Archive for the ‘Empowerment’ Category.

Do You Know How to Generate Wisdom from your Shame? ll By Erin Amundson

Do You Know How to Generate Wisdom from your Shame?
By Erin Amundson

 

This blog is highly personal.  Most of my writing is personal, but this one truly comes from a place of feeling like my life has been ripped open for no real reason, and not knowing what else to do but to write about it.  I write about it in the hopes that someone else will benefit from my experience.  I write in the hopes that I will find the wisdom in the chaos of my current emotional state.  I write because writing is a tether that keeps me connected to my core when nothing else seems to work. 

And if I’ve learned anything in my personal and professional journey, it’s that finding and honoring what tethers us is crucial if we want to grow through our pain. 

There are two contexts that I write this blog under.  The first is that I totally forgot the deadline for this blog to begin with, and as a result I fell very harshly into a state of self-criticism, judgment and shame.  I know by now that shame offers two options: I can move through it and find the source of the wound (certainly it’s NOT a missed deadline), or I can submerse in it and allow it to whittle away at my life — stealing my productivity, my sense of purpose, and my grounding in the knowledge that I’m lovable through my mistakes. 

I don’t know about you, but I feel that my time on earth is short, and I want to live my life, play big, and spend as much time as I can in a state of joy.  So I chose to move by writing it out. 

The second context is a realization I had after pulling myself together enough to give an interview about my work.  In this interview, a deep truth came to the surface.  Every experience that I have in my life is an opportunity to generate wisdom that I can share with the world.  As I heard these words come out of my mouth, tears welled up in my eyes in recognition of the deep, meaningful connection I was making between my own spiritual crises, and the ability to find a reason and a healing every single time.  And I realized that if I can do it, so too can you. 

I still haven’t figured out the source of my shame that was ultimately triggered by a missed deadline, but I am steeped in the knowledge that even in the most painful moments of my life, I can remember my core self and remain faithful that my navigation system will get me to where I’m going once I’ve been properly re-routed. When I dig into the experience of deep shame, I recall that sometimes our systems need a complete shut down in order to enter a new season, with fresh eyes and an open heart.  I am aware of the need to be able to lean into darkness with anticipation of the light that calls us to the other side. 

This shame, in part caused by childhood sexual abuse, in part by a horrible boss who told me I had no skill for writing, in part by a deeply manipulative ex-partner, may not be resolved easily.  It feels heavy.  It feels deeply unconscious.  It feels overwhelming.  And yet, while I write, I’m finding some wisdom to guide me into a better place so that I do not have to suffer or dim my light while I work through it.  Here is what I’ve got – self generated wisdom to share with you if you should find yourself in the midst of a shame crisis.    

1. BE GENTLE. If I was better at this, I probably wouldn’t be writing this blog.  But it’s incredibly important.  When you catch yourself in crisis, PLEASE do your best not to judge where you’re at.  Where you’re at is perfect, and you’ll see for yourself when all of the pieces fall back into place or you find your new life or you recognize your own strength.  Take baby steps to take care of yourself — eating well, sleeping, moving, meditating, finding reasons to smile – the little things  go a long way.  Nurture yourself as much as you can, and have gratitude for your ability to walk through darkness.

2. THOU SHALT NOT COMPARE. Nobody else is on the same journey as you in the same way as you. Someone else’s experience of divorce, career change, grief, moving across the world or letting go of pain and shame has nothing to do with yours.  Comparison is a natural function of our core desire to connect to one another, but it actually separates us from ourselves.  Instead, connect with others by vulnerably sharing your truth about your experience.  I guarantee you, there is a unique wisdom in your own path’s unfolding.  And comparing only makes our self-judgment harsher.

3. TEST YOUR LIMITS. You are in crisis to grow. Remember this.  Every challenge or dark time in your life is in front of you to show you something more about yourself.  When you are pushed to the edge, you have the opportunity to expand your capacity, which means discovering new strengths and connecting to deeper truths about yourself.  Think of it as though every edge is merely an expansion of yourself.  These overwhelming emotions are akin to growth or birthing pains as you stretch yourself or birth a new version of you.

4. HAVE GOOD MIRRORS. Surround yourself with people who know your core, who support your growth, and who have an ability to read between your lines. Consider a therapist or a coach. Consider detoxifying your life of people who do not love and support you.  Choose partners, friends and colleagues who support you, who lift you up and encourage you and who understand that moments of weakness are actually moments of great courage and strength in disguise. 

5. KNOW YOUR TETHERS. I mentioned that writing is a tether for me in times of crisis.  It may not be your thing.  Other common tethers include creative or mechanical projects, playing, listening to or writing music, yoga, an animal soul mate, cooking, gardening, or solving a puzzle.  A tether is really anything that you can do or connect to no matter what state of mind you’re in that reminds you of who you really are.  It’s an act that lies close to the heart of you.  It’s the thing that makes you feel more like you. If you don’t know what your tethers are, see number 4.  Find a good mirror to help you explore. 

Of course, at the end of all of this, one of the best ways I know to turn things around is to remember that you are a wisdom generator. 

Your life provides you exactly what you need to grow into the person you are meant to be.

Every challenge reflects your strength, and every new level of joy reflects your depth. Be wise, be strong, be beautiful and be brave.  I love you. 

 


Erin Amundson loves helping people reconnect to their natural technology by decoding the language of dreams.  She is a healer, a depth psychologist and an entrepreneur who specializes in teaching people how to identify and remove barriers to success and make friends with their subconscious mind.  As the creator and founder of Natural Dream Technology, Erin knows that hidden beneath the surface of your conscious mind is a uniquely talented visionary, and she wants the world to benefit from your contribution.

After several fights with her own subconscious mind (and a re-occurring nightmare about skipping classes and failing), Erin finally surrendered and followed the wisdom of her natural technology to get a second graduate degree in Counseling at Regis University.  A life-long follower of dreams, Erin now began to learn the language of the subconscious as she slept.  Just as Albert Einstein, Steve Jobs and Steven Spielberg all experienced, Erin began to recognize in her dreams that her best work is to help you reclaim your connection to your own natural technology through dreams and the subconscious.  She has been teaching, facilitating and engaging in dream work with ambitious professionals ever since. 

Erin currently practices as a depth psychotherapist in Denver, Colorado and via the internet around the world.  In addition to her dream work, Erin is a certified past life regressionist, an intuitive astrologer and a lover of travel, snowboarding, deep conversations and cooking delicious food, all of which she enjoys practicing while she sleeps.

Collective Supremacy in Good or Evil? ll By Rev. Mary Coday Edwards, MA.

Collective Supremacy in Good or Evil?
By Rev. Mary Coday Edwards, MA.


 

Amidst the pain of political pipe bombs and Pittsburgh’s anti-Semitic domestic terrorism, how many of you felt that jolt of love pulsing through the internet last week? A few days ago we learned how butter supplier Land O’Lakes was a corporate sponsor of Iowa’s GOP congressman Steve King who has a reputation for supporting white supremacists—including tweeting support for Nazis.

When social media got wind of it, a boycott was threatened against Land O’Lake products­—not good for corporate profits on the cusp of holiday baking season. And guess what? Enough of a national outrage ensued from our citizens for Land O’Lakes to issue a press release saying they would no longer support Rep. King.

This is a positive sign. Americans are collectively calling for love of the Other vs. hate.

Contrast this with a conversation I had with some educated, young white men. One was telling us of a male speaker he had heard, who started his lecture by saying, “White supremacy built this country”.

I countered with what REALLY built this country was yes, supremacy, but it was white supremacy in VIOLENCE, THEFT, and GREED—all wrapped in fear of the Other and condoned by their God. Bluntly, our nation was built on a powerful, patriarchal, white collective choosing evil.

Most of the Europeans colonists were barred in their home countries from owning land, and so they fought to claim land here, along with its resources, such as forests, hunting rights, water, fishing rights, coal and other extractive resources. It didn’t matter if Native Americans claimed the land first.  The trespassers had greater weapons of violence—using gunpowder invented by the Chinese. They took that gunpowder and used it to serve hate—becoming supreme in greed-fueled violence and theft, slaughtering whoever got in their way. The very freedoms and rights they sought they denied the Other. The oppression they were fleeing they imposed on the Other.

The South and much of the Eastern seaboard were built with both black and white slaves. Slavery’s nothing new. Down through the centuries, all races have built economic wealth by enslaving women and men. But Southern white colonists exhibited superiority in violence against slaves—often government-sanctioned.

I lived almost two decades in Asia and Africa. White folks don’t hold exclusive rights to those values, which certainly don’t translate into any sort of “superiority” in intelligence. Living by greed, violence, and theft just means living immorally with your reptilian brain and bigger weapons—not a higher consciousness—and anyone can do that.

 

Tip the Scale Toward Good

I asked People House co-founder Pat Pendleton  how to navigate this divisive political climate. She said that, “Good and Evil have always existed and always will. We must listen to our better angels to tip the scale toward Good. It’s a constant act of awareness to shine the light on Good and not allow Evil to thrive” (1).

And what is the Good?

The story is told of a Cherokee speaking to his grandson about the battle between the two wolves who live inside all of us. “One is Evil. It is anger, jealously, greed, resentment, inferiority, lies, and ego. The other is Good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, humility, kindness, empathy, and truth,” he tells his grandson. And the winner? “The one you feed.”

Without getting into the weeds over this, let’s just say that I like this Cherokee’s definition of “the Good.”

And WHY choose the Good? Ethical philosophers have written tomes on this this topic for more than 2,000 years. Circuitous reasons abound. “Because it’s good to choose the good.” “Because of karma.” “Because God says so.” But which God? Hindu? Jewish? Muslim? Catholic? Protestant? And which God gets to decide what the Good is? Many of us believe a dogmatic presentation of the Good is just a way to maintain the status quo and control and destroy the nonconformists (2).

After many years of ignoring my soul’s pleas and preferences, these days I honor it with my attention   to what brings it life. Therefore, I paused over a simple explanation given by Larry Behrendt (3) when I felt an emotional reaction to his words.

Based on the Socratic/Platonic doctrine, he ends his piece with, “But the goal of knowing the good is to improve the soul, which is the person.” Why is this important, psyche? I asked myself.

To “…improve the soul.” Improve means to raise to a better quality or condition. Choosing Good over Evil is like strengthening a muscle you didn’t know you had while lifting weights to work on a different muscle.

After a while you recognize you’re stronger in a certain way but don’t know how you got there. My soul likes it when I choose the Good, it needs this—it’s how I’m meant to live—whether my rational brain understands this or not.

Collectively Choosing the Good

Ms. Pendleton continued: ““Choosing Good is not a onetime battle to be won, it is ongoing and always will be. We have let ourselves become subdued by the superficial—the reality show and the huckster— and have given evil a foot in the door. We are in a dangerous place and as a nation need to be reminded of our [higher] values. We need to take strong action toward love and oneness and away from separation and hate. We’d better do it soon with solidarity.” 

She believes lack of human connection contributes to this separation and hate, adding that, “Strong communities …religious or non-religious, where people support each other are important.”

And I believe that collectively choosing Good improves the soul of our nation in ways we won’t understand. 

Again, it takes choices. Our white, patriarchal ancestors were weak in choosing Good, but supreme in choosing evil. They were supreme in letting their baser selves take over.

Every day we have opportunities to choose love/the Good over hate. As we have seen played out on a national level, the myth of white supremacy promotes hate, anger, and violence toward the other.

GOP representative Steve King personally experienced that power of the collective choosing Good. Which one will you feed today?

______

Notes & Sources:

1.Interview via Facebook messenger, Oct. 30, 2108.

2. Many believe that God defines the moral rules and imposes the sense of duty. God is thus a surrogate parent, and by being good we gain divine reward and (we hope) avoid divine punishment.

3. https://philosophynow.org/issues/63/Why_Should_I_Be_Good

4. The biblical prophet Micah said, “He has told you, Mortal, what is good. What does the Lord require of you? To act justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:8, New International Version)

_______

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.

 


Blog Disclaimer

The opinions expressed by the guest bloggers are their own and do not reflect the views of
People House. The content provided through the People House website and blogs are for
informational purposes only. Should you decide to take action in real life based on this
information that is your own responsibility and choice.

Developing Healthy Internal Self Esteem ll by Dorothy Wallis

Developing Healthy Internal Self Esteem
By Dorothy Wallis

 

Is your worth based upon your performance, or perhaps on your status or what you have acquired in life?  Maybe it is based upon others’ opinions of you.  When the voice of your Inner Critic disapproves of your abilities, performance, appearance, the possessions you own, or how you appear to others it can feel like a severe blow to your self-worth. This often happens after you receive some disappointment or loss in life.

In that moment, you begin judging yourself as “less than” or a failure, and your energy contracts

You protect your vulnerability by attempting to shut down or ignore the criticism.  You try to control it by pushing against the voice.  Whenever you push on an object or energy, you meet resistance.  The response of your ego is to push back harder and criticize louder.  It is merely doing its job of safeguarding your beliefs and values, holding you accountable and attempting to motivate you.  It seems counterintuitive to approach this voice and find out what it is pointing out, yet listening to it tells you how you judge and criticize yourself and what matters to you.  It reveals what may or may not require a shift in perspective or a corrective action.  

One gift it gives you is showing you your level of esteem and if that is externally or internally driven self-esteem.

Externally Driven Self-Esteem
Externally driven self-esteem is attaining value and worth outside of one’s self.  There are three primary ways in which we judge ourselves and look to receive worthiness.

Performance based Self-Esteem: I have worth based on what I do.  
Achievement, performance, and success establish the measurement of my worth.  This may include my skill at performing an activity such as athletics, dance, music, art, or sports.  It may be about what I accomplish or how successful I am at a career, attaining a degree or level of education, how much money I earn, how productive I am, how many promotions, publications, awards, trophies, or accolades I have that prove my skills, talent, success, intelligence, or achievement in any endeavor.  

Am I at the top or the bottom of my field?  I can be a perfectionist and strive to be the best.  I evaluate anything less than perfect performance harshly and my self-esteem declines.  Sometimes, I give up or quit if I believe I will not succeed.  Other times, I doggedly pursue my goals until exhaustion.  I am concerned about what the culture perceives as being highly accomplished.  If I don’t live up to my standard of performance or success I feel deflated and see myself as a failure or as an underachiever.  My fallibility is devastating.  I may judge how successful I am at having and maintaining relationships, how many friends I have, and how socially adept I am.  I am driven and relentless in my pursuit to perform and achieve in many arenas.  I am only temporarily satisfied with an accomplishment.  

Doing is my modus operandi.  Being is foreign.  

It is difficult to be still, to have space or time with nothing to do.  I do not feel worthwhile if I am not engaged in an activity, striving towards a goal or having a purpose. 
 
When a Performance-based individual is not dependent on success or accomplishment for their self-esteem, the upside is they have a consistent level of motivation to accomplish their goals while achieving a balance of inward spaciousness and relaxation.  When caught in doing to uphold their sense of worth, they quickly succumb to overdoing by working more hours, studying longer, and striving for perfection.  Their physical and mental health suffers.  A study by the University of Michigan found that thoughts of failure and loss of esteem in students increased anxiety and stress, caused distracted attention, reduced performance and productivity, and interfered with their memory. 

Attribute based Self-Esteem: I have worth based upon what I have, 

which establishes my identity.  Possessions, causes, or groups with exclusive status give me a sense of importance and prestige.  I feel better about myself when I own a particular car, motorcycle, RV, house, live in a certain neighborhood, travel to the most awesome destination or belong to a specialized group. 

My identity is enhanced by what I own, what I wear, by the gadgets, electronics, equipment, and by the tools that I acquire.

I am quick to purchase the newest and most updated “thingamajig” whether it is a device, mode of transportation, apparel or the latest and greatest trendy item.  When I join a sport, I am outfitted with all of the gear and clothing that define me as one who participates in that activity.  

I keep company with those who reinforce the attributes and values I deem bring status and importance and eschew those with differing values.  I join clubs, causes, groups and activities that uphold the view of myself as being special, distinct, unique, or “at the cutting edge.”  I may tie my identity to the privileged upper class or to shirking the status quo and living an alternative or minimalist lifestyle and conforming to the attributes characteristic of that niche.  My appearance identifies me with my “peeps” and/or beliefs.  Outer symbols are displayed, such as tattoos, hairstyle, piercings, uniforms, business suits, designer clothes, or other attire, to indicate, “what I have, whom I affiliate with, and thus who I am.”  

Even if I am a loner, I identify myself with a specific image, status, cause or ideology.  My identity is dependent upon the acquisition of possessions, titles, prestige, philosophies, causes or membership in distinguished groups. With each acquisition or identification, I receive a boost to my ailing ego and a false sense of superiority. 

The thought is, “if I own this, if I obtain this notoriety, if I belong to this group or level of consciousness, I am somebody and above the fray.  I will be safe.”

Without these, I am invisible, I am nothing, I don’t exist, I have no meaning and am at a loss to know who I am or at the worst how I can survive.  When the external validation through these means fails to materialize, my self-esteem plunges into despair and depression.  Without an outer identity or status, I see myself as vulnerable and worthless.

The upside of Attribute-based Individuals is their industriousness and creativity.  When they learn how to value their intrinsic worth, their skills can beget amazing innovation.  When in the unhealthy state of acquisition and possession, their focus is purely on filling up the emptiness inside of them.  They have little regard for the well-being of others creating distance and separation. 

Other based Self-Esteem: I have worth based upon what others think about me.  
I have worth when I receive approval from others or receive recognition.  What other people think about my body, appearance, intelligence, ideas, decisions, abilities, and personality affect how I see myself.  When someone tells me I am wrong, doesn’t agree with me, debases me, ignores me, or thinks I am flawed in some way, I sink into feelings of rejection and my inner critic flares up adding even more disapproval.  I feel attacked and go into “fight, flight, or freeze” mode.  I flee and appease by deferring to the opinions and decisions of others rather than acknowledging what is right or true for me or I may attack by angrily and defensively pushing back to protect my sense of esteem.  Sometimes, the disapproval is so devastating to my sense of worth that I freeze and withdraw completely. I may suppress my knowledge, intuition, intelligence, or believe that I am stupid, incompetent, weak, ugly, no good and “I don’t matter.”  

I seek approval to feel loved and attempt to protect my sense of worth by surrounding myself with only people that approve of me.  I have weak or no boundaries and tend not to assert my needs.  I may take care of others’ needs so they will like or approve of me.  I listen and pay attention to beliefs about what is considered beautiful, strong, talented, intelligent and ideal.  I compare myself with others and may be envious of those fitting accepted norms of appearance, talents and abilities.  I am hyper critical of my physical appearance and body image.  It leaves me open to public scrutiny and derision.  If I think my body, appearance, talents or intelligence do not meet a perception of perfection, my inner critic has a field day of self-loathing and self-deprecation.  

The upside to Other-based Individuals is their orientation towards relationships and people.  

When they find a balanced internally based self-esteem, they can be good listeners, empathetic, compassionate and create intimate relationships.  

However, when they are seeking others’ approval it creates a very precarious and fragile emotional state.  

Our culture fervently reinforces receiving Adulation and Worth from outside ourselves

It is common for us to receive our esteem from outside sources because we are taught to value success, achievement, possessions and the opinions of others.  These are all worthy pursuits, which enhance, add great value and meaning to our life.   However, our culture fervently reinforces receiving adulation and worth from outside of ourselves.  It becomes problematic when we base our value and worth as humans on these sources and disengage from our internal truth and knowing of our inherent worth.  If you are thrown into despair or turmoil every time you fail to obtain what you think you need, it behooves you to be aware of the external source, your judgments about yourself and what you fear.  Unfortunately, receiving your self-worth from the outside is fundamentally unstable and insubstantial.  It is a vulnerable and limiting position to be at the mercy of fluctuating achievement, performance, and status, or maintaining an identity based on acquisition or others approval. 

External drives may lead you into behaviors and actions that are detrimental to yourself and others preventing you from knowing and expressing your true self. 

Uncovering Your Most Prominent Type of Externally based Self Esteem
The next time your Inner Critic starts nagging notice what it is saying. 

• Which externally driven source of esteem is it commenting about?  

• What effect is it having on my self-esteem?  

• Notice your energy.  Am I feeling small, diminished, weak, or contracted?

• Do I feel overwhelmed, anxious, stressed, vulnerable, angry, fearful or need to protect myself?

• Am I feeling “Less Than” others, “Superior” to others, or Equal to others?

• How often does my Inner Critic arise around a particular theme?

• Is my self worth based more on what I do, what I have, or others opinions of me?

Internally Based Self-Esteem: Authentic, Stable, and Secure
Internal self-esteem comes from the inside; you authentically know that you have intrinsic value and worth simply by being born.  You value yourself as a unique being. 

There has never been or will be another human exactly like you.

When you develop internal self-esteem, you have an inner resource of stability that doesn’t get buffeted about.  You have a deep sense of security and like yourself with all of your frailties, foibles, and idiosyncrasies.  You are confident in your ability to meet life’s challenges and have the resilience to cope with failure and loss.  You know you have the ability to make choices, to express your true self and to assert your needs.  You know you are capable of being successful and happy.  You value yourself for whom you are rather than for what you own, achieve or if others approve of you.  You do not feel superior to or lesser than others.  You see yourself as an equal without the need for constant validation.  You have a deep acceptance for being completely and authentically yourself. 

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

Dorothy Wallis is a former intern at People House in private practice with an M.A. in Marriage and Family Therapy.  She is 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 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

The Real Secret – How Your Subconscious Plays a Role in Manifestation ll By Erin Amundson

The Real Secret – How Your Subconscious Plays a Role in Manifestation
By Erin Amundson MA, LPC

Recently I had the pleasure of sitting down with a friend who has been looking for a new job for quite some time.  This friend of mine has an impressive resume, an attractive personality, amazing personal references and has been in the search for work for more than a year in a market that should be relatively easy to find a job in.  He’s working his tail off, he’s hired professionals to review his resume, and he follows up every time.  He’s doing “everything right” – and not succeeding.  Well, everything, that is, except perhaps the MOST IMPORTANT thing: examining his subconscious beliefs and managing his energetic output.

When I engaged him in a process of going deeper, we discovered a few things.  One, he had been shamefully and arguably wrongfully terminated from a job in the height of his career.  Two, as a child he was constantly told he wouldn’t amount to much by an abusive father.  Three, he had become desperate for a job, and that was very clear in his body language and energy. 

First, let’s look at his past in the context of the quantum world we live in.  New science continues to prove that we are made of energy and the environment around us is made of that same energy (this is at the smallest level of the molecule).  Science also tells us that these energetic particles are in a feedback loop with one another.  That means that we take in the information from our environment and adjust to it, and our environment takes in the information from US and adjusts to it. 

So, the question I always ask is this:  Do you want be a product of your environment or the creator of it? 

As adults, we have the choice.  However, we’ve all heard children called “sponges” and for good reason.  When my friend was small, his environment was one of abuse, failure, limitation, addiction and struggle.  His little being soaked all of that up, and because his young brain wasn’t developed enough to process it, the information was stored in his subconscious, which created a program of output based on his environment.  My friend now puts out a literal vibe of being worthless, having to struggle, being a victim and failure.   And as he is interviewing for jobs, these are the messages that are reflected right back to him.

On paper, and in person, you’d never know this about my friend.  The truth is, he didn’t know it about himself.  Consciously, LOGICally, he knows he’s talented and hard working. 

But under the surface, he is still telling the story of his childhood, reinforced by the story of his being fired mid-career. 

 I suspect he will either attract no employment at all or another abusive employer if he doesn’t shift the story of his subconscious. 

The second factor keeping my friend from his dream job is his desperation.  This one was developed after a few months of searching and failing.  He approaches his interviews with a neediness, that ultimate keeps attracting more need into his life.  If we spoke to the employers, we’d probably hear them say something like, “I can’t put my finger on it, but something about that guy just doesn’t FEEL right.”  And they’d be correct because my friend is out of alignment to attract what he wants.

So what’s the message in this story? 

If you’re working to co-create your life – whatever it is that you want – and it’s not working out for you, you may need to explore your subconscious.

Most of the great law of attraction literature teaches us to manage our thoughts.  I think this is great – but did you know that our conscious brain is only 5% of the story?  The rest of the information, particularly information we have taken in as children, is stored in our subconscious.  The subconscious thoughts and beliefs put out just as much of a vibe as our conscious thoughts and beliefs.  It is only when we bring them into our conscious awareness that we truly have the power to create what we desire. 


Erin Amundson loves helping people reconnect to their natural technology by decoding the language of dreams.  She is a healer, a depth psychologist and an entrepreneur who specializes in teaching people how to identify and remove barriers to success and make friends with their subconscious mind.  As the creator and founder of Natural Dream Technology, Erin knows that hidden beneath the surface of your conscious mind is a uniquely talented visionary, and she wants the world to benefit from your contribution.

After several fights with her own subconscious mind (and a re-occurring nightmare about skipping classes and failing), Erin finally surrendered and followed the wisdom of her natural technology to get a second graduate degree in Counseling at Regis University.  A life-long follower of dreams, Erin now began to learn the language of the subconscious as she slept.  Just as Albert Einstein, Steve Jobs and Steven Spielberg all experienced, Erin began to recognize in her dreams that her best work is to help you reclaim your connection to your own natural technology through dreams and the subconscious.  She has been teaching, facilitating and engaging in dream work with ambitious professionals ever since. 

Erin currently practices as a depth psychotherapist in Denver, Colorado and via the internet around the world.  In addition to her dream work, Erin is a certified past life regressionist, an intuitive astrologer and a lover of travel, snowboarding, deep conversations and cooking delicious food, all of which she enjoys practicing while she sleeps.

Welcoming Your Inner Voice into the Conversation ll By Rev. Mary Coday Edwards, MA.

Welcoming Your Inner Voice into the Conversation
By Rev. Mary Coday Edwards, MA.

While living in Islamabad, Pakistan, our nine-year-old son casually mentioned to us at the dinner table that a big fear of his was that we—mom and dad—would die during the night and he wouldn’t know how to contact his Aunt Kris back in the United States. This was when Internet hardly functioned and international phone calls could take days to ring through.

He then calmly went on to ask, “And who do you think would want our pots and pans?” followed by his short list of recipients.

To assuage Jon’s fears, we wrote down names and local phone numbers (why hadn’t we thought of this earlier??) of the Rawalpindi Leprosy Hospital where Mike worked, which was run by four German Lutheran nuns. “If anything should happen to us, call the Sisters. They have all the phone numbers, they’ll take care of everything, including the pots and pans.” That’s all he needed to know.

We did keep our shocked and sad faces as near to normal as we could at this revelation of the burden he carried. This was before 9/11, and while foreigners could be the recipient of intentional acts of violence, greater concerns consisted of fatal car accidents or being at the wrong place at the wrong time. An unsuspecting white person could quickly find themselves the scapegoat of mob mentality. Hence, we avoided military coups and political demonstrations. We made an effort to keep these personal security matters from emotionally leaking out in front of Jon—these were burdens he did not need to carry. Children create their own reality by picking up feelings of the adults around them, and not knowing all the facts, come to erroneous conclusions. Mike and I lived alert to our surroundings, but not fearfully—otherwise we might as well pack up and go home.  

So privately we high-fived each other, pleased with ourselves that he hadn’t visualized us dying at the hands of frenzied mobs.

Your emotion is part you. You’re made with it. Denying it and thinking it is all your mind, is denying your existence. -Ann Marie Aguilar

This was not an emotional discussion; Jon was factual, we were factual. We didn’t chide him, we didn’t pooh-pooh his fears, saying dismissive things such as, “Oh don’t be silly. That will never happen.”

Children instinctually focus on the bottom two tiers of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. The foundational tier—physiological–includes food, clothing, and shelter. The next level up, safety needs, includes security, stability, and freedom from fear. Jon’s imagination saw mom and dad dying in their sleep, and that everything would then be up to him.

If we had dismissed his fears as irrelevant and illogical, he could have grown up thinking his feelings didn’t matter. He could have grown up believing the only source of information he could rely upon was his rational brain’s analysis.

Rationality remains hallowed in our Western culture. Plato’s metaphor of humanity had two horses pulling the chariot. One is well-bred and well behaved; the other pulls this way and that. This latter horse symbolized a person’s negative and destructive emotions. The charioteer’s job was to rein this dark horse in.

Rene Descartes said the holy soul was capable of reason while our body was full of “mechanical passions.”

It wasn’t long before women came to embody the “mechanical passions” and men the “holy soul capable of reason.” Our patriarchal religious and political institutions used this as their rationale for controlling women. By osmosis, as a young woman I soaked up that worldview. I wanted admission into that make-believe club of rationality. I ignored my emotions and my intuition. The problem then, without even realizing it, is that the patriarchy  was still telling me what my feelings “ought to be.” My inner GPS circled round and round.

Rather than being your thoughts and emotions, be the awareness behind them.

-Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose

And then the pendulum began swinging in the opposite direction. Prestigious business schools taught and measured for emotional intelligence—“trust your gut”—turning out young men and women with MBAs who, if leaders, became a danger to those around them as they derisively ignored sage elders. Wiser elders do trust their guts—but that emotional wisdom manifested through cognitive choices came through decades of experience.

We get stuck in the either/or thinking of classical physics vs. and/both of quantum mechanics. And it isn’t logic OR emotions—it’s both. Yes, our minds create falsehoods around our perceived thoughts of what we believe other people may be thinking. But our emotions are our teachers—and so we pay attention to them but also bring in solid facts in order to examine our storyline from a rationale point of view.

I believe in intuitions and inspirations…I sometimes FEEL that I am right. I do not KNOW that I am-Albert Einstein

And how do we tell the difference between true intuition and a misleading emotion? How do we know if our intuitions are warning us of a harmful scenario, or are we just scared about going somewhere? Below are some suggestions; pay attention to what “pings” your spirit as you read them. 

1. For those of us who deadened and ignored our emotions for years, if not decades, it’s a long haul back to learning from that emotional part of ourselves which we forced into the shadows of our psyche. It will take time for that part of ourselves to trust us again. Think of a child with moody or unreliable parents: one minute they’re supportive, the next the parents are cursing the child.

2. Pay attention to your emotions, to your gut feelings. Welcome them, with curiosity: “Hmm… isn’t that interesting. What’s going on? Am I being triggered? If so, why?” Sit with them mindfully, welcoming them nonjudgmentally. If you push them away they won’t stay away, but will manifest themselves in various ways: cancer, headaches, various pains in your body—emotions carry energy.

3. Joel Marsh says that, “Intuition is the basis of decisions, which is informed by past emotions. Emotions are the result of experiences, which inform your intuition . . . . Intuition is the prediction; emotions are the consequence” (note 3).

4. Generally speaking, intuition is a gentle pull or push or knowing. Emotions tend to be a reaction to a thought or situation that triggers a feeling such as sadness, happiness or anger. Both express a portion of reality that logic may not be aware of.

5. Check out your motivations. Does ego want this in order to look good in the eyes of others, to please someone?

Fundamental to incorporating our emotions and intuition into our decision-making process are gentleness and patience. We will make mistakes—I call them experiments—but these become our teachers.  Through experience and sensitivity to our psyches we learn what was intuition-driven and what was emotion-driven.

We end up giving ourselves to the world as whole people, grateful for all our Divinely dispensed gifts—not just the ones ego believes are worthy of attention.

We all have an inner voice, our personal whisper from the universe.

All we have to do is listen—feel and sense it with an open heart.

Sometimes it whispers of intuition or precognition.

Other times, it whispers an awareness, a remembrance from another plane.

Dare to listen. Dare to hear with your heart.

Poet and writer CJ Heck, Bits and Pieces: Short Stories from a Writer’s Soul

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Notes & Sources:

1. Lehrer, Jonah. How We Decide, Mariner Books, 2010. Unfortunately, Lehrer made bad decisions and his publisher pulled the book after plagiarism was revealed. It’s an entertaining read, however, bringing insight and historical background to emotional intelligence.

2. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/emotional-fitness/201310/feelings-aren-t-facts

3. https://www.quora.com/How-do-you-distinguish-gut-intuition-from-emotion

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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

Unsolicited Advice: Helpful or Rude ll By Dorothy Wallis

October 2, 2018
Unsolicited Advice: Helpful or Rude
By Dorothy Wallis

  The need to “help” others or “fixing” the world and all that is wrong with it or whatever needs to be done “the right and proper way” has created a mindset amongst people with good intentions of overstepping the propriety of appropriate boundaries.  It has become commonplace for people to give unsolicited advice even about the simplest of tasks. It is almost a thoughtless reaction by some to tell a stranger or loved one what they “ought to do, should do, or how to do something.” In the mind of those giving this advice it may seem to be helpful or even done presumably from a heartfelt place.  Yet, unless done with permission, it is actually a violation of another person’s autonomy.

  Throughout my life, I have been on the receiving end of unwanted, unasked for advice and I imagine you probably have been too.  Rather than being helpful, it has left me feeling frustrated, distraught and sometimes discouraged. It seems to happen to me especially when I am involved in some physical activity that I am learning.

  Not long ago, I attended an afternoon hula class.  It may look simple, but it is actually very complicated.  There are specific arm and hand motions, along with intricate footwork and beautiful albeit difficult swaying of ones hips.  Putting all of this together is an art. The ongoing drop-in class was huge. There were the old timers that had been going for years and were very skilled, others that had recently joined and then the newbies like myself.  The instructor gave the history of the hula and then began with arm movements. He taught us a basic rotation of our hips with knees bent and then added steps. I was doing well at this point. As he progressed, he sped up the dance and I lagged behind.  I decided to concentrate on just the arms and stopped rotating my hips and doing the dance steps.

  I was having a delightfully enjoyable time gracefully following the arm movements until a lady next to me, who had a measure of hula proficiency, decided to take it upon herself to give me her advice.  “Rotate your hips,” she said sternly, “you need to move your hips, bend your knees, watch me.” The abruptness of her admonishment struck me with the feeling that I had personally sullied the hula dance.  I didn’t say anything. It stopped me in my tracks and my concentration went as well. It took me a moment to regain my composure as I ignored her and let her words fly past me.

  Receiving advice about the obvious is especially frustrating and demeaning.  It has a patronizing quality as if you are a child being told to wear your coat because it is snowing outside.  “Backseat driving” is an example. Telling a friend that has been driving for years, “You need to downshift, or upshift or get in the other lane,” feels rude and insulting.  Taking over another’s process or activity is condescending, “Here let me show you how to cut up that grapefruit.” This kind of offhand advice has an edge to it. Instead of helping another, it may be a form of dominance, an ego boost or one-upmanship disguised as helping.  A seemingly innocent comment when someone is struggling such as, “That’s why I do it this way,” may sound helpful but still signals the thought that the other is doing it wrong.  Telling someone what to do or how to do things sends the message that “I know better than you do.”  It feels powerful for the one giving the advice and can feel controlling to the one receiving it.

  Find out the underlying motivation you have to correct others or give them your opinion.  Perhaps you are critical of yourself and find that you unconsciously criticize others. Observe the effect on others and the areas you are most critical about.  What effect does your negative self-talk have on you? You may have a compulsive need to do things a certain way. Is there only one “right” way? Is it causing harm for others to do it their way?  

Let go of rigid adherence to specific ways of doing or thinking and see things from multiple perspectives. Allow others to make mistakes and allow yourself to learn new methods and experiences from them.

  Even if you truly believe you know a better way of doing something giving advice that is not asked for is usually not welcome.  Instead of being supportive, it often has the opposite effect of disheartening the receiver. When a person is having doubts about their ability, not only will they be reluctant to take your advice but they also may be inclined to stop trying to learn a new task.  If you bluntly give advice or rashly take over a task from someone, you are making assumptions about their abilities and knowledge. It is dismissive and belittling. Being controlled feels disrespectful and will often bring up a reaction of anger and stubbornness.  

Ask Permission
  If you are a person who tends to give unsolicited advice, what assumptions are you making about the other person?  Do you see them struggling and genuinely want to help them out of their frustration or do you see them as incompetent, incapable, weak, or deficient?  You may not believe they are inadequate, yet giving an unwanted opinion or attempting to fix another’s dilemma may imply it. If you sincerely want to help, ask permission to assist them.  Let them determine if they want your help or advice. There are times when taking quick action in an emergency is necessary and you can’t wait to ask. Yet, most of the time it will be apparent when you need to act and when you can take the time to assess a situation to see if your input is welcomed.  

  Recently, I was in the grocery store and turned my cart into an aisle where an elderly gentleman was stooped over and shaking all over.  He looked weak and in trouble. Instead of rushing in, I stood there for a moment and just observed him. He had a portable oxygen tank and seemed to be breathing just fine, but his shaking worried me.  I was thinking, “He looks like he needs help and no one else is around. What if he is having a heart attack?” I went up to him and asked, “Sir, are you alright, do you need help?” He turned and looked at me and replied, “No, thank you dear, I am fine.”  His speech was clear and indicated his honest desire to be left alone. He did not need or want my help. Just then a woman came around the corner into the aisle and went up to him. I assume it was his wife. She had been gathering groceries while he waited.  I was relieved and glad that I did not act hastily. He was in good hands and I did not infringe upon their privacy by asking the reason for his shaking. I respected his dignity by asking permission to assist and honoring his decision to decline.

When you ask permission, you are being thoughtful and helpful.  You are keeping your ego in check while allowing the autonomy and freedom of another.

Respecting Yourself When You Are on the Receiving End
  It took me many years when on the receiving end of unsolicited advice, to not take it personally and let the words and energy go past me without attaching to them.  If this is your story, know that you are not a helpless victim. Being triggered is normal and also points to a place inside where you are not feeling self-assured. If your self-esteem was totally confident you would either truly not care or when annoyed, you would be able to speak up and not allow someone to cross your boundaries.

Being silent while stewing inside and never speaking up is not beneficial.

  You have a responsibility to respect yourself and your friends and family by letting them know when something they are doing does not feel good to you. How else will they know when you feel intruded upon? It helps their growth as well as yours.

  It may feel awkward but when you realize your value, you will be able to trust that setting appropriate boundaries is good for you and for your relationships.  You will no longer attach to the pain of others and make it your own. Feeling upset or rejected from criticism and unwarranted advice will be a thing of the past.

  Whether you are on the giving end of unsolicited advice or on the receiving end, realize that your self-esteem is involved.  When you have healthy esteem you show respect for others and know that you deserve respect from others.

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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 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 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

     

On Letting Go ll By Erin Amundson

September 26, 2018
On Letting Go
By Erin Amundson

 

  In much of the spiritual and self help world that I engage, there is an emphasis on “letting go” and non-attachment.  If we truly want to manifest something, we have to want it badly and then let go of it at the same time. 

If we’ve outgrown a job, a relationship or a habit, we must simply let go. 

When someone leaves us, when things don’t work out the way we wanted them to, we are encouraged with vigor to let go and practice the law of non-attachment. 

  While I’ve appreciated the value of this advice, and the powerful transformations I’ve experienced as a result of learning to let go, I’ve realized recently that there isn’t much of a conversation about just how painful and difficult the process of letting go can be.  I haven’t come across any mention in all of the wisdom of my favorite teachings that breaks down the challenge of letting go and the reasons we sometimes cling so tight to an aspect of our lives that is ready to die.  And yet, this concept is all around the spiritual communities.  We let go in savasanah in our yoga practice, we “let go and let god” in Alcoholics Anonymous.  We meditate to achieve a state of letting go – non-attachment.  We consciously purge our belongings to let go of old stagnant energy in our homes.  In my ultra spiritual life, letting go is such a big part of my practice that I don’t even think about it. 

  Just yesterday, I met a friend who I’m saying goodbye to as I prepare to move to Europe.  She suggested that we perform a “letting go” ritual by stating some intentions and burying some physical representations of what we’re ready to leave behind in life.  I realized that I’ve done this kind of thing a lot. 

In fact, just about every autumn, I’m drawn to align with the cycle of the season, and mimic mother nature–

in her letting go process as we both prepare for hibernation and incubation.  But this time, as we approached the ritual, I was struck by the intensity of my recent emotional experiences of letting go of my life in the United States, and specifically in the beautiful state of Colorado. 

  Instead of just “letting go”, which to me would previously mean doing a ritual and being strong in the face of my emotions, I decided to slow down and really invite the process in.  And what I found was that I had tremendous grief about many aspects of the move.  Of course, I’m thrilled to be embarking on my life long dream of living in Europe, and because of the amazing-ness of my upcoming adventure, I felt that my friends and loved ones were confused by my grief.  And then I felt confused by it. 

  Upon reflection, I realized that this time, I’m letting go of some really wonderful things in order to make room for a lot of new really wonderful things.  In the past, it always seemed that I was letting go of things I’d outgrown, or relationships that had become toxic, jobs that had become stagnant.  In the experience of letting go of what has been a beautiful part of my journey,

I realized that my grief was triggering all of the old, unprocessed grief that has built up in my lifetime of letting go. 

I never grieved leaving my family home at 18 to pursue college, and in fact, I never really allowed myself to grieve any of my other letting go processes (other than the obvious grief of the death of a loved one). 

  In feeling the pain of it all, my emotional slate feels clean enough to build a whole new foundation.  I found myself wondering how my life might be different if I’d allowed myself to grieve the letting go experiences of my past.  I certainly can’t go back and change any of that, but I can move forward allowing myself to honor my attachments, even as I know I need to let them go.  There is good reason we find ourselves attached to certain places, relationships, jobs and things even if they are not good for us.  We are either adding value to our lives, or adding knowledge and growth when we acknowledge our attachments.  In this season, if you find yourself letting go of some aspect or aspects of your life, I encourage you to spend some time in the emotion of it.  If there is pain, let the pain be felt.  When we allow all of our feelings to pass through us, we clear the space for new feelings, added creativity, and a return to the flow that feels so good.  So let go, but don’t just let go.  Let go and let grief. 

 


About the author: Erin Amundson loves helping people reconnect to their natural technology by decoding the language of dreams.  She is a healer, a depth psychologist and an entrepreneur who specializes in teaching people how to identify and remove barriers to success and make friends with their subconscious mind.  As the creator and founder of Natural Dream Technology, Erin knows that hidden beneath the surface of your conscious mind is a uniquely talented visionary, and she wants the world to benefit from your contribution.

After several fights with her own subconscious mind (and a re-occurring nightmare about skipping classes and failing), Erin finally surrendered and followed the wisdom of her natural technology to get a second graduate degree in Counseling at Regis University.  A life-long follower of dreams, Erin now began to learn the language of the subconscious as she slept.  Just as Albert Einstein, Steve Jobs and Steven Spielberg all experienced, Erin began to recognize in her dreams that her best work is to help you reclaim your connection to your own natural technology through dreams and the subconscious.  She has been teaching, facilitating and engaging in dream work with ambitious professionals ever since. 

Erin currently practices as a depth psychotherapist in Denver, Colorado and via the internet around the world.  In addition to her dream work, Erin is a certified past life regressionist, an intuitive astrologer and a lover of travel, snowboarding, deep conversations and cooking delicious food, all of which she enjoys practicing while she sleeps.

Relational Awareness: (Part 3) Moving Out of Power and Control ll Dorothy Wallis

Relational Awareness: (Part 3) Moving Out of Power and Control

By Dorothy Wallis

 

Your first entrance into the world begins with relationship.  You come into the world with a small body that needs nurturing and care.  You cannot survive on your own.  You are not ready to stand and take care of yourself; you are dependent and vulnerable.  Naturally, there is an inborn fear of separation and a need to attach and bond.  Dependency is a gift that makes it necessary for you to be connected and engage with people and life.  Being seen with caring attention not only means that your basic physical needs will be met, it also fulfills a soulful need of value for simply being, it reflects back to you that you exist.  “I exist, therefore I am.”  You have an innate need to know that you belong, are valued, have meaning and are inherently good and worthy….

​From the start, a sense that you exist and your needs will be met is brought about by being recognized, accepted and valued by those around you. You look for external sources of confirmation of your worth so that you will receive all that you need.  Instead of “Self” esteem, the source of your esteem becomes associated with receiving it outside of yourself.  When you are loved and well cared for receiving external esteem feels great and is supportive.  The downside of this dependency is that no one else can provide for all of your needs nor can they give you the knowing of your inherent value and worth.  When you expect to get your needs or esteem met from others and don’t receive it, you are bound to be disappointed.  When you look to others for acceptance, approval and recognition, you give up awareness of your authentic self.  A sense of autonomy and control are vital stages of growth.  Placing the locus of control about your worth outside of yourself leaves you with a loss of control and sense of powerlessness. 
 
The sense of powerlessness and not being in control is frightening.  If you are powerless, you are vulnerable, which is, “a quality or state of being exposed to the possibility of being attacked or harmed, either physically or emotionally.”  Being powerless is dangerous.  Your sense of self contracts and you feel weak, diminished, helpless and exposed.  How will you survive?  Regaining your power and control is paramount.  Your psyche constructs the “adaptive child” to protect you and defend against harm.  When you are hurt, the first thing you want to do is stop the pain.  It’s all about stopping the pain.  Overarching instincts of survival kick in and you attempt to keep whatever is hurting you away or get others to give you what you want.  You cannot be concerned about anyone else or their feelings.  It is from this immature egoic child mind that the strategies of fight, flight, and freeze are formed and result in a conditioned stance.

Aggressive action to Regain a Sense of Power and Control

​The first strategy of ego defense is to use aggressive action as a way to gain back perceived loss of power and control.  The impulse to Fight shows up around the age of two, known as the “terrible twos.” Two year olds are known for the emergence of this strategy.  Anger, stubbornness, temper tantrums, firm “No’s,” and hitting are ways to keep others away or to get what you want.  Aggressive uncontained emotional outbursts such as yelling, screaming, shouting, wailing, whining or any sound that is frightening, offensive or annoying is often an effective way to get others to pay attention to your needs.  If this strategy gets results, it will remain as the first way to regain power. 

Passive action to Regain a Sense of Power and Control

​If you were demeaned, squashed, punished, or abused when you fought, you may have learned that fighting did not bring the power and control you sought nor did it work to get your needs met.  You found that keeping away from those that harmed you physically or emotionally kept you safe.  Flight is the urgent impulse activating you to flee, run away or distance yourself.  You learned how to remove your attention by either physically leaving a situation or by going inward, shutting others out, going silent and being passive.  It is the second strategy used by the “adaptive child.”

Inaction to Regain a Sense of Power and Control

​What happens when you can’t fight or run away?  Your psyche protects you by shutting down your conscious awareness so that you do not experience physical and emotional pain.  You Freeze.  You may “leave your body” and your memory and senses like your hearing and sight may turn off or be severely diminished. 

What Happens when you Use these Strategies in Your Adult Relationships?

​Part 2 of the Relational Awareness series introduced the Adaptive Child and the four non-relational stances that the ego uses to defend and protect.  A deeper look at these strategies reveals the way they keep you in a revolving door of separation and escalating conflict.

The “adaptive child” strategies are useful when you are a child and are dependent on your caretakers.  They also protect you in extreme danger.  But how do these strategies work in your relationships as an adult?  Remember, these strategies purposely disconnect you from others.  They engage when you believe it necessary to separate and distance yourself from others so that your value, power and sense of self will remain intact and you will not be harmed. 
 
There are times in relationship when someone says, does something or behaves in a manner that causes you harm, actual or perceived.  It may be physical, emotional or abhorrent to your values.  The wound to your identity may undermine your physical prowess or diminish your value and worth, or your self-esteem, which creates a sense of weakness.  You counter this with power to reassert control and esteem.

Fight Mode is Boundaryless and Uncontained

​When you react with aggression and fight mode and do not contain your emotions, you are Boundaryless and Uncontained. You allow your hurt and fury to project onto the person you believe has hurt you or is not providing what you need and this pain may spill out onto others as well.  Manipulation is often used to gain “the upper hand” and increase your sense of control and power.  It can take the form of reacting with high drama to get what you want.  This can be through attacking, striking out physically or verbally, with unbridled expression of emotional volatility, stonewalling, or Gaslighting.   

Flight Mode is Walled Off and Contained

​When you react to wounding by withdrawing, you contain your emotions and shield yourself from harm.  You are Walled Off and Contained.  You regain control through removing your attention by either physically leaving a situation or by going inward, shutting down and going silent.  The warmth of reciprocating energy is no longer flowing.  An icy cold shield blocks any connection.  Where the light of your being once stood is now a frozen silence of emptiness. 

The Effect on Relationship being 1 Up and “Better Than”

​When both you and your partner are 1 Up, there will be an exchange that ramps-up with rapid intensity.  Both partners believe that they are “right” and feel justified in their strong stance.  It may begin with a comment from one partner that triggers the other into returning a defensive rebuke.  

1 Up Boundaryless meets 1 Up Boundaryless

​When both partners are 1 Up and Boundaryless, they gain power through conflict and force.  The tone of voices will become increasingly firmer, sharper, louder and harsher and the energy will become heated with anger as the conflict escalates.  Both may hurl nasty, abusive, damaging, mocking and threatening words to strike the other person down.  Gaslighting may be used to gain power.  Screaming, yelling, loudmouthed obnoxious behavior may ensue.  If the fight continues people may slam doors, throw objects, or become physical with their partner by pushing, slapping, hitting or using increasingly violent physical abuse.  The conflict can become highly volatile and dangerous.  

1 Up Boundaryless meets 1 Up Walled Off

​The above tactics and heated exchange from the 1 Up and Boundaryless partner will feel threatening and attacking to the 1 Up and Walled Off person.  The wound to the self-esteem of the Walled Off person shows up as a sense of hurt pride and it results in an air of arrogance as a defense to the feeling of diminishment.  “I don’t need you and I will not open myself up to you” is held in order to protect and forget the hurt.  A stubborn attitude puts up a wall shutting out the other.  “I am right, end of discussion. There is no need to discuss this further.” “You have insulted my dignity and therefore I have no time for you.”  The shutting out of the other has a cold heartless feeling to it.  There is a sense of righteousness in the withdrawal.  Puffing up and withdrawing feels good initially but underneath there are feelings of hurt, disgrace or shame.  The Wall of protection not only shuts out the “other” but also serves to shut out any painful deprecating feelings about oneself. 
 
Instead of outwardly confronting the person or situation, if you are Walled Off your hurt and anger will come out in passive aggressive ways such as digs and subtle insults, backhanded compliments, giving the “cold shoulder,” silencing, being grumpy or sullen and unexpressive.  You may ignore or stop doing joint tasks and responsibilities.  Suppression of feelings can be so complete that there is no realization of the suppressed anger or cold aggressive attitude being projected onto your partner.  At first, you may believe that you are taking care of yourself and your feelings by withdrawing or that you are centered and regulated and therefore “above” emotions, all of which advances your feelings of superiority.  In fact, you are actively suppressing your emotions and so become unaware of them.  You may know the effect distancing is having on your partner, but you do not care or you may even relish it. 

The Effect on Relationship being 1 Down and “Less Than”

1 Up meets 1 Down “Less Than” and Boundaryless

​The power and force of the 1 Up partner, whether they are Boundaryless or Walled Off, will have a severe diminishing effect on the 1 Down partner.  An extreme fear of abandonment and loss of relationship and connection arises from disapproval, nonacceptance, or rejection when you are 1 Down.  It does not matter if your partner is aggressive and Boundaryless or if they are Walled Off and withdrawing, the force of disappointment, displeasure and antagonism will be felt as a cutting pain carving out a piece of your sense of self.  The idea of the loss of connection or being alone is so abhorrent that you become exceedingly anxious.  Thoughts of loss and loneliness fill your mind resulting in ruminating on small actions or behaviors of your partner creating exaggerated stories and worst-case scenarios of their intentions or motivations all leading to the conclusion that you will be abandoned.  These devastating thoughts create panic engendering a strong need to gain acceptance and love.  It shows up as boundless neediness and obsessive clinginess.  With severe feelings of powerlessness and fear of loss of control so prominent regaining a sense of control becomes acute.
 
When you are 1 Down and Boundaryless you actively seek regard and acceptance from your partner to affirm that you exist.  There is a constant need for reassurance that your partner cares for and thinks about you.  Jealousy arises surrounding their time and connection with others and so policing their interactions with others and knowing their whereabouts seems logical.  You may nag or attack your partner with long pronouncements and “unbridled self expression” or have bouts of extreme emotional volatility.  All is in an effort to win your partner back, to be seen, to be accepted, and to know you exist so that you will not face your ultimate fear of being left and alone.

Meeting the Frozen Mode of 1 Down and Walled Off

When you are 1 Down and Walled Off you quickly lose hope of connection or relating to your partner and withdraw.  You resign.  When meeting a Boundaryless person, you often feel overwhelmed with their energy pushing or attacking you.  You easily feel smothered and violated.  You can stealthily retreat so fast that your partner is bewildered about your whereabouts.  “Time-outs” can last for days, weeks, months or an eternity.  You become ambivalent, distant and non-committal.  You are very sensitive to the energetic shield put up by another Walled Off partner.  Their oppressive righteous disregard for you sends you into a frozen state with no fight or flight left in you.  Retreating to your inner world and not confronting or retaliating is a way to gain safety and peace within.  A time period of solitude and hermitage can help you when you have an inner practice.  It may be religious, spiritual, inspirational or uplifting, as long as it connects you to an inner knowing of your True essence and esteem.  If you have feelings of victimhood, you may believe that there is no way out and doomed to despair and your already low self-esteem will plummet.  You may become severely depressed and suicidal.  If you are in this state, seeking support is absolutely vital in order to regain a sense of authentic power.  Connection is the way out.

Control is a Losing Strategy

​Whether you are attempting to control and attack another through spewing your anger and emotions onto them or through withdrawing, closing off and silencing them, you will find yourself in endless conflict and resentment.  These are overt and covert ways of manipulation to assert power and control.  In adult relationships, controlling others only works in the short-term.  It is a major Losing strategy.  Can you see why?  When you control another person, they don’t like it.  Really, they don’t.  It does not feel safe.  Being controlled invokes the sense of powerlessness in others.  It creates contempt, which will show up in various behaviors and responses that will always create distance and lack of trust.  Of course, they push away, fight, or retreat when your energy overpowers them.  If you retreat, they will either attempt to pull you back into relationship so as not to feel abandoned or meet your lack of care with resignation by also withdrawing.  Instead of moving to safety for both, there is a push-pull of control with one person in control and one person feeling a loss of control.  Whether the fight is Boundaryless and overt or Withdrawing and covert, there is a jockeying back and forth, which causes further distance and conflict.    
 
It is easy to see how both the strategy of aggressive unbounded physical or emotional volatility and the strategy of withdrawing and shutting down of your partner does not create trusting, caring, connected relationships. 

Returning to Healthy Authentic Self-Esteem

​Understanding your reactions when you feel powerless and being aware of your partner’s reactions when they feel powerless will help both of you to return to authentic power and esteem.  When you are not happy or having difficulty with your partner, be aware of your feelings of power and worth.  Are you feeling a loss of control?  Do you feel a sense of diminishment?  Be with the tension instead of reacting.  You may not be feeling confident.  Be humble.  See that the vulnerable parts of you are human.  There is no shame in being vulnerable.   The vulnerable parts of you are the ones that connect you to others.  

You can’t get to courage without walking through vulnerability.

   ~ Brené Brown

Move beyond the hold your ego has on you.  There is no need to be “above” anyone else.  There is no need to be “perfect.”  Everyone makes mistakes and life is filled with challenges.  No one can control everything.  Let go of trying to control other people or outside circumstances.  Notice your expectations and see how they create disappointment and limitation.  With acceptance and allowance, you have the ability to return to equanimity with healthy esteem for yourself.  From this place, you will enhance your ability to Skillfully Relate from a place of Kindness and Compassion. 

Check out the entire Relational Awareness Series

Returning Love and Harmony to Your Relationships: (Part1) Energizing the Love Bond

Relational Awareness: (Part 2) Mirroring Unresolved Wounds


Dorothy Wallis is a former intern at People House in private practice with an M.A. in Marriage and Family Therapy.  She is 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 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

Relational Awareness (Part 2) Mirroring Unresolved Wounds ll Dorothy Wallis

Relational Awareness (Part 2)
Mirroring Unresolved Wounds
By Dorothy Wallis

 Make sure you read Part 1!

Did a ray of sunlight enter your life and suddenly a radiant being appeared in your midst that invoked a magnetic pull?  What attracted you to your partner in the first place?  Did she have a smile that melted you?  Did his enthusiasm and playful nature capture your desire for freedom and fun?  Did you admire his or her humor, assertiveness, confidence, or intellect?  Did she or he possess a savvy adventurous spirit?  Did you share similar interests or concordant life paths?  Perhaps it was charm and kindness that felt like a comforting hug.  Did you feel safe?  Maybe you experienced your partner intently absorbed and interested in you.  It felt so special.  To be truly seen fulfills a longing to be known.  

Knowing we are accepted just as we are gives us a sense of deep belonging.

Initially, attraction is coupled with the external qualities of a person including their physical appearance, their lifestyle, job, interests or demeanor.  At the same time, there is the indescribable euphoric attraction called “chemistry.”  You fall into a magical wonderland of being “In Love.”  You are on “Cloud 9” and literally may not touch the ground for a while.  The gravity of the biological magnetism invites you to move past the outer characteristics and behaviors and to move into relationship.  At around six to eighteen months, the intensity of the infatuation diminishes.  No longer blinded by overwhelming attraction and desire, you begin to see other parts of this person.  Underneath the allure are many internal layers of deep discoveries to mine.  Relationship is more than cohabitating together to provide you with the means to survive and procreate; it is actually a journey into the richness of finding the deeper truth of who you are.

Does that peak your curiosity?  The timber and tone of your voice, your behaviors, your values, attitudes and moods, how you handle change, crisis, emotions, and how you respond or react to every part of life is mirrored back to you through relationship with “another.”  The mirror reflects their response to your energy, how it is received and how it impacts them.  Your kindest most benevolent qualities as well as the gritty gnarly rough bits are seen.  You may have been unaware of disagreeable or undesirable traits within yourself.  You may not have acknowledged parts of yourself that push away relationship rather than attract connection.

Magnetic Attraction to Heal

An even stronger energetic attraction than the sexual or outer physical characteristics has been engaged from the start.  There is a familiarity about this person that is captivating.  There may be aspects of your partner that remind you of your parents, caregivers or someone that had a major influence on your upbringing.  Harville Hendrix coined the term, Imago, which is a Latin word describing our unconscious attraction to a composite image of what we perceive constitutes love.  It includes both the positive and negative qualities of our caregivers.  The Imago is the energetic signature or blueprint that magnetically pulls you toward a romantic partner.  Unconsciously, you look for your “Imago Match” in order to heal your childhood wounds.

No person goes unscathed in life.  Whatever dysfunctions occurred in the households of your childhood and adolescent years had an impact on you.  Your partner will enact aspects that “trigger” the unhealed or unresolved parts of you, which brings them to the forefront.  Relationship invites you to heal the childhood attachment and developmental wounds that keep you from wholeness.  You can no longer hide or keep hidden the sacred wounds of the past.  They pop up whenever there is a similarity between something in the present and something that was hurtful from the past.

Yikes…you thought you were free of past wounds and here you face them again.  Your task is to heal these wounds through learning how to have a different response, owning your “stuff,” regaining the truth within you, and integrating the past so that it no longer has a hold on you.  In other words, freedom is found through personal growth and learning how to be relational.

Myth:  Partnership and relationship will give me the Unconditional Love that I never received, which will heal me.   Grip Yourself….

The Truth is that you will not receive Unconditional Love from Your

Partner, nor will You Give it.

 Power Struggle

You merrily go into relationship with an unconscious belief that this person will give you what you missed growing up.  You have found the person that will understand you, give you security, support you, accept you, share with you and basically give you the unconditional love you crave.  It is a fantasy to think that unconditional love occurs in adult relationships.  How shocking when your partner jabs you with the same dysfunctional stuff that you experienced growing up.  Once again you find yourself with someone criticizing you, neglecting you, dismissing or invalidating you, being unsupportive, or being irresponsible, or withholding, withdrawing, abandoning, or perhaps venting their anger and frustrations on you, or having addictions.  The list goes on.  Whatever touches your deepest vulnerabilities and sensitivities will show up in the characteristics and behaviors of your partner.  Suddenly, you are in a power struggle with your partner and the experience of being wounded all over again.

Your Partner does not know all of Your Wounds and neither do You. 

They will Inadvertently Activate those Parts of You that need to be Healed.

 When you were a child, you were dependent on your parents or caretakers.   You had to cope with painful situations the best that you could.  As much as those coping strategies helped you get through those times, in its wake you were left with wounds to your heart. These are your unresolved issues that surface in relationship.  You may have experienced feelings of powerlessness.  A parent’s job is to unconditionally love their child.  Yet, no parent can do this perfectly.  In essence, your desire is to be re-parented to receive unconditional love and your partner has this underlying desire as well.  Yet, you are not in relationship to parent your partner, nor is he or she there to parent you.  Your love is conditional.  Think about it.  Will you stay in a relationship under any circumstance?  Will you stay if you are abused or your children are harmed?  You have “conditions” which are important for your safety, your values and integrity, and for your personal growth.

Your Relationship is a Crucible for Growth

 The “Love Bond” (in Relationships Part 1) can be a container for your growth as well as your partners.  Honoring and having reverence for your relationship as a living structure for Healing and Growth changes your perspective.  When both of you agree to value the life of your relationship, you agree to be willing to touch the pain you hold and support your partner in their pain.

Being Present to Disharmony

When there is disharmony, be aware of the potential for growth individually and for the relationship.  This is an opportunity to not only repair but to heal.  One or both of you may be experiencing a disruption.  Instead of ignoring the disturbance, you move towards the pain.  Is your partner upset?  Are you upset?  Be aware of what your first natural reaction or response is when you are triggered.  This is known as your “First Consciousness.”

First Consciousness

Your limbic system energizes when it senses threat.  A disturbance in the harmony of your relationship will activate your defenses, which is your “first consciousness.”  In what way do you defend or protect yourself when you are “triggered?”  Do you get angry and attack your partner with blame, shame, verbal abuse or physically threaten them?  Do you believe it is your partner’s entire problem and so you do not take responsibility for your part?  Do you defend yourself by explaining your intention(s) without acknowledging the pain your partner is experiencing, which does nothing to assuage their hurt?  Do you silence and withdraw?  Do you run away?  Do you counter their thoughts and feelings by dismissing them as not valid or wrong?  Do you sulk, stonewall, or become a victim?  Since all of these reactions are defensive, they push your partner away, nothing is resolved, and you have not dealt with your own uncomfortable feelings and pain.

Looking in the Mirror

What is your pattern when you are embroiled in an emotional trigger?  It may be different with acquaintances and friends than with your partner.  You may not project anger or walk-out on your friends or at your job but you may spew your anger or walk out on your partner.  This shadow part of you arises because you allow yourself to shut out your partner, who is familiar and known and unconsciously reminds you of the one(s) that wounded you in the past.

Your psyche reacts from the impulse to protect and defend using non-relational adaptive strategies of the ego.  Unfortunately, defense only escalates disconnection and is not concerned with repair.  The mirror your partner holds up is a powerful and very useful aspect to show you the behavioral stance you use to protect yourself.  Terrence Real brought forward four basic patterns of behaviors that your ego uses to defend and protect.  The ego will either use power and control to “puff up” and feel Better than others, 1 Up, or contract and diminish and go, 1 Down, to be Less than others.  It also defends by either not containing afflictive energy, which is a form of attack, or will retreat in containment and disconnection.  Notice which of these stances most often emerges when there is conflict in your relationships.

The 4 basic Patterns of Non-Relational Behavioral Stances

1 Up and Boundaryless and Uncontained: 1 Up is the sense of being Better Than and above another person.  It exemplifies a grandiose, superior stance.  You see your partner as less than you in some way.  Being boundaryless, you control the situation in order to defend and protect yourself.  You do not contain your emotions; you project onto others often with anger.  You may nag, vent, blame, shame, be verbally and emotionally abusive, shout, rage, or have uncontrolled outbursts.  You may be narcissistic and entitled.  You may become physically abusive.
2 Up and Walled Off and Contained:  1 Up is the sense of being Better Than and above another person.  You feel a sense of righteousness and superiority.  You contain your emotions by being indifferent to your partner.  They are not worth your attention.  You feel contempt and Wall yourself off from them and are Love Avoidant.  You disconnect, retreat and withdraw even if you are in the same room.  You may silence the other and punish them by not connecting.  You may be mean spirited and passive aggressive.
3 Down and Boundaryless and Uncontained: 1 Down is the sense of being Less Than. You see yourself as a victim.  You are hungry for affection, which may show up as insatiable neediness.  You do not like being alone and will cling to your partner.  You are Love dependent/addicted with a fear of being rejected.   Insecurity, helplessness, dependence and desperation are hallmarks of this stance.  You may use seduction and manipulation to get what you want.
4 Down and Boundaryless and Contained: 1 Down is the sense of being Less Than.  You withdraw from life and contain your emotions.  You feel small with no energy.  You are downtrodden with depression, resignation, and futility.  “Why bother?”  You feel defeated with no “fight left” or energy to express your thoughts, emotions or to take any action.  You retract inside yourself and may be suicidal.

When you find yourself behaving in any of these ways, know that this is a reaction to pain.  You are feeling emotionally hurt.  Your self-esteem has taken a hit.  Ask: What is underneath the surface pain?  What is it mirroring for you?  Notice if you ruminate or cannot let go of the disturbance.  If your reaction is extreme then it can be a clue that the hurt is more than the present interaction and is catalyzing a deeper wound.

Awareness is your friend.  Knowing your pattern of reaction when you are triggered is the first step in being able to come back to a healthy state of consciousness.  When you find yourself in a non-relational behavioral stance be aware, breathe, and wait until you feel calm and centered before communicating with your partner.

Holding up the Mirror to yourself reveals the truth of your pain.  When you push away or disconnect from your partner, you are literally disconnecting from your own discomfort and pain.  This may sound great but it never works to resolve the inner wounds and it keeps you from having healthy, loving relationships.  Compassionately connect with the truth of your hurt and from this place you will find relief.  Discovering the core of what ails you and reconnecting with yourself allows you to move towards connection with your partner.  Remember that shining light when you first met your partner?   That ray of sunlight was for you all along to shine a light on your wounds releasing the old hurts of the past and when you do, you connect with yourself and Open to Love. 

 


Dorothy Wallis is a former intern at People House in private practice with an M.A. in Marriage and Family Therapy.  She is 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 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

Why We Always Need Teachers, Gurus And Masters ll Lora Cheadle

Why We Always Need Teachers, Gurus and Masters, No Matter How Much of an Expert We Are
By: Lora Cheadle

Maybe you are like me. Maybe you are an expert at certain things, because you have done them for a long time, and because you are passionate about them. But did you know that even experts need teachers, gurus or masters to inspire them and help them grow? No matter how good we are at things, we always need someone there to guide or mentor us, so we can continue to evolve. Why? Because it’s easy for us as humans to get stuck in a rut, even without realizing that we are stuck!

And when we get stuck, our brains get stuck too, hardening into habits, beliefs and attitudes that may not serve us as the world around us continues to evolve.

You Can Teach and Old Dog New Tricks – But Without Practice, It’s Hard! (Literally)

The human brain is very adaptable. In infancy and childhood the brain is very malleable, and learning and assimilating new information is easy to do. As we age, our brains become more fixed, and change becomes more difficult. But this does not mean that change is impossible! This simply means that we need to make more of an effort to seek out opportunities for learning, opportunities for growth and expansion, in order to keep our brains functioning at their prime.

The brain is like a computer. The connections (thoughts, patterns, beliefs, habits) we use often, are stronger than the connections we use infrequently. This is why habits that we’ve had for decades are much harder to break than habits we’ve only recently acquired. When we are young, very few habits and patterns and connections have been set. When we are in school, learning sports, music, language, our brains are constantly being re-wired, challenged and re-arranged. So, like play-dough, our brains are shaped and reshaped again.

Once we settle down in our lives, we truly do begin to settle. We leave school, we leave some of our childhood hobbies behind because we have work or family obligations, we become good at our job, our relationships become set, and so does our brain. Like play-dough left out for too long without being manipulated, our brains begin to harden and form. Which can be good. Until it isn’t.

Unlike our hardened brains, the world continues to evolve. Technology changes, rules change, relationships change, children grow, parents age, and jobs are lost. Suddenly, we realize that we too need to adapt. But when we try to learn, we realize how hard it is! And we get frustrated and we want to quit!

But instead of quitting, all we need to do is add water and stir!

How Having a Teacher, Guru or Master Helps Us Adapt

No, our brains aren’t really hardened! With a little water and a little mixing, we can once again make our brains as malleable as they were when we were young. Keeping our brains flexible allows us to learn, grow, change and adapt to our circumstances at any age. How do we do this? Through working with a teacher, guru or master. Working with others keeps us fresh, keeps our brains soft and moldable and keeps us in the habit of learning, so whenever we are called upon to adapt; we can.

Whether it’s a teacher, who can teach us something that we don’t know, a guru who can walk us along a path that they themselves have walked, or a master, who can push us to a different level of understanding or skill, continuing to learn throughout our whole lives is vitally important. Not only because it’s fun to learn and expand, but because it helps us in the long run. Working with others allows us to continue to challenge ourselves, it creates new connections in our brains, and it keeps us flexible and easily adaptable. Working with others is like sprinkling water on our paly-dough. Which is a smart thing to do.

Because the world continues to change. And we need to be able to change with it. Comfortably.

Who’s Driving Your Life? ll Lora Cheadle

Who’s Driving Your Life?
True Power and the Fallacy of Force

     We like to think of ourselves as being strong and capable, and for the most part, we are! But because we live in a world that makes us believe we can make, or force, things to happen, we lose touch with the fact that the only thing we can control is ourselves. No matter how much the world tells us otherwise, we cannot make anyone else do what we want. And paradoxically, our true power lies in the absence of force; in the realization that although we cannot control anything, but that we still need to stay at the wheel. We still need to steer our own course for our own benefit.

     We all have dreams, goals and desires, and it’s perfectly acceptable to go after our dreams, to fight for our goals, and to pursue our desires. Often times, our hard work and dedication pays off, and we achieve exactly what it is we desires. Psychologically it’s good for us to plan, prepare and have projects that we are working on.

     The problem lies in the fact that we have been conditioned to think that we have control. That we will be rewarded, in kind, for our hard work and dedication. That if we pay our dues, we will be allowed in the club. That life is fair, and that we deserve things. Our thinking becomes black-and-white. Most of us believe that either;

  • We have complete control over our lives, and if things aren’t turning out the way we want, we simply have to buckle down, work hard, and force it to happen; or
  • That we have no control over our lives, we are at the mercy of God/family/friends/our job/our health/or financial situation/our living situation/the world, and that no matter how much we try, our ship will never come in.

     While neither of these extremes are accurate, most of us lock into one extreme or the other. Then, over time, we look for evidence that supports this belief. And as we find this evidence, it supports our belief as to how the world works, and our belief gets stronger. Eventually, the belief is so strong, that it becomes our world view, and it shapes the course of our life.

Bully Syndrome– My Way or the Highway!

     If we believe that we have the ability to force our will, or desires, or dreams onto others, then we turn our attention, our true power, away from ourselves. When we shift our focus or our power away from our self, and focus it on others, we engage in a type of coercion. Even when the relationship is mutual, whenever we are trying to get someone else to do something for us, we turn over our power to that other person. We become imbalanced, because all of our energy goes towards how we can make others fill us up. Instead of filling ourselves up, instead of creating for ourselves, we seek to have others do the work for us, on our behalf.

     While it may sound appealing to have others do the work for us, in reality, it weakens us. It moves our power outside of ourselves and places our responsibility for our self on others. We become reliant on them, and without realizing it, we have turned the wheel over to them. We can holler out directions, but they are the ones who are truly in charge. We are no longer driving our own lives, and we are relegated to being a back-seat driver in our own existence.

It’s not My Fault! Excuses, Victimhood and Taking Your Hands OFF The Wheel

     Similarly, when we believe that we have no control over anyone or anything, we hand our will away just as much as when we try to control others. The perpetual victim correctly sees that they have no control over others. However, instead of doing what they can to influence or change themselves, instead of at least trying to drive, they simply take their hands off the wheel. They don’t drive, nor do they seek out other competent drives to assist them. They careen along, being knocked about by every bump, twist or turn.

     And life does get bumpy for the perpetual victim! Moreover, the perpetual victim seems not to notice when good things happen, but only notices the bad. They create a self-fulfilling, poor me, belief system, and subconsciously they use the power that they do have, to perpetuate their dejected reality. They literally steer themselves into the ditch! So, although the victim may actually be more powerful than the bully, in that they understand that they cannot control others, they use the power that they do have, to create more victimhood!

Defensive Driving, and Balancing Our Power In Life

     The key to creating a healthy, successful life, lies in bridging the gap between these two extremes. In understanding that we are in charge of driving our own lives, and that although we may use others to assist us, that we are the only ones who can steer our own course. We have to take responsibility for the fact that sometimes we crash, and as crazy as it sounds, sometimes we crash intentionally. Whether it’s fear of failure, fear of success or some other deep, subconscious reason, sometimes we intentionally crash our own lives. And that’s okay. As long as we have awareness about what it is we have done, and we take responsibility for our choices and our actions, we will learn from our mistakes. We can correct our course.

     We are all the bully and we are all the victim. We are in charge of our own life. Take your own wheel, and be mindful about who you allow to drive for you. The road may be bumpy or smooth, but it’s not the road’s fault. Take the wheel when the going gets rough, and be mindful of where you are steering.

Everyone crashes. It’s what you learn from those crashes that counts.

Treasure What You Already Have ll Kate Heartsong

TREASURE WHAT YOU ALREADY HAVE AND BUILD CONFIDENCE AND GRATITUDE

By: Kate Heartsong

 

You’ve probably have heard to not take things for granted.  Yet we often do take people and/or and things for granted.  For example, how many times have you started your car and it starts?  You don’t think anything of it right?  How about when you get together with your friends and loved ones; go to the same job each day; have enough food on the table; feel physically healthy; are able to walk; and are free to go where you want to go?  Yes, all of these are easy to take for granted.

Yet, when something unexpected happens and what you’ve been taking for granted is gone, oh!  that’s when we appreciate it all the more!  And often we experience great upset when it’s gone.

About a year ago, I went to my car in the garage, and pushed the garage door opener, and the garage door got stuck.  It turns out the whole spring and cable came out!  I couldn’t get my car out after trying to open the garage manually either.  It was a helpless feeling, knowing my car was stuck in this garage and I couldn’t go to teach my class!

Thankfully, my roommate and also my nextdoor neighbor were available quickly after I contacted both of them.  Wow!  They assessed the situation, were able to put their muscles to work and manually lifted the heavy garage door.  I was free!  Talk about a great demonstration of being taken care of by the universe through these two wonderful men acting so quickly on my behalf.

This situation wasn’t extreme as others, yet it reminded me to appreciate and treasure what I do already have. 

Then, this made me realize that sometimes we can take ourselves and our skills and gifts for granted.   Ummm, let’s think about that one! 

For example, how many times have you shown up to work, offering your organizational, communication, and/or leadership skills – whatever gifts and skills you use – without giving it a thought of the positive benefits you’re giving to your employer, co-workers and clients?

What would it be like if you came to truly recognize those gifts and skills at work?  And what about at home in your personal life?  What would it be like to really appreciate yourself?  This will increase your self-confidence!  And the awesome thing about this is, as you raise your self-appreciation and confidence, and NOT take yourself for granted, you also benefit others around you!

I bring these examples up simply to remind you to not take things for granted, and not to take yourself for granted.  Let’s take this a step further, and invoke gratitude for all you have , for all you do and all your gifts and skills!  Gratitude is such a powerful and positive emotion, and it raises your vibration, so you feel better!

I invite you to sit down and write a few of your gifts and skills and feel gratitude for yourself.  Also, write down five people and/or things you’re choosing to NOT take for granted.

Here’s to your confidence, joy, empowerment and fun!


Kate Heartsong is the “Confidence Coach”, motivational speaker, workshop facilitator, author and Reiki Master/Teacher.  Her passion to serve others comes from her personal journey of transformation.  Kate’s audiences and clients gain self-confidence and new heights of self-appreciation and also reduce their stress, through her deep wisdom, expertise, caring, and the Psychology and Business degrees she holds.

Kate Heartsong
303.549.0546
Kate@JoyfulRadiance.com
Website:  JoyfulRadiance.com

The Real Secret ll Erin Amundson

The Real Secret – How Your Subconscious Plays a Role in Manifestation
By: Erin Amundson

Recently I had the pleasure of sitting down with a friend who has been looking for a new job for quite some time.  This friend of mine has an impressive resume, an attractive personality, amazing personal references and has been in the search for work for more than a year in a market that should be relatively easy to find a job in.  He’s working his tail off, he’s hired professionals to review his resume, and he follows up every time.  He’s doing “everything right” – and not succeeding.  Well, everything, that is, except perhaps the MOST IMPORTANT thing: examining his subconscious beliefs and managing his energetic output.

When I engaged him in a process of going deeper, we discovered a few things. 

One, he had been shamefully and arguably wrongfully terminated from a job in the height of his career.  Two, as a child he was constantly told he wouldn’t amount to much by an abusive father.  Three, he had become desperate for a job, and that was very clear in his body language and energy.

First, let’s look at his past in the context of the quantum world we live in.  New science continues to prove that we are made of energy and the environment around us is made of that same energy (this is at the smallest level of the molecule).  Science also tells us that these energetic particles are in a feedback loop with one another.  That means that we take in the information from our environment and adjust to it, and our environment takes in the information from US and adjusts to it. 

So, the question I always ask is this:  Do you want be a product of your environment or the creator of it?

As adults, we have the choice.  However, we’ve all heard children called “sponges” and for good reason.  When my friend was small, his environment was one of abuse, failure, limitation, addiction and struggle.  His little being soaked all of that up, and because his young brain wasn’t developed enough to process it, the information was stored in his subconscious, which created a program of output based on his environment.  My friend now puts out a literal vibe of being worthless, having to struggle, being a victim and failure.   And as he is interviewing for jobs, these are the messages that are reflected right back to him.

On paper, and in person, you’d never know this about my friend.  The truth is, he didn’t know it about himself.  Consciously, LOGICally, he knows he’s talented and hard working.  But under the surface, he is still telling the story of his childhood, reinforced by the story of his being fired mid-career.  I suspect he will either attract no employment at all or another abusive employer if he doesn’t shift the story of his subconscious.

The second factor keeping my friend from his dream job is his desperation.  This one was developed after a few months of searching and failing.  He approaches his interviews with a neediness, that ultimate keeps attracting more need into his life.  If we spoke to the employers, we’d probably hear them say something like, “I can’t put my finger on it, but something about that guy just doesn’t FEEL right.” 

And they’d be correct because my friend is out of alignment to attract what he wants.

So what’s the message in this story?  If you’re working to co-create your life – whatever it is that you want – and it’s not working out for you, you may need to explore your subconscious.  Most of the great law of attraction literature teaches us to manage our thoughts.  I think this is great – but did you know that our conscious brain is only 5% of the story?  The rest of the information, particularly information we have taken in as children, is stored in our subconscious.  The subconscious thoughts and beliefs put out just as much of a vibe as our conscious thoughts and beliefs.  It is only when we bring them into our conscious awareness that we truly have the power to create what we desire.


Erin currently practices as a depth psychotherapist in Denver, Colorado and via the internet around the world.  In addition to her dream work, Erin is a certified past life regressionist, an intuitive astrologer and a lover of travel, snowboarding, deep conversations and cooking delicious food, all of which she enjoys practicing while she sleeps.

Change or Starve: Cracking Patriarchal Buddhism ll Rev. Mary Coday Edwards

Change or Starve: Cracking Patriarchal Buddhism
By Rev. Mary Coday Edwards, MA

In the days of the Buddha, in the Indian village of Kosambi, two Buddhist monks came to blows over a petty latrine infraction when one of the monks left water in the bathroom’s dipper. The dissension grew, with the law breaker being excommunicated—unfairly in his opinion, as well as in the opinion of his followers. Two factions formed around these monks, creating more discord.

Word of their animosity reached the Buddha, and he sent emissaries encouraging them to be united, and twice the emissaries reported back saying, “They refuse to be reconciled.”

The Buddha himself came to mediate, and was told by the two monks to mind his own business. The Buddha then left to go on retreat.

Due to the monks’ enmity, the spiritual needs of the community began to suffer.

Now, Buddhist traditions require the community to support the monastics through alms giving.

“This is ridiculous,” they decided. “We’re feeding these leaders for what reason?”

Halting the giving of alms, the community members told the two dissenting monks, “Change or starve.” And so the lay people accomplished what the Buddha couldn’t, and the monks resolved their differences (1).

A First Step: Full Ordination of Women

Buddhism’s foundation was built upon a political past of hierarchy, patriarchy, and authoritarianism. Buddhist theologian Rita M. Gross asks whether,

“… stripped of sexist privilege to men, patriarchal hierarchies, and androcentric interpretations of key texts and concepts, anything remains of the religion” (2).

In other words, can this religion be saved? Under this patriarchal veneer, do core truths exist that are fundamentally democratic and liberating for both men and women? Gross concludes there are, as does retired Vipassana Buddhist teacher Eric Kolvig (3), encapsulated through the Four Noble Truths (4).

Gross says that institutionalized and mandated full ordination of women is an obvious first step, granting women full participation in Buddhist institutions.

“Ordain them or starve!” said Vipassana Buddhist Teacher Eric Kolvig.

Kolvig told me the opening Kosambi story in connection with the Theravada Buddhist tradition.

“Monastics in the Theravada tradition depend for their survival entirely on support from laypeople,” he said. “The laypeople of Kosambi withdrew their support from the battling monastics and forced the antagonists to make peace.  It was the first recorded organized boycott in human history.

“The patriarchal establishment in Theravada monasticism today steadfastly refuses to grant women full ordination,” Kolvig continued.

“Because these contemporary monastics, like the ones in the Buddha’s time, depend entirely on support from laypeople in order to survive, we can be inspired by that boycott 2,500-plus years ago.  We laypeople today can withdraw our support from those who will not grant women full ordination, saying, ‘ordain them or starve!’”

Historical Precedents

Within the three Buddhist traditions of Zen, Tibetan, and Vipassana/Theravada, sub-groups exist which have in the past and continue to ordain bhikkhuni, but not necessarily granting full ordination. Elements of unfairness still remain across countries and within these three traditions. For example, women may have obligatory extra vows, called The Eight Garudharmas, subordinating them to the bhikkhus. In some countries, women end up neither bhikkhuni nor lay people, but somewhere in the middle. Not fully ordained, they are not entitled to the same recognition, status, or financial support as their bhikkhu brethren.

But within Buddhism, precedents exist justifying female ordination. Historians say that after Prince Siddhartha became the Buddha, he denied his aunt’s request, Mahapajapati Gotami—the woman who had raised him—for admission into his monastic community.

But Gotami persisted. Eventually the Buddha relented and ordained Gotami as a bhikkhuni (fully ordained Buddhist nun; male monastics are called bhikkhus), along with other women including his wife Yaśodharā. This order lasted for a thousand years, dying out through what Gross believes was institutionalized neglect as well as the discouragement of women from leaving their traditional, domestic roles behind for their own spiritual quest.

Bowing to Outdated Cultural Constructs?

Do Westerners want to give up their civil rights—legal rights guaranteed to them—such as the rights imparted to U.S. citizens through the U.S. Constitution, which include the basic right of freedom from discrimination based on certain personal characteristics, such as gender, race, or disability?

Do these same individuals want to live divided/dualistic lives, where in the political and economic spheres women can lead governments and corporations, but in their religious communities, they are subject to the whims of a male dictatorship? Where men keep half the world’s adult population as children, determining what’s “best” for them? Do we want to return to that oppression/suppression?

I left my Christian church years ago. I’d been in dialogue with the male pastors over their suppression of women’s rights when it dawned on me: “Hey! This is a volunteer organization—what am I doing? I don’t have to be a part of this.” I was a leader in my professional life, but in the church I was a child whose speech and conduct were directed by the male moral arbiters, who couldn’t—and wouldn’t—explain this dichotomy.  I withdrew my energy to direct it toward life-affirming endeavors vs. life-denying.

Ordain them or starve (5). It’s simple and powerful.

______

Notes & Sources:

1.) https://www.ancient-buddhist-texts.net/English-Texts/Buddhist-Legends/01-05.htm

2.) Buddhist theologian Rita M. Gross’, “Buddhism After Patriarchy,” in After Patriarchy: Feminist Transformations of the World Religions, eds. Paula M. Cooey, William R. Eakin, and Jay B. McDonald; 1998; Orbis Books, New York. (This question could be asked of all the world’s major religions.)

3.) Personal interview with retired Vipassana Buddhist teacher Eric Kolvig, February 2018.

4.) Many Buddhist resources exist on line and in print explaining The Four Noble Truths.

5.) Change IS happening: https://www.lionsroar.com/enlightenment-has-no-gender/; https://www.lionsroar.com/love-and-justice-the-radical-buddhism-of-rev-angel-kyodo-williams/; http://theweek.com/captured/721705/thailands-female-rebel-monks

_______

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

Building Confidence in Recovery through Self-Acceptance ll Martha Fletcher

Building Confidence in Recovery through Self-Acceptance
By Martha Fletcher

Because one believes in oneself, one doesn’t try to convince others.  Because one is content with oneself, one doesn’t need others’ approval.  Because one accepts oneself, the whole world accepts him or her.

Lao Tzu

Self-confidence is contingent on our self-view.  That is, our perception of personal worth and competence.  A healthy self-view starts and ends with self-acceptance.  When we reject any part of ourselves by holding the beliefs we are inferior and incompetent, our confidence in our abilities and judgment becomes unstable and insecure.  To have self-acceptance is to love ourselves unconditionally!

Self-worth is determined by how we measure our personal value.  When we measure our worth against external values, such as wealth, success, popularity, status, and beauty, the value we assign ourselves begins to decrease when we fall short of how we believe we “ought” to be.  When we measure our worth against our mistakes, flaws, and struggles, the self-view takes on an inferiority complex.  Finally, when we base our worth on acceptance of others, the self-view becomes fragile and defensive which determines the quality of our interpersonal relationships.

Cultivating Confidence

We can start strengthening the foundation of our confidence by creating a healthy sense of self. 

This includes unconditional self-acceptance.  We can cultivate self-acceptance in the following ways:

  • Choose self-compassion and love over judgment and criticism. You can do this by recruiting your inner critic to be on your side instead of on your case.
  • Choose acceptance over rejection. What part of yourself are you rejecting?  Take that part and embrace it with open arms like you would the person you love the most.
  • Don’t take things personally. What people say and do is a reflection of their own pain and suffering.  It has nothing to do with you!
  • Selfvalidate. Validate yourself through honoring personal values and striving towards self-improvement. Love yourself from your heart, not through the eyes of others. Take what you want others to say about you and create an affirmation and repeat it to yourself.
  • Your mistakes are not part of your identity. Mistakes are not a measure of self-worth.  Mistakes are behaviors.  We are not our behaviors.  Forgive yourself and use them to make better choices in the future.
  • Find the treasure in your struggles. Where you stumble is where you will find your greatest treasure. When life trips you up with struggles and problems, there is a treasure at your feet.  Look for it!
  • Stay focused on the positive. What do you like about yourself?  Build a shrine to your strengths and values.
  • Accept limitations without judgment. Each and every person has limitations.  You are part of the human race.  Expect it!  Accept it!
  • Evaluate yourself independently instead of comparing yourself to others. Life is not a competition.  Always do your best and know that is the best!

Self-worth and Addiction

The cycle of addiction is fueled by a negative self-view.  Feelings of low self-worth sound like, “I’m not good enough; I’m a failure; I’m not important; I’m worthless.”  At the heart of unhealthy emotions like anxiety and depression is an intolerance to events that are perceived as personal failures or rejection by others, which can lead to self-destructive behavior.  The judger is always watching and waiting for the next mistake, failure, or rejection so it can criticize, shame, and repeatedly punish.  The reality is we all fail, we all are rejected at times, but in no way to these determine our value.  We can learn to cope with these realities by developing self-acceptance.

Self-acceptance is crucial to building confidence and a healthy sense of self in recovery.  It is not something we are born with, it is something we learn, practice, and master over time.  We need to throw away the ruler in which we are measuring our self-worth and start practicing self-acceptance.  This means talking to oneself with love and compassion, focusing on strengths and values, taking pride in our accomplishments, forgiving ourself, and changing the meaning we give our mistakes, failures, and flaws.  Perhaps the need to be valuable is mistaken for the need to make our life important and meaningful.  We can make our life count in the way we enrich the lives of others, living with purpose and meaning, the contributions we make, through an appreciative and grateful attitude towards life, and through love and acceptance of ourselves and others.


Martha Fletcher is a visiting practitioner at People House, and is owner and private practitioner at MRW Recovery Coaching.  Martha graduated summa cum laude with a BA in psychology from Hunter College, City University of New York and is a certified addiction recovery and life coach through New York University, New York State OASAS and Connecticut Community for Addiction Recovery.  She is also a trained SMART Recovery facilitator and founder of Books4Recovery. She recently received her certification in Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy through the Albert Ellis Institute and Illinois Certification Board.

MRW Recovery Coaching
3035 W. 25th Avenue
Denver, CO 80211
www.mrwrecoverycoaching.com
Ph: 720-515-0713

Feminism as a Path to Healing: Part 2 ll Mary Coday Edwards

By Rev. Mary Coday Edwards, MA.
September 12, 2017

“I decided you didn’t need it,” said a retired, older white man (OWM) to me in my not too distant past.

“Whoa,” I thought, while simultaneously, “Warning! Warning! Danger ahead!” clanged my internal alarm systems.

And then I razzed this potential colleague mercilessly about his god-like powers enabling him to know my truth.

Unfortunately, he didn’t get it.

Normally I avoid collaborative ventures with OWM, but this one has a good heart, and the nonprofit I was tip-toeing into had the potential for increasing the planet’s greater good, so I risked it. However, my somewhat mature and somewhat wiser self now enters into such endeavors consciously. Life is short, so I choose to divert my limited energy into life-flourishing undertakings and I needed to research his organization.

Over a span of three weeks – again, and again, and again – I asked for the Articles of Incorporation. These are legal documents and available to the public.  During those weeks, the OWM wanted commitments from me, but as I humorously explained to him many times, “how can I commit until I know what I am committing TO?”

The Articles were the documents he had “decided” I “didn’t need,” a comment he eventually made in passing, as if it was perfectly normal and acceptable for him to decide for me.

ENTITLEMENT, CONTROL, & COMMAND: CHARACTERISTICS OF A PATRIARCHAL SYSTEM

Patriarchy commonly means social systems in which power is primarily held by adult men – and in Western culture, that would be predominantly white adult men.

Author Sue Monk Kidd says the characteristics of a patriarchal system include (1):

Entitlement: the belief that one is inherently deserving of privileges or special treatment.

Control: the power to influence or direct people’s behavior or the course of events.

Command: give an authoritative order; have authority over, be in charge of; dominate from a superior height

Strongly influenced by feminist thinking in both science and theology, physicist-turned-theologian Ian Barbour speaks of patriarchal assumptions underlying scientific research and discovery.

“Control and domination of nature express attitudes associated more often with men than women in Western culture”, he says. And, that “in a patriarchal society, the exploitation of women and nature have a common ideological root …. Scientists participate in these manipulating attitudes when they make control and prediction, rather than understanding, their goal.” (2, pgs 24, 149.)

Patriarchal values (which are not necessarily male values) include the belief that one is entitled to control, command, and dominate. This always implies a one-way relationship, whether it be political, personal, or religious: someone has to dominate and someone has to submit; someone has to be right, someone has to be wrong; someone has to control, someone is the controllee.

This OWM did eventually send me the documents.  But at an unconscious level, he believed he was entitled to tell me, an adult woman, that he knew what was best for me, thus revealing that his worldview still included the erroneous right of control and command – as if I was a small child.

LOVINGKINDNESS: IT DOESN’T MEAN APPROVAL

My younger self faithfully served as a handmaiden to the dominant male culture for far too many years (3). In some cases, I actually believed patriarchy’s ardent male and female supporters would see, like a parasite, how the system drained life out of the very ones it depended upon for its existence.

I could have been the poster child for Einstein’s definition of insanity: Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

This OWM’s words revealed his unconscious bias.  A successful businessman before he retired, he is a product of a 3,000-year-old patriarchy system; it’s in his DNA.

I get this – and I can extend lovingkindness to him without approving of his life-denigrating actions toward me – or feeling compelled to be “nice”.

That’s why, and because of his good heart, I stuck with it for three weeks, even while he lightly dismissed my requests as trivial. If this had been part of a patriarchal system, I wouldn’t have had a choice, and it would have been institutionalized oppression, pervasive in the United States until woman’s suffrage in 1920 (it’s still prevalent – just not so obvious).

In my last blog, I spoke of how the patriarchy sends both women AND men to my office, seeking healing from their woundings.  Feminism means being able to make the choices that are right for you.

In addition, as adults we carry this bossy and demanding patriarchal authority unconsciously within us, long past its expiration date. While reading this blog, if any feelings or emotions surfaced or wiggled around in your body, such as sadness, anger, tears, a fight or flight reaction, I suggest you mindfully reflect on those emotions, waiting for any truth or memory that may be seeking to surface. Emotions are our teachers – they are not good or bad.

Whatever you experience, don’t push it away but stay with it, welcoming this wisdom of transforming power and energy. And practice mindfulness, as Jon Kabat-Zinn taught (4):

Mindfulness is paying attention on purpose,
in the present moment,
and nonjudgmentally,
to the unfolding of experience moment to moment.

______

Notes & Sources: Kidd, Sue Monk. The Dance of the Dissident Daughter. A Woman’s Journey from Christian Tradition to the Sacred Feminine. HarperCollins; 1996. Pg. 199.

1.) Kidd, Sue Monk. The Dance of the Dissident Daughter. A Woman’s Journey from Christian Tradition to the Sacred Feminine. HarperCollins; 1996. Pg. 199.

2.) Barbour, Ian. Religion and Science; Historical and Contemporary Issues. HarperSanFrancisco, 1997.

3.) Murdock, Maureen. The Heroine’s Journey, pg 2. Shambhala Publications, 1990.

4.) Kabat-Zinn, Jon. The founder of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, calls this practice mindfulness.


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

Here is a list of the other blog Mary has written for People House:

After the Deluge ll Dorothy Wallis

After the Deluge
By Dorothy Wallis

     Imagine people stranded for hours and days on rooftops, in homes, in cars, sleeping on freeways, and people wading through neck high water filled with rodents and snakes in an attempt to find safety.  Imagine what it is like to be trapped inside a building or car and wondering if you will be found or rescued.  Imagine being out in the elements drenched, cold, tired, hungry, carrying babies and children trying to find your way to a shelter overflowing with people.  This is not a movie…this is the reality in the 4th largest city in the United States, underwater in an unfathomable deluge.  Of course you have heard about the catastrophe in Houston.  Yet, the realization of the magnitude of this disaster is hard to imagine.

   

     Presently, there are over 32,000 people in shelters.  People were air lifted from hospitals, and nursing homes.  Other people are bravely and dramatically rescuing those still stranded, using helicopters, boats, kayaks, canoes or anything that floats including air mattresses, and even carrying people on their backs to safety.  The doors of community centers, schools, churches, mosques, temples and many businesses have opened to house people and do whatever is necessary to help people and animals survive the flood.  Ranchers on horseback are driving cattle out of floodwaters while some reluctant and frightened animals are being dragged out.  With human lives being a priority, many animals are lost or left behind.  Currently, there are volunteers and organizations from other states coming in to find, rescue and shelter animals.  Amid the horror of the storm and the devastation and destruction, acts of courage and compassion are evident.

 

Dealing with Loss

     People are still missing.  People have died.  In the coming weeks, loss will be felt.  Not just the loss of homes and possessions, but the loss of a sense of safety, security and a former sense of normalcy.  Entire communities have been destroyed.  It is estimated that as many as 40,000 homes have been wiped out and thousands more damaged.  Hurricane Harvey in Texas and Louisiana has affected 13 million people.  Schools, grocery stores, churches, businesses and all normal functions of life are gone.  In moments of danger survival is all that matters.  There is no time to think or feel except how to get to safety.  The physical and emotional impact is momentarily put on hold.  In the days that follow, thousands of people will feel the shock and despair of enormous loss and wonder how they can create their life again. 

     This is trauma.  The stories of the traumatized and the terror that individuals experienced will be alarming.  People are dealing with nightmarish and unexpected danger that sounds otherworldly.  One man was torn up by a colony of fire ants floating on the water.  Another man watched hordes of them crawl up any solid surface they could find.  A woman and her children trapped for five days were finally rescued and brought to a shelter.  Wide-eyed and in shock, she and her children were cold, water logged and hadn’t eaten in days.  Emotionally, in a state of panic, fear and anger, she was spent.  Finally finding shelter, her emotions emerged in a roar.  Her “Mama Bear” came out strong and fierce; there was no ignoring her demands to get her children food and warmth.

     Emotions will be heightened as the reality of the situation begins to arise and the tension and emotions that have been held inside surface.  It will take time for the full impact to be known.  After getting people out of harms way, the first response in a disaster of this proportion is to provide food, shelter and the basic necessities to those in need.  We know how to provide for the physical needs.  Humans come together in disasters and unify against a common foe.  Human chains formed in Houston to rescue people and animals.  Immediately there has been a compassionate outpouring of volunteers, donations of money, food and clothing, and people providing space in their homes and sheltering animals. 

Softening the Blow of the Emotional Aftermath

     Providing for the emotional needs in the aftermath is more challenging.  Once people have those basic needs met and the immediate crisis is over, those affected are often left to fend for themselves.  The aftermath of a catastrophe is the most daunting.  Helping people deal with their acute feelings of vulnerability is essential.  Connection with others is key, which helps a person know they are not alone and that someone cares. 

     It has been found that post traumatic stress syndrome, PTSD, can be minimized or even eliminated when a person is able to freely talk about their experience with someone supporting and accepting their emotions and their story.  This includes validating the traumatized persons experience, comforting them, and assuring them that they are safe and that there is an available system of support to help keep them safe.  Knowing that you are safe reduces the flush of fear activation in your body. 

Allowance and Acceptance Restores Equilibrium

     After experiencing trauma, it is normal for emotions to arise apparently without any provocation.  A life-threatening event throws you out of balance.  There is a sense of being “out of control” and an awareness of being at the mercy of random over-powering forces.  Much of the feeling of safety occurs when you are able to know you are capable of controlling some aspect of yourself.  By allowing yourself to gently experience the intense emotions that cycle through and learning how to cope with them rather than shutting them down is healing.  

     Often people feel they are helping someone by telling them to “quiet down, stop crying, quit being so angry and emotional, be calm,” which might temporarily shut down the emotional reaction, but is actually a disservice.  Emotions are a vibrational charge of energy coursing through the body.  That energy has to go somewhere and will sit inside unless there is release and resolution.  It Is better to help by encouraging the person to feel safe with their emotions and let them know it is normal to be having intense emotions after a life-threatening shock.  This validates their personal experience and lets them know that they are okay and will regain their equilibrium.

     Release happens when you consciously touch and feel the sensations of the emotion allowing the energy to flow and dissipate.  It can be scary to feel the intensity because there is the perception that the emotions are uncontrollable.  Being patient, compassionate, and taking as much time as needed to slowly feel the emotions and stopping when it gets too much helps you to know you are capable of managing the flow. 

     Disturbing and reoccurring thoughts are also common after a traumatic experience.  It is a natural part of the healing process for these thoughts to come up and will diminish over time when given the proper support.  Resolution occurs when you realize the event is past and can accept the reality that it happened, you have skills and resources that showed up, you survived, and you are stronger and grew through the experience.  Instead of seeing yourself as powerless, you see how the experience fostered a greater realization of your ability to thrive and to meet life.  This gives you the confidence to create your life and move forward. 

Challenge, Growth and Opportunity

     Whether you are one that is experiencing trauma, has in the past, or are someone reaching out to help someone in distress, in truth, we are all in this together.  As you feel compassion and empathy for your own vulnerability your heart can expand to touch this very human quality and see that growth and resilience are found within the core of your most tender parts.

     For all of the loss that is part of this tragedy, there is the opportunity for much growth and wisdom to occur.  Humans are resilient and though we often focus on the darker aspects of our nature, adversity also brings forth the unifying higher qualities.  Pay attention to all of the stories of miraculous rescues and story after story of courageous shining examples of selfless bravery and giving.  See all who are uplifting and supporting their brethren.

     Let us praise those characteristics and bring a greater awareness in our daily lives to love our fellow beings and give support and encouragement.

 

Let the music keep our spirits high
Let the buildings keep our children dry
Let creation reveal its secrets by and by, by and by
When the light that’s lost within us reaches the sky

~ Jackson Browne “Before the Deluge”


     Dorothy Wallis is a former intern at People House in private practice with an M.A. in Marriage and Family Therapy.  She is 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 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

Building Self-Confidence ll Kate Heartsong

Building Self-Confidence

By: Kate Heartsong  

Self-confidence is an important foundation for all areas of our lives. 

Self-confidence:

– impacts how we interact with others and how we relate to ourselves

– effects how we perform at our jobs or our own business

– is responsible for how easy or hard we experience life changes

– gives us our ability (or inability) to step outside of our comfort zone and try new experiences

– and more

     We all benefit from having a healthy level of self-confidence, whether it’s the type of self-confidence that’s related to self-esteem, related to making life changes, or the confidence related to self-efficacy (the level of confidence you have regarding receiving results from the effort you put out).

     Building self-confidence and maintaining this is all an inside job.  It’s up to you to take effective action steps such as learning and using tools and processes.  Be willing to take the bull by the horns.  No one else can do it for you!  In this, and the future confidence articles, I’ll be sharing some valuable tools for you to use.

     Some of the symptoms of low self-confidence include frequently saying sorry, feeling depressed, having self-doubt, making mistakes and covering them up so others don’t think bad of you or asking for something you want.

     So, you may be asking “How can I raise my self-confidence”?  Well, one of several effective ways is to create a more positive and better belief about yourself.   This is done through affirmations and visualizations, and are much more effective when you feel the emotions that are associated with the new beliefs you want to create.

You’re invited to discover a process that I call “The Feeling Process”. This will help you build your self-confidence:

1) Become aware of what belief or behavior you want to change. 
Example:  Have less self-criticism
2) Create a replacement belief or behavior and then create a visual representation and/or an affirmation  
Example: The replacement behavior is: Use more positive self-talk.
Visualize a big beautiful red heart that represents positively talking to yourself instead of criticizing yourself.
 3) Now imagine this visual representation and/or say the affirmation, and at the same time, feel the emotion of how it feels to have this new belief or behavior.  Just use your imagination and make believe.  Have fun with this! It’s best to do this for a few minutes or more.
Example: Visualize the big beautiful red heart coming lovingly towards you.  With intention, feel the emotion of love and appreciation absorbing you.  This emotion can be invoked by thinking of a loved one or remembering a positive experience.
Say positive statements such as “I appreciate you!”
You’ll benefit by doing this daily several times a day.  The more you do this, the better.  It has a cumulative effect too!  So, if this process resonates with you, use it. You’ll love the benefits you receive!
There are other processes and tools that you can use to build your confidence; you’ll learn another one in the next blog. You’ll also discover that it’s through conditioning that creates your self-confidence.
Here’s to your confidence, joy, empowerment and fun!


Kate Heartsong is the “Confidence Coach”, motivational speaker, workshop facilitator, author and Reiki Master/Teacher.  Her passion to serve others comes from her personal journey of transformation.  Kate’s audiences and clients gain self-confidence and new heights of self-appreciation and also reduce their stress, through her deep wisdom, expertise, caring, and the Psychology and Business degrees she holds.

Kate Heartsong
303.549.0546
Kate@JoyfulRadiance.com
Website:  JoyfulRadiance.com

Bouncing Back:  Building Resilience in Addiction Recovery ll Martha Fletcher

Bouncing Back:  Building Resilience in Addiction Recovery

The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.  – Nelson Mandela

     In August 2012, I discovered something called my five-year plan.  I was amid my struggle with substance abuse and thought if I could have the life I wanted, surely giving up alcohol would be worth the benefits of having that life.  I created a timeline of what I would accomplish and by when.  I finished college, got my certifications, moved to Colorado, started my coaching practice, dated a wonderful person, and had plans to be married in 2017.  However, my five-year plan fell apart just short of having it all.  The path of least resistance would have been to return to drinking to cope with my loss and disappointment with the thought, “What’s the point, I have nothing left to lose but this pain?” 

     When the reasons that motivate us to change who we are and how we live are not realized, we can become disappointed, depressed, and angry which can lead to relapse.  Does this mean lower our expectations so low that we can guarantee a certain outcome?  Does it mean to set small goals to avoid feeling disappointed?  Small goals are not motivating and lowering our expectations is comparable to saying, “I’ll give it a shot, but I don’t expect much.”  How long are we going to sustain any real effort with that mindset?  These are not solutions, but ways to protect ourselves from feeling vulnerable to failure and disappointment.  When failure is not an option, we can forget about sustaining any long-term motivation in recovery because learning, growing, and change require risk.   

     Fear of being vulnerable keeps us stuck in our comfort zone when we aren’t given effective ways to manage living outside of it.  The solution is not to avoid being vulnerable to disappointment and failure, but to learn to experience it without the need to escape it.  It is hard to tolerate these experiences when we tell ourselves it is unbearable, we can’t stand it, and brand ourselves failures or life as unfair.  By doing so we actual turn something manageable into hopelessness and powerlessness.  The truth is it is uncomfortable to fail and be disappointment, but we can bounce back from hardships by cultivating the ability to overcome these adversities.  That is the meaning of resilience.    

     When faced with adversity, resilience is like two hands pulling us through the darkness towards the light.  Those hands are hope and faith.  Hope is not something we have or don’t have, but something we cultivate in our thinking and actions.  Hope is defined as a desire for things to be the way we want them to be.  It is synonymous with ambition, goal, plan, and design.  Hope is a personal power to effect change.  We can do this through goal-setting, problem-solving, and action-planning.  It also requires flexibility, perseverance, and believing in our own abilities, along with the courage to reach out for help and support.   For example, if we are faced with a health crisis, do we turn it over to the hands of God alone or do we actively participate in our recovery?  We do both. 

     Faith is the other hand.  The Serenity Prayer reads, “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.”  In some situations, hope alone can only take us so far and the hand of faith will need to carry us the rest of the way.  The definition of faith is complete trust or confidence in someone or something.  Does confidence equate to certainty or guarantee of a desired outcome?  According to Anne Lamott’s book, Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith, “The opposite of faith is not doubt, but certainty.”  Brené Brown in The Gifts of Imperfection defines faith as “a place of mystery, where we find the courage to believe in what we cannot see and the strength to let go of our fear of uncertainty.” 

     To truly live is to experience disappointment, failure, and loss, along with joy, happiness, and success.  At the heart of all these feelings and experiences is vulnerability.  When we avoid showing up for our own lives in fear of feeling exposed and vulnerable to failure and disappointment, we will be observing life in a dark room through a small window, never experiencing what it means to be alive.  Those in recovery deserve to feel joy, happiness, and success.  However, we have to being willing to walk through the door of vulnerability and have the tools to manage the emotions we experience when we do.  By cultivating a resilient spirit, we can fully experience life despite uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure.

     Hope and faith have helped me choose the path of courage when facing disappointment and failure in recovery.  I am uncertain about the future, but I cultivate hope by setting realistic goals, believing in myself, and trusting faith.  Faith is not my golden ticket.  It does not guarantee me anything, but I am confident that I am being held in the gentle hands of something greater than myself and that, despite success and failure, and there will be both, there will be joy because joy springs from the heart of vulnerability.


Martha Fletcher is a visiting practitioner at People House, and is owner and private practitioner at MRW Recovery Coaching.  Martha graduated summa cum laude with a BA in psychology from Hunter College, City University of New York and is a certified addiction recovery and life coach through New York University, New York State OASAS and Connecticut Community for Addiction Recovery.  She is also a trained SMART Recovery facilitator and founder of Books4Recovery. She recently received her certification in Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy through the Albert Ellis Institute and Illinois Certification Board.

MRW Recovery Coaching
3035 W. 25th Avenue
Denver, CO 80211
www.mrwrecoverycoaching.com
Ph: 720-515-0713

Dreams ll Erin Amundson

Dreams

By: Erin Amunson

  

Many of us have heard the phrase I am a spiritual being having a human experience.

     If you’ve heard it, you might think that it’s a pretty profound statement.  It’s smart, it’s catchy, and it resonates.  Something about turning our perspective around to consider that we are much more than human helps to soothe some of the discomforts life brings.  I’m all for that.  That’s why I practice and write about everyday spirituality.  I know that the more I connect with the spiritual aspect of my existence, the easier it is to navigate my life with joy and playfulness.

      In reflection, I began to wonder why we need to remind ourselves that we are spiritual beings having human experiences.   If it’s true that we are spiritual beings, wouldn’t be easier to just be spiritual?  I would think so, but the truth is that most of us get caught up in worry – about our bills, our children, our career path, our politics, our relationships and our bodies.  All of this worry creates a spiritual crisis, and then face a forced reminder that we need to connect as a spiritual being.

I don’t know about you, but I’m interested in an easier way.  That’s why I created a personal and professional practice centered in daily spirituality.   There are many ways to do this.  How you do it isn’t as important as just doing it.  I like to do things that are easy, fun, and natural to me. 

                I have found that the most natural, easy and fun way to maintain a daily connection to spirituality is through dream work.    

     We all dream daily, whether we are aware we are doing it or not.  Many of us invest a lot of money and time in self-help books, retreats, yoga, meditation, therapy, coaching, and endless other opportunities to keep us aligned on our spiritual path. 

      These are all important in my world, but I wonder why we miss one of the more obvious and simple ways to stay connected – our own subconscious link to the soul through dreams.  I like to call this our Natural Technology.  And once you know how to speak the language of dreams, it costs nothing but a few minutes of your time daily or weekly. 

       The two most common questions I get about dreaming are Why is it Important? and How do I do it?  Let’s start with the first.  Dreams have been a part of most indigenous culture’s spiritual practice since the beginning of time.  See this link for a great example. Tribes gathered at the morning fire to discuss the visions of the night before and make adjustments to their living to follow what the dreams told them.  Often, this was the practice that saved their lives. 

     In more recent times, the greats such as Albert Einstein, Steve Jobs and Steven Spielberg credit their dreams for their greatest contributions to the world. 

     In short, dreams offer us warnings, healing, and alignment as well as a connection to our own brilliance in the world.  But first we have to understand the language.  I teach this for a living both in my private practice and through my free events, weekend retreats and writing. 

      Here are some ideas for getting started.  First, to remember dreams, it’s important to have a practice of recording your dreams every morning, when you first wake up.  I suggest writing them in a journal or recording them on your phone to listen to later.  It usually takes about 5 minutes to record anything you remember.  Even snippets of dreams can hold powerful material.  If you are having trouble recalling your dreams, you can create a bedtime ritual of asking to remember your dreams by writing, lighting a candle you identify as a dream candle, or any other ritual that suits you. 

     Once you have material to work with, I suggest starting by making associations to your dream symbols.  If you dream about a crow, write that word down in your journal, quiet your mind with several deep breaths or a meditation, and jot down whatever comes into your awareness when you think about a crow. Then ask yourself what aspect of your life resonates with these association words.  If death comes to mind, think about an area of your life you are ready to put to rest.  

     In addition to this, you can ask the dream symbol to speak to you in a meditative state and see what message it has.  Most of us think of a crow as a representation of death, but I’ve seen it mean different things to different dreamers including strength to face an illness, the burden of an addiction and an indication that it is time to make a career change. 

    When you begin to engage dreams, your subconscious responds by providing you with more material and usually begins to offer more direct guidance.  When you record your dreams, you might identify patterns that symbolize an important message from spirit, such as a dream that someone else is driving your car – and that you need to develop or initiate taking the wheel in some aspect of your life.

     Personally, my dreams have warned me away from abusive people in my life, guided me to a career that uses my core talents and fulfills me, helped me to co-create aspects of life I want to manifest and healed a childhood trauma for me.  If I were to calculate the costs in therapy, self-help, life-coaching and workshops, I’m sure I would’ve spent thousands of dollars.  I only wish someone had taught me this language at an earlier age. 


Erin currently practices as a depth psychotherapist in Denver, Colorado and via the internet around the world.  In addition to her dream work, Erin is a certified past life regressionist, an intuitive astrologer and a lover of travel, snowboarding, deep conversations and cooking delicious food, all of which she enjoys practicing while she sleeps.

The Art of Darkness ll Rich Brodt

The Art of Darkness

By: Rich Brodt

     I sat across the aisle from my classmate, Kyle, on a bus filled with counseling students from our master’s degree program. We were heading back to campus from a day trip to Taos, NM. Kyle and I were engaged a lively discussion about our favorite horror movies. As our conversation turned to some more obscure titles and topics, another student eventually turned around to express that our conversation was a bit morbid. With seeming disgust, the student questioned why someone would be drawn to such dark topics as a source of entertainment.

     I was familiar with this tone. It rang with both curiosity and mild disgust. My tastes in the darker side of art had been questioned by friends, romantic partners, teachers, parents and others throughout my life. Truthfully, I had not seriously questioned these interests until after the brief incident on the bus. I did, however, observe that most of the people in my life looked at some of my interests in a negative light. On that bus, I also observed that many individuals working towards a career in the counseling profession, where judgment is frowned upon, had no problem chiming in to let us know that the subject matter was a bit offensive to their sensibilities. As I continue to consider the idea of why some of us are drawn to darkness, the answer seems simple. These pursuits are therapeutic.

     When watching a horror movie, one is faced with the uncanny, the mysterious, the obscene and the paranormal. In a sense, these are concepts of unreality in that what we see in horror movies does not reflect the world’s present reality, except in rare circumstances. As a result, the movie creates a world that is separate from our own. It is a fantastical surrogate, used to represent the atrocities of our world without forcing us to witness those atrocities in a reality that is too familiar to us. It is inhabited by fictitious people and entities playing out fictitious stories. In this alternate reality, the viewer can safely engage in fantasy and take on any role from hero to perpetrator of evil. This feels permissible because the fantasy takes place in a setting so removed from reality. The viewer has a safe place to explore their most distressing, unwanted desires without slipping into a place of self-judgment, and without inflicting harm on others. This is cathartic. 

     Catharsis is not without value, but there is deeper work to do. This is where both art and therapy can play a larger role in allowing the individual to process the emotions related to horrific or scary thoughts.

     Personally, poetry was the medium I chose to explore darkness. The lens of the poet allowed me to take my most negative thoughts and twist them into beautiful language. Using this lens to explore my psyche, I could see light and dark integrate to form a more complete picture. I saw myself expressed on the page and accepted the positive and negative as equally important parts of my personal narrative. They were not good thoughts and bad thoughts, they were simply different thoughts, the integration of which allowed me to feel whole, and the denial of which made me feel disconnected. Poetry was a door to vulnerability that allowed me share myself with others on a deep level. I no longer needed to live in denial of what I believed were unacceptable feelings and thoughts. It was a starting point to self-awareness and self-acceptance.

     Writing worked well for me and has become an essential part of my mental health, but counselors can foster the same kind of exploration in their sessions if they are willing to go there with clients, fostering an atmosphere where these thoughts can be explored, imagined, experienced and processed.

     The clinician can use a variety of skills to accomplish this. If the clinician senses that a client is keeping something hidden, they may inquire about this, maintaining a non-judgmental stance, the clinician can ask the individual about songs or other movies they may be connecting with at present. Jungian depth work would also be helpful in helping a client connect to some of their thoughts that they may shy away from. Having the option to provide the clinician with an image or metaphor representing a thought should let clients feel safer disclosing and processing. This creates separation from the client’s inner thoughts, allowing them to process a representation of their thought when the thought itself is too difficult to swallow. That being said, it is not necessarily the method that will make a difference, but the willingness to dialog with the client about these thoughts creates a space where self-acceptance is possible amid unacceptable thoughts. Without a route to accept and process such thoughts, an individual may avoid or deny these thoughts, seeing them as taboo. This closes an individual off to vulnerability and can lead to destructive behaviors, such as self-harm, substance abuse and various other unwanted behaviors.


Rich Brodt is a former intern at People House, and is currently a co-owner and private practitioner at Elevated Counseling, PLLC in the Highlands area of Denver. Prior to training to become a therapist, Rich practiced as a mental health litigation attorney in New York City, where he first became passionate about the field. Rich draws on knowledge of law, philosophy and poetry, bringing a unique perspective to his sessions. 

Rich’s current practice utilizes a client-centered approach, integrating Gestalt, existential and depth approaches. He focuses his practice trauma and anxiety-related issues, including PTSD, high-stress careers, life transitions and other major stressors. Rich’s first priority in counseling is to create a safe, non-judgmental space, where clients can feel comfortable sharing and processing their most difficult thoughts. 

Elevated Counseling, PLLC
2727 Bryant Street Suite 550
Denver, CO 80211
ElevatedCounseling.org
Ph: (720) 295-1352

Feminism as a Path to Healing || Mary Coday Edwards

Blog 18: Feminism as a path to healing

By Rev. Mary Coday Edwards, MA.
July 25, 2017

“What I do is not up to you,” Wonder Woman schools Steve Trevor when he decrees: “I can’t let you do this.”

In other words, patriarchal values of London’s World War I don’t control her. When men try to define her, confine her, or exclude her, she just goes about being herself, listening to her intuition, and continuing her mission of eliminating as much suffering as she can.

Of course, supernatural powers make for a pretty good backup.

But first, as a disclaimer: patriarchal systems are not necessarily male values (more of that in next month’s blog).

IF I’M NICE ENOUGH, THEY’LL LET ME PLAY

For many years I avoided using THAT WORD – feminism. While I was against unjust patriarchal social institutions that kept men and women as children, THAT WORD was too loaded, so I focused my energy on ecological injustices and the complex web of life we’re all participants of. After all, I reasoned, if we’re all in this together – down to the soil molecules we depend on for food – surely intellectually we as a species would come to our senses and want ALL life to flourish. That’s in our best interests, as members of humanity.

And a definition of feminism includes this relationality, this interconnectedness. If we’re all in this together, why should anyone/anything be excluded from decision-making in our political, educational, and economic institutions?

Alas and yes – I was so naïve.

True, for almost 20 of those years I lived and worked in Third-World nations, hearing often enough of Westerners forcing their values on the rest of the world as a form of colonization.

But a Human Rights Conference in Peshawar, Pakistan, put that myth to rest, as well as a wise, male Iranian professor, who stressed that these were basic HUMAN rights. But yet, in order to not offend, I still came about it from an indirect way.

And who did I worry of offending or angering?

Those with vested interests in continuing the status quo, those who stood to lose through the demise of the patriarchal system. As a child of patriarchy, I was waiting for permission and, therefore, living with an unconscious filter: If I’m nice enough, they’ll let me play.

That’s not a filter Wonder Woman lives by.

MAKING CHOICES THAT ARE RIGHT FOR YOU

FEMINISM basically means equality and being able to make the choices that are right for you – whatever your gender is. Webster formally defines it “as the policy, practice, or advocacy of political, economical, and. social equality for women.”   

Feminism includes the belief that being a woman or gender non-conforming person is as valuable as a being a man – not better than.

And in its quest for social justice, feminism calls out those who use their power and position to abuse the marginalized. Not a man-hater, Wonder Woman wasn’t into protecting anyone’s ego – regardless of gender – in her mission to end suffering (see Note 1).

Irreconcilable with feminism is PATRIARCHY, defined by Webster as a social system in which the chief authority is the father or eldest male member of the family, clan, or ruling system. Breaking this down:

  • Like a pyramid, an extremely small number of people hold all the power over the majority.
  • Since the “fathers” only qualify to rule, it presupposes male superiority.
  • Thus characterized by androcentrism, the dominant norms and values center on male perceptions, interpretations, experience, needs, and interests, thereby marginalizing women, intersex people, and non-binary gendered people.
  • This minority decrees who is worthy to access material goods and the means to that, such as education, jobs, and political influence.
  • Generally speaking, the tasks allotted to men will be more highly valued and rewarded than those tasks allotted to women.

FEMINISM AS A PATH TO HEALING

Daily I encounter souls deeply wounded by patriarchy and its values – both men and women.

Sensitive, spiritual, and creative, they come to me cut off from the deepest parts of who they are – parts generally seen as weak by our culture and therefore nonacceptable. They conformed in order to avoid pain, humiliation, ridicule, and often familial ostracization.

Their journeys back to wholeness include not only taking individual responsibility for their own responses and the re-membering of these shamed bits, but acknowledging the social oppression that colluded in these woundings. And then taking the next step – working to dismantle these societal norms (see Note 2) embedded in our political, education, and economic institutions that perpetuate the wounding.

In next month’s blog, we’ll look at our cultural values, beliefs, attitudes, and actions. We’ll be searching for those that enable all life to flourish in our interconnectedness.

Meanwhile, mindfully pay attention to what gives you life and what, if anything, needs to change to support that transforming energy.

______

Notes & Sources:

1.) Weiss, Suzannah; July 5, 2016. https://www.bustle.com/articles/170721-7-things-the-word-feminist-does-not-mean
2.)Mander, Anica Vesel, and Rush, Anne Kent. Feminism as Therapy. Random House. 1977.
3.)Editors Cooey, Paula M.; Eakin, Willilam R.; and M cDaniel, Jay B. After Patriarchy: Feminist Transformations of the World Religions.  Orbis Books, New York. 1998.
_______

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

Turning Your Inner Critic Into a Supportive Ally || Dorothy Wallis

Turning Your Inner Critic Into a Supportive Ally

Does your inner voice judge you or demean you?  Is a critical voice telling you what you “should” or “should not” do or experience?  Do you have a feeling that somehow you are not enough or do not matter?

At first, your Inner Critic may wake you up and try to get your attention; “better work on that project, get going, you are going to be late, quit procrastinating, you made a mistake, be responsible, exercise, eat healthier.” It informs and jars you into action.  It can be helpful, nudging and prodding you into beneficial behaviors.

If you haven’t paid attention, it often turns ugly and begins to berate you.  It says mean things about your character; “you are lazy, stupid, ugly, irresponsible, wrong, weak, no good, damaged, you can’t do anything right, nobody will ever want to be with you and you will never amount to anything.”  Those may be mild words compared with your critic.

Whatever words bring up your deepest darkest core wounds, the critic uses them against you to force you to react.  It causes a sharp pain inside telling you, “You are not good enough and need to be fixed.”  The message is that you are bad and shameful or you are weak and ineffective.  This voice is relentless.  You become anxious, hypersensitive, and defensive.  It brings up a host of feelings, which may run the gamut from annoyance, worry, frustration, to anger, guilt, sadness, intense grief and toxic shame.  At the worst, you can’t concentrate on anything else.  You are caught in a barrage of thoughts and feelings that tear down your self-esteem, may cause confusion, depression, and sleepless nights until you are apathetic and drained of energy.

Even when you are feeling tormented by the inner critic, there is another part of you that arises in disagreement with it.  The angst and pain are shouting that judging yourself is harmful.   You KNOW there is another story.

Where does this Critical Voice come from and Why is it Controlling Me?
With all of its bashing and criticism, you naturally think that the inner critic is a judgmental devil that wants to crush you.  You resist it, push it away or attempt to ignore it.  Judging yourself, your experience, your emotions or others always creates distance.  There is an immediate natural reaction to push away or ignore what we judge as not right or do not want to experience.  So, you push away the inner critic and at the same time distance yourself from experiences and people, which the critic suspects are harmful in some way.

“You lock the door and throw away the key, There’s someone in my head, but it’s not me.”  ~ Pink Floyd 

What if I told you that this voice wants to protect you?  Now, that seems like an absurd, crazy thought….but stay with me.

The inner critic is a part of the psyche known as the Superego.  It has a purpose.  Its job is to help you follow the rules, protocols of society and beliefs that you formed as a guiding foundation in which to safely navigate the reality.  Your inner critic is a guide and protector constantly watching everything you do or don’t do so that you stay on course, to keep you safe and free from pain.  It guides you away from any person, experience or emotion it assumes will cause you pain.  It points directly at your values, rules, and beliefs and cleverly knows exactly how to get you to stay in line with them.  You developed many of these rules in childhood by hearing, watching and learning about what was expected of you and what your family and culture deemed valuable.  You added your own self-critique, thoughts and beliefs through your experience of life.  This conglomeration of words and phrases are repeated to you through the voice in your head.

The thing is…all beliefs and truths about reality are temporary constructs.  You and life are constantly growing and expanding.  Values, beliefs, and rules need to grow and change as well.  The values and beliefs of your caretakers and culture may not mesh with your highest good or what is applicable for you now.  In addition, unhealthy cultural motivators of anger, guilt and shame most likely shaped your inner critic.  The inner critic only has power and control over you when you believe disparaging thoughts about yourself to be true or believe that all of its advice is good for you.  Rather than motivating you, derogatory criticism, judgment and shame deplete your self-confidence and contract you.  It limits you, keeps you small and disengaged from your talents and abilities.

“The Inner Critic does not know the Truth”

You have the Key to Open the door to the Truth 
Think of the Superego as a supervisor.  The job of the supervisor is to oversee You.  It tells you when you are going out of bounds from your own values and beliefs.  It did not create the rules nor did it create the way to deliver the message.  It does not know the truth.  It is simply pointing out the principles you have believed are valuable for you to be safe, be accepted, receive love, achieve your purpose and fit in with society.  You get to decide what to believe and what values support your highest well-being.  When you know this, your superego can work for you in a powerful way to uplift you instead of diminishing you.

Approaching the Inner Critic with Non-judgmental Awareness and Discernment
1.  With compassionate awareness and discernment determine:  What is the intention of the voice?  How is it attempting to protect or guide me?
Turn toward the inner critic instead of pushing it away.  Approach the voice from an intimate distance with curiosity and loving-kindness.  Have compassion for this part of you that wants to protect and guide you.  Listen to what it is actually saying.  Instead of immediately believing the words, question the validity of your self-talk.  Is it a guiding voice talking about behaviors that need adjustment or actions to take that are helpful, is it protecting you from pain, or is the critic attacking your character?

2.  If it is Guiding you then ask:  How is it guiding me?  Is the guidance helpful or not? Am I resisting any actions, behaviors or experiences, which are beneficial for me?

3.  If it is Protecting you then ask:  What is it protecting me from?  Is there something dangerous or to fear?  Is it limiting me?  Am I afraid to feel my emotions?  Am I afraid to see reality?

3.  If it is Attacking your character:  Is it saying you are flawed, defective, no good or weak?  What were you told growing up?  All attacks on your inherent worth are untrue and damaging.  Allow yourself to touch the pain underlying condemning words.  See the truth and allow any wounded feelings of shame, weakness and grief to express and release.  What have you believed about yourself?

4.  Use the superego’s directional compass to reveal distortions of the truth and to show you what you believe.  See the triggered emotions as telling you “something is off otherwise I would not feel pain.”  What have you believed you needed to be, to have, to do, or to achieve in order to be accepted and feel safe in relationship or in the world?  Do these statements about yourself or how you interact with life match up with the truth of your authentic self?  Do they support your highest growth?  Do they allow you to expand and grow or do they keep you contracted and limited?

You get to choose what you believe and what values support you.  You are not bound by the judgments of others or of a “voice in your head.”  Whenever you hear words of what you “should do” or “should be” it is an indication of someone’s opinion and that opinion may not jive at all with what is right for you.  Use discernment to decide whether the advice is beneficial or not.  Remember, you do not need to be “fixed.”  You are inherently valuable; you matter and simply by being, you are enough.

You can build a different relationship with your superego.  You can feel compassion for the vulnerable parts of yourself that are afraid to step out of limitation and the tender parts afraid to feel the pain of repressed wounds or emotions.  You can silence the disrespectful voice by honoring the truth of your inherent worth.  You have the ability to transform outmoded beliefs and rules into healthy life-giving ones that support you and your relationships with others.  When you listen with your heart you will know what values, behaviors and actions serve your soul’s highest good.  By becoming aware of your authentic truth, your inner critic will take its proper role as a supportive guide and protector and become a worthwhile ally.

************************************************************************About the Author

Dorothy Wallis is a former intern at People House in private practice with an M.A. in Marriage and Family Therapy.  She is 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 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

Fruits of the Spirit || Lora Cheadle

Fruits of the Spirit

By Lora Cheadle

Ingredients for a Happy Life

I’ve noticed a lot of relationship stuff on Facebook lately. Many of my friends are celebrating anniversaries, several friend’s kids have gotten engaged, and there are always a multitude of articles such as: making others fall madly in love with you, what women are biologically programmed to find attractive in a mate and what all men wish women knew.

Then there was the post from The Onion that my son recently shared. It was entitled, “Study Finds Not Acting Like Total F*&%ing Moron Most Attractive Quality in Potential Mate.” Although the article was satire, it actually made a very important point, which you don’t even need to read the article in order to benefit from. And that is, don’t act like a jerk.

Everyone has Troubles, the Difference is how we Respond to Trouble

Life is hard. For all of us. Nobody goes through live unscathed, no matter what they may say and no matter what you may think. Everyone experiences loss, heart break, devastation, sadness, depression and pain. True, some may seem to have more or less than others, but really, it’s about the same. Everyone experiences hardship. The difference is how we handle that difficulty.

Being Positive For Ourselves

Most people are resilient and most of us like to feel good, so we go ahead and act happy, even when we aren’t. Not to lie, or to put on a false front, but simply so we can feel as good as possible. Because feeling good feels better than feeling bad. So, for whatever period of time that we are out in public, we put on a happy front, and quite often, because of the happy front we’ve put on, we actually feel happier.

Not Burdening Others

Sometimes we also feign happiness for others. There are many situations where it’s not appropriate to say what’s really going on in our lives. For better or for worse, there are things that we just don’t say, and there are things we just don’t want to hear from others.

How would we react if our favorite barista told us that she’s super tired because her husband got drunk last night and woke her up at two in the morning to fight about their credit card bill, which was too high to pay off? What if a co-worker said she was sorry to be so out of sorts, but that she hadn’t felt loved in years, and that the emptiness of a bad marriage sometimes really got her down. What if the checker at the grocery store shared that his grandma is battling cancer and that his ex-wife was bipolar and he is scared to leave the kids with her more often than he was comfortable with because his grandma needed so much help?

In some sense it could be a relief to hear that others had problems too, and it might make us more compassionate, but in another sense, it could unduly burden us. We might think, “What, so now I’m supposed to be late because you can’t get it together?” or “What am I supposed to do with that? Am I supposed to help, offer advice, give you the day off? What do I do now?” Which is why culturally, we just don’t air our dirty laundry!

Everyone Hurts, All the Time

Just because we don’t share our problems, doesn’t mean that they don’t exist. We aren’t the only ones with problems and we aren’t the only ones digging deep, putting on a pleasant face and going on with our day to the best of our ability. Everyone else is too.

Which brings us to The Onion article that my son posted on Facebook. The most attractive quality in anyone, not just a potential mate, is not acting like an idiot. Treating everyone with respect, kindness, and with the assumption that everyone is fighting some kind of battle.

It doesn’t matter what kind of a relationship we are talking about either. Whether it’s a long term one or just a fleeting interaction in public, the only thing that matters is how kind we are to each other.

The Common Denominator is Kindness

When I started thinking about my relationships, and what I wanted out of those relationships, I started off with longer lists of qualities. I want friends who are humorous and supportive, who are open minded and loving, but very quickly I saw that those qualities are actually fairly superficial. Yes, I want a partner who is humorous, but I also want one who is serious. I want friends who are supportive but I also need friends who give me my space. Yes, I strongly prefer those who are open minded, but I also deeply appreciate those who have strong beliefs. The common denominator to any of my desired qualities is kindness.

If someone is serious or funny, I want them to be kind with their words. If someone is supportive or aloof, I want them to do it with kindness and gentleness. If someone is committed to their beliefs or open to a multitude of new ideas, as long as they go about it in a kind and gentle way, I’m perfectly fine with whatever they think.

It made me see that living a beautiful, joyful, peaceful life really isn’t that hard. All we have to do is be gentle and kind. To understand that suffering is a universal human quality, and that everyone suffers is all we need to know. To know that it is not our job to change or alleviate this suffering is also helpful. We don’t have to have solutions. We don’t have to find the answer. Literally, all we have to do is be kind and gentle to everyone around us. That’s all.

It reminded me of a wall hanging that a friend gave me when I got married, that was taken from Galatians 5:22-23. It was a row of apothecary jars labeled with the fruits of the spirit; love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

I always thought of it as the Ingredients for a Happy Life, and although I have failed to use those ingredients, those ingredients have never failed me. Pretty simple recipe, if only we remember to use the right ingredients!


To read more of Lora’s writing, visit her website.

About the Author: Not sure what lights your fire, or do you know exactly what lights your fire, but you keep spinning your wheels? Either way, Lora’s got you covered! Whether it’s through an Angel Reading or through hypnotherapy, where the subconscious mind is brought on board with the conscious mind, working with Lora reveals your divine path and gets you chugging down the road in no time. As a former lawyer, (She knows firsthand the courage it takes to following a new path!) Lora is very straight forward and process- oriented, using modalities that that yield results. No crystal balls or goddess robes here!

Lessons from the Bird at my Window || Lora Cheadle

Lessons From The Bird at My Window

By Lora Cheadle

For about three weeks now I’ve had a robin who throws himself at my foyer window.

The foyer is two stories tall and the window is inaccessible from the ground floor. There are no window coverings.  Every morning, and again in the afternoons, the bird sits in the tree outside the window and repeatedly throws himself against the glass.

At first we had no idea what he was doing, calling him our suicide bird, but then I learned that in mating season, birds are very territorial. He was seeing his reflection in the mirror as another bird, and he was simply trying to protect his territory.

If we turn both the upstairs hall light and the foyer light on, it sometimes dims his reflection enough so he quits, but not always. With a hypnotizing rhythm, he throws himself against the glass, returns to the branch, shakes himself off, and throws himself against the glass again. And again. Easily, for two hours every day.

I’m afraid he will hurt himself. I’m afraid that one day I’ll step out my front door and see his tiny bird body on the ground, neck broken. I go outside and talk to him, I go inside and jump around inside the window and try to scare him, but none of it does any good.

Then it dawned on me. Maybe this bird is here for me. Maybe this bird is here to teach me something that I’m not noticing in my own life.

Fighting Our Own Reflection

How many times have I fought something that wasn’t really there? How many times have I defended my territory against something that was an illusion? Could it be that there were times where I thought I was persevering, pushing ahead with strength and determination, while others were looking at me with pity, or even laughing at my folly?

Have others tried to get my attention, to let me know that I was fighting my own reflection, but I didn’t notice? Perhaps. I started thinking about the times where I’ve stood my ground, defended my territory.

It’s interesting, because as a female who wanted to please, and then as a mom, I have spent a lot of years learning how to stand up for myself. My instinct still is to take the short stick. I can handle it, I can make others happy, I don’t really care.

Whenever I open a loaf of bread, I dig out the two heels and I eat those first. Not because I like the heels, but because I know my family won’t eat the heels, and it’s easier to get the two heels out of the way first, so nobody else is stuck with the heels. Except me. Because I can take it. This is a fight I’d never take on. This is territory I would never defend. But what if I did?

The Choices I Willingly Make

If I didn’t eat the two heels, my family would keep them wrapped in the bread bag, stashed in the refrigerator forever, waiting until I ate them or threw them away. Which would drive me crazy. Seeing the uneaten heels of the bread would bring a multitude of bad thoughts to mind. Every time I’d open the refrigerator, I’d get irritated. If I said something, my family would probably say something simple, like, “Throw them out if you’re not going to eat them.”

But I don’t like wasting food, so I’d either have to eat them anyway or throw them away. But I couldn’t make someone else eat them. If I did nothing, eventually, my entire refrigerator would be stuffed with bread bags containing the two heels from each loaf. I’d be the one fighting myself, not liking anyone else’s solutions, banging endlessly against my own reflection. Which is why I simple eat the two heels first. I avoid the whole scenario.

But bread is minor. What about the big things, where I feel strongly about defending my territory?

The Choices I Unwillingly Make

This last week, my husband did something that really upset me, yet he refused to apologize. I felt like I needed an apology, like the core of my being was wounded. Even though I know he made the mistake inadvertently, I still needed that apology. But he doesn’t apologize. Before we got married he told me that he doesn’t believe in apologizing. And he doesn’t. Nor will he. And I know that. But I still wanted it.

So now what? What happens when I feel like I need something, but I know I will not get what it is I want? Am I like the bird, constantly throwing myself against an immovable object? I must be, because I know I can’t win. Yet I still try. And I know that the only one who gets hurt in the process is me.

Fighting Others, or Fighting Myself

But I feel so strongly that I need to defend my core, my rights and my integrity that I keep fighting.

To my own detriment, because what I’m really fighting is my own reflection, not my spouse.

I’m fighting my own history of putting myself last, of willingly taking the short end of stick, but I’m not fighting him. His behavior brings out my frustrations with me, and my inability to take what I need, to put myself first. I know where he stands, and I always have.

And so I finally see. There is no other bird there. It’s only just me.

What Story do You want to Live? || Dorothy Wallis

What Story do You want to Live? There is Power in the Story You Tell Yourself

By Dorothy Wallis

You are a marvel of extraordinary creativity.

     The creative force of life flows through you and manifests itself continuously. Your body is recreating itself from the patterns in your DNA, from the beliefs you hold, and the images and emotions that stream through your heart. In every moment you are born anew from the story you tell yourself about whom you are. 

     Your story is vast. It is the story of your ancestor’s experiences and beliefs about life. It is the story of how they survived, their relationship to the land and the people they loved and those they had conflict with. It is the story of their pain and triumphs. It is the story of their culture, the language, songs, dress, customs and mores, religions, social organization, governance and the ways in which they formed community. 

     Humans are storytellers.  Whether you realize it or not, you are constantly telling yourself a story.  It is the powerful and unique way in which we create. Before writing, the ancients shared story through drawings, cave paintings, song, dance, myth, and through the oral tradition of passing on knowledge.  Story coalesces images with emotion and belief.  It formulates a pattern, which remains as memory, and activates an electro-magnetic field that responds, duplicates and enacts the story as reality. 

     Self-talk is the daily chattering in our head that reinforces our story of life, how the world operates, and the image we hold of ourselves.  It tells us how to interact with others, what is safe, what is not safe and is filled with judgments, assumptions, limitations, rules, protocols, and all manner of beliefs about navigating this reality.  This “Inner Talk” is mind-blowingly powerful!  We are so used to its drone that we do not even realize the significance of its effect on our experience of life. 

     “The circumstances and conditions of life are outpictured inner talking, solidified sound.  Inner speech calls events into existence. In every event is the creative sound that is its life and being. All that a man consents to as true reveals itself in his inner speech.”  Neville

     There are different voices doing the talking.  There is your “Inner Guidance” often referred to as your “Higher Self” and most likely you also have an “Inner Critic.”  Some people have very loud obnoxious Inner Critics that condemn and demean them. Others have a softer more modulated Inner Critic that warns them or keeps them limited to what is believed to be safe. Whether loud or soft the Inner Critic is giving you messages that keep you in line with the values and beliefs that you have accepted.  This acceptance becomes your reality and shows up as an experience mirroring the story.  “As you sow, so shall you reap.”  The seeds of your inner talk beget the Story that germinates into future action. 

     Your self-talk can also freeze you into inaction and contraction when it demoralizes you.  Condemning words of self-hate, self-loathing, believing you are no good, or that something is terribly wrong with you destroy your sense of self-worth.  When your self-worth is disparaged, your vital life force is diminished.  You can feel it in your body when your inner critic attacks you.  It feels as though you’ve been hit with a heavy blow knocking you out.  You may experience confusion, disorientation, and emotions of sadness, depression or shame.  Physically, it can feel as though a compressing wave is shrinking you.  This contraction is real.  The cells of your body respond to the story whether your words are silent or spoken out loud.  Essentially, you are enacting a powerful intention with the story you believe.  When this story deflates your sense of self, your Self and your body lose their power to BE.  Low self-esteem is an action reducing the Self.  You are actually causing your physical self to lose its vitality and ability to live when you consistently criticize and belittle yourself.

     When depressed, it is often very difficult for a person to stop the inner critic. 

     The voice and the story have become second nature; the voice is a constant companion.  You are used to hearing it and you accept it as the truth.  You have built up experiences that validate the story you tell yourself.  With a mountain of evidence of abandonment, neglect and rejection, you determine that you are unlovable or not worthy.  You may have protected yourself with an armor of meanness, bitterness or withdrawal so as to not get hurt anymore.  This reaction of defense is an unconscious story, which only serves to diminish you and cause more hatred toward yourself, “see what a terrible despicable person I am?”

     Bringing the unconscious stories into your awareness is key to breaking out of the old pattern and perceiving the reality of the power your story has on your experience of life.  What is it that you believe and how do those beliefs create the story you tell?  Follow the story to its conclusion.  Will this story create the outcome I desire?  When you truly see that the images you hold of yourself and life engage your emotions and thoughts into a story, you can begin to tell a story that enriches your life.

     The stories of the experiences of the past only have power when you hold onto them and invite them into the present.  Did you know that every time you recall something, your brain changes the memory ever so slightly and thus the story of the past?  Memories are not absolute.  Our stories are embellished and altered every time we remember.  In each and every moment, you have the power to choose a different story.

     Even small changes to the story you tell about yourself will have an effect.  You can begin by not accepting the voice of the inner critic as the truth.  Every time the voice of diminishment and contraction speaks, what can I tell myself instead?  What uplifting story am I able to imagine and tell?  What story empowers me into my highest good?  Use the power of your imagination and conscious choice to create a new story.  Remember, You are writing and telling the story of your life.  What do you desire it to Be? 

Doubt…Creator of Mountains || Jenny St. Claire

Doubt…Creator of Mountains

By: Jenny St. Claire

You are about to do something where you will be truly seen and a feeling comes over you –  you’re frozen or shaking on the inside, maybe both, and thoughts start quietly sliding into your consciousness.  As the seconds go by, the volume escalates until they are screaming at you:

What if I’m not good enough for my partner’s family?

What if I can’t actually do this job I’m so passionate about?

What if I’m too (fat, hairy, flat-chested, zitty, wrinkly, old) for someone to love me?

What if I can’t earn enough money to care for my family?

What if I don’t fit in because I do/feel/think differently than everyone else?

What if people find out that I’m not as perfect as they think I am?

Sound familiar?  The common denominator in all of these thoughts is doubt.

“Your faith can move mountains and your doubt can create them.” ~ unknown

Doubt is defined as a feeling of uncertainty about the truth, reality, or nature of something.  Further, it is a hesitation to believe.  When we’re doubting the truth or nature of ourselves, it can be debilitating.  It can keep us from taking any step leading toward what we’re wanting in life.  On a deeper level, if we’re hesitating to believe in ourselves, the pain can slam us right to the core.  Ultimately, doubt can spark shame, which is the felt sense that we are bad.

According to Brené Brown, in her book Daring Greatly, we have twelve areas that can trigger our shame: appearance and body image, money and work, motherhood/fatherhood, family, parenting, mental and physical health, addiction, sex, aging, religion, surviving trauma and being stereotyped. 

In addition to our shame filled culture, we also buy into the idea of lack.  Brené believes this sense of shortage extends to how we perceive ourselves.  Fill in the blank of this sentence: “I am never _________ enough.”  How many sentences can you come up with?  Spend a week investigating these pervasive messages and you’ll probably discover more than you were aware of.

These kinds of thoughts are painful!  Since we don’t really want to be present with our doubts, we have a tendency to turn away from them.  Brené outlines in her book a variety of ways we do this (which I’ve summarized): numbing with alcohol, drugs, sugar, food, sex, social media and technology is incredibly common.  Other ways we avoid doubt are perfectionism, trying to control everything, playing the role of victim, oversharing, or becoming critical.

The bottom line is this:  whenever you want to take a step where you might feel vulnerable, doubt will rear its head.  At best, it will only make you pause.  At worst, it will stop you in your tracks.

When you step back and look at yourself and your life as a whole, do you really want doubt to hold you back?  Would you rather risk being vulnerable, really being seen for who you are, in order to create connections with others?  To make your dreams a reality?

If you’re willing to find the courage to open to vulnerability, to choose to believe in yourself, here are a few things that can help you through:

  1. Notice if you’re numbing out. If so, what are you avoiding?  Facing a hard truth will be uncomfortable for a little while, but it’s better than using your energy to avoid it for a lifetime.
  2. Remember all of the fears you have already overcome. How did you overcome them?  Try it again.
  3. Get in touch with what you want more: having what you desire or being stymied by doubt.
  4. Decide to wonder. I wonder what it will be like when I succeed…  I wonder if it will all go better than I’m thinking it will…  These kinds of questions open you up to possibility.
  5. Brené suggests finishing this sentence, “I’m feeling vulnerable and I’m grateful for ________.”

I’ve heard it said in many ways that happiness is just outside your comfort zone.  Doubts keep you within the safety of your comfort zone.  In order to reach happiness, we need to embrace vulnerability and choose to believe in ourselves.  Here’s to you!


About the Author: Jenny is one of the many phenomenal interns working in the People House Affordable Counseling Program. With over 15 years of experience as a Spiritual Counselor, 4 years as a teacher of meditation and energy work and 2 years as a Wellness Coordinator, Jenny is a wonderful addition to the People House community. Jenny is a gentle and reflective soul who is committed to inspiring her clients to reconnect with themselves, find meaning and create positive changes. For more information or to contact Jenny, please see her therapist bio.

In the Land of Pain: Grieving a Suicide || Mary Coday Edwards

By Rev. Mary Coday Edwards, MA.

March 10, 2017

Ranking 10th highest in the nation, Colorado’s suicide rate of 20 per 100,000 residents is more than 65% higher than the national average of 13.8. In 2015, about three Coloradoans per day chose to kill themselves.

Research suggests that for every suicide, at least six people experience a major life disruption, but it can impact up to 25.

The Walking Wounded

That’s a lot of sad, suffering people (see chart ).

Entity, 2015 Rate, Per 100,000 population+ Total Deaths Total Population Suicide Loss Survivors, @ 6/ Suicide Suicide Loss Survivors, @ 25/ Suicide
U.S. 13.8 44,193 321,418,820 265,000 1,105,000
Colorado 20.0   1,093     5,466,000     6,560       27,325
Denver County 13.9       94        682,000       564        2,350

Sources:  See Notes 1 & 2.

+Suicide rate = (number of suicides by group / population of group) X 100,000

Some facts defining this wounding:

-The majority of men will use a firearm; women will use poison.

-Men are about four times more likely than women to die of suicide, but three times more women than men report attempting suicide.

-Nearly all completed suicides are among individuals with mental illness.

-Nationally, one suicide occurs every 11.9 minutes; therefore, there are either six or 25 new suicide loss survivors every 11.9 minutes.

-In the United States, suicides outnumber homicides about two to one.

-At-risk population groups are men over age 75 and in mid-life.

-Other groups include:

     -young people struggling with their sexual orientation/identification,

     -veterans and military personnel, and

     -Native Americans.

In this blog, I’m not addressing assisted suicide or Western attitudes of fear and perhaps terror over death.

Nor will I focus on the morality of suicide: “is it right/wrong, good/bad?”

Instead, my focus is on the suffering of suicide loss survivors.

“ … you learn to dance with the limp.” ― Anne Lamott

Grief is messy, not so neat and tidy as the drawing on the left, which shows grief actually stopping before it ends.

The picture on the right not only shows a back-tracking, circuitous entanglement with grief, but more accurately, we don’t just dust our hands off and walk away. The arrow continues.

We as a species are hard-wired to grieve; it’s the universal, instinctual, and adaptive reaction to the loss of a loved one. It’s normal.

I like that idea.

We come packaged not only to love, but to grieve the loss of our loved ones (3).

We are equipped to mourn death.

But suicide loss short-circuits that instinct.  

Grief Reactions and Characteristics

Grief has been described as one of the most painful experiences an individual ever faces. In his work on suicide bereavement, Illiant Tal Young (4) subcategorizes grief as follows:

Acute grief: the initial painful response, characterized by numbness, shock, and denial, anguish, loss, anger, guilt, regret, anxiety, fear, intrusive images, depersonalization. Constant feelings of anguish and despair eventually give way to showing up as waves or bursts – pangs of grief. A memory hits us when we’re least expecting it. For me, a dearly beloved passed about six months ago, and I’m hit with this loss when I catch myself saying, “I must tell Bob about this.” And then remember I can’t, at least not in the way I used to.

Integrated grief: Under most circumstances, acute grief instinctively transitions to integrated grief. Signs of this happening include the ability of the bereaved to recognize that they have grieved, to be able to think of the deceased with equanimity, to return to work, to re-experience pleasure. For many, new wisdom and strengths, as well as broader perspectives emerge in the aftermath of loss.

Complicated grief (CG) is a bereavement response in which acute grief is prolonged, causing distress and interfering with day-to-day functioning. Acute grief remains persistent and intense and does not transition into integrated grief. CG is sometimes labeled as prolonged, unresolved, or traumatic grief.  

And it is in this land of complicated grief that suicide loss survivors often dwell.

More than Feelings of Loss, Sadness, and Loneliness

Questions haunt their existence: “Why didn’t I see the symptoms?” “Why didn’t I do more?” “Why wasn’t I there for her?”

Not seeing all the factors that went into the choice for suicide, the bereaved takes on unnecessary responsibility, resulting in self-blame.  The suicide is seen as an event that could have been prevented.

Survivors may feel abandoned, rejected, or angry at the deceased for “checking out”, leaving their loved ones behind.

In some cases, suicide is still stigmatized – along with mental illness. This can keep the bereaved stuck in shame, afraid to truthfully discuss the cause of death. Isolated from the community, they cut themselves off from counseling and the support of loved ones.

The majority of suicide methods involve considerable violence to the body, which can leave the survivors in trauma. Suicide loss survivors are more likely than other bereaved individuals to develop symptoms of PTSD.

And suicide loss survivors are at a greater risk of committing suicide themselves.

“Some things in life cannot be fixed. They can only be carried.” – Megan Divine

Summarizing, Young says treatment should include the best combinations of education, psychotherapy, and pharmacotherapy, often with a focus on depression, guilt, and trauma.

Through mindfulness practices, the bereaved can train in paying attention non-judgmentally to their body’s stress signals.  They learn to respond vs. react to the flight-or-fight chemicals coursing through their bodies, spawned by emotions of self-blame, anger, rejection, and possible stigma-induced shame.

Support groups have proved invaluable to those finding themselves unable to talk with family or community members.

And as always, People House ministers, counselors, therapists, and staff are here to assist individuals and families navigating this painful territory. People House contact details are provided on our home page at https://www.peoplehouse.org/ as well as a drop-down menu listing People House Practitioners.

_______                                                                              

Notes & Sources:

1.)USA Suicide: 2015 Official Final Data. American Association of Suicide. http://www.suicidology.org

2.)Denver County Births & Deaths 2015: http://www.chd.dphe.state.co.us/Resources/vs/2015/Denver.pdf

3.)Exceptions are there, of course, when mental illness robs us of that capability and/or childhood trauma – to name only two.

4.) Young, Iliant Tal, et al. Suicide Bereavement and Complicated Grief, Dialogues in Clinical Neuroscience. https://ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3384446/ Published 0nline June 2012

________

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

 

Here is a list of the other blog Mary has written for People House:

 

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Unhypnotizing Your Bad Habits || Lora Cheadle

Kicking Bad Habits by Un-Hypnotizing, or Dehypnotizing, Yourself 

By: Lora Cheadle

Waking up From Everyday Brainwashing

Many people use hypnosis in order to overcome subconscious blocks and create positive change in their life. But sometimes, the faster, more efficient rout to change is learning how to becoming un-hypnotized, or dehypnotized in our everyday life. Learning how to wake, up, become conscious, and take steps to dehypnotize ourselves, is fast, easy and effective. And the resulting change can be profound!

We’ve probably all heard about subliminal messages, brainwashing, compulsion and mind control. To some degree, these phrases all describe what is simply; a hypnotic state. Contrary to popular belief, most of the everyday brainwashing that happening is not the result of some evil master-mind, potting to take over the world. Everyday brainwashing is simply the result of us living in a modern, busy, distracted and stressed-out society.

If you have a habit that you can’t seem to break, even though you really want to break it, you might not need therapy. Instead, you might need to learn how to dehypnotize yourself from your own brainwashing! You might simply need to wake up from a chronic state of hypnosis that has kept you locked into undesirable thoughts or behaviors.

How Brainwashing Works

Hypnosis is a natural state that we move into and out of about seven times a day. When we engage in any type of repetitive, or mindless activity, we tend to slip into a state of hypnosis. When we are confronted with too much stimulation, too rapid of speech, or too much conflicting information, we can also slip into a state of hypnosis. TV and radio advertising is specifically designed to induce a state of hypnosis. Religious services, bombastic political speech, repetitive exercises, mealtime and smoking breaks, also tend to put us into a state of hypnosis.

Hypnosis is not scary, evil mind control. Hypnosis is simply a state of increased suggestibility, where people are more likely to take action without critically analyzing that behavior. Although hypnosis cannot persuade us to do that which we would not otherwise do, it is highly effective in persuading us to do that which we normally would do. Hence, why it’s so easy to talk ourselves into continuing on with our own negative behaviors.

How Brainwashing Occurs

Think of everyday brainwashing like this. You are zoned out on the couch, watching TV, and a commercial for pizza comes on. The commercial has bright colors, close ups of a delicious looking pepperoni pizza, and a rapid-fire, extra-loud, announcer tells you all about the latest, act-fast deals. All the while, rhythmic music is coinciding with the rapidly changing visuals. That night, you decide to order pizza, even though you are trying to eat out less or lose five pounds.

As designed, the commercial put you into a state of hypnosis. It worked on the subconscious mind, and “suggested” that the pizza was really tasty, was a great price, and created an urgency to order it. Later in the day, when you ordered pizza, you were simply acting on the advertiser’s suggestions. You were not awake enough to critically think about the consequences of your decision, so you ordered a pizza, despite wanting to eat better and takeout less. This is what every day brainwashing looks like.

Failed Diets, Smoking and Being Stuck in Hypnosis

The same thing happens each and every time we sit down to eat a meal or smoke. Part of the reason that dieting and smoking-cessation is so difficult is because eating and smoking puts us into a state of hypnosis. We literally go out of our critical mind, and into a state of unconsciousness, almost every time we eat or smoke! We become lulled by the repetitive action of smoking, chewing, swallowing, using our utensils, cutting our food and timing when we take a drink. Our senses become overloaded with the sight, smell, taste and texture of our food or our cigarette, and bam, into a state of hypnosis we go! Just like the pizza commercial example, we become highly suggestible to our own bad habits, and we eat, or smoke indiscriminately.

Conscious thought is circumnavigated, and we are no longer aware of our sensations of fullness or our desire to get healthy or create positive change. Instead we eat whatever is in front of us or wander out for a smoke break, without critically analyzing what we are doing or why. Sometimes we are so out of it mentally, that later, we can’t even remember what we ate or how many cigarettes we had!

The solution is learning how to wake up. Learning how to dehypnotize ourselves and recognize when we are being brainwashed by our own bad habits.

How to Dehypnotize Yourself

There are several ways to go about learning how to wake up, remain conscious, or dehypnotize yourself. It’s easiest to begin with something that we do consistently, like eat meals, or smoke, so we have the opportunity to practice consistently.

Whenever we are confronted with behavior that we are trying to change, try counting yourself up, into a state of full, awakened consciousness. Begin by saying silently to yourself, or out loud if you are able, “Zero, one, two, three, four, five, eyes open, wide awake!” As you say it, do something physical that makes a sound, like clapping your hands, snapping your fingers, clicking your tongue or patting your thigh. Take a deep breath, and with a forceful exhale and consciously clear your mind and focus on being alert and present. You can repeat this whenever you sense that you are slipping back into a day-dreamy or disconnected state.

Changing up as many things as possible surrounding the activity we are trying to change is also useful. If you normally sit in a certain chair, or smoke in a certain location, move to a different chair or go to a less convenient place to smoke. Eating, or smoking, with your non-dominant hand is a fantastic way to stay conscious about our own behavior. Put the phone down. Turn off the TV and concentrate on tasting the flavor, texture and temperature of every single bit. Swallow. Take a breath before taking another bite. Notice your hunger level. All of this keeps us awake, alert and out of a state of hypnosis.

Dehypnotizing Our Way Out of Bad Habits

It doesn’t matter if we are trying to quit smoking, eat less, not bite our nails, overcome stuttering, sleep better, study more effectively, declutter or meditate consistently. Learning to dehypnotize ourselves is a powerful and effective place to start.

Wake up! Get out from under your own brainwashing and see how clear you own life can be!

Choice and Commitment || Jenny St. Claire

Choice and Commitment by Jenny St. Claire

It’s that time of year.  When January 1st rolled in, you were feeling confident and hopeful about your New Year’s Resolution.  Now that you’re three weeks in, how is your resolution going?  Still strong or fading?  If you don’t do resolutions, how are your intentions or goals coming along?  If you find yourself faltering, here’s your opportunity to get some insight on what could be causing you difficulty.

What you think you’re committed to doing differently could be vastly different than what you’re really committed to.  What?!?!  Say you are committed to getting more sleep, but when your new bedtime rolls around you find a reason to stay up.  It could be a great reason such as, my kids won’t go to sleep, you need to finish the dishes, or you’re really into the show you’re currently binge watching and you’ve just got to see what’s going to happen.  If you stay up rather than going to bed, then you’re not very committed to getting more sleep.

So, then, what are you committed to?  There are several possibilities.  It could be that you are committed to catering to other’s needs.  Perhaps you are committed to being busy and perpetually “doing.”  Maybe you are committed to doing what you want when you want to do it.  Or, you could be committed to feeling unwell.  You may feel entirely justified in the excuses you find to not get more sleep.  However, in this instance, you are more committed to your excuses than your resolution, goal or intention.

According to Debbie Ford, author of The Right Questions (2004), this is called an underlying commitment.  This type of commitment lives in the unconscious part of us.  It is primary and will always prevail over the other commitments you make on a conscious level.  Underlying commitments are the root cause for the inconsistency between what we say we want vs. what we actually experience.

If you take a good look at your life, you will begin to see what you are truly committed to.  Here are some common examples of underlying commitments:

-Stay safe – never take risks

-Can’t trust others – you will always be alone

-Freedom – instead of structure, life is chaos

-Comfort – you’ll drink, eat or entertain anyone that will give it to you

-Weakness – I can’t do it on my own

-Not good enough – I will sabotage myself so I can feel bad about myself

-Never letting anyone tell me what to do – even if it’s myself

-Having what you want when you want it

-Having someone else take care of you

We begin to see that the choices we make are in perfect alignment with our first commitment.  We experience an internal battle between our underlying commitments and what our heart and soul desires.  If we do not examine our primary commitments, they will always win and keep us from moving into a place of empowerment.  They keep us from the future we desire.

How do you recognize your underlying commitments?  Debbie Ford offered a practice on page 57 of her book, The Right Questions.

1.) Write down a goal or desire you have not been able to achieve.

2.) Make a list of all of the actions you have taken that are in direct opposition to this goal.

3.) Ask yourself what commitment those choices are in direct alignment with.

Often, our underlying commitments are not flattering.  Be kind to yourself!  When you originally made that commitment, it was at a time when you didn’t have the freedom of choice.  They are largely made when you were a kid, and the commitment served you for a while.  However, they begin to unravel over time.

Now you’ve outgrown that first commitment.  Recognizing it gives you the freedom to make different choices and different commitments.  You now have the ability to create a new future that is in alignment with your present time truth.

In the moments when you feel like you’re being tugged in two different directions by an underlying commitment and your soul’s desire, allow yourself to pause and ask yourself a few questions.  Following are a selection of Debbie Ford’s “The Right Questions.”

-Will this choice move me toward an inspiring future or keep me stuck in the past?

-Will this choice bring me long-term fulfillment or short term-gratification?

-Will this choice add to my life force or rob me of my energy?

-Will I use this situation as a catalyst to grow or use it to beat myself up?

-Does this choice empower me or disempower me?

-Is this an act of self-love or self-sabotage?

I invite you to be compassionate and courageous as you uncover your underlying commitments and move toward the YOU and LIFE you wish to have.


About the Author: Jenny is one of the many phenomenal interns working in the People House Affordable Counseling Program. With over 15 years of experience as a Spiritual Counselor, 4 years as a teacher of meditation and energy work and 2 years as a Wellness Coordinator, Jenny is a wonderful addition to the People House community. Jenny is a gentle and reflective soul who is committed to inspiring her clients to reconnect with themselves, find meaning and create positive changes. For more information or to contact Jenny, please see her therapist bio.

Post-Election: Be Kind-but it DOESN’T mean be nice! || Mary Coday Edwards

Post-election: Be kind – but it DOESN’T mean be nice!

By Rev. Mary Coday Edwards, MA.

December 13, 2016

And Santa JUST shifted me to the “naughty” side, if I wasn’t there already.

An old word, “nice” appeared in English in the 13th century. It’s derived from a French word that meant “foolish”, which in turn came from the Latin nescire, meaning “Ignorant”.  By the 17th century it had evolved to signify “timid,” “fussy,” and “precise” – a far cry from our current usage meaning kind, or polite.

Of the word, Dictionary.com says “the word is used too often and has become a cliché lacking the qualities of precision and intensity that are embodied in many of its synonyms.”

As noted in my November blog on loving kindness, on the heels of our election I attended the 2016 International Symposium for Contemplative Studies (ISCS; Note 1), hosted by the Mind & Life Institute (Note 2).

Amishi Jha, Associate Professor at the University of Miami, closed our Saturday evening session saying, “Be kind – but that doesn’t mean be nice!”

The Director of Contemplative Neuroscience for the Mindfulness Research and Practice Initiative, her words were intended to aid us attendees in finding our way through a new political order.

BE KIND: FOCUSING ON THE OTHER, FOR THEIR GOOD

Spiritual teachers and psychotherapists often associate “nice” with being a people-pleaser, with the need to look outside oneself for certain emotional needs to be met. In other words, if I’m nice to you, you’ll validate me in ways I’m not getting from myself. You’ll make me feel important, valuable, or worthy of love. And to get what I want from you, I will even contradict my convictions.

Being kind, on the other hand, entails a deliberate doing good to others, choosing consciously. And evolves into loving kindness – again, see my November blog. Returning to its 13th century roots, nice implies acting unconsciously – I am ignorant of my motives and perhaps foolishly waiting for someone’s approval, or to get something from him/her.

Which is spot on to our seasonal usage of “nice”: If I punch Susie, Santa will leave me a lump of coal – I won’t get the cool stuff. I don’t really care about Susie’s wellbeing, but I DO care about what’s under the tree.

Defined in this manner, niceness comes with strings attached: I will please you and make you happy in order to get something out of it.

POST-ELECTION

For me, training in loving kindness enables me to move beyond the superficialities that divide our species. Mentally, when I now engage either in person or through social media with those whose values frankly leave me stunned, I visualize that deeper spiritual commonality.

For me, that visualization is of a changing form of no specific shape, an intense sky blue color with sparkles of light, in a background of midnight blue.  There I can be kind without being nice; I can extend loving kindness to them without contradicting my own values. They are fighting battles I know nothing about in that deeper place.

By the end of our interaction, they may want nothing more to do with me – they may be unfriending me! And that’s OK. My intent is to be kind to myself also in this interaction, by speaking my truth, by showing up as me.

So, be kind – but mindfully, paying attention to your motives, but without judgment.

_______

Notes & Sources:

1.) ISCS “brings together scientists, scholars, artists and contemplatives to explore distinct though overlapping fields of research and scholarship, using a multidisciplinary, integrative approach to advance our understanding of the human mind.” This symposium hosted about 1,200 attendees.

2.) The mission of the Mind & Life Institute is to alleviate suffering and promote flourishing by integrating science with contemplative practice and wisdom traditions. https://www.mindandlife.org/mission

3.) Sources include Marcia Sirota, at http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/marcia-sirota/being-too-nice_b_9592698.html

________

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

Here is a list of the other blog Mary has written for People House:

PTSD and the Election || Lora Cheadle

PTSD and the Election by Lora Cheadle

trauma

Since the election cycle began, I’ve been overwhelmed with clients urgently needing appointments – not because of their weak constitution or their inability to see both sides of an argument, but because their Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD has flared up.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Definition and Symptoms

PTSD is defined by the Mayo Clinic as a condition that’s triggered by a terrifying event – either one we experience ourselves or one that we witness, resulting in:

1) Uncontrollable Memories: Reoccurring, unwanted, highly distressing memories of the traumatic event, flashbacks, nightmares, intense dreams or severe emotional or physical reactions to stimuli.

2) Negative Thinking and Moods: Feeling negatively about self and others, the inability to experience positive emotions, feeling numb, hopeless or worthless or having little interest in activities or friends. Experiencing memory and relationship problems.

3) Changes in Emotional Reactions: Experiencing irritability, angry or aggressive outbursts or behavior, experiencing overwhelming guilt or shame, feeling on guard at all times, having trouble concentrating, relaxing or sleeping and being easily startled or frightened.

How Common is Trauma or PTSD?

Experiencing severe trauma is not unusual. According to the National Center for PTSD, 6 in 10 men and 5 in 10 women experience severe trauma in their lifetime. Seven or 8 out of every 100 people experience PTSD at some point in their lives, meaning that 8 million adults are impacted by PTSD.

How the Election Causes Anxiety

Several common trauma-inducing topics have been prevalent in this election. Bullying, sexual assault, body shaming, ageism, sexism, racism and nationalism.

Statistically speaking, most Americans have been impacted by one or more of these topics and many Americans experience some level of anxiety or stress, if not full-blown PTSD as a result of these behaviors. Repeatedly having statements broadcast on TV, spoken about by friends or posted on social media that remind us of our traumatic experience means that we are being repeatedly assaulted by that which causes us pain, anxiety and PTSD symptoms and that we are increasingly becoming more and more anxious, stressed and dysfunctional.

Hateful Post-Election Rhetoric

When others say hateful things to us, they are really expressing their feelings of grief and betrayal at their hearts, traumas and experiences not being heard, acknowledged or held with dignity and respect. They are not necessarily attacking us, they are merely begging for compassion and love. And when we say hateful things, we are asking for the same thing from them.

When we share our hearts and our traumas with the world, we expect the world to listen and to validate our story. When others fail to validate us and our pain and instead support that which has caused us pain, we become threatened. We no longer feel safe, we feel that our pain doesn’t matter, that we have not been heard and that we are worthless. We feel betrayed and our PTSD-like symptoms skyrocket. Once again we are placed in the position of having to fight for our dignity and self-worth, and because we are survivors, we fight hard.

Hearing political comments that remind us of our trauma, that show to us that we have not been heard and that others do not care about us forces us to relive the worst moment of our worst day over and over again. It forces us right back int o fight-or-flight mode, and we attack viciously, which does not allow us to heal. All we need in to heal is to be heard. All we need is a little compassion.

The Anxiety Induced by the Election

This election reminded me of one of my worst fears; that being good and kind and truthful and honest doesn’t pay off and that fear, threats and coercion do, and that no matter how hard I tried to do good, I’d still lose because I am unworthy.

Watching and listening to this election, I was reminded of the big, strong, popular high school bullies who assaulted me and threatened to kill me if I didn’t give him what he wanted. I am reminded of my classmates who didn’t believe me and of the principal who told my parents that we better not get a restraining order against him because he would lose his scholarship and I wouldn’t want to be responsible for ruining his life.

When I hear people say that they support Trump, it provokes my anxiety. I am reminded of all of the fears and feelings I experienced in my traumatic situation. I feel worthless and my pain is invalidated. I hear that bullies who use fear and threats matter more than someone who tries to do good and I get afraid that I will be hurt. It doesn’t matter if it’s rational or not, it’s simply what comes out of the subconscious mind when I am provoked.

Rage is Neutralized by Compassion

This is why there’s so much rage this election. It’s not about economic plans or the military or the economy. It’s about the majority of us who have experienced trauma and who are being repeatedly traumatized by what’s being said and done around us that reminds us of our worst day.

It’s about our hearts and our stories and our belief that others may not think we deserve to exist.

For the next four years, when we see hate, let’s stop and remember our worst day. Let’s remember how it felt when somebody we trusted poured salt in our wound and let us recognize when we inadvertently pour salt in somebody else’s wound too. It’s not about right or wrong, it’s about listening and allowing each other to heal.

Let’s not question the validity of the wound or explain why we didn’t mean for the salt to hurt the wound or why salt doesn’t hurt our own wounds. Let’s just listen, acknowledge the pain and hold some space so healing can occur.

Let’s be kind. Let’s have compassion and let’s choose to hold every hurting heart that we come across. Holding hearts and having compassion don’t mean we have to agree with anyone. It only means that we gently say, “Yes, I understand, I’m wounded too and I understand that you are experiencing pain.” That’s it. That’s all it takes in order for us to all heal each other together.


To read more of Lora’s writing, visit her website.

About the Author: Not sure what lights your fire, or do you know exactly what lights your fire, but you keep spinning your wheels? Either way, Lora’s got you covered! Whether it’s through an Angel Reading or through hypnotherapy, where the subconscious mind is brought on board with the conscious mind, working with Lora reveals your divine path and gets you chugging down the road in no time. As a former lawyer, (She knows firsthand the courage it takes to following a new path!) Lora is very straight forward and process- oriented, using modalities that that yield results. No crystal balls or goddess robes here!

Loving Kindness || Mary Coday Edwards

Lovingkindness: It doesn’t mean approval of someone’s actions!

By Rev. Mary Coday Edwards, MA.

November 22, 2016

oving-kindness

November 9 to the 13 found me attending the 2016 International Symposium for Contemplative Studies (ISCS; Note 1), hosted by the Mind & Life Institute in San Diego – especially a gift coming on the heels of our pre- and post-election events.

And the holidays are upon us. And there’s Uncle Joe sitting across the table from you, epitomizing everything you disagree with. And you’re committed to bringing about more good in the world vs. more suffering.

Perhaps these conference ruminations will help you stay centered on your core values, as they helped me.

Richard J. Davidson, University of Wisconsin, & Matthieu Ricard, Shechen Monastery, ISCS 2016 Opening Keynote Speakers. Used by permission from Mind & Life Institute

Richard J. Davidson, University of Wisconsin, & Matthieu Ricard, Shechen Monastery, ISCS 2016
Opening Keynote Speakers. Used by permission from Mind & Life Institute

YES – WE CAN TRAIN IN COMPASSION

In his session Sunday morning titled, “Sustainable Compassion Training – Extending-care Mode of Practice,” Boston College Associate Professor John Makransky guided us in a contemplative session designed to enable us to extend loving care to others as an extension of the loving care in which we are held. This process teaches us how to “drop the level of reactivity” into a habit of compassion by finding a field of love and compassion from and in which we are all held (see Note 2 for additional resources).

 

Dr. Makransky led us through the following steps:

1.) Begin with a simple two-to-three minute breathing exercise, paying attention to your breath as you inhale and exhale.

2.) Next, try to recall one simple, loving caring moment: someone laughing with you, rooting for you – in your childhood or a very recent encounter – a memory that makes you happy when you recall it.

3.) Settle on that one such moment – recall the place, how it felt.

4.) Imagine that person is coming to you right now – not a distant memory, but be in that moment now, letting that person commune with you in your deep worth, taking joy in you, wishing you well – relaxing into that felt sense of that moment – beyond superficialities, letting those loving qualities seep into your whole being.

5.) Receive that loving energy into your whole body, into every cell, into your whole heart and mind, every layer of feeling and emotion, every part of you loved; beyond all superficial thoughts and impressions of yourself.

6.) Receive that loving energy so deeply that it can feel natural to let it come through you to those nearby and around you, like a natural impulse. It’s as if your caring figure has been communing with you, not on a superficial level, but deeply, validating your worth and dignity.

7.) Always still receiving, but now let it extend as if through a window pane, from your depths to others, to their dignity, beyond all limiting thoughts and impressions, deeply wishing them well.

8.) In this way, begin to rely on this loving energy which senses more than just limiting impressions, and wishing them DEEPLY well. Learn to trust that power or love more than limiting impressions, to rely on that.

9.) By communing and wishing well in this way, we learn to see others as we are seen, to love others as we are loved, to know others as we are known.

10.) Let this loving energy infuse your whole being – let it relax your heart and mind, let heart and mind fall open, by letting everything be in its natural openness.

I discovered that staying with the memory I evoked in Step 2 and continuing with that imagery did enable me to get beyond superficialities.

Of course, my Uncle Joe wasn’t sitting across from me.

LOVING KINDNESS DOES NOT MEAN APPROVAL

Lovingkindness, compassion, and empathy: words bandied about such that we lose their meanings. I will return to these words in next month’s blog, but some clarity is needed now.

Conference speaker and meditation author and teacher Sharon Salzberg said that lovingkindness derived from the ancient word “metta” and denoted “a heart space of inclusion.”

While it includes “a deep acknowledgement of connection [with someone], it doesn’t mean you like them or approve of them; it doesn’t demand action; it doesn’t mean being sweet, with only a sugary ‘yes’” to that which contradicts who we are.

“Compassion,” she continued, “rests on the shared understanding that we are all quite vulnerable. In life there is nothing we can hold on to” as permanent, all is always changing.

The idea behind these exercises is that I can learn to live with that paradox, of simultaneously being with someone whose actions I don’t approve of but yet extending compassion.  I can gaze upon my Uncle Joe and look deeper into his being, where I find that vulnerability of shared humanity. I may have to leave the table or gently challenge his ideas. All of this creates stress within me, and that’s when I pause, breathe, and ask my higher self what to do next so I don’t contradict who I am.

Much easier said than done, but it is a skill I can practice – for the good of myself and for the good of this cosmic space we dwell in.

Mindfulness is paying attention to your present moment nonjudgmentally, so if you felt an energy shift within you while reading Dr. Makransky’s contemplation exercise, I suggest you print it out and make it part of your daily routine.

_______

Notes:

1.) ISCS “brings together scientists, scholars, artists and contemplatives to explore distinct though overlapping fields of research and scholarship, using a multidisciplinary, integrative approach to advance our understanding of the human mind.” This San Diego symposium hosted about 1,200 attendees.

2.) Additional resources: Foundation for Active Compassion, Transformational Practices for a Better World; http://foundationforactivecompassion.org/; and Courage of Care Coalition; http://courageofcare.org/.

________

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

Here is a list of the other blog Mary has written for People House:

The Dangers of Labels and Stereotypes in Politics – and in Life || Lora Cheadle

The Dangers of Labels and Stereotypes in Politics- and in Life

By Lora Cheadle, PH Blog Contributor

label

Why do we Label Others?

Have you ever judged a book by its cover? Literally, have you ever picked up a magazine at the check-out counter based on the cover photo and headlines? Lose 10 Pounds in 10 Days! Throw a Halloween Party that will Leave Everyone Cackling with Delight! How many times were the articles as amazing as the headlines promised they would be?

Headlines are labels – they are quick, convenient and are designed to grab attention and trigger action. Buy Now! Limited Quantities! Don’t Delay! Whether we label merchandise, groups or individuals, labels and stereotypes serve the same function; the ability to quickly sort information without a lot (or any) conscious thought or critical analysis.

Effects of Labeling People

Police, fire, medical and military personnel all wear uniforms so we can quickly identity the purpose they serve. In dangerous or life threatening situations it is imperative to have the ability to move quickly without having to think and analyze multiple pieces of information.

Imagine a catastrophic situation where none of the emergency personnel are dressed in uniform, and how confusing it would be not knowing who served what function and who to listen to.

On a societal level it’s good to know and honor some labels and stereotypes. Emergency personnel are good people who help us emergencies and everyone collectively defers to their authority, ensuring safety for all. Which is exactly why it’s against the law to impersonate certain people, like police officers, and why it’s so devastating when there is an abuse of power by someone in a trusted position.

What are the Consequences of Labeling People in our Everyday Life?

Being knee-deep into the election season, let’s look at the labels and stereotypes around the two major political parties.

Without the labels of Republican and Democrat, politics would take a lot of work to understand. First, we would have to have a working knowledge of each party’s platform. Next, we would have to watch each politician and see how they voted on issues and what positions they advocated. Lastly, we’d have to analyze which party their vote or position aligned with. Then we would have to keep score of each vote or position and see how often each politician went which direction.

Because this process is too time consuming to be practical, we slap on labels and call it good. If a candidate is labeled as Republican or Democrat we falsely assume that they take certain positions on certain issues, regardless if they do or not.

Quite frankly, nobody out there has a true working knowledge of both of the parties’ platforms. The current Republican platform is 35,467 words and the current Democratic platform is 26,058 words, and these platforms change at each convention.

Even if our politicians did know both platforms inside and out, it would still be impossible for them to act in accordance with that platform 100% of the time, and since many bills and proposals are bipartisan and complex, it would be difficult to analyze which percentage of their vote was in line with which sections of which platform.

The Negative Effects of Stereotyping and Labelling

This means that basically, our political labels are useless and misleading. Since nobody has a strong working knowledge of both platforms and the dedication to analyze every politician’s every move and then apply the facts the platform, we can’t determine which politician acts in accordance with which party.

Here’s a fun exercise to try. Whichever party you identify with, pretend that the labels on the candidates are the opposite of what they are. Hillary is a Republican and Trump is a Democrat. You don’t actually have to download and study your own party’s platform (although I guarantee you will be totally shocked and that you will learn a lot) but instead, look at the ways you would favor that candidate based on nothing but their label. Be honest. Your perceptions and rhetoric would change.

Can you see the ways that you would support Hillary if she wore the label of Republican? Can you see how you would support Trump if he wore the label of Democrat? Don’t pretend that nothing would change, because it would. You would give them the benefit of the doubt and find more redeeming or excusable qualities simply because of their label.

And that, is the danger of labels and stereotypes.

___________________________________________________________________

About the Author: Not sure what lights your fire, or do you know exactly what lights your fire, but you keep spinning your wheels? Either way, Lora’s got you covered! Whether it’s through an Angel Reading or through hypnotherapy, where the subconscious mind is brought on board with the conscious mind, working with Lora reveals your divine path and gets you chugging down the road in no time. As a former lawyer, (She knows firsthand the courage it takes to following a new path!) Lora is very straight forward and process- oriented, using modalities that that yield results. No crystal balls or goddess robes here!

I have a brand-spanking-new website! Please check it out at www.pyramidfusion.com when you have a moment!

Creating the New Between Pain and Suffering || Mary Coday Edwards

Creating the New Between Pain & Suffering.

By Rev. Mary Coday Edwards, MA.

October 24, 2016

pain

This is by no means a complete treatise on pain and suffering – just three suggestions on how to work with it.

Creating the new through pain and suffering includes the following steps:

  1. Recognizing we’re in pain, we pay attention to what our bodies are telling us, whether it’s physical, emotional, or psychological pain.
  2. Sitting with it mindfully, nonjudgmentally and with compassion welcoming it as our teacher (1);
  3. Breathing into the pain, asking our intuition, our higher self, what we can do next.

Now, of pain Dan Mager says (emphasis mine): “Physical pain has distinct biological and psychological components that represent stimulus and response. The biology of pain is the signal transmitted through the central nervous system that ‘something is wrong.’ The psychology of pain is the interpretation or meaning we give to that pain signal—the internal self-talk and beliefs about it which then drive our emotional reactions” (2).

“When we resist change, it’s called suffering ….” Buddhist Nun Pema Chödrön.

As an example: Recently I hurt the tip of my index finger on my right hand – an appendage of significance, as I am right-handed.

How I did so remained a mystery. Thinking it might be an in-grown finger nail, I tried minor surgery on it – exacerbating the pain a millionth-fold. Excruciating, throbbing pain now kept me awake at night.

Since it wouldn’t bend due to its swollenness, I unconsciously held the pained finger straight out.

Not a good idea; our physical world is designed for bendable digits. Plugging a cord into an outlet meant I rammed my finger into the wall – several times as a matter of fact. And into drawer fronts, doors, and the steering wheel, leaving me in tears.

I knew I was in pain, and all I wanted was for it to GO AWAY.  

I was resisting change, and my unconscious adaptation strategy of holding my finger straight out was not working.

“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” Psychiatrist Viktor Frankl.

Of the biblical prodigal son who was competing with the pigs for food scraps, scriptures say “he came to his senses” (Luke 15:17).

I too, came to mine, making this pain conscious, moving from impatience with myself to gentleness and compassion. “What can I do differently?” I asked myself – finally.

“Live in the now.” 

I was operating unconsciously, going about my day ramming my finger into non-movable surfaces. But the now, this moment, is all we ever have. The past is gone, the future is yet to be – this is all we’ve got.

Also, the now is sacred; it’s where we experience divinity. I was rushing through what I declared mundane, to move on to what I believed was “important” and hence missing the divine moment by moment.

I asked if there was anything else.

“Stop using your right hand, use your left.”

OK, that’s like a mini death – a death to my standard mode of operation. Using my left hand meant I approached life slower, more deliberate and measured – a dying to a life driven by efficiency.

But creative suffering usually includes an element of dying – and then a rebirth.

Having spent about a decade in John of the Cross’s Dark Night of the Soul, I was familiar with the concept – not mastered it, of course, how does one get used to a continual dying to what’s so familiar? And in a dark night experience, what dies is a worldview with its treasured beliefs, attitudes, and values.

And so I slowed down, using my left hand, shifting from frustration with myself to compassion. I felt a different part of my brain light up, a different energy was released.

Suffering occurs when your ideas about how things ought to be don’t match how they really are.” Author Brad Warner 

Summarizing my process:

– I became aware of my pain, my resultant suffering, and that the status quo wasn’t working anymore.

– Instead of just living in my reptilian brain of fight or flight, I brought this into consciousness, asking my higher self what I could do.

– I experienced a death and rebirth in my daily routine:

+ it increased my mindfulness, as I was forced to pay closer attention to each moment – my now – that’s all I have, this moment, and the next, and the next.

+ in the process, I was forced to slow down in the doings, my routine, of everyday life. Again, it changed my focus to my now, recognizing the sacred.

+ doing something with the opposite hand normally used can be psychologically beneficial as well as artistic, as it engages a part of the brain not commonly exercised.

Living consciously is at the heart of spirituality. Through it we learn to take responsibility for our actions and for our own happiness, without relying on outside influences. Yes, my finger hurt. But I didn’t have to wait for it to get better before I could experience joy. After all, there’s ALWAYS something or someone out there who can and will create havoc in our lives.

“Paroxysms of pain and twinges of desire leach from universal sources. All human suffering buttons itself to the pang of wanting.” Kilroy J. OldsterDead Toad Scrolls

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Notes & Sources:

  1. Jon Kabat-Zinn, the founder of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, calls this practice mindfulness and says it is “paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally, to the unfolding of experience moment to moment.”
  2. Mager, Dan, MSW. https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/some-assembly-required/201401/pain-is-inevitable-suffering-is-optional
  3. Chödrön, Pema. Living Beautifully: with Uncertainty and Change. 2013. Shambhala.
  4. Steele, John W., PhD. https://peoplehouse.org/services/articles/chronic-pain-as-path/

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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.

Here is a list of the other blog Mary has written for People House:

Getting to Know Your “Stand Up” Guardian, Anger || Dorothy Wallis

Getting to Know Your “Stand Up” Guardian, Anger

By Dorothy Wallis

anger

I have never been comfortable with anger.  It is disquieting, to say the least.  I prefer smooth, harmonious relationships, with no conflict; where everyone gets along and is accepting, even when they don’t agree.  Anger disrupts my inner peace.  It is a brash, bold, incorrigible bully with such power and intensity that it cannot be ignored. 

 

When harsh words, criticism, or overt anger is directed at me, it feels like a hot behemoth of fire blasting and scorching me with blistering speed…knocking me flat.  I am speechless and bewildered.  My thoughts disintegrate and vaporize residue from the attack of condemnation.  The result of my flattened affect is a look of stunned perplexity.  This has often caused others to ignite even more of their vitriol in my direction.  Not a good outcome.  Once in awhile, I am awake and safe enough for my defensive fight response to zing back in crass disagreement.  As you can imagine, this only heightens anger and now we are all engulfed in a swirling firestorm.

Anger takes its time to flare up from inside of me.  It smolders and burns like Hawaiian pahoehoe lava, a slowly moving flow submerged under the surface.  It twists my stomach, turns and aches as my skin heats up.  I notice the burning in my chest and the movement up into my throat.  My breath becomes hot.  Like a bull ready to charge, my nostrils flare, my eyes becomes focused and intense, and fiery energy fills my body.  Even though my body is prepared for action, my first instinct is to try to shut it down.  It takes time for me to recognize that my silence, avoidance and distancing are a sign of anger.  It may be the next day, before I realize what I wanted to speak in the moment of a confrontation.  

I had learned to control anger by suppressing it.  As a result the churning in my stomach would turn into pain, nausea and symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome.  At one point in my life, I kept a bottle of Mylanta on my desk at work and would regularly swallow large gulps of it to get through the day. 

It has been a lengthy, compelling journey of getting to know this formidable energy that can so suddenly dominate my being.  What I have learned is that anger demands attention and some kind of response.  It is asking for something to change.  It wants immediate action.  Stifling or quelling anger never works.  It dislikes being controlled and patronized.  This goes for the anger erupting inside of you as well as what comes at you from others.  People have attempted to contain and trap their anger for centuries, but it still lives inside. 

Held anger seethes and foments into resentment, contempt, rage and even depression. 

Projecting anger explosively outward isn’t any better.  Besides destroying relationships, it also diminishes your immune system.  It heightens the production of adrenaline, noradrenaline, and testosterone, increasing your blood pressure, risk of heart disease and heart attacks if you habitually express your anger in this way.  Both suppression and projection of anger manifest in your body with detrimental health issues ranging from insomnia, depression, headaches, stomach issues, ulcers, arthritis and skin problems to high blood pressure, strokes and heart attacks.

You have a “Stand Up Guardian” in Anger

It seems this culprit causes nothing but problems.  So why do we have this emotion of anger?  Think about when it arises.  It is present, along with fear, when you are in danger and need to protect yourself.  Anger speaks loudest when you have been violated.  It arises when your values have been confronted or abused.  Anger defends your ethics and morality.  If by your standards and perspective you are treated unfairly, exploited, or your self-respect and esteem have been injured, anger will come forth to defend your honor.  Anger is the “Stand-Up Righteous Guardian” that validates your beliefs and vindicates your self-worth.  It keeps you from passively giving up and being helpless.  Anger offers an internal validation that you and your values are worthy of upholding.  It nurtures an inner sense of strength to hold and preserve your dignity increasing your responsiveness and self-empowerment.  It can bring you out of grief, despair and depression.  Its forceful energy creates heat and expansive movement throughout every cell of your body stimulating your verve for life.  You may be inspired to take action to right injustices or to make a healthy change in your life.   

What are your expectations, beliefs, values, desires, needs, wants, and what attracts you?  Anger will help you find out.  If something doesn’t turn out how you think it should or when you want something and cannot obtain it, what happens?  Anger will shout, “I lost the game because they cheated; my partner betrayed me; that reckless#### driver is going to cause an accident; she took the last piece of pie and I wanted it; I hate waiting in line.” Anger can be very self-serving and self-protective of resources and desires.  It can show you when you are being self-righteous and conversely when you are magnanimously protecting and serving others.  With inner reflection it will show you what deserves to be upheld. 

Getting to Know You, Getting to Know all about You

Figuring out how it shows up for you is part of the task of meeting and getting to know anger.  For some, its appearance is so bold and disruptive that there is no doubt that anger has surfaced.  For others, the slow burn of apathy, criticism and bitter cynicism can disguise its signature bluster.  It is good to know your own temperament.  How often do you recognize yourself experiencing anger?  If you yell, scream, shout, and rage, you know anger is there.  Anger is also present when you are irritated, annoyed, resentful, bitter, insulting, cross, contemptuous or offensive. 

What is your Current Relationship with Anger? 

Do you find it beneficial, are you unaware of it, or is it causing you or others harm?  Is it affecting your relationships? 

Your Anger Style

How do you respond when anger is present?  Do you generally suppress or project?  Do you react quickly or slowly?  Are you more passive or aggressive?  Are you assertive and reasonable?  The passive aggressive and purely aggressive reactions may help you in the short term, yet in the long run these are always destructive to healthy relationship. Your anger style is a learned response.  No matter how strong the habit you have developed, it is not fixed in stone.  You have the power of choice.  

Knowing your prevalent style enhances your ability to choose a healthier response that is beneficial for you and others. 

Passive Aggressive:

Silencing, withdrawing, being cold, manipulating, being contemptuous or resentful, having righteous indignation, holding a grudge, gossiping, being mean, taking revenge 

Aggressive:

Nagging, relentless verbal expression, obnoxiousness, insulting, intimidating, baiting, bullying, controlling, yelling, screaming, fighting, raging, hitting and causing physical harm

What to do When Anger Surfaces; Slowing down the Reaction

Breathe…always…breathe:  This allows your reasoning mind to come on board and begin to calm the intensity of the anger. 

Be Aware of the Physical Sensations

Notice the actual physical sensations in your body and where the anger originates.  Where is it located in your body? Does it move? What is the temperature?  Scan your body.  What do you sense in your stomach, your chest, your throat, your arms, you’re your head?  Do your muscles tense?  Does your face flush or teeth grind?  Are you more alert?  Does your energy expand or contract or is there a mixture with some parts of you tightening or contracting and some of the energy expanding?  Do you have an urge to confront, attack or fight? 

Be Aware of your Impulse to React

This is the moment of choice.  Pushing down anger by ignoring it or acting out anger has its consequences.  Be aware of your first impulse and choose a better response.

What is Anger Upholding?

Before responding consider what anger is defending, endorsing, supporting or vindicating.  What is motivating the anger?

Value: Is this a moral or ethical value that is important to you?  Is there an injustice occurring?  Have you been violated or abused?  What is at stake if you do or do not uphold this value?

Need: Is my need necessary for survival?  Is it giving me the energy to move out of sadness, grief, depression or a dangerous situation?  Perhaps it is inspiring you take on a challenge.

Self Esteem & Identity: When you are judged or when you judge yourself as being unacceptable, anger offers you the impetus to value and esteem yourself.  There are healthy ways to stand up for yourself.  Try to refrain from criticizing, taking revenge or attacking. 

Wants and Desires: Is my desire in line with my highest good?  Does it respect the needs, values and desires of others?  Am I being self-serving or in service to all of life?

Expectations: Do I experience anger when I do not meet an expectation of myself?  Do I react with resentment when I believe others have failed to do or act in the way I expected?  Am I angry if I do not get my way?  Can I accept and forgive when expectations are not met?

Self Righteousness: Anger is used to uphold a false sense of being better than others.  False pride feels empowering but it actually diminishes your authentic self worth.  Do I believe I am ‘the one’ with the correct knowledge and rules or that my values are the only right ones without considering others viewpoints, ethics or values? 

Past Hurt and Guilt:  Anger can be triggered when an unresolved painful situation or trauma from the past is similar to something happening in the present.  Anger attempts to bring forth resolution for our past hurts and failures.  Am I locked in the past and taking my stored fury out on the present circumstance?

 

Rather than backing away from anger, I have found that it can be a resource pointing me in the direction of what is truly ailing me.  Finding resolution occurs when there is deep reflection on the source, the consequences of reacting, and identifying what is truly important.  Conflict is still not my favorite cup of tea, and anger often is contentious, but my comfort level has increased.  Knowing that I primarily contain my anger has helped me to find it, welcome it and look it in the eye.  An honest assessment of what is motivating the underlying root of anger has enabled me to discern how to respond in ways that sustain communication and relationships.  

 

Before changing your dynamic of anger with others, you must first develop a relationship with anger realizing it is the Guardian of your most cherished values.  It is a helpful companion that offers a moral compass.  When you use this energy to inquire into the true source of what it is upholding, you can resolve much of the inner pain.  Your “Stand Up” Guardian will give you the emotional courage and strength to uphold your life, and to strengthen values and esteem, without destructive consequences.

____________________________________________________________________

Dorothy Wallis is a former intern at People House in private practice as an Individual and Couples Psychotherapist for over five years as well as an International Spiritual Teacher.  At the forefront of the consciousness movement for over thirty years, she is grounded in practices of meditation, family systems, relationships, and emotional growth.  Her work reflects efficacious modalities of alternative approaches to healing based upon the latest research in science, human energy fields, psychology, and spirituality. 

She is 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.  

Intuitive Self-Care and Separating the Needs of the Body, Mind and Spirit || Lora Cheadle

Intuitive Self-Care and Separating the Needs of the Body, Mind, and Spirit

By Lora Cheadle

self-care

 

Taking good care of ourselves requires more than just an occasional mani-pedi or treating ourselves to new shoes, a massage or a girl’s night out.

Taking good care of ourselves requires us to listen to ourselves and to really hear what our bodies, our minds and our spirits are asking for on a separate and intuitive level. When we practice intuitive self-care and take care of our bodies, minds and spirits separately, we become a happier and healthier whole. There’s a lot of focus out there on integrating the body, the mind and the spirit, and while it’s true that we function best as fully integrated beings, in order to truly integrate all facets of our beings we need to begin by separating the three components of the self and learn to intuitively listen and respond to what each part needs.

     The body itself is an organism. All organisms are biologically hard-wired to preserve themselves. Our bodies have a multitude of self-preserving reflexes, instincts and behaviors, and it’s completely natural and desirable for the body to preserve and protect itself. Bodies can experience cravings when they are running low on various minerals, such as iron or other nutrients. Pica is the term given to pregnant women who are deficient in certain minerals and crave things such as mud, dirt, plaster, ashes or who have the compulsive need to lick the walls. Physical cravings help us eat the kind of foods that our bodies requires to sustain themselves. On the flip side, when we eat something toxic, our bodies react by vomiting and ridding themselves of the offending substance.

     Our bodies also know how much and of what kind of food they can digest at a time. If we eat something that is difficult to digest, our bodies may tell us to stop by sending us an “I’m full” signal, but if we eat foods that are easy to digest, we may not feel full as quickly. Similarly, depending on our activity, hormonal, immune and stress levels, there will be times when we are more or less hungry. The intuitive wisdom is there; it’s just that we lose touch with it. As children we may be told to “clean our plate,” or that we “don’t have to like it, we just have to eat it,” which teaches us to override our bodies intuitive wisdom. As adults, making decisions for ourselves for the first time, we waltz into life feeling like naughty little children whose parents are out of town. We make one bad choice after another simply because we can, and we are rarely encouraged to get back in touch with our intuitive wisdom.

Add in the demands of a modern life with careers and families, where we are relegated to eating on an arbitrary schedule that had nothing to do with the needs of our body, and our body’s intuitive wisdom is quieted and ignored.

     Our minds and our spirits have the same kind of intuitive wisdom that our bodies do, telling us exactly what they require in order to flourish. When we listen to and respond to these three, distinct voices, all parts or us remain healthy and fulfilled, but when we ignore our own intuitive self-care wisdom, illness, injury, depression and other problems manifest.

     When we are not practiced at separating the needs of the body with the needs of the mind or the spirit, we misinterpret the signals we receive and we end up feeding the body what the mind and the spirit are asking for. The mind, just like the body, is a self-preserving organism that craves what it needs. Minds need stimulation, comfort, love, excitement, growth and development. When faced with a difficult or a sad time, the mind might crave sweetness, comfort and love. Instead of reaching out to people or situations that provide the mind with sweetness, comfort or love, we misinterpret these signals and we attempt to feed the body what the mind is asking for. We ingest sweetness, comfort and love in the form of mac and cheese and ice cream. We don’t physically need mac and cheese or ice cream, what we need is a good dose of mothering and a time-out from adult responsibilities, but because we aren’t hearing and responding to that which our mind truly need, we attempt to fill ourselves up with as much sweetness, comfort and love as we can by ingesting mac and cheese (a symbol of comfort and love) followed by ice cream (sweetness personified).

     Do we need a bit more spice or bite in our otherwise dull lives? We may crave spicy foods, salt and crunch. Feeling stifled at work, a lack of stimulation being home with toddlers or craving a project to sink our teeth into? When we don’t listen and respond to what our minds and spirits are telling us they need, we eventually start eating whatever it is our minds and spirits desire! Are we craving those gooey cinnamon rolls because we have just run a marathon, our muscles no longer have any glycogen stores and we are on the verge of passing out, or are we craving them because we are unfulfilled in our current position at work and we want something juicy and gooey to sink our mind into? Are those licorice sticks giving us something to chew on because our mind has something to process that we are ignoring and refusing to process?

     Our bodies, minds and spirits are filled with intuitive, self-care wisdom and when we are connected enough to listen and respond to what they tell us they need, will are happy and healthy on every level.

But if we don’t listen, or if we misinterpret the signals, we set ourselves up for subpar health and happiness. This is intuitive self-care, and this is the ultimate goal. Separate the needs of the body from the needs of the mind and the needs of the spirit. Stay present in every moment and learn to listen and respond to the needs of the body, the mind and the spirit, remembering of course, that there’s always room for a mani-pedi, new shoes or a nice massage

self-care-image


About the Author: Not sure what lights your fire, or do you know exactly what lights your fire, but you keep spinning your wheels? Either way, Lora’s got you covered! Whether it’s through an Angel Reading or through hypnotherapy, where the subconscious mind is brought on board with the conscious mind, working with Lora reveals your divine path and gets you chugging down the road in no time. As a former lawyer, (She knows firsthand the courage it takes to following a new path!) Lora is very straight forward and process- oriented, using modalities that that yield results. No crystal balls or goddess robes here! See more on her website.

Shame || Mary Coday Edwards

Blog 9

Shame: What’s it all about?

By Rev. Mary Coday Edwards.

shame

Shame. Common to the human experience, we’ve all experienced it, at times so excruciatingly painful that we seek desperately a hole to fall into, the proverbial wish for the ground to open up beneath our feet in order that we can hide our shame, or what we are ashamed of.

Shame resilience depends on being able to move through shame experiences with self-compassion (after all, how many perfect people do you know?), authenticity, and courage. Getting there, however, requires mindful discernment between shame and its cousinly emotions: embarrassment, humiliation, and guilt, so some definitions are in order.

Embarrassment is a response to something that threatens the image of ourselves (our persona – see last month’s blog), that we’d like others to believe about us. Sources of embarrassment fluctuate based on situations and who we’re with.

For example, nothing like realizing after you’ve been speaking to someone for 10 minutes that you’ve had a nose hair blowing in the breeze; if our persona’s projection is for perfect hygiene, we’ve obviously fallen below the bar, it’s beneath our projected image. If we can use compassionate self-talk, reminding ourselves that we’re certainly not the first ones to have longish nose hairs peeking out, we can move beyond the experience with humor.

If your mother’s 65 and shows up at your engagement party in a mini-skirt and go-go boots, it may cause embarrassment to you if you think it falls short of a family image of class and sophistication.

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” Eleanor Roosevelt

And then there’s humiliation, what we feel as the recipient of a shaming attack by someone else. It consists of an incident that demonstrates a relationship of unequal powers, of experiences of power and powerlessness, where one is in an inferior position and unjustly diminished. Brene Brown uses this example of the difference between shame and humiliation: A teacher is handing back papers and one paper doesn’t have the student’s name on it, and publicly the teacher announces that the student is stupid. With healthy self-talk, the student will be humiliated and embarrassed, but will tell herself, “That is the meanest, most nasty teacher ever. I don’t deserve that.” If the child’s self-talk is, “Ugh. He’s right. I’m so stupid, why do I keep forgetting to put my name on my paper. I’m so stupid.” That’s shame.

“Shame is a soul-eating emotion.” Carl Jung

Segueing onto unraveling shame and guilt, the easiest way to remember is the following: Guilt says “I did something bad”; shame harangues us with “I AM bad.”

Guilt focuses on our behavior. Guilt feelings have to do with ethical or moral principles that we believe are necessary to be a “good” person that we have violated: I did something I shouldn’t have, or I didn’t do something that I should have. Generally speaking, guilt can be a positive, healthy response, when it’s used in a manner to correct something that was indeed wrong.

However, often these principles have come down to us through various authorities: our parents, religious leaders, or our teachers. Perhaps they’ve become laws to our consciences, an authority within our psyches and as we age, need to be re-examined to see if these principles translated into values are still serving us.

If rocking the boat was not allowed in any form for a child, then challenging bullies or an abusive status quo can bring about feelings of guilt when an individual on a personal growth trajectory knows leaving said abusive situation is the next step that’s required. These guilt feelings can quickly slide into shame, if the inner authority continues its tirade against boat rocking of any sort, AND throws in the “truth” that those who do so are bad people. In this case, one is led to believe that they deserve their shame.

Shame washes over us even if nothing external occurs, whereas its cousins pop in for a visit over external circumstances.

Adults who as children were abused, neglected, continually criticized, abandoned, or mistreated internalize the message that they do not fit in, that they are inadequate or unworthy.

Shame then arises when our self-image is doubted or under attack. Me writing this blog is a classic example.

If I believe I am a font of wisdom, and the way that is proven is by how many “likes” and/or “comments” that I receive on Facebook by admiring fans, when that falls short of my expectations, shame eats at my soul. In other words, when I need everyone’s approval to bolster a sagging self-esteem, if my self-worth is tied into needing others to say positive things about me, then “You are a Failure! You are a Failure!” screams at me when, in this case, I fall short of the 1.5 million positive comments I need.

Until we can shift our abusive self-talk to that of compassion toward ourselves, we will continue to believe shame’s message that we are unworthy.

So – pay attention to the emotions running through your body. Ask yourself when these painful encounters occur: Is this shame? Embarrassment? Humiliation? Guilt? Sit with them, breathe into them, and practice self-compassion, non-judgmentally. Embrace your experiences with gratitude; these are your teachers!


Sources include:

Works by Donald Nathanson, Shame and Pride: Affect, Sex, and the Birth of the Self; and his on-line materials.

Jacoby, Mario. Shame and the origins of self-esteem: A Jungian approach. 1994. Routledge; London.


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.

Here is a list of other blogs Mary has written for People House:

 

Developing An Internal Sense of Safety || Dorothy Wallis

Developing an Internal Sense of Safety

 Much Ado about Fear (part 2)

 fear-pt-2

“Anxious, stressed, scattered, I can’t concentrate and can’t sleep through the night.  I am not in physical danger, but I just never feel safe.”  The aftermath of fearful situations or the uncertainty that the world is not a safe place can leave you shaky, unsure and on edge.  You have lost a grounded sense of security.  How do you develop an internal feeling of safety?  You may wonder if or even believe that a haven of serenity exists inside of you, but when fear arises you may wonder how to get past the fear.

In “Much Ado about Fear, part 1,” we found how fear initiates a natural visceral response to a perceived threat whether there is an actual threat or not.  The fear response instantaneously activates a protection mode of fight, flight or freeze to keep you safe from harm.  Even when your physical body is no longer in danger, you may experience lurking fear in the form of anxiety.  Only when you truly believe you are safe will your body calm down. 

Developing an internal sense of a permanent peaceful place within provides a knowing of inviolable safety and trust.  This sanctuary is found by moving into and beyond the transient experience of fear.  Yes, that’s right, touching the fear.  It sounds challenging because it is such a change from the way you may have previously related to fear.  For the most part, you have been taught that fear itself is dangerous and territory that you do not want to touch.

Here is the practice.  Move through it at your own pace and be aware of the feelings that arise.  Being Consciously Aware opens you to the experience.

How to Begin: Getting to Know Fear

Meet fear with the feeling of being welcomed into its home and getting to know it.  Approach this part of yourself gently and slowly; take your time.  Fear is an energetic expression of your emotional body to warn you.  You are entering the unknown.  It may be uncomfortable and much resistance may arise.  Open to fear with curiosity, spaciousness and a sense of discovery. 

Become consciously aware of your response to fear and approach fear as you would a supportive relationship.

Be Aware of Your Natural Tendency to Turn Away from Fear

Naturally, your impulse is to turn away.  The desire to not feel fear is normal because it is a feeling of not being safe.  You retract from feeling the physical sensations of fear in the same way you use to get away from danger.  You may fight fear by “toughening up,” suppressing and controlling the sensations, flee by distracting yourself or ignoring the sensations, or numbing the fear with drugs or alcohol.  All of these engage you in a battle against your own body and against yourself instead of addressing the cause of the fear. Your longing to not feel fear makes you more afraid and insecure.  You can’t fight, run away from or freeze fear into submission.  If you attempt to control it, it returns again and again as anxiety and grows louder.  Fear is a warning siren.  The only way to turn off a smoke alarm is to pay attention to it and physically connect with it.  It is wise to run out of the house to get away from fire, but running away from the alarm to stop it from ringing won’t work.

Be Willing to Touch the Fear with Compassion and Love

Approaching fear with a willingness to experience it with love for what it is protecting creates a new relationship with this part of you that is exquisitely designed to safeguard you.  A great benevolence and caring are at the heart of fear, which deeply cares for and protects you.  Underneath the desire to protect is immense love and compassion for yourself and others.  Touching fear with your Conscious Awareness transforms your understanding of it into an aspect that is known.

Allow Yourself to Experience the Physical Sensations of Fear

Have you ever been fully present with the physical sensations of fear?  Your reaction to fear is rapid and instinctual; it happens so quickly that you probably have not paid much attention to your bodily sensations.  Overcome your habitual tendency to not feel and your desire to not be afraid by choosing to discover this part of your being. 

Enter with Love. 

As fear arises, place your awareness on the physical sensations in your body.  Fear is a vibration of energy.  Notice where the energy is located in your body and where it moves.  Allow your curiosity to discover the subtle qualities.  What are the textures, temperature, sounds, smell and color of the energy?  Biological changes activate your body to protect itself.

Some of the physical sensations you may encounter are:

  • An abrupt, all encompassing movement of energy in your chest and throat
  • Your heart beating faster….your breathing becoming more rapid
  • Blood vessels constricting to shunt the blood around your body to your core, arms and legs
  • At the same time, you may get a cold flash or even trembling as the blood moves away from the skin and into your core
  • Your perception and awareness of what is around you increases
  • You become very alert and focused with increased clarity
  • Your sensing ability expands spherically far out from your body
  • You have a deep instinctual desire to get away or hide
  • You may have a sense of contraction, tightness or shrinking
  • Clarity diminishing when flooded with fear and panic

You will have your own unique experience of the sensations.  Notice what happens to you in different circumstances.  As you learn about your automatic responses make different choices in how you relate to fear.  Do you panic or react with more fear?  What happens when you choose to relate to fear with compassion and kindness?  How does your experience change when you know you can regulate your response?  You cannot eliminate fear and it would not be wise to do so but the more you get to know fear and gain confidence and trust in your ability to choose your response, the more you develop a sense of safety and security.

Stay Present, Connect, Inquire and Listen for the Underlying Truth

Once you have connected with the physical sensations of fear, and gain some skill with your ability to touch it, observe how the energy changes.  The intensity shifts, it comes and goes, and you have a greater awareness of its impermanent nature. 

Staying present with the fear, take a deep breath and increase the depth of your compassion and caring.  Love invokes a profound state of clarity.  Connect with the energy that is guarding and protecting a part of you.  Fear protects your body and your loved ones and also protects your values, beliefs and parts of yourself that you find unacceptable.  Often what keeps you from inhabiting a place of safety is your fear of what you may discover inside of yourself.  Inquire deeper within and see if what you care about protecting is still necessary or true for you.

Is it a belief I hold that is not in alignment with my authentic self?  Is this an essential part of myself?  What else may fear be protecting?  Is it hiding a disowned part of myself?  Is there something I fear even more than keeping the anxiety?  Am I holding on to a belief that I am innately bad, unworthy or unlovable?  Do I fear what I desire most: receiving love, intimacy, abundance, or relationship with God or Spirit?

Uncovering the emotional truth that fear has been protecting leads you into an awareness of your story and an exploration into your true self.  Look at how many times you have walked into fear.  What strengths and attributes have carried you through rough times?  What parts of you adapted?  Somehow, you have survived and that speaks of your resilience.  A sense of freedom and empowerment results from regaining disowned aspects of yourself and finding out that your essential nature is good, capable and wholesome.  Honor and appreciate your authentic self; allow the unfolding.  An internal sense of safety is a journey and is built from the recognition of your authentic power and trusting that there is an unwavering well of support and guidance within.

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Dorothy Wallis is a former intern at People House in private practice as an Individual and Couples Psychotherapist for over five years as well as an International Spiritual Teacher.  At the forefront of the consciousness movement for over thirty years, she is grounded in practices of meditation, family systems, relationships, and emotional growth.  Her work reflects efficacious modalities of alternative approaches to healing based upon the latest research in science, human energy fields, psychology, and spirituality. 

She is 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.  

 

developing-saftey

Much Ado About Fear || Dorothy Wallis

Much Ado about Fear:  Regaining an Inner Sense of Safety

By Dorothy Wallis, featured People House blogger

fear

Fear gets a bad rap.  When it strikes, it zaps you with an instantaneous jolt of alarm so powerful that nothing else registers but the feeling of sheer panic.  Your body screams, “I could die, I could be harmed, I am in danger.”  All of your senses and bodily functions are corralled into doing just one thing….to get you away from whatever is the source of danger.  With lightning speed Fear propels you towards Safety. 

It is the body’s most protective emotion. 

Without fear to prevent you from harm, your body would not be able to function optimally.  It may not be able to survive, which means it could not house your consciousness.  Your body dies, your consciousness is eternal.  You experience fear through your body, your essence self knows no fear.  Your body uses fear to keep itself alive for your consciousness to experience the highest expression of life. 

So, why does fear get such a bad rap?  

The physical sensations are purposely unpleasant and often downright tormenting, all consuming and distressful.  Fear gets your attention.  Breathing, heart rate and blood pressure ramp up and muscles are energized as hormones and neurotransmitters race through the body.  Most of your brain is on hyper-alert while your rational brain, the cerebral cortex, is bypassed.  Your brain automatically retrieves its database of sensory and feeling aspects of similar past experiences and beliefs about the situation or people involved.  These memories are the story of the past.  They do not include rational assessment or discernment about the present situation.  Confusion, befuddlement, knee-jerk reactions, and even paralysis are not uncommon stress reactions.  Deep thinking is not as important as fight, flight, or freeze for immediate survival.

It is not really the warning flash of fear that is problematic; it is the aftermath of anxiety from not feeling safe that puts you into a state of hyper-vigilance and stress engendering ongoing fear.  The threat may be gone but the thoughts of uncertainty about your safety keep pumping those hormones and neurotransmitters throughout your body energizing the fear.  A delicate balance exists between the hormones oxytocin and vasopressin to regulate the fear response.  Vasopressin increases anxiety as a precursor to fear activating a defensive response, while oxytocin increases the processing of social information with attachment and bonding to those one feels safe with.  Conversely, oxytocin acts to distance one from those felt as a threat and actually increases anxiety to unpredictable threat.  An example of oxytocin in action is the proverbial “Mother Bear” protecting her young.  She is attached and nurturing to her cub and ferociously defends it; you don’t want to get in her way.

 

An Inner Sense of Safety is Essential to Calm the Fear Response

The nurturing and feel good bonding that arises from the “cuddle hormone” oxytocin are activated when one “Feels Safe.”  Feeling Safe reduces the alarm system of fear releasing oxytocin, which then eases stress and creates a sense of harmony and connection.  The “social” hormone promotes attachment and relationship in turn improving your social skills, and fosters a sense of belonging, trust, generosity, optimism and tranquility.  If you no longer feel threatened, then naturally your body balances and reduces the stress response.  It is the Inner Sense of Safety that is essential.  Only when you feel safe will increased levels of oxytocin reduce anxiety. 

 

Living in a World of Change and Uncertainty

These days, many people are experiencing an increasing sense of anxiety and stress.  Our world has become a global community with challenging issues as differing beliefs and needs intersect.  With instant access to news around the world, there is heightened awareness of violence, disruption, conflict and uncertainty.  Every day, we are bombarded with terrifying news of war, hatred, death, environmental degradation, health risks and economic collapse.  Not exactly themes that promote a sense of safety and security.  Viewing and hearing about events that you have no control over and seemingly occur anywhere and at any time can induce tremendous anxiety and fear.  Your body reacts as if it is in present danger, always alert to what might occur. 

Life is not static nor is it “safe.”  The challenges of globalization and interdependence are not going away.  All of life grows and evolves.  Your relationships with people change through time; loss is inevitable.  You will experience ups and downs, pain and anguish, insecurity and vulnerability as well as joy and laughter.  Fear will arise.  Change is certain.  You know that living in a state of constant anxiety is unhealthy, so how do you adapt to uncertainty and the unknown?  How do you calm your mind, regain balance and attain a sense of safety?

 

Perception is Powerful

A sense of safety or vulnerability is an inner perception.  From the perspective of the body, feeling safe is being free from harm or injury; you do not anticipate being hurt or threatened emotionally or physically.  Being vulnerable is the sense of your susceptibility to being physically or emotionally harmed, damaged or attacked. Your body’s initial reaction to threat is the sense of being vulnerable setting off a cascade of biological stress and defense responses.  In other words, when you feel vulnerable your body automatically begins a process producing anxiety and stress. 

Because the reaction in your body is so powerful and automatic, you often feel powerless to calm the fear.  It seems that fear overtakes and overwhelms you, which is why it gets a bad rap and why there is resistance to fear.  Are you really Powerless?  What if you possessed an inner force capable of responding to and befriending the fear instead of succumbing to pure reaction? 

The most potent and powerful force at your command is your Conscious Awareness.  Using awareness you have the ability to be in tune with your body’s natural ability to harmonize, balance and feel safe.

 

Inside of you there is a place of stillness and calm that can only be touched through Conscious Awareness

 

Accessing a sense of Inner Safety through Conscious Awareness

If you are in imminent danger, fear will do its best to protect you in the outer world.  Even so, you cannot control all of the outer circumstances of life.  Your inner world is your private sanctuary and dominion where you have the greatest opportunity to create a deep sense of safety and security.  Inside of you there is a place of stillness and calm that can only be touched through Conscious Awareness.

Touch communicates through a highly sensitive and often subtle language.  It conveys beliefs about whom or what is perceived as safe or not.  When you touch the inner realm of sensation, feeling and beliefs with awareness, you open to a deeper sense of self and your relationship to vulnerability, safety and security.  Most of the beliefs you hold generate conditioned habitual responses.  You are not your thoughts, beliefs or emotions.  Yet, when sensations or emotions arise, you may find yourself so enveloped in them that you believe they are you; you identify with them.  “I am an anxious person…it is impossible for me to feel completely safe…I will always be afraid of____(fill in the blank)…it is part of my nature, I cannot change nor do anything about it.”  Bound and tied to this limited persona of yourself, how could you ever feel safe?  From this view, there is no way out.  You become powerless to fear, anxiety and any emotion or belief you identify as being you.  The true reality is that you do not feel safe inside of your own body.

 

Finding a Safe Haven in the Inner World of Your Body

Your consciousness has the ability to step outside of identification with thoughts, feelings and sensations, which allows you to observe them without judgment.  As you touch the inner realm through conscious awareness, you develop an intimate relationship with the mysterious world of your body.  You become aware of how sensations and emotions rise and fall, you observe the never-ending rambling of thoughts and how your body expands or contracts in response to people and outer circumstances.  Without judgment, you touch the sensations of fear and anxiety.  Just as safe physical touch promotes the flow of the nurturing qualities of oxytocin, so does touching the inner realm of your body with the safety of non-judgmental awareness.  Magically, the power of touch softens your preconceptions and offers a soothing balm.  You discover you no longer fear sensations or emotions and experience them as divine messengers guiding you towards well-being.  You get in touch with your beliefs and the power to choose.  Empowered with awareness, you find comfort in the rhythms of your body.  This feeling of safety and benevolence deepens your trust in life connecting you to the wellspring of wisdom.  

In the sacred temple of your body, there is an inner sanctum sheltering the gateway to the magnificent essence of your soul.  In this place, you are free from all fear.  Within you is a place of refuge greeting you with a safe haven of tranquility.  When you meet this pearl of your essence, you find a peace that surpasses all.  Grounded and centered in your being and having tasted this realm, you will return again and again as nothing can keep you away.  As all travelers know, the first step on any journey is the desire to discover the unknown and be willing to begin.  Are you ready?

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Dorothy Wallis is a former intern at People House in private practice as an Individual and Couples Psychotherapist for over five years as well as an International Spiritual Teacher.  At the forefront of the consciousness movement for over thirty years, she is grounded in practices of meditation, family systems, relationships, and emotional growth.  Her work reflects efficacious modalities of alternative approaches to healing based upon the latest research in science, human energy fields, psychology, and spirituality. 

 

She is 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.  

Selfishness vs. Self-Care | Jenny St. Claire

By: Jenny St. Claire, featured People House blog contributor.

selfless

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How many of you grew up hearing, “Don’t be selfish” or “It’s better to give than to receive?”  As children, we take these messages to extremes.  We start believing that to have needs or to receive at all is not OK.  Or, we buy into the idea that giving to, or pleasing, others is all that is acceptable. 

It’s important to look beyond these two polar opposites so we can create the greater freedom and nurturing that can be found in the middle.

 

What is the difference?

Imagine there is a spectrum:

selfish

Selfishness can be described as being so concerned with one’s own interests that one becomes blind to the needs of others.  I’m sure we’ve all met at least one truly selfish person in our lifetime.

At the other extreme is selflessness, where one gives very little attention to one’s own needs.  When someone is selfless, others come first to the extent that he or she may be unaware of their own needs.  Indeed, they may think it’s bad to have needs or to give to themselves.

Truly, selfishness and selflessness are two sides of the same coin.  At some point in life, something happens where you notice your needs aren’t being fulfilled and you have to decide how you’re going to get them met.  Some people decide to fight for them and exclude others to do so.  Others get their needs met by people pleasing in the hopes that they will be taken care of in the process.

Self-care is a place in the middle.  It is where you are aware of both yourself and others.  You consider both sets of needs and find a way to do what you need in order to fill yourself back up first.  A classic example comes from the airline industry when they tell you to put on your own oxygen mask first in the case of an emergency.  If you take care of yourself first, you are better able to help others.

To some degree, we have all of these aspects within us.  We’ve all had moments of selfish pleasure, moments of selflessness martyrdom, and moments of presence and awareness that allow us to take good care of ourselves.

What’s important to notice is where along the spectrum you spend most of your time.  How well is that serving you?

 

Why is this distinction important?

 

If you are on the selfish side, how would it benefit you to open your awareness to others?  If this makes you feel like you have to fight to get your needs met, take a moment to consider when you felt like that in the past.  Perhaps there is an opportunity for some healing to take place.  Ultimately, you will find that you create deeper relationships by showing care and respect for all.

If you are on the selfless side, you may never notice you’re tired even when you’re dragging your feet.  You may be so focused on pleasing others that you are not aware of the quiet seething inside because your wants and needs are always put on the back burner.  What would it feel like to find ways to care for yourself as well as others?  Could you give that to yourself?

If you find that others are getting mad at you when you’re taking good self-care, it could indicate that you are shaking up the status quo.  Others may have liked you the way you were, always attending to their needs.  They may try to convince you that you are being selfish!

If you cling to the messages we took to extremes in childhood, you may have demonized being selfish and idolize selflessness.  This can skew how you perceive your own actions.  You may take one tiny step toward self-care on the spectrum and think that you’ve landed yourself deep into selfishness. 

 

What’s next?

 

It’s time for a reality check!  Take off the guilt or denial glasses and see more clearly where you are on the spectrum.  Consciously choose what action best honors you, while also keeping in mind other’s needs.  The attitude with which you carry out your self-care can actually show how much you care for others.

Assess where you are on the spectrum.  How often are you there?  Where would you like to be?  How can you be more aware of other’s needs?  Where can you be more compassionate with yourself?

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About the Author: Jenny is one of the many phenomenal interns working in the People House Affordable Counseling Program. With over 15 years of experience as a Spiritual Counselor, 4 years as a teacher of meditation and energy work and 2 years as a Wellness Coordinator, Jenny is a wonderful addition to the People House community. Jenny is a gentle and reflective soul who is committed to inspiring her clients to reconnect with themselves, find meaning and create positive changes. For more information or to contact Jenny, please see her therapist bio.

Walking the Path of Transformation || Mary Coday Edwards

Blog 7

Walking the Path of Transformation.

journey

July 26, 2016

By Rev. Mary Coday Edwards.

After a long and arduous hike, this sign greeted me at the top of the spreading, wide plateau. I chuckled at the understatement: such an apt description of our lives at times!

BLOG 7

Let’s say we’ve done the first half-of-life work: we’ve developed our skills and talents through training, education, and experience. Perhaps we’ve found a partner to walk with us and we’ve had children or the equivalent.

We may not have met all of our goals, but life’s good – onward and upward!

Then – bam. Something shifts within us, life seems to go dull, or we hit a roadblock with our personal or career goals. We think we know what we ought to be doing next, but it isn’t happening. Perhaps a death or sickness stops us.

We don’t like this shift – we want it to go away, we want to return to how things were. We work harder, using our standard mode of operation to get what we want and to avoid what we don’t want.

We start reading self-help books; we talk to our close friends and family members; perhaps we make an appointment for a psychotherapist, or a spiritual counselor.  “Am I depressed?” we ask. “Do I need a pill to make me feel better?” or “What am I doing wrong?” (1)

Or worse – we abandon our commitments because we believe moving to Nepal will solve all our problems. Our psyche has important information for us and all we’re doing is prolonging and increasing the agony when we believe changing our circumstances will make us happy. 

Outward changes may be required, especially if you are in an abusive relationship, but those decisions will be made in full consciousness.

“Midway upon the journey of our life, I found myself within a forest dark, for the straightforward pathway had been lost,” wrote Dante, in The Divine Comedy

In other words, the path becomes “difficult to find beyond this point”.

“Relax!” I tell folks when they come to me, frustrated and hurting when they find themselves on this plateau with no discernible path. I also tell them:

  • It’s normal. Years ago when I was lost in the weeds, a saving piece of wisdom came to me through the writings of Carl Jung: “The first half of life is devoted to forming a healthy ego, the second half is going inward and letting it go.” In other words, what got you through the first half of your life won’t cut it for the second half. And these “halves” aren’t cleaved at the same age for everyone. There is no magic age when life seemingly falls apart.
  • Breathe, practice mindfulness. Jon Kabat-Zinn, the founder of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, says mindfulness is “paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally, to the unfolding of experience moment to moment.”

In other words, pay attention: pay attention to your dreams, write them down; pay attention to your moods, welcome them as your teachers; pay attention to your body, where’s the stress, the anxiety, and if possible, what’s the source; stay with the discomfort, live the question: “What next, higher self?”

And look for synchronicities in your life. The NOW holds the seeds to the future; when we’re anxious about that future, or have a pre-determined idea of what it should look like, or when we’re remembering our glorious past, we miss those seeds.

At one stage of my painful unknowing, I sought out a Buddhist Roshi/Catholic priest looking for answers to what my next step ought to me.

His advice? “You’re right where you’re supposed to be.”

That’s not what I wanted to hear. 

  • Listen to your inner wisdom. This is why we practice mindfulness. John Heider (2) says that very early on in the study of human nature there came about the concept of something like a higher self, or essence, as part of the psyche. This inner wisdom has your best interests in mind. By practicing mindfulness, we learn to access and listen to that inner wisdom. Heider believed that it is in this higher self that healing and growth occurs.
  • It’s your path of transformation. This usually nets me a look of disbelief – just short of a sneer.

Abraham Maslow as well as Jung referred to this as a self-actualizing principle driving the process in order that we become everything we potentially were created to be. This self-actualizing principle, higher self – whatever one chooses to call it – wants all of you to show up to all of life. It wants to become the best me I can become, that wants to grow, that’s eager for life.

This especially includes getting to know those parts of your personality that you’ve ignored, disliked, discounted, or swept under the rug with the hope that no one would notice the lumps.

“Unraveling external selves and coming home to our real identity is the true meaning of soul work,” says Sue Monk Kidd.

It isn’t that we now disavow the strengths developed in our youth and young adult stage. Again, referring to Jung, if extroversion defined us so far, it’s time to look for that within us that seeks solitude or meditative practices. In my case, I depended on my head to lead me; I needed to listen to those wise intuitive urges from within, parts I had barricaded myself against.

It’s not to say that we ever “arrive” as our psychic depths are vast. What we sense is that we’re now operating out of place of wholeness. And this wholeness doesn’t look the same for everyone – it will be based on all those bits of us we excluded.   

If you stay with this calling, this drive emanating from your deeper self, one day you’ll notice you’re on kind of a path. You’ll know it not because it’s announced itself with a large, flashy neon sign, but because of that gentle, calming, inner peace.

It’s an exciting journey, to show up as we truly are. This is the gift we give to the Universe – ourselves!

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Note 1: This is not to dismiss the reality of mental illness and the beneficiary aspects of medication; if mental illness is suspected or has been diagnosed, a trained psychotherapist/psychiatrist is recommended. In addition, a physical is recommended in order to rule out any physical disorders.

Note 2: John Heider, among other things, studied and helped direct long-term programs at Esalen Institute, taught at the Menninger Foundation of Psychiatry, and directed The Human Potential School of Mendocino, California. He is the author of The Tao of Leadership.

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About the Author: 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.

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Here is a list of other blogs Mary has written for People House:

When Friends and Family Disapprove || Dorothy Wallis

What Happens to You when Your Family or Friends Disapprove
By Dorothy Wallis

disapprove

 

Conflict is difficult for me.
Life has taught me that my desire for everyone to get along and be in harmony is an almost impossible expectation. I especially struggle when family members show disappointment and criticize my choice to do something, be with someone or be somewhere that goes against what they desire or want. It feels as though I am being torn apart and made to decide between my life and the people I love. No matter what choice I make someone will be hurt. In the past, guilt would tear at my heart and eat me up. The pain would muddle my thoughts and hold my energy hostage. I could not be fully present to my own needs. It created a “No-Win” situation for my family, my friends and me.

Does this dynamic sound familiar? Have you ever struggled with family or friends competing for your time or not approving of your choices, beliefs or ideas? It may be your choice of activities, career, friends, relationships, or the lifestyle you desire that does not meet the approval of what others want or expect for you. How do you navigate the demands of family, friendships and your own desires? We often underestimate how much we value the acceptance and approval of our family, friends and peers. Disapproval can leave you feeling confused or guilty about your choice of whom you love or whom you spend your time with. It can undermine your ability to trust your decisions and even affect your self-esteem.

Frenzied Fracturing
Reactions of those close to you may range from criticism, resentment, anger and condemnation to the “silent treatment” and withdrawal when you make a choice that differs from theirs. Some may gossip to others about how they cannot understand your actions or choices, how irresponsible you are or berate you for not following what is expected.

The backlash stems from their attempts to assuage their own hurt and fear and reel you back into what helps them feel safe and right.

Of course these reactions feel controlling and manipulative because they are. Humans have an instinctual impulse to belong to ensure safety, security and connection for survival and emotional well-being. When you move into unknown realms or make choices that do not include the beliefs or desires of your family and friends, it often disturbs their sense of attachment and security. Emotional pleas, manipulation and outbursts to change your mind or direction are attempted in order to reconnect and bring you back into the fold.

The concern of your relatives and friends may seem like an expression of love and care and in fact, they may love you deeply and want the best for you. Yet, when your choices, decisions and ideas are disparaged and unheard, it certainly is not a loving response; it is experienced as disrespect, an attack and often as abuse.

“Their disapproval buried me in disappointment and condemnation diminishing and devouring my sense of self. Voiceless, I shrank in confusion. Guilt crept in and I questioned my judgment. At the same time, another energy arose to push back; I felt anger.”

Your reflex to protect and defend your self-respect and autonomy arises and it is difficult not to become defensive or react with anger. To keep the peace, you may fall silent, withdraw and seethe inside with hurt. After awhile, you realize that you are caught in a reactionary dynamic that is not getting anyone back into harmony.

Time to Look Inward
The first step in finding harmony with others is to discover what is going on inside of you. The deeper truth is that your need for connection and relationship is bumping up against your need for autonomy and self-determination. You are gripped in internal conflict and confusion because these two are both primary needs. The desire for approval is linked to your need to belong. There would be no conflict if you did not care.

“Personal autonomy is the desire to determine our values and live the life we choose without control by others.”

When caught in this conundrum begin by recognizing what each of these needs is saying to you. Find the Emotional Truth by asking yourself: “What are my emotions expressing?

What is your “knee-jerk” reaction when emotions arise?
Do you react with anger, blame, feelings of guilt or shame? These first reactions are telltale signs that something deeper is going on inside of you. None of these reactions will resolve your differences with others.
• Do I fight back, get angry, run away, become stubborn, pout, shut down, go along to get along or please others, withdraw, silence, sulk, criticize, blame, get mean or retaliate?

How much of the following emotions relate to your need to belong and to be loved? How do they relate to your need for autonomy and self-direction?

Do emotions of guilt or shame arise?
• Am I afraid of the consequences of choosing, believing or thinking something different?
• Am I afraid of not being liked or accepted?
• Do I believe there is something wrong with me or that others will reject me in some way?
• Am I afraid that I am making the “wrong” decision?

Does anger arise? Anger speaks to the need for protection.
• Do you feel emotionally or verbally attacked? Have your boundaries been violated?
• Do you feel obligated to go along with others even though you disagree? What are the consequences and benefits of going along?
• Do you feel manipulated or controlled?
• Are your values being attacked or not acknowledged or considered?
• Look underneath the anger; do you feel hurt?

If you feel hurt, what is underlying the hurt?
• Do I want to be understood?
• Do I want approval or support for my choices, beliefs, ideas and decisions?
• Do I want to be accepted for who I am?
• Do I want to belong and am concerned that I will be left out, rejected or abandoned if I don’t go along with what others want or think?
• Do I feel invisible or unheard?
• Do I want to be respected and loved?

Embodying your Emotional Truth brings Freedom
When you have clarity about the Emotional Truth of the situation, you are able to see what is causing your internal struggle and ease the pain. You are able to weigh your desire for acceptance and belonging with your need to be true to your inner guidance and discern what really matters to you. With the knowledge of your real feelings and desires, you can take appropriate action in healthier ways to remain connected. There is a greater chance for harmony and resolution when you are centered in your authentic purpose.

And…you know what, more often than not, I have found that when I have reconciled my own struggle for my need to love and belong with my need to follow my heart’s direction, the conflict does melt away. I am able to reach out from a place of compassionate caring, respecting my own emotional needs and boundaries with a willingness to listen and respect other’s viewpoints. I may be uncomfortable when those I care about are hurt, disappointed or react. What I recognize is their fear of losing connection and control and their need for love and understanding. Remarkably, when I allow others the freedom to decide what is important for them without the need to change them, I gain greater respect for myself and the strength to move in the direction of my truth.

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www.TheDorWay.com
www.Heartfulnesspath.com

Too Busy for Wellness? || Jenny St. Claire

By: Jenny St. Claire

People House Featured Blogger

time

A friend asks for your help in moving.  Your sweet kiddo wants to play a game.  Your partner wants to go for a hike. One of your favorite co-workers wants to go for a walk.  What’s your response?

“Sorry, I’m too busy.”

“You want me to WHAT?”

“I’ve got SO much going on I can’t possibly add something else.”

“I don’t have enough time.”

“Yeah, right!”

“Maybe when my schedule isn’t so full.”

How many times have you found yourself saying something like this, or at least thinking it?

Saying no to others is often a mixed bag of desire and overwhelm.

 

You want to see them, but your gut is clenched with all the pressure of what you have to get done.  How often do you deny others the gift of your time and company?   If you’ve found a way to say yes, awesome!  If not, is it worth it?  Is getting something else off your never ending checklist worth the price of missed time with a loved one?

What if the person you keep saying no to is yourself?  You’ve been meaning to go get that mole checked out for a year now.  Even though your tooth has been killing you for a week, you put off going to the dentist because you just can’t get caught up at work.  In fact, you’ve been working on the weekends for the past six months trying to get a handle on things.  Your body is sore from sitting too long seven days a week and you’re so irritable from having no kind of break that every little thing sets you off.  Perhaps you’re drinking 6 more cups of coffee than usual because you’re exhausted. How often do you put yourself on the back burner?

“Busy” is a Status Symbol

If you ask anyone how they are these days, it’s likely that 80% of the time you will hear, “I’m SO busy!”  Isn’t that weird?  I’m sure you want to know how they actually are.  Happy, sad, frustrated, brimming with excitement??  When did we start replacing how we are feeling with a commentary on our productivity?

It used to be that becoming a partner in a firm, getting tenure at a school and having enough money to buy a nice car and house were signs of success.  Now, being busy has become a new sign of value in our society.  Sure, it’s overwhelming, but if you look closely, most people puff up with a sense of pride.  If they are busy, they must be important, and therefore worthy!

so busy

Is that how you want to rate yourself?  What’s important to you?  Are you living up to your own values?  Is being so busy you don’t feel how badly your body hurts, or have time to think, or notice that your spouse needs a hug worth the supposed value it will bring you?

We need to start shifting the idea that productivity is the only thing that brings us value. 

Wouldn’t it be amazing if we started high fiving each other every time we did something to care for ourselves?!

What is Wellness, Anyway?

Most people immediately think of physical well being when the topic of wellness is broached.  Our health is certainly important; however, wellness is ultimately defined by each individual. I think of it holistically, believing it involves the whole person.  Here’s a brief breakdown:

  • Physical
  • Mental
  • Emotional
  • Financial
  • Social
  • Community
  • Spiritual

What else does wellness mean to YOU?

Get Creative

Too busy for wellness? I say, “BULL!”  It’s important, so you’ve got to make it a priority. Better to make time for it now than to let things escalate into a serious issue, and then you’ll have to make a priority (those times are not fun!).

If we tried to bring every area of wellness into perfect balance right away, we would totally hit overwhelm!  Review your definition of wellness and see what aspects are calling for your attention first.  Pick one or two and let that become your wellness focus.

Get creative!  Make a list of at least 10 ways you could fit your wellness focus into your daily life.  Fill your list with both sensible and crazy ideas.  The purpose is to open your mind and world to make room for your wellbeing.  Then, talk to your family and friends and ask them for an additional 10 ways you could make time.  In fact, include ways you can address your wellness with your loved ones.

The small amount of effort you put into this exercise will reap you big, long lasting rewards!

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About the Author: Jenny is one of the many phenomenal interns working in the People House Affordable Counseling Program. With over 15 years of experience as a Spiritual Counselor, 4 years as a teacher of meditation and energy work and 2 years as a Wellness Coordinator, Jenny is a wonderful addition to the People House community. Jenny is a gentle and reflective soul who is committed to inspiring her clients to reconnect with themselves, find meaning and create positive changes. For more information or to contact Jenny, please see her therapist bio.

Which YOU are you Feeding?|| Lora Cheadle

By Lora Cheadle

wolf

 

Although there are several versions of this old Cherokee Legend, the basic story is as follows:

An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life. “A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy.

“It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.” He continued, “The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.”

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”

The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”

 

As a hypnotherapist, fitness trainer and Intuitive Angel Reader, I am called upon to assist people with change; in particular with releasing old habits and creating new, healthier habits. It doesn’t matter if those habits are dietary, exercise related, spiritual, mental or simply plain old garden-variety habits such as nail biting.

We are quite simply, the sum of our habits. The habits that we nurture and feed are the habits that grow.

This morning I was doing an Angel Reading for a client and the Angels asked her which self she was nurturing. Was she nurturing the broken, wounded person she was trying to heal and move away from or was she nurturing the perfect, infinite, self inside that she wanted to embrace and become? She had spent years learning, healing and processing all that she had been through and this message made it clear that continued focus on her old self constituted nurturing and feeding of the parts of herself that she no longer needed to feed. Her desire was to be healed, whole, free, healthy and happy, but very little of her daily actions or thoughts nourished or nurtured that part of her. She was so focused on what she didn’t want that she wasn’t able to nurture and grow all that she did want. She had been feeding the wrong wolf.

Which wolf are you feeding? What are you nurturing and growing in your own life?

Do you want to be deeply intuitive, spiritual, in touch with nature or do you want to be quick thinking, decisive, energetic and successful? Do you want to feel vibrant and powerful or calm and centered? Do you want to look like an executive, a nurturer, a super model or a loving grandparent? How you want to look, act, feel and be is up to you. We all have different roles, purposes and desires and it is up to us to live our lives exactly as we see fit. I had one grandma who relished the stereotypical role of grandmother letting her hair go gray, wearing house dresses and keeping her glasses pushed down to the tip of her nose from age 40 on. I had another grandma who was young and vibrant with dark brown hair, hip clothing and involvement in pop culture until she passed away in her 80’s. They nurtured what they wanted and they became the wolf that they fed.

With summer around the corner, everyone wants to get in shape and lose weight. Imagine how you want your body to look and feel. Now, which body are you feeding, your current body or your intended body? How many of your daily thoughts and actions support your old body and how many of the support your intended body? As I sit here munching on a cupcake as I type my blog, I am aware that this action of sitting and eating does not support the body that I’m envisioning for summer! Although I will work out later and although I will have a healthy dinner, every action and thought still counts. I am aware of which body I am feeding.

Many of us are surrounded with difficult people or challenging situations and we desire to be the voice of reason or to at least not feel the impact and drama of other people’s situations. So, when we are confronted with challenging situations, which wolf do we feed? Do we give in and bitch to our co-worker? Do we respond in a way that fuels the fire and increases our angst? Or do we feed our calm, centered, peaceful self and react with compassion, peace and love? When my children or husband pushes my buttons I know that my response will set the tone for the rest of the interaction.

I can feed the part of me that wants to be right, I can feed the victim in me or I can feed my higher, spiritual self. We are the sum of our actions. Are you nurturing the person you want to be?

Step back and take a look at the many wolves in your own life. Which ones are you feeding? The answers just might surprise you!

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About the Author: Not sure what lights your fire, or do you know exactly what lights your fire, but you keep spinning your wheels? Either way, Lora’s got you covered! Whether it’s through an Angel Reading or through hypnotherapy, where the subconscious mind is brought on board with the conscious mind, working with Lora reveals your divine path and gets you chugging down the road in no time. As a former lawyer, (She knows firsthand the courage it takes to following a new path!) Lora is very straight forward and process- oriented, using modalities that that yield results. No crystal balls or goddess robes here! See more on her website.

The Warrior’s Way, LLC: Positive Confrontation – Glenn Bott

Confrontation. 

The word itself gets many folks anxious and fearful.  If you’re like most people, you avoid it at all costs.  This seems to be a societal norm, so I though it merits a little discussion.  Let’s take a look at how Warriors deal with confrontation.

I think confrontation is a good thing.  It’s good because something new is being created.  It’s good because it’s usually a precursor to meaningful dialogue.  It’s good because it results in more specific communication so that all of the involved parties are having their needs met.  It’s good because it gives you an opportunity to stand tall in your truth.

In the Western culture, confrontation is often viewed as a negative event. 

Two or more people are disagreeing about something.  The word “confrontation” indicates the disagreement is getting more serious and being elevated.  All parties are digging their heels in and lines are being drawn in the sand.  Tension begins to elevate and people are most likely repeating what they’ve already said, but with a louder voice and a bit more animation.  Old positions are being reinforced with greater emphasis.

When this point is reached it’s a sure sign that effective communication has stopped, listening has been turned off, and all involved are assuming a defensive position.  None of which will lead to a positive resolution.  Fear and rigid behavior grow as those involved act to protect themselves.   A classic win/lose scenario.

Warriors don’t buy into any of this – they wade into the apparent confrontation with a confident stride and an attitude of finding common ground. 

Because Warriors stand in their truth and realize their power, they act and speak with confidence, love, and sincerity.  They’re authentic, loving, and are seeking mutually beneficial common ground.

Because Warriors stand in their truth and walk with Spirit, they aren’t fearful of confrontation.  They understand that confrontation is just a misunderstanding – a simple miscommunication.   At some point meaningful dialogue has broken down.  When this happens the involved parties tend to revert to their unconscious programming which typically reverts them back to their childhood where they seek to protect themselves and maintain their power.  In their fearful state they believe they can be harmed in some way.

Warriors have an attitude of Oneness and seek a common understanding without emotional attachment. 

They don’t have an emotional position they need to explain or justify.  The issue at hand simply doesn’t work for them.  While knowing their boundaries, they seek the common ground for all involved. 

By engaging in the confrontation without fear and emotional baggage, Warriors view this as an opportunity for growth.  Something new can be created.  A new viewpoint can be incorporated into their world.  The Universe expands.  They know that we’re all One and everyone is just doing their best to take care of themselves. 

Warriors also understand that any conflict they encounter is an external result of some unresolved internal issues that have arisen to help them grow in stature, wisdom, and their capability to express love.

 

Warrior’s Way LLC
Glenn Bott – 303-918-4626
glenn@warriorswayllc.com

The Warrior’s Way, LLC: 3 Steps to Success by Claiming Your Power – Glenn Bott

When you give your power away you leave yourself open to disillusionment, injury and regret.

 

Not good.

 

Think about the times in your life when you were riding high, having fun, and life was going your way.  I’ll bet you a lunch that you were feeling very powerful at the time.  In your goove.  Full of life and anticipation.

 

Here’s some steps you can take to start increasing your personal power and reclaiming those feelings and that “winner attitude”.

 

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Step 1 – Be Authentic                                            

 

Issue – Not speaking your truth and instead acting/speaking “appropriately”.  Whatever that is.

 

Solution – Society has many rules and interpretations.  I believe that the highest form of respect is to always speak your truth – no matter who you’re with or what the issue is.  Come from a place of love and be the best YOU that you’re capable of in the moment.  People will love, respect, and feel safe with you because they know you mean them no harm and will always speak your truth.  No games are being played.  YOU aren’t trying to gain an advantage.

 

Whenever you fall into the trap of thinking you need to behave a certain way, or give the appropriate response, you give your power away.

 

Step 2 – Be Impeccable                                         

 

Issue – you lack commitment in what you’re doing.  Your actions and your words aren’t aligned.  Your energy is split.

 

Solution – Be in the present moment and think before you speak.  Honor yourself and give yourself time to process the information before blurting out a response.  Being impeccable means walking your talk and doing what you say you’ll do when you say you’ll do it.  A simple equation.  Besides increasing your personal power, you will also be remembered because very few people actually honor their commitments.

 

Step 3 – Know Your Worth                                              

 

Issue – You let people walk all over you.  By trying to be liked and approved of, you twist and contort yourself in so many ways that no one knows the real YOU.  You’re always on the defensive, your self-esteem is in the gutter and you let people take advantage of you.

 

Solution – Stand tall and begin taking your best interest to heart.  If you don’t take of yourself, who will?  Take a breath, and start counting your positive attributes.  Take your time and do this until you start breathing easier, the weight on your shoulders lessens, and you regain your positive attitude.  Repeat to yourself that you matter, your opinions matter, and that you’re here for a purpose.

 

Learn more about the Warrior’s Way, LLC

Contact Glenn

The Warrior’s Way, LLC: How Far Can You Go? – Glenn Bott

Always a great question!

I believe the answer is as far as you want.  As far as you believe you can.  We live in a very supportive and malleable Universe.  I know that anything is possible as long as you have the drive and commitment to achieve it.  You have to believe.

Untitled-1More than any other time in recorded history, we are seeing old paradigms fall – and on a regular basis.  Everyone thought the world was flat until Columbus came along and had the courage to explore and prove his theory was correct.  No one thought objects heavier than air could fly until the Wright brothers proved them wrong.  In both cases, the physical rules of the universe didn’t change – all that changed was our perceptions and understanding.  It took the belief of the pioneers/visionaries to tolerate our ridicule and show us the way.

What was magical and impossible to believe is now commonplace and taken for granted.  Such is the way of progress.

If you want to improve your business and personal situation start living in a world of possibility.  Instead of assuming something will fail, begin to assume it’s possible and start moving in that direction.  Strengthen your belief on a daily basis.  With a strong commitment, I have no doubt that you will achieve the desired goal.  It may not happen overnight, but with enough belief and conviction it will happen.

Check out the link below.  Damien is doing something that has never been done before.  You can see his commitment and perseverance in his eyes.  He believed he could accomplish the desired goal.  With a little practice and refinement as he moved forward, he managed to be the first in the world to accomplish the loop.

Note to self:  BELIEVE!!

 

Find out more about The Warrior’s Way, LLC

Contact Glenn

The Warrior’s Way, LLC: Nimitz – Glenn Bott

Here is an excellent example of what the power of a positive attitude can accomplish in your life.  The life we live is all about our point of view and our internal dialogue.

Untitled-1In the following example, the reality of the situation was that the US had just been surprise attacked and our Pacific fleet severely damaged.  Admiral Nimitz accepted this reality while reviewing the damage.  His unique and positive viewpoint can be credited with the ultimate success the US Navy had in the Pacific.  He had a vision and held strong to that vision.  He KNEW that all was not lost.  He KNEW that repairs could be made in short order.  He KNEW that God/Spirit was on his side.

While we’ll probably never know what his internal dialogue was, we can be certain it wasn’t that of a defeatist.  I’m confident he had faith, KNEW we would get our ships back in operation, and was strategizing on how to move forward throughout the day.  He was single-minded on getting his fleet back in operation.  His determination and focused intent is what inspired those around him to move forward with equal confidence.  The entire attitude was one of “we can do this”.

To live our life to its fullest – we need to adopt the same attitude and internal dialogue.  Focus on what we want.  See the end result.  Find a way.  Trust in Spirit.

Remember – the Universe ALWAYS says YES!

From “Reflections on Pearl Harbor ” by Admiral Chester Nimitz.

Sunday, December 7th, 1941–Admiral Chester Nimitz was attending a concert in Washington D.C.   HeUntitled-2 was paged and told there was a phone call for him.  When he answered the phone, it was President Franklin Delano Roosevelt on the phone.  He told Admiral Nimitz that he (Nimitz) would now be the Commander of the Pacific Fleet.

Admiral Nimitz flew to Hawaii to assume command of the Pacific Fleet.  He landed at Pearl Harbor on Christmas Eve, 1941.   There was such a spirit of despair, dejection and defeat–you would have thought the Japanese had already won the war. On Christmas Day, 1941, Adm. Nimitz was given a boat tour of the destruction wrought on Pearl Harbor by the Japanese.  Big sunken battleships and navy vessels cluttered the waters everywhere you looked.

As the tour boat returned to dock, the young helmsman of the boat asked, “Well Admiral, what do you think after seeing all this destruction?”  Admiral Nimitz’s reply shocked everyone within the sound of his voice.

Admiral Nimitz said, “The Japanese made three of the biggest mistakes an attack force could ever make, or God was taking care of America .  Which do you think it was?”

Shocked and surprised, the young helmsman asked, “What do mean by saying the Japanese made the three biggest mistakes an attack force ever made?” Nimitz explained:

Mistake number one: the Japanese attacked on Sunday morning. Nine out of every ten crewmen of those ships were ashore on leave. If those same ships had been lured to sea and been sunk–we would have lost 38,000 men instead of 3,800.

Mistake number two: when the Japanese saw all those battleships lined in a row, they got so carried away sinking those battleships, they never once bombed our dry docks opposite those ships.  If they had destroyed our dry docks, we would have had to tow every one of those ships to America to be repaired.

As it is now, the ships are in shallow water and can be raised. One tug can pull them over to the dry docks, and we can have them repaired and at sea by the time we could have towed them to America .  And I already have crews ashore anxious to man those ships.

Mistake number three: Every drop of fuel in the Pacific theater of war is in the ground storage tanks five miles away over that hill.  One attack plane could have strafed those tanks and destroyed our fuel supply. That’s why I say the Japanese made three of the biggest mistakes an attack force could make or God was taking care of America.

I’ve never forgotten what I read in that little book.  It is still an inspiration as I reflect upon it.  In jest, I might suggest that because Admiral Nimitz was a Texan, born and raised in Fredricksburg , Texas — he was a born optimist.  But anyway you look at it–Admiral Nimitz was able to see a silver lining in a situation and circumstance where everyone else saw only despair and defeatism.

President Roosevelt had chosen the right man for the right job. We desperately needed a leader that could see silver linings in the midst of the clouds of dejection, despair and defeat.

The Warrior’s Way, LLC: Doing Shapes Our World – Glenn Bott

Whatever you do during the day defines and further cements your reality.  Proceed with awareness!

If your life is the way you want it to be, then keep doing, saying, and thinking the same.  If it’s not, it’s time to make some changes.  Many go through the day and treat it pretty much the same as yesterday.  This ongoing cycle of thoughtless action leads to a life of disillusion and frustration.  You’re on auto-pilot.

Take some time to consciously decide how you want your life to be, what you want to be doing, how you want your relationships to be, etc.  Define these items in as much detail as possible.  Once you’ve got this information spelled out, adjust your day by taking new actions, thinking new thoughts, and saying things differently in your ongoing internal dialogue.  This will change your reality – slowly but surely.  It’s really not difficult, but it does require discipline and a new set of behaviors. 

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A lot of us don’t realize how powerful, creative, and vibrant we are.  When you’re ready to make a change, this is the way to proceed.  Start telling a different story, and reinforce this new story with new actions, thoughts, and routines. 

In the Don Juan book series they refer to this as “not-doing.”  Basically, not-doing is breaking your patterns in order to interrupt your habitual thoughts and create new perceptions.  Don Juan used to have his students walk backward to alter their perception of the world.  This isn’t recommended in the city, but if you’re in an isolated open space or uncluttered room, it’s an excellent way to experiment with new thoughts, habits, and perceptions. 

Instead of your usual perception of the world coming at you, when you walk backward it’s now receding from you.  This creates a subtle, yet powerful change in your visual perception.  Instead of the most recent objects in your field of vision coming toward you, they’re now moving away.  Rather than subconsciously seeing/feeling where your next step will be, you are now moving without your visual clues of what lies ahead.  It’s a great exercise to expand and refine your other senses.  It doesn’t take too long before you start to feel comfortable doing this.

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The importance of doing these drills isn’t to refine your technique to walk backward.  The benefit is in creating new neural pathways in your brain that allow you to process information differently.  Increase your neuroplasticity in today’s medical jargon.  Your awareness and mental flexibility is increased.  The mental stories you tell yourself will begin to shift.  These mental stories, as we’re starting to scientifically prove, have incredible power in determining how we live our lives and what we do and accomplish.

I’ll tell you a little story to illustrate this principle.  After reading about this procedure, I decided to expand my awareness in many different ways.  I was enticed by the concept of walking backward.  I modified this exercise to backing into my garage when parking my truck at home.  At first, this was an exciting and challenging procedure.  With a little practice I got better and better at doing this.  I can now back up my truck, in extremely tight spaces with the best of them. 

In doing this I learned to process information in a different way.  I had to develop new neural pathways, new ways of processing the input, and new motor skills to control the wheels while looking in the mirror and backing up.  None of this sounds particularly beneficial, but in a holistic sense it is extremely useful.  I now know that I can back up my truck in tight quarters, I can easily change my habits, I can learn new things, I can process information in reverse, and I can quickly learn new skills.  This is the new story I tell myself.  I have broadened my capabilities.  I have a more flexible approach to solving problems.  I am creative.

Glenn Bott

glenn@warriorswayllc.com
www.warriorswayllc.com

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