caused their visible, physical damage … most of us are on to other things. Certainly, the media is. Those, however, who lived right there in the wake of the storms are left with unimaginable months and even years of grieving, clean-up and restoration, along with triggers to be triggered every time clouds darken the skies, winds start to blow, rains come, there is a forecast of a hurricane … who knows what might trigger the memories and feelings from Harvey and Irma?

Who knows what might trigger the memories and feelings for those who witnessed these mammoth storms? And who knows what these storms themselves may have triggered for those living through it up close and personal, as well as those living through it from afar?

We all go through storms in our lives – inside and out – and those storms stay with us, some in our awareness and some beneath our conscious memory. Birth is a storm common to us all. Being born is like a storm to a tiny being. Just imagine – pushed, out of control, by forces bigger than you, out of your home toward someplace unknown, flooded with feelings you can’t even express, and it feels like – and may even actually be – life and death!

Even if we just explore the example of birth, the original experience is a trauma. The memories and feelings of that trauma are long-lasting. The cues that can trigger memory and emotion are beyond count. The attempt to hold at bay the experience in all its painful and frightening aspects is beneath consciousness for most of us. And how many of us realize there are consequences in our lives – individual and communal – that come from the storm of being born and our attempts to bury and hold that storm at bay?

For starters … we hold back on giving birth in our lives. Perhaps we hold back on allowing new inspirations that could change our lives – our personal and our global lives – for the better. Perhaps we hold back on putting those inspirations into action. Perhaps we put them into action but then freeze half-way through, three-quarters of the way through, or just before the moment of birth. Defending ourselves, without our even realizing it, from feeling again and re-experiencing the storm of our own birth into this world.

And if this is true of something so natural as birth, imagine how true it is of other traumas – unnatural traumas we experience even as tiny little children! Abuse, neglect, loss, abandonment, and more. These traumas occur more often than we imagine. To more children than we want to imagine.

Those children – each in their own way, each related to their own personal storms – are triggered when, for example:
The foreboding comes with the forecasts of a storm. (Dad comes home to find Mom in a bad mood.)
The trepidation comes that precedes yet another hurricane, real in their own life. (Dad storms out and slams the door.)
The dread escalates as the storm comes closer and closer. (Dad calls from the bar and says he’ll be home in an hour.)
The panic is beyond measure as the next storm hits. (Dad walks in the door and yells at Mom as he walks in their room.)
The surge after the new storm’s landfall is terrifying, as well. (Mom is sobbing and screaming; the children are sobbing, too.)
The devastation done on every level of being, is surreal, yet all too real. (The imprint of the storm on everyone is real.)
The trauma experienced mentally, emotionally, and physically is massive.
The impact of the storms before and yet-another-storm is long-lasting … longer lasting than we even want to know.

And those children – ourselves included – take steps to defend ourselves against the floods of memories and feelings. As children, these steps are crucial for our sanity and our lives. As we grow, those same defenses are in place as part of our being, and they become reflexive and involuntary in response to certain triggers. But those steps may also create new steps and new storms and new terror and devastation.

One of the first things I learned in my training as a depth psychotherapist – our defenses end up creating the very thing we are defending against. So, we end up creating more storms when we defend against the original storms. The storms we create may be emotional, mental, physical, spiritual. This could help us understand how we have played a role in the drastic changes in our climate that are giving birth to new bigger, and more devastating storms.

If we don’t heal our storms, we won’t be able to sense, see, hear, feel, or act upon dangers when they are right in front of us. We may freeze, fight, or flee instead of taking the kind of action that is needed.

As harm begins to appear on the horizon, if more of us had healing from our once-childhood storms – now storms within us – the dangers we are experiencing now in our world might have been stopped … awhile back, long ago, or in their tracks.

With each original storm, there is so much grieving, clean up, restoration, and healing that needs to be done – within ourselves. And with each storm after that, the repair needed on every level of being is multiplied beyond measure.

But we can heal from our original storms, and the many storms we experienced after that in our young lives, and those we re-enacted in our lives as we grew. By healing, we can help decrease the storms in our lives, in the lives of our children, and in the lives of our world.

By healing, we can help decrease the storms that are within our control. And perhaps there are more storms within our control than we can imagine before we do the healing. This is the hope! The healing is the hope!

© Judith Barr, 2017.

NOTE: This same understanding could be related to the earthquakes in Mexico and New Zealand, wildfires in the western US, flooding in India, terrorist attacks in Europe, and more …

A Lesson from The Breakfast Club: The Shooting of the Lawmaker

Recently, at a morning baseball practice for a political party’s team, planning to play its opposition team in a charity game … some of those present were shot by a single shooter. The member of the team most seriously injured was GOP Representative Steve Scalise, House Majority Whip.  I’m so sorry he and others were injured. I’m sorry the others there at the practice were traumatized by the violence. They are all in my heart and prayers.

At the same time, there is so much for us to learn from this incident.

After the shooting, there were many responses … from members of Representative Scalise’s own party. Representative Mark Sanford said on the “Morning Joe” show that the President has unleashed demons.*

“I would argue that the president is at least, is partially – not totally – but partially to blame for demons that have been unleashed … The fact that you have the top guy saying I wish I can hit you in the face. If not, why don’t you and I’ll pay your legal fees. That’s bizarre. We ought to call it as such. What I’ve said back home, some of these people have been frankly weird and different in a town hall meeting. I say what is going on. They’ll say look, if the guy at the top can say anything to anybody at any time, why can’t I? I think we all need to look for ways to learn from what happened yesterday and to say, wait a minute, this is a pause moment. What might I do a little differently in the way I reached out to other members.”

Other representatives said they would be more careful of how they speak.  And the House Majority and Minority Leaders spoke of unity. Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, maintained, “We are united. We are united in our shock. We are united in our anguish. An attack on one of us is an attack on all of us.” **  He followed up, claiming, “… but we do not shed our humanity when we enter this chamber. For all the noise and all the fury, we are one family.” ** And Nancy Pelosi shared about praying. “And so I pray, my prayer is that we can resolve our differences in a way that furthers the preamble to the constitution, takes us closer to e pluribus unum … It’s in the family.” ***

And while Ryan spoke of unity, the same party is sneaking a health care bill through congress with the intention of no one being able to read it or know what it says before the vote on it. The bill, it is said, may be devastating for millions in relation to their insurance, their financial well-being, and their standing vis-a-vis the wealthiest in our nation.

The lesson at a deep level – inner and outer …

So let’s start with the claim that we are united and the prayer for “out of many, one.”  There is within each of us a longing for unity – unity in the outer world and unity in the inner world.  There is within us the longing for union … union as we knew it when we were babies, union as we envision it when we fall in love, and union as we envision it when we reach for the Divine as we know it.

This is definitely part of us. Whether we know it or not, whether we can claim it or not, whether we create it or not.

Right there inside us, though, along with the longing for union, are other aspects of each of us … again, whether we know it or not, whether we can claim it or not, whether we act it out or only fantasize it.

There is the part of us who sneaks and manipulates to win and get our way.
There is the part of us who lies, or wants to lie, or wonders how come “they” get away with lying.
There is the part of us who bullies, or wants to bully – mentally, emotionally, verbally, and even spiritually.
There is the part of us who takes that bullying, or fantasizes taking that bullying, to the level of physical violence … anywhere from spanking a little child, to beating up a school mate, to shooting a lawmaker, to bombing or running a car into a crowd of innocent people.
There is the part of us who is and/or feels powerless.
There is the part of us who is powerless and finds or fantasizes a way to be powerful by misusing and abusing our power, in all sorts of ways small and large, hidden and obvious.
There is the part of us who finds or fantasizes a way to be powerful by fanning the flames of others’ bullying, of others’ acting out the misuse and abuse of power… by giving false permission to others to unleash their demons.
There is the part of us who is powerless and finds or fantasizes a way to be powerful by using our power for magnificent good.

Years and years ago, famous actor Cary Grant spoke of this simply, when he said: “You have all things inside you: love and hate. You can use your love to exhaust your hate.”****

Current day spiritual teacher and activist, Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh speaks to this same truth, that we are each every side of the problem, or situation, when he says in his poem, “Please Call Me by My True Names,”

“I am the twelve-year-old girl,
Refugee on a small boat,
Who throws herself into the ocean after being raped by a sea pirate,
And I am the pirate, my heart not yet capable of seeing and loving.”*****

Brother Phap Dung, who lives at Nhat Hanh’s Plum Village monastery in France, teaches that our greatest enemies are gifts to us. ****** They show us aspects of ourselves that we cannot see directly in ourselves. In that way, they give us the possibility for healing. Trump can be our scapegoat, or we can see him and heal through the knowledge that we have elements of Trump in us.

Even before 9/11, I taught this in my sessions and workshops, and especially in workshops in response to current events. After 9/11, however, I felt called to take this understanding further out into the world. Many people were afraid to see and explore it. Nevertheless, teaching people that there is a terrorist in each of us, felt, was, and still is a profound part of our healing individually and globally. If we don’t see it … If we don’t feel it … If we don’t know it … we can continue to believe that the other guy or the other gal is the terrorist, not us. The result: we can continue to bad-mouth and fight against the other.  If we do see it, feel it, know it … we can do our own inner work to heal the terrorist within (or some other aspect of ourselves); and by doing that we can remove some of the energy of terrorism from our life and the life of our world.

And finally for now … there’s “The Breakfast Club,” the 1985 John Hughes movie about life through the eyes and hearts of teens.  Five students in 1984 are sent to detention on a Saturday morning. The assistant principal, who is in charge of detention, instructs them to write an essay of 1000 words, saying “who you think you are.”

Right before the end of the day, four of the five ask Brian, the student considered “the brain,” to write the essay for all of them. He does, and he writes a letter that definitely speaks for them all.

“ … we think you’re crazy to make us write an essay telling you who we think we are. You see us as you want to see us—in the simplest terms, in the most convenient definitions. But what we found out [today] is that each one of us is a brain … and an athlete … and a basket case … a princess  … and a criminal. Does that answer your question?” *******

Brian signs the letter: The Breakfast Club

All of this and more is within us. Even the teenagers in The Breakfast Club learned this.

We, who think of ourselves as adults in our world, can refuse to see what’s within ourselves, and instead see it only in those around us. In that way, we continue to create further conflict, separation, and destruction.

We can choose to see what is within us and can choose to utilize our seeing it to create further conflict, separation, and destruction. We can see the destructiveness in ourselves and others and instead of holding ourselves and others accountable, call both bad for it, making matters worse. We can see what is within us and refuse to understand and acknowledge the effect it has on others, even if we don’t act it out.

Or we can utilize what we see to help ourselves do the healing that is crying out for help all over the world. To see the destructiveness in both ourselves and each other, hold both accountable but not call anyone bad, and utilize the destructiveness in ourselves for healing.

My prayer … that we use it for healing.

© Judith Barr, 2017

*Morning Joe, June 15, 2017

** http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2017/jun/14/paul-ryan-we-are-united/?utm_source=RSS_Feedutm_medium=RSS

*** http://www.democraticleader.gov/newsroom/61417-3/

**** Becoming Cary Grant, 2017 movie. “Now I know that I hurt every woman I loved. Oh my God, humanity please come in. My attitude toward women was now different. I could be a good husband now.”

*****“Please Call Me By My True Names” by Thich Nhat Hanh, 1978

****** http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/zen-and-the-art-of-activism_us_58a118b6e4b094a129ec59af

******* http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0088847/synopsis

WE’RE ALL TRIGGERED – WHETHER WE KNOW IT OR NOT

There is plenty for us to have feelings about in today’s world. Plenty of feelings in the here and now. And what is going on in the U.S. today is an ample source of our current, in-the-moment feelings.

But in addition to the current feelings we’re experiencing, all over the world we’re all “triggered” by what’s going on in the U.S. – whether we know it or not. And if we don’t know it, we feed the triggers, the being triggered, and the lack of awareness in both ourselves and others.

Triggered. A word in the healing arts that means something is being awakened beneath our awareness, buried at some time in our past – especially our early life – something we are reacting to with feelings, thoughts, and actions, while either having no idea of what we’re doing or why, or while believing our thoughts, feelings and reactions are in response to some experience in the current day.

If that is where we stay, we will be stuck. Stuck believing we’re acting in response to the here and now, while we’re really reacting to something in our past. Stuck believing we’re acting as mature adults in the current day, while we’re actually acting like children in a time long, long ago. Stuck believing we are helping to solve or resolve what’s going on right here and right now, while we’re really still defending against what happened to us in days long past. Convinced we are having truly here and now feelings – and nothing but – while we are having feelings that are more in the range of 95% from the past and 5% here and now.

How do we resolve something in the here and now, when we’re still stuck in the past? We don’t! No matter how hard we try!

In order to resolve something in the here and now when we’re still stuck in the past . . . we need to become aware. We need to tease apart the past from the present. We need to heal the place(s) we’re stuck that are still alive within us. We need to use our feelings from that stuck place in the past to help in the healing. So that when the healing is done – and even in process – we’ll have a better sense of which feelings are here and now and which are from long, long ago.

Here’s an example:
Andy is terrified by all the lying that is going on in the US Government. He’s afraid of the lying taking place in the US public. He’s afraid of the lying that is being acted out and of the lying that is being believed. It terrifies him. If you ask him what it reminds him of, he says “Nothing. It’s just scary to see so many people lying day in and day out. And it’s as scary to see how many people accept the lies as the truth.”

But if I were able to help Andy go deeper and younger into his childhood experiences still alive inside him, we would find out … he was terrified as a little boy, day in and day out. His father lied every day when he smacked Andy’s mother and claimed it was her fault, that she wasn’t loving enough. When he punched Andy’s older brother and said if he’d gotten better grades, this wouldn’t be necessary. When he kicked Andy and told him if he were better behaved, there would be no need for these kicks. Andy was terrified of his father’s lying, and of his brutality.  Of course his brutality. But there was something about his lying that turned Andy upside down and inside out.

No one contradicted Andy’s father’s lies. Not his mother, not his older brother, not anyone in the family or neighborhood who witnessed these scenes. It appeared to little Andy in the silence that everyone believed father’s lies, and that everyone thought they were true. And it made it hard for Andy to stay with his gut instinct that father wasn’t telling the truth. In that sense, it made him feel kind of crazy. And that, also, was terrifying.

If Andy will only allow me to help him with the young experiences and feelings, he can come back from the deep work – the deep inner exploration and healing – more able to stand in the here and now knowing of the culture of lying that people are attempting to create … not feeling crazy, without the real here and now fear impinged upon by the real once-upon-a-time fear from his childhood, and having a deep sense of knowing how he needs to respond in the face of today.

So Andy has a choice:

*to keep avoiding his own early pain and fear; and, as a result, be out of touch with the here and now reality; and, as a result of that, help to co-create even more the culture of lying that is both being attempted in the here and now and also existed in his childhood.

or

*to do the inner exploration in such a way that he discovers the root of his terror of the lying culture, so he can take responsibility for his own healing; be accountable for the way in which his wounds had contributed to the development of the lying culture; stop feeding that cycle; and have a new sense of how to respond in the face of lying – in a matured way in the here and now.

We each have this choice.
We can each take responsibility for our part in what’s going on.
Or we can disown our responsibility.
We can each take responsibility for our triggers.
Or we can refuse to be accountable for the reality that we have been triggered.
We can each follow our triggers to their root …
or we can insist that our feeling responses to things that are going on are only here and now responses.

We can each insist that our responses are righteous and warranted in the here and now,
even if we are working for truth.
Or we can realize that there is some way in which we are being triggered
that will, in the end, not serve the greatest good …
if we don’t follow the triggers and resolve them at the root –
even if all our actions seem to serve the greatest good;
even if all the intentions we’re aware of seem to serve the greatest good;
even if we can convince ourselves that we are serving the greatest good.

Some of us are acting out – lashing out – sure our anger is justified and will help,
even if it is really destructive and not helpful at all.
Some of us are becoming activists in the outer world, each in our own way…
making calls, signing petitions, sending out information, going to protests, volunteering our help.
Taking action is absolutely needed, but it also can be a way to defend against
the deep feelings within.
And as Gloria Steinem, an activist par excellence, has said,
“Being a social activist can be a drug that keeps you from going back and looking at yourself.”*

Some of us are watching and reading reports about what is happening.
We want to know what’s going on.
We don’t want to be in the dark.
But we can become addicted to those reports.
We can use them for an adrenaline rush.
We can, unknowingly, hope they will hold our own deep feelings at bay.

Some of us are stepping away from the television and the internet. Some saying we’re trying to achieve more balance. Some, in truth, putting our head in the sand or hiding under the covers.

Whatever we are doing that is, in fact, in the greater good, that doesn’t mean we have no triggers that need to be tended. We all do.

All of us. Everyone on every level of the government in every country in the world. Every member of the media all over the world. Every citizen in every country in the world. And not only are we feeling the impact of our triggers … our children are feeling the impact of our triggers, too.  With no way to hold it, no way to ask about it, no way to process it.

If you ask me if I’m having feelings in this time, I would say, “Of course I am! We all are.”
If you ask me what I do with these feelings, I would say, “I do my own inner work to find out which are here and now feelings and which are feelings from the past that are being triggered.
I follow the feelings to times and feelings long, long ago and utilize what I discover for healing.  I utilize the current feelings and the healing I do with the past feelings to support me in finding what I’m called to do today … in Love and Truth.”

If I ask you if you’re having feelings in this time, what would you say?
If I ask you what you do with these feelings, what would you say?
If I ask you what you do when you’re triggered, what would you say?
If I ask you what efforts you’re making to do your own inner healing, what would you say?
If I ask you if you are truly serving the greatest good or merely defending against your own early feelings and wounds, what would you say?
If I ask you what are you going to do now, what will you say?

© Judith Barr, 2017

* From the synopsis for the HBO documentary, “In Her Own Words,” http://www.hbo.com/documentaries/gloria-in-her-own-words/synopsis.html

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

We are all triggered sometimes … more often than most of us can imagine. It is crucial that we become aware of the times we’re being triggered and commit to explore and heal the ancient feelings that can become enmeshed with our here-and-now feelings.

Whenever you have feelings that are much stronger than the situation truly warrants … refrain from acting on them. Rather, trace those feelings back as far as you can into your past. When, and in what situation, was the last time you felt this particular feeling? And when was the time before that? And the time before that? Trace the feeling as far back as you can … and, with the help of a caring, integritous healing professional, begin or deepen the journey to heal those feelings to the root.

Won’t you join me, and commit to truly healing the feelings triggered in you to the root … for your sake and for the sake of our world?

We’re Forgetting and It’s Dangerous: Don’t Forget! Remember …

In these crucial times in our world and our countries,
and in this election time in the U.S …
there are many times between my usual once-monthly newsletters
that I feel called to write to you
for teaching, intriguing, inspiring, and awakening.
In these months you may receive more frequent articles,
as I am called to write them. 

I hope you will use these well …
for yourself and for our world.
I hope you will use these well …
to help inform, intrigue, inspire, and awaken others with me. 

Many blessings …
Judith

In a world that too often naively and carelessly, though authoritatively, tells us to “get over it” and “move on,” we each need to know how damaging that advice is and how damaging the consequences. If we ignore the damage, we will individually and together continue to wreak havoc in our world … in our own lives and in life on our earth. That is especially and more obviously true right at this point in our individual and communal crossroads.

One of the most vocal spokespeople for the importance of remembering has been Elie Wiesel, Holocaust survivor and Nobel laureate. When Elie died July 2, 2016, he left that responsibility to those of us who know the profound and crucial need for us to remember. The need for us to remember individually. And the need for us to remember communally. What we don’t remember, we will inevitably repeat – consciously or unconsciously; by ourselves or with others; intentionally or unintentionally; obviously or obscurely; right out in the open or under a guise.

This is a time in our world where the need to remember is perhaps more important than ever before … both in our world, and in our own countries. And certainly in the U.S.

Elie Wiesel spoke brilliantly about forgetting and remembering in his Nobel Prize lecture in 1986:

“Of course, we could try to forget the past. Why not? Is it not natural for a human being to repress what causes him pain, what causes him shame? Like the body, memory protects its wounds. When day breaks after a sleepless night, one’s ghosts must withdraw; the dead are ordered back to their graves. But for the first time in history, we could not bury our dead. We bear their graves within ourselves.

“For us, forgetting was never an option.

“Remembering is a noble and necessary act. The call of memory, the call to memory, reaches us from the very dawn of history. No commandment figures so frequently, so insistently, in the Bible. It is incumbent upon us to remember the good we have received, and the evil we have suffered.”*

And a student of Elie Wiesel, Sonari Glinton, wrote beautifully of the lessons he learned from Wiesel about forgetting (emphasis mine):

“I remember him leaning in and asking why I would want to forget.

Memory, he said, wasn’t just for Holocaust survivors. The people who ask us to forget are not our friends. Memory not only honors those we lost but also gives us strength. In those office hours, he gave me a shield, practical words and thoughts that would help me — a gay, Nigerian, Catholic journalist. He gave me tools that would aid me in an often hostile world. Over the years, I have found myself quoting Professor Wiesel to white people who want me to ‘get over race.’ ‘That’s old.’ ‘It was a hundred years ago.’ But Professor Wiesel had been emphatic: Nothing good comes of forgetting; remember, so that my past doesn’t become your future.**

This more communal understanding of Wiesel’s insistence is more common in our world than the individual. I have quoted George Santayana in previous posts to illustrate this related to communal history. Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” ***

We need to awaken to that truth communally. But we also need to awaken to other truths that are intimately and intricately related to that one.

We need to awaken to the truth that what we repress and forget from our lives long, long ago, doesn’t disappear from our psyches and souls. And it isn’t without impact on us and those around us. In fact, it drives us from beneath our memory, to think, feel, act in ways we may not even be aware of. It drives us to repeat in our lives again and again, until we finally “get” the vicious cycle we’re in and find a way to heal it to the root.

We need to get that what we repress from our lives long ago is likely the memory and the trauma not just from our own individual ancient experience, but also most likely from the parallel experience in the culture. What is repressed and forgotten by individuals is then acted out in the culture; it is then normalized, repressed and forgotten in the culture; and that feeds its being acted out and repressed both in families and in the culture at large. It may be the extended family culture, the community culture, the state or area culture, the nation culture, or the world culture. Whichever culture it is … there is a definite vicious cycle from individual to culture to individual to culture … over and over again, until individuals start to change it in their own lives and birth that change out into the culture at last.

A brief, but blatant, example:

James grew up in an extended family where there was rampant abuse: physical, sexual, verbal, emotional. The abuse was mostly perpetrated by the men on the women and children. But in another family, it could be by the women on the men and children; or by the women, too.

In James’ family, the abuse was the weapon of the men. James was abused in all of the above ways by his father, who experienced the same in his early life, and then forgot most of it consciously and normalized the rest.

James suffered profoundly from the earliest age, when his father didn’t want to hear him cry in his crib; as a result, his dad yelled at him, threatened to throw him in the garbage, shook his crib wildly, and left the room slamming the door so hard that it came off its hinges.

James was traumatized, repressed the memories for his sanity and safety, and swore – once he was old enough to be aware – that he would never treat his children that way.

Yet, James grew up, married, and had a family. And sure enough, when his children cried (or even his wife), he would erupt into a rage and hurt the one who was crying. Rage at their crying expanded into rage at their expressing their feelings, telling the truth, holding him accountable for some hurt or mistake, and on and on…

James found himself at work trying to contain his rage when employers or co-workers triggered the same young feelings his wife and children triggered. And finally one day he attacked his boss in response to his being so deeply triggered. He swore it was a “current day” issue. He had forgotten its link to his childhood. He had no conscious connection with the link between his violent eruptive response at home or at work and the rage he felt toward his violent father from the earliest days of his life.

Too many in his life normalized all of his triggered responses, including the attack at work. Certainly his extended family did. Others weren’t so vocal about normalizing his behavior, but were afraid to confront him.

Eventually he gathered members of his family and a few co-workers who had grown up the same way he had. They all banded together to go after the boss, sure nobody could stop them. They had no idea that they were all going after their own abusive fathers, grandfathers, older brothers, uncles. They had no idea they were taking out on the boss, the abuse that had been perpetrated on them as children.

If only they had remembered what was done to them.
If only they had been able to feel the pain of what was done to them.
If only they had had the help they needed to discover which feelings to act on and which to simply feel for healing to the root.
If only they had had the help in their adult lives before the office incident.
If only they had had the help they needed as children.
All of them.
Not just James.
But even James’s having the help would have made a huge difference…
in his individual life; in his family life; in his work life; and in the impact his life had on the society.

We have to forget as children. That kind of remembering is too much for a child to bear. But when we grow up … we need to remember. We deeply need to remember so, to paraphrase Elie Wiesel, “our pasts don’t become someone else’s future.”

© Judith Barr, 2016

*http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/peace/laureates/1986/wiesel-lecture.html

**http://www.npr.org/sections/codeswitch/2016/07/14/484558040/forgetting-isnt-healing-lessons-from-elie-wiesel

*** George Santayana The Life of Reason: Reason in Common Sense. Scribner’s, 1905

If I Were A Rich Man … ‘Twas the Night Before Tax Day!

‘Twas the night before Tax Day
and all through the house
not a creature was stirring,
not even a mouse
who could nibble at a dollar bill
and carry it to build his nest
or back to his nest already-built.  

‘Twas the night before Tax Day
and all through the house
all the creatures were dreaming
of what they would do with nests full of money.
Many dreaming, like Tevye,*
that they wouldn’t have to work hard,
would have big houses right in the middle of town,
and would be thought to be wise and powerful
just because they’re rich.
Many asking, like Tevye,
“Would it spoil some vast eternal plan.
If I were a wealthy man?”**

Any day of the year is a good day to learn about money …
To learn different things about money than they teach you at home, in school, at the bank, on the job, in an accountant’s office, and certainly in the media. To learn deeper truths about money than you learn anywhere else.

Tax day is a particularly good day.

With all the issues we have related to money in our individual lives, in our national economies, and our world economy …
And of course, in our politics …
The Fiddler on the Roof song and fantasy can help us dissolve the illusions we have about money …
And learn the deepest truth about what drives us in our relationships with money.

For example …
Just because a person is rich, doesn’t mean s/he has a healthy relationship with money.
Just because a person is rich, doesn’t mean his/her relationship with money is about the here and now, and not some other time long ago.
Just because a person is rich, doesn’t mean his/her relationship with money is that of an adult.
Just because a person is rich, doesn’t mean his/her relationship with money is really about money.

*****

As a depth psychotherapist and a financial therapist, I have worked with many people over the years to help them discover the roots of their relationship with money. Despite my numerous articles, the most thorough of which is my home study course, A Recession Regression – Finding the Root of Our Relationships with Money, people often, if not usually, have the misconception that if you’re rich, you have a healthy relationship with money. Not necessarily so.

Many people I’ve worked with who were not rich, knew their relationship with money was not good for them. Many even knew it was not good for their family or our world. But until they did the depth work, they often imagined being rich would fix their relationship with money.

Many of the wealthy people I’ve worked with knew something was distorted about their relationship with money and came to me for the help to discover what. Many didn’t know, and were very surprised and thankful to find out.

People willing to go to the depths of themselves consistently discover in our work together that it is the little child they once were – still alive within them – who is truly driving their relationship with money. Sometimes experiences with money as a child do form a layer of that child’s experience driving their financial life today. But almost always there is another layer of early experience that isn’t about money at all. It’s about something going on in that child’s life, in that child’s relationships, in that child’s pains or even trauma, that ends up being transferred unconsciously onto money.

Here’s a profound example that could apply to a child who grew up to be poor or a child who grew up to be rich. Sal grew up, the oldest child in a large family: mother, father, aged maternal grandmother and grandfather, and 8 siblings.  His father worked in a factory long, long hours. His mother took in sewing so she could also be home to take care of her parents and children during the day. They were far from rich financially, and he felt it. But the greatest deprivation Sal suffered was from not having enough of his mother. She felt she had too much else to take care of, and his being the oldest, she enlisted his help taking care of the other children.

Sal decided very early in his life … before he even had words to express his decision: I’ll never have enough. It was a decision that lived in his little heart, his little body, his little mind. Later he might have had, thought, and even said the words. Or perhaps not. If he did, it is unlikely he could have realized how powerfully that early decision would affect his life, even drive his life, from his unconscious self. One thing’s for sure: it definitely would drive his life in very profound ways from the underground labyrinths of his psyche.

For instance, with an early decision of I’ll never have enough, he might struggle and struggle and work so very hard trying to make a good living, and find that no matter how hard he works, he does, in fact, end up never having enough money. He fulfills the early decision by its coming true actually in his finances, followed by his feelings.

He might also find a way to earn a really good living, bring in lots of money, and still feel he doesn’t have enough. He might change jobs, start his own business, hit a jackpot investment, and still feel he doesn’t have enough, even though he has in the current day more than enough many times over. He fulfills the early decision by its coming true in his perception and most of all in his feelings.

In both versions of Sal’s here-and-now experience, he is always experiencing and afraid of not having enough. In both versions, he is blocked by a decision he made long ago in his childhood – the decision “I’ll never have enough.” He is blocked by that decision. He is blocked by his being unaware of it. He is blocked by his transferring an experience he had with his mother onto money. And he is blocked by his own not working with this issue in his life and not healing and resolving it to its root.

Furthermore, he is not the only one impacted by his early decision and his reactions to it – his internal reactions, his relational reactions, his financial reactions. This is one of those places where it is becoming more and more obvious that we’re all connected.

Babies are not born greedy. Babies are born innocent, vulnerable, needing. It is the experiences our babies have and the unconscious early decisions they make from within those experiences that end up driving them to become greedy – greedy for money, greedy for power, greedy for attention, greedy for love … or hopeless in relation to the same things.

When you come right down to it, most of the profoundly intense feelings we feel in today’s world have their roots in the experiences of the child still alive within us from his/her world long, long ago.

If only we would do our inner work to discover the roots and to heal all the way to the roots … our world today could be a very different world.

This is not work for just one of us or just a few of us.
Every one of us who does this work helps him/herself and contributes to the communal healing.
But this is work every one of us needs to find a way to do.
For our own sakes, for our children’s sake, and for the sake of our world.

© Judith Barr 2016

*Tevye is the main character in the popular Broadway musical “Fiddler on the Roof.”

**From “If I Were A Rich Man,” song from “Fiddler on the Roof.” © 1964 Music by Jerry Bock, Lyrics by Sheldon Harnick.

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

As you begin to “wind down” from Tax Day – whether you’re rich, poor, or in-between … whether you get a refund or have to make a payment – take this wonderful opportunity to explore your true relationship with money.

Explore how you felt doing your taxes, or having them done for you. Were you tense or relaxed? Were you angry? Sad? Elated? Scared? And take some time to explore as well how you feel in the wake of this Tax Day. How do you really feel towards money? If you could speak with money, what would you say?

We all sometimes need the help of a skilled, caring professional in the things we do … and the labor of love that is exploring your relationship with money is no different. When you’re ready to go deeper into yourself, and truly heal your relationship with money, seek out a caring, integritous therapist to help you find and heal your early decisions about, and wounding to your relationship with, money.

Imagine if we all, rich and poor, did the crucial inner work to heal our relationships with money! Imagine how different our economy – and our world – would be!

A Call to Healing in the Wake of Violence

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Right now, we are failing.

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

Blessings,
Judith

© Judith Barr, 2015.

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

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

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