Archive for April 2019

Assumptions and Judgments: Are They Ruining Your Relationships? ll By Dorothy Wallis

Assumptions and Judgments: Are They Ruining Your Relationships?
By Dorothy Wallis

   We all do it, make assumptions about the intentions of others.  Words or a behavior of someone disturbs your sense of self or connection and you get triggered from the wounded place inside of you.  Suddenly your thoughts go to the worst scenario about them or your relationship with them.  Your mind goes off into a story about the meaning of their words, actions or inaction and it gets magnified.  These unconscious habits create misunderstandings, conflict, fights and assumptions about the intentions of the other person or their version of the truth.  Whenever you claim to know what was “really” going on inside of another, you are sure to induce a collision of realities.  The battle becomes “whose version is right?”  In all probability neither of you is 100% correct.  

Truth or Story?

   Assumptions are suppositions or theories that are not based upon certain truth.  They are conclusions based upon prior experience, preconceived notions, biases and even prejudice.  When you understand that an assumption is an assertion of truth rather than a fact then an assumption is an important element for discovering the truth.  Whereas judgment is, “the ability to make considered decisions or come to sensible conclusions.” It is also “the process of forming an opinion or evaluation by discerning and comparing.”  Good judgment employs critical thinking, which involves evaluating facts and observable phenomena leading to reasonable conclusions.  Are your assumptions coming from first hand knowledge or from an outside source, second hand gossip or something conjured up in your imagination?  Assumptions and judgments become a liability when you “Jump” to a conclusion and leave out the sensible part or have not checked out the facts.  These evaluations can form out of a habitual way of seeing someone instead of being present to the reality of the person in front of you.

“Real magic in relationships means an absence of judgment of others.” 

~ Wayne Dyer

Everyday Assumptions

   You are at work and you walk past your office mate and she is talking in hushed tones to another coworker.  When they see you, they suddenly stop their conversation and look away.  What races through your mind?  Are they talking about you?  You might think they are mad at you, or ignoring you, or they don’t like you, or don’t want to include you, or are dissing you in some other way.  If your partner comes home and doesn’t bother to say anything to you and goes straight to the bedroom or office, what do you think is happening?  Do you think the behavior is about you?  If your wife is working overtime night after night or your husband is continually leaving on another business trip, you may create the story that they don’t care about you.  Perhaps your partner lies on the couch every night and doesn’t talk or want to do anything.  Do you fear he or she is no longer interested in being with you?  Do you judge them as being lazy or irresponsible?  When people are grumpy, sad, distant, angry or rude or haven’t connected with you in a long time, do you start to wonder about the stability of your relationship with them?

   Notice your first thoughts.  Do you believe that whatever is going on with them has to do with you, or is your first thought that this person is experiencing something that is about them?  What is the difference in your response to each?

   Your inner assumptions will change depending upon the meaning you give the behavior of the other person.  This will also affect the way you interact.  You may be more inclined to approach a friend or partner with curiosity, caring and wonder when you believe something is going on with them that has nothing to do with you.

“It is Unreasonable to Believe that You will Unconditionally Receive Everything You Need In Relationship Including Love”  ~ Dorothy Wallis

Assumptions based Upon Expectations

   We go into relationship with friends and loved ones with a bucket load of expectations.  Most of these come from our image of what constitutes our perception of relationship and what we desire from it.  The biggest assumption is expecting our needs to be met with the presumption that others will magically know how to love and care for us.  This pressure of expectation is especially apparent in intimate partner relationships.  Your partner comes from a different set of needs and perceptions about relationship and how to love.  It is up to you to let your partner know what makes you happy, your preferences, and how to love you.

   No one goes through life unscathed.  You both have a history of hurt that enters making it unreasonable to believe that you will unconditionally receive everything you need.  Difficulties will arise.  You learn how to love yourself and others through the ups and downs and disappointments in relationship.  It is the best way to discover what you need and what helps you grow.  Heartful communication and negotiation opens a door to understand your own needs and desires and your loved one’s.

Assumptions based Upon Past Experience

   If there has been tension or an ongoing issue in your relationship that is unresolved your perception of the other person will include judgments from your recent experience.  Perhaps your friend or partner has lied to you or betrayed you in the past.  It is easy to leap into hasty judgment and suspicion when incongruities in their words or behavior occur.  It can throw you into a deeply wounded place.  You may bypass being curious and checking out what is going on with them in the present moment.  Their past actions and behaviors are certainly pertinent and not to be ignored.  Yet, negative assumptions and conclusions can build into an explosive dynamic when you respond from a wounded place instead of reasoned awareness.

“Sometimes our childhood experiences are emotionally intense, which can create strong mental models.  These experiences and our assumptions about them are then reinforced in our memory and can continue to drive our behavior as adults.”  ~ Elizabeth Thornton

Illusion and the Wounded Self

   Everyone has core wounds from growing up in the world.  These surface most often in intimate relationships.  Partners are especially designed to irritate your wounds and provoke a reaction.  Negative encounters will do it.  But even changes of mood or behavior and words or phrases said in an “off hand way” by another that remind you of a past painful experience may trigger your wounds of rejection, separation, withdrawal or abandonment.  These can bring up feelings of not being accepted, capable, worthy, or the belief that something is terribly wrong with you or any feeling that disconnects you from your true self.  Fear is at the core and creates a cascading pattern of reaction.  Your reaction can range from withdrawal and distance to moving toward or against the other to protect yourself from touching the tender and vulnerable places that hurt.  The wound activates the survival mode, which contains the enormity of the past and puts it in the here and now.  Your senses have entered a virtual reality of past pain and hurt, which blinds you to the present.  As Eckhart Tolle says, you have identified with your pain body.

   When the pain body arises you are immersed in the illusion of the past and assumptions are made from past awareness without the truth of the present.  Just because you are experiencing an emotion does not make it true now.  You have disengaged from actual reality and from the person in front of you.  This is a problem because it also re-creates the pain inside of you.  As you might imagine, you will do everything possible to stop the pain.  Your mind attempts to understand the situation in order to alleviate the pain and immediately retrieves past memories and information without the context of the present.  Assumptions and judgments are made and you believe it as truth without further investigation.  This actually causes you more pain instead of relieving it.

   Have you ever been in this cycle?  Did you notice how the pain increases and anger or rejection is inflamed?  Did you ever attack someone with accusations, resentment, blame and anger or reject them and withdraw while in the trance of the pain body?

“The relationship that tests/frustrates/irritates you the most actually is one of your greatest blessings.  Why? Because it reveals to you the very beliefs/fears and false assumptions that most limit you.”
~ Robin S. Sharma

Moving Out of the Trance Pattern

   Pulling yourself back begins with being aware of your patterns of reactivity.  You have to realize that you have identified with the pain body.  Bring your attention inward and notice what is happening physically inside of your body.  You might feel an upward rush of energy in your body or a contraction of your energy.  You may experience a “shame attack” where your self-esteem shrinks or you have a feeling of insecurity.  Notice the rhythm and speed of your heartbeat.  Your bodily temperature may become hot or cold.  Relax into a pause or a temporary silence.  Let the racing of your mind calm.  The awareness itself brings your consciousness back into the present moment.

   The old reactivity patterns are strategic for survival but you don’t want to be living in survival mode.  It creates premature judgment and often faulty assumptions.  The greatest goal of your survival instinct is to be safely connected.  The task in relationship is to be open and face whatever is presented.  Receptivity allows what is actually occurring between you and another person.  Anytime internal agitation arises the survival strategies come forward.  Be aware, let the reactive pattern go, assess what is true in the moment and base your response on what you discover.  Recognize that this moment is happening now and not in the past or future.

“To Increase our Objectivity, We must Learn to Switch Off the Mini-movies. Objectivity Requires us to be Mindful, Present in the Moment, and Experiencing what is Happening Without Judgment.”
~ Elizabeth Thornton

Presence with Discernment

   Presence brings you face to face with reality.  Here is another human being.  They too have experienced pain and if they are agitated then their wounds have surfaced.  You begin to see the suffering they are experiencing.  You are focused in reality as it is happening and not in illusion.  In this state of receptive consciousness, you no longer are compelled to retaliate.  From a compassionate place, you ask about the experience of the other person.  You can hold the intrinsic usefulness of assumptions without letting them override your judgment.  You are open to hearing their thoughts, feelings, intentions and perspective.  You are able to distinguish between the beliefs they have about you that are true from those that are not.  Instead of the need to defend yourself, you can be honest about your behaviors and intentions while not taking their perspective personally.  Memories of the past will remain but the contrary emotions do not engage.  Often this is enough to resolve whatever has occurred between you.

   Discernment allows you to grasp what was once obscure.  Following the path of presence allows you to move out of your pain body giving you an intimate sense and love of your true self.  You meet the people in your life with acceptance and tolerance leading to true understanding and compassion.  Your relationships thrive because you are not caught in illusion and an old story.  You release your judgments about others and experience them in the fresh context of Now.

Checklist of Good Practices

• Tether Your First Impressions.  Don’t Assume the Worst.

• Don’t Be Shy.  Instead of Hurling Accusations, Check out Your Assumptions.

• Where Does it Hurt?  Look at What is Really Bothering You.

• Be Honest about Your Reality.

• Curb Your Expectations of Others.

• People Can’t Read Your Mind; Tell Them What is Really Important to You.

• Listen….and Listen…and Listen without Preconceptions.

• Let Go.  You Don’t Need to Take it Personally.  Remember, Everyone has Their Opinion.

• Let Go Again and Again of Needing to Be Right.

• Give Yourself a Round of Appreciation for Your Awareness and Presence

For Further Guidance and Reflection:
Coming to Center: What to Do When You Are Triggered
​Relational Awareness: Conscious Communication Matters

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Dorothy Wallis is a former intern at People House in private practice with an M.A. in Marriage and Family Therapy.  She is a Psychotherapist, Clinical Hypnotherapist and an International Spiritual Teacher at the forefront of the consciousness movement for over thirty years grounded in practices of meditation, family systems, relationships, and emotional growth.  Her work reflects efficacious modalities of alternative approaches to healing for individuals and couples based upon the latest research in science, human energy fields, psychology, and spirituality.

As a leader in the field of emotional consciousness and the connection to mind, body and spirit, her compassionate approach safely teaches you how to connect to your body, intuition and knowing to clear emotional wounds and trauma at the core.  The powerful Heartfulness protocol empowers your ability to join with your body’s innate capacity to heal through holistic Somatic, Sensory and Emotional awareness.  www.TheDorWay.com and www.Heartfulnesspath.com

Dark Nights of the Soul: Spiritual Transformation or Clinical Depression? Part 2 ll By Rev. Mary Coday Edwards, MA.

Dark Nights of the Soul: Spiritual Transformation or Clinical Depression? Part 2
By Rev. Mary Coday Edwards, MA.

As I said in my last blog, dark nights of the soul result from the pressures building under the oceanic tectonic plates of our unconscious worldview, readying to propel a tsunami that will forever rearrange our surface lives.

But before we proceed further, more definitions are in order, including spiritual transformation, soul from a religious perspective, clinical depression or Major Depressive Disorder, and sadness.

In an earlier blog I discussed spiritual , and basically it’s what brings meaning to our lives, usually through our sacred practices, disciplines, and rituals. Dark nights of the soul occur when that meaning fails us.

Our psyche is pushing for an upgrade to our operating system

We then work harder at our sacred disciplines, blaming ourselves for the fact that what used to bring us a measure of peace doesn’t anymore. Advice from well-meaning people increases the pain: “You must not be mediating right or long enough. You need a retreat.” Or “Well, God doesn’t change, so it must be you. What are you doing wrong?” And more.

What’s happened is that we’ve outgrown our world picture, our worldview—it’s not working anymore. AND THAT’S OKAY. Our psyche is pushing for an upgrade, time to update that old operating system or maybe jettison it in its entirety. Crudely summarizing John of the Cross’ reasons for a dark night: we have incomplete and inadequate ideas about ourselves and/or God—however we define Ultimate Reality. The box we’ve put ourselves in can’t contain us anymore, and it’s not meant to.

This upgrade comes in the form of spiritual transformation, which will leave us with a greater sense of who we are and our purpose in this world. Perhaps our outdated meaning was passed onto us by our parents, our teachers, or our culture. We’ve never consciously made it our own, but unconsciously let it rule our lives. And when it’s time for these unconsciously appropriated beliefs to shift, along comes those dark nights.

It’s time to examine our motives and the foundation of our values, ideas, and belief systems. These drive our actions and determine what’s still serving us.

That’s what being an adult means. We take responsibility for our lives and the choices we make. We are not under the control of unexamined beliefs and values anymore. We may decide to return to those, but we will do so consciously. Our psyche refuses to stay an adolescent.

Linking soul with genuineness and one’s true nature

I defined soul in my last blog from a Jungian perspective. What follows are from major world religions. Keep in mind these are basic definitions—and subject to controversy by various schools of thought and accredited meaning inherent in each spiritual tradition.

• Hindu: Ātman is a Sanskrit word that means inner self or soul. In Hindu philosophy Ātman is the first principle, the true or real self or essence of an individual (Wikipedia).

Buddhism subscribes to an Anatta doctrine, translated variously: No-soul, No-self, egolessness, and soullessness. The Buddha regarded soul-speculation as useless and illusory (Wikipedia).

Judaism: From the Hebrew scriptures, Genesis 2:7: God did not make a body and put soul into it, like putting shoes in a box, but God formed the body from dust and then by breathing divine life into it (nepesh, or breath), the body of dust became alive, it became a living being. Nepesh refers to the principle of life in any living organism, just like any other living creature. A tree does tree things; an elephant does elephant things. A doctrine of an immortal soul in Judaism developed later through the interaction of the Greek philosophies of the separation of soul and body (1).

•The Christian scriptures use the Greek word (psūchê), or psyche, for soul, translating the Hebrew word nepesh for the Greek. It kept the original meaning, however, of nepesh, or breath, or of a living, breathing, conscious being, which initially did not have an intent of an immortal soul. Later, the Biblical Patristic writers would adopt the Greek interpretation for soul as a separate, immortal entity (2).

Islam uses the Arabic word which includes several definitions, one of which is a person’s essential, immortal self (Wikipedia).

And it’s not necessarily either/or

Clinical depression is the layman’s term for Major Depressive Disorder (MDD), its symptoms laid out in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (see Note 3, with the symptoms included at the end of this blog under Depression DSM-5 Diagnostic Criteria). An MDD diagnosis for a mental health professional centers around determining for how long, and to what degree, these symptoms persist in an individual’s life and whether or not he/she still finds joy in everyday life. Can the sufferer still enjoy a good book? A good movie? A night out on the town with friends? Hiking in the woods? How is the individual functioning in life’s daily routine?

And it’s not either/or—we’re not limited to a dark night OR a MDD—but it’s often and/but. Sometimes life throws many stressors at us at one time—death of a loved one, a job change, a divorce, a cross-country move—and pharmacological interventions can help us get over the hump. These same events often then act as dark nights when they strike “you at the core of your existence. It’s not just a feeling, but a rupture at the core of your very being, and it may take a long while to get to the other end of it” (4).

Sadness or depression?

Sadness intertwines itself with depression. How to discern what’s going on? Sadness is a normal emotion, usually triggered by external life events, such as the passing of a pet, the moving away of a friend, or loss of a job. But one can still find pleasures and joy in everyday life. And with time, it will go away.

Sadness in depression, however, needs no external trigger. But it isn’t just the degree of sadness, but the combination of factors in a MDD as noted above: how long, and to what degree, these symptoms persist in an individual’s life, whether or not he/she still finds joy in everyday life, and is the individual able to function in life’s daily routine (see Note 5 for a link for more details on sadness).

As oceanic tectonic plate shifts wound the ocean skin with its tearing apart, dark nights of our soul do the same. Author Jean Houston writes, “The wounding becomes sacred when we are willing to release our old stories and to become the vehicles through which the new story may emerge into time.”

More on this in my next blog. Meanwhile, honor your psyche by paying attention to the energies moving in your soul. Watch for when your true essence buried within you is seeking a passage  out to the light of day!

_________

Notes & Sources:

  1. 1. Atkinson, David. The Message of Genesis 1-11. Inter-Varsity Press. 1990. Pages 55-59.
  2. 2. Vine, W.E. An Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words. Volume IX, page 55. Fleming H. Revell Company. 1966.
  3. 3. American Psychiatric Association. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) is the 2013 update to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the taxonomic and diagnostic tool published by the American Psychiatric Association (APA). See also: https://www.psycom.net/depression-definition-dsm-5-diagnostic-criteria/
  4. 4. The best resource I have found on determining if it’s a dark night of the soul or a clinical depression requiring the attention of a mental health professional is Thomas Moore’s book, Dark Nights of the Soul, A Guide to Finding Your Way Through Life’s Ordeals. Penguin Random House. 2004.
  5. 5. https://www.psycom.net/depression-definition-dsm-5-diagnostic-criteria/

_________

Depression DSM-5 Diagnostic Criteria: The DSM-5 outlines the following criterion to make a diagnosis of depression. The individual must be experiencing five or more symptoms during the same 2-week period and at least one of the symptoms should be either (1) depressed mood or (2) loss of interest or pleasure.

a. Depressed mood most of the day, nearly every day.

b. Markedly diminished interest or pleasure in all, or almost all, activities most of the day, nearly every day.

c. Significant weight loss when not dieting or weight gain, or decrease or increase in appetite nearly every day.

d. A slowing down of thought and a reduction of physical movement (observable by others, not merely subjective feelings of restlessness or being slowed down).

e. Fatigue or loss of energy nearly every day.

f. Feelings of worthlessness or excessive or inappropriate guilt nearly every day.

g. Diminished ability to think or concentrate, or indecisiveness, nearly every day.

h. Recurrent thoughts of death, recurrent suicidal ideation without a specific plan, or a suicide attempt or a specific plan for committing suicide.

To receive a diagnosis of depression, these symptoms must cause the individual clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning. The symptoms must also not be a result of substance abuse or another medical condition. For more details, see https://www.psycom.net/depression-definition-dsm-5-diagnostic-criteria/

_________

About the Author: Rev. Mary Coday Edwards is a Spiritual Growth Facilitator and People House Minister. A life-long student of spirituality, Mary spent almost 20 years living, working and sojourning abroad in Asia, Southeast Asia, East Africa, and Latin America before finding her People House “tribe” and completing its Ministerial Program. Past studies include postgraduate studies from the University of South Africa in Theological Ethics/Ecological Justice, focusing on the spiritual and physical interconnectedness of all things. With her MA in Environmental Studies from Boston University, abroad she worked and wrote on environmental sustainability issues at both global and local levels, in addition to working in refugee repatriation.

Feeling Out of Control? – How to Manage the Aftermath of Trauma ll By Brenda Bomgardner

Feeling Out of Control? – How to Manage the Aftermath of Trauma
By Brenda Bomgardner

The last few weeks or months haven’t been easy. Mass shootings around the world, in our own back yard. It’s traumatic. Current events may trigger past trauma experiences for you.

Ever since you experienced the trauma, it’s been hard to sleep at night. Then, when you have conversations with other people, you may have started to notice that even little things just set you off.

Feeling angry and moody all the time, you may be afraid that you are losing control of yourself.

Are you going crazy?

No, not at all. Your mind is still processing and coping with what you experienced. Which, unfortunately, takes time.

Yet, there is still hope. Consider then these ideas for how to manage the aftermath of trauma.

1. Understand That What You Experienced was Traumatic

For some, it may seem easy to brush off the experience and move on. It doesn’t matter what it was—a car accident, the death of a loved one, or some other incident altogether.

In some cases, like those who work in emergency medical services or the military, seeing and experiencing trauma is part of the job. However, just because it’s “typical” doesn’t mean you should brush it off either.

One of the first steps for managing the aftermath of trauma is simply to acknowledge that what you went through was traumatic. If you sweep everything under the rug, you are only setting yourself up for more problems later on.

2. Talk About What You Experienced

This is something that you’ve probably heard a lot. Yes, talking about and processing your trauma may sound like a broken record.

Yet, processing is critical for managing the aftermath of trauma. Bottling things up doesn’t work in the long-run. That’s because eventually those feelings, emotions, and thoughts will come out at some point in your life.

When that happens, it likely won’t be at a time or place of your choosing. By talking about your trauma you are able to control how those feelings and emotions are released.

Look for groups involving people who have undergone similar experiences—friends, colleagues, or support groups. Being with others like you can help break the ice, allowing you to feel safer in talking about what happened.

3. Be Aware of Dark Thoughts

Oftentimes, if you experience a trauma, it can lead to some very negative thinking.

For example:

• Low feelings of self-worth

• Questions about why you survived when others didn’t

• Feeling like your life has no meaning

It’s typical to have these kinds of thoughts after a trauma. However, understand that they may feel incredibly strong, causing you to take actions that you could regret later on.

If you feel that your personal safety is in jeopardy, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

4. Practice Radical Self-Forgiveness

What makes self-forgiveness radical? Thoughts of depression or even suicide require radical action. Be willing to forgive yourself about what happened.

It’s not uncommon for people who experience trauma to believe that it was their fault. Most of the time, you were just at the wrong place at the wrong time.

It’s human nature to try to rationalize events or actions that seem irrational. Yet, that’s not always possible.

The best that you can do is to accept what happened and to let go of any attachments.

For example, many say “if only I had done things differently.” The reality is that kind of second-guessing only causes more unnecessary emotional pain.

5. Take Care of Yourself

After experiencing trauma, many are tempted to “get back in the game,” so to speak. They are eager to return to work or continue their lives. That’s because they want to return to a sense of normalcy.

Remember, it takes time to heal from trauma and it’s important to take care of yourself.

For example:

• Allow yourself time to process and absorb what happened.

• Create space to grieve your loss.

• Do things that bring you joy and are positive.

• Get re-centered so you can move forward.

If you have the option to take time after experiencing a trauma, do so. Even it’s only a few weeks, the time you take to work through what happened is well worth it.

Trauma can definitely have a negative effect on your mental health. If you are struggling with managing the aftermath of trauma, try the above suggestions.

However, if you’re still having trouble, don’t hesitate to get professional help from a therapist who understands trauma therapy. Please, contact me today to learn more about how I can help you.


To learn more about Brenda visit her About Me page,  https://brendabomgardner.com/brenda-bomgardner/

However, if you’re still having trouble, don’t hesitate to get professional help from a therapist who understands trauma therapy. Please, contact me today to learn more about how I can help you.

People House: a Center for Personal and Spiritual Growth