There are a few common dysfunctional relationship patterns that people slip into that if not resolved, will cause inevitable end to a relationship. One of those patterns is one that I call the “Dupe Pattern”. This pattern is particularly hard to consciously recognize, beyond the overall feeling it causes that you are somehow and suddenly in a relationship that you didn’t sign up for; perhaps the exact opposite of the relationship that you signed up for. It is this ‘Dupe Pattern’ that I’m going to expose to you today.
The reality is that for so many of us, our needs were not well enough met as children. Most people can trace (or condense) these un-met needs to a core un-met need. When there is no way for this need to be met in your childhood, it is experienced as a trauma. You are essentially pinched into a situation where you must split your own consciousness in order to cope with the situation. If you want to understand about how the consciousness splits and why, you can watch my video titled: Fragmentation, The Worldwide Disease.
As it applies to un-met needs in childhood, you create a split between the part of you that has the need and the part that can function without getting that need met. But this doesn’t only happen one time. This un-met need will go un-met over and over again. So, it will show up as traumatizing situations in a person’s life over and over again. And when it does, several splits will form that are all slight variations of the same theme, essentially creating a complex internal system that is all built around the theme of this one un-met need.
I will give you two examples: A little girl was in a family where she was always put in a position to have to fend for herself. She was the scapegoat in a family that did not take ownership of her. She also lived in a very dangerous environment. Her core un-met need is to be fended for. But because there was no opportunity to meet this need, she had to simply deny, suppress and disown the need to be fended for. At the same time as draw from within herself the ability to fend for herself completely. Because she was put in situations where she needed to fend for herself over and over again, and many of those times had to find a new way or strategy to fend for herself, she developed several parts of herself who are hyper capable, hyper responsible, independent etc. Because those were the ones that kept her safe, those are the ones she wears on the surface of her personality. Everyone sees her this way. To the opposite side of each of these parts is a part that is desperate to be fended for by someone else. And the more this occurs, the more this need becomes desperation. Her internal system is now a complex system built around the theme of fending for herself and the need to be fended for.
A little boy was in a family that put all the pressure on him. He had to do everything for his lazy single mother who kept irresponsibly getting pregnant and making him take care of all of his younger siblings and her. His core un-met need is to be taken care of. But because there was no way for this need to be met, he had to simply deny, suppress and disown the need to be taken care of. At the same time as draw from within himself the ability to take all the pressure and responsibility and do everything for everyone else. Because he was put in this situation where he needed to ‘carry’ everything and everyone else over and over again, and many of these times, had to find new ways to do it, he developed several parts of himself that were hyper responsible, that take everything on, that say yes instead of no, that are codependent etc. Because those were the ones that kept him safe, those are the ones he wears on the surface of his personality. Everyone sees him this way. To the opposite side of each of these parts is a part that is desperate to be taken care of by someone else. And the more this occurs, the more this need becomes desperation. His internal system is now a complex system built around the theme of all the pressure being on him to do and be everything for everyone and the need to be taken care of.
Ready for the next layer? This unmet need is what a person will be desperately searching for, especially in primary relationships. The girl in our example will be desperately searching for a man to fend for her. The boy will be desperately searching for a woman to take care of him. But she and he keep ending up in situations that are just a repeat of the original theme. She will end up in a relationship in which she has to fend for herself and he will end up in a relationship where all the pressure is on him to do and be everything for everyone. Why do you ask?
The parts on the surface (not in the background) are what is obvious to others and on the surface to see. The ‘protector parts’ of self. This is what attracts someone to them. The kind of man who will be attracted to a woman who is hyper capable, hyper responsible and independent, is not a man who is looking to fend for a woman. It is a man who is looking for a woman who can fend for herself and even take care of him. And the kind of woman who will be attracted to a man who takes all the pressure and responsibility and does everything for everyone else, is not a woman who is looking to take care of a man. It is a woman who is looking for a man that can fend for her.
When a need is not met to this degree in childhood, chances are that the child was also shamed for having this need. For example, the girl in our example would have been shamed any time she looked to be fended for by her parents. The boy would have been shamed any time he looked to be taken care of by his mom. As a result, the child learns that it is not possible to get this need met directly. Instead, their only hope is to manipulatively get this need met. If you want to learn more about how un-met needs lead to manipulation, watch my video titled: Meet Your Needs! For example, when she is a woman, this girl in our example may learn to try to get her need met by putting herself in situations that require rescue. When he is a man, this boy in our example may learn to try to get this need met by chronically coming up with excuses as to why he can’t do something, so that someone else will eventually get so sick of it not getting done, that they do it themselves.
In alignment with this last point, many people get into relationships by sensing the other person’s need and providing it for the other person. It is true that some people go so far as to intentionally portray themselves to be whatever the other person needs and wants, regardless of the fact that the truth of them is the exact opposite, in order to get whatever they want. It’s a bait and switch. This is a pattern that both codependents and sociopaths are in fact famous for. But a bait and switch is also something that can be subconsciously done, even by the most well-meaning people.
When this happens, it is usually because of this: They see the other person as being whatever the person displays on the surface. But that same person may be displaying a part of their deep, unmet need. The parts of them that have compensated for their own unmet need are fully capable of meeting that need which the other person is currently displaying. In fact, being that way is what guaranteed them any closeness with their family growing up. So, being that way in this new relationship situation is what they believe will secure the connection.
Using our example, the man sees the woman in our example as totally hyper capable, hyper responsible and independent, even when he sees her in a temporary situation needing to be fended for. Because he had to fend for his mother, he has the skill and confidence to do so. He has already experienced that this is what secures his connection to other people. So, he will sense the opportunity and jump in as the rescuer and fend for her. He knows she will want to commit to him if he does that. Really, he is attracted to her because being so hyper capable, hyper responsible and independent, he imagines that if he rescues her and fends for her, she will be even more capable, responsible, confident and independent. Essentially, he might, in a back-door way, end up being with the woman he always dreamed of. The woman who is the opposite of his mom. A woman who takes the pressure herself and takes care of him. But she simply sees a man who finally will fend for her. She commits to him thinking he is the man who will do so. Eventually, when the man sees that she really just wants to be fended for forever (and so the scenario will not evolve into him getting his need of being taken care of met), he stops fending for her. He feels he is back in his childhood situation again. The parts of him that went for the relationship to get the need of ‘being taken care of’ met now take over and he constantly creates scenarios where he chronically comes up with excuses as to why he can’t do something. She eventually realizes that instead of being fended for, she is having to do everything for herself and on her own and even for him. So, she too find herself feeling like she is back in her childhood situation again.
This is why I call this the “Dupe Pattern”. Both people in this scenario feel duped. The man thought he was getting into a relationship with a woman who was hyper capable, hyper responsible and independent. But ended up with a woman who needs to be fended for. The woman thought he was getting into a relationship with a man who was hyper responsible, would take everything on and really fend for her. But ended up with a man who leaves her to fend for herself and even for him too.
It may be of interest to know that I have seen scenarios where a person enters into this pattern saying that they are looking to be the exact opposite of what they are actually looking to be in a relationship, due to their own un-met needs. Such as a man I worked with once who said he wanted to be a provider and even sold himself to a woman as one, when what he really wanted was to be financially supported himself. Of course, instead of being attracted to a woman who was struggling financially, he was attracted to a woman who was financially independent because of how hard she worked and because of the fact that she had never been provided for by anyone else. Sensing that she was desperate to not have to do that anymore, he came in and said “I’ll be the man to financially provide for you for a change, you’ll never have to worry about money again!” only to later come up with excuses as to why he quit his job and she had to provide for them both. He even found a legal way that the money she earned in her own business could be funneled into a business that they owned together, so that he could legally claim 50% of it and transfer it to his own private accounts. Obviously, this takes the “Dupe pattern” to an even higher level.
But I have also seen this pattern play out even if a person is directly saying exactly what they are actually looking for, because the other person does not register what the person says, only how they act. Such as a man I worked with who said he wanted a partner who could make supporting him in his career, her priority so that he could run a successful political campaign. Even though he told every woman he dated that what he was looking for in a wife was for her to really make supporting his life and career her focus, he acted the opposite. He acted like his life would be about their life instead. He would adjust his schedule to their schedule. He would focus on helping them with their goals. This obviously attracted women who wanted a man to make his focus supporting her life, not women looking to be financially supported and included in a man’s life completely in exchange for dedicating her energy and support and focus to his life and career success.
When two people find themselves in this “Dupe Pattern”, the un-met need in both partners was attracted to the ‘coping mechanism’ being displayed by the other. But this means that any time the un-met need is being met in one person, the un-met need is not being met in the other. This becomes a re-traumatization. Using our example, the parts of the woman who need to be fended for are attracted to the parts of the man who coped by being hyper responsible and taking care of everything. But the real truth underneath that coping behavior is that he wants to be taken care of. The parts of the man who want to be taken care of are attracted to the parts of the woman who coped by being hyper capable, hyper responsible and independent. But the real truth underneath that coping behavior is that she wants to be fended for.
Now, any time the woman is fending for herself and taking care of him, she is being re-traumatized and her need to be fended for is again, doomed to stay a desperately un-met need. Any time the man is fending for her and taking care of things, he is being re-traumatized and his need to be taken care of is again, doomed to stay a desperately un-met need. Both are in serious pain and when that pain reaches a certain threshold, the relationship ends. But tends to repeat itself with the next person they end up with.
Becoming aware of this pattern (and especially of your un-met need) actually causes a positive shift in this pattern in and of itself. Because the un-met need represents a trauma of yours and/or is linked to many traumas, it is connected to your fight or flight mechanism, which is super primal stuff. Your likelihood of being conscious and reasonable about it is slim. Instead, it will exist like a huge trigger within you, ready to go off at any moment and in response to the slightest of things. Just like someone who has severe abandonment trauma is likely to react like they are getting abandoned, even when someone is just going on a trip for a matter of hours. You may just be subconsciously reacting to situations like your need will not be met. For example, the girl in our scenario may not actually be in a situation where she actually has to fend for herself. But that is exactly what she has in her head and therefore, she will be reacting like she does. Or the boy in our scenario may not actually be in a situation like his past, where he is taking care of everything. But he is telling himself that story and is reacting according to that reality that he, alone perceives. Becoming aware of this pattern will cause you to see yourself in this pattern and be able to discern reality from projected trauma. And this, in and of itself can actually cause healing and also calm the desperation and reactivity of both the part of you that has the un-met need and the part of you that learned to cope and function without that need getting met.
To solve this pattern, the split between the part of you that has the un-met need and the part that has learned to cope or function without that need getting met must be mended. An integration must occur between them. All you need to know to begin this work is what the un-met need is. From there, one of the best methods to create this integration is parts work. To learn how to do parts work, you can watch my video titled: Parts Work (What Is Parts Work and How To Do It). Alternatively, you can find a therapist who is adept at parts work to help you with the process. Or you can go to www.completionprocess.com and select a completion process practitioner who is specifically adept at parts work as well.
During this process of integration, the parts are likely to reach an agreement or harmonize and this is likely to alter your thoughts, words, actions and choices. The intense polarization dissipates. As a result, you will come more into alignment with getting that un-met need met. You will be able to go after that need in a different and more conscious way. And because the polarization dissipates, you will no longer be a vibrational match to partners who are likewise polarized.
When people are severely polarized, it means that they have had to ‘split’ in order to cope. This means, that exaggerated extreme that you are attracted to, may not be authentic. There may also be something else, even potentially the exact opposite thing, hiding behind it. That part of their personality you are attracted to, may just be a coping mechanism! Coping mechanisms, because they aren’t an authentic presentation of who someone is, are prone to go away when someone begins to heal or integrate or develop self-awareness.
Until someone becomes completely authentic, and they cannot be completely authentic until they completely know themselves, and they cannot completely know themselves until they completely integrate, they are going to dupe others. They aren’t going to dupe others because they intend to or because they are bad. They are going to dupe others because they are duping themselves without knowing it.
Being alive implies being in the process of self-discovery. This means whenever you decide to commit to being in a relationship with someone, be aware that what you are committing to (whether you know it or not) is the process of self-discovery, but together. All you have is a range of probabilities as to whether someone actually is who they think they are, much less say they are. There is no way to have an absolute guarantee as to whether someone that you meet, befriend, date or marry is who they think or say they are.
To generalize, wherever you go in the world, in human society selflessness is a huge value. At face value, this seems like a good thing. After all, if everyone was just running around in a self-centered way doing whatever they wanted, regardless of who it negatively impacted, social wellbeing and especially social order would be hard to maintain. The problem is, it isn’t actually possible for a being to be selfless. At first, this truth might shock you, especially if you are identified with being a selfless person. But stick with me.
What was the relationship that your family of origin or culture had with selflessness? When you were young, can you remember the people in your life expecting you to do things for them or things that were in their best interests? Do you remember times where it felt like doing those things were in their best interests, but not your own? Do you remember that when you put up a fuss about it, you were shamed or punished for it? Essentially, were you taught that to be right and good and therefore loved, you had to disregard yourself for the best interests of others? And that doing so was loving them? Most people on earth today were taught that to love others is to be selfless and to be loved back is to be selfless and you are only really loved if someone is selfless relative to you… Long story short, you were taught that love is selfless.
This belief causes all kinds of pain amongst people. For one thing, it can create both narcissistic and codependent styles of relational behavior in people. It can cause people to give themselves up for the sake of harmony with their social group. It can cause people to go totally off of the direction that their own internal compass (and purpose) is pointing them. It can cause people to cross their wires so that the pain they feel is interpreted as ‘good’ for them and others. It is a recipe for resentment as well as manipulative and invisible strings dynamics amongst people. And this list goes on and on.
But one of the most damaging relationship patterns that this creates, is the “you only love me if your actions are selfless” pattern. When people have this pattern in relationships, they don’t feel loved and feel totally alone unless they can’t link any of your actions to any potentially selfish motive. Meaning that if you get anything out of what you do for the other person, they don’t see you as loving at all.
To give you an example of this, I worked with a man, let’s call him Derek, who had a mother that (due to her own trauma) could not make any relationship with a man work out. She was married 4 times and each of those times, she had multiple children with the current husband. But because the men she chose had no interest in actually providing for the children, or in being husbands or fathers, from age 5 on Derek got saddled with the job of being surrogate husband to his mother and raising all of his younger siblings as if he was the father. His mother only gave him positive feedback when he did this. And his mother would pull a victim control drama any time he protested. He coped by subconsciously building the belief that he was loved for being selfless like this and that he would know if someone loved him if they did things that were totally in his best interest, regardless of whether they were in their own best interests. In other words, he was looking for someone to give him love in the same way that he showed his love to his mother.
He would enter into every relationship behaving completely selfless, happily sacrificing for every woman like he had for his mother. Expecting to get the same in return if the occasion ever arose. Every time however, eventually a situation would arise where the woman he was with would have to do something selfless to prove that she loved him. Such as giving up a male friend that made Derek feel insecure or ceasing to wear the outfits that he disliked. And if the woman protested or refused, he would suddenly sink into a depression, now convinced that she didn’t love him. Derek would also pass everything that a woman did for him through the filter of: What’s in it for her? And if he found anything, anything at all that she could possibly get out of doing it, he could not feel love through the gesture. For example, if she made him a food item that she hated but he loved, he felt that she loved him. On the other hand, if she hugged him and he could feel that she wanted physical touch, he felt that she didn’t love him and was just using him. He did the same thing with friends. Derek subconsciously loved to put people in lose-lose situations just to see if people would choose his best interests, even when there was a consequence for doing so, so that he could test whether or not they loved him. Needless to say, every woman and every friend who entered into Derek’s life ended up completely depleted and found him impossible to be with.
When someone has this pattern in relationships, he or she feels loved with more benign little stuff, where a person is obviously acting in his or her best interests but obviously against their own, such as a person who hates the color purple buying them something in the color purple because that person knows that they love it. But this also tends to escalate and turn into another pattern which I call the “Suffer So I Can Feel Loved Dynamic”. Where he or she feels loved when a person is acting against their own best interests in an extreme enough way so as to actually suffer. To understand all about this dynamic in-depth, you can watch my video titled: The “Suffer So I Can Feel Loved” Relationship Dynamic.
The idea that love is selfless is something that people need to let go of in order to have good relationships. And feeling loved only when someone’s action can’t be linked to any selfish motive, is a recipe for never feeling loved. This isn’t to say that there are not totally self-centered people, who do everything (even loving things) for personal gain, regardless of the negative impact on others. It is to say that people need to change their definition of what is and isn’t loving.
Most people think that love is to feel intensely positive towards something or someone. This is not the case. This can be a byproduct of love. But to love something is to take it as a part of yourself. If you take something as a part of you, you do not perceive yourself to be separate from that thing and so you can perceive it fully and you seriously take its best interests into account. If you take something as a part of you, you can’t hurt that thing without hurting yourself. This doesn’t mean that when you do this, you give yourself up. Instead, it is as if the truth of the other thing, and your own truth exist like two entities inside yourself. You can’t act against the best interests of either of them. Most people can only understand this by thinking of two of their own children. If you have two children, you feel pain any time that one of them is happy and the other is not, so you’re automatically looking for a ‘win-win’ or a ‘highest and best for both’ situation. This is what truly loving something translates to. This means that the best type of love, is love where both the giver and the receiver of the love benefit. Both people’s best interests are a part of the gesture. For example, a person who is giving love through affectionate touch, feels fully received (and therefore also loved) by giving touch. Or a person who loves to cook (because cooking makes them happy) cooking for someone who feels loved when they are fed. Or a situation where neither partner is ok with the other feeling bad, and so in a needs conflict situation, they each work to try to meet the needs of the other so as to arrive at a mutually beneficial arrangement and decision. And this is one reason why compatibility is such an important part of healthy relationships. To understand more about this in depth, watch my video titled: Incompatibility, A Harsh Reality In Relationships.
In a universe that at the highest level is ‘all one’ (which it is) there is nothing in existence that is not you. Even when collective consciousness decides to hold the perspective of separation (which is what gave rise to individual fragments within source consciousness like you and me) this is true. So, even doing something for someone else is doing something for yourself. On top of this, because there is nothing that is not ultimately you, all love is ultimately self-love. This translates into the physical embodiment as the inability to actually be selfless. Every single thing that is done, is done because it makes the person doing it feel better themselves. Even things that we, in human society label self-sacrifice. So much of the time, even when a person thinks they are being purely selfless or is self-sacrificing, they are being that way in order to feel like they are a good/right person; which is a self-centered motive. If you want to understand this in depth, watch my video titled: Self Sacrifice, The Most Self-Centered Thing In The World. If you don’t believe me, try it! You can ultimately take anything that any person does, and whittle it down to the fact that they did it because it made them feel better to do it. Even the things that we would on the surface label ‘self-sacrificing’.
But all of this should not make you depressed, nor should it make you feel like you live in a hopelessly cold and narcissistic world. Instead, it is a good thing that you can’t erase caring towards yourself. You are, after all a precious part of the universe and must therefore take care of it. And “US/WE” thinking is how we will ultimately reach a state of peace and unification, not by being able to slip into ME vs. THEM thinking, which is what selflessness and self-sacrifice ultimately is. And believe me, there are a great many acts that a truly conscious person might do that would be judged as self-sacrificing by other people, when in fact from their own perspective, the truth is quite the opposite. They are simply connected enough to see it!
So often, when I’m speaking about relationships between men and women, I mention the importance of a man providing ‘containment’ for the woman he is with. As it turns out, many men and women both are confused about what containment even is, much less how to provide containment for someone. For this reason, I’ve decided to write this article entirely about containment.
This article must come with a warning however because the topic of containment relative to men and women will come up against many erroneous, but currently deeply revered belief systems about perfect sex equality. As well as many erroneous, but currently deeply revered belief systems around power/freedom and the sexes. This means try really, really hard to keep an open mind and try to separate your own personal wounding and triggers from this intellectually objective conversation about men and women. Also, this article is about something men provide for women in a relationship. So, this particular article mentions nothing about what women do for men in a relationship. And as a last disclaimer, keep in mind that you can do your relationships any way you want, if it works for you. As we say in the West, you don’t need to fix what ‘aint broke. But you really have to ask yourself the question: Does the way I’m currently doing my relationships really work for me and the other person? For a lot of men and women, the answer is no. And for a lot of them, lack of masculine containment is the reason why.
The first thing that must be said, but that I can’t believe I have to point out, is that women and men are different and therefore, are not the same in many ways. If this were not the case, even on a physical level men and women would be physically designed the same. Until we accept that women are men are different, we will never be able to create a healthy relationship between the sexes. This is critical because many of the people who fight hard for gender equality erroneously do so by fighting for gender ‘sameness’. In other words, they try to establish equality of value or equality of power or equality of whatever else by trying to prove that men and women are the same. Because they are not, this is a losing strategy.
Containment is something that women need from men in order to feel good in a relationship. If you want to understand this even more in depth, watch two of my videos titled: 1. What Every Man Needs to Know About Women and 2. Why Women Like Assholes. The bottom line is, a woman can’t feel good in a relationship without containment.
A big group of women who act like they don’t need as much containment from a man, are actually getting containment from somewhere else (usually it is still their family or origin for example). Another group of women simply ‘seem’ like they don’t need it (because they seem to be able to fend for themselves) when in fact, they have simply had to compensate for, acclimatize to and normalize the lack of containment. Contrary to the first group of women who act ok without containment from a man, these women don’t act ok. They tend to seem feral, displeased, controlling, anxious and uptight. And women who go so far as to resist containment (or who worse, say they don’t need it) have trauma around things like being negatively controlled by a man or being seen as being weaker or less than by a man etc. They too, in their behavior, don’t seem ‘fine’. Instead, they also display the negative behavioral characteristics associated with lacking containment.
To conceptualize of masculine containment, imagine that in a relationship, a man is a clam shell and a woman is a pearl inside that clam shell. This is a healthy symbol for divine masculine and divine feminine. This masculine clam shell is creating a safe, nourishing space in which the female can exist or occur. It enables a woman to be soft, open, receptive and to grow. If you imagine removing that masculine shell, the female immediately contracts, goes rigid and into a state of defense. It is a coping mechanism rather than a natural feel-good state of being. She is forced to compensate for the lack of that masculine shell by becoming masculine herself. And this, causes a ‘flip’ in polarity, which is to blame for so much of the dysfunction between men and women today.
With that image in mind now, let’s look deeper at containment. To contain a woman, in this context, is to actively (not passively) create a safe space of wellbeing for her. The healthy masculine energy creates a container in which the feminine can truly exist and thrive. To do this, a man must take positive ownership of a woman. Many people have a negative association with ownership. This is because they ‘threw out the baby with the bathwater’ relative to ownership. The reality is that a woman actually wants to feel owned. She just doesn’t want to feel oppressed, controlled, looked down on or limited. And these are all things she’s been taught to associate with ownership. To be owned is the opposite of to be stray. Women do not do well with being stray. Here’s the thing, to truly own something is to see it as part of yourself. If you see something as part of yourself, it becomes impossible to hurt that thing without hurting yourself too. You cannot usurp its free will without harming yourself. Therefore, in true ownership (which is for something to be a part of you and therefore to belong to you) the best interests of that other thing is of the utmost concern. This makes a woman feel happy in a relationship. To understand more about this, you can watch my video titled: Own People! (How to Take Ownership of Your Relationships).
Many men who don’t understand what it would practically look like to contain a woman, are benefitted by thinking of containment in terms of ‘fending for a woman’. When a man does not contain a woman, she has to fend for herself. To fend for herself is to look after, protect and provide for herself without help. When a man fails to provide containment for a woman, she ends up feeling like she has to do it all herself and fend for herself. This means, a male who lacks the skill of containment inevitably makes a woman feel like she is all alone. Not just all alone, also unsafe, starved of needs and as if all the pressure is on her. This will make a woman become controlling, anxious, hard, cold, masculine, bitter, angry and resentful. It will cause her mental, emotional and physical health to corrode.
If you want to provide containment for a woman, don’t let her (or expect her to) fend for herself on a mental, emotional, or physical level. Instead think: How can I fend for her in this situation?
Many men create a way better container for the car they drive than the woman they are in a relationship with. A man who takes positive ownership, and who therefore creates containment for his car, acts in the best interests of that car. He doesn’t let the car fend for itself. Some men rub their car with diapers to keep it clean and protect the paint job. They appreciate the hell out of their car emotionally. They put energy and effort into the upkeep of their car. They keep the oil tank full and rotate the tires and learn all about the engine and lock the car doors so no one steals it. And doing so, actually makes them feel good.
So, what might providing a container for a woman, where she feels positively owned and fended for, translate to on a physical level? I’ll give you a few examples, of which there are so many more. It could look like:
To energetically put your energy around her, no matter where she is in the world
To take responsibility for her wellbeing (the positive form of claiming her)
To create safe, supportive conditions and a safe, supportive environment where she can grow and expand. Rather than expecting her or encouraging her to grow and expand by virtue of her not having those safe and supportive conditions/environment
To do things that create a feeling of ‘security’ on any and all levels for her
To provide for a woman in terms of resources (this could be financial or otherwise)
To take it upon yourself to create improvement in her life, without being asked to do so
To take charge of a situation by taking the lead
To be ‘reachable’ and available to her
To be initiative relative to her
To be active relative to her wellbeing instead of passive
To protect and defend her physically
To protect her emotional wellbeing
To do things like open doors for her or pick her up in your car or pour water into her glass or have her take your arm when walking down the street
To reassure her
To remember important dates and make those dates special
To attune to her mental, physical and emotional state so that you know what is ‘right’ to do or not to do relative to her. For this, you must put considerable energy into understanding not just women in general, but her specifically
To do things that take pressure off of her, without her having to ask
To organize a date with all the details totally under your control
To take charge of logistics
To initiate repair if rupture occurs in the relationship
To put effort into meeting her needs and wherever necessary, to help find ways for her needs to be met outside of you
To be physically with her, or to make sure she is ok when she is not with you. In other words, to make sure she does not have to fend for herself when you are not around to fend for her
To not put her in lose-lose situations
To not put her in dangerous situations
To deliberately create regular time to be present with her and totally focused on her.
To appreciate her
To be communicative and speak your mind as well as listen to her
To caretake the relationship itself
To be and to act committed to her
To do things that cause her pleasure
To make decisions, especially tough decisions
To take responsibility for your decisions and actions
To romance her
To figure out what needs to get done and actively get those things done
To take responsibility and initiative for facing and resolving problems you might become aware of or things you might need to heal within yourself
To provide containment for any children you might have together and/or she might have from another man
To be in your masculine energy and power
To help her face the parts of herself that are resistant to being contained, rather than to simply stop giving her containment, when she resists it.
Keep in mind that it isn’t a great strategy to simply try to memorize and do all these containing things. The containing things that a man does naturally, come as a direct result of first deciding to ‘contain’ and ‘fend for’ a woman. This means if you are a man, your actions naturally follow suit and you don’t have to think hard about HOW to provide containment. It is second nature.
In the past there used to be a saying… “Over the mysteries of female life is drawn a veil, best left undisturbed.” Sorry but in order to provide containment for a woman, you’ve got to throw this saying in the trash can completely. In order for men to contain women to the best of their abilities, they’ve got to put energy into trying to understand women in general. In order for you to contain a specific woman to the best of your abilities, you must understand that specific woman. Those of you who love cars know that containing a Ferrari entails different things than containing a Ford Taurus. Women are very much the same in many ways and are still very different in many ways and because of this, you’ve got to start trying to understand her. To learn more about this, you can watch my video titled: Stop Trying to Love Them and Start Trying to Understand Them.
Women… face and resolve your resistance to being provided containment by a man. And men… face and resolve your resistance to providing containment for a woman. A feel-good relationship, depends very much on this. As you do this, keep in mind that containment has nothing at all to do with being oppressed, controlled, looked down on or limited. And if a man does any of these things to you, he is in fact NOT containing you, as he is not acting in your best interests at all. That is not positive ownership at all.
In a homosexual relationship, there is still need for containment. But there is usually more struggle relative to power dynamics in the relationship. This means things simply get much less straight forward relative to containment. Usually, the partners do best when they communicate openly, honestly and freely so as to mutually and consciously decide what containment they will provide each other in the relationship and to what degree. There is often a higher degree of “flip flopping” relative to who is containing whom and in what situations and why. And these decisions that define the how and when one person is containing the other, is largely based off of what makes each party feel like they are in their personal power. And personal healing aside, in a homosexual relationship, this mutual process of defining containment within the relationship obviously has less to do with gender. There must be intense honesty however about what roles each person wants to play for the other, rather than slipping into the shadow of ‘no roles’.
Containment is not something that is only natural for a man to give a woman that he is in a relationship with. It is something that is natural for a man to provide for any woman, whether she is his partner, a friend, a sister, a mother or a daughter. And it is natural for men in general within society to provide this containment for women in general within society. In generations past (especially in tribal societies) this was something that men expected from every other man towards the women in society and in fact held other men up to the standard of. So young men would first be taught how to contain by being contained themselves and later, stepping into adulthood, they would be directly educated about how to contain by other men. They just didn’t use the specific word: Contain.
It is at this point that I must make you aware that the modern single-family household, especially the broken single-family household, is one of the unhealthiest societal structures to have ever existed. It is also to blame for so much of this lack of containment that people experience. So many men who struggle with providing containment, struggle with it because they never got containment as children. They did not get the opportunity to learn by example, or to be directly taught by other men. So it is, in essence, a developmental trauma. For this reason, men with this wounding often look for containment from the women in their life and subconsciously enter into polarity flipped relationships.
And all this being said, this is what I will leave you with: Providing containment is not only something that makes women feel good in relationships. When men are healthy, they love the feeling of providing this container. In fact, it gives a man a huge feeling of purpose, value and self-confidence to do so.
One of the most common complaints that I hear from women is that they feel totally powerless to a man being or not being in his masculine energy; and exhibiting or not exhibiting those traits that make her feel good in a relationship. And while ultimately the choice and ability for a man to step into his power lies with him and not with her, there is something that women can do in order to feel less powerless in this scenario as well as to play the role of an ally to a man’s masculinity. And doing this is one of the most powerful tools you have for creating a successful relationship with a man. That thing you can do is: Caretake a man’s confidence.
Confidence is a feeling of self-assurance that arises from a person’s appreciation of their own abilities or qualities. This makes people feel good about themselves (like they hold value). This also gives rise to a feeling of self-trust, and personal empowerment. Most women don’t think about the importance of making sure that a man feels confident. Also, because so many women feel powerless to men, the idea of having a huge impact on a man’s confidence is not really something that occurs to women. On top of this, many women have huge fears about a man being confident. We will touch on that later. But it is critical to understand just how important confidence is for a man. Don’t get me wrong, confidence is something that both women and men need. But it plays a very special role in a man’s life. You can think of confidence as being like the necessary precursor for him being in his power and masculinity, which is where those things you love about being in a relationship with a man come from.
Those awesome things that you love about being in a relationship with a man… things like protection, containment, positive ownership, responsibility, leadership, initiative, action, commitment, direction, movement, strength, focus, fatherhood, generosity, encouragement, material abundance/provider-ship, and growth usually depend heavily on confidence. Therefore, if you haven’t noticed already, when a man’s confidence goes down, so do these things. He often ‘flips’ to become the opposite of these things.
It’s important to know that one of the more doomed dynamics that occurs between a man and a woman is that both perceive the other to have “flipped” on them. Usually in this dynamic, the man perceives that in the beginning the woman is positive about him and likes everything about him. Then, suddenly she becomes negative about him and critical. He usually feels confused as to why she’s not happy anymore. To the opposite, the woman perceives that in the beginning he exhibited all of those awesome character traits and then suddenly (or gradually) became the opposite. She usually feels duped into a relationship with a man who is actually the opposite of who he sold himself to be in the beginning. This becomes a ‘which came first the chicken or the egg’ type argument.
Regardless of whether it is the woman’s negative feedback or some totally unrelated thing that negatively impacts his confidence (such as something at work), it can easily become a downward spiral where the confidence decrease causes a man to behave in a way that invites negative feedback from a woman, which decreases his confidence further, which invites even more negative feedback, which decreases his confidence further and so on and so forth, until the relationship becomes nothing but pain on both sides.
The bottom line is, if you want power relative to having a feel-good relationship with a man, find out what makes your man feel confident and put energy towards those things. For a man to be the most strongly in his power, he needs to place his confidence on things that can’t be taken away by others. As much as possible, he needs to make sure that his confidence is not in the hands of others. But people influence each other. No matter how much confidence a man might have, you influence the confidence of the men around you! So, figure out what makes men in general and your man specifically feel confident and be an ally for those things.
I will start you off by listing some general things that tend to cause men in general to feel confidence.
Having a defined and important role/place where they are useful and needed and wanted. This includes an important place in a woman’s life! Because this point is so important, it would benefit you to watch my other video titled: What Every Woman Should Know About Men.
Power (feeling like they are able to bring about what they want)
To feel like he is making things better wherever he goes and whatever he does
Social status (this is why men tend to feel confidence with the certain type of car, the beautiful wife, that certain house, that job etc)
The recognition of his authority where his authority exists
Being believed in and feeling like others want him to succeed
Practice and repetition
Feeling strong physically, mentally and emotionally. With this, I must say that it is critical to a man’s confidence for him to feel strong physically and able to move, be active and respond to any given situation, threat, or call to action.
Taking Pride in things
Being trusted, especially when he is in a position of leadership
To see that he has grown/improved
To have autonomy without losing connection
Feeling able to protect others and to make others feel safe
Knowing how to do things and how to solve problems,
Being able to provide
Being prepared (ie: being ahead of things and on top of the situation)
Having a sense of purpose/mission
The ability to please a woman. A man feels incredible confidence when he feels that a woman he is with is happy with him. The reason this is so important for today’s topic is that this is where a problem often happens in a relationship between a man and a woman.
A real relationship is based off of honesty and reality. This means, it is critical for a woman to be able to voice when she is unhappy with something in a relationship. So, caretaking a man’s confidence does not mean that a woman should be silent about her complaints so as to not make things worse. But often, when she voices that she is unhappy or when she gives negative feedback, it serves to only make things worse because instead of the negative feedback leading to an improvement, it further corrodes his confidence, leading to even worse behavior. And if a man feels like he is not making things better, he feels like he is not in the right place. This means that a) how to fuel confidence in a man in general and b) how to caretake confidence in a man while expressing a potentially confidence crushing truth, are two separate things. And certain men have much shakier confidence than others. Some men already have such low confidence and high shame levels that a seemingly small thing can cause a collapse. And with men who have super low confidence and high shame levels, it can easily turn into a “you hurt me so much by telling me how I’m hurting you” scenario. It’s a difficult thing for people with low confidence levels and high shame levels to discern between when they are actually being shamed or are simply feeling shame in response to something that someone is saying.
As a woman, you must understand something about men. Many men in the modern world today have much less confidence than men did in generations before. Many men in the modern world have been stripped of their masculinity and therefore stripped of power. The shadow of the feminist movement went in the direction of: “Because you are a man, you hurt others and are bad. And we don’t need you”. If you look through the list of things that makes a man feel confident and think about the many messages of modern feminism, it is easy to see the contradiction. Essentially, a man who is stripped of his place and role and who is told he is not necessary, is a man with low levels of confidence to start. This means, many men especially need the opposite message and special fueling of their confidence in order to heal. Women must admit that they need and want men in order to help re-establish confidence in men.
All this being said, the key here is not to be silent so as to not hurt his confidence. The key is also not to only shower him in only positives that would build his confidence; or worse, lie to him so his confidence increases. The key is to communicate the truth to him in a way that considers his confidence. Can you fuel his confidence at the same time as telling him something that might negatively impact his confidence? For example, telling a man directly what you want from him, instead of just how he’s messing up. Or for example, focusing the conversation much more on your own vulnerability and on how things are negatively impacting you than on criticizing him or telling him negative truths about himself. Or for example, explaining how the negative feedback is intended to benefit him or is intended to be helpful. Make him aware of how the feedback enhances him, as opposed to how it takes away from him. Or for example, letting him know what he’s doing right as well. Positive feedback is important for men. Just make sure it is an AND communication, not a but communication. And is inclusive. To say “I like that you are being super responsible, and I feel ignored by you” is very different than “I like that you are being super responsible, but I feel ignored by you”. And doesn’t take something away from a man. But does! It negates or diminishes the initial statement. How could you communicate or re-phrase things or act in a way that makes you seem more like an ally than an adversary to his confidence? To learn some more about this in depth, you may want to watch my video titled: Criticism (How To Give and Take Feedback).
Once you know what causes a man to feel confident, consider how you can be an ally to/support for those things.
Some women have serious fears about the idea of caretaking, putting energy into or fueling a man’s confidence. For this reason, I highly suggest that you look deeply into what your specific resistance to enhancing a man’s confidence is. Some common things that women say are:
That if a man gains confidence, he will become narcissistic, cruel, obnoxious and heartless. And become unresponsive and un-caring of the feelings and needs of others (most especially her). In essence, he will begin to play zero-sum games. Women have thousands of years’ worth of trauma relative to a man having more power than she does, and that causing her to get hurt. So, naturally if confidence increases a man’s power, this might terrify women that it will happen again.
That if a man gains confidence, he will choose another woman.
That if a woman has to give a man confidence, he’s more of a boy, not really a man and therefore pathetic.
That if a man depends on her for his confidence, he is weaker than she is. That means she has more power and control and is therefore bigger than he is, which is both a total turnoff to most women and makes most women feel like they have no containment and are therefore, totally unsafe. Many women become very insecure relative to their own safety when they feel that the man they are with is fragile.
That if the responsibility for his confidence is in her hands, it is a flip in polarity and she can’t be ‘in the feminine’.
The “I don’t want to be expected to give what no one ever thought I should expect to get” fairness dynamic. Some women feel that they had to step up regardless of all the discouragement they (and women in general) face. They feel they did it and had to do it, despite no one supporting their confidence. Therefore, some women feel repulsed at the idea of a man not stepping up regardless of discouragement, like she had to. In other words, it feels super unfair.
Most women need a man to be “large” but are afraid of him being “large” at the same time. Large in this sense means all kinds of things like confident, strong, powerful etc.
Aside from resolving your specific resistance to fueling a man’s confidence, the first thing you need to do is to separate confidence from a man’s character, desires and needs. This is the same as separating power from character, desires and needs. You’ve probably heard that power doesn’t change who someone is, it simply reveals who they are. This is absolutely the case with confidence. If a man’s truth is that he wants to sleep with lots of women and not just one, confidence is likely to make it so that he will act on that. If a man’s truth is that he wants to provide for a woman, confidence is likely to make it so that he will act on that. Therefore, it can be said that confidence reveals who a man is, it does not change who a man is. Metaphorically speaking, confidence makes one man turn into a white knight and the other into a black knight because he already was underneath it all. Confidence enhances both positive and negative qualities. And here’s the thing, as a woman you care a great deal about safety. Safety is about being in reality. You’re safe if you know who a man really is. You don’t really know a man until he has confidence. So, fuel a man’s confidence not only to make him feel good in the relationship and act in a way that is conducive to him being in his strength (which makes you feel good in the relationship). Fuel a man’s confidence to see who he really is. But remember, if he begins to exhibit negative behaviors once he gains confidence, it isn’t about the confidence itself. It’s about whatever underlying thing always existed that is either being enhanced or showing itself because of the confidence.
On top of this, it might be interesting to know that a man not only tends to relinquish his masculine traits when he is not feeling confident. He also tends to go into the shadow expression of his masculine traits when he is not confident. For example, he might become controlling, passive, irresponsible, disconnected, immature, destructive, tyrannical, manipulative, passive aggressive, jealous, self-centered, dishonest, unreliable or greedy.
It is not your responsibility to create a man’s confidence. In fact, men will be much healthier and also more attractive to you if they derive their confidence from many things, not just what you say and do. But the reality is that you have incredible influence on a man’s confidence. And confidence is that key that not only reveals who a man really is, but that unlocks all those things you want from a man in order to feel good in a relationship. So, this information is intended to give you a sense of empowerment relative to your relationships as well as a greater chance at relationship success. Try it out for yourself!
As you know, there is a general feeling amongst both men and women that nice guys are out of luck and have to turn mean if they want a woman, because women like assholes. For those of you who don’t know English so well, an asshole is a guy who is unresponsive to the feelings and needs of others. He is intentionally cruel, obnoxious and heartless. It is the masculine equivalent to a bitch.
Women don’t actually like assholes. That’s a myth. Women prefer men who are nice. But I’m going to explain why it seems like women like assholes.
A woman isn’t unattracted to a man because he’s nice. What is actually happening is that she is unattracted to him because he lacks other traits that most women are not only attracted to, but actually need
in order to feel good in a relationship. We could call these ‘masculine traits’. And the guys that are usually labeled ‘nice guys’ by society and that identify with that label, tend to lack these traits. Therefore, due to both attraction to and need for these traits, most women feel ‘forced’ to be with men who have those traits, even if it comes with a side dish of other undesirable character traits. “Nice Guys” tend to be passive, submissive, inactive and retreating. They tend to follow instead of lead, they can be codependent and insecure. They are usually always agreeable to the degree that they lack boundaries and a sense of what is actually good or safe. They tend to feel energetically small and therefore unable to protect and contain a woman.
To the opposite, men who are masculine tend to take the leadership role, they are protective. They have direction in life. They are creative. They are strong. They provide. They have good social skills. They have drive. They are encouraging. They possess charisma and confidence. They have high energy levels. They take positive ownership of the woman in their life. They take action. They provide containment for the feminine. In other words, it has nothing to do with whether a guy is nice. Saying that a woman doesn’t want you because you are nice is a way for men to avoid looking at the actual issue… the traits they are currently not exhibiting that women need in order to feel good. And guess what? A man could actually possess those traits and be a nice guy at the same time and a woman would actually prefer that guy.
So… why would a woman choose an asshole with those traits over a nice guy without them?
Let’s just look at biology first. Keep in mind during this explanation that we are in a physical body and awakening is not about transcending the physical, it is about integrating it. This means what I’m about to share with you is not something that needs to be ‘fixed’ in women. Physically, for women attraction is about matching up with a person who will protect you, produce healthy offspring and provide for you and those offspring. The man is your ticket to survival. No matter how much the modern world has changed things, this is still the truth today for women on a physical level. A vulnerable male, leaves a woman in a position to feel like she has to ‘do it all herself’ or ‘fend for herself’. This means, a male who lacks masculine traits inevitably makes a woman feel like she is all alone… maybe with a friendly sidekick or servant. But it causes her to feel like all the pressure is on her.
Also, for a woman, fear is woven into her biology. It is the baseline experience of her life whether she is consciously aware of it or not. It is something she lives with (like a prey animal) day in and day out. And when women have people that they care about, like a partner and like children, this fear simply grows. If you want to understand more about this, watch my video titled: What Every Man needs To Know About Women. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how nice a guy is if he can’t provide a woman with the feeling that she is ‘contained’, she will feel exposed to the world and therefore like there is nothing between herself and all the various threats in the world.
On top of this, most of the masculine traits such as confidence, are strongly connected to testosterone. Higher testosterone means a woman will be more physically attracted to you, especially when she is ovulating.
At all of the different levels of reality, masculine and feminine is different. It’s a different energy. That energy takes on different expressions and manifestations. And polarities need one another! Masculine energy has the tendency to call feminine energy into its full power and vice versa. It feels good and natural for a woman to be in a state of feminine energy and expression. But when a man lacks masculine qualities, it causes a flip of polarity between men and women. A flip in polarity is to blame for so many relationship issues between men and woman today. A flip in polarity tends to disable a woman from being in her feminine energy when she wants to be.
When a man is trained to be “nice” by his parents or modern society, he is not actually being trained to be nice. That’s a smokescreen. In fact, he’s usually being trained to get rid of his natural power. He’s usually being trained to get rid of his masculinity. When a man begins to act passive, submissive, inactive and retreating, when he makes it a habit to follow instead of lead, becomes codependent or insecure or agreeable to the degree that he lacks boundaries and a sense of what is actually good or safe, he is unable to take positive ownership of a woman. He cannot provide containment. He does not create security. He tends to not be very responsible. Therefore, a woman compensates by becoming masculine. The tissues of her body begin to armor and become like metal instead of be soft and receptive. She becomes stressed because all the pressure goes onto her. She has to take the leadership role. She has to defend herself. She becomes controlling and feels totally exposed to the world. When this polarity is flipped, it’s terrible for both men and woman. But women end up in pain physically, mentally and emotionally.
I’ve been talking a lot about the fact that if a man lacks certain masculine traits, he is unable to contain and positively own a woman. A woman actually wants to feel owned. She just doesn’t want to feel controlled. But as far as an asshole is concerned, many women would rather choose to feel owned and controlled over feeling like she has to fend for herself but is free. Not many women like the idea of being “stray”. To truly own something is to see it as part of yourself. If you see something as part of yourself, it becomes impossible to hurt that thing without hurting yourself. You cannot usurp its free will without harming yourself. Therefore, in true ownership, which is for something to be a part of you and therefore to belong to you, the best interests of that other thing is of the utmost concern. This makes a woman feel safe and secure. To understand more about this, you can watch my video titled: Own people! (How to Take Ownership of Your Relationships)!
Containment is not a limitation. It is a safe space in which something can exist or occur. When it comes to containment, the best way to think of this is like a clam shell and a pearl. The pearl feels safe when it is contained in a clam shell. The masculine serves as that clam shell that enables a woman to be soft, open and receptive. Imagine removing that protective shell… the woman would immediately contract, go rigid and into a state of defense. It is a coping mechanism rather than a natural feel-good state of being. Very few women can live in this state. Which is why they would choose an asshole who can provide ownership and containment over a nice guy who can’t. The ones who do it, tend to turn angry, resentful, chronically stressed and bitter. And those who choose to be in the flipped polarity role in relationships, usually have significant trauma around being controlled (especially by a man), which is why they swung the pendulum to the opposite extreme.
Our subconscious definition of love comes from our childhood home. This means, for some women who had assholes for daddies, they are wired to feel more loved in an environment with an asshole. What’s more than that, we all have unresolved trauma and we keep seeking out situations that mirror that unresolved trauma so as to resolve it. This means that if a girl had an asshole for a daddy and deep down she always wanted to ‘reform him’ and feel loved by him and win him over, she will subconsciously find a man who behaves like him (also an asshole) in the subconscious hope that if he is reformed and if she is able to win him over and if he does become loving, she has just healed her daddy wound. This attraction stuff is quite complicated. So, if you want to understand more about this, watch two of my videos, titled: Why You Keep Attracting the ‘Wrong’ Person in Relationships. And Attraction (Why You’re Attracted to The People You’re Attracted To).
There is a dynamic in some women (especially those with low self-esteem) where an asshole who is aloof and un-committal, triggers her feeling of not being good enough. This automatically puts her into the position of desperately wanting to be good enough. She then begins to ‘chase’ the man, trying to get him to want her and to commit to her. There is an element of challenge in winning a guy over. But the challenge isn’t the real reason women do it. They do it because they are desperate for the self-esteem and confidence that comes as a result of it being confirmed that they are not only good enough, but wanted and special. Suddenly, it feels like if the guy who is acting like you are not good enough doesn’t decide he wants you; you really aren’t good enough. And if a man who is an asshole will morph into an affectionate, good man and a good dad for you and you alone, it makes a woman feel even better about herself. This dynamic only appeals to women who have low self-esteem, are thrill seeking (which is extremely rare) or who themselves have commitment issues. If you are a woman who desperately needs to feel special (especially if that need comes from a childhood wound) you’re at high risk for falling into this dynamic. Again, this adult life dynamic is ultimately created by early childhood dynamics.
Some women adapted in their life by becoming codependent. One of the sadder dynamics of codependency is that a person has so much shame that they believe they aren’t good enough to be with someone who is functional and desirable and good. Therefore, they get into relationships with dysfunctional individuals and place themselves in the “fixer” role. In this position, they can focus on the dysfunction of their partner rather than their own. Also, they can always be in the position of the good guy by comparison and thus avoid their own shame. Some women choose assholes so that they can “fix” them. Or “love them anyway” because it makes them the saint and therefore, feel good about themselves by comparison. It also serves as an externalized way of fixing and loving the part of themselves that they feel is unlovable.
A lot of women find assholes to be more honest and straightforward. There is a lot of talk in the female world that nice guys only complain about women liking assholes because they are mad that being friendly doesn’t get them laid… meaning that nice guys might just be every bit as much of an asshole, but a manipulative, covert one. Many women see it as an act. A way of bribing her to give him what he wants. And to be totally honest, there are definitely some dangerous, sociopathic men who will use this tactic and then pull a bait and switch. And women who have experienced it, have spread the warning around.
So there you have it. Female behavior is not simply irrational. There are legitimate reasons for it. But the key to a woman’s heart and even the way into her panties is not about becoming a jerk.
It doesn’t take a genius to look at the world today and to see just how divided people are. Relative to almost every subject, there are concrete sides. This creates a dramatic polarization. That polarization fuels division and war. Especially because so many of these polarizations that exist today are about fears, insecurities and therefore deeply held values. So, what do we do if we want unity in the world?
The first thing we have to do is to see clearly what is going on. Each one of us has different life experiences. We simply may share these experiences with others whom we then relate more to than other people. And life experience implies contrast. It implies experiencing both wanted and unwanted. It implies both pleasure and pain. A simpler way of saying this is that all people experience different traumas over the course of their life as well as different joys. These traumas and joys lead to certain preferences. They lead to certain fears. They lead to certain needs and desires. And those needs and desires lead to very specific values. To understand more about how needs lead to values, watch my video titled: The Value Realization (A Realization That Can Completely Change Your Self Worth). Nothing polarizes people more than when they hold different or even opposing values. And nothing polarizes people more than when they hold opposing values relative to a situation where they perceive danger.
When our own life experience propels us in a direction where we develop different fears, preferences, information, needs, desires and therefore values, we often end up in different realities from one another. We may be experiencing the exact same situation, but we are perceiving that situation totally differently, even to the point of perceiving the exact opposite from one another. When this happens, it means that we begin to live in a parallel perceptual reality. And it is the most dangerous kind of parallel reality. If you want to understand about this dynamic in depth, you can watch my video titled: The Most Dangerous Parallel Reality. Essentially, we will begin to react in direct response to the reality that we, alone perceive. If other people agree with our perception, it further fuels our reaction to that perception.
In order to see this picture clearly, I’ll give you an example:
Person A grew up in a dysfunctional home with an adversarial and controlling parent. This person learned based off of their own life experience that they cannot trust authorities. They became hyper attuned to power dynamics and to the dangers of government control. They developed the deep need for sovereignty and therefore one of their top values is freedom. Therefore, when the government decides to impose rules and regulations, this immediately threatens their values and they become super aware of the danger of government takeover and they begin to live in the reality that the government is corrupt and is out to strip them of their sovereignty.
Person B experienced pain in their life as a result of people doing whatever they wanted, no matter the impact that had on others. They feel deeply unsafe when there is no authority around to impose rules and regulations to ensure everyone’s wellbeing. Because of this, they value social order and they value standards relative to human behavior. To person B, there is a clear thing that is right and there is a clear thing that is good and they believe that rules should exist so as to guarantee that all people behave in that way that is right and good. Therefore, when the government decides to impose rules and regulations, they say “it’s about time”. They clearly see the danger inherent in everyone narcissistically doing whatever they want, no matter the cost to others. So, they celebrate and begin to live in the reality that the government is acting in the people’s best interests.
Because of person A and person B’s different life experiences and therefore different fears and needs and therefore different values, they now live in two different parallel perceptual realities. Their realities in this case are polarized and the opposite. Because of this, each sees the other as incompetent, stupid, blind, and a liability… therefore, a threat! It is this polarization that can easily lead to war. Any polarization regarding values that involve a sense of personal safety can easily lead to war.
So, if we want unity instead, how do we back out of this mess? First, we step into a place of AND consciousness. If you want an in-depth understanding of AND consciousness, you can watch my video titled: And Consciousness (The Modern-Day Replacement For The Middle Way). We realize that any time we are completely polarized, there is something we are not seeing, not feeling, not hearing, not understanding and potentially suppressing. We must consider that we may be holding one side of the view of truth and the opposite party may be holding the other side of the view of truth. In other words, objective truth may just arise out of the amalgamation of both currently polarized perspectives.
Then, we must stop invalidating each other. Opposing views are usually invalidating to each other by nature. But when we are in a specific perceptual reality, we see nothing but proof for that perception, so this invalidation doesn’t change our minds. It causes us to feel crazy and like others have lost their minds and like we are caught in a collective gaslight. Also, when we fight and take action from these two different realities, we only inevitably end up reinforcing and therefore strengthening the current beliefs and values of the other. We cause further polarization. We have to stop invalidating each other or even trying to get each other to change our perception. Instead, we must shift our focus to the other party’s estimation of unsafety…The vulnerability underneath that ‘war’ they are waging.
The reality is that when there is a polarization based on the perception of unsafety, both sides often clearly see the danger inherent in the other. An analogy is that two people are facing each other walking backwards. And each has a sheer drop off behind them. Person A can see person B’s drop off, but cannot clearly see his own. Person B can see person A’s drop off, but cannot clearly see his own. So, each is holding a truth about the danger of the other person’s perspective, but not his own. This awareness causes us to stop walking backwards… towards our own drop off.
From there, we need to choose love. This does not mean decide to feel positive about them. When I say choose love, what I mean is to choose to include the other as a part of yourself. To understand deeper what love is, watch my video titled: What Is Love? When you choose to love, the best interests of the other become a part of your own best interests. Their safety becomes a part of your own safety. And you can put your attention on caretaking their unsafety. Really understanding their personal life experience, their vulnerabilities and fears is the only way to do this. It’s also the only way for us to lay our swords down and really open up to things we might not be seeing ourselves from our perceptual reality. We have all lived different lives, so that other person might just have first person knowledge of something we have never thought of, heard of, seen or experienced before. This means, any one could hold a piece of truth that we have not included in our awareness yet.
It is intimacy and attunement to vulnerability that will bridge the gap between these different parallel realities that make us so utterly alone and so polarized. This is what allows you to accommodate the other person’s unsafety as opposed to playing a zero-sum game as far as your and their safety is concerned. Play the game “If they were right about their estimation of the unsafety that exists, how do I mitigate that danger for them?” Now think about a world in which both ‘sides’ did this with one another. They would not rest until they arrived at a win-win scenario.
Using our previous example, Person A would focus on how to mitigate the risk of people doing whatever they want, regardless of the impact on others and take action to show person B that they actually are considering and caretaking their wellbeing. Person B would focus on how to mitigate the risk of government over reach and take action to show person A that they are actually interested in preserving their freedom. Believe it or not, this is not as utopian as it sounds because it is quite easy to find a win-win scenario when both people actually feel like the other is actively caretaking his or her best interests.
Humanity must learn to end the zero-sum game. To be completely honest with you, it is no longer a luxury to do so, it is a necessity. And the zero-sum game will only be ended when people choose to accommodate the reality of those who are standing on the opposite side of the fight. Hopefully the understanding I have given you today, will help you to make that choice and to become a powerful force for unification rather than polarization.
I’m going to leave you with a question to ask yourself: How is my personal life experience (especially regarding pain and unsafety) controlling my perception of reality? How might it be limiting my perception to only one side of the truth. How might it be controlling by values and therefore what subsequent actions I will take?
People feel the best when they are full of energy. But energy is something that most people go about getting in a subconscious way. It is a rare person who asks themselves: What would GIVE me energy right now? And goes directly for that. But that is exactly what I am going to ask you to do today and this is exactly the tool I want you to put into your tool basket.
The first thing I’m going to ask you to do is to make a list as long as possible of all the things that give you specifically energy or that cause you to be energized… The things that feed you. Make sure to include things that give you energy on a mental, physical and emotional level. Every person’s list is going to look different because what gives one person energy might totally deplete someone else. For example, organizing might give one person energy and might make another person feel depleted. An example of a very short version of one such list that one of my clients wrote is:
Listening to classical music
Watching a fantasy movie
Taking a walk somewhere I have never walked before
Rowing (which is an intense workout) on the canal
Drinking matcha tea
People watching in the park
Going into different shops to see new items, but without the intention of buying something.
Having a long-term goal to aim for
Getting physically aroused, but making sure to not ejaculate
Going on a food tour in the city
Wearing a pair of new slacks
Scoring a new company as a client of my marketing firm
Eating Spirulina and Chlorella
Listening to 15-20 Hz High Beta Frequency
Watching, reading or listening to inspiring biographies
Traveling to tropical locations
You get the point. When you make this list, know that what might energize you today, might not energize you tomorrow and that’s perfectly ok. Different situations and circumstances call for different energy. But the beauty of this is that you can always go to your list and pick something off of it that you feel would give you energy at that given time, rather than having to brainstorm in the moment. Because brainstorming in the moment tends to take more energy from the people who don’t feel like brainstorming gives them energy. You can also keep adding to this list because it is guaranteed that there will be things that give you energy that you have yet to discover.
Now that you’ve done that, here are three other suggestions for how to gain energy.
Discover and do your best to eliminate those things that deplete and drain your energy. A lot about gaining energy is about taking away energy robbing things, not just the energy giving things you add to your life. What things do you do that take the most energy? Keep in mind that expending energy can be pleasurable. So, what we are really looking for are those things that are not pleasurable which take, that deplete you and that rob you of energy. What might be some solutions for those things? How might you take those things off of your plate?
Meet your needs directly and do things that give you energy in a direct way. Most people are subconsciously motivated to do things or to be near places, people or things that cause them to feel energized instead of depleted. But this often also causes people to try to meet their needs or try to get energy in a roundabout way. The thing about this strategy is that it usually doesn’t end up paying off. For example, we may help someone in the hopes that that they will reciprocate by giving us gratitude. Or we may pour our energy into work so that we can earn vacation days. This feels rather like fishing for energy or fishing for your needs to be met, when there is no guarantee that you will catch the fish. When it comes to energy and needs, go the direct route. To understand more about this, watch my video titled: Meet Your Needs.
Do things that you love doing just for the process of it. And do things that you love for the achievement, outcome, end goal or destination as long as you know for a fact that you can guarantee that outcome and quickly. When we engage in doing things that we love for the doing of it in and of itself, we are fed energy at the same time as expending it. We absorb at the same time as we emit. This is one reason why people who choose careers that they love doing, have much more energy and experience much more wellbeing. Also, achievements and outcomes do give energy. But they only give energy if they actually happen. So, when it comes to going directly for energy when you feel depleted, do things you love just for the doing of them. And keeping your long-term goals, make sure to focus your energy on doing things you love for the outcome as long as that outcome is not only a guarantee, but is also a more immediate and instant gratification scenario rather than a long-term gratification scenario.
Keep in mind that it is important to fill your days up with things that give you energy and that feed you, so as to maintain your energy. Don’t fall into the trap of only engaging in these energy giving activities when you’re already running on empty!
To some degree, all people are both outcome oriented and process oriented. This means that all people are both destination and journey oriented. The question is, to what degree? Some people derive much more pleasure and energy out of achievement and some derive much more pleasure and effort out of process. There is an idea floating around the self-help/spiritual community that it is much better to be about the journey than the destination or to be about the process rather than the outcome. In reality, both offer a different kind of energy to your life. In reality, neither orientation is superior or inferior to the other. But, in order to live a fulfilling life, one must be conscious about distinguishing between what they enjoy for the outcome and what they enjoy for the process. And with that, one must make sure that this conscious distinction causes them to make the right decisions.
For the sake of understanding this concept, let’s say that there are three camps to sort things into.
Camp one is things that you love doing for the outcome. These are things for which if the outcome ceased to exist, you would not derive enough pleasure out of the doing of it to continue. So, these are things where the outcome, end goal, destination or achievement makes the process pleasurable.
Camp two is things that you love doing for the doing of them. These are things for which even if there was no outcome, end goal, destination or achievement; OR even if the outcome, goal, achievement, or destination that does exist never came about, you’d still do it because the process, or the doing of it is what you love.
Camp three is things that you do solely for an outcome. These are things for which the outcome, end goal, destination or achievement does not ever make the process pleasurable. It is literally and only a “so that ______.”
I want you to look at the things you do in your life and decide what things go into what camp. You can make an organized list if you want. Keep in mind that every person will divide up the things they do into different camps. There is no right or wrong answer here. There is no camp that is right or wrong.
I’ll give you an example of what I mean. One person may put cooking into camp one because they like to cook, but if they imagine their cooking never resulting in a good finished product, they may find they don’t like the process of cooking (like cutting things up and putting things over fire and selecting ingredients) in and of itself unless they can produce a result. One person may put cooking into camp two because even if they never got to see a result or even if they didn’t end up with a good finished product, they love the process of cooking. One person may put cooking into camp three because they dislike the process of cooking and even the outcome doesn’t do anything for them, but they choose to do it so that they create relationship security or so that they don’t feel like a bad person.
Another example is that one person may put exercise into camp one because they like to exercise, but primarily because it makes their body look good. If they imagine getting no results in terms of physical appearance, they don’t like the actual process of exercising enough to keep it up. One person may put exercise into camp two because they love the in the moment experience of exercise and would do it because they love doing it, no matter the result. One person may put exercise in camp three because they hate exercising and don’t even get anything out of results. But they may do it to maintain closeness with a friend or lover of theirs who loves exercise and who they want approval from. If you want to learn more about the danger of filling the majority of your life with things to do that fit into this third camp, you can also watch my video titled: If You Want To Be Happy, Don’t Do This!
As you are doing this exercise for the different sectors of your life, it is a good idea to break those sectors down into specific tasks. For example, a person’s entire job may fit into camp three for them. But maybe balancing spreadsheets, which is one element of their career is something they love to do and would in fact fit into camp two.
Making the right conscious choices for yourself, as well as sorting through why you may not have the life satisfaction that you want relative to what you are doing, is easier when you know what camp things in your life fit into. For example, imagine that you discover that writing fits into camp one for you. You only like the process of it, if it results in a book that other people love. It will no longer be a mystery why you aren’t as happy and why your motivation to write disappears if people do not love the book you wrote. Or for example, imagine that you discover that talking fits into camp two for you. You may now see talking as something that gives you energy when you do it, so whenever you feel depleted, you can find someone to talk to. Or for example, if you discover that shopping fits into camp three for you. It will be easier to find another way to meet the need that shopping is meeting, but directly and in a different way.
There are potential pitfalls inherent in each camp. Rather than tell you what they are, I’d like you to think on it. That being said, it is important to know that when it comes to creating a life that feels good and when it comes to making the right, conscious choices for yourself in a given situation, it is important to know what camp the things in your life fit into. Let yourself be both process oriented and outcome oriented. Let yourself be both destination oriented and journey oriented. Afterall, you already are. Just be conscious about it!
All people on earth hold within themselves the essence of the children they once were. As you matured, regardless of your childhood experiences (good or bad) the adult part of you grew up, despite not getting everything it needed as a child. But the child-part of you did not die or disappear somewhere along the way. This child self of yours exists in your internal system. This inner child of yours symbolizes the core of your emotional self… The raw essence and vulnerability of your personal truth. In truth, people have many “inner children”. To understand more about this, watch my video titled Fragmentation, The Worldwide Disease. But if we are looking at ourselves in terms of fragmentation, you can think of these many inner children as being organized into one box inside yourself that is labeled the inner child.
If you want to think metaphorically, the inner child is the box within your psyche that holds anything related to the child self. Things like innocence, play, wonder, suppressed desire and interests, curiosity, creativity, being in the present moment, honesty, imagination, emotions, traumas that belong to your childhood, childhood memories, the origin of patterns in your life, and even your pre-birth purpose. And those things are just the tip of the iceberg. Working directly with this part of you (and any of the parts that are inside of it) can go a long way in terms of healing trauma, ending dysfunctional patterns, getting in touch with your essence and personal truth, meeting your needs, finding joy and living according to your internal compass etc.
There are many different ways to work with the inner child. One such way, is to allow the inner child to write a letter to you at the age you are at right now. So, for example, if you are 32 today, your inner child is going to write a letter to you (as if he or she traveled through time to give it to you) at age 32 and today.
To do this exercise, get a sheet of paper and a pen or pencil and sit somewhere comfortable. From there, the best way to do this is to imagine that you are a method actor and, in this moment, you are only diving into the perspective of and becoming that one part of yourself, as if your inner child is the totality of you. Another way of thinking about this is that you are channeling only your inner child and allowing it to take over your whole body and awareness. You are going to spend some time getting used to it as if you are in a foreign being. Consider things like ‘What do I feel like?’ ‘How big or small am I?’ How old do I feel? Where do I feel like I am? Essentially, to begin with, you are simply becoming aware of it without asking it to express or questioning it.
From there, you can choose whether to let yourself (as the inner child) write or speak. Some people choose to record themselves doing this if they feel like speaking. In my experience, writing tends to work best for most people. If you have chosen to write and find it difficult at first to simply let the truth belonging to your inner child to flow through you, consider writing with the hand you do not usually write with. It doesn’t matter if it is messy. Your non dominant hand is more connected to your subconscious mind.
You are going to speak or write as the child self. And you are going to speak or write to your adult self that exists right here today. Keep in mind that some inner child parts are less communicative and verbal than others. Let whatever happens in this exercise happen. Don’t expect the inner child to be any certain way. Your inner child may be really angry with you or so distrusting that it is afraid to communicate with you. Conversely, your inner child may be full of love and joy and be supper communicative. What is your inner child’s current truth? What does it need to say or need you or others to hear? Let your inner child express as much as it wants. You may feel questions arise from somewhere deep inside you. You can mentally pose these questions to the inner child while you are still channeling your inner child. Things like “when did this start or when did things change for you?” Or “what would you need me to be doing differently than I am currently doing and why?” Any question that arises can help you to gain deeper clarity about your inner child.
Do this for as long as it takes to feel like the inner child has said all he or she has to say. And from there, given the information you received, come out of that perspective. If you feel stuck in that perspective, visualize a pearl sized, glowing white light beginning in your heart and begin to expand it, like you were blowing up a balloon. Imagining that as it expands, it pushes the perspective of the inner child to the perimeter of that light until that perspective “splits” sort of like a ripping seam. Then imagine stepping out of that perspective and turning around to pick it up and hand the energy of that perspective back to the universe at large.
If you feel inspired to do so as a result of what was communicated, you may choose to do a visualization involving your inner child. One of the best ways to do this is to imagine that your inner child (at whatever age you intuitively see him or her) is standing or sitting in front of you. From there, you do anything with the inner child that feels intuitively right to do. That being said, don’t forget to validate your inner child. Validation is the thing that most inner-child therapies or approaches seem to skip. Which is a travesty because it’s the most crucial step when we are doing inner child work. When we are working with the inner child, we usually rush to take the child away from the feeling, wanting to immediately make him or her feel better. By doing this, we send the message that the way they are feeling has to change because something is wrong with it.
Here is an example of how you might validate your inner child’s emotions. Let’s assume that the inner child expresses that it feels jealous because our inner child feels unloved, unvalued, and insignificant. We don’t instantly try to make our child self feel better or less jealous. Instead we validate the child’s feelings. Validating feelings is not the same as validating that they are correct in their version of truth, in the event that the validation of their truth will do them more harm than good. In other words, we don’t say, “You’re right; people don’t love you and they don’t value you”. Instead, we comfort the child and validate the child’s feelings by saying something like, “You’re right to feel this way because anyone who was in this situation would feel this way. It’s totally understandable how you could feel like people aren’t valuing you. It makes sense that you would feel sad. But I’m here with you no matter what. It’s OK that you feel this way. You have a right and a valid reason to feel the way you do.” Then we remain present with the child however he or she feels as a result of the validation.
Keep in mind that, on occasion, an inner child might actually need their version of truth (not just their emotions) validated in order to move forward. For example, if a child is being abused, but is constantly told by the perpetrator that he is just being given a bath in the places that he is dirty, this can create cognitive dissonance in the child great enough to be its own state of mental trauma. Therefore, during this step, we would also affirm that they are right in that they were actually being abused.
It’s natural to have a reaction to being validated when it finally happens, and usually the reaction is a good one. The child experiences a release and a sense of acceptance, and he or she can shift into an emotional readiness to move forward on his or her own into a solution. However, sometimes more painful emotions, such as sadness, come up. When this is the case, continue to validate those new feelings and remain present with those feelings as well. The point here is that you must be unconditionally there with the child, without needing the child to feel different than how they feel. This step of validation is not about feeling better; it’s about being with the child’s feelings. If you truly feel that you can’t do this for your inner child, then imagine someone who can doing it instead. For example, if you imagine that an angel can do it, then imagine the angel coming into the scene with you and comforting and validating your inner child instead. And from there, you can visualize meeting the child’s needs or resolving anything with the child that may need to be resolved based off of what was expressed in the letter.
Here is an example of an actual letter that was written by someone’s inner child to their adult self:
Hi Older Self,
I see that you have taken a lot of responsibility from what happened to us in childhood. You should probably stop. Like now. You are still doing this from a place of you are guilty which is your problem. I just want to have fun. You are living life with a bunch of consequences in mind and the truth is that it is not reality. You are suffocating me and only letting me come out when its safe or there won’t be consequences. STOP!!! STOP it!!!! You are being our controlling mother. I know what happened was scary and feels like it left an imprint but actually I’m perfectly fine. It was an experience, if we only stay on that experience that is the only thing we will know. ABUSE IS NOT THE ONLY THING I WANT TO KNOW!!! AHH!! I want to explore; I want to let myself dream because what is life without letting yourself have possibilities. You know what that is, it’s a stupid life. Honestly why even bother. You are not acting like you are out of abuse, come on. This fear of feeling like you are going to lose everyone that there is going to be a major consequence has you frozen in the biggest consequence, stuck in your past. I want you to ask yourself, what new thing could I create today? Everyday. As you can see, I’m a little frustrated at you because honestly you just seem like an old fart. Do something different. This is not who we are, we are fun, social, actually pretty outgoing and so not lame. You are like trying to move a mountain, impossibly stubborn. Enjoy people, you are too worried about losing them that you don’t even notice they are there. You know what I am done with the advice, do something new today, that’s it. And no one took anything away from you so the end.
Once you have done this exercise, given the information you received from your inner child, is there any resolve you may need to create? Are there any changes you might need to make? Do you have a need that you need to find a way to meet? Do you need to embody any of the suppressed aspects of your inner child in your adult life? Do you have any childhood interests you need to pick back up? To make the most of this exercise, make any changes that you need to make as a result of the information you gained by doing this exercise. And don’t forget that you can do this as many times as you want. Periodical check-ins go a long way towards the health of your emotional self. And the better your relationship is with your inner child, the better your life will feel.
For most people trust is an abstract concept, which sucks because trust is essential for relationships with others and self-trust is critical for personal happiness. If trust remains an abstract concept for you, you won’t know what the hell to practically do in order to create trust in relationships or to create self-trust. So, in today’s episode, I’m going to make trust simple for you. To trust someone is to feel as if you can rely on them to capitalize (act in) your best interests. This is as scientific as you can get with what trust actually is. For this reason, it’s a good idea to sit with that definition for a moment and let it sink in. Keep in mind that I did not say that trust is about being able to rely on the fact that someone will put your best interests above their own. Nor is it making someone else fully responsible for your happiness. It is being able to rely on the fact that they will capitalize (act in) your best interests.
Taking the next conceptual step, to trust yourself is to feel as if you can rely on yourself to capitalize (act in) your own best interests. Even in a scenario where self-trust is about the assured reliance on your own character, ability, strength, and truth, this is true. For example, if you were to consider whether you trust yourself to be able to execute a task well, you would have already decided that executing that task well is in your best interests.
The reason self-trust remains so abstract for people, is because they see themselves as ‘one thing’. I don’t walk up to you and introduce myself by several different names. But this way of viewing yourself, is inaccurate. Consciousness itself functions like water. If you are looking at a river from above, you can see that a large river often branches off into smaller rivers. Over the course of your life, your consciousness splits, just like the river does. It is usually an act of self-preservation. When this happens, your sense of self becomes fragmented. So even though you have one body, within that body, you end up with multiple selves. The best way to picture this is to imagine that inside your body, you have a collection of Siamese twins. They are technically all conjoined because they all share one body. But each one has its own identity, its own desires, needs, perspective, strengths, weaknesses and appearance.
If you understand that you are not one thing that you call by one name, but that you are more like an ecosystem of different ‘parts’, suddenly self-trust or the lack thereof makes sense. These internal ‘parts’ of you can have any kind of relationship under the sun. All the way from super loving and supportive to violent and hating. The bottom line is, some parts of you cannot currently be relied upon to capitalize (act in) the best interests of other parts of you.
For example, if one part of you wants to go to a party and another part does not and the first part simply bulldozes and drags you to the party, the other part cannot trust it. Or for example, if one part of you wants to get rid of another part of you, that second part can’t trust the first one. Or for example, if one part of you really wants you to become an artist and another part of you wants family approval (which it knows is not possible if you become an artist). And the part that values family approval makes the executive decision to do what the family wants, the part of you that wants you to be an artist cannot by definition trust the one who values family approval. And in all of these scenarios, you will feel that lack of self-trust emotionally in your whole being. You know what it feels like to be in a relationship where someone cannot be relied upon to act in your best interests. When you lack self-trust, that same relationship is taking place in your internal system.
I’m going to say something I need you to understand. You cannot understand self-trust or repair self-trust unless you accept the reality of fragmentation. If you want to understand fragmentation in an in-depth way, watch my video titled: Fragmentation, The Worldwide Disease.
But here’s the good news: Trust can be rebuilt. If you have lost self- trust, that trust is rebuilt through parts of you demonstrating that they can be relied upon to be aware of and capitalize the best interests of whatever part they are currently opposed to. Building trust in any relationship, including those relationships taking place between your own parts, is really as simple as being aware of and capitalizing on each other’s best interests. It is as simple as finding a meeting of minds about what a win-win scenario actually is.
So, now that you understand that, here is what you need to do in order to trust yourself:
Start to work directly with the parts of yourself that are creating the self-distrust. This means the parts within you that are opposed, that disagree, that are fighting, abandoning, suppressing, rejecting, denying, disowning or bulldozing each other and that are engaged in zero sum games. To learn exactly how to do this, watch my video titled: Parts Work (What is Parts Work and How to do It). When you do this with parts that are creating an atmosphere of distrust in your being, you often need to make these parts of you aware that they are part of the same body and as such, they literally cannot play a zero-sum game. In other words, there is no “I win and you lose” for a something that shares the same body. Each part needs to be made aware that it no longer works to capitalize on its own best interest to the detriment of the other’s best interest. They will begin to look for a win-win situation when this is the case and begin to caretake each other’s best interests. But stay open to this looking different than you would anticipate. When certain internal parts become aware of others, and really see, hear, feel and understand them, their own perspectives and therefore estimation of their best interests often change.
Become intimate with the part(s) of you that you don’t trust. This point goes in alignment with the last. But it must be a stand-alone point. If trust is about capitalizing on someone’s best interests, you have to actually know what their best interests are. To know what someone’s best interests are, you have to be willing to have intimacy with them. Intimacy is seeing into someone, feeling into them, hearing them and understanding them as deeply as you can. This means, you’ve got to be willing to face and create intimacy with the part of you that you think is the “bad guy” in the trust department. For example, if you lack self-trust because a part of you keeps taking drugs regardless of your desire to stay sober, you need to stop playing a zero-sum game with it and really see, hear, feel and understand that part; especially the WHY, so you can help that part of you to get its needs met and act in its best interests in alternative ways than the ways it is currently going about getting its needs met. “You” can’t oppose, fight with, abandon, suppress, reject, deny, disown, bulldoze or engage in zero sum games with any part of yourself and create an atmosphere of self-trust in your being.
Accept that there is no such thing as self-sabotage. This understanding can go a long, long way towards developing self-trust. Usually when we don’t trust ourselves, we become afraid of ourselves. But this will help: If any of your internal parts or selves are resisting or opposing your desires, or if any of them are hurting other parts of you in any way, it is because they think it is in your best interest for them to do so. In other words, they believe they are saving your life by not going along with the plan. For this reason, we cannot say that they are against you. They just don’t agree with the rest of you about how to be FOR you. For example: consciously, you may really want a relationship to work, but you keep pushing the other person away or doing and saying things to create conflict in the relationship. In this scenario, one fragment or part within you (the one we are consciously identified with) has made the decision to be in a relationship and make it work. Another part knows that relationships have been so painful in the past and that it has been abandoned and therefore thinks abandonment is inevitable. So, it is trying to save you from the pain of getting attached to something you are inevitably going to lose. No part of you, even the ones who ‘hate you’ are actually against you. To understand this in-depth, watch my videos titled: There is No Such Thing as Self Sabotage and Self Hate, The Most Dangerous Coping Mechanism.
Build your self-confidence. Self-confidence and self-trust are very good friends. When we use the word confidence, what we mean is your ability to depend upon yourself. When we understand that lack of self-trust, goes hand in hand with lack of self-confidence, we see that not trusting ourselves is often a self-worth issue. It is an issue of devaluing and invalidating ourselves One of the reasons that we do not trust ourselves, is that we do not accept our own abilities, talents, intentions, and value. This means, take time to recognize and acknowledge your abilities, talents, positive traits, and thus value.
Part of this confidence is allowing yourself to do what you are good at and what comes easily to you. Everyone is good at something. We don’t often allow ourselves to do what we are good at however because we have all been raised in societies with very specific values. Our strengths may not align with the values that those around us hold. And on top of this, most societies today value effort. Most of us think it is weak to do the things that come easy to us. But for us to learn how to trust ourselves, we need to allow ourselves to do what we are good at and what comes easily to us. If we always feel as if it is a struggle to do things, we will always feel behind the pack and lack confidence. So, own up to the things which you excel at, and then focus on designing your life around those things. Give yourself permission to take pride in them and give yourself credit for your successes. And realize that sometimes, we have to look for the people who will value what we have to offer. To learn more about this step, you can watch my video titled: The Value Realization (A Realization That Can Completely Change Your Self Worth).
Listen to your feelings. They always have important messages to share. Most people view feelings as a menace; something to fight, something he or she is powerless to, a drawback, and even something to distrust. The average person does not know what purpose they serve. The result is, many people are living in a tug of war between being a slave to their emotion and flipping around to wage war with their emotions. We have a multibillion-dollar pharmaceutical industry set up to make a profit from chemically aiding people to suppress their feelings and change them. This is especially sad considering that your feelings are the compass guiding you through this venture called life. Emotions are the carriers of personal truth. They never ‘come out of nowhere’. They are the exact reflection of the truths belonging to parts of you. I am not saying that the thoughts, perspectives and opinions of parts of you are always accurate and a perfect reflection of objective truth. But they are always real and important and they always exist for a valid reason. You have to notice and listen to the truth being carried by a feeling to recognize that a part of yourself is activated and to hear that part of you out. You cannot do what is right for you or in your best interests if you don’t ‘hear out’ the truth being carried by your emotions. And consciously choose what to do given that information.
Let go of the idea of “the” right answer and just look for “your” right answer. People who don’t feel as if they can trust themselves, often defer to others. They tend to become preoccupied with the idea of right and wrong and it paralyzes them. They tend to fear making the “wrong” choice so much, that they procrastinate making any choice, and they trust other people’s opinions rather than forming and “owning” their own. Gain perspective by eliciting other people’s opinions, but do not “weigh them” in order to make your final decision. Instead, make your own decision. Use inquiry to question your current perspective and consciously choose a perspective, which serves your highest good. Every single person, experiences the world in their own way. So we make decisions about what is right based on our own individual assumptions, judgments, perceptions and past experiences. This is why no two perspectives will be the same. And no one can see the situation from your perspective. You are also never going to have all of the information that you would like to have in order to make ‘the perfect decision’. You can’t know everything and so sometimes you have to take a risk by making a choice anyway. If you are looking to develop self-trust, stop trying to find the right answer. Find your right answer and be open to it changing as you develop and become more and more aware and evolve.
Take risks, even if taking those risks results in making “mistakes”. We have to be willing to take risks and make mistakes in life. One day during my sports career, I was in a panic about racing as usual. At that point in my life, my self worth was completely tied up in performance. As a result, I had the habit of getting such bad performance anxiety that I did terribly in races and sometimes didn’t even show up for them. But on a chairlift on the way to the starting gate, I had an epiphany. The epiphany was this: I have lost 100% of the races that I didn’t run. This is the case when we don’t take risks. We like to think that if we don’t take risks, we don’t fail. But the truth is the exact opposite of that. If we don’t take the risk, we have already failed. While it can be scary for us to take risks in life, it is one of the best ways we can build our capacity for self-trust. Taking risks takes courage, and courage makes us feel better about ourselves. It allows us to see what we are really capable of, which in turn helps us to trust ourselves. You won’t know that you can trust yourself unless you take a risk and see that you can.
Compile a list of all the ways that you do trust yourself. Our level of trust is often different relative to different things. For example, we may trust our instincts relative to some things, like driving our car; while we doubt ourselves relative to other things, like making a good impression in an interview. Take some time to compile a list of all the ways that you currently know you can trust yourself. Compile this list by filling in the blank as many times as you can. “I trust myself to________”. For example, “I trust myself to be loyal to the person I have committed to”. Or “I trust myself to be loyal to my own happiness regardless of whether or not that means breaking a commitment that I have made to someone”. Some other examples might be, “I trust myself to care for my pets”. Or “I trust myself to do exactly what I say I’m going to do”. Or “I trust myself to make a breakfast which tastes good”. Nothing is too small or too large to include in this list. Any kind of trust, no matter what it is in, is important because it is trust. We have the tendency to ignore the ways that we actually do trust ourselves, when we become aware of the ways that we don’t trust ourselves. This corrodes our self-concept. It disables us by making us feel bad about ourselves, instead of simply allowing us to incrementally build trust in the things we don’t currently have trust in.
Develop boundaries. And to develop boundaries, you must develop authenticity. Having a sense of self vs. other is part of participating in this physical dimension. The individual perspective and experience is what is currently serving the expansion of this universe. And so, we perceive a difference between ourselves and the rest of the world. This individual perspective is a kind of boundary that defines us from everything else. A boundary is not a fence. Boundaries are simply the imaginary line that uniquely defines your personal happiness, your personal feelings, your personal thoughts, your personal integrity, your personal desires, your personal needs, and therefore most importantly, your personal truth from the rest of the universe. When I say my favorite ice cream flavor is coffee, that is actually a boundary, because it is something that defines me vs. other. But if someone else said their favorite ice cream flavor was coffee, I wouldn’t lose the boundary. It would just be something the defines us both and that we both happen to have in common.
As it applies to authenticity, something that is authentic is not copied. It’s genuine, real, and true. As authenticity applies to a human being, you must accept the fact that each and every person, including you, comes into this life as a unique expression of source consciousness. We can’t really be ‘in alignment with ourselves’ and therefore trust ourselves if we are not being that unique expression and living according to what is true for us. The simplest way to understand authenticity (beyond it being an uncovering of your personal essence) is that authenticity is the conscious mending of the incongruencies between one’s inner self and outer self. So, authenticity is when your inside matches your outside. You must live according to what is true for you. You will come closer and closer to your genuine authenticity throughout the process of the integration of your parts and the inevitable self-awareness that process brings. So, consider your authenticity to be something that is unfolding. And with that, boundaries to be something that is developing. But the more you live in alignment with your personal truth, the more self-trust you will have! If you want to learn more about boundaries and authenticity in depth, watch my videos titled: Personal Boundaries vs. Oneness (How To Develop Healthy Boundaries) and How to Be Authentic.
Trusting yourself is a process. Let it be a process. Trusting yourself is not something that you can suddenly wake up and decide to do. It is the inevitable byproduct of gradually improving the internal relationships taking place within your system. Just remember that the better it gets, the better it gets.
Though building resiliency in yourself and in the sectors of your life is always a good idea, in today’s world it is absolutely critical. If you want to simplify resiliency down to its core, you can do so by breaking resiliency down into two things. The first is your ability to withstand adversity. The second is your ability to adapt well in the face of adversity. Essentially, for something to have resiliency, it must be able to withstand and also to adapt. Take this concept and apply it to anything to see how resilient that thing is or isn’t. For example, if your positivity depends entirely upon something good happening to you, that is not a resilient mentality. Having a mentality of it being up to you and in your power to create something good to feel positive about is an example of a more resilient mentality. Or for example, if your finances are solely dependent on what comes to you through a boss and you could easily get fired and therefore lose your only source of income, your finances are not resilient. Making sure that you have multiple sources of income, so that if one source is cut off, you still have a backup, makes your finances more resilient. Or for example, rupture is inevitable in relationships. What creates security in your relationships is your ability to resolve rupture. If you do not know how to create resolve in relationships or if the people you are in a relationship with are not interested in creating resolve, your relationships are not resilient. If you know how to resolve rupture when it occurs in a relationship and have relationships with people who want resolve, your relationships are more resilient.
The reason to create resiliency is not because the universe is against you. The reason to create resiliency is that you want to be able to endure and rely upon your own fortitude and the fortitude and endurance of things in your life, even if you or those things encounter oppositional forces. Keep in mind that oppositional forces are not limited to something being intentionally against you. Change is one thing that can act as a form of adversity, as so many businesses have found out the hard way, by continuing to do the same thing instead of being able to adapt to changing times and changing demands.
Over the course of our lives, we will all encounter situations where we discover that something was not as resilient as we thought it was. The disillusionment and vulnerability we experience as a result is very scary. And while we can’t completely prevent this, we can decrease the likelihood of the negative manifestations of things like weakness, rigidity, fragility, vulnerability, failure, collapse and loss by deeply questioning how resilient something in ourselves or our life is, and consciously working towards creating resiliency. All this being said, here are some concrete tips for how to create resiliency.
Clearly recognize what is not resilient about you and about the sectors of (and things in) your life. The goal of this exercise is to get very specific. How resilient are you overall? How resilient is each one of your relationships? How resilient is your community? How resilient is the society in which you live and the structure of that society? How resilient is your lifestyle? How resilient are your finances? How resilient is your business? How resilient are your plans? How resilient is your sense of purpose and meaning? How resilient is your mentality? How resilient are you emotionally? How resilient is your health? How resilient is the environment in which you live? You should then break down each sector of your life into smaller components. Such as: How resilient is my style of communication in my relationships? Or How resilient is my employee retention plan in my business? Or how resilient is my circulatory system? Once you have answered these questions, be willing to go back to the drawing board so as to make changes so as to create what is actually resilient instead. Think: How could I make X stronger?
What is your contingency/back up plan? So much resiliency comes as a result of creating a contingency plan for things. Never take a thing for granted and assume it is forever. So many people have found this out the hard way. It’s one reason why so many famous musicians and athletes are now bankrupt. Of course, a contingency plan applies to everything, not just a financial contingency plan. An example of this in a business is to have different plans for how to generate income and not to be dependent upon one product or one service. An example of this relative to health is to say I’m going to try this remedy wholeheartedly. But if it doesn’t work, I’m going to try this other thing. An example of this relative to your housing situation is: I’m committed to this place, but if my finances dip past a certain point, I’m going to get a roommate. Some people fear that if they create a contingency plan, it is like giving energy to the idea that a bad thing will happen. This is one reason why so many people hate the idea of pre-nuptial agreements. It feels to them like they are wanting to have faith in the fortitude of their marriage. And a prenuptial agreement feels to them like putting energy towards divorce or having no faith in the marriage. I want you to start to look at contingency planning a different way. If anything, just like wearing a seatbelt in a car, it can make it so you feel more security and sense more fortitude and therefore stop thinking about, worrying about and putting any energy towards whatever negative potential may exist. Therefore, a contingency plan doesn’t just protect you from being blindsided by adversity. It also protects you from focusing your energy towards adversity.
Face and Integrate Your Fears. Nothing destroys resiliency quite like fear. Nothing builds resiliency quite like integrating fear. When fear rules us is when it is behind us, controlling us. We need to turn around and become intimate with our fear. This means we need to see, hear, feel and seek to deeply understand it. From there, using the information that we gained by doing so, instead of fighting against that fear, we need to do what it takes on a mental, emotional and physical level to resolve it. By doing this, that fear no longer controls us and so others cannot control us with it. It is easy to see how much stronger you will be and how much more adaptable and able to withstand you will be by doing this. If you would like to learn about fear in a more in-depth way, an entire section of my book titled: The Anatomy of Loneliness, is dedicated to fear.
Build a support network. Resiliency is about developing autonomy as well as interdependence. We live in a world that currently values independence and dependency is shamed. The structure of society is set up to make people more and more separate and more and more able to do things for themselves. The thing is, people need other people. Humans are a relationally dependent species. Having a support network in your life and being a part of other people’s support networks, means you can add their energy and mental, emotional and even physical resources to your measure of resiliency. There is a reason that some people with addictions end up on the street and some don’t. The answer is: resources. The answer is having a support network or not. And the way to maintain a strong support network is to give/support. Lend your mental, emotional and physical resources to others in order to support their resiliency. In a group of people, other people’s resiliency adds to your own. Communication skills is a very important part of doing this. And never forget that collaboration may be a key element to resiliency. Two heads are better than one… many are better than two.
Accept change when it happens and accept that change will inevitably happen. Rigidity does not create resilience. Denial does not create resilience. The more adaptable, flexible and on board with (instead of opposed to) change you are, the better. Acceptance is the opposite of denial and avoidance. To accept is to recognize something as valid or correct. Doing this makes your being consent to receiving it and digesting it as truth instead of fighting to not acknowledge it and not take it in. Acceptance has nothing to do with liking something. Acceptance has nothing to do with condoning something or condemning something. It has nothing to do with whether you want to change something or not. It is simply about being able to acknowledge something as valid enough to let that acknowledgment in instead of fight to keep it out. To be resilient, you’ve got to be in reality. To truly understand this, watch my video quite literally titled: Reality. Ask yourself “What am I really afraid I might be in denial about or avoiding right now?” Make a list. Denial runs deep. But often it doesn’t run deep enough to totally silence the little voice inside that is warning you about the potential truth of an unpleasant reality. Then ask yourself with each item on the list, “If the voice of denial were not so loud, what would the unpleasant voice underneath it be saying to me about this situation?” See if you can really accept those unpleasant truths. Recognize that even though you love control, when you are in denial, you are in fact giving up control. By not accepting the reality of something unpleasant, you can’t do anything about it. Eventually, it will get out of hand and take its own course with or without your consent. Denial does not work because unless you know where you actually are, you cannot know where you want to be and you can’t take the appropriate step between here and there. You may not be in denial about what is happening, but simply be refusing to accept it. Remember that you are wasting precious time and energy fighting against what is and what you cannot make un-happen. And remember, because evolution and therefore change is the modus operandi of the universe, change is what will happen… will you be ever on the lookout for and ride the wave of change? Or fight it when it comes? One strategy is the recipe for resilience. The other for collapse. Remember, the more adaptable you are, the more resilient you will be.
Change your perspective about adversity. The attitude that you hold about adversity in general, changes how you respond to adversity and also all kinds of biological mechanisms such as what stress chemicals your body releasees. What is your attitude about adversity? How do you respond when faced with adversity? Does that attitude and response bend you towards resiliency and success or collapse and failure? People who demonstrate resilience, hold the perspective that adversity makes them stronger, better and more. They take it as an invitation to learn and change! They see it as a call to re-evaluate their intentions and strategies. This doesn’t mean that they like adversity. No one likes it. Don’t try to get yourself to like it. Look for the value in it and look for how to use it for your benefit. Be very, very careful about what meaning you assign to an experience of adversity. A mal-assigned meaning can demolish your resilience and capacity to turn adversity into something that adds to you, instead of takes away. To understand more about this, watch my video titled: Meaning, The Self Destruct Button. And don’t forget to seek positive meaning to what you are experiencing.
Develop Self-Efficacy. Self-efficacy, when it comes to building resiliency, is the belief or confidence in your ability to overcome challenges and to withstand and succeed in the face of adversity. You will find that you have much more Self-efficacy regarding some aspects of your life than others. To give you a small example, a person who feels confident in their skills in the kitchen will feel Self-efficacy if they are put in a situation where they are missing many ingredients. A person who doesn’t, will immediately feel disheartened and overwhelmed and maybe even give up. Really recognize, let yourself feel good about and resource the areas in which you feel self-efficacy. Know your strengths. When you discover an area in which you lack that self-efficacy, ask yourself: What would it take for me to feel confident in my ability relative to this thing? These areas are areas in which learning and practice to develop knowledge and skill will go a long way. Think of it this way: A person who knows how to grow their own food would feel a lot more self-efficacy regarding a food system shortage. You are looking to think and do things that cultivate the feeling that you can not only cope with what happens, but succeed with what happens. The more competent you feel and are, the more self-efficacy you will experience.
Always focus on what you can control, instead of on what you can’t. It is so easy to get absorbed and overwhelmed by what you have no control over because it poses the greatest threat. But if something is out of your control, then by definition you have no power there. Instead, look for where you do have power in any situation that you find yourself in. Look for the window that is open when you have no control over a door being closed. Do not remain focused on what you can’t do. What CAN you do? Because personal empowerment is such an important element of resiliency, it may benefit you to watch my video titled: Take Your Power Back.
Find or Create Purpose. Purpose makes you more resilient. End of story. Life purpose provides the strongest resilience. But before you panic, know that you don’t need to be sure about your life purpose to have purpose. You can look for it and even create it in any situation that you may find yourself in. For example, a person might be feeling their resilience waning in the face of unjust treatment. But if they decide that there is purpose in what they are doing, because continuing to fight will ensure a more just world for many others like them, suddenly they will have much more resilience. You can withstand a great deal more and for longer. People cannot withstand pain without purpose. People can’t really strongly get their own energy behind them in something without purpose. So… come up with that purpose. Genuinely look for and come up with the purpose that makes all of your personal energy ‘back you up’ in a thing.
Deliberately focus positively. Positive focus is a slippery slope. If you are using positive focus in order to avoid something, then you are using positive focus as a tool of resistance. You are doing so because you don’t trust in your ability to cope with a negative reality. This disempowers you because it puts you in denial. That being said, as long as you accept the reality, looking for the actual positives in your life experiences will ensure you much more resiliency. And, it will mean that you are more in reality because there are always both positives and negatives to be found in any experience or situation. To be in reality is to see both sides of the coin at once. People who lack resilience tend to struggle with seeing the positive aspect of reality. So, recognizing the positive and making lists of positives and developing optimism is something they tend to struggle at. But deliberately practicing this, will increase your ability to withstand, endure, adapt and succeed.
Answer this question: What would give me energy? Having more energy increases your resiliency. But people seldom prioritize doing things that put energy into themselves. To create resiliency, you’ve got to do this consciously and directly. The answer will be different for all people. For one person, being social will give them energy. For another, it will take energy away. For one person, running will give them energy. For another, it will take energy away. For one person, taking a salt bath may give them energy. For another, it may take energy away. For one person, watching an intense documentary will give them energy. For another, it will take energy away. For one person, completing all the things on their to do list right now may give them energy. For another, it may take energy away. Write a list of all the things that give you energy and pick items off of the list to do on a regular basis. Keep in mind that what gives you energy and takes it away may change from day to day or moment to moment. And whenever you feel yourself getting weaker, fatigued or depleted, ask yourself “what would give me energy right now?
Think about resiliency as being the strength of the strategies for adversity, withstanding, adapting and success that you have on a mental, emotional and physical level. On a mental level, strategies could be things like learning, altering your perspective, critical thinking, problem solving, reasoning, creating plans, finding purpose and positive focus. On an emotional level, strategies could be things like expression, regulation, caretaking your own emotion and listening to the personal truth that is being conveyed by your emotion. On a physical level, strategies could look like taking action, doing something as opposed to thinking about it, making physical changes, building connections, creating a strong body through your diet, exercise, sleep and lifestyle habits. And doing things that enhance your health and energy levels. Meditation is an example of a strategy that can build strength in all three areas. A person is really a layer-cake of these three layers of existence. To have true resiliency, you must build strength in all three areas. You must seek to create mental fortitude, emotional fortitude and physical fortitude. And each layer feeds into and effects the rest.
As a side note, if you currently feel like you are in a crisis, know that crisis tests your resilience. And so, your resilience is probably being really, tested right now. I have created an e-course to help you with this… How to thrive in a crisis. In this course, I lead you through lessons and in-depth exercises to improve your resilience and help you thrive (not just survive) in a crisis. To learn more about the course visit: tealswan.com/crisis
Resiliency does not make it so you are immune to life’s difficulties. You will still experience challenge, pain, negative emotion, and other unwanted things. But with resiliency, those things will not ‘topple your tower’. You will be able to recover and have the strength to use adversity to add to your success. Imagine a life where adversity could amplify your success instead of bring failure. So, in the name of resilience, I leave you with the words of author Elizabeth Edwards. “She stood in the storm and when the wind did not blow her way, she adjusted her sails."
Giving and receiving are a natural part of life, just like an inhale and an exhale. Both are an essential part of life satisfaction. Both are also a necessary part of relationships. But people can have a painful relationship with giving or receiving or both. A while ago, I did a video titled: How To Receive. If you feel you have trouble receiving, you will want to watch that video! Today, in this article, we’re going to talk about How To Give.
To give is to present, bestow, provide, deliver, hand over, commit, entrust, or transfer the possession of something voluntarily without expectation of compensation. There are a multitude of different reasons why someone might have resistance to giving. A person might have an issue giving a specific thing for a specific reason. Or they might have an issue giving in general.
Some examples of resistance to giving a specific thing are: A person might not want to give a gift because they feel like giving a gift supports consumerism and greed. Or that it allows people to value material things over people and love. A person may not want to give a child a special item because they feel the child cannot value it enough to take care of it. A person may not want to give a compliment on someone’s work because they feel the compliment will cause them to stop striving for improvement and become lazy. A person might not want to give forgiveness because they feel that doing so somehow condones the person’s actions. A person may not want to give financial support because they fear it will inspire dependency.
Some examples of resistance to giving in general are: We may feel like the law of the land in this world is ‘every man for himself’ and so, because we expect to receive nothing from others, we are locked in personal survival mode and don’t want to give any of our personal resources or energy away. We may fear that if we give something, a person will now expect that from us and become entitled, in which case we start to feel like rather than choosing to give something, others are taking it from us. We may have trauma relative to things we give being received instead of rejected and so we stopped giving and instead feel frozen at the idea of extending any part of our energy or resources to someone else. We may have so much trauma about giving and receiving being a manipulative tool used for control and abuse that we rejected the idea of giving entirely. We may not want to give because we feel it sets off an awkward expectation of reciprocation in others. We may not want to give because we feel lack and starved and depleted and so we feel that only further depletion and further lack will come to us if we give. Or that we genuinely have nothing to give.
Because giving is like life’s outbreath in terms of energy, and because it is essential to life satisfaction, let’s look at How To Give.
The first step to giving is resolving your resistance about giving. This is the case if you are resistant to giving a specific thing or giving in general. You need to dive as deep as you can to gain awareness of the unique personal reasons why in order to see how your perspective might need to change or what you might need to do or to not do. Don’t dive into this with the idea that you should give or that your mission is to get yourself to give things up. Rather, do this with open curiosity really wanting to fully understand your reasons for not wanting to give; as well as any trauma that might have created those reasons. You might find out that the right thing for you to do is to choose to be consciously self-centered for a while or build up your personal resources. Two of the best methods for this are The Completion Process and Parts Work. To learn how to do The Completion Process, you can read my book that is quite literally titled: The Completion Process. Alternatively, you can go to www.completionprocess.com and find a practitioner to walk you through it. If you do this, use the sensation of the trigger that arises when you think about giving whatever it is that you are resistant to giving. To learn how to do Parts Work, you can watch my video titled: Parts Work (What Is Parts Work And How To Do It). If you do this, talk to the part of yourself who has resistance to giving whatever it is that you have resistance to giving. Or the part of you that hates giving or doesn’t want to give in general. As a general rule, do not give unless you feel in alignment with giving. This means, if you don’t feel in alignment with giving something, you have some resistance that needs to be heard out and resolved.
Change your perspective about giving. If you are able to do this, then giving will feel good. To help you out with some of this, I will now give to you some different perspectives. The first is that giving is like breathing out. You must breathe air out in order to breathe air in. Only breathing in and holding your breath means death. Think of giving and receiving like breathing. Energy in this universe is means to be in this flow of in and out. In order to receive, you must give in the same way that in order to breathe in, you must breathe out.
The second thing is that a thing should be where it can fulfill its unique mission and purpose and reason for being. And all things have a mission, purpose and reason for being. The Native Americans have a giveaway ceremony called a potlatch. It is a ritual practiced to offer or give away without attachment or regret. In this ritual, things were not given because they were no longer needed or wanted. Instead, it was common for a person to give away his or her most prized possession if he or she knew that the item would fulfill its purpose better elsewhere. All things in existence were understood to play a role in creation and thus have a particular mission. To many Native Americans, to have something sitting in a box or in the attic or closet was to deny a thing of its mission and purpose. And also to deny other people, whose wellbeing would better be served by it. So, the thing someone else would value or the cherished thing whose mission of service would be better completed with someone else, was given to that person. To do otherwise was to dishonor the medicine of not only the item/tool itself but also the maker of the item, if the item did in fact have one. Walk through your home with this in mind.
The third thing is that if what you want is a world of generosity and abundance, you must cast your vote. But your vote is cast in this life by where you put your attention, the things you say and do. This is the real meaning of ‘be what you wish to see in this world’. If you want an abundant, generous world, be generous and giving. Create a strong enough vibration of generosity that it takes over the world, like a positive virus. It is natural for people to give. They only start to hold on tightly to things and become greedy and stingy when they have the perception of lack and fear. The more generous you are with others, the less they are in that perception of lack and fear and therefore the more they in turn will also give.
The fourth thing is that your purpose is really about what you are meant to give in this life. You can imagine that each being that is born, is like a gift being given from the universe at large to the rest of existence. And so, it is only through considering what we are meant to give and what we want others to take away from us that we can find our purpose in this life.
When it comes to giving, figuring out the why, what and how will change the game for you. Why are you going to give? What is your personal motivation? In order to give, you must be inspired to give. What will you give? A lot of this is based on what you can afford to give; time, energy and resource wise. And finally, how will you give it? The point of this question is to figure out how to give what you want to give in a way that feels good to you.
Giving is not limited to gifts. But gifts are a big part of giving, so hone your gift giving skills. Gifts may seem trivial at face value, but they are anything but. In fact, gifts is what we call a love language. It is one of the primary ways in which human beings express and receive love around the globe. Gifts are a visual symbol of love. Every time that you look at a gift, it is a reminder that someone was thinking about you. That they care about you enough to understand you. And that they took the time and care to seek, secure and deliver an item as a demonstration of their love. So, learn how to give gifts. I have a full tutorial on this in my video titled: How to Express Love Through Gifts.
We may struggle when it comes to giving because we have a limited view of giving, especially when it comes to what to give. All people find giving certain things more natural than others. And there are so many ways to give. We can work on our ability to give things that do not come naturally to us give, but that shouldn’t be where the majority of your focus goes. The majority of your focus when it comes to giving should be on those things that are natural for you to give and that feel good to give. A few examples of ways to give are: You can give by providing. This means you could spend money on others or give them resources or things that they want or need. You could give your time, focus and presence. This means you could spend time with someone giving them your undivided attention and presence. You could volunteer. This means you could give your energy to some cause. You could give help. This means you could lend your time and energy to assisting someone or something in some way. You could give physical touch. This means that you could use touch as a way of giving someone affection, comfort and pleasure. You could give information, truth and awareness. This means you could give your mental resources to someone so that they have more information, truth and awareness. You could give kindness. This means that you could give small acts of kindness to those around you such as opening doors, smiling at people, shoveling someone else’s driveway, bringing a friend a treat etc. You could give affirmation. This means you could give words to others in the form of affirmations, compliments, or other positive statements. You could give humor to others. This means you could make them smile or laugh. You could give yourself to others. This means you could be open, tell people stories and information and truths about yourself. You could give your talent. This means you could offer your talents or skills in ways that benefit others. For example, if your talent is photography, you could offer to take someone’s photograph. Or if your skill is herbal remedies, you could make someone an herbal remedy. So think about how you like to give. What ways feel good to you to give?
When it comes to giving, you must consider the recipient. Think about them and what they want and need and would be delighted by rather than thinking about what you think they should want or need or be delighted by. The right thing to give can only come from understanding the person or thing that you are giving to. And it is by understanding the recipient that you know the perfect way and the perfect thing to give them.
Get rid of your expectations. Giving and receiving can only be pure if there are no strings attached. To be good at giving, you’ve got to keep transactions in one box and giving and receiving in another box. Transactions are not bad. They are a part of life. But they ought to be conscious and expressed and mutually agreed upon. Giving on the other hand should never come with the expectation of getting. Being a person who honestly does not expect something in return, because the giving in and of itself feels good, is being someone who is rehabilitating the pain people have around receiving. To become really clear about your expectations, simply take a look at your MOTIVES for giving something. And dare to be brutally honest with yourself, no matter how bad the answer might make you feel about yourself. It is better to be honest about an expectation or not give something at all, than to give something that is laced with unexpressed and subconscious expectation. That is no different than handing someone poisoned water to drink.
Take others as a part of yourself and the impulse to give will be automatic. To love is to take something as a part of yourself. Love is inclusive. It is the energetic movement towards oneness. When you love something, you energetically pull it towards you and include it as you. The exact opposite vibration of love is fear. To fear is to separate something from yourself. Fear is exclusive. It is the energetic movement towards individualization. When you fear something, you push it away and dis-include it from you. The ultimate reality in this universe is that of oneness. We may perceive there to be separate things in the world. But this perception is an illusion. We are all comprised of the same energy that is merely expressing itself as different things. If you take something as a part of you, you do not perceive yourself to be separate from that thing and so suddenly, its best interests are a part of your own best interests. You can also perceive it with more accuracy. This means that you will automatically have an impulse to give for the sake of someone else’s best interests as well as a better idea of what to give and how to give it. Never forgive that to give is a natural response to loving someone or something. And to love is a choice.
No one has ever become poor by giving. Giving has a way of making your life experience, along with everyone else’s, richer and richer. It is for this reason that I’m going to end this episode with the wise words spoken by Winston Churchill. “We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give."
A gift, also known as a present, is something that is given to someone without any expectation of a transaction, payment or return. In many cultures they are concealed, wrapped or packaged in some way such as in wrapping paper or in a special bag or box.
There are so many different occasions in which a gift can be given. For example, a gift can be given as an expression of solidarity, alliance, charity, friendship, affection, gratitude, honor, abundance etc. It can also be a custom on occasions such as celebrations, coronations, birthdays, weddings, funerals, baby showers, graduations and holidays.
Gifts may seem trivial at face value, but they are anything but. In fact, gifts is what we call a love language. It is one of the primary ways in which human beings express and receive love around the globe. It is perhaps the most misconstrued and poorly understood of all of the love languages. Many people have a bad association with gifts. For example, they may see gifts as simply a way that people manipulate each other. They may think that someone who likes or wants gifts is materialistic and greedy. There has been a lot of misinformation spread and also a lot of trauma experienced regarding gifts. For that reason, I must set the record straight.
It is at this point that I must tell you that I am not only going to set the record straight as a spiritual teacher. I’m going to set it straight as someone whose primary love language is gifts. Yes, you heard it right. Gifts is my #1 love language. It has been for my entire life.
Gifts are a visual symbol of love. Every time that you look at a gift, it is a reminder that someone was thinking about you. That they care about you enough to understand you (especially what you like and need). And that they took the time and care to seek, secure and deliver an item as a demonstration of their love.
No matter how extravagant a gift may or may not be, a gift in and of itself is not about extravagance. It is about sentimentality. It is about the meaning behind the gift itself. For a person who speaks the love language of gifts, a gift is a constant visual reminder that they are loved. Each Item reminds them of the person who gave them the item and the meaning behind the gifting of it. This is also the reason why when it comes to the love language of gifts, a gift can say the exact opposite of what you were intending.
The reason that you have to be so thoughtful when it comes to gift giving is that the right gift can be a demonstration of love. The wrong gift can convey the exact opposite. Love is very strong. But it also implies vulnerability. Whenever love is involved, you have the power to heal someone and the power to wound them. If someone’s love language is gifts, then they are even more vulnerable to gifts. This means you have more power in your hands to heal or harm them every time you get them a gift, or don’t. For example, getting them a thoughtless gift or not getting them a gift on an anniversary or special occasion or giving them a gift as an obligation would be acutely hurtful to them.
I’ll never forget the Christmas that my grandparents decided to get my cousin and I the exact same gift. The same pair of earrings. The problem was, my ears were not pierced at the time and at that time, I had no plans to pierce them. Only my cousin’s ears were pierced. For a gift love language person, instead of feeling loved that day, I unwrapped a gift that said “We don’t actually know you or care to put in the effort to do so. We also don’t care to spend any time or energy doing anything unique for any of our grandkids. We are simply performing an obligatory duty to send a Christmas present.” You can harm someone with gifts, even if their love language isn’t gifts. Enough painful experiences relative to gifts, and you can stop a child or adult from speaking the language of gifts all together. And it is a tragedy for someone to stop being able to express or receive love in a certain way.
Gifts may not be your love language. It may be a love language that you struggle at. But it is an important language to develop, especially because you may just come across someone who receives love in that way. And so today, I’m going to help you with how to speak the love language of gifts.
Instead of bulldozing your resistance to gifts or to getting someone a gift, resolve your resistance first. If there is some part of you that is in opposition to getting a gift and you go ahead and just do it, not only does that hurt your relationship with yourself, it’s like trying to paddle upstream in a river. You’re only going to learn to hate gifts more. There are many reasons for you to be resistant to giving a gift. For example, you may feel resistant to giving a gift because you dislike the person you are thinking of giving a gift to. Or because you associate it with consumerism or because you feel obligated or because doing so makes you feel financially insecure. Whatever the reason may be, you need to become aware of it and work to resolve the way you are thinking and feeling so that you feel in alignment with whatever you decide to do. The giving of a gift should feel good to do if you have achieved alignment with the giving of it. Remember that it is better to not give something as a gift than to give a gift that you don’t want to give. If your reason for being resistant to gifts is about giving or receiving, you will be helped by watching my video How To Receive. And be on the lookout for the next video that I am about to release about Giving and How To Give In A Relationship.
You cannot get the perfect gift for someone if you do not understand them. This means, do your research on the person you are giving a gift to. Pay attention to them. If I were going to get the perfect gift for a gorilla, I would study the gorilla. I would try to learn as much as I can about gorillas and about this gorilla specifically. I would learn its likes and dislikes, its wants and preferences and needs. I would figure out what the gorilla cares about and values and why. With a person, it is easier than this because you can ask them questions. You can listen to everything they say. Stop guessing and stop projecting yourself onto them. Because both of those strategies will lead to the wrong gift. If you want to understand more about this concept, because it applies to more than just gift giving, watch my video titled: Stop Trying to Love Them and Start Trying to Understand Them. Make a list of all the things the person is interested in and what defines who they are. Brainstorm gift ideas to go with every item on that list.
Dedicate a place in your house to keep gifts that you find for people in your life throughout the year. The best gifts are gifts that are randomly found because you see it and think “oh my god… Mark would love that!” You have to be much more skilled to go hunting for something last minute because you are out of time and need to get someone something. That kind of thing puts pressure on you, decreases your enjoyment of gifts and the holidays where gifts are given. It also puts you at risk for settling for something mediocre. A gift can be given at any time of year. Often the very best gifts are the ‘just because I love you is the only reason’ gifts. But if you are going to show people that you love them with a gift on a holiday, having a gift already ready and waiting for them because it was perfect and you found it months ago is a habit that will serve you well.
Gifts do not have to cost money. I can’t say that when someone spends a lot of money on a gift, that it doesn’t say something powerful. That is a big demonstration of caring. But spending lots of money is not the only way to show caring. Sometimes, gifts that cost nothing or very little are much more impactful. Remember that gifts are about the demonstration of care and love. They are about sentimentality, not extravagance. Even if a gift is extravagant, it is about someone caring about you so much that they want you to have the very best. This means, if money is an issue for you, get creative about items you could give someone that don’t cost money that say the same thing. A super helpful thing to know is that a person who speaks the love language of gifts will see most things you do as a gift. So if you make them a dinner or help them with something, where a service love language person will see it as a service, the gift love language person will see it as a gift. The term gift can refer to any item or act that makes a person happier. An example of what I mean is that I have a friend who loves a specific mountain more than anything. So one year, I hiked to that mountain to collect a little bottle of dirt and rocks and pinecones specifically from that mountain. It cost me next to nothing, but was his favorite gift he got the entire year. Another example is that for one of my friends, I wrote 365 little rolled up notes to her on printer paper. Each one was an affirmation (something to make her feel good about herself). At the end, I tied each with a ribbon and put them all in a big jar that said “open one every day this year”. It was her favorite gift she had ever been given and again, it cost me next to nothing.
Imagine you were putting a pair of rosy colored gift glasses on and practice going through your day with the lens of ‘gift giving’. Think: ‘The people in my life feel happy and loved when I bring them gifts’. When you make this your habit, it is sort of like you are always on the hunt or on the lookout for something. Gifts don’t have to be a huge ordeal. Even if you are out shopping and you pass a bakery, popping in to get someone in your life a cupcake is a great way of expressing love through gifting to them. Sometimes these little gift giving gestures are a way of saying “you’re always on my mind and I have something tangible to give you to prove it.”
Remember that not everyone’s love language is gifts. And remember that even if it isn’t, this still doesn’t mean you can’t get them the perfect gift. And remember that not all gifts are ‘items’. For example, a person may receive love through physical touch. Instead of getting them a tangible thing to look at, you can lie them down on the bed and give them a massage. A person may receive love through quality time. So, you can gift them an afternoon where it’s just the two of you doing some activity. Experiences make for awesome gifts! A person may receive love through service. So, you can clean the dishes for them. Again, if you understand another person, it will become obvious to you how they most like to receive and give love.
A gift is a powerful “connector”. Thinking of gifts this way gives you one particularly great angle with which to approach gifts. For this reason, think of the values you share with a person. What values and interests do you share? For example, you and the other person might both love holistic health. Health related gifts then enhance the connection, what unites you and the sense of relatability between you. Same goes for getting a gag gift if humor is a primary facet of your relationship. Or a cooking item if both of you love to cook.
The point of a gift is to delight a person. Therefore, don’t get a practical gift unless it will delight the other person. All too many men have found this out the hard way getting things like vacuum cleaners for their wives because that is something that they mentioned the house needs. One specific woman might be delighted by a vacuum. For another, it is simply a practical gift that does nothing for her emotionally. A child may need a backpack, but however practical getting them that backpack may be, it does not mean that they will be delighted by a backpack. So remember that a gift must delight and only get a practical gift for someone if it delights the person.
Think about what THEY would like and want and need. Not what YOU would like and want and need. You don’t have to like something to get it for someone else because they love it. It is true that sometimes, thinking about what you would want or need if you were them gives you an accurate answer about what someone would actually love and benefit by. Doing this can make for them having the experience of getting something they never knew they would love or didn’t know they needed. But unless you really trust yourself relative to the skill of gift giving, this can be a slippery slope. So many people project themselves onto other people. Or worse, get other people things that THEY want. This can damage the other person and cause you to miss the mark relative to getting them a good gift. Remember, the other person might love a color that you hate. They may not value something that you value. To get the perfect gift, you need to be able to recognize and work with your differences, not just similarities.
Be very careful getting someone a gift related to something they are really into unless you are totally certain of exactly what they need, want and would be absolutely delighted by. This may seem counterintuitive but if someone is super into Star Wars, they are probably way, way ahead of you relative to Star Wars and you may get them something Star Wars related, but not very wanted or not very cool. Another example is that if someone is really into golf, the likelihood of you being able to get them the right driver club (unless you also love and know a ton about golf) is small. This means when someone is really knowledgeable about something, either do your research diligently or avoid gifting them something related to that particular interest all together.
If the thought and meaning inherent in the gift is not immediately obvious, include it! People love to say, it is the thought that counts. Never has a more accurate thing been said about gifts. But people love to say this when they didn’t get the right gift because they didn’t really put thought or care into it. You can’t simply re-gift a candle because you don’t really like it and then say “it’s the thought that counts”. Because it is the thought that counts and you didn’t really put thought or energy or effort into it! Re-gifting is only acceptable if the re-gifting will delight someone and if you know that a person would love and value what you do not love and value. I can promise you that if you do put thought into it, you will not end up giving someone something that misses the mark. That being said, a card, explaining the thought and meaning inherent in the gift can make a gift go from good to epic or from crappy to awesome. Tell the person the thought and meaning behind the gift. For example, I will never forget the time that someone gave me a snow globe. I didn’t want a snow globe. It wasn’t a very cool snow globe. It had two very simple stars in it. But the woman who gave it to me told me that it was hers since she was a little girl and that she always used to look at it and think she was one of those little lonely stars because she didn’t have another little star (friend) to be with. But now, since finding me, she does feel that way. So, she decided to give it to me to remind me that she feels like she has found her other star. Just like that, it went from a ‘meh’ present to one of my favorite items. I put that snow globe on my dresser in my room and looked at it every day as a reminder of my closeness with her.
Once you’ve found the perfect gift, remember that the way that a gift is packaged and presented is the cherry on top. You can enhance the specialness of a gift or take away from it by how it is presented. This means to do honor to the gift and show that you took great care with it, pay attention to how it is wrapped. Make it look beautiful and important. Never underestimate the joy of unwrapping something. Another way that you can enhance the specialness of a gift is to make the giving of it into an event. For example, send the person on a scavenger hunt for it or bake it into a cake or put it in a box within a box within a box. When it comes to gift giving, there is value in theatrics.
I also want to mention that now that people have the internet, you can literally look up great gift ideas on the internet. Gift love language people like myself have compiled lists upon lists and provided examples upon examples of gift ideas. Some of them are truly epic. You simply have to put in the time and effort to actually look up and explore those ideas. Just know that if you transform your resistance to expressing love through gifts and hone the skill of gift giving, it can become one of the easiest and most fun ways to show your love.
If you are in the field of self-help or psychology or spirituality, you have probably heard people using the term enmeshment and/or enmeshment trauma. Today, I’m going to explain to you what enmeshment is and also the common effects that it has on a person’s life.
I want you to imagine a child who is sitting at a high chair. This child is not hungry and pushes the spoon away from his mouth. His mother refuses to acknowledge that “I’m not hungry” is the truth for this child and so she gets angry and shoves the spoon in the child’s mouth anyway.
Now I want you to imagine that a father has always wanted significance and status. He imagines that he will get that significance by making sure that his daughter goes to an ivy league school and becomes a doctor. He puts pressure on his daughter all of her life relative to academic achievement and she finally becomes a doctor to please him, despite not even knowing whether she ever in fact wanted to be a doctor.
Now I want you to imagine that a woman’s husband is absent emotionally and physically. She decides subconsciously to make her son her surrogate husband. She leans on him emotionally and tells all of her secrets to him and calls him her ‘best friend’. Suddenly, he feels torn because he finds himself in a situation where he is filling a role that is both threatening and all wrong for him. Only he feels he has no way out of it. But he also loves the specialness and importance that being in that role guarantees him.
There are many more examples that I could give you. But what any scenario I could give you, including these last three, have in common is that there is no real recognition of “self” in the family or relationship. Autonomy (having a sense of self vs. other) is an important part of physical existence for a person within a social group. What people need is to be able to have themselves and have other people too at the same time.
Most people think of a boundary as being a kind of fence between themselves and others. This is not a good way of thinking about boundaries. It is better to think of boundaries as that which defines you relative to everything else. A boundary is the imaginary line that uniquely defines your personal happiness, your personal feelings, your personal thoughts, your personal integrity, your personal desires, your personal needs and therefore most importantly, your personal truth from the rest of the universe. If you want to understand boundaries on a deeper level, you can watch my video titled: Personal Boundaries Vs. Oneness (How To Develop Healthy Boundaries). In an enmeshed relationship, personal boundaries are permeable, undifferentiated and unclear.
An enmeshed family or enmeshed relationship does not recognize or accept boundaries. Therefore, enmeshment trauma happens when in a relationship, the person does not recognize or accept or acknowledge the reality of your personal feelings, your personal thoughts, your personal integrity, your personal desires, your personal needs and therefore most importantly, your personal truth. In fact, differentiating yourself puts you at risk of consequences such as punishment or abandonment. The result is that you either choose those consequences and allow yourself to be controlled. Or, in order to maintain harmony in the relationship and closeness, you have to ‘give yourself up’ and mirror the other person so that your thoughts and feelings and needs and desires and truth and choices are either the same as theirs or what they want them to be. The payoff of doing this is that in enmeshed relationships, there is usually a more intense feeling of belonging. But that intensified belonging comes at a serious price.
Most parents alive today have children because of some need they have that they think the child will meet. The thing is, the child that is born to a parent is their own person with their own preferences and destiny and wants and needs and feelings. So children rarely ever conform to the real reason that the parent had the child in the first place. The child does not meet the parent’s needs. And this is a recipe for disaster. To understand more about this, you can watch my video titled: The Defective Doll.
If a person is in an enmeshed adult relationship, it is because they learned that style of relationship from their childhood. So, childhood is where you need to focus so as to understand enmeshment trauma. Enmeshment trauma is almost always present in dysfunctional families and the unfortunate reality is that most parenting today is dysfunctional. The reason is that most parents today still see their child as something that ‘belongs’ to them. They see their child rather like a ball of clay to mold into what they would like the child to become, which is really often about their own best interests rather than the child’s. Of course, no parent who is creating enmeshment trauma for their child will admit to this. Instead, they will think and say that everything they are doing, they are doing for their child’s best interests. And this becomes gaslighting for a child. If your parents are doing things that don’t feel good to you, but are telling you that everything that you can feel they are actually doing for themselves, they are doing for you, you start to doubt your own sanity and also learn that love means pain and love means sacrificing your needs and wants and truths for another person.
At a certain point in childhood, it is critical for a child to be able to develop a healthy sense of ‘self’. This is where the child starts to sort through the world and define their unique feelings and thoughts and preferences and aversions and needs and desires and personal truth. This is what a toddler is doing when he or she says “no” or begins to want to choose the outfit he or she wants to wear. If a parent does not recognize and mirror and work with (instead of against) that process of differentiation, the child has to try to establish a sense of himself or herself despite the parent. The problem is that humans are a relationally dependent species and so closeness withing the social group is the most important need. This means, at a biological level, we know that what we risk for upsetting our parents is our actual survival. This means that if a parent does not see or sees but turns against a child’s ‘self’, most children will abandon the self in favor of closeness with the parent. But this child never goes on to develop a core and a sense of self. This child becomes an adult who loses himself or herself in relationships. As a result, this person experiences a deep need for relationships, but at the same time, he or she pushes people away because having no strong sense of self and therefore autonomy, he or she feels rather like he or she is disappearing or being consumed by the other person that he or she is in a relationship with. This is a very emotionally claustrophobic experience.
An adult who has experienced enmeshment trauma either winds up in relationships with people who have very strong personalities and subsequently gives up everything about themselves willingly (whether or not this is actually what the other person wants) which creates huge issues in the relationship down the road. Or they get into relationships with people who exhibit a narcissistic style of relating to others and so it is an actual expectation that they do the same thing they did in childhood all over again. And giving themselves up becomes an expectation in that relationship. People with enmeshment trauma have learned a codependent style of relationship. They are at war with themselves because all at once, they want to be the same as the other person so as to establish closeness with them, but also to push them away and define themselves as different because they crave a sense of self and independence. They are constantly trapped between the thoughts and feelings of the other and their own thoughts and feelings. The needs and wishes of the other and their own needs and wishes. The personal truth of the other and their own personal truth. They see intimacy as both needed and also a serious threat. Therefore, people who are in a relationship with them tend to suffer from a constant push and pull.
Enmeshment trauma is in fact developmental trauma. A person who has experienced enmeshment trauma never got to develop normally relative to healthy autonomy. And so, it is a process to learn how to have a healthy relationship and to create this development of selfhood within relationships. A person with enmeshment trauma usually can either only feel a sense of self when they are in a relationship where they are specifically in opposition to the other person, or when they are totally on their own with no one near them. As you can see, this leads to a painful life either way.
In order to heal from enmeshment trauma, you must do what you were never able to do in childhood. You must begin to develop a healthy sense of self (boundaries) and then learn how to have that self within the context of relationship, without resorting to either codependent or narcissistic strategies. Obviously, this process goes much better when your entire family is involved in altering the way that each member relates to the other so that each can have a sense of self and maintain closeness with each other too. To understand more about this, watch my video titled: Family (The Truth About Family). But when this is not possible, this can be done within a friendship or within a partnership. And again, it is best if this process is something that the other person you are in a relationship with is involved in too. This makes the process of working to define yourself (ie. figuring out what you feel and think and like and dislike and need and want) and then the process of making changes and determining the course of action that best suits your needs, and communicating effectively with the other person easier.
Don’t forget that healing from enmeshment does not mean becoming narcissistic, that is simply a common albeit an unhealthy pendulum swing. You are looking to establish your own feelings, thoughts, needs, wants and personal truths while recognizing that other people also have thoughts, feelings, needs, wants and personal truths. And your decisions affect them, just like theirs affect you.
The reality is that if you suffered from enmeshment trauma and you haven’t healed, you are not living an authentic life. This means many of the choices you have made are not actually the right ones for you and the relationships you have chosen may not actually be compatible to you. This is both scary for you and other people in your life. It means that becoming authentic may imply many, many changes to your life. Changes that will affect you and everyone around you. But life satisfaction is not possible unless you are authentic and make choices in your life accordingly. To learn how to live an authentic life, you can watch my video titled: How To Be Authentic. Living an authentic life is dependent upon living in alignment with your personal thoughts, feelings, preferences, wants, needs and truths. The good news is, the life you’ve always been looking for and missing out on is on the other side of doing so.
An orphan is commonly understood as a child who has lost both parents to death, whose parents are unknown or whose parents have permanently abandoned them. Orphanhood is really a state in which one does not have parents or family and therefore who lacks those needs that usually come from the family. But what a lot of people don’t realize is that the experience of orphanhood exists as on a scale of severity. And on that scale, it is actually possible to feel like an orphan and be alienated and emotionally disowned within a family even though you technically have parents and have a family. Abandonment can exist on many levels, not just the physical. In other words, it is possible to be an orphan IN a family. Many children who are identified with orphans in popular media such as Cinderella or Annie or Oliver Twist are in fact experiencing this.
The scapegoat or black sheep in the family system always experiences some degree of orphanhood. The scapegoat becomes the carrier of the disowned aspects of the other family members. They reject the scapegoat just as they reject those disowned aspects of themselves. Therefore, the scapegoat is in fact disowned and alienated but still remains within the family system. To learn about scapegoats, you can watch my video titled: How to Stop Being a Scapegoat and Stop Being Scapegoated.
When a person is disowned or orphaned but is still living with their family physically, the family becomes in and of itself a kind of active gaslight. To gaslight someone is to sow seeds of doubt in their mind that makes them question their own sense of personal truth and reality (things like memory, judgement, perception, feelings etc). It is to try to convince someone that what they see, they didn’t see, what they hear they didn’t hear and what they feel they have no reason to feel. As it applies to orphanhood within a family, the gaslight is that when a child in a family system is in this type of dynamic, the child is emotionally disowned and alienated. The child feels emptiness, aloneness, neglect, rejection, lack of containment, lack of protection and no support. But on the surface, they have a roof over their heads. They have food. Their parents may say the words “I love you”. There may be other people in the room with them etc. So, like all good gaslighting, the child begins to tell the story that they are crazy and that something must be wrong with them. So, there is a huge discrepancy between how the situation LOOKS on the surface and the reality of the situation, especially on an emotional level. If you would like to understand more about gaslighting in depth, watch my video titled: Gaslighting (What is Gaslighting and How to Heal From it).
When a child suffers from orphanhood within a family, another element that acts as a gaslight and that will make the child feel like something is really, really wrong with him or her is that they have been traumatized. But when they are looking for the cause of the trauma, they will not be able to see anything. The reason is that this type of trauma falls into the category of trauma relative to what wasn’t there instead of what was there. For example, molestation is a trauma about what happened. Belonging that was never granted to you by your family is an example of what didn’t happen. This type of trauma is often called emotional neglect. Emotional neglect is always an element of orphanhood within a family. For this reason, if you want to understand this dynamic in-depth, it may benefit you to watch my video titled: Today’s Great Epidemic (And How to Cure It).
If in our past, we experienced trauma as a result of one of our needs not being met, the aspect of ourselves that could not get that need met, is still stuck in time unresolved. We experience that need being unmet in present time as well. So often, the thing we are lacking or missing in our current life, is that need that was not met at the time in our past that the trauma occurred. For example, say you were wounded as a child because you felt no sense of belonging with your family, that lack of belonging becomes a traumatic imprint. You feel the lack of belonging and that is really what the emptiness in your adult life is about.
The good news is that if you have suffered from this dynamic within your family, you are not doomed to never fitting in and starving for emotional needs for the rest of your life. If you have suffered from this dynamic, you need to consciously resolve the past experiences/ trauma associated with orphanhood within a family. I have created a process to help you with exactly this, it is called The Completion Process. You can learn all about this process by reading my book that is quite literally titled: The Completion Process. You can alternatively go to www.completionprocess.com and find one of my certified practitioners to lead you through the process instead.
The other thing you need to do is to accept the reality that your family did alienate you and emotionally disown you and therefore, whether you decide to keep them in your life or not, you need to find actual family. You need to meet those needs that family is intended to meet. Family is a group of people who are related either by blood (being descended from the same ancestry) or by affinity (being marriage or adoption). The affinity piece is the thing that should cause you to light up with hope because it implies that one can choose who to consider family. It implies that even though the government itself only currently recognizes relationships that are legalized in some way (such as legal marriage or legal adoption), in reality family has more to do with who a person considers to be kin or who they feel belonging with, regardless of whether they are blood related or not and regardless of whether they live under the same roof or not. This means, you need to find and choose your family. And this can be done now that you are an adult, who is not restricted to the household you were born into anymore. You have access to so many more resources. What you are looking for is the people and places where those needs associated with being ‘positively owned’ and belonging with a family can be met. For this reason, it may benefit you to watch two of my videos, the first is: Family (The Truth About Family) and the second is: Own People (How to Take Positive Ownership of Your Relationships).
When you are born into the current structure of society, it feels like your only way to belong in greater society is to belong in a family. Because of this, children who were orphaned within a family feel not only alienated within their family, but alienated from humanity at large. You may feel like you don’t belong on earth. The thing is, when you are disowned by something, you tend to disown that thing in return. It’s often too hard to be rejected by something and yet keep approving of it and pulling it close. This means, when we suffer from orphan within a family complex, we jump in on a self-fulfilling cycle. When our family alienates and disowns us, we tend to alienate and disown them. And we tend to also alienate and disown society. And we tend to alienate and disown humanity. And we tend to alienate and disown the world at large. Obviously, this means that we hold an energy and say things and do things that alienate and disown others. They obviously experience this as a rejection. And so, they reject, alienate and disown us. And this intensifies our rejection and alienation and dis-ownership even further. And so, the cycle continues on and on until we are convinced that we belong with nothing and no one on earth. And the sad part is that we don’t even see that it is us pushing others away. If we want to undo this dynamic, we have to change our perspective drastically. On top of seeking out our chosen family, we must also start being the one to do what was never done to us. This means you must take others as a part of you. You must begin to positively own people. Think about what your family would have or should have done if they really took you as a part of them and thought you belonged with them; and if they really wanted you rather than a different kind of child. What would they have felt like and said and done? Make a list and start doing those things to other people. Not only will this change your entire point of attraction, so you will be a match to the experience of family. You can also rest at night knowing that instead of perpetuating what was done to you, you are breaking the cycle and being the change that you wish to see in the world.
To end this article, I am going to share a different perspective as well. If you look at yourself through the lens of an extraterrestrial, no matter whether you were actually physically orphaned or whether you are an orphan in a family, if you step outside of the social construct called relatives, you are still related to people. You are still a part of humanity, regardless of whether you are a part of a group of related people. And beyond that even, you are a part of earth. You cannot un-belong to humanity any more than a deer can un-belong to the species called deer and any more than it can un-belong to earth as it is one of earth’s creatures. The more you awaken and the day you will consider yourself happy, is the day when you realize that humanity is your family. The earth is your family, the universe itself is your family and you cannot un-belong to it. In other words, if you don’t belong to a family, belong to humanity. Belong to the world. Belong to the universe and as such, see all things in existence as family. Choose them as family. See them as a part of you and see yourself as a part of them. Doing so will inevitably reveal your place and purpose in the grand scheme of things. And when you find that, no matter how much people may resist and reject you and disown you, you will see that they can’t actually erase your belonging. They are simply and quite painfully fighting against what they have disowned within themselves.
This is my hope for you and the gift lying dormant within the experience of being orphaned. To break free from the limitations of separation that occur when you identify with only one group and to instead be able to take your place of belonging within humanity and within the world. And as such, to be able to fly across the world and to shake hands with any person, deeply feeling and knowing that they are your brother, your sister, your mother, your father, your daughter, your son, your kin. You have simply been physically apart until this re-joining. And this being the case, you belong with them all and they all belong with you.
When we use the word stress, usually we are implying that stress is a purely negative thing. But not all stress is the same. To generalize, there are two different types of stress. Distress and Eustress. Distress is stress that is unwanted. It causes anxiety, painful tension or pressure, strain and suffering. It is negative and detrimental to you. Eustress on the other hand is stress that is perceived as positive or beneficial by the person experiencing it. It is stress that is experienced as wanted, fulfilling, meaningful, exciting, and a pleasurable tension or pressure. Eustress most commonly occurs when we are facing a new and wanted challenge. Eustress tends to occur when we feel we are adequate for the task and therefore confident and positively stimulated by the challenge. Whereas distress tends to occur when we feel overwhelmed because we feel that we are not adequate for the task, lack the necessary resources to meet the demand and are therefore not confident. Eustress is necessary for personal growth. Distress is an oppositional force to health and wellbeing.
Being so unique, all people tend to have a different experience with what causes them distress vs. eustress. This is especially true when it comes to your purpose. The experience that someone has when they are ‘made for’ a certain kind of stress makes that stress trend towards the eustress vs. distress category. So you can understand what I mean, I’ll give you some examples:
One person might find the experience of having a person’s life in their hands and having to focus with so much intensity and be so precise and perfect with every movement around them, because one tiny slip up could kill that person, tormenting. Even the idea of being in this scenario could push them into distress immediately. Another person could feel stimulated and fulfilled and fueled by this experience. A surgeon is this person for example.
One person might find the pressure of planning and organizing overwhelming and uptight and restricting and painful, like it sucks all of the energy out of life. Another person could find it a rewarding challenge, a way of gaining a sense of control and influence over their experience, a way of creating purity as opposed to chaos, a way of sensing accomplishment, as well as grounding and satiating.
One person might find the idea of taking a test so distressing that they can’t sleep and are vomiting before they do it. Another person could love the feeling of being tested and experience the tension of having to get things correct and compete for a high score to be fun and make them feel more alive and focused.
One person might find the idea of being on stage in front of people terrifying and begin to hyperventilate. Another might enjoy the pressure to perform and entertain and revel in the confidence they feel when they are able to capture everyone’s attention and make them laugh or cry.
One person might hate travel and find it unpredictable and threatening. Another might love the excitement of the adventure and the challenge of having to figure things out in a whole new place.
Eustress is not always comfortable. It does not always feel good. But it does not cause distress. Instead, it is stress that feels productive. It is a form of pressure that is wanted and therefore chosen. An even more advanced form of this is pain that is chosen. To learn about that, you can watch my video titled: Want to Succeed? What Pain Will You Say Yes To?
When it comes to developing self-awareness and identifying your purpose and correct path of growth, it is important to know what naturally causes you to feel eustress. It is also important to know that certain factors can determine whether we perceive something as eustress or distress. For example, if you grew up in a family where there were huge consequences for speaking your mind, that association you have with voicing your opinion may cause you to feel distress during a debate instead of the eustress of the mental chess game that you might otherwise feel.
Also, certain factors can turn something we would normally experience as eustress into distress. For example, a person may naturally feel eustress pushing their body towards some athletic achievement. But if they get sick, suddenly pushing their body might cause them distress.
Perhaps the biggest determiner of whether someone experiences distress vs. eustress is whether they actually want to do the thing that they are doing or not. When we feel forced to do something that we don’t want to do, we naturally feel distress.
We can change our perceptions about the things that we are doing, which means that there is a way to alleviate distress and to even change your experience of distress into eustress instead. We feel distress instead of eustress when we perceive something to be a threat rather than a challenge. And we can change our perception that something is a threat. We can turn things into a welcome and positive challenge instead. But being attuned to what naturally causes you eustress (instead of trying to make something feel good to you that currently feels distressing to you) is a very important part of identifying your personal purpose and intrinsic interests and intrinsic motivations. And so, I will leave you with these questions: What stress do you naturally find pleasurable? Have you noticed anything that feels distressing to others that instead feels like a good challenge to you?
Because the family is the framework of human society and the system into which a physical human is typically born and socialized, it is critical to become aware of family in general. But in the recent years, people have become confused about what my stance actually is on family. I’m hoping to clear up this confusion in today’s episode as well as to bring you some awareness about family in general.
Family is a complex concept because a family is really a group of people who are related either by blood (being descended from the same ancestry) or by affinity (being marriage or adoption). The affinity piece is the thing that makes family complicated because it implies that one can choose who to consider family. It implies that even though the government itself only recognizes relationships that are legalized in some way (such as legal marriage or legal adoption), in many people’s minds family may have more to do with who a person considers to be kin or who they feel belonging with, regardless of whether they are blood related or not and regardless of whether they live under the same roof or thousands of miles away.
But for the sake of this episode, I’m going to talk about family in terms of those blood or affinity relatives whom formed the social framework which you belonged to in your childhood. People like mom, dad, step mom, step dad, brothers, sisters, step siblings, grandpa, grandma, uncles, aunts, cousins etc.
Physical humans are a relationally dependent species. A family provides the framework for the sharing of material substances (such as food and shelter). It implies the meeting of each other’s needs. It implies the giving and receiving of care and nurture. It implies attachment as well as moral and sentimental ties. It implies enculturation and socialization. Family also provides the framework for successful reproduction. In theory, the purpose of families is to maintain the well-being of its members and subsequently the wellbeing of society at large. Ideally, families would offer nourishment, predictability, structure and safety. For this reason, family is a value that is placed super high in most societies if not at the very top. And because society values family so highly, you have sayings like “everything comes and goes, but family is forever” and “family is where life begins and love never ends” and “family is what matters most”.
Indeed, family must never be trivialized. Family is fundamental to a person’s foundation and sense of wellbeing in the world. It is intensely traumatic and also goes against human nature for a person to separate from, become alienated from or go against their family. Separating from family is perhaps the closest external experience that an individuated person can have to losing a part of themselves. For this reason, it is a tragedy when this occurs. It is not the ideal situation at all. The ideal situation is that an entire family unit would adjust so as to ensure the wellbeing of all of its members and get closer in a healthy way. If I had it my way, any work that a person did on themselves would bring them closer to their family and all the people in their lives. Unfortunately, this ideal situation does not always occur. In fact, it rarely does. Tragically, the family’s unwillingness to make changes might just be the very thing preventing one of its members wellbeing, thus putting that person in the lose-lose scenario of parting ways with the family for the sake of their ownwellbeing or staying close and sacrificing their own wellbeing to do so.
What I am about to say will most likely stir a lot of offense. But you need to understand that to go against the family or to separate from them is an unnatural experience. It goes against biology. What has to happen in a family for this to occur or to be a healthy choice is very extreme. But the members of the family usually don’t recognize any ‘wrong doing’ on their parts. If a member of the family has separated from or gone against the family itself, the first place that a family should look is at themselves and at what needs to change within that family system. I could go so far as to say that when a person in a family is truly willing to look at themselves so as to make a change so as to repair rupture with another member, EVERYTHING would be on their side for re-connection. I’m going to give you a rather triggering example… Cults.
You will hear people saying that a cult ruined their relationship with one of their family members or that a cult separated them. It is true that a genuine cult often seeks to separate an individual from any person who is not a part of that cult. A person who is isolated is more susceptible to control. But unless there is a gap there already… an emptiness due to pain or missing needs due to family dysfunction, there is no space or need there for a cult to be able fill. No weakness to exploit. It is the family itself that creates those patterns of susceptibility and vulnerability and the family itself that is in dysfunction when trying to “rescue” one of its members from something that the family itself helped create and re-enforce. Going into a “hero/rescue” pattern is an avoidance of this realization as well as an avoidance of seeing what patterns within the family need to be changed and would constitute an actual solution. In other words… the joining a cult is a symptom, not a cause. And yes, I know how painful that is to swallow.
The first thing that you must understand about a family is that it is a social system. Social systems involve roles and ways of relating and social strategies and beliefs that are intensely resistant to change. Social systems are not always functional even if they are operational. In fact, most families in today’s un-awakened society are dysfunctional in that contrary to popular belief, they do not ensure the wellbeing of all of their members. Because of the various roles that each member is placed into, each member tends to have a very different experience of being a part of the family itself. Even though most families create wellbeing in certain ways and also prevent wellbeing in other ways, the reality is that some members are in more pain within the family system than others. The greatest tragedy of all in a world where most families have some element of dysfunction is that the members of those very families don’t even realize it. In fact, most people think their family is functional. People will fight tooth and nail that their family is not only functional, but healthy and good and even ‘the best’ family. Families often fight to not change, even if not changing means that one of the members stays hurting. In fact, they often make that member’s belonging in the family conditional upon that person not changing too. This is the reason that the successful addiction programs insist on involving the entire family system and on creating changes in the ways that each member interacts with each other within that system. Otherwise, the family system itself acts as an oppositional force to the addict’s sobriety. So often the dysfunction taking place in a family system is the very reason that one of its members has turned to addiction in the first place. Of course, hardly any family points to themselves when they are putting one of its members into a center for treatment.
There is extreme resistance to seeing one’s family for what it is, both positive and negative. People subconsciously and potentially even consciously think there to be a consequence for recognizing anything negative about their family. And sometimes the sad reality is that they are right about there being a consequence. This is why people tend to justify everything when it comes to their family. And families tend to justify everything they do when it comes to its members. They say things like: “yeah, but they (or we) did the best they (or we) could”. Or they normalize things like “yeah but everyone’s parents did that”. Or they minimize things like “yeah, but so many other people had it so much worse than I (or you) did” or “other kids have parents that give up on them in that situation”. Or they invalidate things like “yeah, but they gave me so much money and totally set me up in life to have the success I have today”. In other words, people tend to go into denial when it comes to their own family as a coping mechanism to avoid the consequence they fear would come as a result of seeing the truth about their family or making a change as a result of what they see. But this only ends up keeping them stuck. For this reason, it is important to watch three of my videos. The first is: The Catch Up Effect (Why We Really Fear Change). The Second is: The Real Reason That People Don’t Change. And the third is: How Normalization is Hurting You and Hurting Society.
A social system (in this case your family) and the role which you play within that system and the way that each part of that system relates to one another may just be the cause of your suffering and what is keeping you stuck. Even if the intentions of the other members of that system itself are good. Because the family system itself is so resistant to change, it resists you changing. This is why living with your family of origin as an adult usually makes it harder to create positive personal change. For example, imagine that you are trying to create abundance but you live with family members that believe money doesn’t grow on trees and all that matters is hard work and that rich people are evil. That environment acts as a daily oppositional force to your desire and goal. Unless the rest of the members in that family system are truly on board with supporting your new way of being and changing themselves to do so (not just saying they are and acting the opposite), it can be compared to trying to heal on the battlefield itself. What you need is a different thought and a different experience in order to shift. Not to try to shift despite being inundated with the same thought and the same experience that did cause or is causing the problem in the first place.
The second thing you must understand about family is that it is the foundation of your physical existence. You can think of it as where you acquired your building blocks. It is where your first formative experiences with relationships take place. It is the place where you were first programmed. This means your childhood experiences, primarily in your family, is where your patterns begin. Those patterns either set you up for things like success and pleasure or for things like failure and pain. Imagine that a cake came out of your oven and when you tasted it, it was inedible. The first thing you would do is to go back to review what ingredients you added. Or imagine that a software was malfunctioning, the first thing you would do is to go back and review the code and the original programming. When a person gets into self-awareness work, they must get into the habit of going back to find the family-based origins of their problems in their adult life. Their unwillingness to do so out of a sense of solidarity with the family, makes awareness of the problem and therefore awareness of what needs to happen to resolve that problem impossible. Essentially people sometimes and tragically choose solidarity with family over all other elements of their own wellbeing, even if doing so condemns them to a life of suffering in other ways.
For example, I knew a woman who was in the role of the family helper. She only fit into the family system if she was constantly putting everyone else first. Doing so was all that ever got her approval and therefore self-esteem. She slipped into a chronic patterns of self-neglect and complained about it for years until as a result, she developed a kind of cancer that occurs when someone is refusing to prioritize their own dreams and desires and purpose. In fact the type of cancer she had is nicknamed “the self-sacrifice cancer” in the natural health community. She was conscious enough and also aware enough of the emotional element involved with cancer to know this already. But her family put pressure on her to do what they wanted her to do as usual, but this time relative to her cancer treatment. She knew she would die by going along with what they wanted her to do for their sake and their sense of what was right to do. She called me to tell me that herself. But in the end, she decided to go along with their wishes and desires and needs because “she couldn’t live with the idea that if she died without fulfilling their wishes, they would always talk bad about her and about how she could be alive if only she had done the right thing… what they wanted her to do”. She literally chose solidarity with how her family would see and remember her over her own healing and in this case survival. Never underestimate the power of family dynamics to prevent the healing and progress and wellbeing of one of its members.
By opting into the nature genetics (which includes ancestral memory) and nurture experiences within a family, what you are really doing is to metaphorically speaking opt into a deck of cards. Some of those cards we could from one level judge as awesome and others we could judge as total crap. For example, a Scandinavian athlete may have opted into incredible physical prowess which gives him sexual attractiveness at the same time as aloofness which makes his relationships feel quite empty and distant.
We need to learn how to either change or exalt our crappy cards as well as to capitalize on our good cards that were given to us as a result of belonging to the family that we belonged to. Everyone has both transgenerational gifts and burdens to sort through. Everyone has both experiential gifts and burdens to sort through. Ancestry is an intensely powerful element of self-awareness, which is why I so often tell people to go back to their homeland at some point in their process of awakening. To understand some more about this, you can watch my video titled: What Your Parents Did Right.
The third thing you must understand about family is that some families are toxic in their current state. Some families exist in a state of ‘shadow tribe” and instead of ensuring the wellbeing and positive growth of its members, some families prevent it. When this is the case, the question is where do you draw the line and decide that being around them is not healthy? Or that not communicating is healthy? This is not an answer I’m going to give you. It is a question you must ask yourself and answer yourself. In general, it is in no way necessary for people to sever contact with and stop talking to their family in order to heal. The ideal would be the opposite, that they were conscious advocates for the process. But a person might very well be in a situation where they specifically can’t heal while still being in contact with certain family members. At least for a period of time.. such as the time it takes to feel solid in themselves so that their parent’s constant criticism doesn’t impact them in the same way. The biggest problem is that so many families exhibit behavior that is dysfunctional all the way to downright abusive without realizing that it is. In fact, most families think that they are being loving when they are in fact being the opposite. For example, a father might think that demanding academic excellence from his child is beneficial to the child, when in fact it may simply be instilling the pressure and the belief that they are only going to be loved if they succeed. An older brother may think that its loving to beat his younger brother up in order to ‘toughen him up for the world’ when in fact, it is simply teaching the younger brother that he is unsafe and has no advocates in life. A mother might hold the fact that she gave life to her children as leverage over their heads so that they ‘owe’ her later. This obligation to take care of each other may be seen as love by her, when in fact, it is entrapment. So much dysfunction and damage is disguised as love or mistaken for love. And unless we recognize those patterns and change them, our relationships and families and therefore human society will not improve.
For this reason, it is critical to understand that your family had dysfunction in it, whether you consciously recognize it or not yet. This is especially true if you are the kind of person who is drawn to self-help or spirituality. To be brutally honest with you, the people who are drawn to trying to figure themselves out and sort their problems out in the first place with self-help or spirituality, tend to come from families that fall on the more dysfunctional end of the spectrum. That dysfunction, no matter how minimal or extreme you currently judge it to be, did have a negative impact on you and on your adult life whether you recognize it yet or not. It is critical to be willing to see what those detrimental patterns were and are so as to change them. If you keep making excuses for them, you will keep yourself stuck.
The reality is that everyone has a valid excuse for everything. That does not change the reality that it did damage. It does not negate the pain. It is not a betrayal to your family to look to recognize these detrimental patterns and change them so as to have a better life experience and a healthier family system. And especially, to change those patterns so that they do not repeat in future generations. What does it say if your family considers it a betrayal for you to do so?
Families MUST get to a point where they care infinitely more about awareness and improvement and evolving and about the subjective experience and wellbeing of every one of its members than families care about defending their rightness or goodness in being the way they are or were. The sad reality is that if families got on board with a full system change when one of its members well-being depended on it, a person could un-do their trauma in no time at all. Healing would happen so fast if a person could do it with their family instead of in spite of their family or with the opposition of their family. I often think about this when all I would need for a person to shift immediately is the permission of one of their family members for them to do so. We must get to a point where we do not consider it a betrayal to the family to become aware of the negatives and positives and to question things and to ask for a system change.
So all that being said, don’t mistake someone making you aware of dysfunctional patterns within your family (so that you can change them for the better) for someone trying to separate you from your family.
Healing implies that some form of positive change is taking place. At the most fundamental level, to heal is to change a pattern for the better. It is the opposite of repetition and redundancy. It is to change a pattern that is unwanted into a pattern that is wanted. This usually entails changing it into the opposite pattern. For example, if we are lonely, to heal is to achieve togetherness. Or if a bone is broken, to heal is for it to mend. Or if we feel powerless, to heal is to feel empowered. To understand healing in-depth, you can watch my video titled: What is Healing? But there is an unhealthy tendency that can arise when a person is healing, which can easily be confused for healing, but that is in fact simply a dramatic swing into the opposite manifestation of unhealthy… A pendulum swing.
It is very common that when people begin to heal something, they swing the pendulum to the opposite extreme and by doing so, slip into the dysfunction and unhealthiness that exists on the opposite side of the scale. It is often a dramatic reaction instead of a deliberately chosen response. So that you understand what I mean, I will give you some examples.
The best example of this often happens when people who have a co-dependent relational strategy begin to heal. Someone who would be labeled a “codependent” is someone who comes from a dysfunctional childhood home whether they realize it or admit it or not. In that dysfunctional home, the underlying reality was: Every man for himself. There is no such experience as “I can have a self and have closeness and connection with them too” or “we take each other’s best interests as a part of our own best interests”. This makes it so that everyone must adopt a narcissistic strategy. The budding narcissist does this by vying for their own best interests directly. The budding codependent does this by vying for their own best interests in a covert and roundabout way. They give up their “self” to please the narcissistic people around them so that those people will meet their needs. Codependency is a back door narcissistic strategy. Because the codependent has never tasted what it is to be able to have a self and to have closeness and connection with others too, they can only conceive of one way to heal from codependency and to gain autonomy… to do it against others. To start to be all about the self. Ironically, without realizing it, they swing the pendulum from covert narcissism to overt narcissism. The codependent becomes narcissistic, thinking that doing so is healing. But it is just swinging the pendulum to the opposite, unhealthy extreme. And they will suffer and also cause others to suffer from that new unhealthy extreme.
Another example is let’s imagine that a person has trauma around taking on too much responsibility. They were saddled with burden. Let’s imagine that they were put in charge of raising all of their siblings when they were growing up. This person may begin to heal and swing the pendulum all the way over to the point where they are unreliable, flaky and refuse to take any responsibility. Because of this, they suffer the consequences that exist at this side of dysfunction, such as losing relationships, being unable to hold down a job, others losing respect for them, and being stuck in life. They will suffer and also cause others to suffer from that new unhealthy extreme.
Another example is let’s imagine someone who felt powerless to the negative way they felt and powerless to the other people around them. This person might find a methodology that teaches them to control their reality by ignoring anything negative and not spending time with anyone who they think is negative. This person may begin to heal and swing the pendulum all the way over to denial, avoidance, and the refusal to accommodate others. They may begin to build a narcissistic bubble reality for themselves alone. Because of this, they and others around them will suffer from that new dysfunctional extreme.
Another example is let’s imagine a person who is addicted. They use addiction to avoid some pain within themselves that they cannot seem to resolve. They are in a perpetual state of “runaway” relative to themselves. This person might hear about shadow work and suddenly feel like there might be a way to solve their pain. This person may begin to heal and swing the pendulum all the way over to obsessively doing difficult shadow work processes all the time. This runs their nervous system into the ground, making their mental, emotional and physical bodies raw, being unable to effectively integrate and process and apply what they gain awareness of. And effectively giving themselves the damaging message that something is wrong with them and must be fixed immediately. Shadow work then becomes a different form of self-abuse. Because of this, they and others around them will suffer from that new dysfunctional extreme.
Another example is let’s imagine that a person is hurt by someone else. They experience the pain of being connected to and dependent on someone else. This person may begin to heal and swing the pendulum all the way over to disconnecting from others and becoming totally independent. Because of this, they slip into the illusion that it is possible to be separate and not depend on anything or anyone. They push people way. Deep down, they know they are very, very alone. They behave in ways that harm others because they are not genuinely connected to them. But because they are disconnected, they don’t even realize it. They and others will suffer from that new dysfunctional extreme.
Another example is let’s imagine that someone is super hopeful and excited and is wounded by a major disappointment. This person may begin to heal and swing the pendulum all the way over to expecting bad things to happen, letting themselves down and discouraging themselves before the world ever has a chance to do it for them. They may become a cynic. Because of this, they end up chronically stuck in the negative. They maintain a pattern of self-sabotage. Their negative mentality and behavior causes others to deny them of the kindness, reliability and sweetness that they actually crave deep down. They and others will suffer greatly from this new dysfunctional extreme.
By now, after these examples, you get the picture.
I don’t want you to think that the goal of healing is to find the balance. Within mankind’s consciousness, balance is something that is achieved by a process of addition and subtraction. This is also the idea behind the limiting concept of balancing work and play by either working more or working less depending on what is needed to achieve equal parts of work and play for example. If you live your life according to the principal of balance, you will end up exhausted. You will also never be able to fully actualize yourself because you will be trying to limit aspects of yourself while trying to accentuate others instead of becoming the full expression of both and finding a way for the full expression of both to harmonize. Balance upholds separation. It seeks to create equilibrium between two different things instead of seeking to combine them. Where consciousness is headed is integration. In integration, polarities come together to form a third thing entirely, the sum of both. To understand more about this, watch my video titled: F#!K Balance (Rethinking Balance and What it means to be Balanced).
When I say that to heal is to experience the opposite, what I mean is that the goal of healing is for example to re-own that polarity which is disowned or to experience what one is lacking. For example, it is for the person who is harmed by others to experience being helped by others. It is for a codependent to learn they can have and keep a “self” at the same time as being deeply connected to other people. And including others’ best interests as a part of their own best interests without throwing their own best interests away. It is for the person who is addicted to use shadow work to see themselves, including what they really need and to meet those needs lovingly. It is for a person who feels powerless to the negative way that they feel to really learn how to see what is and see what they want instead and to be able to in an empowered way, close the gap between the two. It is for a person who was traumatized with too much burden to step into free will and to choose what to take responsibility for and what not to take responsibility for, so as to see that chosen responsibility is what leads to the empowered creation of what personally benefits them. It is for a person who was disappointed to experience their hopes coming to fruition.
When it comes to healing, it is important to discern what is “experiencing the healthy opposite” and what is “swinging the pendulum”… To discern what is a polarizing reaction and what is a deliberately chosen response. The good news is that you will learn from anything that you do. A person who does swing the pendulum will eventually feel the reality of the cause and effect (and therefore consequences) associated with that new extreme. And it will eventually cause them to alter their patterns more toward their actual healthy state of being. But you can prevent the time this takes and the damage this can create both to you and to others by being aware of this typical pendulum swing of healing and by consciously discerning what genuine healing and genuine positive pattern change would look like instead.
Nothing has the power to completely alter perspective and therefore your thoughts and actions and life quite like a question. Inquiry leads to understanding. The quality of the answers we arrive at, correspond directly to the quality of question we ask. The better the question, the better the answer. One of the most important things to realize about a question is that a person learns far, far more from the process and work involved in answering a question than from the answer itself. This is why spiritual teachers throughout history (including myself) have tended to pose so many questions to their students rather than to simply offer a direct answer. For this reason, I have selected a collection of 100 of the most powerful questions that you can ask yourself.
What do I really want for myself at this point in my life and why do I want it?
What am I willing to struggle for?
What specific risks am I willing to take to be happy?
What do I want badly enough that I will say YES to any of the downsides that might come with that thing?
What am I so committed to that no amount of failure could prevent me from continuing to do it or to aim for it?
If I knew that life was not only roses, but also thorns, and I had to choose my thorns, what thorns would I choose… What pain will I choose or say YES to?
Who do I feel I am meant to be in this life?
What do I feel I am meant to do in this life?
Imagining that I died yesterday, what would I regret? What things would I have done differently? What things am I glad that I did? If I got another shot at life and was brought back to life today, what would I now have the courage to do that I didn't while I was alive? And what advice would I give to myself sitting right here in this chair today if after my death, I could come back to this moment?
Who do I need to be to achieve my purpose?
What do I not know?
If I had all the money in the world and could never run out of it, what would I do with my time, energy and resources?
What would I still do even if I never made any money doing it?
What If I lost everything yesterday and so I no longer had anything to lose… What would I do if I had nothing to lose?
What is the number one belief in my life that holds me back and prevents me from getting what I want in life?
If I were to watch myself like a fly on a wall, based on what I am seeing relative to my thoughts, words, routines and actions, where can I expect to be in five years?
If I knew that I was going to die one year from today, what would I do with that time?
What gift am I meant to give this world in this life?
What do I want people to say about me behind my back and how do I want to be remembered?
If my six-year-old self could see me today, what would he or she think of me? What would he or she want me to change?
What makes me forget to eat and sleep?
When do I remember feeling the happiest in my childhood and why?
What would I take a stand for and what would I take a stand against?
What would I risk my life for and why?
What about my life is worth smiling about right now?
What makes me feel unfulfilled and sad in the life I am currently living?
What do I complain about more than anything else?
What do I want my life to be in service of?
If I did one thing for myself, not anyone else for the rest of my life, what would it be?
What have I done in the past that is the most meaningful to me?
What do I want my being to be in service of or to be used as a tool for?
What was the defining moment that changed my life forever?
If a magic Genie gave me one wish to make for myself, what would that wish be and why?
What am I pretending to not know?
What pain from the past am I still holding on to that is holding me back today?
What one sentence will come to define my life?
What do I not want others to know about me?
What am I naturally good /talented at?
What would I leave as it is in my current life and what would I change?
What am I doing in my life just because I “should” not because I truly want to?
What makes me feel great about myself?
What am I most grateful for in my life right now?
What problem do I want to solve?
If my house was burning and I could only save one item (not a person or pet), what would it be and why?
What is my #1 value today and why?
What conflict is not resolved in my life?
What is my hidden agenda and why is it hidden?
What is something I keep telling myself that I will do when I have the time or resources?
If I could change my life somehow with no risk, what would I change? And knowing that, what risk am I trying to avoid by not changing?
What would I be willing to lose everything for, including the closeness/connection with the people who are the closest to me now (i.e.: friends and family) if I knew it would 100% guarantee me that thing?
What pain am I holding on to as a testament of my love for someone or something?
What point of view currently threatens me and why?
How do I define success for me personally? And how do I define success for others?
How am I currently neglecting or harming myself?
What expectation do I need to let go of right now?
What am I not taking responsibility for that I know I need to take responsibility for?
What armor do I use to protect my vulnerability?
How do I separate myself?
What do I say I “can’t" to?
Who or what do I blame?
Who or what is my scapegoat?
What would I try if I had no fear?
What would I most like to do for someone else if I had the time, money and resources?
What is the worst thing that I do to myself right now in my life?
What is the best thing that I do for myself right now in my life?
What assumption do I make chronically that is getting in my way?
What do I currently feel has power over me? And how might I reclaim my power from it?
If I could start my life over, what would I do differently?
Who do I envy and why? And how could I bring those things that I envy into my own life experience?
Whose life would I trade places with and why?
What do I love to do for others?
If I’m given one wish, but I can’t use it on myself, what would I wish for and for what/who?
A singer notices a talented vocalist, a car mechanic notices a well-made engine. What do I notice?
When do I feel most alive?
What would I do if I knew I couldn’t fail?
What is my rut? In what area of healing or progress am I blocked or stuck no matter how hard I try to fix it?
If I had to leave my house all day, every day, where would I go and what would I do?
What do I appreciate about myself?
What am I overcompensating for?
What do I do that doesn’t seem like work, regardless of the difficulty?
What is calling me? What desires keep tugging at my heart?
How do I make myself bigger and how do I make myself smaller than I am?
What do I refuse to accept about my reality?
What is timeless, ageless and unchanging in me?
What am I avoiding right now and why?
What have I lost?
What am I currently allowing?
What makes me lose my connection to myself and what makes me get that connection back?
What do I love too much to turn into a profession?
Who needs to know that I love them? And what keeps me from expressing that love to them?
Who am I seeking approval and validation from and why?
What am I currently afraid of?
Whose torch am I carrying and why?
What am I running from and what am I rushing toward and why?
What am I repeating?
If I was someone else, so I was able to see myself from the outside and in a dis-identified way, what advice would I give to myself?
If I were to be brutally honest, what is my priority at this time in my life and why?
What risk am I taking and what risk am I not taking right now and why?
What am I giving to get?
What do I hear in the silence?
Make sure to take time to carefully consider each question that is posed in order to meaningfully answer them. And don’t forget to come back to these questions again and again throughout your life, especially whenever you are feeling stuck, because the answers will most likely change over the course of your life and also cause you to change your course in life.
There is an idea making its way through people’s minds that if you are doing the right thing or are fulfilling your purpose or are following your joy, you will only feel good. This is not the reality of existence.
At this point in existence, no matter what you choose to do, all things will inherently come with contrast. They will come with positives and negatives, upsides and downsides. People want to be happy. They want to feel good. And a big part of expansion is about continually making changes so as to resolve the pain that you feel in any given situation; instead of simply accepting that ‘things are the way they are’. But I want you to consider today a different way of looking at life. There is a question you can ask yourself that will define your deepest joy, your actual purpose, your actual commitment and therefore the actual correct course of your life. That question is: What Pain Will You Say Yes to?
Seeing as how my purpose is the transformation of suffering, most of what I will be teaching you is how to transform pain… Which will seem at face value to be the opposite of what I will teach you in this article today. I must teach you to look at pain and at the unwanted from a different angle entirely.
Consider that all things with an upside come with a downside. All things come with some kind of pain. For example, fame comes with the downside of things like never being able to trust the motives of people trying to be near you and being treated like a commodity instead of a person and others actively trying to tear you down and strip you of your power. Entrepreneurship comes with the downside of things like unstable pay, no benefits, less security, discouragement from others who would rather you play it safe, having to work longer and harder than others and having a hard time getting loans. Being a winning athlete comes with the downside of things like blood and sweat and tears and not being able to attend that family members wedding because it is happening at the same time as that competition.
If I were to sit a group of people down and question them about what they want, chances are all of them will say that they want to be rich. All of them will say that they want to have a great relationship. All of them will say that they want to be perfectly physically fit. All of them will say that they want to be #1… You get the point. But the reality is that very few of them, potentially only one, would actually be willing to say yes to the negatives or the downsides of those things. For example, they all may want to be rich, but maybe only one of them will say yes to financial risk, or to a 60 hour work week or to the delayed gratification of saving to invest or to the extreme pressure of striking out on their own as an entrepreneur or to the extreme pressure of work place competition. They may all want a great relationship. But maybe only one of them will say yes to re-visiting their painful past to resolve the trauma that is making them behave in damaging ways in their relationships. Or committing to difficult conversations or to opening themselves up again to connect even when they have been hurt again and again.
The pain that you will say yes to and the struggle you will choose to step into with your own free will, that is what will define your success in life. The positive that everyone is looking for is born from the mud of those things that so many people look to avoid. You cannot cause yourself to want or to like those downsides and that struggle and that pain that comes with the upsides and success and joy that you want. But you can choose them with your own free will as a statement of what you are willing to experience or endure for the sake of what you want. You can look at the thing you want and decide that it is worth the cost to you specifically.
The thing that determines your success relative to whatever it is that you want is not that you want it or even how much you want it. It also isn’t how much you enjoy it. What determines success is what pain you are willing to face and what struggle you are willing to go through and what you are willing to endure for the sake of what you love and want.
So often, when a person says that they want something, but they aren’t getting any closer to it, it is because they either do not truly want it at all. Or they want a fantasy of the thing, not the reality of the thing. Or they do want it but are simply not choosing any of the ‘thorns’ that come with it. In other words, they have decided on a subconscious level that they don’t want it enough because the cost is not worth the benefit. You’ve got to want the reward enough to say yes to the cost or the struggle.
For example, I once knew a person who wanted to be a famous Hollywood actress for her entire life. She had her life entirely planned out around it and had fantasized about it for her entire life. Even so, her ‘dream’ never came. She was in love with the fantasy and the idea of the result… The flashing cameras and red carpets, the million-dollar pay checks, being on the cover of magazines, feeling significant. But in truth, she hated the process. She hated sitting next to a thousand other people in audition lines. She hated the embarrassment and drudgery of rehearsing. She hated the cutthroat atmosphere of LA. She hated networking. And so, she didn’t really pour all of her energy into it. She didn’t actually say yes to it, regardless of whether she didn’t like it. She refused to go to certain auditions. She didn’t really work on the ‘craft’ of acting itself. She avoided the business side of networking and marketing and selling herself. People may say that she gave up on herself or wasn’t courageous enough or that it just wasn’t in the cards for her. But the reality is that she didn’t really want it. She most certainly didn’t want it enough to decide to say yes to the pain and struggle and process of it.
You are here on this planet for a very specific reason. You being here is no mistake. You have a purpose and that purpose will be indicated to you through your joy. This means that you have something that you want and you have something that you want badly enough to say yes to any of the downsides that might come with that thing. You may simply not know what it is that you want ‘badly enough’ yet.
What are you willing to struggle for? What are you willing to endure pain for? If you knew that life was not only roses, but also thorns and you had to choose your thorns, what thorns would you choose? What are you so committed to that no amount of failure, only death could prevent you from continuing to do it or to aim for it? The quality of your life experience depends on you answering this question. It depends on determining what values you care so deeply about that you are willing to struggle for them. And how people answer this question will give you the most accurate picture of how their lives will turn out. And so, it may sound odd, but a key element of surmounting suffering relative to success is having the answer to the question “How Do I Choose to Suffer in This Life?”