Posts tagged ‘Clyde Davis’

Ownership – Rev. Stephen “Clyde” Davis

Many years ago I was a neophyte member of a similarly freshly-formed men’s group. I was struggling to find meaning and purpose and hoping to stumble on it alongside fellow seekers. At one point I found myself vigorously defending a member of the group whose communications I felt had been consistently attacked by other group members. I was full of righteous indignation as I wielded my verbal sword on his behalf. Suddenly, I realized the focus of the group had shifted to me – not a very comfortable awareness for me at that time.

Several members attempted to explain to me how I was projecting my discomfort onto the person I thought I was defending. And how, at the same time, that person was not owning his process. That threw me for a loop. I was unfamiliar with the concept of ownership and not inclined to admit I was projecting anything. In fact, I was so sure I was doing the right thing, I continued to energetically defend myself and my fellow group member for weeks, even going so far as calling the two most egregious members “Ownership Nazis,” as they continued their (as I saw it) assault.

I was taking this whole thing very personally and I remember feeling incredibly defensive and overwhelmed by this sudden “unfair” treatment and “bullying.” I was often near tears for not being able to see or appreciate this new perspective. I was also full of shame that I wasn’t even aware because I was so entrenched in such unconscious behavior.

And here these guys, these Ownership Nazis, were persevering in their efforts to make me “see the light” and “win me over…” Well, I was hardly going to open myself up to that sort of vulnerability – no way! As long as I could keep the focus on the other guy and his shortcomings, I would be safe…

I wouldn’t have to admit that my defense of him was really a defense of me.

Only after what seemed an interminable period of time did I begin to get a glimmer of understanding.

I was protecting myself by talking about someone else’s issues.

It was always easier to see someone else’s issues more clearly than my own. I was speaking globally about issues I held dear, and hiding behind terms such as “we,” “everyone,” “you,” “they,” “always,” and “never.” Somehow by using general terms and implying that my experience was universal, I was staying safe and less likely to be confronted or held accountable. I mean – how can anyone disagree with me if I am speaking the obvious and unassailable truth?!

It never occurred to me at that time that the only truly unassailable position, the only really true thing, was my own personal experience.

I couldn’t conceive of standing in my truth if it wasn’t everyone’s truth.

I was so terrified of saying anything that was true for me that wasn’t true for everyone else because I might be wrong. And holding a wrong position meant that I was wrong, which led to more shame.

It took years of diligent attention on my part to finally learn the value of speaking only for myself, to share my individual experience, to stop assuming that what was true for me was automatically true for everyone else. It was very challenging to begin to hear myself and see how often I defaulted to “groupspeak” and projection to keep the focus away from me.

Eventually I came to see that ownership was actually a path to freedom.

I am free when I assume responsibility for myself alone. What is true for me is only true for me – and may change tomorrow. No one can disagree with my truth because it is only my truth. As long as I own my experience and don’t force it on anyone else, as long as I allow you your experience, your truth, and affirm it as yours, I am free.

Taking on the responsibility to act independently of everyone around me, to speak only for myself, and to fully own my experience is what makes me free.

Ted Lothammer, the founding father of People House, said it best: “I am 100% responsible for me, you are 100% responsible for you, and the universe is responsible for everything else.”

Until next time,

Clyde

Toilet Training for my Inner Child: A DEATH IN THE FAMILY – Rev. Stephen “Clyde” Davis

Recently the People House community lost one of our own. She had been a veritable fixture at People House for decades, and then, suddenly, took her own life. I knew her, and not just casually. I had the valuable experience of taking several Facilitator Training courses with her, and had participated in many other classes and workshops with her as well.

The first feelings I had after hearing of her passing were surprise, sadness and disappointment. I was surprised because I didn’t see it coming; I was sad because I miss her, and I was disappointed because her family will not have her for a resource as they live their lives. I was also disappointed that she hadn’t sought me out when things got tough.

The next awarenesses were of her daughter and grandchild, and her long-time companion who has been a friend of mine for many years. I spoke with her companion and learned more about her life before the end. I became more saddened and even a little concerned.

It brought up a number of questions for me about the part I might have played, or didn’t play, in the circumstances surrounding her death. I know from listening to her about much of the pain, trauma and sadness she had encountered during her life, and felt I had done a more-than-adequate job of facilitating her process when given the opportunity. What nagged at me, though, was the question that still whispers sometimes in the back of my mind – did I do enough?

I realize that dwelling on that question would not be a healthy thing for me to do, but I thought my awareness of it would be important to share with you. As a spiritual leader here at People House, I feel a responsibility to the community to give what assistance I can to those who need a little help, a compassionate shoulder to lean on and a non-judgmental ear to listen. Maybe in this instance, I felt even more responsibility because I felt she needed more than just a little help. I’m still not sure.

Did I fail her – did I let her down when she needed me the most?

I will never be certain one way or another. Yes, I had been available and no, she hadn’t asked. But that knowledge doesn’t erase the doubt. And that doubt springs almost completely from my inner child – the little boy in me that doesn’t know what to do, or isn’t sure he can provide whatever may be needed. Because I grew up in an environment that did not foster a sense of my own value and strengths, it took many years of psychological and spiritual growth to overcome the doubts about myself I held on to so strongly. And even today I still question. Thankfully, I now have many resources at my disposal and many tools in my toolkit, not the least of which is the caring and supportive environment I find at People House.

It is situations like these that reinforce my belief in embracing uncertainty. By welcoming my doubts, my not-knowing, I open the door to new beliefs, new possibilities. By allowing no resolution to occur, I can embrace those I couldn’t imagine. By suspending judgment about my behavior, I can rest free of guilt and shame.

Until next time,

Clyde

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If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1 (800) 273-8255, 24/7/365.

For local help in Colorado, you can reach the Community Crisis Connection at 1-844-493-TALK (8255), 24/7/365.

These services are available for anyone in crisis and for those who are supporting someone in crisis. Do not hesitate to call. Trained professionals are ready to help.

Toilet Training for My Inner Child: Spirituality? – Rev. Stephen “Clyde” Davis

As a People House Minister, I felt moved to create a blog that had a spiritual nature. That sounded reasonable until I began to more closely examine the assumptions and possible expectations involved around the use and meaning of the word spiritual or spirituality.

Although I consider myself a spiritual person, I cannot demonstrate that by many commonly held beliefs and actions.

Do I adhere to a specific religion or faith? No, but I do find particular aspects and beliefs of some major religions to be attractive.

Do I believe in God? No. Certainly not the omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent father-figure, creator, judge and, hoary thunderer I grew up with.

Do I worship or pray? No.

Do I believe in original sin or my intrinsic unworthiness and need to be redeemed? No.

Do I need an exterior authority to provide me with morality, ethics, values, guidance, approval, rewards or punishments? No (but I used to).

Do I need all my questions answered or have all my doubts and confusions resolved? No, although that seems very appealing at times…

Do I believe I have a soul? No. At least not the accepted definition of a soul, anyway.

Do I believe there is an afterlife in which my consciousness continues? No. Until someone comes back and reports their experience in a verifiable way, all bets are off.

Do I ascribe to or embrace any religious or spiritual dogma? No – and yes. More on this later.

So how do I justify my ministry, my ordination as a minister? How can I affirm my spirituality in the face of all these seeming contradictions?

That’s complicated. It calls for some examples of what spirituality is in my life, and what I believe are important components of spirituality or being spiritual.

One challenging spiritual thing I do is practice awareness. I try to expand the depth and duration of my awareness at all times. (Or at least whenever I am awake enough to realize I have the opportunity…) Whether I am at work, communicating, creating or just relaxing, I make an effort to be present with and listen to what is going on around and in me.

I am also drawn to situations, experiences and relationships where I am forced to admit I am ignorant, uncertain and may never know the right answer or path to follow. Embracing this constant uncertainty keeps me in a state of enhanced awareness and consciousness.

I also practice to the best of my ability the principles of compassion, non-judgment, personal growth, authenticity, accountability, integrity, ownership, listening and facilitating. Sprinkled with a (sometimes too) liberal dose of humor and spontaneity, these principles guide my spirituality and growth.

But there’s more to my notion of spirituality than these few hints – lots more.

Undoubtedly you have a few thoughts as well.  And so a blog is born. Hopefully I can stimulate you to question your own beliefs and values as I explore my own and we take this path together.

Until next time,

Clyde

Toilet Training for My Inner Child: Introduction (And True Facts) – Rev. Stephen “Clyde” Davis

Nothing has been more on my mind in the last six months than exactly how I was going to begin this – my first blog. And nothing has demonstrated more clearly so many of my weaknesses.

I have struggled with doubt: Do I have anything of value to say? Can I adequately express whatever I feel strongly about? Are my beliefs and perspectives of any interest to anyone but me?

I have struggled with fear: Will I represent People House poorly? Will I show myself to be as boring, ill-informed and/or pedantic as many of my “inner committee” voices avow? Can I really pull this off?

I have struggled with inadequacy: I don’t have the credentials needed to speak with any authority. How can a life-long blue-collar worker with “some college” have anything interesting to say? Who do I think I am?

I have struggled with procrastination: Naaah – I’ve got lots of time before I have to produce anything concrete… I do my best work at the last minute… Just how long can I put off actually writing anything?

Interestingly, I noticed that my thoughts mostly ran to reasons for my potential failure in trying something new. I rarely found myself coming up with support for this experience being successful and rewarding. In fact, only when talking with friends and relatives did I hear positive comments about this opportunity. Hmmm. This “gave me furiously to think.”

I recognized I had been struggling with staying present.

All the above represent what happens inside me when I look to the future instead of staying present. In this moment, I have no fear, no misgivings, no doubt. And so this blog will be a continual exercise in being present, being open and honest about what is happening for me and what my experience of living is like.

As one way of beginning, let me give you a brief glimpse of some of the ways in which I show up in the world:

I was born in 1952. I have one younger brother. I have been successfully married for 38 years and am the father of two sons – one married with a daughter and a son. My father died several years ago and my mother is 89 and resides in an assisted living facility in upstate New York. This may all sound perfectly normal until I tell you that my father’s sister married my mother’s brother and both my grandmothers lived for many years after their husbands’ deaths with two unmarried daughters, two of whom had psychotic episodes… But I digress.

I also identify myself (less factually) as a personable/isolated, insightful/insipid, intellectual/playful, gracious/grating, quiet/clamorous, wise/glib, listening/storytelling perpetrator/victim. I also have years of experience in psychotherapy as both facilitator and patient. In short, I easily relate to paradox and understand impasse. There are good reasons I call myself a Minister of Uncertainty – I refuse to fit in any predetermined category.

I am truly looking forward to this adventure.

And along the way, just call me,

Clyde

People House: a Center for Personal and Spiritual Growth