Archive for the ‘People House Blogs’ Category.

Dreams as Everyday Spirituality ll By Erin Amundson

Dreams as Everyday Spirituality
By Erin Amundson

 

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 it 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 we 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 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.

The Power of Dreaming: Taming the Beasts ll By Dorothy Wallis

The Power of Dreaming: Taming the Beasts
By Dorothy Wallis

 

“A lamb, really, a lamb, that’s my ego?”  This thought washes over me as the image of a fluffy lamb appears beneath my closed eyes when the dream instructor asks,

“What is the image of your ego?”  

Annoyed, I proceed with her next directive, which is to talk to my ego and tell it something. Inwardly, I exclaim, “Would you be more strong and assertive?”  Immediately, the now spunky lamb jumps in the air, clicks its black hooves together and lands firmly with a determined look. I cannot help but laugh and my heart softens, “Yes, you are stronger than you appear.”  As other dream participants talk about their wild monstrous ego images, I feel grateful that I do not have to work at taming my lamb.

Throughout the three days with Catherine Shainberg, I work with the truth of images and how they depict our reality.  Dreaming is not just in the night, but a continual process. Instead of merely being a passive observer of the events and images in our life, she teaches us how to fully participate and respond to both the night dreams and the daydream.  

The first concept to embrace is the truth held in the images our body/mind/spirit creates.

Even if we do not like, agree, or understand an image, it is absolutely reflecting the truth about our perceptions, filters, and our true being. I see it as the soul speaking.  This language has pinpoint accuracy and as I work with the images, I begin to have a deep appreciation for how an image can incorporate thought and feeling into such a tidy and precise modality of communication.

“Dreaming is a way of triggering consciousness or holding a center so that consciousness can have power,” she explains.  The stories or mythology created out of the dream describes how each person inhabiting a body understands the great mystery.  The Kabbalistic lineage teaches that dreaming is a whispering and the secret is in how you blow. Kabbalah is a blowing wind through the text or form; it means to receive from the inside.  

One becomes the flute and God blows the flute.

Through experiential exercises using all of our senses, we touch the subconscious from a relaxed fully present and awake awareness. This way of working with imaging is a process of becoming more alive to the true reality in the world and a detachment from complete absorption in the illusion of the world.  The power comes from interacting and responding to the images instead of treating them as if in a movie or being at the mercy of them. Life is lived as a co-creation, mythopoesis, shaping experience through myth and vision, rather than as fate.

Two to three minute imaging exercises, one after the other, train our mind and body to respond quickly.  On the last day each exercise takes only a minute and is followed by another in rapid succession. Truth is found in the first impression of the image and in the experience of the senses and feelings that arise.  Images instantly appear out of the dark and my first response is wonder and questioning, “Why this image?” My second response is to morph it into something else. I learn to be with the image and take it in before morphing or responding to it.  Catherine says the Talmud speaks of the four Rabbis. The first Rabbi ‘sees’ and dies of shock, not living the dream fully. The second Rabbi ‘sees’ and goes mad. The third Rabbi ‘sees’ and says, “Is that all?” The fourth Rabbi ‘sees’ and comes back into the world transformed.  I learn to be with the image I receive instead of pushing it aside. I learn to respond to it. Entering the dream world is the hero or heroine and I am that heroine. Transforming the images teaches one how to deal with life’s challenges. Dreaming offers a way of practicing and honing the skill of creating reality.  It also transforms our pattern of seeing and responding.

The challenge is real and as I enter the night dreams they now take on a different flavor.  In one, I enter a furniture store looking for a dining table and chairs. Squishy, swivel chairs with kaleidoscopic colored leather seats and backs surrounding a dark wood rectangular table appear.  Delighted by the chairs, my attention is now drawn to the table. It seems rather short and squatty. “Maybe I want a round table instead. No, rectangular is fine, I surmise, it just needs to be longer and taller.”  Instantly, the table grows in dimension. That was easy. In another, I am walking alone in a pitch-black night beside an endless highway. A car comes from behind and slows. My antenna goes up and warns me that it may not be safe for a lone female walking at night in the middle of nowhere.  I begin running and just as soon as I do my feet rotate at lightning quicksilver speed propelling me far ahead of the car. My eyes are alert and watching both sides for signs of people, lights, or buildings. On my right, lights and buildings appear yet there is a tall barrier between it and the road.  “I must find an opening,” no sooner thought than a dip in the barricade materializes and I bound over the low wall down an embankment. I mingle with people in the bright lights of the town. Still concerned that the car has followed me, I merge into a tall shrub. I am completely invisible now to passers-by.  This transformation lesson must be complete because the next moment, I walk out of the shrub into the light and wake up.

The challenges increase with practice until transforming becomes second nature.  This skill is brought into the waking state as courage and an ability to see a situation more creatively and from an expanded state of heightened possibility with choice.  Choice is a key word.

Night dreams offer endless choice and possibility and this knowing translates into the dream of life during the day.

Reversing the day unwinds the burden of the day and opens a passageway to the night dream of choice.  If I can handle a situation in the night dream, I am even more powerful in the day. The dream is the reality of how I actually feel. Recalling each moment of my day seems a prodigious task. “How will I remember a whole day?” Surprisingly, the scenes of the day do unfold like petals falling from a spiral core of a faded rose.  One after the other the previous moment comes forth effortlessly until slumber enfolds me and I am in dreamland. If in the accounting of the day there arises a moment that weighs upon me, hurts me, disturbs, or unsettles my mind or emotions, I have the choice to re-image, re-frame, or re-experience the situation by responding to it.  I do it in the same way I respond to the night dream. It is a form of therapy on oneself and with skill and practice trauma can be removed before it festers.

Sabrina recounts her dream from the previous night.  The whole group asks her to describe nuances, feelings, and details of her dream, which helps the dreamer clarify and pay more attention to it, encouraging a way into the heart via the use of poetic language.  A sensuous richly evocative, vivid description brings the life of the dream into the room and into each one’s experience. Dreams often contain residue from recent events in our life and carry less weight or meaning so we go through a process of verification to set those bits aside.  Patterns are noticed and then each one becomes a secondary dreamer re-telling the dream from their own imaging, sensing and knowing. The dream entity assimilates layers of images and sensations revealing the wisdom that this dream is a world dream created by all of us.

In truth, we dreamed it together.  

The knowing that life is a dream and we are dreaming the new dream each and every moment is indelibly impressed upon our consciousness and with it taking responsibility for our creations means sincerely undertaking the ability to respond.

With our eyes closed Catherine pummels us with scenarios and asks us questions.  “Play your whole life in front of you and see your life as a victim, now do the same and see your life as a drama, now see your life as a comedy.  Which do you prefer?” “See the heroic stance you took as a young child to protect yourself in your dysfunctional family. See how your stance doesn’t serve you anymore.”  “See your mother’s face in a mirror; it is the first face you see. Change what you dislike.” These simple rapid-fire intentions send waves of knowing and change throughout my cells.

I soak up the way she works with individuals in the group going through resistance, how she surgically enters their images and cuts out, brings in light, and guides them into an altered experience.  It is amazing the speed in which people are able to move through their resistance this way. Clearing out fractious emotions is done in a Gestalt way by feeling it, finding where it resides in the body, and vocalizing it.  Once honored, the question is asked, “How do I want to feel?” The remembrance of choice is prompted and then a response of choosing a feeling is initiated with sensation and imaging.

Taming the beasts of emotions requires us to clean the hurts of childhood and society.  

By changing dissonant past images and feelings the attitude and triggering to the past is transformed. Each time a challenge is faced and met through the exquisite creativity of story and image, healing occurs and light enters.

Wearing silvery armor, I enter a dark cave and meet the dragon of anger, the bull of resentment, the crocodile of fear, and the sadness of Eeyore.  I lasso them in a golden net and climb a ladder. As I climb the rungs, the emotional demons all turn pink, then turn into doves, and finally disappear.  I leap off the ladder into the sky, turn into pure light and expand out into the universe of pure love. Ahh freedom…


 

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

Dark Nights of the Soul: Spiritual Transformation or Clinical Depression? Part 1 By Rev. Mary Coday Edwards, MA.

Dark Nights of the Soul: Spiritual Transformation or Clinical Depression? Part 1
By Rev. Mary Coday Edwards, MA.

 

Just as a 30-foot tall tsunami forever alters a coastal environment, a dark night of the soul leaves your inner landscape forever rearranged.

The phrase “dark night of the soul” comes from the 16th century Spanish mystic and poet John of the Cross. A member of the Christian religious order of Carmelites, he was imprisoned by his order for eight months for trying to reform the order. During his imprisonment he wrote poems, and after his release he wrote commentary on these poems, one of them entitled Dark Night of the Soul.

“What is my ‘soul’ anyway?”

“The church says ‘save your soul!’ but it never says what a soul IS,” I continued in frustration to my partner at a non-sectarian retreat center in Hua Hin, Thailand, almost 25 years ago. The church I was attending at the time didn’t encourage questions—especially from women. I was pushing against the patriarchal boundaries of entitlement, command, and control: the male leaders determined not only the acceptable questions, but also the answers.

Jungian analyst Clarissa Pinkola Estés believes otherwise, as she expounds on the classic Bluebeard fairy tale in her book Women Who Run with the Wolves, preferring the old French and Slavic versions (1).

Bluebeard is a gruesome brute who has married seven women, telling each they have the full run of the castle, but warning them not to look behind a specified locked door. The current wife asks herself, what is he hiding? She’s been given the keys to all the doors, and goaded by her visiting sisters, opens the forbidden door. To her horror, inside the room lie the bloody corpses of his previous wives. She realizes she’s next and knows she must escape.

Spoiler alert: in this version, she does.

Traditional patriarchal interpretations say the moral of this story—particularly aimed at women—is that a young maiden’s curiosity often leads to deep remorse. Huh? What’s up with that? We wise women ask.

Pinkola Estés, on the other hand, says that asking the right question opens the door to consciousness, that questions are the keys that cause the secret doors of the psyche to swing open. Curiosity leads us to ask, “What stands behind?”

My question: “What IS my soul anyway?” began the slow creaking open of the door to my psyche.

Linking soul with genuineness and one’s true nature

While Jung defines psyche as the totality of all psychological processes, both conscious and unconscious, soul is a nuanced word, a symbol from which meaning grows. Most of us have an intuitive feeling for what our soul is; the words that follow are written by Jungian analysts. Pay attention to what pings in your innermost being.

• Pinkola Estés says that “In fairy tales [and] in ancient hermeneutics, the spirit is being born of the soul. The spirit inherits or incarnates into matter in order to gather news of the ways of the world and carries these back to the soul. When not interfered with, the relationship between soul and spirit is one of perfect symmetry; each enriches the other in turn” (1).

• James Hillman writes extensively about the soul, concluding that “The soul is a deliberately ambiguous concept, resisting all definition, in the same manner as do all ultimate symbols which provide the root metaphors for the systems of human thought” (2).

• Psychotherapist and former monk Thomas Moore says, “It is impossible to define precisely what the soul is. Definition is an intellectual enterprise anyway: the soul prefers to imagine. We know intuitively that soul has to do with genuineness and depth, as when we say certain music has soul or a remarkable person is soulful. When you look closely at the image of soulfulness, you see that it is tied to life in all its particulars—good food, satisfying conversation, genuine friends, and experiences that stay in the memory and touch the heart. Soul is revealed in attachment, love, and community, as well as in retreat on behalf of inner communing and intimacy” (3). While a definition may be impossible for Moore, he does link soul with genuineness and one’s true nature.

• And one more by Evangelos Christou: “[T]he soul is not as transcendental, nor as biological, as either metaphysics or science would have us believe. On the one hand it is about life, about how people think, feel, behave, their problems and their ways, not about the organs and functions with which they do this. On the other hand, it is also about spirit and the meaning of life to people and the meanings are not exhausted by a history of ideas” (4).

Moore says “A true dark night of the soul is not a surface challenge but a development that takes you away from the joy of your ordinary life. An external event or an internal mood strikes you at the core of your existence. It’s not just a feeling, but a rupture at the core of your very being, and it may take a long while to get to the other end of it” (5).

In other words, it’s not coming home at the end of the day and telling your partner, “I had a dark night of the soul today. Someone took my parking place, I dropped my phone in the loo, and my hair looks awful.” These are surface challenges.

Dark nights of the soul are the pressures building up in the ocean floor of our psyches, shifting those tectonic plates of our worldview we believed were solid. The duct tape holding them together is about to become unglued—the tsunami waits in the shadows.

In my next blog I’ll look closer at a dark night’s comparison to a clinical depression, some of the whys of a dark night, and what can emerge from it. Meanwhile, listen to and feel your soul!

___________

Notes & Sources:

1.Pinkola Estés, Clarissa. Women Who Run with the Wolves: Myths and Stores of the Wild Woman Archetype, Ballentine Books. 1992.

2.Hillman, James. Suicide and the Soul. Spring Publications. 1994, 1998.

3.Moore, Thomas. Care of the Soul. 1992.

4.Christou, Evangelos. The Logos of the Soul. Spring Publications, 2007.

5.The best resource I have found on determining if it’s a dark night of the soul or a clinical depression requiring the attention of a mental health professional is Thomas Moore’s book, Dark Nights of the Soul, A Guide to Finding Your Way Through Life’s Ordeals. Penguin Random House. 2004.

__________

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.

5 Keys on How to Manage Painful Thoughts or Memories ll By Brenda Bomgardner

5 Keys on How to Manage Painful Thoughts or Memories
Brenda Bomgardner

If you’re like many people dealing with painful thoughts or memories, you may try to go about your daily routine but they keep butting in.

The haunting thoughts frequently make it hard to concentrate on your work or to even enjoy a relaxing night at home with the family.

Some people try to wish them away, hoping to forget about the pain once and for all. Of course, many people find this temporary reprieve through drugs, alcohol, or other negative ways.

However, utilizing mindfulness skills can help with managing these thoughts and memories, and to resolve your pain better than any vice.

Consider these five important key points.

1. Accept That You Have These Thoughts or Memories

The first step in a mindfulness practice towards managing painful thoughts or memories is to accept that they are there.

You can’t run away from them, nor can you dull them with substances or usher them away using distractions. As you may have already realized, they find their way back.

Yet, accepting that these thoughts and memories exist can help to resolve the pain associated with them.

Furthermore, with acceptance comes openness and peace. You are no longer expending the mental energy to fight back those thoughts.

Granted, acceptance does require courage—the courage to accept that they exist and are not suddenly going to conveniently vanish.

2. Be Willing to Face Your Memories

Once you have accepted that your thoughts or memories exist, be willing to face them. Much like the first step, this also requires some degree of courage. Still, it’s not as impossible as it may have seemed in the past.

Keep in mind that facing every negative thought or memory all at once could be a bit overwhelming. It helps to start small and tackle them in stride.

For example, focus on one memory for starters. Remember, facing your memories does not mean fighting them. Rather, it’s a process of coming to terms with these thoughts and resolving your pain.

3. Let Go of Attachment

Next, begin the process of letting go of your attachment to those memories.

Attachment implies that you find some importance or connectedness to the thought or memory. This is true even if they are painful and cause you a lot of emotional pain.

By detaching, you are separating yourself from the memory. This allows you to look at the thought or memory more objectively. Then, you can let it go and allow it to drift away.

One example of doing this is the “Leaves on the Stream” exercise. Quite simply, you imagine a stream with leaves. Each leaf represents a memory. You can observe the stream carrying those memories away down the stream.

5. Forgive Yourself

Often, when you hold onto painful memories or thoughts it’s because of feelings associated with guilt or shame. As a result, reliving the memory acts as a form of self-punishment.

For example, someone who experienced trauma related to war may “torture” themselves by asking “why did I survive?” They feel guilty that they lived but their comrades did not.

A key to managing painful thoughts and memories includes the decision to forgive yourself for what happened.

Tormenting yourself won’t change things or alter the past. However, forgiveness does let you move forward and embrace the life you have now.

Everyone has memories or thoughts that they’d rather forget. Yet, for some, these thoughts and memories cause so much mental anguish that it’s debilitating.

If this is you, consider trying these five keys to managing painful thoughts or memories.

However, if you are still struggling, recruit the support of a friend, a trusted family member, clergy, or other trained professional.


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

The Importance of Taking Care Pt. 2 ll By Rich Brodt

The Importance of Taking Care Pt. 2
By Rich Brodt

 

In my last post, I focused somewhat disproportionately on the external financial pressures that many of us feel as business owners, and how those pressures can lead to poor self-care. There is another side to this coin.

As healing professionals, our product is us.

It is the space we make for our clients, it is our background, our experience and our genuine self that the client is paying for. It is important that, as much as possible, this is what we deliver.

When life is difficult, when stress is really running high, the easiest thing for any of us to do is withdraw. Withdraw from our friends, family, our feelings, and most of all our selves. When we are having a hard time, the tendency is to hide that from those around us. It feels vulnerable.

But spending time with the people in our lives who support us is one of the most important ways we take care of ourselves.

When we spend time with those who we love and respect and receive mutual love and respect in return it validates who we are. We should not always need this type of validation, but it is important that we have people in our lives who make us feel good about who we are – who fully accept us. When people reflect our positive qualities we become more at ease with who we are and more able to make space for others. This can be difficult for those who have not built a strong support network, but within our community there are always opportunities for group supervisions, workshops and classes. These are all great ways to connect with like-minded people.

That being said, connecting in the ways mentioned above is not for everyone. There is not a single right way to take care of yourself. Different things work for different people, though there are certainly some favorites. Cardiovascular exercise such as biking or running works for many people, as does hiking or swimming. Generally, anything that gets you moving and leads to improved overall health is a good start. Meditation, yoga and other mindfulness-based practices seem to help quite a bit as well.

However, self-care takes on many different formats, and I do not think it should be so narrowly focused.

When trying to choose a hobby or activity, I often ask people to think back to a time where they completed something that was not related to their career and felt a sense of satisfaction upon that completion. Was it a horrible portrait you painted of your dog? A 14er you summited? A computer you built from scratch? A haiku you scribbled in a bathroom stall? The point is that it does not matter what it is. There is no right way to live and there is no right way to care for yourself. But we all need to seek some sort of joy outside of what we do for a living.

What brings you joy?

We can only identify with our careers so much. When this gets out of balance we lose a sense of our self. Seeking outside activities or hobbies that help to bring us a sense of meaning go a long way toward rebuilding the self and regaining a sense of balance.


About the Author

I provide therapy and counseling for individuals. My style integrates various techniques, but I tailor my approach to each client’s unique needs. I am committed to helping people that experience anxiety resulting from trauma, work-related stress, legal issues or major life transitions. Together, we will work to calm your mind and create lasting change.

2727 Bryant St Suite 430 Denver CO 80203 and People House Denver

720.295.1352 or RichardBrodt@Elevatedcounseling.org; http://elevatedcounseling.org

The Power of Contrast ll by Erin Amundson

The Power of Contrast
By Erin Amundson

   As I was leading an online dream group this past fall, something fascinating happened.  Just as we were entering the part of the group where everyone is on the brink of a wonderful, desired transformation, every single member of the group came up against resistance.  In fact, for the first time in the three years I’ve been facilitating dream groups, almost every member of the group canceled for our next session.

   I’ve seen this before.  Often in my one on one work with people. 

Just as we are getting to what I call the good stuff, clients cancel.

   Given my extensive history with my own resistance, I tend to be understanding and usually do my best to invite them back where we can chat about what came up. Every time, without fail, I see that those who do come back find that the experience of transformation brings them exactly what they want and need. 

I’m not saying it’s easy – in fact, many times it can feel emotionally excruciating.

   However, I believe there’s a way to make it less difficult by working with contrast or the tension of opposites.  Let me walk you through it. 

   The tension of opposites is often what clients feel just before a big breakthrough.  There is usually strong desire for growth or freedom and often equally strong feelings of resistance that create avoidance.  The result of this for most people is either backing away from the growth, which means staying wounded or limited, OR pushing through the resistance to the next level, regardless of the impact.  In my work with the dream group recently, I’ve come to consciously understand a strategy I’ve used for years with clients one on one.  This strategy is to shift our focus from the tension we feel to the power that contrast can bring us. 

   There are many examples of this in psychotherapy.  A client with a difficult childhood may both love and hate a parent who was inconsistent or abusive.  Clients often feel both fear and excitement in the venture of a desire, such as a new relationship or a career promotion. 

In dreamwork, our subconscious images feed us both nightmares and “good” dreams. 

   In all of these examples, I’ve found that the ability to hold both emotions with reverence and respect offers a pathway to our whole selves that we cannot otherwise connect to. 

   This means that the client who invites both the love and the hatred of the parent into her experience engages a new balance in the relationship to the parent (and probably better boundaries, too).  The person who invites the fear to speak to him before engaging the new relationship has the opportunity to understand a part of him that may need healing and will make the relationship better.  And the dreamer who engages the nightmare has the opportunity to work out a trauma or deep subconscious fear.  All of these processes bring freedom to my clients. 

   Consider this.  Imagine that you are on the brink of a new level of self-expression (as many of you truly are!).  It is going to be a natural part of your experience to fear this on some level, because you are heading into uncharted territory. 

As humans, we fear what we don’t know or can’t predict. 

   Now, I assume that what you want in this situation is the courage to plunge forward into this new and improved you.  Faced with this dilemma, it is human nature to do one of two things: DENY that you have fear and suppress it moving forward regardless, or DENY your new level of self-expression through some form of sabotage in order to stay SAFE. 

   While I preferred the first of these two responses for much of my own life, I’ve discovered that neither response provides most of us a grounded, nourishing, supportive way of experiencing growth in life.  If you deny your fear, a key part of your human existence is left behind, and left unhealed.  Typically, this fear (which is totally VALID) is expressed later on in unhealthy ways. 

   The answer, I have found, starts with telling the truth.  First, to yourself.  The truth about how we feel is not openly encouraged in this culture.  For a lot of people, it’s really hard to admit that their parents caused them pain.  It’s also hard to admit sometimes that you want more out of life.  We’ve just begun to really talk about fear and vulnerability in the last few years.  How many times have you responded with “I’m feeling really insecure” when someone asks how you are?  It’s rare. 

   I’m not saying that we should all suddenly start expressing ourselves freely.  Sometimes it’s not safe to do so.  Other times, we only think it’s not safe.  Therapy is a wonderful place to work this out.  The key is a feeling of safety in expressing and embracing our “less desired” emotions.  When you do, you’ll find the power of contrast in your own life.  

 


   

   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.

Spirituality in Daily Life: Choosing Nonviolent Activism ll By Rev. Mary Coday Edwards, MA.

Spirituality in Daily Life: Choosing Nonviolent Activism ll By Rev. Mary Coday Edwards, MA.

From a jail cell in Birmingham, Alabama, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., wrote:

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”

He penned this on April 16, 1963, and would be assassinated five years later, on April 4, 1968.

Last week we honored his birth. His largeness overwhelms me—not his size, but his activism against injustices. And there are others: Mahatma Ghandi; Mother Teresa; Nelson Mandela; Gloria Steinem; Cesar Chavez; Rachel Carson and Steve Biko—to name only a few of the greats.

While working in Peshawar with Afghan refugees and the reconstruction efforts of their war-torn country after 10 years of fighting Soviet occupation, all my Afghan friends had plans for how I could help them rebuild their nation. The war had destroyed their nation’s infrastructure of bridges, roads, schools, and irrigation systems. My education and experience were in the architectural/engineering field and that’s where I focused my energy—an easy choice for me.

But life in the States today proffers a crush of struggles. My days in Peshawar didn’t include internet media depicting a global non-stop volley of suffering and grief.

“What can I do?” becomes our common cry. Paralysis slides in to protect us from so much angst and its accompanying stress.

We can fall back on a supportive quote attributed to Dr. King:

“If I cannot do great things, I can do small things in a great way.”

And just empathy—entering into another person’s pain—isn’t enough. It eventually extracts an emotional toll on our bodies. Compassion takes us to the next step: doing something.

We are back to spirituality in daily life. Can we—and should we—include activism as part of our spiritual path? Dr. King certainly believed so.

“Every man of humane convictions must decide on the protest that best suits his convictions, but we must all protest” (1).

All major religious traditions include acts of compassion in their practices; if we say we love, the suffering of others ought to move us to do something (2). Our souls/psyches/spirits do have the capacity to live with—and to a measure, move through grief—otherwise why do our greatest loves die and leave us physically? But we’re not made to carry as much grief as we’re bombarded with daily. I’ve become especially careful about pictures and videos imprinting themselves on my psyche through social media. I control how much grief enters my life.

How to start:

1.Choose your passion (see non-exhaustive list below). Where you will focus your attention? As I run through my never ending list of injustices that need righted, I listen to my deepest self. It becomes part of my spiritual practice, my spiritual discipline. Where shall I focus my attention, and hence my energy?

2. Know thyself—what are your strengths? Do you tend toward extroversion or introversion? Where do your gifts lie? Author Madeleine L’Engle tells the story how she was asked to make a cake for her young child’s school function. The cake flopped, and she told the teacher that while she couldn’t cook, she could write a play for the children to perform, and that’s what she did.

3. Recognize your commitments and/or limitations. Are you raising a young family and/or working full-time? A full-time student? A primary caretaker to an aging parent? Limited in physical mobility? Perhaps you can still make a few phone calls to your elected officials or write letters. As your children grow, include them as much as possible—be an example.

A partial list of injustices follows that we read about daily. Pay attention to what pings your spirit—and then write that down. If your list ends up too long, read that list also, and watch for greater movement within you for one or the other. Which sorrow marks your soul? Which one (or two) leaves a deeper and more painful impression?

It’s like going to the eye doctor: “Which one is clearer? Slide one or slide two?” “This one [pause] or this one?”

Watch for other ideas springing up from these words; these are clues, saying, “Walk this way.”

•Chemicals killing our bees.

•Pollutants in our freshwater supplies.

•Pollutants in our soil.

•Plastics and computers in the ocean.

•The dying off of insects due to chemicals.

•Our nation’s wealth inequalities.

•Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

•Women’s rights.

•Rights of children.

•LGBTQ+ rights.

•Our nation’s war machine.

•Melting polar caps.

•Corporations writing our nation’s laws, vs. elected representatives.

•Disenfranchised voters.

•Abused dogs.

•The international trade in endangered species.

•Unfettered access to weapons.

•Our nation’s lack of decent public transportation, forcing dependency on the automobile and oil and gas industry.

•Corporate greed and bullying for our nation’s natural resources, often at the expense of our nation’s natural heritage—our national, state, and county forests, parks, and reserves.

•The weakening of laws protecting our nation’s air, water, and ground supplies, thus threatening our children’s health.

•The anti-nuclear movement.

Keep in mind that just as life changes—the children grow, the aging relative passes on—so might your passions and giftings ebb and flow. Don’t let society or the status quo dictate to you what injustice you fight or what shape that battle takes. Let Dr. King be your example.

______

Notes & Sources:

1. Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., (1929-1968) Pastor, Civil Rights Activist, Morehouse College 1948. http://hbcustory.org/on-conviction-martin-luther-king-jr-morehouse-college-48/

2. Contemporary author on religion Karen Armstrong has written extensively on how compassion flows alongside the cruelties of fundamentalism which raises its head in all religions, through all the centuries. Les Miserable plays itself out continually in our societies through Victor’s Hugo’s character Inspector Javert, as we balance the God of Mercy with the God of Judgment.

3. https://charterforcompassion.org/ The mission of the Charter for Compassion: “To that end we support and work to achieve the seventeen sustainable goals of the United Nations.”

4.  https://www.thenation.com/article/fifty-most-influential-progressives-twentieth-century/


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.

How to Understand Acceptance and Commitment Therapy ll By Brenda Bomgardner

What’s It All About? – How to Understand Acceptance and Commitment Therapy

By Brenda Bomgardner

 

If you’re like many people, you may have an inner voice telling you things like you’re worthless or that no one wants you. Every day, an exhausting battle may rage inside of you.

Sometimes you try to push back against all those negative thoughts, but they come crashing through anyways.

In fact, trying to counter your negative self-talk only seems to make things worse. Spiraling down quickly, it often feels like there’s no relief in sight.

Now, imagine that there’s a way to counter the effects of negative thinking without pushing back or repressing your thoughts.

That’s what acceptance and commitment therapy is all about.

What Is Acceptance and Commitment Therapy?

Unlike other coping skills—where you try to avoid negative thoughts or drown them out—acceptance and commitment therapy involves shifting your thinking to more productive outcomes.

This is accomplished by:

• Becoming more aware of your actions
• Recognizing what you consider to be your own values
• Making a commitment to act

The idea behind acceptance and commitment therapy is to face those negative thoughts in a more productive way.

It can be very difficult to drown out or counter negative thoughts, especially if they have been deeply ingrained into your thinking. However, acceptance and commitment therapy empowers you to choose what to do about thoughts.

Decide on Acceptance and Take Action

When you practice acceptance and commitment therapy, you utilize a process to make decisions independent of your negative thoughts.

For example, let’s say that you struggle with feelings of low self-worth based on negative experiences in childhood. When you think “I am worthless” you suddenly now have a choice. You can decide whether to take action right now to address this negative thought and might enter into a battle with the thoughts. You might try to counter the negative thought with a positive thought. You can spend a lot of time and energy in the battle and feel like you’re spinning your wheels and the thought keeps coming back. Here’s the deal. You can battle with your thought or you can act on creating behaviors that infuse your life with meaningfulness and fulfillment. You can act independent of your thoughts and/or feelings. You can accept a thought or feeling as a process your mind does based on your learning history and work towards making behavior changes.

Make a Commitment

Another important part of this process is making a commitment not to push back against those emotions, thoughts, or feelings.

Often, what causes people emotional distress is their attempt to push back or fight thoughts or feelings they find distressful. However, this frequently only causes them even more unnecessary pain and suffering.

When you commit to stop pushing back, and begin to be willing to accept your feelings you can begin to approach these issues from a new perspective and make changes based on what you truly value.

Why Is Acceptance and Commitment Therapy Helpful?

Perhaps the biggest reason why acceptance and commitment therapy is helpful is that you are no longer trying to avoid painful thoughts or feelings.

If you have thoughts about your low self-worth, you may be tempted to “numb” those thoughts through drug or alcohol use. On the other hand, you may try to bottle those thoughts and feelings up inside. Any attempt to release them causes you loads of emotional pain.

Let’s face it, this may temporarily work for you. But avoidance doesn’t really solve the larger problem. You still carry uncomfortable and unwanted emotions around you, and eventually, it will come out one way or another. Acknowledging to yourself that you have and experience painful feelings and thoughts transform them.

How to Practice Acceptance and Commitment Therapy

To practice this technique, it’s helpful to work with a therapist who understands acceptance and commitment therapy.

While it may be hard to discuss painful memories and difficult emotions with anyone, a therapist will be able to support you through the process. They can also help you find alternatives for viewing these thoughts and emotions so that they need not be compounded by the fight against pain causing distress for you.

If negative thinking is an issue and fighting those thoughts is causing you problems, consider acceptance and commitment therapy. You’ll likely find that by finding acceptance and committing to changing your thinking based on your own personal values, you will find relief and peace of mind.


 

About the Author: Brenda Bomgardner is in her encore career. One of her greatest joys in her career is seeing people move beyond life’s roadblocks toward a fulfilling and meaningful life. She believes each person has a purpose in life waiting to be realized that evolves over a lifetime. And the path to reaching your life’s purpose is as unique as each individual. We all have dreams. Step by step she will walk with you on uncovering how to bring your dreams to fruition.  Brenda is a counselor, coach and clinical supervisor and specializes in practicing Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) which is a cutting edge evidenced-based processes. This means there is scientific research proven to show ACT works. Before becoming a therapist, she completed a successful 17 year career in Human Resources at a Fortune 500 company. On a personal note she loves the great outdoors, ATV riding, adventure travel and family.

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

The Importance of Taking Care ll By Rich Brodt

The Importance of Taking Care

By Rich Brodt for People House Blogs

Folks in the helping professions tend to have pretty good awareness of the idea of self-care. However, that does not always mean we put it into practice. I regularly hear of helping professionals slipping into substance abuse, bad habits and unhealthy relationship patterns regardless of the fact that they are regularly able to help other individuals though the same issues. It is likely that they even talk about self-care with their clients, yet have a difficult time applying the principles to themselves.

Most of us in the helping professions are self-employed and run our own businesses. We tend to identify with our business and genuinely feel the ups and downs, and financial pressures that can lead us to poor self-care.

We will not take time off, because we need to get those appointments in, and meet our year-end goals.

We agonize over a tough case instead of coming home and transitioning out of work mode. We skip a workout to return a call or do some other inane task that will have negligible effect on our business. These things do not help us feel good, and these things do not make us better at our jobs. When we start to lose control of how we take care of ourselves, things become disorganized, jumbled and stressful. We lose track of the borders between our personal and professional lives. This can lead to a state of both exhaustion constant stress.

I believe that exhaustion, stress and anxiety are all made much worse by a lack of boundaries. The boundaries may be absent in one’s work life, one’s home life, or both.

In my experience, if a person has poor boundaries, they usually apply those poor boundaries to all aspects of their lives.

By definition, boundaries are intended to mark limits. Without them, we constantly push past our limits and have little left for ourselves. Since most helping professionals have a tendency to be on the more empathic side, this can have really negative consequences. If we are constantly pushed past our limits, we have a very difficult time trying to regain our center.

When you mention boundaries to a client, they often react with fear at having to set and maintain boundaries. After all, it is not uncommon for the setting of limits to be met with conflict. When you mention them to other professionals they react in much the same way. They do not want to leave their clients high and dry during difficult times.

The desire to help comes from a good place, but often leaves the helper feeling exhausted.

When we lose track of our boundaries we have a hard time differentiating between our own feelings and the feelings of others. This can lead to some difficult situations if we are not careful. If we consistently maintained poor boundaries, we’d all run into an ethical problem eventually.

As far as I am concerned, the first step in taking care of oneself is identifying and setting boundaries. Once we gain more control over our time, we are able to focus on our own needs. My next entry will continue on this topic, focusing on ways to identify and meet our own needs.


 

I provide therapy and counseling for individuals. My style integrates various techniques, but I tailor my approach to each client’s unique needs. I am committed to helping people that experience anxiety resulting from trauma, work-related stress, legal issues or major life transitions. Together, we will work to calm your mind and create lasting change.

2727 Bryant Street Suite 550 Denver, CO 80211

People House Denver, 3035 W. 25th Ave, Denver, CO 80211

Always Hungry ll By Erin Amundson

Always Hungry
Erin Amundson, MA, LPC

As we approach the end of year and once again settle into the darkness of night, I’m encouraged to share a poem I wrote several years back.  The essence of the poem rings true for me again today, in the way that cyclical aspects of our core growth journey always do.  I’ll let you take in the poetry first, and then invite you in for more to consider.  Enjoy.  The poem is called Always Hungry

Dark stillness calls; For you I lose sleep

At the worry and the wonder

Of where I might find you next.

We had such a promising love affair once

My cold and starved curiosity

Exploring the depths you hid from me

Child-like, the two of us.  Child-like and afraid.

Then the world pounced, rushed me from behind,

and flung me, face-first, into the sunlight on the concrete.

Yes, the world took a cheap shot; And I quickly forgot you

To save the pain of remembering; All the others.

Yes I forgot, I forgot 

But still you didn’t leave me

You’ve held me all these years

You’ve held me so long I no longer know

How badly I want to go.

and nothing has changed, nothing has changed but me.  I’ve aged.

Aged and not grown, not moved, not known.  A life lived in circles, so perfect,

so hurtful.  Disturbing and peaceful. 

I practice Jungian Psychotherapy professionally.  I like to refer to it more often as Depth Psychotherapy, because while Jung is one of my heroes in passing, not everyone associates his name with what he actually taught.

In addition to spreading this knowledge and these practices to my clients, I have a thriving practice of my own, in my own home.  I have no memory of writing this poem, but my writing is a part of my practice.  In reviewing it, it’s clear to my ego mind that the poem was a message from my psyche (or soul, or God, or the universe) about the subtle presence of a recurring relationship pattern that’s self-destructive for me. Something I can surely interrupt in favor of what my soul truly wants to experience in this life. Powerful.  Simple. Profound.

As I reflect on the message of this poem, I recognize that I’ve had self-destructive relationships with all kinds of people and substances and behaviors throughout my life. 

I feel like I am at the beginning of the end of engaging this self-sabotage in favor a life really lived.  And as this poem from the past showed itself to me again today, I wonder how many people in the world might relate to the urge to let go of outdated self-sabotage in favor of a fresh start. 

While we are all unique in what we’re called to, it occurred to me this week that some of you out there might benefit from my sharing of this work, in the hope of inspiring you toward a practice that works for you.

I will first say that your psyche (or soul, or God) communicates with you regularly, whether you’re picking up what it’s laying down or not. 

If you start the interaction, your psyche will gladly engage you and give you your own form of soul communication. 

This communication comes in the form of intuition, dreams, interactions with others, repeating themes (numbers, pictures, words) in the world, and perhaps most importantly, creativity.

Your psyche tells you a story – often like a cliff hanger television series – one episode at a time.  If you tune in regularly, you get the larger themes and deeper meaning of the story.  However, if you’re missing several episodes, it’s easy to get lost in the mundane territory of our ego thoughts, fears and desires.  

One of the most powerful ways I have found to tune into the psyche is through a creativity practice. 

This can take so many forms – some of which include art, music, writing, cooking, or even quieting your mind and taking in the creative works of another. This time of year is perfect timing to tune in and go deeper.  Soon enough, we’ll be encouraged once again by the longer days to be out in the world.  For now, allow the natural rhythm to invite you in. 

This holiday season, I would encourage you to engage with your creative self and bring the intention of opening a dialogue with your psyche to your practice. You don’t have to try hard, in fact it’s best if you don’t try at all, but rather, simply show up to the process of creativity with an intention and an open mind.  I would bet your psyche has been waiting to spend more quality time in deep conversation with you.  And when you break through into awareness, life becomes so much more rich, colorful and meaningful.  Mmmmm.  It’s goooood stuff.


 

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.

December 5, International Volunteer Day: Who you been giving it to?* ll By Rev. Mary Coday Edwards, MA.

Dec. 5, International Volunteer Day: Who you been giving it to?*
By Rev. Mary Coday Edwards, MA.‘Tis the season that brings out the good in us through donations of our time and/or money. Who and what are the recipients of your life?

Peshawar, Pakistan, fall of 1992.

We sat on our sunny veranda drinking coffee with a visiting professor from the United States who had his PhD in Hydrology and Water Management.

“I had a contract with the Pakistani government, but I realized that my efforts to improve Pakistan’s irrigation systems were only helping rich landowners. I wanted to help the poor, so I quit,” said Dr. J. Maurice.

Dr. Maurice knew that by increasing the wealth of the elites, not only was he not helping the poor, he was shoring up the institutional systems that kept the poor dis-empowered.

I met Dr. Maurice in Peshawar when I attended a course he taught sponsored by the International Rescue Committee, an organization that aids refugees and people whose lives are crushed by conflict and disaster. His class focused on providing sustainable and low-tech water supply and sanitation options for poor people in developing nations—people whom governments and the wealthy bypassed.

In 1991 my husband and I moved to Peshawar with our two sons. We’d met Afghans back in the States through a USAID-sponsored study abroad program which, over the duration of three years, brought more than 100 Afghans to the University of Nebraska. Because the Soviets were withdrawing from their 10-year occupation of Afghanistan, our friends had persuaded us to come over and help them rebuild their shattered country: Mike would work in health and I in reconstruction projects.

Something is rotten in the state of Denmark.

Shakespeare’s Hamlet

 

For social change, we followed the example set by an 1800s English politician named William Wilberforce, who spent most of his professional career as a leader in the movement to stop the slave trade.

Wilberforce worked to change the INSTITUTION of slavery and fought powerful politicians and landowners who defended their rights to own people. He spent decades  battling down the structural elements embedded in Britain’s political and economic systems which believed it was okay to own, beat, rape, and starve to death other human beings—all for financial gain.

Alongside Wilberforce’s efforts to demolish the institution of slavery were groups who worked to improve the basic conditions of the enslaved, such as humanizing their living situations and providing free health care and clothing—band aids basically—treating the symptoms vs. the disease.

And in aid work, both structural changes and band aids are needed.

During our 20 years of striving internationally for social justice by changing the institutional systems that kept people poor, something flipped in the United States. Religious establishments and non-profits began to model their organizations after private enterprise. They filled their boards with successful business people. Leaders in groups such as Philanthropy without Borders sought “market-friendly solutions” to extinguish poverty.

It all felt “off” to us. Our goals of changing unjust social institutions seemed at odds with the wealthy who benefited from these institutions. Think U.S. mortgage crisis of 2008.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m a big fan of private enterprise as an essential tool in fighting poverty. I’ve seen how one cow through the sale of its milk buys education and healthcare for a Tanzanian family; how one electric mixer opens up the door for an enterprising young woman to make and sell desserts for the Muslim’s Eid holiday; how one propane gas grill creates a restaurant—and jobs—in a remote Indonesian village.

And now, Anand Giridharadas, in his 2018 book, Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World, articulates why it felt so off (1).

Giridharadas presents familiar statistics, in that in the past 35 years, the average pretax income of the bottom half of Americans has stayed almost precisely the same—that’s 117 million Americans who’ve been left out of the benefits of progress. But the pretax income of the top tenth has doubled, the top 1 percent has tripled, and the top 0.001 percent has increased by seven times.

Out of this wealthy one percent have emerged philanthropists eager to change the world—but on their terms. Elites have assumed leadership of social change, reshaping what social change is, and in the process, they protect the institutions that created their wealth.  

How corporations make their fortunes and any serious social consequences are conveniently ignored as discussion topics.

In Asia, resource extraction industry CEOs would approach Mike, asking him to head up their health clinics (he always refused) in order to fulfill their corporate social responsibility (CSR) piece. They needed to “give back” to the community—by contributing a negligible percentage of their profits to social issues.

“Make our employees healthy after we’ve poisoned their drinking water through our unregulated gold mining operations—and because the government doesn’t provide any healthcare,” they’d infer, while the wives of CEOs bragged about their new Mercedes’ they’d waggled out of the predatory corporations. CSR sugar-coated the human rights’ abuses and environmental blight they created, aided and abetted by government-sanctioned poverty and environmental destruction.

Government-controlled media extolled the virtues of how these profitable companies had installed clinics in remote jungles, while these same governments refused access to outside journalists for fear of them exposing human rights’ violations.

The only thing better than being a fox is being a fox asked to watch over hens.

Anand Giridharadas

 

Giridharadas tells of the Even app to download on your phone—for a fee of $260 per year. Even’s mission as laid out on their website is to “end the paycheck-to-paycheck cycle.” It says that, “More than 50 percent of Americans live paycheck to paycheck. We’re trying to fix that, by building new financial services that make it easier to make ends meet, pay down debt, and save money.” It’s basically a banking app that tells you how much is in your account.

But according to Giridharadas, the unaddressed and sidelined institutional issues of the Even app include the increasing practice of employing people intermittently “and the new on-demand economy that left many eternally chasing work instead of building livelihoods.” This on-demand economy often offers no pension plan and or paid time off—thereby generating more predatory corporate profits. Paychecks fluctuate weekly. Even encourages businesses to offer its services as a benefit to its employees—employees who stagger under the predatory effects of the same corporate employers.

Ergo, the creators of the Even app protect their wealth-producing systems and make money off the disadvantaged, calling it a “win-win” situation.

“The only thing better than controlling money and power is to control the efforts to question the distribution of money and power. The only thing better than being a fox is being a fox asked to watch over hens,” Giridharadas says.

In other words, with a near monopoly on wealth and power, the elites of our country are changing society in ways that do not change the underlying economic system from which their wealth flows—and they end up with a near monopoly on the benefit of change.

Who will decide what the requisite reforms of our common life ought to look like?

Will these reforms be led by governments elected by and accountable to its citizens? Or by patronizing wealthy elites claiming to know our best interests? And what needs changed? For starters, let’s talk about the rising inequalities of income, wealth and opportunities. Or how about political campaign finance reform, and the corruption and capture of politics and institutions through unregulated corporate and individual political influence. And then there’s education reform, ending the voucher practice of siphoning off tax dollars to private education to the death of public education—where most children are still educated.

In 1985 the United Nations mandated December 5 as International Volunteer Day for Economic and Social Development, with particular emphasis on volunteer contributions to the achievement of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals at local, national, and international levels (2).

Unless we have anesthetized ourselves against its commercialism, this month of holidays brings out the giving in us. We give our lives and energy in the form of time and/or financial resources—sometimes to strangers. So please, go ahead and put on those band aids, but at the same time look for ways to change the system!

                                               I sit on a man’s back choking him and making him carry me,                 and yet assure myself and others that I am sorry for him and wish to lighten his load by all means possible …. except by getting off his back.

Leo Tolstoy, What Then Must We Do?

Who you been giving it to?*

 

*I owe this phrase to Northern Arizona blues singer and song writer Tommy Dukes https://www.facebook.com/Tommy-Dukes-Blues-1464722743832632/

______

Notes & Sources:

1. Giridharadas, Anand. Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World. Alfred      A. Knopf publishers. 1998.

2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Volunteer_Day               https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sustainable_Development_Goals

______
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 People House 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.

What to Do When You are Triggered to Remain Connected ll By Dorothy Wallis

What to Do When You are Triggered to Remain Connected
By Dorothy Wallis

 

You are designed to connect.  “There is only One need and that is the need to connect,” says Deepak Chopra.  So why is it so difficult to remain connected with those we love? When you are relating to another you are either connecting or disconnecting from them. You move between connection and disconnection in a flash.

Disconnection is like having a switch that suddenly turns off the light of connection.

You turn off the radiating warmth of your love and caring.  Your attention moves inward and you either retreat within yourself or put up a shield of defense.

When something hurts you, your body naturally responds to protect you and it does so very quickly.  If you are physically hurt, your body swiftly goes into action to mitigate the damage. Pain lets you know that something is wrong.  The same response occurs emotionally when your esteem, values, and opinions are hurt or denigrated. You feel pain. Your defenses kick in and “trigger” a physical and emotional response.

The physical response is felt as intense sensation and your emotions flare up to protect you and warn you to pay attention.  If your safety is threatened, the reaction will be instant.

“Triggering” floods your body with neurotransmitters and hormones. Your senses are activated to be alert and your body is activated to be ready to take action.  Immediately, you feel a “Whoosh” or Rush of energy. The sensation is rapid and you will react from habit. The way you react depends on the pattern of reaction you developed that worked most often.  These reactions are induced by the limbic system for the purpose of protecting and defending you. You instinctually react to avoid emotional hurt or pain. You may suppress your feelings or project them out.  Handling the hurt in these ways avoids the message your body is giving you. Since you have not dealt with the hurt, it will ramp up the sensations and emotions until you pay attention to them.

It may seem counter-intuitive to attend to pain.  But that is exactly what is required. In order to come out of disconnection and being “triggered,” you must be self-aware of what is at the root of your hurt.    

Your natural instinct with a physical injury is to take care of it.  A broken bone in your leg hurts and so you take care of yourself by going to the doctor so that it can be “set.”  It may still hurt while it is healing because your body is telling you that you should not use this part of your body until it is completely healed.  If you do not listen to this message and go hiking or jogging, you may injure it further. The same goes for your emotional body.

If you do not listen to what is hurt inside and take care of it, it may fester into a larger wound.

Emotional energy builds and the disturbance remains in your body.  If it is not paid attention to, it will manifest as a physical problem or illness.   

The ego’s defense mechanism is primal.  It assumes that there is danger outside of the self and with that perspective it believes that other people make us disconnect or even force us to disconnect due to their negative behavior.  Self-awareness tells you that you are always in control of when you disconnect or connect. You have the power and choice whether to stay connected or not. Focusing on blaming your partner or friend will not result in creating connection.  The first step is to find out what is really going on within you and that starts with introspection.

Begin with a non-judgmental perspective and the realization that your pain resides inside of you.  Whatever outer circumstances are bringing it up is only part of what is really happening. Your first thoughts will be about what is happening externally to you.  You may need to withdraw. It is natural to protect yourself from harm or from harming another. Often what occurs in relationship are habitual patterns and reactions.  Instead of seeing a situation clearly without preconceived ideas about what is happening there are assumptions about what the intentions the other person has or the meaning about what is happening.  These assumptions can cause unnecessary pain. The negative stories we tell ourselves about others behavior or actions is usually laced with judgment.

Before you make accusations take the time to calm down (see below) and then check in with the other person to find out their perspective. Really listen.

It is also important to release any self-blame or thoughts of “screwing up again” because this is just another form of disconnection.  Shift your awareness to go into the spaciousness of peace and harmony that is within you. The more you go into this silent place, the more you will find that peace and love are always available.  Pain means that you are disconnected from the state of wholeness. Connecting to the source in your heart melts the disconnection and you will see how it heals your relationships.

When you are triggered, you can use the Basic Heartfulness practice to connect and attend to your pain and come back into balance.  As you do this practice, you are moving your consciousness from a primal defensive perspective into the expanded open consciousness of your higher mind.  Through this process, you can go to the source of your hurt, which may surprise you to see that the pain you feel has been there before in another form. With insight, you can change the story, the beliefs that no longer serve you, and find out the message your emotions are conveying to you.  Allow the wisdom within to tell you what you really need.

Attending to Your Emotions and Pain:  The BASIC Heartfulness Practice

B: Breath

A: Awareness

S: Sensation

I: Inquiry, Insight, Intuition, Images

C: Centered, Calm, Connection

 

Breathe

• Be silent.  Stop yourself from speaking.

•Focus on your breath coming in through your nose.  Take some deep breaths in and out through your heart center allowing the initial Whoosh of emotion to calm down.  Feel your feet firmly on the ground. As you focus on your breath, your thoughts will calm. If you find your thoughts intruding, return to focusing on the breath coming into your nose.  Feel the sensations of the stream of air on the inside of your nose.

Awareness

•Deepen your awareness of your body.  

•If you are still feeling a rush from being “triggered,” breathe in to a count of 4 and breathe out longer to a count of 7 or 8.  This engages the parasympathetic system, slowing your heart rate and calming your body. Do the “long outbreath” as many times as it takes for you to feel your body calm down.

•Continue breathing through your heart.

•When you feel centered, allow your breath to become natural.

Sensation and Inquiry

•Turn your eyes inward, inside of your body.  Gently scan your body to locate the disturbance of energy.  You may feel it in more than one place. Go to where it is strongest.  Your natural reaction may be to not want to touch or feel the sensations.  Relax into it and swaddle the tension with your care. Your body wants you to go to this place.  As you focus your attention on the disturbance, it will respond. The disturbance is both a physical reaction and energy.  With your awareness notice the area of your body where it is located. What size is the disturbance? What does it look like?  Just noticing the actual physicality of the energy, what is the action? Is it still, moving, contracting or expanding? If you could touch it, what is the texture?  What color is it? Does it smell? Does it have a sound? What is the temperature? Is it hot or cold? Inflamed or dull? Wet or dry? Explore it with all of your senses.  Be aware of everything you ”see” in this area of your body.

•Does it change as you pay attention to it?

•Breathe into the area from your Heart with feelings of acceptance.

Insight

•Allow the energy to “speak” to you.  What insights arise?

•What is the Truth in this moment?

•Are you physically safe?  What does not feel safe?

•Is there some action to take or not?

•If you are feeling emotionally hurt, bathe yourself in compassion.

•What is the story you are telling yourself?

•Are you holding on to a story that no longer serves your highest good?

•What assumptions have you made that you want to check out?

•Forgive and release anything in the past that no longer serves you.

•What is the story you want to create that fills you with joy?

•Receive whatever insights or images arise.  

Centered, Calm and Connected

•Feel the Loving spaciousness that exists in your Heart.

•Connect to your True Essence self and receive compassion.

•Allow the flow of loving kindness to radiate into all of your being and outward into the world.

•Feel yourself being Centered, Calm and Connected.


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

     

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)

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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.

 


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. 

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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

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

     

People House: a Center for Personal and Spiritual Growth