This time space reality that you call life on earth is a consensus reality. What that means is that it is a co-creative experience. Even though many guides will tell you that you create your own reality, because it is empowering and important to realize your power as a creator of your experience, you did not actually come here to create your own reality made for one. In a consensus reality, the mastery of relationships so as to reach a chosen state of oneness is really the ultimate goal. Because that is really the only way to co-create something pleasing to all individual creators participating in such a construct. You could say that you came to this time space reality to do parts work in an externalized way, knowing that at the end of the day, every “other” thing you interact with, is ultimately you.
The law of mirroring (what many call the law of attraction) does not just apply to you. It applies to everything else in this particular universe as well. It applies to the collective, not just to the individual. Which is why for example, humanity might collectively hold a vibration that reflects as a certain traumatic experience within the overall timeline of mankind. You knew this before coming into this life. You chose it specifically or lined up with it vibrationally as a result of your previous incarnations, both of which imply that this is exactly what you needed and even wanted for your own expansion and for the expansion of the universe at large (what many call Source or God).
The trouble with a consensus reality is that it can feel incredibly disempowering. Most especially if you do not recognize others as a part of yourself. The way to understand this, is to imagine sitting down with five other people with one canvas and several paints. Every person has a paintbrush. You may be loving the cocreation for a minute, until someone picks up what you perceive to be an ugly paint color and draws something unwanted on that canvas. This is a metaphor for life on earth. There are so many unwanted things that “others” do here in this construct. Things that negatively impact other beings participating in this construct. And this can make you feel powerless. For example, someone can raise their child abusively. Someone can decide to build a highway straight through an animal migration route and then society can decide to leave the carcasses on the side of the road to rot. Someone can break into a house and steel from someone else. Someone can put a monopoly on a certain business. Someone can declare war. And the list goes on and on forever.
The powerlessness of this experience of being so influenced and effected by the choices of others in this consensus construct causes people to lose sight of the power that they do have. It causes them to lose their awareness that they are conscious creators. For this reason, a great many teachers and guides would have you disconnect from the consensus and try to manipulate the law of mirroring so as to create your own reality. This is only beneficial so far as to get you back to your knowing that you are a conscious creator. And so far as it puts you back in touch with your personal power. If you take it further than this, this way of thinking will cause you to become trapped in a narcissistic bubble reality, disconnected from others and disconnected from the awareness of your influence and impact on them. The real task of awakening is to awaken to the fact that you are a conscious creator and therefore have incredible power over the co-creative experience here. The real task is to recognize all the “other” things in this construct as parts of yourself. The real task is to commit to using your creative capacities and your power to positively influence and positively impact everything you come into contact with in this consensus reality. The real task is to master relationship so as to intentionally integrate with all other things in this time space reality. Doing so, is what causes the collective reflection to change.
All this being said, the most empowering decision you can make in life is to become as aware as you possibly can, and then to cast your vote. When we commit to becoming aware, we are open to and we seek out information. We commit to seeing, listening to, feeling, perceiving, understanding and knowing anything we encounter. Knowing that doing so will change our perspective. It will bring us closer to a truly objective (rather than purely subjective) perspective. And from that space of expanded perception, we vote for what is wanted. But in this time space reality, you vote with your thoughts, your words and your actions. If you feel especially powerless, I encourage you to watch two of my videos titled: All People Want Power. And How To Take Your Power Back.
You can see the danger in someone being so fixated on their own agenda that there is no way to reach them and so, you end up getting bulldozed by them. You can also see the danger in a person being so wrapped up in the thoughts, words and actions of others that they live their entire life in a state of powerless reactivity. A truly empowered person is both deeply connected to all else that is, while at the same time, is able to make autonomous choices regardless of what everyone else is doing or not doing.
Every individual that as a society, you revere, is ultimately an individual who has held a vision for the bigger picture regarding what they wanted the overall picture of life to be like; not just for themselves, but also for others. And they have made their thoughts, words and actions a pledge to that vision. Regardless of what anyone else was doing or not doing. For example, in a world dominated by cruelty and hate, Jesus Christ wanted kindness and love. And so, he made his thoughts, words and actions a pledge to this vision; no matter what other people did in his time and no matter what others did to him. In a world dominated by ignorance and suffering, the Buddha wanted awareness and true joy. And so, he made his thoughts, words and actions a pledge to that vision, no matter what other people did or did not do in his time. In a world dominated by poverty and immorality, Muhammad wanted charity and morality. And so, he made his thoughts, words and actions a pledge to that vision, no matter what other people did or did not do in his time. In a world of discrimination and segregation, Martin Luther King wanted fairness and unity. And so, he made his thoughts, words and actions a pledge to that vision, no matter what other people did or did not do in his time.
Your thoughts, words and actions are a vote in this consensus reality. They have immense influence and impact on every other thing that exists. Most especially anything you come into contact with. And this vote does not only matter for your limited life span. It is a vote regarding the future, long after you are gone. It is a vote for what comes next. For this reason, as so many impactful people throughout history have proven, casting your vote by powerfully living according to what you want to see for this world is more important than your own safety and survival. Therefore, if you ultimately want a world of kindness, you have to be that kindness. You have to be the person who talks to strangers and is open to everyone you pass on the street. Even if they are not. If you want freedom, you have to be that freedom. You have to set yourself free and set others free, even as they try to restrict you and restrict themselves. If what you want is truth, you have to be that truth. You have to seek truth and speak truth, even though it is difficult to face and challenging to express. And even if there are consequences for doing so.
For this reason, the practice I want to give you today, aside from mastering relationships (which is what I am helping you to master most often) is the practice of consciously casting your autonomous vote. This is the most direct way to exact your personal power on the world. And nothing and no one can prevent you from doing it. All they can ever do is to try to influence you regarding how you vote. Think about the bigger picture regarding what you want life to be like, not just for yourself, but also for others. And make your thoughts, words and actions a pledge to that vision. No matter what anyone else does or does not do. Cast your vote with the universe at large for what you want to see become the collective reality.
For the sake of this conversation, lets define trauma as an experience that is deeply distressing and even potentially disturbing. It’s not just what we judge as the big stuff, like being abused or experiencing a natural disaster or a war or losing a loved one. It’s also what we normalize, like growing up poor enough to not be able to have what we desire or being weaned from the breast before we are ready to participate in that decision or having to be the responsible one in our family system etc.
For so many of us, the trauma that we experience goes without resolve and as such, it keeps repeating. We must heal from our trauma. In fact, a big part of personal growth and expansion is healing from the trauma that every person experiences in their lifetime. Usually, to heal means to experience something different and antidotal (usually the opposite). For example, to heal from loneliness one might need to experience reliable, consistent connection. Or to heal from powerlessness, one might need to experience personal empowerment. To learn more about this, you can watch my video titled: What Is Healing?
But for today’s conversation, it is important to know that even though it is good to simplify complex concepts, the process of simplification can sometimes lead to over simplification and rigid thinking. This is especially true regarding trauma and healing. Because trauma is an unwanted experience, it is tempting to make it wrong. It is also tempting to make anything causally related to the trauma that someone experienced wrong too… Such as a protective adaptation for example. And when we do this, we miss a powerful truth about life itself and we mentally limit ourselves about our healing options.
Something people are slow to accept is that trauma doesn’t only play a role in the dysfunctionality, weakness and problems of people. It also plays a role in the functionality, strengths and advantages of people. Essentially, it causes polarization within a person. For this reason, trauma is often at the root of people’s failures. It is also often at the root of their success.
To explain this, I’m going to give you a couple of examples. Jane had a mother who was very young. In fact, she was only 15 when she had Jane. Jane’s mother was lacking support in a very real way. When Jane was young, because of the very real needs her mother had and her lack of awareness of the implications of doing so, her mother flipped their roles so that Jane was taking care of her every whim. In order to avoid consequences, Jane had to make her entire life about supporting her mother; from being her mother’s shoulder to cry on to rubbing her back, which was always sore. To working with her mother at her house cleaning job even as a small child. To giving her birthday money to her mother for bills etc. Jane was literally custom trained to perfectly support another person’s success, regardless of whether she wanted this or not. This trauma led to Jane having a codependent relational style, not really knowing who she was or what she wanted, being soft-spoken and disempowered. However, it also led to an incredible capacity to perceive the needs of others, a perfectly honed skill set regarding assisting others, the ability to emotionally regulate anyone, the capacity to dedicate herself to another person and to work towards success together and the rare personality trait of taking the back seat and letting someone else shine rather than vying for attention.
Bret grew up in a wealthy household. His parents, most especially his father, was all about public perception. They put a ton of pressure on Brett from a very young age to be excellent, so that his family could use him as a kind of trophy. Bret learned that the only way he could get any approval from his family and the only way to avoid being ostracized, like his sister was, was to step into that family pressure and to dedicate himself to being excellent. He chose golf as his venue for excellence. This trauma caused Bret to feel like he had to justify his value and worth in his family and earn love. It caused him to have a core self-concept of shame. It caused him to obsessively perfect his golf game to the degree that he would stay on a course for hours, sobbing from rotator cuff pain until he got the stroke exactly how he wanted it. However, this trauma also led to an incredible level of discipline, a superhuman capacity to focus, an achievement-oriented personality, the achievement of greatness, incredible financial success a professional golf career that most people could only dream of.
It is tempting when you are limited in your view of trauma and healing to think that you know immediately what the right thing in terms of personal growth and healing is for both Jane and Bret. For Jane, you are probably jumping to the conclusion that she needs to be more selfish and independent, get to know who she is and what she really wants. That she needs to make her life about her own personal success and stop orienting her life around other people. She needs to go for the limelight in her own unique way. But this is only one potential healing option. It may be the case that this is what is genuinely in alignment for Jane. Or, it may in fact not be the case.
For Bret, you are probably jumping to the conclusion that he needs to find someone who really loves him for “him” (whatever that means) and that he needs to quit golf or anything else he may be doing to earn approval. Approval needs to be something he gets, even when he is lounging on the couch. He needs the pressure to perform taken off of him. And he needs to learn how to be gentle with himself and have fun. But this is only one potential healing option. It may be the case that this is what is genuinely in alignment for Bret. Or, it may in fact not be the case.
What if I told you that trauma plays a role in your destiny? In fact, you are perfectly molded for your destiny based off of not only the positive things you experienced in your life, but also by your trauma. This is part of why you choose into a specific life experience at this specific time and in this specific place and in this specific way and around these specific people. When we make trauma wrong and make anything causally related to trauma wrong, we fail to recognize that without the trauma of insignificance and poor reflection in childhood, the best actors in Hollywood are not actors. This means those game changing movies that are absolute works of art and altered the way society thinks, don’t exist. Neither does that great quality entertainment you love so much.
Without the trauma of injustice and middle child syndrome and the guilt and separation of having more resources and opportunities than most other people that looked like him, while at the same time not being allowed to play and connect with kids that didn’t look like him, there is no Martin Luther King Jr. Without your trauma, you would be a very, very different person. In some ways potentially to the positive. But in some ways, potentially to the negative.
Do you see the danger of jumping to the conclusion that if what drives a person to want to act is all this trauma around significance and if acting causes a person to slip in and out of different identities, to heal they must stop acting? Do you see the danger of jumping to the conclusion that if the trauma of feeling invisible and being excluded and being separated and feeling guilty is a big part of what fueled Martin Luther King to step into the public eye and create the movement that ultimately led to his death, that it somehow diminishes the “rightness” or “in alignment-ness” of his career?
The most empowering thing you can do regarding your trauma is to fully become aware of it. Recognize the trauma and recognize what that trauma caused within you and within your life. Become aware of your trauma and how you responded to it on a mental, emotional and physical level. You could consider this the ABC of trauma experience. This awareness process includes seeing both the beneficial and detrimental elements of it. From there, you consider what resolution would look like. What is the antidote? This awareness includes consideration of the beneficial and detrimental consequences of each option you might choose as a healing step. And from that place of awareness, the most empowering thing you can do regarding your trauma is to make a conscious decision with your own free will about what you will ultimately choose to do with it, knowing that the right answer for you may be to experience or be the logical opposite. Or it may be to consciously choose to align with and own something your trauma created in you, rather than to be in a pattern of determinism relative to that thing. You may in fact decide that what is healing is to consciously choose to embrace something that your trauma created in you. And that doing so in a conscious way is what will change the detrimental pattern into a beneficial one. To the outside, this may appear like a person is consciously choosing to align with their trauma.
For example, Jane decided to put serious time and energy into finding out what she really wanted and what her personal truths were. In that regard, to heal was to experience the opposite. But what came out of that process was the realization that she really loved to dedicate her life to the success of another person; that the feeling of putting her energy towards them and the result being that they then achieved tangible results, made her feel like she could impact the world. And that she really hated the pressure of being the center of attention. As a result, the healing choice for her really came as a result of embracing the fact that her mother custom molded her for her destiny of being a personal assistant to a political figure. And that by making the conscious choice to dedicate her life to another person’s success healed the pattern of feeling forced to dedicate her life to another person (her mother) without her free will. It was also more healing and more in alignment with her life purpose and also personal truth than going for the limelight herself and living an independent life and chasing personal success would have been.
Brett decided that to heal was to do all kinds of work on his patterns in relationships, so he didn’t continue to line up with women who simply loved him and put pressure on him to succeed because he was their trophy. He chose a rather passive wife that really loved play and leisure time with him and who didn’t push him to succeed in any particular way. But, on the other hand Brett decided that the most healing thing he could do was to own his achievement drive and embrace his extreme discipline and welcome the pressure intentionally. He made the decision to keep going for greatness regarding his golf career. And as a result of making that conscious choice, he experienced the entire game of golf in a better way.
Trauma can seriously prevent what you really want. But also, seemingly paradoxically, (especially regarding your destiny) it can seriously custom forge you for what you really want. It can bend you for failure and it can bend you for success. Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. Your trauma took from you, but it also gave to you. Seeing reality means seeing both sides of this full picture. The moral of the story here is that conscious choice is what matters. When it comes to trauma and to resolving and healing your trauma, scrap what isn’t working for you. Scrap what is detrimental or at odds with what you really want. And powerfully own what is working for you. Powerfully own what is beneficial and in alignment with what you really want.
As people, we have a nasty habit of not recognizing the resources that are all around us. Because this is the case, we miss the benefit they offer us and we end up feeling an unnecessary sense of lack. And this is especially true when it comes to other people.
For the sake of this conversation, let’s say that a resource is something that can be drawn on when wanted or needed, especially to enhance your wellbeing. When we “resource” something, what this means is that we recognize what it is that is of value that we want or need. And then, we actively draw upon it and use it or take it in; fully experiencing (seeing, hearing, feeling, and receiving) its full benefit.
Every person holds within them a powerful resource, or many. This means that every person is a resource of some kind. If you really come to understand this, the world becomes a place that is overflowing with prosperity and abundance. Different people definitely hold very different resources within their being. And this means that different people and different relationships provide very different things.
For example, one person (and therefore relationship) might not be a resource for communication, information or advice. But they might be an incredible resource for adventure, fun and joint experiences. One person (and therefore relationship) might be a powerful resource for honesty and understanding. But not a resource for dependability or encouragement. One person (and therefore relationship) might be a resource for physical affection. Another might be a resource for security. Another might be a resource for information on a specific topic. Another might be a resource for mutual enjoyment of similar interests. Another might be a resource for a helping hand. Another might be a resource for contacts. Another might be a resource for new ideas. Another might be a resource for emotional availability. Another might be a resource for being pushed towards personal growth. Another might be a resource for good food. Another might be a resource for acceptance. Another might be a resource for entertainment. You get the picture.
Every single person is a resource for something, even many things. The question is: Can you recognize what that resource is and the value of it; even if it is not something that you, yourself specifically want and need?
When we get into trouble with regards to resourcing others, is when:
We refuse to accept that literally every person is a resource for something potentially very valuable to us; and because of this, we limit ourselves socially. And end up in a state of lack, angry at the people around us for what they do not provide for us.
We try to meet our needs and get what we want by trying to draw things from specific people when they do not have or offer that specific resource. And end up in a state of lack, angry at the people around us for what they do not provide for us.
Here are a couple of examples of this. Maggie has always disliked Hector’s personality. He is rather cold and impersonal. They disagree on just about everything. As far as Maggie is concerned, Hector offers nothing and adds nothing to her life. She would rather cut him out of her life all together. But Maggie is so fixated on what Hector lacks, that she is not even looking for what he can provide; his strengths. What she has totally missed is that Hector is analytical. Maggie has plenty of problems. And Hector is the person in her life that could perhaps help her most by making an unbiased assessment of these problems, look at all the different angles of these problems and then offering very effective, efficient and logical solutions for each one of them. She would definitely feel better towards him if she recognized that Hector could be the one that could tell her how to get out of the situations that have been causing her to suffer for so many years, not just be warm and sympathetic that she is in them. And she could go to someone else for the warmth and sympathy she is needing. But because Maggie refuses to look for and recognize Hector’s resource, she is angry that no one has an answer for how to get out from under the intolerable weight of her problems.
Hector is a homosexual man. He had 11 siblings growing up and as a result, he always felt like his existence didn’t matter. He has been desperate to matter to someone and to be someone’s priority for his whole life. He wants security and availability most of all. Currently, he is fixated on his friend Max as being the one that is a resource for these things. But Max is a heterosexual man, who is currently single and who has the tendency to drop every friendship he has once he’s in a romantic relationship. Max is not actually a reliable resource for the security, availability and prioritization that Hector is looking for. When Max found another woman to be in a romantic relationship with, suddenly he stopped being available to and stopped prioritizing Hector, causing Hector to be retraumatized. And Hector is now furious at Max that he is not providing him with the security and availability and prioritization that he desperately needs.
Outside of simply lacking the awareness of what resources someone actually has within them, there are several reasons why we might have resistance to recognizing the resource that someone can provide and/or resourcing a person. Here are just some examples of why: In human culture, so many people believe that it is not ok to use people for your own benefit. This is why we don’t like to ask people for help. We tend to worry that asking people for what we need and want is “using” them. But it isn’t using people that is the problem. We use each other every single day. And guess what? People want the resources they hold to be recognized for their value. And people want those resources to be used. What they don’t want is for you to use them as a resource, to their own detriment. And when we say “I feel used”, this is what we mean. We don’t mean that someone sees our value and is positively resourcing us. We mean that they don’t really care about our wellbeing and are simply taking advantage of us. But using people and creating a mutually beneficial symbiosis with them does not have to be a contradiction in terms. Using someone and loving them does not have to be a contradiction in terms. If you want to understand more about this in depth, watch my video titled: Using People. Ask Teal Episode about Interdependence.
Another reason that we may have resistance to recognizing the resource that someone can provide and/or resourcing a person is that we may not want to see the value in someone because we perceive that doing so causes us to have to expand into ‘And Consciousness’. We are also afraid that doing so will cause us to come closer to someone whom we want to push away in order to feel good or stay safe. As people, we like to make things black and white. We feel safer that way. But the reality is not black and white. The reality is that a person can have so many valuable resources within them alongside behaviors that cause us pain. For example, we may have had a parent that was so painful to us in our childhood that we want to write them off as “all bad” and as “having no value or resource”. But the reality is that while they may not be a resource for love or connection, they may be a powerful resource for information on a specific subject or financial abundance. If you walk down a Jail house corridor, every person you pass is a well of powerfully valuable resources. From skills to knowledge to abilities to talents to character traits. You may have resistance to seeing that because it scares you to stop seeing them as “all bad”.
Another reason why we might have resistance to recognizing the resource that someone can provide and/or resourcing a person is because we have serious fear of taking a resource in from someone else. We tend to end up like this when accepting, using or taking in anything from someone else caused us pain. For example, we may have resourced our mother for caretaking as a child, only to end up trapped in guilt and indebted to her because of it. Or, we might have resourced someone for belonging, only to have them die. And therefore, we don’t want to resource anyone for anything so we can avoid the pain of suddenly losing something valuable to us that we were being provided. Or we might have been indoctrinated with the idea that if we need anyone else, we are weak and a burden and worthless. We may have been shamed for trying to resource someone in the past. And as a result, we feel we can only have worth if we are completely independent and associate resourcing others with shame. If you are someone who is afraid to resource others, you would benefit by watching four of my videos. The first is: How To Receive. The second is: Cut the Invisible Strings (How to Detach from Manipulation in Relationships). The third is: Dependence vs. Independence. And the Fourth is: Be Consciously Transactional (Why Every Relationship is Transactional).
Another reason why we might have resistance to recognizing the resource that someone can provide and/or resourcing a person is that we may limit ourselves with narrow thinking regarding relationships because we think that doing so is going to keep us safe. In line with this, we may also have a rigid social idea of how our social life must look, and therefore not be creative enough when it comes to crafting a social structure where our needs can actually be met. Here are some examples: We might be afraid that if we recognize a person as a resource for something, we might threaten another person in our life. And if threatened, they could withdraw the resource that they are currently providing us. Or for example, we think the only acceptable structure for our social life is a single-family home. As a result, we don’t have enough resources for our needs by any stretch of the imagination. But we are too afraid of the potential consequences of breaking outside the social norm. Or for example, we may think that the only way we can guarantee that we can use someone as a resource is if we are in a romantic relationship with them. Therefore, we look to our romantic partner to be the resource for everything for us. To learn more about this, you can watch my video titled: A Romantic Relationship is Not All There Is!
Don’t be that person who misses the value that is right in front of them. Accept that every single person (including you) is a resource for something valuable. Recognize that resource. And resourcing it. You will have much more energy and power and your life will be so much more abundant and so much richer as a result of it.
As a species, people are in the process of progressing towards the actualization of the awareness that in a relationship, there is a you and there is a me. People tend to think that in any moment, it is either you or me. Meaning that people tend to feel like in any situation, they get to act in the best interest of the other party or in the best interest of themselves, which makes their relationships either an exercise in self-sacrifice or a zero-sum game. Either way, it is a guarantee that relationships are painful. We need to master the me and the you too in the relationship equation with regards to best interests. And today, that means becoming aware of the you element of relationships.
There are a great many patterns that can cause a person to lose sight of the “you” in a relationship. To give you just a few examples: If you felt like no one was ever going to act in your best interests, you may have decided that the only way to survive in your life and to get your needs met was to do the same thing that they do, but in reverse. To stop caring about their best interests and simply fight against them for your own best interests. When we do this, we go into a narcissistic perceptual reality where we only ever think about ourselves.
Or for example, you can be indoctrinated into not caring about something that is “other”. A person growing up in a culture with an enemy is often taught to disconnect from that enemy and see them as other and have no concern for their best interests at all. Or a person growing up in a religion that teaches that only people have a soul, learn to relate to other living beings as objects that exist for their pleasure alone. They become normalized to having NO consideration of anything except themselves and maybe other humans.
Or for example, you may have felt totally powerless in your childhood and as if nothing you ever said or did had any impact on anyone or anything in your life. When this is the case, you adopt the false belief that you have no power to impact or affect anyone. Therefore, it doesn’t matter what you do or don’t do. As a result, it may feel like the ripples of effect only go out from other people to you, not the other way around. Therefore, you don’t even consider the impact that something you do has on someone else, only the impact it has on you.
You may not like to hear this, but everything you think, say and do has an impact on everything else in existence. Most especially on those things closest to you in any system that you are a part of. You need to see this power that you have, rather than to minimize it. To not see one’s power is a very dangerous thing. Lack of awareness of your power relative to other people and things will lead to negative results. To understand this, imagine a surgeon. When a surgeon is performing a surgery, he or she absolutely must be aware of the power that he or she has in that situation. If the surgeon does not realize that he or she has as much power to kill as to save a life, the surgeon himself or herself is dangerous. The surgeon would approach the situation from outside reality. And because of this, he or she might approach the situation from the wrong perspective, with the wrong energy and make choices that have severe negative impact and influence on other people as well as themselves.
Another example is to imagine that we have no awareness of the fact that someone is very connected and attached to us. If we don’t realize this and if we don’t realize that this gives us incredible power to harm them, we may simply leave them because we are chasing something that we think is best for us; without understanding the incredible negative impact we are having on them and their life trajectory.
It is a guarantee if you think back on your life, especially those times when you were the most vulnerable (such as in childhood) you have experienced what it is to feel like the other person only had a “me” and not a “you”. It is easy to see just how impacted we were by that. It is also easy to see when someone had a “you”, not just a “me”, how safe that made us and how positively impacted we were by it.
It is also a guarantee that if you think back on your life, you have experienced the horror of watching someone who did not have a “you” and the amount that narcissistic state of being damaged another living thing. For example, you may have watched a person drag their crying child into a store by one arm, not caring about the child’s experience, only about how they want their child to behave for their sake. Or you might have watched a person smash a spider simply to feel safer themselves. Or you might have watched a person have fun putting salt on a slug to watch it dissolve. Or you might have seen people injured, killed or separated from those they love in a war time, all because some leader somewhere wanted more power and didn’t care about the collateral damage.
The people who do not want to recognize the “you” in a relationship usually deeply fear that if they take responsibility for their impact on other things, they will lose their “me”. And as a result, their life will always be painful. To understand more about this, watch my video titled: Am I Responsible for How Other People Feel?
To have a “me” is to have awareness of your own personal feelings, personal thoughts, personal integrity, personal desires, personal needs and therefore most importantly, your personal best interests and personal truth. And to care about it. To have a “you” is to have awareness of the other being’s personal feelings, personal thoughts, personal integrity, personal desires, personal needs and therefore most importantly, their personal best interests and personal truth. And to care about it. When you have committed to conscious living and to awakening, both must matter to you, regardless of whether they matter to the other person. But for a relationship to be a truly mutually beneficial one, both must matter to you and to the other person as well. If both the me and the you matter to both people in a relationship, the door is open to identify what the highest and best option for both parties is. From there, the action you take will be the most in alignment with a win-win possible in the given situation.
All this being said, an important step in your personal progression is to develop an awareness of “you”. To consciously consider what the positive and negative impact is, of anything you think, say and do, on anything around you.
To be completely honest with you, the survival of mankind is dependent on the development of a “you” within human consciousness. And that is a truth that I want you to sit with this week!
This earth that we call home, is a system. What that means is that all the things that make up life on earth (including ourselves) are part of a large interconnecting network. Every part of the system, effects every other part of the system. This is a realization that can make a person feel both powerless and powerful. Powerless because the demise of a part of this system can bring about our own demise. But powerful because it means that when we decide to act in the best interests of another part of this system, so as to cause it to thrive, we are ensuring that we will thrive as well.
And in today’s world, nowhere is this more evident than in our relationship to soil. I have not come here today to talk to you about yet another thing going wrong with our planet… another thing that you are powerless to stop. Instead, our relationship to soil, is the relationship where you will also find the most practical chance that we have at reversing the climate crisis we are facing today.
All over the planet today, we are facing soil degradation. This is a big deal because it is estimated that 87% of life depends on soil. 95% of the food that we eat comes from the soil. And 50% of the top soil in America is already gone. The implications of our mismanagement of soil over the years are so colossal that humans can look forward to only about 60 more years of agricultural harvests before the soil is completely destroyed.
And because this is a system, humanity will suffer the consequences of the demise of the soil. Food systems will fail. Poverty on a mass scale will be the result. From poverty comes social unrest and violence and mass population migrations. If we do not act fast as a collective, this planet that we call home, will become uninhabitable to us.
For this reason, aside from dedicating my life to teaching you how to master relationships with all other things in this system that we call life on earth, I have partnered up with the efforts of Sadhguru, who is currently on his journey of traveling 30,000 kilometers across 27 nations to raise awareness and make a difference with his global initiative savesoil.org. This mission that he is on, and that others are on with him, is one of the most important missions being undertaken on the world today. And so, today, I am issuing a call to action to all those who hear this message…
What I am going to offer you is a list of eleven practical ways you can make an actual positive impact on the world, today:
Visit savesoil.org to gain awareness about this initiative and about how YOU can play a role in saving our soil.
Watch the documentary Kiss The Ground. It’s available on Netflix and also https://kisstheground.com/ which will not only present to you the facts about the state of soil health on the planet, but propose to you the incredible solution to the climate crisis that we face today.
I also encourage you to post about this film and this issue on your social media accounts. Never forget that the power of word of mouth will be paramount in causing a shift in collective thought, which will cause positive changes in those power structures within society that have the most power to change things at a grander scale; such as governments.
Reduce all possible food waste, and contribute to creating compost. If your area doesn’t provide a compost pickup, google local companies in your area that you can hire to pick up your food scraps for you; or where you can drop off your food scraps.
Eat a plant-based diet. I cannot begin to stress how much of a negative impact that the meat and dairy industries have on the environment. To go more in-depth on the statistics of this impact, and how to transition into a more plant-based lifestyle, consider checking out the documentary titled: Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret. And don’t fall into the trap of thinking that cows or other livestock are bad for earth. They are not. It is the unnatural and detrimental ways that we are farming and handling them that is the problem.
Shop at farmer’s markets and get to know the food producers. Ask the farmers if they are using practices to rebuild soil health (regenerative farming) and get these conversations started. You can also search at https://regenerationinternational.org/ for regenerative farms near your location. Support the farmers and products from these farms.
Support organic, non-gmo food. We must stop the cycle of soil destruction, which toxic chemicals and pesticides play such a powerful role in. In line with this, choose to use fewer chemicals by purchasing natural, chemical-free hygiene products, household cleaners, and garden care products, etc. These chemicals go into our water which go into our soil which further depletes it and kills the microbes. Know that each and every one of you votes every day… You vote with your dollar. So make it a conscious vote for the future of earth.
Get involved with growing a garden at home or in a community garden near you. You can even make a difference by covering bare areas of your land with something like grass or wildflowers - Any inch of the earth that is planted with extra plant-life, draws down carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, saves the future of soil and ensures the health of the system of life on earth.
Deforestation is a main contributor to soil erosion. To reduce deforestation, you can take steps such as using less paper, recycling, and purchasing recycled products. You can also support local resale and thrift stores, by donating and purchasing items there rather than purchasing something new; which is a vote against unnecessary production which puts stress on earth.
Plant trees or donate to organizations which plant trees to offset carbon emission. Some tree-planting organizations include One Tree Planted; Trees for the Future; Trees, Water & People, International Tree Foundation and Woodland Trust. You can also use the search engine Ecosia which is like a Google, but it plants trees when you search on the internet with their platform.
Purchase regenerative clothing. And wash your clothes less and in cold water. Some examples of regenerative textiles include hemp, linen, and organic cotton. When you do wash your clothes, wash your clothing in cold water. And know that doing two loads of laundry weekly in cold water instead of hot or warm water can save up to 500 pounds of carbon dioxide each year. Purchase regenerative clothing, for example made from bamboo and hemp.
Install a low-flow showerhead to reduce hot water use. Doing this can save 350 pounds of CO2. Taking shorter showers helps, too. And monitor your general water usage. This means, xeriscape wherever possible, don’t leave sprinklers on for unnecessary amounts of time, don’t leaving the hose running unattended, and deliberately buy and use high-efficiency appliances such as washers and dishwashers.
I am here today to ask you to take action wherever you can, and as soon as you can. When it comes to the climate crisis that we are facing today, it can feel hopeless. It can feel like the problem is so much bigger than you that no matter what you do, you cannot affect enough to make an actual difference. It can be tempting to give up. But if you commit to these steps I’ve listed for you above, you will be making an actual difference. And it is soil that holds the real promise, not just for overcoming the climate crisis that we face, but for ensuring that this system that we are such an integral part of will thrive. Please enlist your friends, family, and coworkers to be a part of these efforts along with you. Together we can actually cause the world to thrive. And our lives quite literally depend on it. Save the soil, let’s make it happen.
Most people don’t think about their life as a relationship that they are having. But it is. It is a relationship that they are having with the other people, places and things in existence. It is a relationship with the rest of the universe at large. If people saw it as a relationship that they are having, they would approach life very differently. And they would approach their relationship to the universe very differently.
So many people walking the earth think that the universe (what many call Source or God) created them and then dictates and controls everything that happens in their life; that as people, we are simply subject to God’s will. It is tempting to think this way because we sense the bigness and therefore power and therefore authority that the greater universe has. This is why when we talk to the universe at large, we are usually praying to it or requesting something from it; like we would talk to a parent who has the ultimate authority to either give us what we want or deny us what we want. But this is a very immature perception and this is a very immature idea of the universe we live in. What we miss when we think this way, is that we actually have a very dynamic relationship with the universe. We also have a very two-way relationship with the universe. The universe perceives you to be a fragment of itself. One that is imbued with the very qualities that it, itself possesses. Such as free will. Such as the power to create etc.
What most people don’t understand is that free will actually goes hand in hand with destiny. It is not a contradiction. Before coming into this life, you chose with your free will into alignment with a certain plan for your life. This was the WHY of this life vs. any other one that you might have chosen. We call this bigger, more objective plan that is supported by the greater universe “destiny”. And therefore, using your free will to go in the direction of what is wanted by you in this life, will put you into alignment with your destiny.
You are doing this life hand in hand with the universe because your existence is a win-win. It helps your own personal expansion. It also helps the universe at large to know itself and to expand. It does this through you. You can consider your life a symbiosis with the universe, albeit not a very conscious one for most people.
To be in the best relationship possible with the universe, all you need to do is to apply all the rules of relationship success to your relationship with the universe at large. For example, you need to be attuned to the universe at large (including the people, places and things in your life) so as to develop understanding of it. You need to see, hear, feel and know it. You need to take its best interests as a part of your own best interests. You need to communicate with it. You need to build trust with it. In actuality, if you looked through any video that I have created about relationships and applied that to your relationship with the Universe at large, your relationship with the universe at large would improve. But today, we’re going to talk about boundaries.
Boundaries are very important for relationships. Boundaries are also important for your relationship to the universe at large. At one level, it is important to understand that all is one. When all is one, there are no boundaries. Also, at another level, it is important and useful to define yourself. Our individual perspective is a kind of boundary that defines us from everything else in existence. 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. And given that you have free will, you get to consciously choose what those are and you get to consciously live in alignment with them.
This is an especially big deal because we live in a time space reality managed by the law of mirroring (also called the law of attraction). Whatever boundary we have for ourselves, will be reflected in our lives. It is also a big deal because with the law of cause and effect, if we have a certain boundary or lack a certain boundary, that will cause us to think, say and do things that bring about very specific wanted or unwanted effects. Even though boundaries are about far more than what you will and won’t put up with, most people are primarily concerned with boundaries as they apply to how you want to be treated and what your limits are. Essentially, what you will say yes and what you will say no to.
Remember that boundaries are not about telling another thing, including the universe, what it can and can’t do with you. It’s about powerfully choosing and defining what you will and won’t say yes and no to, regardless of what it decides to do. And therefore, it is about how you will behave given that defined personal truth. For this reason, the universe wants and needs you to set boundaries for your life experience. And doing so, changes the reflection you are getting in your life.
So that you can understand what I mean, I’ll give you an example. Anna had a very hard life experience from a very young age. You could say that it didn’t matter how much she could or couldn’t handle, bad things kept happening and she had to keep on performing anyway. For example, when her father ended up paraplegic, the next day she still had to go to a gymnastics meet and do her best to win. And when she was sick with the flu and her first boyfriend broke up with her, the same day she still had to show up at work and cover her shift. This became a theme in her life… Having to keep on performing despite the circumstances of her life. She figured that this was just her unlucky lot in life. It was just that the universe was either against her, or was testing how much she could handle before breaking. But one day, she realized that if the universe wanted her to perform, it wasn’t fair for her to be expected to do that despite not being supported to do it. She was done with the “perform despite” pattern. So, she decided that this was her new boundary. That if she is going to perform, she would require to be supported to do it and that if things happened to put extra pressure on her instead, she would then refuse to perform. The universe was very pleased that this was her new boundary. And because she made this decision, she began acting differently. For example, she no longer put up with people being unsupportive around her. She went through a huge purge relative to her friendships. And when her coach showed up to a gymnastics meet and verbally berated her, she did something different. For the first time in her life, instead of just taking it and performing despite this, she refused to perform and walked out of the stadium. As a result of this powerful boundary setting with the universe and commitment to live in alignment with her new boundary, the entire universe began to reflect something entirely different: Support. Friends who took pressure off of her and enabled her performance. A new coach for her gymnastics team. Answers to improving her health that she’d been looking for. Even people canceling things before she had to, so she didn’t have too much on her plate.
What all this means is that one of the most powerful things you can do in your life in order to get the life experience you want, is to set boundaries for yourself… Boundaries with the universe at large. And then think, speak and act in alignment with those boundaries. Watch what happens when you do!
One of the most interesting things about traveling the world, is seeing just how similar and just how different the values are from culture to culture. And it is especially interesting to see what kinds of relationships are considered to be the most valuable from culture to culture. For certain Asian cultures, the most important relationship of all, is your relationship with your ancestors. For certain Hispanic cultures, the most important relationship is between a mother and daughter and father and son. For certain Native Cultures, the most important relationship is between you and your tribe and also with that extended tribe, which is the natural world. For many of you watching this, the most valued and important relationship is the romantic partnership… Finding your “other half”.
Given that no one can actually agree about what the most important relationship is, and we tend to get sucked into the trap of valuing and prioritizing whatever relationship our family and culture and society holds to be most important, it is time to question our own limited thinking relative to relationships.
In truth, if we glamorize any one type of relationship, while devaluing another, we can get ourselves into a whole heap of unnecessary trouble. But one of the biggest barriers to people getting their needs met and recognizing resources within relationships and being able to create feel-good relationships in the modern world, is that so many people glorify the romantic partnership while devaluing every other relationship. This creates a fixation on the romantic relationship and a de-prioritization of and even discarding of other relationships. And this creates a state of starvation within people.
The reason that people fixate on the romantic partnership is because many of us feel that this is the only relationship where we can guarantee that our needs will be met. There are two main reasons that we think a romantic relationship is the only one in which we can guarantee our needs will be met.
Pair bonding, even if established only temporarily, is something that evolved within humanity because it served to meet needs of the individuals within the pair bond as well as to secure greater individual and species success. You could consider it evolutionary. But the genuine need for humans to go from the evolution of pair bonding to marriage, took root when families that consisted of loosely organized groups of people, got to the point where the evolution of societal success required settling down into agrarian civilizations. Property ownership became a serious concern. Religions then embraced and started proselytizing the idea of marriage in order to establish social order.To begin with, the primary purpose of establishing the life-long pair bond that we call marriage, was to bind women to men, and thus guarantee that a man's children were truly his biological heirs.
For most of human history, couples were brought together into a partnership for practical reasons, not because they fell in love. But there were many “needs” that both people had (and even needs that their families had) that were met by forming such a partnership. The idea of romantic love, as a motivating force for pair bonding, does not go very far back. And yet the needs we have that are satisfied by romantic attachment, have become of paramount importance in the world today.
The most important take away from this is that for thousands of years, the structure of many societies across the globe have been literally founded on marriage. They still are today. This means citizens and families and cultures and religions and government organizations and educational sources and entertainment have all been indoctrinating you with the idea that marriage is the most important relationship you will have. And that the romantic pair bond is the relationship in which your needs will be met. Many societies have made it only acceptable for certain needs to come through a romantic partner. And they set the idea in people’s heads that by establishing a romantic pair bond, you can guarantee that your romantic partner will meet your needs and you will meet theirs. Which leads us to our next point.
If you look at the needs that most people are looking for today from a romantic partner, such as a sense of merging and closeness and importance and togetherness and belonging and oneness and focus and prioritization and availability, there is a belief that one can only guarantee the security of getting these needs met from a romantic partner. They don’t feel any other relationship can be relied upon to meet those needs, certainly not long term. There is a belief that the romantic partnership is the only relationship where both the feelings as well as the transactional element of the relationship are strong enough to be able to rely on the other person committing to providing those things that we need and want. To learn more about this, you can watch my video titled: Be Consciously Transactional. We tend to feel like every other relationship is not secure. And the problem is, when we live in a society where people genuinely feel that what matters most is the romantic partnership, we have learned that other people will value and prioritize a romantic partner above all other relationships; therefore, you are only genuinely secure and only have leverage for getting your needs met in a relationship, if you are that person’s romantic partner.
This is especially compounded if a person did not get their needs met for things like a sense of merging and closeness and importance and togetherness and belonging and oneness and focus and prioritization and availability through their initial relationship with mom and then dad. The romantic partnership mimics the initial experience that one needs to have with their parent. And if this experience was lacking in some way, the romantic partnership is the one that we think will heal us from what was lacking and provide those needs that we are starving for.
There are so many problems with this fixation that we have developed on the romantic relationship. Perhaps the biggest problem though, is that we start to see the romantic partnership as the only relationship that promises to meet our needs… The only one that will make us happy. The only one in which we can feel secure and establish a sense of guarantee. As a result, we fail to recognize and we devalue all of the other forms of relationships around us, as well as the plentitude of resources that each one offers us. This causes us to obsessively hunt for our romantic partner as if this relationship is all that matters to us. Once we find it, this causes us to prioritize that relationship over all others and then de-prioritize and even discard our other relationships for the sake of that one. We also put all the pressure on that other person to be the one to meet all of our needs, which is impossible. No one person can meet all of your needs. So it is a set up for disappointment and pain.
We need to expand our idea of relationships beyond what it is today. One of the most beneficial steps you can take in relationships is to accept that we form relationships because of our needs and desires. We seek to establish a symbiosis whereby the relationship is mutually beneficial. And every relationship is a potential symbiosis. Every relationship offers different needs and lends to our desires. A romantic partner is not all there is. It is not your only hope of getting the needs that you have reliably met. It is not your only hope of happiness. A great many needs that you have, which you are convinced can only come in the form of a romantic partner, are actually not dependent on a romantic partner. And the more people that realize this, the more people will stop fixating on the value of this one kind of relationship over all others and begin to resource the value of all the other plethora of relationships there are in the world.
Every person (including you) and every type of relationship has so much value to provide. Each one is a powerful resource for something. The question is… Can you recognize that value? Can you recognize that resource? And can you be nourished by it?
At times in our life, all of us will choose to be strategic in terms of how we relate to the world. Because we are governed by the law of cause and effect, everything has a consequence. And so, to be successful, this means we must choose our consequences consciously. To understand more about this in depth, I urge you to watch my video titled: Why You Should Consciously Choose Consequences. But just like being honest and authentic sometimes comes with consequences, being strategic also comes with consequences. And we can’t choose between the negative and positive consequences of being honest or of being strategic unless we realize that we have this choice. And start to be conscious about making it.
For the sake of this conversation, you can imagine that in each situation and beyond that, in life in general, we have two ways of going about it.
We can be honest and authentic. If we are honest, we are thinking, speaking and acting in accordance with the truth and with what is real for us. We are being genuine, sincere and we are in a state of integrity. When we do this, we are engaging with life from the inside out. We are being straightforward in that we are bringing our truth out into the world.
We can be strategic. If we are being strategic, we are thinking, speaking and acting in accordance with a plan or method that guarantees us to be able to avoid something we don’t want or gain something we want. When we do this, we are engaging with the world from the outside in. We first assess the outside world so as to come up with a plan for what it would take to avoid what we want to avoid or get what we want to get; and then we adjust ourselves as necessary.
It is difficult to preserve the truth of yourself and be honest in a society where the process of socialization teaches you that certain things are acceptable and certain things are unacceptable. In many families and cultures, the consequences are so high for a child being or not being a certain way or for their truth being or not being a certain thing, that they give up their sense of self in order to avoid those consequences and in order to get what they want and need. They learn that strategy is the way to avoid pain and get what they want and need.
As a result of all of this, in adulthood, so many of us are living from strategy instead of from authenticity. So many of us are being strategic instead of honest; both with ourselves and with others. But so many of us began to relate to other people and to life itself in a strategic way so early that we do this subconsciously. So many people are living in this state of constant strategy, and they don’t even realize it; it is only obvious to the people around them. The reason that we can continue to do this subconsciously is because we decided long ago that what we value most is being able to control the experiences we have. If we can think and speak and act in a way that guarantees that we will avoid what we want to avoid and get what we want to get, we are acting in accordance with our core value. And therefore, in being strategic, we feel like we are being true to ourselves, even if we are being inauthentic and dishonest.
So that you can further understand what I mean, I will give you two examples.
Debbie grew up in a home with a very domineering and controlling single mother. When her father divorced her mother, he moved to a different city. Whenever she behaved in an authentic way as a child that did not please her mother, such as expressing emotion that her mother didn’t like or sharing an opinion that didn’t agree with her, the punishment was isolation. Her best interests were not considered in any decision that was made by either her mother or her father. Therefore, she felt very out of control. Feeling unaccepted by her mother and unloved by her father, she developed so much shame that Debbie decided the most important thing was to prove to herself that she was a good person and to be able to control her life. In order to feel like a good person and to get what she wanted with other people and avoid pain, Debbie became a very, very strategic person.
Debbie blocked out any awareness of any personal truth that might make her feel bad about herself. She refused to accept any reflections that other people gave her that would cause her to feel bad about herself and instead would come up with a reason why they were the one that was wrong/bad instead. She decided to do humanitarian work with her time and energy; so that she could see herself as a good person and get other people to see her as a good person. She hated the work itself, so when she wasn’t shown enough praise, gratitude or credit for what she did, she would quit and join a different humanitarian organization. Debbie was fully locked into the “So That Pattern”. If you want to know more about this pattern, you can watch my video titled: If You Want to Be Happy, Don’t Do This.
Debbie became a very two-faced person. She was insincere and deceitful. Saying pleasant things about a person when she was in front of them and unpleasant things about them when she wasn’t. Even when other people accurately pin pointed her truth based on her actions or on things they had heard she had said behind their backs, she would refuse to admit to it or to reveal that truth. She would deliberately manipulate people to believe that she was completely aligned with them, when the reality is, she was not. She would be openly considerate of other people and meet their needs, so as to obligate them to be considerate of her and meet her needs in return. She would only enter into relationships with men who did not know themselves and strategically help them to realize that their truth was actually the same as her truth and their desires were actually the same as her desires.
Debbie had lost touch with her personal truth and refused to face it. She would refuse to share what personal truth she did know if there were any negative consequences for doing so. So, no one was ever really in a relationship with Debbie. They were in a relationship with a carefully crafted façade, designed to be able to control her environment, avoid pain and get what she wanted and needed. Ultimately, she caused herself and everyone around her incredible pain because of it.
Eric was raised by a transient stream of nannies. His mother had died and his father was a man who had no space or time for a child, unless that child’s accomplishments or behavior was somehow fed his own ego. Eric realized early on that he would never be loved or get his needs met unless he pleased his father. So, he gave up on being true to himself in favor of employing whatever strategy guaranteed him this. He dressed in a way that would please his father, he was praising and affectionate with him, he took up his father’s favorite sport. He joined in on political rallies that belonged to his father’s favorite political party. He told himself that he and his father were best friends. He married the girl he knew his father would love. And then he repeated the same pattern with her. He adopted her life. He wore what she wanted him to wear. He convinced himself that her interests were his interests. He wrote down his dark thoughts and feelings in a journal and never shared them with anyone. He agreed to getting married when she started putting pressure on him to do so. He agreed to having kids with her when she wanted them and told her that he wanted them too. Ultimately, Eric got what he wanted. But at the cost of ever finding out what his personal truth was beyond “I want this person to love me”.
When Eric was 40 years old, he had a mid-life crisis. Because he had been subconsciously making such a strategic game out of his life, he couldn’t keep it up and feel good in his life. And so, he completely flipped on the people in his life. He began to treat them like they had forced him into a life that wasn’t his… That they had controlled him for their own best interests. He cheated on his wife. And he stopped engaging with his kids because his actual truth was that he always wanted an open relationship and he didn’t really want kids in the first place. He just thought that if he said so, his wife would end the relationship. Of course, when he finally did tell his wife this, she had a nervous breakdown and moved back in with her mother. Eric joined the opposite political party from the one he had supported all his life. He stopped going to his father’s house for holidays and became estranged from him, something that severely affected his father’s health. He expressed problems he had with the past with both his father and with his wife years after those situations had occurred, and now that neither of them could do anything about it. He blew up every relationship in his life, causing himself and all of them immeasurable pain.
There are consequences for honesty. I don’t need to tell you about those consequences in this episode because you’ve lived long enough on earth to see what those consequences are. But there are consequences for strategy too. And those consequences I assure you, are severe. To understand more about this in depth, I ask you to watch my video titled: Are you Only Honest When You Feel Like There Are No Consequences?
I can’t say to you that strategy is always a bad idea and that honesty is always better. What I can say is that because we are so unconscious about our choice to be either honest or to be strategic, all too often honesty/authenticity and strategy are diametrically opposed. What I can say is that it is not possible to be stuck in this condition of being constantly strategic and to be happy or to have real relationships at the same time. And so, if you want a life worth living, you’ve got to know what your truth is. See the positive and negative consequences for being honest and see the positive and negative consequences for being strategic. And based off of that awareness, consciously decide what to do with your truth.
Resistance is one of those words that you will hear all the time in healing, spiritual, self-help circles. Resistance is nothing more than opposition. It is any oppositional force. We can experience opposition on the outside and we can experience opposition from the inside. When there is resistance external to us or within us, what it means is that we are out of alignment. Either we are out of alignment with someone or something external to us. Or two aspects of ourselves are out of alignment with each other. There are always negative consequences for not being in alignment, especially when we make a decision or take an action when we are not in alignment. Because of this, when we meet with any form of resistance, we must directly face that resistance and resolve the mis-alignment that it suggests, so as to reach a state of alignment before we make a decision or take an action. To learn more about this in-depth, you can watch my video titled: Urgent! Deal With Your Resistance Before You Do Anything Else.
All this being said, there is a misconception that many people hold that resistance is always a bad thing. That whatever is in resistance is the problem. And that whatever is being resistant is always in the wrong. Therefore, the resistance is the thing that always must be released, gotten rid of or bulldozed. You’ll hear people say things like: “It’s just their resistance or It’s just my resistance”. And it is easy to assume. For example, let’s say that what you want is a lifelong relationship. A resistant thought to that might be the image of you sitting by yourself in a nursing home at 70 years old. Resistant words may be “there’s no point because all relationships end anyway”. A resistant action might be never going out to meet people and spending all your time alone at home instead. This thought and these words and this action are in resistance to your desire because they are oppositional to it. It is easy to see in this scenario that if the person really wants a lifelong relationship, this resistance is the problem. If this resistance is not released, he or she has energy going towards the manifestation of a relationship and also energy preventing the manifestation of a relationship. But resistance is not this straightforward.
The truth is that resistance is not bad or wrong. It must be resolved, but it always exists for a very important reason and sometimes, it exists for a very good reason. For example, let’s imagine that you want a lifelong relationship and you meet someone that you really like, but you experience resistance to committing to them. That resistance may be there because you have been left before in relationships and the part of you that is in resistance is terrified of that ever happening again; even though in reality, this person will not leave you. Or, that resistance may be because while part of you is focused on all the positives about the person, another part of you is noticing all kinds of red flags. Red flags that you should be taking into account because this person is not capable of having a long-term relationship.
Two more examples of when whatever you perceive to be in resistance, is the one in the right are: Let’s say that you are about to go swim in a Crocodile infested river, you will feel resistance. This is resistance that should be heeded instead of treated as the problem.
Or for example, let’s say that you have to get somewhere fast. You come to a crossroads and you want to go right, but another person is there who knows that the right-side road is flooded and impassible. When this person tries to block your progress down the right-side road, you will perceive this person as being in resistance to you. But this external resistance you are meeting with is more in alignment with your desires than you are, because taking the right road means getting stuck.
Or for example, let’s say that a man has codependent tendencies. His current partner decides that she wants children. Being codependent, and because he automatically wants that sensation of confluence with her, he says “Yes, I definitely think it is time. I’d love to do that with you” and starts having unprotected sex. But his actual authentic truth, that he wont look at, is that he doesn’t want children. He just wants confluence with his partner. That nagging feeling of “no” that he keeps suppressing and the passive aggressive way he is always too busy or not in the mood for sex when she is ovulating, is resistance that actually represents his authentic truth.
Sometimes when we become aware of the aspects of us that are in resistance to each other, we find that instead of opposing our true desires, they point to even deeper desires and that going in the direction we were intent on going was in fact the opposite of what was best for us.
We have the tendency to identify with one side of the resistance equation. For example, If I consciously want to go to a party, I will Identify with that part of me and consider the part of me that doesn’t want to go, the one that is “in resistance”. The reality is that both are in resistance to each other. The part of me that doesn’t want to go to a party perceives the part that does, as being in resistance to it just as much as the part that does want to go to a party experiences the part that doesn’t, as being in resistance to it. Resistance is that oppositional force that is created by both of them not being aligned with each other. Resistance takes two.
If we want to genuinely resolve our resistance and find alignment, we need to let go of our strong identification with any part that is participating in or creating resistance and is therefore misaligned. Resistance always carries important information. We need to directly face, see, hear, feel and understand both sides of the equation of resistance. It is only by doing so that we can understand where this resistance is coming from and gain the information it contains and achieve a more objective perspective so as to be able to resolve the resistance and reach a state of genuine alignment instead.
There is always a WHY to resistance. It always exists for an important reason. If we don’t understand this, we will not be able to resolve the resistance so as to achieve a state of alignment. Your resistance deserves to be treated as valid and important regardless of whether it is about something true or real or not. If you do not treat it this way, if you approach resistance with resistance (by having already decided that it is stupid or shouldn’t be there or needs to change its stance) you will not be able to see, listen to, feel and understand that resistance enough to be able to arrive at your personal higher truth in any given situation and resolve that resistance so as to reach a state of alignment instead.
Compatibility is one of the most important elements of any relationship. And it is only by accurately assessing compatibility that you can figure out what the right type of relationship is and what the right relationship arrangement is between yourself and another person.
Simply put, compatibility is when two things are able to exist or occur together in a state of harmony and without conflict. If two things are compatible, their co-existence is beneficial and ads to the wellbeing of each of them. Incompatibility is when two things cannot exist or occur together without creating conflict and without being a detriment to one or to both of them.
To understand more about why it is so incredibly important to consider compatibility in your relationships, you can watch two of my videos. The first is: Incompatibility, a Harsh Reality in Relationships. The second is: Accept Incompatibility to Avoid Relationship Hell.
One of the most common misunderstandings people have about compatibility is that they confuse compatibility with sameness. What I mean by this is that people assume that they are compatible to someone if they are the same as that person. For example, if they have the same interests, opinions, strengths, likes and dislikes, goals, personality, priorities, beliefs, ambition, passions, philosophies etc. This is not true. Compatibility is more complex than this. Two things being the same might spell compatibility or two things being the same might spell incompatibility. Likewise, two things being different might spell compatibility or they might spell incompatibility.
To give you some simple examples of differences that could spell compatibility or incompatibility, if one person in a relationship wants to have a lot of alone time in a relationship and the other wants a lot of together time, this is a difference that is incompatible. If one person in a relationship loves to cook but hates to clean and the other likes to clean but hates to cook, this is a difference that is compatible. If one person values personal development and change the other values stability and likes things to stay the way they are, this is a difference that is incompatible. If one person likes to be dominant sexually and the other loves to be submissive sexually, this is a difference that is compatible.
To give you some simple examples of sameness that could spell compatibility or incompatibility, if two people have the same religion, this could be a similarity that is compatible. If two people want to be the one in charge of their environment, this could be a similarity that is incompatible. If two people both love dogs, this could be a similarity that is compatible. If two people struggle with intimacy, this could be a similarity that is incompatible.
Now that you can understand in a simplified way how both differences and similarities can spell either compatibility or incompatibility, let’s look deeper at how similarity can imply incompatibility. For this, I will give you a couple of examples from real life. Greg and Melissa are both completely into fitness. Their life revolves around it. It was a big deal to both of them to meet someone who was just as committed to staying healthy and in shape as they are and who will become a work out partner. At face value, they seemed to be very compatible in this way. But Greg is a gym rat who loves weightlifting. He is a big believer that loading calories in the morning and working out at night gives the best results. And he spends 3 hours at the gym every night. Melissa is a runner. She loves to get up early and go out and catch the sunrise. She wants a partner to run with. Even though they both love fitness, this similarity between them leads to constant conflicts. They hardly see each other because their work out schedules are opposite. And Melissa is just as deeply dissatisfied when she joins Greg to do weightlifting as Greg is when he tries to go running with her.
Jennifer and Nora are both super achiever personality types. They are driven, ambitious, disciplined, precise, demanding and love being the center of attention. They were very excited to meet someone else who is like them, especially because people have reflected to each of them separately that they are too hard to get along with because of the way they are. Given this similarity, Jennifer and Nora could have been compatible as allies who sometimes spend quality time together, exchange ideas and resources, and make each other feel “gotten”. But Jennifer and Nora decided to start a business together instead. And because of their sameness, in this arrangement, they ended up in constant conflicts. Each wanted to be in the number one position. Each wanted to make the executive decisions and so each one fought for the other to be the one to make compromises. They both wanted the glory and the limelight, so they both felt the other was in their way rather than being supportive. They both gave underhanded compliments to each other when talking to associates and clients. The entire relationship became a complex power struggle. And when they decided to go their separate ways, Jennifer ended up trying to sue Nora for intellectual rights. Obviously Nora lawyered the hell up in response to that and they went to war.
One of the biggest issues that you will run into if you don’t recognize that compatibility is different than sameness, and if you don’t see that sameness can spell incompatibilities, is that you might end up in relationships where you have nothing to offer someone and they have nothing to offer you. When this is the case, you might not end up in conflicts, but it will feel like you contribute nothing to a person’s life and they contribute nothing towards yours. It feels like this because you both offer the same things in a relationship. And sometimes, the most compatible relationships are those where people offer different things in a relationship.
There is a transactional element in every relationship, whether it is a business relationship, a relationship with the government, a romantic relationship, a friendship, or a familial relationship etc. A transaction at its essence, is nothing more than an energy exchange. It means each person receives something and each person provides something. What makes a transaction a good one, is if each person gets something that is valued. And value, especially with regards to what we value most, is based on what that person needs and wants. A person has to need and want something to truly value it. Therefore, it is usually more difficult to value something you already have an abundance of.
Sameness can lead to a weak transactional element in a relationship. To give you an example, Sean and Lydia are a power couple. They are both very successful people in their own lives. Because of this, they have the same things to offer in a relationship. For example, they offer status, luxury, novel experiences, high energy levels, travel, exclusivity, VIP treatment, respect, entertainment, business savvy, access to resources, impressive contacts, motivation etc. But because they have the same thing to offer, neither of them feels the other really brings something of value to act as magnetic pull between them in the relationship. Lydia doesn’t value the financial power that Sean brings to the table because she already has enough to last a lifetime. Sean doesn’t value Lydia’s high energy levels; his own energy level is so high that he just feels like he is burning the candle at both ends. And in the relationship, the struggle is always whether what Sean needs for his success or what Lydia needs for her success should be the priority. All too often they end up deciding that both should be the priority and so, instead of supporting one another’s success, they just part ways to go pursue their own respective success alone, but with the support of other people rather than each other. They are alone in the relationship with one another.
In reality, Sean would be much more compatible with a woman who valued him for what he brought to the relationship, but whom could offer things like nurturing, support, admiration, relaxation, deep conversation and someone who would be happy making her life about supporting his success because she felt that doing so made her feel fulfilled. In reality, Lydia would be much happier with a man who valued her excellence. A man who could commit to being her ‘safe place to land’. A man that would enable her to achieve her goals, a man who would want to be available to her whenever she needed him, help her to slow down when she needs to slow down and who would be very physically affectionate. To understand more about this, you would benefit by watching my video titled: Be Consciously Transactional (Why Every Relationship Is Transactional).
What you should be going for is a relationship arrangement that is symbiotic. When a relationship is truly symbiotic in its compatibility, it enhances the wellbeing of any and all individuals in that relationship. And as such, you don’t become preoccupied with needing or wanting the other to change into something else in order to be able to feel good in the relationship.
Compatibility is really about seeing the reality of yourself and the reality of someone else, so that you can accurately assess what the right type of relationship is between you and them and what the right relationship arrangement or configuration is between you and them. For this reason, it is important to not confuse compatibility with sameness. Because sameness could in fact imply incompatibility.
The truth about narcissism and codependency is that they are not personality disorders. They are adaptive relationship strategies. Now that I have hit you with that truth straight out of the gate, let me explain.
Some people are aware that the household that they grew up in was dysfunctional. But most people who grew up in dysfunctional households, either don’t know that their family system was dysfunctional or are in denial that it was. We have the tendency to normalize whatever environment we grow up in. To understand more about this, I encourage you to watch my video titled: How Normalization is Hurting You and Hurting Society. When I say dysfunctional, what I mean is that the way the family system operates (and especially the way that the needs of each family member is met) is destructive to the individual members of the family. It diminishes instead of enhances the wellbeing of each member of the system. The way the relationships operate within the family system causes disturbances regarding the emotional, mental and physical wellbeing of the individual members of the family. Therefore, we cannot say that the family system works well.
The hidden reality in a dysfunctional family system is this: Every member of the family is really out for themselves. Each person is pursuing their own interest and nobody is reliably interested in anyone else’s wellbeing but their own.” When I say hidden reality, I mean really hidden reality. Because some dysfunctional family dynamics are nauseatingly gaslighting in that they have the appearance of exactly the opposite of this truth. For example, let’s say that a parent dedicates their entire existence to their child succeeding at a specific sport. That child might grow up to have all kinds of disturbances to their mental, emotional and physical health. But not know why and maintain the story that their parent selflessly sacrificed everything for him or her success and dreams. In reality, this parent may have in fact been motivated to drive the success of their child for their own personal needs and desires the entire time; no matter the adverse effects on their child. Needs and desires like fueling their own positive self-concept, the desire to create invisible strings of indebtedness so that their child will support them in turn or success by proxy. And when this is the case, even though at a conscious level, the child often does not register the reality, at a subconscious level, they know something just isn’t right. They usually internalize it and tell themselves the story that something must be wrong with them. But they suffer none the less and experience the destructive effects of the dysfunctional relationship. So, it is important to know that in a dysfunctional social system, including a family, the fact that every person is out for themselves is the truth that everyone will try to cover up and deny.
If every person is really out for themselves, the relationships within a dysfunctional family are not reliably safe. The definition of an unsafe relationship is a relationship with someone who is not taking you as part of themselves and therefore is not taking your best interests as part of their own best interests. This is a state of disconnection and perceived separateness where they cannot see you, feel you, hear you and understand you to even know what your best interests really are. It is essentially a lack of attunement and a lack of love. A person in a dysfunctional family system can oppose your wellbeing for the sake of their own. In a dysfunctional family system, the members start to play zero sum games with each other. It is a recipe for pain, conflict, and even abuse.
When we find ourselves in a family system like this, in order to ensure our own wellbeing, we feel we only have one choice: To jump on the bandwagon of vying for our own best interests and to create adaptations to that family system, so that we can feel as safe as possible and so that we can have as much control as possible over getting our own needs met. There are so many different strategies that children can employ in order to do this. Just to give you just some examples, they can become oppositionally defiant, they can become hyper achievers, they can become cunning manipulators, they can make themselves invisible, they can become people pleasers, they can become cheerleaders, they can become caretakers, helpers or enablers, they can become peacemakers or mediators, they can become the one in the family that lightens the mood, they can become hyper responsible, they can become the household managers, they can become the martyrs or they can become the scapegoat or the golden child etc.
What is important to understand is that before a child selects these various strategies, what they are faced with in a dysfunctional family system is a choice. 1. They can go through the front door and fight the other members of the family system for their own best interests. Or 2. They can go through the backdoor and manipulate the other members of the family system for their own best interests. And it is here that people develop the relationship strategy of narcissism or codependency.
People who develop the relationship adaptation style of narcissism decide at a subconscious level that because no one is really concerned for their welfare, benefit and best interests (the world is a hostile place), they must survive by detaching from others, cutting themselves off from connection and affinity and being concerned only for their own welfare, benefit and interests; regardless of the impact on others.
For example, a child who develops this style of relating in their childhood may deny their dependence on their parents and enter into consistent conflict with them, refuse to reciprocate, struggle with empathy towards other people in the family system, monopolize conversations, and become preoccupied with their own successes. In their adulthood, they may not really see, hear or feel other people and therefore, will not consider them. They may exploit other people in order to meet their own needs and at the expense of others without perceiving the pain they are causing; they may be hyper focused on their own grandiose accomplishments to cover up for their low self-esteem. And they may dupe people by entering into a relationship with a person by showing the person excess attention, adoration and affection so as to influence the person to become committed, dependent and obligated to them; thus gaining power over the person at the same time as experiencing the self-esteem enduing personal success of “getting” them.
People who develop the relationship adaptation style of codependency decide at a subconscious level that because no one is really concerned for their welfare, benefit and best interests, the best way to survive is to get their own needs met by sacrificing parts of themselves so as to conform to other people’s interests and creating an attuned emotional contract with them, whereby their own needs are manipulatively met in exchange for doing so. You will hear pretty much everywhere that codependents place a lower priority on their own needs, while being excessively preoccupied with the needs of others. This is not true. It only looks like that on the outside. The reality is that the preoccupation with the needs of others is their method for getting their own needs met.
For example, a child who develops this style of relating in their childhood may simply never form an identity so as to conform themselves to being whatever pleases their parents, adopt the values of their parents, not make decisions for themselves, never assert themselves into conversation and try to fix every individual family member’s problems in order to try to create security and stability for themselves. In their adulthood, they may not be able to identify the difference between their own boundaries and other people’s boundaries, they may be passive aggressive and fail to communicate, they might sacrifice all of their other needs and desires for the sake of getting the approval of others, they might become obsessed with securing a sense of their own moral goodness. And they might dupe people by entering into a relationship with another person and mirroring them, leading the other person to perceive that a sameness or compatibility exists, which doesn’t actually exist.
Any member of a dysfunctional family system has a deep well of fear and grief regarding relationships in general. As well as a deep struggle with self-concept. Because there is no real experience of love in such a social system, only the facade of love, every member of such a system comes to believe that they are fundamentally unlovable. As a result, what unites the narcissist and the codependent is a core of shame. For this reason, both the narcissist and codependent embark on a lifelong mission to feel good about themselves. Both have learned that in an unloving world, they cannot get love and they cannot get their needs met freely from others. Therefore, they have to oppose people and/or manipulate people to get what they want and need.
Narcissism and codependency definitely exist on a scale of severity. And they are no different than any dysfunctional adaptation. They are both complex dysfunctional relationship strategies that people learned and adopted in order to be able to stay safe in their specific family system. And this way of being in their family system becomes their default way of being in relationships with other people in general. To understand more about this concept of behavioral dysfunction being nothing more than an adaptation, I would encourage you to watch my video titled: The Root of Mental Illness is Unsafety.
One huge tell that narcissism and codependency are relationship strategy styles rather than fixed character dysfunctions is that these behaviors arise specifically within the context of relationship. This is because they are a byproduct of relational trauma. And a person may alternate between these styles in relationships. For example, a person might act more like the narcissist in one relationship and more like the codependent in another. Or a person might be a codependent in a relationship until that strategy doesn’t work anymore and then flip into a narcissistic style of relating within that same relationship. This is because narcissism and codependency are both narcissistic relationship strategies. One is more overt and the other is more covert. You can say that each contains the seed of the other. Inside every narcissist is a covert codependent and inside every codependent is a covert narcissist. Both grow up watching these different and opposite strategies of relating in an unsafe social environment; which they believe all social environments are. Though they often have a better understanding of the drawbacks of employing the opposite strategy.
When we grow up in an ‘every man for himself’ social system, we adapt by employing all kinds of strategies for staying safe in and trying to get our needs met in that social system. When we look at a narcissist, all we are looking at is a collection of strategies for doing so. And when we are looking at a codependent, all we are looking at is a collection of strategies for doing so. And whether we choose to employ one set of strategies or another is down to so many specific details, elements, nuances and circumstances in whatever relationship, family, or social system that we find ourselves in. In a world where dysfunctional relationship is unfortunately the human norm, the work of our lives is to extricate ourselves from these dysfunctional patterns within relationships and to create relationships and relationship systems that enhance and secure the wellbeing of every individual member within them.
One could say that integration is the truest spiritual goal.For the universe to become one, as a fractal of the universe, we must become one. We will do that by integrating. We will integrate by “loving” all aspects of ourselves. We will integrate by pulling close and seeing value in the aspects of us that we have pushed away.
For most of us in the world, in the process that we go through in order to ‘grow up’, there is an element of pushing our child-self away. And this is a tragedy because when we push our child self away, we don’t simply gain all the positive attributes of maturity and adulthood. We lose all the positive attributes of youth and childhood. An essential part of integration is to re-own your child self. An essential spiritual practice is to ‘become like a child’.
Obviously one of the most straightforward ways to integrate the child self is to do inner child work. There are several methods for doing this. To learn my favorite methods, you can watch two of my videos. The first titled: A Letter from Your Inner Child – Inner child Work. And the second titled: Parts Work (What Is Parts Work and How to Do It). And you can start doing The Completion Process. To learn how to do this process, you can pick up a copy of my book that is quite literally titled: The Completion Process. Alternatively, you can go to www.completionprocess.com and select a practitioner to lead you through it.
But something that you can also do is to re-own and practice your child-like qualities by including the practice of ‘becoming like a child’ to your spiritual practice. Restore yourself to a child-like sense of life. And here are some ways that you can do that:
Spend time around children and join their world. This can take the form of sitting at a park and simply watching them, letting yourself become lost in their way of being in the world; or even meditating on the children at play there. It can take the form of deliberately spending quality time with a child, talking to them, asking them questions, and/or playing with them. But when you do this, instead of you bringing them into your world and way of seeing things, let them bring you into their world and into their way of seeing things. Your aim is simply to follow along.
Be in the present moment. One of the beautiful elements of the child is that the child is immersed in the present moment. As a result, they experience the full impact of life itself. The full taste and smell and feel and sound of things. Bring your attention back to what is happening in the moment regarding whatever it is that you are experiencing. And take it in fully. Really BE THERE.
Play. When we are children, we know how to have fun. We don’t have to be coerced into play. We don’t need a reward to give us incentive to play. Play is just a natural, intrinsic function of being human. Play is defined as engagement in an activity for enjoyment and recreation rather than for a serious or practical purpose. But this is where we have to stop and think. In the very definition of the word play, we find the dysfunction of the society we have co-created. We have all grown up thinking that play is not synonymous with any purpose. We grow up and wonder why we aren’t happy without realizing that it is because we don’t take the straight path to happiness by prioritizing enjoyment. Rather, we spend our lives beating around the bush, hoping that our happiness will come as the end result of other priorities like keeping a reliable job or reaching our goals.
Childhood is not the only time we need play. We need it just as much when we are adults, but we tend to get worse and worse at it. Most of us haven’t played for so long that we’ve forgotten how to do it. There is no right or wrong way to play. It can take the form of a game like poker. It could be playing a sport like volleyball. It can take the form of a leisure activity like taking a bath or it could be some kind of totally spontaneous action like climbing a tree. No matter what it is, the only criterion that the activity (or nonactivity) must meet in order to be considered play, is that you are doing it for one reason and one reason only: To enjoy yourself. Having fun isn’t just about the big “fun” things like skydiving—it’s also about the small things, like giving yourself permission to take a leisurely walk along a beach, go on a date, or even get totally wet instead of covering up when it rains one day.
Develop your awareness of the “spontaneous play impulse.” In the same way that someone might have to tune in to and recognize his or her emotions, you might have to tune in to and recognize your play impulse. For example, when you are walking on a beach, you may have the spontaneous inspiration to run into the surf regardless of whether you are wearing pants or shorts. A sensible person who has trained themselves to ignore and defy their play impulse would choose not to heed that inspiration to play and instead would immediately argue with the impulse by justifying why it’s a bad decision. Maybe they’d think about getting their pants wet and then getting their car seat wet and then having to do laundry. Whatever the case may be, they would not allow themselves to play. They may defy their play impulse so often that they no longer recognize the impulse at all. A person who has recognized the value in enjoyment, on the other hand, would recognize the impulse to play and heed that inspiration by running out into the surf for example. When that play impulse comes up, let yourself act on the impulse to play. Let yourself climb that tree if you suddenly get the impulse to climb it. Let yourself buy the finger paints you pass in the grocery- store aisle and paint with them. Give yourself permission to roll down a grassy hill in the park even if you’re wearing a skirt or a suit and tie. Sign up for scuba-diving lessons if you’ve always wanted to try it.
Try new things. And experience old things as if you are experiencing them for the very first time. One of the most intoxicating things about being around children is that they are experiencing everything for the first time. And when we show a child something, it is as if we get to re-experience it for the first time. And by doing so, we don’t take it for granted. Even simple things, like puddles, become things of wonder. To restore this sense of wonder, we need to put ourselves back in that place of trying new things. And learn new things. It doesn’t matter what it is. This keeps you young, no matter what your age is. Part of this practice is to do a mental exercise where you pretend that you are a walk in or an alien who, having suddenly been given a human body, are now going to experience things on earth for the first time. You may have eaten granola 1,000 times before. But this time, you are going to pretend that you have never eaten it before and try to experience granola as if it were the first time. You may have walked down a road 100 times before. But this time, you are going to pretend that you have never walked down it before. And try to experience that road as if it were the first time. This is a powerful way to restore your innocence.
Be curious. Keep your mind active instead of passive. For this practice, throw away whatever knowing that you think you have, including the idea of boredom. If you find something boring, you are not looking deep or close enough at it. Start from a place of: Nothing is boring. Start from a place of not knowing. Let go of all pre conceived ideas. Keep an open mind and an attitude of wanting to learn instead of judge. And also, connect to the fun in learning. Ask questions. You cannot ask too many questions. Question everything. Make it a habit to spend time in different worlds. What I mean by this is that a specific movie is a world. A specific social group is a world. A field of interest is a world. To develop curiosity, you’re going to have to stop sticking to only the worlds you know and you’re going to have to become a mental traveler, even if that means reading something you would never normally read or talking to someone from a totally different walk of life. Seek out different worlds. Do something or engage with something totally out of the norm. Search for the positive in anything you come across. And study everything you come across.
Be radically honest. Say what’s on your mind. And say how you feel. One of the greatest things about children is that they are so honest. They express themselves honestly and openly until they are trained not to. Whenever you encounter a situation where you are tempted to be strategic, be honest instead. Even if at first you are only called to practice being radically honest with yourself and in a journal, re-establishing that connection between your awareness and your immediate personal truth will take you a long way. Adults feel the pressure to behave in ways that are counter to their own truth. They say they aren’t hungry when they are. They act like they are fine alone, when they aren’t. They sit in positions their body doesn’t want to be in. To be like a child, there needs to be a congruence between your truth and the rest of you.
Let other people help you. Part of this is to re-connect to your needs. Draw on other people’s knowledge and capabilities and skills. And don’t pretend you don’t have a need when you do. For example, a child will not just keep on walking if they are thirsty. They act as if their needs are a crucial element of life. So, start to become aware of and meet those needs, including asking someone to help you meet those needs. Needing others does not mean anything negative about a child… It also doesn’t mean anything negative about you.
Identify the qualities of children that you would like to emulate and then emulate them. Observing how children do these things might help you. For example, if you identify that a quality of children that you’d like to emulate is creativity, then watch how a child creates. By watching how they create, you might then get messy. You might assume you’d be good at something and find out whether you are or not by trying it. You might do something hands on. You might let your imagination run free, uninhibited by ideas of what is possible and not possible. You might stop being inhibited by what other people will think of what you create. And you might create with things and in ways that could be considered wacky.
No matter what practice you select in order to become like a child, make sure to remember this: A child would not be serious about any of them. So, don’t be serious or disciplined about any one of these practices. And if you find yourself getting serious, instead of lighthearted about doing any one of them, drop it.
We have the tendency to minimize the power of the child. We love to think that the child represents what we will grow out of in the process of personal progression. But I have a little secret for you. The inner child is the disguise for the higher self. This is why awakened beings have many childlike qualities. In fact, the more awakened someone becomes, the more they become once again like a child; albeit a very wise one. And so, it only seems appropriate to end this article with a quote by Paula Poundstone:
“Adults are always asking little kids what they want to be when they grow up because they’re looking for ideas.”
We want to feel good instead of bad. We have an aversion to pain and we gravitate towards pleasure. Because of this, we like comfort and we like to feel comfortable. But a shadow of this natural inclination is that we can get stuck in the comfort zone.
When we are committed to comfort, our aim is to avoid risk. Risk holds the potential for pain and the potential for unwanted. Because of this, risk is anxiety inducing. We don’t like anxiety, so we try to stay in a place of neutrality. I say neutrality because when we are committed to comfort, we get into a behavioral state where in the name of risk aversion, we make decisions and take actions that prevent both pain and pleasure. We aren’t really happy and we aren’t really unhappy. We’re just… comfortable enough to not make changes.
The comfort zone feels safe to us. But the reality is quite the opposite. In fact, being committed to comfort might just be one of the most dangerous things you can do in your life. And it is not only dangerous for you, it is dangerous for any being that is part of any system that you are a part of.
You did not come to this life to be comfortable and to avoid risk. You came here for the sake of your personal expansion and to play a role in the expansion of others. And your personal expansion, as well as theirs, is adding up to universal expansion. Something which the universe at large is completely committed to. When there is an end to expansion, there is an end to life. This expansion is facilitated by the contrast of unwanted and wanted, pain and pleasure. The experience of unwanted is meant to cause you to change towards what is wanted. And in a time-space reality where time is an element of that perceptual reality, we experience this as movement, growth, improvement and progress. Being committed to comfort, causes a plateau regarding expansion. It causes stuckness, where there is no change or movement. It causes stagnation. It causes decline and it causes worsening.
Because this state of anti-expansion is not in the best interests of you personally, not in the best interests of those beings (including people) that are around you and not in the best interests of the universe at large, the universe will act against it. This means that being committed to comfort and keeping yourself in the comfort zone means being out of alignment with the universe itself. It is a big invitation for the universe to seemingly move against anything that you are using to keep yourself comfortable and stuck.
So that you can understand how this works, I will give you a very harsh example.
Sarah and Damian were in a relationship for 15 years. Sarah was often unhappy with the relationship. But many of her needs were met by Damian. Being with him made her comfortable, especially because it was a relationship that kept her away from the anxiety of financial worry. Damien had no interest in changing anything about himself or their life. He controlled their relationship and their life so as to make sure that he was comfortable. This included avoiding doing any uncomfortable work on himself or on their relationship, like self-reflecting or counseling. Damien getting upset in any way, caused Sarah to go into anxiety and to seek her own personal comfort again. So, she avoided getting into discussions or arguments with Damien. She kept the house the way he wanted. She made excuses for Damien’s poor behavior around other people and simply avoided inviting over people who might upset him. She stayed focused on what did work in their relationship, their business of flipping houses. But flipping houses served as a distraction so that they could avoid dealing with what wasn’t working in their life. She kept him in the comfort zone, so that she could stay in hers.
Because both of them were so committed to comfort, the things they were using to stay comfortable, began to be opposed. First, a book was put in Sarah’s path that challenged her ideas of relationships and led to an argument with Damien. But she stopped reading the book because that argument rocked the boat too much and threatened her own comfort. Then, one of Sarah’s relatives died. It caused her to think about her life, because it is temporary, and about what she wanted to change. But the thought of making a change, brought in the potential for risk and so, she fell back into everyday life the way things were. Then, Damien’s closest friend ended the friendship with him. Instead, of reflecting on himself and on relationships in general, he told himself “He was a terrible friend anyway if he could want to end the relationship, so I’m glad he’s gone”. After that, the little poodle dog that Sarah used as a substitute for the lack of intimacy she experienced with Damien died suddenly. But instead of face the lack of intimacy in the relationship, she just got another dog. Then, Damien had a small heart attack. Both of them were thrown out of the comfort zone and into anxiety when that happened. Damien was faced with his own mortality. Sarah was faced with losing the security that Damien provided. Sarah knew it happened because Damien lost his closest friend and was avoiding all self-reflection. And she knew they needed to make changes to their life together. But the opportunity for change that was opened up by that experience was only one that they engaged in for a week. After that, Damien simply got on heart medication and started telling Sarah that when she would bring up anything upsetting, she was contributing to the risk of him having another heart attack. So, she stopped completely. And the two of them threw themselves into investing in and flipping even more houses. Pretty soon, everything started to go wrong on their house flipping projects. I mean everything… up to the point that the purchase of three houses in a row fell through. But when nothing seemed to be going right, they simply took more vacations. And the vacations served as a new way to avoid the problems they needed to face and the discomfort that came with the ‘risk’ of making changes. This pattern kept going on until one year later, Damien died of a massive heart attack.
The reality is that both Sarah and Damien invited a universal escalation. The very decisions that they felt made them safer (because those decisions made them more comfortable) were in fact bringing about their ultimate unsafety. Instead of assisting each other’s expansion, they assisted each other’s stuckness. And this means that through her enabling behavior, which was done to mitigate her own anxiety, Sarah was in fact an accessory to Damien’s death as well as to the of her dog… the things she wanted most to avoid. Because Sarah was so committed to comfort, she was preventing her own expansion as well as the expansion of the beings who were part of her immediate system. And so, the universe began to force expansion by opposing any of those things that served to keep her stuck and plateaued.
Whenever you are committed to comfort and are using something as a tool to keep yourself away from risk to the degree that you are not in alignment with expansion, those things that are serving to keep you comfortable, will be targeted. You might as well paint a bullseye on them. This includes people that you are using to keep yourself in the comfort zone; that due to things you are doing or they are doing, are out of alignment with their own expansion. When these things are targeted, the aim is to cause a change that will put you back into alignment with your expansion path. Using our previous example, that meant: The introduction of a book that would shake up stagnation in the marriage, the death of a relative, a friendship loss, the death of a dog, a pre-emptive warning heart attack, the prevention of their house flipping projects, and then Damien’s death.
When this happens, you are going to feel like the universe is against you. You might even feel like it is against the people and things around you. But from a higher perspective, because you want comfort and are committed to comfort, the things you think are in your best interests, are actually against them. And the things you think are in the best interests of the people and things around you, are actually against them. From a higher perspective, the universe is messing with the cozy jail bars you have built and they have built that are limiting you and everything else around you. It is orchestrating a full system liberation. But as we all know, if we don’t change and expand in response to smaller stimulus, we may only change and expand as the result of a “whack a tree at 70 miles an hour” experience.
It is tempting to think that the presence of fear and discomfort means that you should avoid something. It’s tempting to think that the presence of risk means that you shouldn’t do something. But discomfort, fear and risk often doesn’t mean that. And in order to continue to expand, assist in the expansion of others, find happiness and stay in alignment with the universe, you’re going to have to lean into discomfort as well as take risks. If you don’t, you might just be inviting the scariest experiences of all and taking the greatest risk of all, without even knowing it. It’s tempting to feel safe and in control when you are committed to comfort. You may feel like life is smooth sailing in the comfort zone. When in fact, those calm waters are taking you straight towards the biggest storm.
Attraction and love are both completely irreverent when it comes to compatibility. This might just be one of the great injustices of life. When we really want to be in a specific relationship with someone, we imagine that no matter how different we are, that where there is a will there is a way. We imagine that if we want it badly enough and if they do too, that mutual desire and mutual commitment and mutual love will allow us to triumph over all. Most people just don’t want to accept the reality of incompatibility. After all, it is a less than romantic concept. But refusing to accept incompatibility will lead you straight down the road to relationship hell. And this is how:
Incompatibility in a relationship is not about being different. Many differences are workable and can be easily accommodated in a relationship. In fact, many differences make people in a relationship even more compatible. Incompatibility is the condition of two things being different in a way that is specifically uncomplimentary to the degree that the specific difference makes them incapable of coexisting harmoniously. Incompatibility is really about putting people with these non-harmonious differences in roles or positions with each other that require there to be either no difference or that require a difference that is non harmonious in nature to be harmonious. If you want to learn more about this in depth, I would encourage you to watch my video titled: Incompatibility, A Harsh Reality in Relationships.
Still, our desire to be able to find a way with someone, despite being incompatible to them, often causes us to refuse to accept the incompatibility. We don’t see that in refusing to accept the incompatibility and make adjustments accordingly, we are dooming the very relationship that we care so much about.
When genuine incompatibility is an element of a relationship, you can’t be happy with the other person being the way they are and chances are, they can’t be happy with you being the way that you are. So, you need either them or you (or both) to change so that you can be happy together. When you will not accept incompatibility in a relationship, you will not swallow the reality of the difference. Instead, you have to find a different way of explaining the uncomplimentary difference away. And then you must throw your energy into trying to change it.
An overwhelming majority of the time, this will lead a person to do one of two things:
Make the other person wrong or bad for their difference (personal feeling, thoughts, needs, desires, boundaries etc). And demand for them to change. And try to convince them that it is in THEIR best interests to do so. When that is really a disguise for the fact that you think it is in your best interests for them to change, so that you can be in a certain desired arrangement with them.
Make yourself wrong or bad for your difference (personal feeling, thoughts, needs, desires, boundaries etc). And set about trying to change yourself. And try to convince yourself that it is in your best interests to do so; so that you can be in a certain desired arrangement with them.
Sometimes, if we are especially desperate to keep a relationship together, we will try out both approaches. But when two people do this, what ends up happening is that both people in the relationship end up feeling pain; not only because of the uncomplimentary nature of the dynamic itself (and the conflict that arises as a result of it) but also because they end up feeling like crap about themselves. When we send someone else the message that they need to change something about themselves, they feel bad and wrong and thus they feel shame. When we send ourselves the message that we need to change something about ourselves, we feel bad and wrong and thus we feel shame. Refusing to accept incompatibility in a relationship is a recipe for a relationship where the experience of love goes away and is replaced by mutual shame.
So that you can understand how this dynamic plays out, I’ll give you an example.
Ria met Danny at a film festival two years ago. And it was love at first sight. They spent six days in the absolute magic of each other. They knew they had found ‘the one’. Even though Ria lived in Los Angeles and Danny lived in New York, they decided to commit to an exclusive relationship before they went home. For the past two years, they have been in a long-distance relationship.
Over time, the magic of their relationship has been fading. Their relationship has been getting more and more painful. Ria is ready to settle down and start a family. She wants to get married to Danny. She wants Danny to move to Los Angeles because she wants to be in California. She has even lined up jobs for him to take there. Danny keeps dragging his feet. Every time he considers moving to LA to be with her, he takes on a film project that prevents it. Danny is now talking to a therapist because he can’t help but notice his own pattern of avoidance and procrastination.
The truth is, Danny does not want to settle down. He wants to be on the road at least 280 days out of the year. When he is at home too long, he starts to feel depressed and stuck and empty. When Ria catches glimpses of this incompatibility between him and her, she will not accept it. She tells herself and Danny that the only reason Danny feels this way is because Danny’s Dad was always gone on the road when Danny was a kid. She believes that Danny would have to face the pain he has in the relationship with his own father and stop idolizing him and then, he would actually want to settle down.
Danny doubts himself sometimes. Sometimes he believes that he is unhealthy and that he does have to change. After all, he’s never going to be able to have kids if he isn’t willing to settle down. But he never does prioritize changing this about himself. He just feels like crap about himself and yet continues to prioritize other things. When he is talking to Ria, he vacillates between agreeing with her that he is messed up and needs to change and that she just needs to back off and stop pressuring him because he isn’t ready yet.
Ria and Danny are in a stalemate. Neither of them know if or when the relationship will end or progress. When they get in fights, which happens more and more now, Ria screams that Danny is taking the best years of her life and is keeping her on the hook and is a narcissist. Danny yells that Ria is needy and basic. Both of them will not accept the incompatibility between them. As a result, each spends their time trying to convince the other that what they want is bad and wrong. They each spend their time trying to get the other to change. And as a result, they both feel like crap about themselves. Their refusal to accept incompatibility makes Danny feel like he is a dysfunctional, self-centered ass hole. And it makes Ria feel like an insecure and needy harpy.
If they were to look their incompatibility straight in the face, it is that Ria wants to settle down, marry and have kids. Danny wants to be on the road 280 days out of the year and does not want to settle down and doesn’t want to have kids yet. If they accepted that reality, each of them would have to be honest with themselves about what that means for them and make decisions about what the highest and best arrangement would be for their relationship, without compromising.
The second faulty move that people make when they see incompatibility, but don’t accept it, is that they try to find a compromise. If you want a relationship that feels good, compromise is to be intentionally avoided. If you want to learn more about this, watch my video titled: Why You Should Never Make Compromises in a Relationship.
When Ria faces reality, she sees that she can’t just wait for Danny to be ready. She doesn’t even have the biological time to do so if she wants kids. So, she decides that the best thing for her to do, is to get off of the hook of waiting for Danny and to make him a friend instead of a partner.
When Danny faces reality, he sees that he just isn’t going to prioritize changing his current career path and how often it has him on the road. Even if he moves to Los Angeles, he will be gone most of the time. And even though he wishes things were different, he sees that keeping Ria on the hook isn’t loving. And constantly feeling like he is disappointing a woman makes him feel chronically bad about himself. So, he decides that after a two-month break from contact, he wants to make Ria a friend rather than a partner.
There is a big difference between loving something and being compatible with something. It is completely understandable that we would not want to admit to incompatibility and/or accept it because there are consequences for incompatibility. We don’t want to face those consequences. But this might cause us to be inauthentic and dishonest. It might also cause us to mislead the other person. And neither is something that we can keep up for long.
Nowhere is the refusal to accept incompatibility more prevalent than in social circles that are self-help/self-development oriented. So many personal desires and personal needs and personal preferences and personal feelings and thoughts and behaviors come from trauma. And people in these circles tend to have this idea that if anything comes from trauma, it not only can change, it should change in order for someone to be healthy. So, I see SOOO many people in these circles trying to heal each other into compatibility. This is just yet another refusal to accept incompatibility. Not only that, it is an attempt to justify that refusal. Because this so often happens with desires, it would benefit you to watch my video titled: You Can’t Heal Yourself Out of A Desire!
When we try to make an incompatible person, compatible with us, we usually do so by making them wrong or bad for their difference. We come up with a reason why they are wrong for it and try to then heal them out of that difference or try to change it so that it doesn’t exist. This creates shame in them. And in turn, they will most likely make us bad and wrong for our difference and come up with a reason why we are wrong for it and try to then heal us out of our difference or try to change it so that it doesn’t exist. After a while, the emotional condition of the relationship itself is shame and resentment towards each other. And after a while, both of us in the relationship feel totally unloved.
It may not feel good in the short term, but accepting incompatibilities, especially when it comes to desires, is an essential element of creating a feel-good relationship; rather than a relationship based on mutual shame.
One of the most confusing things to people who are aware of universal signs and synchronicities is that sometimes, when there are signs and synchronicities everywhere, following them leads you into a situation that doesn’t feel like a good thing… A situation where you’re standing there going “Wait a minute… I thought this was supposed to be a good thing, there were so many signs”. There is a bigger picture reason for this.
The universe is primarily concerned with your expansion. One of the main reasons that we can perceive time in this time-space reality is so that we can actually perceive progress. Progress and expansion is ultimately completely in alignment with your best interests. Afterall, expansion closes the gap between where you are and what you really want. But whether something is ultimately right and good for you and whether it feels right and good are sometimes two very separate things. This is why you might experience your emotional guidance system leading you to something painful instead of pleasurable. If you want to learn more about this in-depth, watch my video titled: How Your Inner Compass Leads You to Both Pleasure and Pain.
Experiences that are difficult and that hurt are not without value. We usually only see that they were necessary and see their value years later and in retrospect, once we have actually lived into the awareness of the actual necessity and actual value inherent in the experience.
So that you can understand this concept, I’ll give you an example. Liz had a childhood where she was largely ignored by both of her parents. She was in so much pain that she took to pretend as her way of mitigating her pain. She imagined that she was really a princess who was smuggled out of the castle to be raised among the commoners for her own safety, but that one day, a prince would come and rescue her away from these people and restore her to her rightful place on the throne. Because Liz used this strategy of pretend to survive her childhood, she never stopped being in this reality. It wasn’t a ‘game’ to her.
As Liz got older, she kept using this coping mechanism of pretend. She especially used it in relationships. She imagined that she could be in a relationship with any man. In truth, this is because she wasn’t really with any of the men she got into relationships with. Each man was just a person playing the part of the prince that she still had in her own head. Liz was always in a relationship. She spent no time trying to get to know who a man actually was before jumping into a relationship with him. She would idolize him and imagine him to be totally different than he actually was. She would obsess over him and obsessively seek his comfort until he didn’t match the character she had in her head. And then, he would experience a fall from grace. She would end up in a violent breakup with him and then end up with a different man the next day. She bounced from man to man like a hot potato. Liz’s psychologist told her that she had love addiction. Liz struggled with overlays as a coping mechanism in her life. To understand what overlays are in depth, you can watch my video titled: Overlay (What Prevents You from Having a Real Relationship). These overlays were ruining Liz’s life and they were holding her apart from what she really wanted.
When Liz met Jeff, she was shocked at all of the signs and synchronicities. Jeff had the same birthday as her first love in high school. Every time they met up, there were ravens nearby. At least 10 times in the first week she was entertaining the idea of being with him, she would see 11:11 and 4:44 on the clock. Her mother had always said she thought Liz should be with a man from Australia. Jeff was from Australia. Both of them shared the same favorite color. They realized that they had been backpacking through Europe at the exact same time a few years earlier. It was like the universe had always been trying to bring them together. Liz knew how to interpret those signs. This was the guy she was always meant to find… Her soul mate.
Problem is, Liz was in an overlay about Jeff. She was using her interpretation of those signs to slip even deeper into an overlay and miss every red flag about Jeff. Here are the red flags that she missed: Jeff had kids in Australia, but he lived in a different country from them. Jeff seemed to already know everything about Liz. Jeff loved breaking rules everywhere they went. Jeff was in a lawsuit when they met. Jeff would laugh when they would pass by road kill and explain it away as being so emotionally uncomfortable for him that he would just start laughing. Jeff would often lie and manipulate to get what he wanted, even in little interactions, like when they were at the grocery store and he pretended to be blind so that he could sit in a handicap only chair.
To make a long story short, Jeff was afflicted with psychopathy. Custody of his children was taken away from Jeff when he tried to kidnap them both and punish their mother by taking them to the other side of the country. Jeff had several issues with the Law in Australia. Jeff had chosen Liz as his new target. He had researched her and learned everything about her so that he could love bomb her. And once Liz committed to Jeff, he ruined her life. He separated Liz and isolated her from every other person in her life. He was so emotionally abusive, that Liz developed an eating disorder. He came up with excuses as to why she had to help him with money and eventually gained access to her financial accounts and drained them. He lacked empathy completely. And at the end of the relationship, they got into a fight and he set fire to her house, with her cat inside of it.
Liz didn’t understand why all those signs and synchronicities were pointing her towards Jeff, the man who “ruined her life”. Well… this is the reason why: From an objective perspective, Jeff was the man who, because he was so horrible, demolished Liz’s coping mechanism. Liz could no longer be in an overlay about men. It was too dangerous to not see every red flag about a person from the get go. The consequence was so high this time, he effectively broke her love addiction. Without that, Liz would not have ever snapped out of her cycle in relationships enough to actually be able to recognize red flags and assess compatibility in relationships. Consequently, she is now in a healthy relationship with a man who is compatible to her. And Liz has the ability to discern.
When signs and synchronicities pop up, it always means the universe is indicating to you that there is something important and also valuable for you inherent in the situation. Therefore, one could argue that they are leading you closer to what you want and ultimately closer to your happiness. But when you interpret those signs to mean that the universe is confirming that something will feel good, that is a big mistake. It might… it also might not. Afterall, the road to get us to what we really need can be a very dark road. And often, the road we least expect.
People are wired to avoid pain. We go to great lengths to stay safe and to avoid consequences. Unfortunately, this aversion to negative consequences also extends to our relationship with honesty. We can talk about the importance of making human society a place that is more conducive to honesty. But that is a separate talk from the one we need to have today. We need to have a talk about choosing to be honest, even when there are social consequences, rather than powerlessly waiting for society to make it ok to be honest first.
Also, for this conversation we are going to have, it makes no sense to get into a discussion around the morality of honesty in general because there are very real situations in which you could argue that morally, not being truthful is a better choice… Just think about the people who were harboring Jews in WW2 deciding that it is best to tell the Nazis that they were in fact hiding Jews just because telling the truth is more moral.
While every one of us will find ourselves not being honest in one situation or another over the course of our lives (because we will perceive the consequence to be too high), the sad reality is that some people will not be honest if they perceive there to be any negative consequence for their truth. If you are one of these people, your life ends up devolving into a game of strategy rather than authenticity. Rather than speaking and acting in alignment with your own truth, you will strategically speak and act in order to avoid negative consequences and in order to get whatever reaction you want from others; regardless of whether that causes you to be out of alignment with your own truth. You will have become a strategic person instead of an honest person.
If you are someone who will not be honest if you perceive there to be any negative consequence for your truth, chances are high that you make other people responsible for making it safe for you to share your truth; before you are willing to share it. Essentially, you are conditional with your truth. Sharing your truth is conditional upon other people making it so that there are no consequences for you sharing your truth. There are big problems with this. Problems that will not serve you in the long run, never mind other people. In order to live a life worth living, you’re going to have to change your relationship to honesty and also to consequences.
The first problem with only being willing to be honest if there are no negative consequences for your honesty is that it defies universal law. This is a universe based on the law of mirroring and the law of cause and effect. Literally everything has a reflection and a consequence. This includes honesty. The reason that there is less of a consequence for your honesty with certain people is down to a whole host of factors. For example, for the most part, there are no consequences for being honest to a therapist. Of course, if you walk into a therapist’s office and are honest that you killed someone, suddenly there is a consequence; because as mandatory reporters, they will be reporting you to the police. But, let’s say that you are a man who has been married to a woman for 12 years and you go into a therapist’s office and tell the therapist that you are gay. There will be no negative consequence for that because the fact that you are gay does not change anything for the therapist. That truth does not negatively impact the therapist. The therapist can validate that truth for you and accept it and put you more at peace with your truth. However, if you tell the woman that you have been married to for 12 years that you are gay, it is cruel for you to expect her to make it safe for you to share that truth by making sure there are no consequences. For example, by making the sharing of that truth of yours conditional upon her not getting angry or not asking you for a divorce.
You may imagine that it is possible to think, say or do something which will enable you to avoid consequences. But this is not actually possible. The reality is that everything you do has a consequence. And everything you do not do has a consequence. When we are someone who is only willing to be honest if there are no negative consequences for our honesty, we are often acutely aware of the consequences of being honest. However, we are ignorant to the consequences of not being honest. But guess what? There are always consequences for both. For example, there are big negative consequences for the man in our example never being honest that he is gay as well.
So often people who have this conditional relationship with honesty will say “I was just being honest” when they encounter a negative reaction or a negative consequence for whatever they said… As if the fact that they were honest should in and of itself make it so that the other person is wrong to have a negative reaction to their truth. Or as if it should make it so they are exempt from there being a negative effect in response to their honesty. In order to work yourself out of this pattern, you should think about the fact that you could not grant someone else this amnesty.
Imagine that you were married and your spouse was suddenly honest one day that he or she was in love with someone else. You would still have a negative reaction. They would still feel guilty. And you would probably not want to have sex with him or her and you would end up feeling more distant and distrustful and going to marriage counseling, if not sleeping in different rooms or divorced. If they said “What… I was just being honest”, as if to make you wrong for having a negative reaction, and wrong for there being negative consequences for sharing that truth, that would be cruelty. If they needed the condition of no reaction and no consequences in order to be able to share that truth with you, you absolutely could not make them safe enough to be able to share that truth of theirs.
Another example is this: Imagine that you own a business and your employee is stealing trade secrets in order to build their own business that will compete with yours; because his or her honest truth is that you are a bad person and someone who is a better person deserves to take over the market. Now imagine that this employee needs you to have no reaction and needs there to be no negative consequence in order to be honest with you about this. You cannot give that to them. There is no way you will be emotionally fine with this truth. And there is no way that you can employ them anymore when you are faced with this truth.
You are a person who is trapped and disempowered if you will only be honest if other people make there be no consequences for that honesty; and if you are unwilling to take the responsibility for the consequences of your honesty. In order to get out of that trap and to be at the cause instead of at the effect of your life, you’re going to have to get seriously conscious about the consequences of being honest and the consequences of not being honest in any given situation. You’re going to have to play them out over time. And rather than expecting those consequences to not be there, consciously choose your consequences. If you want to learn more about how this bravery leads you to a much more empowered life, you can watch my video titled: Why You Should Consciously Choose Consequences.
One of these consequences for not being honest unless people can ensure that there will be no consequences for that honesty, is that you are deciding to be separate from other people and alone. A relationship is only real when you are in a relationship with the reality of someone. When you are not honest, they are in a relationship with an illusion. You are creating an overlay for the other person to be in a relationship with. To understand more about this, you can watch my video titled: Overlay (What Prevents You from Having a Real Relationship). You are also making sure that there is distance between you and the other person. There is only intimacy when you see, hear, feel and know the other person. Vibrationally speaking, it may be interesting for you to know that even when there are distancing consequences for someone’s truth (such as a break up), even then the two people are in fact closer to each other than they were when they were together but separated by a lie or by an omission.
Another of these consequences that you will experience for not being honest unless people can ensure that there will be no consequences for that honesty, is all the pain that comes with codependency. Codependency is not a personality disorder. It is a relationship strategy. But it is a relationship strategy that will lead you straight to a living hell. You will conform to whatever other people want and forfeit your selfhood in exchange for getting only some of your needs met and feeling only kind of safer. Your entire life will be a compromise. And as if not being able to live the life you really want isn’t bad enough, you will be constantly reinforcing a self-concept of shame. You will perpetuate your own enmeshment trauma over the course of your adult life. To learn more about this, you can watch my video titled: How to Heal Family Enmeshment Trauma.
Another of these consequences that you will experience for not being honest unless people can ensure that there will be no consequences for that honesty is that there is no way to build actual trust in your relationships. The dishonesty itself takes trust off of the table for both you and them. But trust is quite literally the holy grail of relationships. This means all of your relationships will be insecure and unsafe. To learn more about this, watch my video titled: Trust (What Is Trust and How To Build Trust in Relationships).
Another of these consequences that you will experience for not being honest unless people can ensure that there will be no consequences for that honesty is that your relationships will be exhausting and unfulfilling. When you are being strategic in your relationships, you are effectively playing a chess game 24-7. It is a very stressful existence. You will find this painful and need to withdraw and spend a great deal of time alone. Being inauthentic takes energy and effort and it doesn’t feel good. And you will be unable to keep it up long term. No one can. And when the truth does come out, other people will lose respect for you. There is a freedom with honesty. There is an energy with honesty. Dishonesty makes relationships depleting, difficult and painful to try to maintain.
Another of these consequences that you will experience for not being honest unless people can ensure that there will be no consequences for that honesty is that you will end up losing touch with your personal truth. When we suppress, deny, disown, don’t acknowledge, speak the opposite and act the opposite of our truth, we have the tendency to lose track of what our personal truth even is. We have to start pretending, lying, omitting, deceiving, misleading and being inauthentic to ourselves. We become lost as a result. We become very confused. We can’t make the right decisions for our own life. And we become very susceptible to just going along with others and adopting their truth as if it were our own. We also become susceptible to being manipulated by others. All of this means that personal happiness is out of our reach. It also corrodes your mental, emotional and even physical health.
Another of these consequences that you will experience for not being honest unless people can ensure that there will be no consequences for that honesty is that you will never actually find people or places or things that you are actually compatible to. You are dooming yourself to a life of incompatibility. You will of course have to justify this by telling yourself that compromise and accommodation is right and good. You will have to minimize the importance of compatibility. But dooming yourself to a life of incompatibility is a recipe for constant conflict with others and constant pain and constant sacrifice and constant shame. To learn more about this, watch my video titled: Incompatibility (A Harsh Reality in Relationships).
Another of these consequences that you will experience for not being honest unless people can ensure that there will be no consequences for that honesty is that you are perpetuating a dishonest world. Deceit is contagious. We can consider ourselves to be part of the problem if we speak and act in a way that normalizes dishonesty and inauthenticity. When we act in our own best interests to the point of pretense, lying, omitting, deceiving, misleading and being inauthentic, we help to establish this as the norm for our society. And we are then part of creating the very thing that is in fact causing us so much pain.
If you are someone who struggles to be honest unless people can ensure that there will be no consequences for that honesty, you may be tempted to justify, rationalize and come up with excuses for your deceptive behavior. You must know that you will always be able to come up with an excuse for it. You will always be able to justify it. You will always be able to re-frame and rationalize it. The question is: Where does the justifying and rationalizing get you?
There is always a why behind dishonesty. Knowing this why behind dishonesty can help you to predict the consequences of that dishonesty. Not being honest has its benefits, otherwise people wouldn’t do it. Telling the truth has negative consequences, otherwise people wouldn’t lie. If you want wellbeing in your life and if you want real relationships, you need to consciously choose your consequences rather than expecting other people to make those consequences ‘not to be there’. This means, even though all of us would rather it be perfectly safe in order for us to be honest, if you want a life worth living, your truth and your honesty cannot always be conditional upon safety.
Most of us in the world today have felt the pain of experiencing some kind of conditional love. This begins with the process of socialization in childhood. We learn very early that if we are certain things or if we do certain things, we will either be approved of or rejected. We learn that the things we want so dearly, things like acceptance, inclusion, being wanted, being valued, appreciation, having our needs met and being loved are conditional.
If we were traumatized by this conditionality in some way, it gives rise to a strong desire for unconditionality. We want to be accepted, included, wanted, valued, appreciated, have our needs met and be loved no matter what we do or don’t do. No matter who we are or aren’t. No matter what happens or doesn’t happen. And no matter how we stay the same or change.
To heal is to experience the opposite. This means that people who have suffered as a result of certain aspects of themselves not being accepted, included, wanted, valued, appreciated or loved, heal by experiencing those things being accepted, included, wanted, valued, appreciated and loved. But people with this kind of trauma sometimes swing the pendulum from conditionality all the way to unconditionality. And with any pendulum swing, there is dysfunction at both ends of the spectrum. If we begin to demand unconditionality, we open the door wide for this dysfunction.
For example, we may try to create relationships where our expectation is that there is no pressure on us, including no expectations imposed on us by the other person. Or we may get into relationships with people who are incompatible to us, and try to get the other person who (due to their incompatibility) is guaranteed to not want something about us, to change their mind and want it instead. Or we may try to create relationships where we expect the other person to continue to appreciate us and feel good towards us, no matter what we do or don’t do. Or we may try to create relationships where we expect the other person to give up their best interests for us. Or we may even fall into the pattern of expecting other people to suffer so that we can feel loved. The expectation of unconditionality can lead you down a very, very dark road in relationships. To understand this in a more in-depth way, watch my videos titled: The Truth and The Myth of Unconditional Love and The ‘Suffer So I Can Feel Loved’ Relationship Dynamic.
We can sum up the desire to be accepted, included, wanted, valued, appreciated, have our needs met and be loved no matter what we do or don’t do, by calling this: the desire to be loved no matter what. What we mean when we say “I want to be loved no matter what” is: “I want to be wanted no matter what”. But the big question here is: What is the ‘me’ that I need people to want? Or what about me do I need someone to want? And this is the question we need to ask ourselves if we hope to heal from the trauma of conditionality. The answer to this question will reveal to you what part of you was rejected, not accepted, dis-included, pushed away, unwanted, not valued, disapproved of, unloved and its needs not met. From there, you can consciously go about integrating and bringing about healing for that aspect of you.
So that you can understand how this goes, I’ll give you a couple of examples.
Beau grew up in a very large family that lived on a working farm. The children in the house were quite literally conceived so that they could help out on the farm. Beau always felt like it wasn’t what he was that had any value, it was what he did. Now, in his adult life, he often feels like women are only interested in him because of what he does for them. And that if he stopped doing those things, they would leave. This often causes Beau to bait and switch women. He enters a relationship doing everything for them. He fixes anything in their house that needs fixing. He takes care of anything they need done. He spends the initial part of the relationship being completely active and in service to her needs, even before she has to ask. But then, once the relationship starts to feel secure, Beau starts to feel insecure. He suddenly starts to worry that the only reason she loves him is because of what he does for her. The pain of his childhood then comes up. And he begins to test the woman. He stops doing something that he usually does for her. When she reacts negatively to him doing that, his fears are confirmed that she only loves him for what he does for her. And then, he goes into full on protest mode. He stops being active. He stops doing things for the woman. Inevitably, after months of conflict, they leave him feeling duped and he feels abandoned and unloved and like all women are just users. In reality, women decide to be in a relationship with Beau specifically because he is such an active man. He immediately contains a woman and responds to her needs. It’s not just what he does, it is who they think he is. This is the man they signed up for. But when Beau suddenly stops doing this, they feel duped. The man he is now being is not the man they signed up for.
When Beau is asked the question: What is it about you that you need other people to want? His answer is: “Me the way I am.” But who is Beau the way Beau is? Is Beau what he does? It he his talents? Is he his weaknesses? Is he what he wants? Is he how he behaves? Is he how he feels? I he what he thinks? Is he what he says? Is he his actions? Is he his needs? Is he only one of these things, or all of them? What is it about who he is that he needs other people to want? When Beau thinks hard about this, he realizes that what he really wants is for a woman to love his company. When he thinks about giving a woman company, he realizes that the image he has in mind is them doing a lot of joint leisure activities together and talking. He wants to be valued for his company doing leisure activities together and for his insights. This is the real pain. His parents did not value his company. They did not do any leisure activities together and they didn’t care about his insights at all.
Seeing this, Beau was able to see that the way he enters into relationships is false advertising. He goes into relationships setting up a relationship dynamic that he doesn’t want. As a result, he realizes that in order to find compatible women, the ones who will want what he needs them to want, he has to be different from the get go. Now, Beau behaves in a way that indicates to women that he loves leisure time and quality time. He engages in deep conversation with a woman rather than fixing her kitchen sink. He invites women to leisure activities, like watching a movie, rather than offering to help her in some way. Beau has now been in a three-year relationship with a woman who loves his company. They share many common interests and enjoy a lot of leisure time. Both of them value having quality time together the most in their relationship. And because of it, Beau feels more loved than he ever has before.
Charlotte grew up in a culture that expects women to “keep sweet”. Whenever Charlotte was anything but sweet, she was immediately reprimanded. Charlotte had to suppress her negative emotions in a big way, especially anger. But she could not make it go away. As a result, charlotte has spent the better part of her life feeling like something is seriously bad about her and wrong with her because she can’t just feel good and be positive no matter the circumstances; like the other women she knows seem able to do. She keeps ending up in relationships with people who have a problem with her expressing any negativity.
When Charlotte is asked the question: What is the ‘you’ that you need other people to want? Or what is it about you that you need other people to want? Charlotte realizes it is the real truth of how she feels in any given moment that she needs other people to want. Charlotte decides that she is still in resistance to her own emotional truth. So, she decides to do parts work with the part of her that knows and can express the truth of how she feels. And the part of her that is against her knowing and expressing the truth of how she feels. As a result of that parts work, she was able to get both parts on board with always letting her conscious mind know how she feels and expressing the truth of how she feels in way that is still considerate of the other person’s feelings. In order to find people who would want the truth of how she feels, Charlotte signed up for an acting class that promised to help aspiring actors to tap into their own emotional depth. In that class, she made friends with Jane. Charlotte and Jane are now roommates. Charlotte feels safe with Jane because Jane always tells Charlotte exactly how she feels. There is never any guess work. And Jane encourages Charlotte to get mad and to cry, and to tell the unsavory truth. As a result, Charlotte’s relationship with her own personal truth is healing. She is becoming a much more authentic person. And she feels more lovable.
It is important to beware that when we first get into relationships, we often do so by hiding the parts of ourselves that got us rejected before. But this means we are selling someone on something that isn’t the full truth of us. It is guaranteed that sooner or later, we will either bring out or switch into the part of us that we were hiding. And the other person will feel duped by us.
The ‘what’ in the no matter what relationships we are seeking, is actually a very specific what. It is a specific thing, or multiple specific things that we need someone to want and value. By figuring out what that specific thing is, we can improve our own relationship with that thing and then we can go about finding conscious and direct ways for that thing to be accepted, included, wanted, valued, appreciated and loved.
When we do this, we need to be conscious of going to the right people and places. Places where this need can actually get met. For example, if Charlotte’s need was for her emotional truth to be wanted, she would have to go to places and seek out and develop relationships with people who valued emotional truth. If she walked into her parent’s southern county club wanting to be loved for her emotional truth, it wouldn’t go well. She would be re-traumatized. To understand more about this, you can watch my video titled: The Value Realization (A Realization That Can Completely Change your Self Worth).
We shouldn’t be seeking to be loved or wanted no matter what… not in the way we mean it when we say it. We should be seeking compatible relationships. To understand more about this in-depth you can watch my video titled: Incompatibility, a Harsh Reality in Relationships. And part of this compatibility is about becoming aware of specifically what it is about us that we want to have be wanted. And finding people who do want that. People who can accept, include, value, appreciate and love that.
The process of socialization teaches us what is right and what is wrong, what is good and what is bad, what is acceptable and what is unacceptable, what will result in approval and what will result in rejection. And it isn’t an exact recipe because the specifics are variable depending on the specific social group (such as culture and family) that you are interacting with.
When we are children, this process of socialization lays the foundation for our social interactions as adults. It is a profoundly painful experience for us all because we learn what about us is bad, wrong, unacceptable, unwanted and unlovable. And in order to stay safe in our social group and get our needs met, we must alienate ourselves from those aspects of ourselves. To the opposite, we must identify with and put forward whatever about us is seen as right, good, acceptable, desired and lovable.
By the time we reach an age where we are ready to date, we have been set up to be inauthentic. We spend our time trying to employ a strategy for how to get someone we want, rather than spending our time advertising who we genuinely are so that a person who would value us can actually recognize us. And most of all, we have been set up to dupe anyone that we date. And this is how…
When we go on a date with someone or are starting a relationship with someone, we want them to approve of us and to want us. That is our goal. And we have learned based off of our childhood and early life experience what it is that will guarantee that we will be approved of and wanted by others; and conversely what will cause them to reject and not want us. We walk into a relationship with a template already in our heads about how to have a relationship with someone that will guarantee that they will want us. And so, that is the foot that we put forward. But just because we have entered into a relationship on that pre-conditioned note, doesn’t mean that we are showing them all of who we are. It doesn’t mean we are accurately representing our truth. And it doesn’t mean that the relationship we are setting up is the one we actually want. Because of this, we can’t maintain the ‘self’ we presented when we were first dating someone. Because of this, we are prone to changing the truth of who we are and what we want. And when we do this, we have effectively and unintentionally carried out a ‘bait and switch’. We have duped the person we are dating.
I’ll give you two examples so that you can understand this epidemic that is occurring in the dating scene.
Brian’s dad left the family when he was two years old. His mother distrusted men from that day forward. So much so, that she refused to get into an adult relationship with a man ever again. Instead, she made Brian her surrogate husband. And he grew up in that atmosphere of emotional incest. Brian had to take care of his mother and also of his three younger sisters (as if he was their father) until he was 19 years old.
Brian’s childhood experience taught him that in order to be wanted by a woman, the right recipe is to find a woman who is struggling and to become the man who does everything for her. Be the man who is uber responsible. Be the man who does the chores without ever having to ask. Be the man to take that missing father role in her child’s life (he only ever dates single mothers). Be the man who plans and leads and manages her, so that she feels like she is being carried through life. Be the man who fixes all the problems in her life.
And his recipe works! The women who ‘go for’ this behavior during the dating phase are the women who want that specific thing from a man. The thing is, this is how Brian knows how to be in a relationship and this is what Brian knows will make women want him. It’s a strategy. It’s not necessarily the full reality of Brian and of what Brian really wants in a relationship.
Brian’s life experience has traumatized him. The truth is, he has always needed and wanted support. He has always wanted someone to make their life about him and to support his goals, rather than making his entire life about them and their goals. He has always wanted to be genuinely mothered. To be told what to do. To be cooked for. To be nurtured. To be encouraged etc. This causes Brian to enter into relationships as one man but to turn into a different man. When he starts to feel unfulfilled in the relationship with a woman, which will inevitably happen, he begins to subconsciously change. Suddenly, Brian chronically starts forgetting things. He needs to be managed and told what to do in order to get things right. Whenever she is feeding her child, he asks for her to make some extra for him. He leaves chores un-done and he sleeps in. He starts prioritizing the goals that he has and gets the woman he is with to put her energy into his goals. He passive aggressively makes sure that she will pick up every ball there is to pick up. Pretty soon she realizes that instead of having been rescued by a real man, she now has an additional grown-up child to take care of. She’s not just on her own again, she has an extra person to take care of too.
Every woman is duped in the dating phase by Brian because he enters into the dating phase as a totally different man than is the reality of Brian and what Brian really wants. And as a result of it, he gets rejected over and over again.
Stacy, like so many women in society has definitely learned that the most valuable thing that a woman can be is beautiful. She knows that for a man to really want her, she needs to look good. She needs to be fit, wear sexy clothes, put on makeup and since guys like sex, she needs to put out. When Stacy is single, she goes to great lengths to be and do all of these things. And men are definitely responsive to her.
But Stacy doesn’t really like sex. In fact, she’s never orgasmed with a guy. Sex for Stacy is about guaranteeing that a man will want to commit to her instead of to another woman. Stacy doesn’t want a guy to want her for what she looks like. She wants a guy to want her for her personality and for how good of a person and partner she is. Because of this, the most common complaint that men give once they are past the dating phase and into a committed relationship with Stacy is that she lets herself go. And gradually, Stacy’s partner is in a relationship with a woman who is gaining weight, who has a terrible diet, who wears sweatpants every day, who never puts on makeup and who is never interested in sex. And Stacy is furious. Every man she ends up with is just like the last, shallow assholes who only care about sex and having a trophy, not a real relationship and not love.
Every man is duped in the dating phase by Stacy because she enters into the dating phase as a different woman, with different values than the real Stacy. She advertises herself to be one way and is really the opposite way.
Even though we have the tendency to dupe each other during the dating phase, we tend to get surprised and hurt when we change who we are and what we want, but that “more authentic” version of ourselves is met with fury and rejection. We definitely would not be surprised or upset if someone was pissed and rejected a product that we advertised as one thing, when really it was another. The reason we get upset when we do the exact same thing, but with the way we advertise ourselves is because what we all desperately want is unconditional love. We want someone to love us no matter what. And often, when we’ve already secured someone and they have committed to us, that relationship security makes us feel safe enough to show the other person more of us, especially the things we were keeping from them in the dating phase. To learn more about this, you can watch my video titled: The ‘No Matter What’ Pattern In Relationships.
This tendency we have to unintentionally dupe people in the dating phase of a relationship, is a set up for rejection. Afterall, we can’t expect that if a person said yes to being with who we were when we were dating them, that they will say yes when we suddenly become something totally different.
Most of us only know one way of being in a relationship. Most of us know only one way of being wanted. It is usually whatever strategy worked with our parents and in our culture of origin. And so, we do that! But, if this is not the full truth of who we are or of what we want, we will flip on the people we date. And cause immeasurable pain and re-traumatization to both ourselves and the people we date as a result of it.
When you are dating, contrary to a lot of dating advice, it is so important to know what specifically you want to have be wanted and loved about you. And what kind of relationship you actually want. From there, it is so important to advertise yourself as what you authentically are and speak and act in a way that is reflective of what you actually want in a relationship. You don’t want to go score someone who wants something you aren’t or don’t want to be. It is no measure of success to enter into a relationship with someone who wants a totally different relationship than you do. And is it really a measure of success to be able to dupe someone into thinking you are something that you aren’t? If you do that, they don’t want you. So, that feel good sensation of having found a strategy that causes you to be wanted by someone, isn’t actually in reality. In reality, they don’t want you. All this being said, if you are straight up terrified about entering into a relationship advertising the reality of yourself and the reality of what you’re looking for, you would benefit by watching my episode titled: The Value Realization (A Realization That Can Completely Change your Self Worth).
To advertise reality is scary because it means that people will be judging the real you, not just something fake that you put out there. There is no ‘buffer’ anymore. But how much energy and time do you really have for this strategic, deceptive dance? Do you want to continue to perpetuate this culture where other people dupe you? What kind of dating world do you want to vote for with your thoughts, words and actions? One where people are as advertised? Or one where you only find out who someone is and what they really want once you’ve already committed to them and there will be pain on all sides?
I met once with a woman who was desperate to fix her daughter. Her daughter had been in and out of drug rehab clinics and her mother was perplexed with her negativity. She said to me, “Sometimes I think the problem with my daughter is that she’s attached to her pain”. Another time, I was at a seminar and I walked in on a speech that another speaker was giving. The topic of that speech was why chronic pain patients sabotage their treatments and act like they don’t want to get better because they like their pain. This concept that people like pain, and that because they like it, they are attached to their pain, is an especially pervasive one in the psychology, self-help and spiritual communities. And it is a concept that is doing a great deal of damage. This narrative needs to be changed immediately.
Let’s get something out of the way very quickly… People do not like their pain. End of story. And when we talk about attachment, there is the implication that a person has some dark affection or fondness for their pain and that this penchant for pain keeps a person fastened or connected to pain. This is just wrong.
When it seems like someone won’t let go of something that you judge as painful, such as a behavior or a strategy or a belief or whatever it is, it is because that person believes that regarding whatever situation they are in, they will be in MORE pain without it. And they might be wrong about that, or they might in fact be right about that. Therefore, the thing you judge as painful is something that they perceive to be decreasing their pain and bringing relief. So that you can understand what I mean, here are a few examples:
Margery suffers from chronic pain. Her doctor is perplexed because Margery makes appointments and complains about how much pain she is in, but never follows through with any of the treatments or suggestions that her doctor gives to her. Her doctor is starting to think that Margery wants to stay sick. Margery is in very real pain. But what is causing her health to break down is complete isolation. She believes that no one cares about her and that no one benefits by being in her company. This creates so much distress that she is truly becoming more and more ill. Because of this, she must subconsciously try to find backdoor ways to be cared about. The only time that anyone ever cared about her as a child, was when she was sick. She does not want to be in pain and she does not want to be sick. But being in physical pain and being sick, if it means that she gets to have some company at her doctor visits and she gets cared for and paid attention to, is less pain than the alternative. Staying sick actually decreases her emotional pain. If she were to follow through on treatments and to get better, she perceives that she would once again be totally isolated.
Justine is 15 years old. She routinely engages in self harm. Cutting and burning are the most typical forms of self-harm that she engages in. Her parents are absolutely perplexed about how someone could want to do things like that to themselves. They seek out counseling for Justine to figure out what is so wrong with their daughter that she likes and is addicted to pain. But the problem isn’t that Justine likes pain. The problem is that in the household that Justine lives in, Justine is deeply unhappy. She feels like no one sees her, no one understands her needs and therefore, she will never have her needs met. She is alone even when her family members are in the room. She is not important and therefore, she has no reason to live. But on top of this, there is no tolerance in the household for negative thoughts or emotion. No matter what she may be acting like, her parents have a solid truth that they are good parents and that Justine has a good life. They have already decided that she should be happy and that if she isn’t, something is wrong with her. This means that no matter what strategy Justine uses to try to get her parents to change something so that she feels better, they are both unresponsive. The idea that they want to maintain about themselves and about their life is more real and important to them than seeing the reality of their daughter is. Because of this, self-injury is not Justine’s way of being in pain. It is her way of desperately trying to decrease her pain. Because her parents are so unresponsive to anything she does or says, self-injury is a way of escalating her message of desperation so they might just get that she needs something to change immediately. When she cuts, she feels relief because there is an alignment between how wounded she really is on the inside and what is happening on the outside. Her experience is therefore no longer a gaslight. And when she bleeds, she feels like the poison of the negative emotions that her parents won’t tolerate her expressing, finally has an outlet to get out of her being. And the list goes on and on. Justine doesn’t want to be in pain. She doesn’t like it. And when people say she is attached to her pain, she’s right back to that torment of not being seen or understood. The pain of being in emotional hell and alone, because her parents have already decided that the truth is that she isn’t in hell, she’s fine. What the pain of self-injury does, is it serves to decrease her pain and it serves as an attempt to try to self-preserve in an environment that is both dysfunctional and destructive.
Mitch is driving the people that know him crazy. People hate spending time around Mitch. They describe him as “negative”. He is cynical and pessimistic and he is always focused on what is wrong and what is bad. Mitch never misses the opportunity to make people who are feeling happy aware about the negative reality of that thing that they are currently happy about. Mitch doesn’t actually enjoy seeing the world in a totally negative light. He hates the way he feels towards people and towards life. The problem is that several times over the course of Mitch’s life, he experienced catastrophic blows to his belief in others, his hopes, his dreams, his goals, his trust, his faith, his desires, and his positive expectations. These blindsiding and crushing experiences were so psychologically and emotionally traumatizing that Mitch decided that a state of positivity is inherently vulnerable and is an invitation for pain that he can’t handle. Subconsciously, he decided that had to buffer himself against and protect others from positivity at all costs. Mitch began to use negativity as this buffer against pain.
What any example of a person maintaining a painful behavior or a painful strategy or a painful belief will show you is that you can’t say that they like pain and you can’t say that they are attached to their pain. What you can say is that they are using a painful strategy to attempt to reduce or avoid worse pain. To understand more about this, I want you to watch my video titled: There Is No Such Thing as Self Sabotage. And if we don’t get this through our heads very quickly, we will simply ADD to their pain and make it worse. We will simply prove that we ourselves “don’t get it”, which means we are part of the problem and which means we are leaving them alone in pain. We will start to corrode their self-concept by making them feel like something is wrong with them because of some idiotic idea that they should be able to just decide to feel good. We will continue to make them feel condemned and forsaken to suffer by implying that we think they derive pleasure from something that actually is so painful for them that they would choose pain to get out of worse pain. And we will not do the right things in order to help them to find the right way to get out of pain all together.
No one likes being in pain and no one is attached to their pain in the way that most people mean it when they use the word ‘attached’. We need to stop propagating this idea and therefore, because of their connotation, we need to stop using these words. I ask you to join me in this understanding.
Have you been looking around lately and had the feeling that people are losing their mind? There is actually a very good reason for this. And that reason has the potential to change how we approach mental illness. When most people think of unsafety, the images that are conjured in their mind are situations that can lead to physical harm. Such as swimming with sharks or being in a relationship with someone who is physically abusive or driving in a blizzard or being around someone who is infected with a virus for example. But the actual picture of unsafety is much broader. To be safe is to be protected from or to be free from danger, risk, harm, pain or injury. But danger, risk, harm, pain and injury can occur on many different levels of the self as a result of so many different things. It can occur to you emotionally, mentally and/or physically. It can occur as the result of what is not done just as easily as it can occur as a result of what is done. After all, when our needs are not met, that is a danger to our wellbeing and so we perceive ourselves to be unsafe.
Anytime our wellbeing and best interests are opposed, we perceive ourselves to be unsafe. And this perception of unsafety, causes us distress. When a person is in a situation that causes them distress, but they perceive themselves to be unable to eradicate the stressor itself, they are forced to cope with it. To cope is to make a specific alteration mentally, emotionally or physically so that you can manage or adapt to something that is causing you stress. And a coping mechanism is a specific procedure, strategy, process or technique, which manages or creates adaptation to stress. To make this simple, if we cannot make a situation safe, we are forced to manage with, deal with and adapt to the unsafe situation, so as to make ourselves safer in that unsafe situation.
The primary coping mechanism for a physical human is fragmentation. This is essentially the splitting of one’s own consciousness so as to suppress vulnerability and to the opposite, to put forward aspects of oneself that can self-preserve. We could say that in order to deal with unsafety, you have within you a part of you that is vulnerable and a part of you that is trying to protect that vulnerability. We could call these protector parts “protector personalities”. And though people tend to default to a particular protector with a particular strategy to stay safe in most situations, the reality is that people have several of them within themselves. If you want to learn more about this in-depth, you can watch my video titled: Fragmentation the Worldwide Disease.
The thing is, these protectors within people have some strategies, procedures, processes, techniques and behaviors for trying to self-preserve that are pretty extreme. In psychology today, a mental illness is diagnosed on the basis of symptoms that present themselves in a person. But if you look deep into those symptoms, they are really just indicators of unsafety and adaptive strategies that a person is using in order to try to self-preserve when faced with that unsafety.
So that you can understand what I mean, here are a few examples:
Don grew up in a dysfunctional family system where every person in the household was really just out for themselves. His father was an alcoholic, who was more of a threat to the family than he was a benefit to the family. His mother was hopelessly codependent. She would let Don’s father do anything to both he and his brother if it meant avoiding conflict herself. Don’s brother Charley figured out that the only way to self-preserve in that home was to become everything that their father and mother wanted. To be the kid who caused no problems whatsoever. Don found this impossible to do. He could never get off of his father’s bad side and his mother only ever sided with his father. As a result, Don was unsafe. He realized quite young that people are really only ever out for themselves. He realized that if he was going to stay safe, he was going to have to be concerned with and look out for his own best interests only.
Even though down deep, Don has very low self-esteem, Don behaves extremely arrogant. He exaggerates his achievements and his talents. He is able to suppress his feelings of powerlessness by deciding that he is meant for big things in this life. He focuses his mind obsessively on his own success and power. He seeks admiration everywhere he goes. He insists on having the best of everything. He monopolizes conversations. He uses other people to his advantage. He confuses unquestioning compliance with love. He tunes out the needs and feelings of other people. Don has been diagnosed with Narcissistic Personality Disorder. But what people are calling a disorder is really just an attempt to protect himself and ensure his own wellbeing.
Jake was born into a very wealthy political family. His family cares much more about money and status and keeping up appearances than they care about the emotional needs of any specific member of the family. When Jake was young, he needed guidance and tenderness and comfort. Instead, he was passed off onto a transient stream of nannies and sent off to a harsh boarding school. As a child, when he acted unhappy or started to express his issues with what was happening, he was immediately invalidated. He spent his life being gaslit. Being told that unlike other people, he had everything. Being told that only losers can’t make the best of things. Being shamed and isolated for any negative emotion he had. And later, being sent off to centers in secret for rehab because no one in the public could find out that someone in the family had issues. Jake is in a great deal of despair. He feels like shit about himself. He is emotionally starving. But that aspect of him that is emotionally starving and in despair does not keep him safe. Instead, it makes him more unsafe in his family. It is what he is trying to deny, suppress and disown… even though he can’t. Whenever something happens that causes this despair to creep up, he rarely recognizes it. Instead, he immediately subconsciously panics and so to him, his mood swings seem to “come out of the blue”. And in order to try to stay away from the perceived unsafety of his own despair and his true negative feelings about the situations in his life, his protector personality steps in. This part of him starts to behave manically. It won’t let him go to sleep because slowing down would mean being present with how he is actually feeling. It causes his thoughts to race. It causes him to go on buying sprees and take drugs. It causes him to go climb dangerous mountains with little to no preparation and with no rest periods. It tells him and other people stories about how amazingly he is doing in life and about the big things in the world that he is going to create and accomplish. All of this is an avoidance strategy. And that avoidance strategy does not last very long.
Soon, after four days or so, Jake can’t keep it up. Because he is suppressing the part of him that is in despair and that feels like shit about himself and that is emotionally starving, that part is actually being fed with energy too. And so, on day #5, he experiences a parts takeover. Jake has no energy at all. He is depressed and he finds no pleasure in any of the things he usually enjoys. He loses his appetite and he feels guilty and worthless. During these periods, he frequently starts to think of plans to kill himself. Jake has no idea what to do to exit this never-ending cycle. Jake is considered to be mentally ill. He has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder. His psychiatrist has not recognized that this entire behavioral pattern that he has labeled bipolar is really just Jake’s adaptive strategy to the specific kind of unsafety he experienced and continues to experience in his life.
Ruth was molested by her step brother. When the incest was happening, she knew that what was happening was wrong. She knew that it didn’t feel good and was terrifying. But her step brother kept telling her that he did it because she was just so beautiful. She felt completely out of control of herself. Out of control of her body because he was able to do what he wanted with it, regardless of what she wanted. And out of control of her emotions because even though she knew it was wrong, she couldn’t stop herself from wanting that positive feedback about her being beautiful. Being out of control like this made her feel unsafe. And so, she took control back by controlling her own body. Ruth started severely restricting her food intake, even to the point of starvation. She would misuse laxatives, diuretics and diet aids. She became addicted to enemas. And she would exercise so excessively that she lost her periods. Ruth has been diagnosed with anorexia nervosa. But what we are calling anorexia, is just an adaptive strategy to try to deal with the specific unsafety that Ruth experienced in her life.
There are so many strategies, procedures, processes, techniques and behaviors that people employ in order to try to protect themselves and ensure their own wellbeing when they perceive there to be a threat to their wellbeing. Just to give you a tiny list of examples, a person might isolate, become defensive, go into denial, run away and avoid, become combative, become controlling, catastrophize, worry, micromanage, fawn, bully, romanticize the past, slip into an overlay, become pessimistic, become optimistic, dissociate, become manic, take drugs or medications, spend compulsively, self-harm, sleep, be promiscuous, project, deflect, binge, become passive aggressive, play zero sum games, become self-righteous, lie, become overly friendly or be guarded etc.
It is essential that you understand that any of these adaptive strategies that you might look at and not understand at face value or call maladaptive (because they don’t seem to keep a person safe, in fact they seem to make them more unsafe) are still strategies the person is using to keep themselves safe. Most of the time, when a person uses a ‘maladaptive strategy’ to self-preserve, it is because they perceive themselves to be in a lose-lose situation. They perceive themselves to be choosing between something painful and something else painful. They are merely choosing the less painful option. For example, a person might use the strategy of cutting to self-preserve. They are choosing the pain of the physical harm of a knife and the interpersonal consequences that come with having cut themselves over the pain of the severity of their distress being unseen. Or over the distress of being held captive by rigid and inflexible rule structures about emotional expression and therefore being unable to express anger or despair. To understand more about this, you can watch my video titled: There Is No Such Thing as Self Sabotage.
Long story short, when a person perceives that their own wellbeing and best interests are threatened, even at a subconscious level, they perceive themselves to be unsafe. And this perception of unsafety causes people to employ protective strategies, procedures, processes, techniques and behaviors. These strategies often make people behave in ways that seem not sane. They cause people to behave in ways that are unsafe to other people. And this becomes a vicious cycle.
This dynamic naturally occurs within people. But this dynamic is greatly amplified during any time of collective unsafety such as a war or a pandemic or a financial crisis or a famine or a natural disaster. This is what is happening in the world today. People are behaving more ‘mentally ill’ than ever because the unsafety they feel is causing their protector personalities to take over and employ protective strategies, procedures, processes, techniques and behaviors that cause them to behave in less than sane ways… Ways that make other people around them more unsafe. And the more unsafe they make other people, the more those people employ their own protective strategies, which makes them more unsafe and double down on their strategies and so on and so forth until what we are looking at is an ‘inflamed world’. A world that is genuinely unsafe and genuinely insane because of the very strategies people are all using to try to stay safe and preserve or bring about their own wellbeing. Just be careful not to fall into the trap of believing people when they justify their own self-protection strategies by saying it is something they are doing to “keep other people safe”. When people are in this mode, they employ very self-centered strategies. Even if they fight for someone else’s safety, it is because keeping that person or those people safe, somehow preserves their own safety.
To give you an example of this dynamic in the world today, imagine that Jenna perceives that a virus is going to kill her and those she loves. Jenna might have persistent thoughts and images of herself in a hospital or of helplessly watching someone she loves struggle to breathe. She might try to mitigate that unsafety by watching the news day and night (because information makes her feel safer), by isolating in her home, by obsessively washing her hands and by becoming combative online with people who aren’t taking safety measures seriously. Jenna starts to perceive that the people who are not taking measures are a threat to her and to those she loves. The way Jenna behaves now, starts to make other people feel unsafe. One of those people is Crystal.
Crystal has been friends with Jenna for 10 years. But lately, Jenna’s obsessive compulsive and militant behavior has been making Crystal feel unsafe. As a yoga instructor and doula, Crystal has always seen the deep-rooted problems within the medical and pharmaceutical establishment. She is a natural health freak. She feels like Jenna, and the people like her, that are both establishing and supporting the mask wearing and lock downs and vaccination measures are against her best interests and the best interests of the world. She sees herself losing the choice about what happens with her own body. She sees the consequences of isolation. She imagines that she and the world is headed towards a totalitarian regime. She might try to mitigate this unsafety by texting Jenna passive aggressive memes, by ignoring the news all together, by reading about her constitutional rights, by submitting scathing letters to her local government, and by investing in a gun (something she thought she would never own). The strategies that Crystal is using to try to mitigate her unsafety makes Jenna feel more unsafe. And the more unsafe Jenna feels, the more extreme her protective strategies become. And this makes Crystal feel even more unsafe. And the more unsafe Crystal feels, the more extreme her protective strategies become. Sound familiar? Because this is happening at a global level. And it continues to escalate and the social atmosphere of humanity continues to become more inflamed.
By understanding what is really going on in the world, you may feel called to change your approach to what you are doing in the world and to how you are interacting with other people. And if people would understand that what we are calling mental illness is really just adaptive strategies for mitigating unsafety, it would completely change the approach we take with regards to mental illness.