All people on earth hold within themselves the essence of the children they once were. As you matured, regardless of your childhood experiences (good or bad) the adult part of you grew up, despite not getting everything it needed as a child. But the child-part of you did not die or disappear somewhere along the way. This child self of yours exists in your internal system. This inner child of yours symbolizes the core of your emotional self… The raw essence and vulnerability of your personal truth. In truth, people have many “inner children”. To understand more about this, watch my video titled Fragmentation, The Worldwide Disease. But if we are looking at ourselves in terms of fragmentation, you can think of these many inner children as being organized into one box inside yourself that is labeled the inner child.
If you want to think metaphorically, the inner child is the box within your psyche that holds anything related to the child self. Things like innocence, play, wonder, suppressed desire and interests, curiosity, creativity, being in the present moment, honesty, imagination, emotions, traumas that belong to your childhood, childhood memories, the origin of patterns in your life, and even your pre-birth purpose. And those things are just the tip of the iceberg. Working directly with this part of you (and any of the parts that are inside of it) can go a long way in terms of healing trauma, ending dysfunctional patterns, getting in touch with your essence and personal truth, meeting your needs, finding joy and living according to your internal compass etc.
There are many different ways to work with the inner child. One such way, is to allow the inner child to write a letter to you at the age you are at right now. So, for example, if you are 32 today, your inner child is going to write a letter to you (as if he or she traveled through time to give it to you) at age 32 and today.
To do this exercise, get a sheet of paper and a pen or pencil and sit somewhere comfortable. From there, the best way to do this is to imagine that you are a method actor and, in this moment, you are only diving into the perspective of and becoming that one part of yourself, as if your inner child is the totality of you. Another way of thinking about this is that you are channeling only your inner child and allowing it to take over your whole body and awareness. You are going to spend some time getting used to it as if you are in a foreign being. Consider things like ‘What do I feel like?’ ‘How big or small am I?’ How old do I feel? Where do I feel like I am? Essentially, to begin with, you are simply becoming aware of it without asking it to express or questioning it.
From there, you can choose whether to let yourself (as the inner child) write or speak. Some people choose to record themselves doing this if they feel like speaking. In my experience, writing tends to work best for most people. If you have chosen to write and find it difficult at first to simply let the truth belonging to your inner child to flow through you, consider writing with the hand you do not usually write with. It doesn’t matter if it is messy. Your non dominant hand is more connected to your subconscious mind.
You are going to speak or write as the child self. And you are going to speak or write to your adult self that exists right here today. Keep in mind that some inner child parts are less communicative and verbal than others. Let whatever happens in this exercise happen. Don’t expect the inner child to be any certain way. Your inner child may be really angry with you or so distrusting that it is afraid to communicate with you. Conversely, your inner child may be full of love and joy and be supper communicative. What is your inner child’s current truth? What does it need to say or need you or others to hear? Let your inner child express as much as it wants. You may feel questions arise from somewhere deep inside you. You can mentally pose these questions to the inner child while you are still channeling your inner child. Things like “when did this start or when did things change for you?” Or “what would you need me to be doing differently than I am currently doing and why?” Any question that arises can help you to gain deeper clarity about your inner child.
Do this for as long as it takes to feel like the inner child has said all he or she has to say. And from there, given the information you received, come out of that perspective. If you feel stuck in that perspective, visualize a pearl sized, glowing white light beginning in your heart and begin to expand it, like you were blowing up a balloon. Imagining that as it expands, it pushes the perspective of the inner child to the perimeter of that light until that perspective “splits” sort of like a ripping seam. Then imagine stepping out of that perspective and turning around to pick it up and hand the energy of that perspective back to the universe at large.
If you feel inspired to do so as a result of what was communicated, you may choose to do a visualization involving your inner child. One of the best ways to do this is to imagine that your inner child (at whatever age you intuitively see him or her) is standing or sitting in front of you. From there, you do anything with the inner child that feels intuitively right to do. That being said, don’t forget to validate your inner child. Validation is the thing that most inner-child therapies or approaches seem to skip. Which is a travesty because it’s the most crucial step when we are doing inner child work. When we are working with the inner child, we usually rush to take the child away from the feeling, wanting to immediately make him or her feel better. By doing this, we send the message that the way they are feeling has to change because something is wrong with it.
Here is an example of how you might validate your inner child’s emotions. Let’s assume that the inner child expresses that it feels jealous because our inner child feels unloved, unvalued, and insignificant. We don’t instantly try to make our child self feel better or less jealous. Instead we validate the child’s feelings. Validating feelings is not the same as validating that they are correct in their version of truth, in the event that the validation of their truth will do them more harm than good. In other words, we don’t say, “You’re right; people don’t love you and they don’t value you”. Instead, we comfort the child and validate the child’s feelings by saying something like, “You’re right to feel this way because anyone who was in this situation would feel this way. It’s totally understandable how you could feel like people aren’t valuing you. It makes sense that you would feel sad. But I’m here with you no matter what. It’s OK that you feel this way. You have a right and a valid reason to feel the way you do.” Then we remain present with the child however he or she feels as a result of the validation.
Keep in mind that, on occasion, an inner child might actually need their version of truth (not just their emotions) validated in order to move forward. For example, if a child is being abused, but is constantly told by the perpetrator that he is just being given a bath in the places that he is dirty, this can create cognitive dissonance in the child great enough to be its own state of mental trauma. Therefore, during this step, we would also affirm that they are right in that they were actually being abused.
It’s natural to have a reaction to being validated when it finally happens, and usually the reaction is a good one. The child experiences a release and a sense of acceptance, and he or she can shift into an emotional readiness to move forward on his or her own into a solution. However, sometimes more painful emotions, such as sadness, come up. When this is the case, continue to validate those new feelings and remain present with those feelings as well. The point here is that you must be unconditionally there with the child, without needing the child to feel different than how they feel. This step of validation is not about feeling better; it’s about being with the child’s feelings. If you truly feel that you can’t do this for your inner child, then imagine someone who can doing it instead. For example, if you imagine that an angel can do it, then imagine the angel coming into the scene with you and comforting and validating your inner child instead. And from there, you can visualize meeting the child’s needs or resolving anything with the child that may need to be resolved based off of what was expressed in the letter.
Here is an example of an actual letter that was written by someone’s inner child to their adult self:
Hi Older Self,
I see that you have taken a lot of responsibility from what happened to us in childhood. You should probably stop. Like now. You are still doing this from a place of you are guilty which is your problem. I just want to have fun. You are living life with a bunch of consequences in mind and the truth is that it is not reality. You are suffocating me and only letting me come out when its safe or there won’t be consequences. STOP!!! STOP it!!!! You are being our controlling mother. I know what happened was scary and feels like it left an imprint but actually I’m perfectly fine. It was an experience, if we only stay on that experience that is the only thing we will know. ABUSE IS NOT THE ONLY THING I WANT TO KNOW!!! AHH!! I want to explore; I want to let myself dream because what is life without letting yourself have possibilities. You know what that is, it’s a stupid life. Honestly why even bother. You are not acting like you are out of abuse, come on. This fear of feeling like you are going to lose everyone that there is going to be a major consequence has you frozen in the biggest consequence, stuck in your past. I want you to ask yourself, what new thing could I create today? Everyday. As you can see, I’m a little frustrated at you because honestly you just seem like an old fart. Do something different. This is not who we are, we are fun, social, actually pretty outgoing and so not lame. You are like trying to move a mountain, impossibly stubborn. Enjoy people, you are too worried about losing them that you don’t even notice they are there. You know what I am done with the advice, do something new today, that’s it. And no one took anything away from you so the end.
Once you have done this exercise, given the information you received from your inner child, is there any resolve you may need to create? Are there any changes you might need to make? Do you have a need that you need to find a way to meet? Do you need to embody any of the suppressed aspects of your inner child in your adult life? Do you have any childhood interests you need to pick back up? To make the most of this exercise, make any changes that you need to make as a result of the information you gained by doing this exercise. And don’t forget that you can do this as many times as you want. Periodical check-ins go a long way towards the health of your emotional self. And the better your relationship is with your inner child, the better your life will feel.
For most people trust is an abstract concept, which sucks because trust is essential for relationships with others and self-trust is critical for personal happiness. If trust remains an abstract concept for you, you won’t know what the hell to practically do in order to create trust in relationships or to create self-trust. So, in today’s episode, I’m going to make trust simple for you. To trust someone is to feel as if you can rely on them to capitalize (act in) your best interests. This is as scientific as you can get with what trust actually is. For this reason, it’s a good idea to sit with that definition for a moment and let it sink in. Keep in mind that I did not say that trust is about being able to rely on the fact that someone will put your best interests above their own. Nor is it making someone else fully responsible for your happiness. It is being able to rely on the fact that they will capitalize (act in) your best interests.
Taking the next conceptual step, to trust yourself is to feel as if you can rely on yourself to capitalize (act in) your own best interests. Even in a scenario where self-trust is about the assured reliance on your own character, ability, strength, and truth, this is true. For example, if you were to consider whether you trust yourself to be able to execute a task well, you would have already decided that executing that task well is in your best interests.
The reason self-trust remains so abstract for people, is because they see themselves as ‘one thing’. I don’t walk up to you and introduce myself by several different names. But this way of viewing yourself, is inaccurate. Consciousness itself functions like water. If you are looking at a river from above, you can see that a large river often branches off into smaller rivers. Over the course of your life, your consciousness splits, just like the river does. It is usually an act of self-preservation. When this happens, your sense of self becomes fragmented. So even though you have one body, within that body, you end up with multiple selves. The best way to picture this is to imagine that inside your body, you have a collection of Siamese twins. They are technically all conjoined because they all share one body. But each one has its own identity, its own desires, needs, perspective, strengths, weaknesses and appearance.
If you understand that you are not one thing that you call by one name, but that you are more like an ecosystem of different ‘parts’, suddenly self-trust or the lack thereof makes sense. These internal ‘parts’ of you can have any kind of relationship under the sun. All the way from super loving and supportive to violent and hating. The bottom line is, some parts of you cannot currently be relied upon to capitalize (act in) the best interests of other parts of you.
For example, if one part of you wants to go to a party and another part does not and the first part simply bulldozes and drags you to the party, the other part cannot trust it. Or for example, if one part of you wants to get rid of another part of you, that second part can’t trust the first one. Or for example, if one part of you really wants you to become an artist and another part of you wants family approval (which it knows is not possible if you become an artist). And the part that values family approval makes the executive decision to do what the family wants, the part of you that wants you to be an artist cannot by definition trust the one who values family approval. And in all of these scenarios, you will feel that lack of self-trust emotionally in your whole being. You know what it feels like to be in a relationship where someone cannot be relied upon to act in your best interests. When you lack self-trust, that same relationship is taking place in your internal system.
I’m going to say something I need you to understand. You cannot understand self-trust or repair self-trust unless you accept the reality of fragmentation. If you want to understand fragmentation in an in-depth way, watch my video titled: Fragmentation, The Worldwide Disease.
But here’s the good news: Trust can be rebuilt. If you have lost self- trust, that trust is rebuilt through parts of you demonstrating that they can be relied upon to be aware of and capitalize the best interests of whatever part they are currently opposed to. Building trust in any relationship, including those relationships taking place between your own parts, is really as simple as being aware of and capitalizing on each other’s best interests. It is as simple as finding a meeting of minds about what a win-win scenario actually is.
So, now that you understand that, here is what you need to do in order to trust yourself:
Start to work directly with the parts of yourself that are creating the self-distrust. This means the parts within you that are opposed, that disagree, that are fighting, abandoning, suppressing, rejecting, denying, disowning or bulldozing each other and that are engaged in zero sum games. To learn exactly how to do this, watch my video titled: Parts Work (What is Parts Work and How to do It). When you do this with parts that are creating an atmosphere of distrust in your being, you often need to make these parts of you aware that they are part of the same body and as such, they literally cannot play a zero-sum game. In other words, there is no “I win and you lose” for a something that shares the same body. Each part needs to be made aware that it no longer works to capitalize on its own best interest to the detriment of the other’s best interest. They will begin to look for a win-win situation when this is the case and begin to caretake each other’s best interests. But stay open to this looking different than you would anticipate. When certain internal parts become aware of others, and really see, hear, feel and understand them, their own perspectives and therefore estimation of their best interests often change.
Become intimate with the part(s) of you that you don’t trust. This point goes in alignment with the last. But it must be a stand-alone point. If trust is about capitalizing on someone’s best interests, you have to actually know what their best interests are. To know what someone’s best interests are, you have to be willing to have intimacy with them. Intimacy is seeing into someone, feeling into them, hearing them and understanding them as deeply as you can. This means, you’ve got to be willing to face and create intimacy with the part of you that you think is the “bad guy” in the trust department. For example, if you lack self-trust because a part of you keeps taking drugs regardless of your desire to stay sober, you need to stop playing a zero-sum game with it and really see, hear, feel and understand that part; especially the WHY, so you can help that part of you to get its needs met and act in its best interests in alternative ways than the ways it is currently going about getting its needs met. “You” can’t oppose, fight with, abandon, suppress, reject, deny, disown, bulldoze or engage in zero sum games with any part of yourself and create an atmosphere of self-trust in your being.
Accept that there is no such thing as self-sabotage. This understanding can go a long, long way towards developing self-trust. Usually when we don’t trust ourselves, we become afraid of ourselves. But this will help: If any of your internal parts or selves are resisting or opposing your desires, or if any of them are hurting other parts of you in any way, it is because they think it is in your best interest for them to do so. In other words, they believe they are saving your life by not going along with the plan. For this reason, we cannot say that they are against you. They just don’t agree with the rest of you about how to be FOR you. For example: consciously, you may really want a relationship to work, but you keep pushing the other person away or doing and saying things to create conflict in the relationship. In this scenario, one fragment or part within you (the one we are consciously identified with) has made the decision to be in a relationship and make it work. Another part knows that relationships have been so painful in the past and that it has been abandoned and therefore thinks abandonment is inevitable. So, it is trying to save you from the pain of getting attached to something you are inevitably going to lose. No part of you, even the ones who ‘hate you’ are actually against you. To understand this in-depth, watch my videos titled: There is No Such Thing as Self Sabotage and Self Hate, The Most Dangerous Coping Mechanism.
Build your self-confidence. Self-confidence and self-trust are very good friends. When we use the word confidence, what we mean is your ability to depend upon yourself. When we understand that lack of self-trust, goes hand in hand with lack of self-confidence, we see that not trusting ourselves is often a self-worth issue. It is an issue of devaluing and invalidating ourselves One of the reasons that we do not trust ourselves, is that we do not accept our own abilities, talents, intentions, and value. This means, take time to recognize and acknowledge your abilities, talents, positive traits, and thus value.
Part of this confidence is allowing yourself to do what you are good at and what comes easily to you. Everyone is good at something. We don’t often allow ourselves to do what we are good at however because we have all been raised in societies with very specific values. Our strengths may not align with the values that those around us hold. And on top of this, most societies today value effort. Most of us think it is weak to do the things that come easy to us. But for us to learn how to trust ourselves, we need to allow ourselves to do what we are good at and what comes easily to us. If we always feel as if it is a struggle to do things, we will always feel behind the pack and lack confidence. So, own up to the things which you excel at, and then focus on designing your life around those things. Give yourself permission to take pride in them and give yourself credit for your successes. And realize that sometimes, we have to look for the people who will value what we have to offer. To learn more about this step, you can watch my video titled: The Value Realization (A Realization That Can Completely Change Your Self Worth).
Listen to your feelings. They always have important messages to share. Most people view feelings as a menace; something to fight, something he or she is powerless to, a drawback, and even something to distrust. The average person does not know what purpose they serve. The result is, many people are living in a tug of war between being a slave to their emotion and flipping around to wage war with their emotions. We have a multibillion-dollar pharmaceutical industry set up to make a profit from chemically aiding people to suppress their feelings and change them. This is especially sad considering that your feelings are the compass guiding you through this venture called life. Emotions are the carriers of personal truth. They never ‘come out of nowhere’. They are the exact reflection of the truths belonging to parts of you. I am not saying that the thoughts, perspectives and opinions of parts of you are always accurate and a perfect reflection of objective truth. But they are always real and important and they always exist for a valid reason. You have to notice and listen to the truth being carried by a feeling to recognize that a part of yourself is activated and to hear that part of you out. You cannot do what is right for you or in your best interests if you don’t ‘hear out’ the truth being carried by your emotions. And consciously choose what to do given that information.
Let go of the idea of “the” right answer and just look for “your” right answer. People who don’t feel as if they can trust themselves, often defer to others. They tend to become preoccupied with the idea of right and wrong and it paralyzes them. They tend to fear making the “wrong” choice so much, that they procrastinate making any choice, and they trust other people’s opinions rather than forming and “owning” their own. Gain perspective by eliciting other people’s opinions, but do not “weigh them” in order to make your final decision. Instead, make your own decision. Use inquiry to question your current perspective and consciously choose a perspective, which serves your highest good. Every single person, experiences the world in their own way. So we make decisions about what is right based on our own individual assumptions, judgments, perceptions and past experiences. This is why no two perspectives will be the same. And no one can see the situation from your perspective. You are also never going to have all of the information that you would like to have in order to make ‘the perfect decision’. You can’t know everything and so sometimes you have to take a risk by making a choice anyway. If you are looking to develop self-trust, stop trying to find the right answer. Find your right answer and be open to it changing as you develop and become more and more aware and evolve.
Take risks, even if taking those risks results in making “mistakes”. We have to be willing to take risks and make mistakes in life. One day during my sports career, I was in a panic about racing as usual. At that point in my life, my self worth was completely tied up in performance. As a result, I had the habit of getting such bad performance anxiety that I did terribly in races and sometimes didn’t even show up for them. But on a chairlift on the way to the starting gate, I had an epiphany. The epiphany was this: I have lost 100% of the races that I didn’t run. This is the case when we don’t take risks. We like to think that if we don’t take risks, we don’t fail. But the truth is the exact opposite of that. If we don’t take the risk, we have already failed. While it can be scary for us to take risks in life, it is one of the best ways we can build our capacity for self-trust. Taking risks takes courage, and courage makes us feel better about ourselves. It allows us to see what we are really capable of, which in turn helps us to trust ourselves. You won’t know that you can trust yourself unless you take a risk and see that you can.
Compile a list of all the ways that you do trust yourself. Our level of trust is often different relative to different things. For example, we may trust our instincts relative to some things, like driving our car; while we doubt ourselves relative to other things, like making a good impression in an interview. Take some time to compile a list of all the ways that you currently know you can trust yourself. Compile this list by filling in the blank as many times as you can. “I trust myself to________”. For example, “I trust myself to be loyal to the person I have committed to”. Or “I trust myself to be loyal to my own happiness regardless of whether or not that means breaking a commitment that I have made to someone”. Some other examples might be, “I trust myself to care for my pets”. Or “I trust myself to do exactly what I say I’m going to do”. Or “I trust myself to make a breakfast which tastes good”. Nothing is too small or too large to include in this list. Any kind of trust, no matter what it is in, is important because it is trust. We have the tendency to ignore the ways that we actually do trust ourselves, when we become aware of the ways that we don’t trust ourselves. This corrodes our self-concept. It disables us by making us feel bad about ourselves, instead of simply allowing us to incrementally build trust in the things we don’t currently have trust in.
Develop boundaries. And to develop boundaries, you must develop authenticity. Having a sense of self vs. other is part of participating in this physical dimension. The individual perspective and experience is what is currently serving the expansion of this universe. And so, we perceive a difference between ourselves and the rest of the world. This individual perspective is a kind of boundary that defines us from everything else. A boundary is not a fence. Boundaries are simply the imaginary line that uniquely defines your personal happiness, your personal feelings, your personal thoughts, your personal integrity, your personal desires, your personal needs, and therefore most importantly, your personal truth from the rest of the universe. When I say my favorite ice cream flavor is coffee, that is actually a boundary, because it is something that defines me vs. other. But if someone else said their favorite ice cream flavor was coffee, I wouldn’t lose the boundary. It would just be something the defines us both and that we both happen to have in common.
As it applies to authenticity, something that is authentic is not copied. It’s genuine, real, and true. As authenticity applies to a human being, you must accept the fact that each and every person, including you, comes into this life as a unique expression of source consciousness. We can’t really be ‘in alignment with ourselves’ and therefore trust ourselves if we are not being that unique expression and living according to what is true for us. The simplest way to understand authenticity (beyond it being an uncovering of your personal essence) is that authenticity is the conscious mending of the incongruencies between one’s inner self and outer self. So, authenticity is when your inside matches your outside. You must live according to what is true for you. You will come closer and closer to your genuine authenticity throughout the process of the integration of your parts and the inevitable self-awareness that process brings. So, consider your authenticity to be something that is unfolding. And with that, boundaries to be something that is developing. But the more you live in alignment with your personal truth, the more self-trust you will have! If you want to learn more about boundaries and authenticity in depth, watch my videos titled: Personal Boundaries vs. Oneness (How To Develop Healthy Boundaries) and How to Be Authentic.
Trusting yourself is a process. Let it be a process. Trusting yourself is not something that you can suddenly wake up and decide to do. It is the inevitable byproduct of gradually improving the internal relationships taking place within your system. Just remember that the better it gets, the better it gets.
Though building resiliency in yourself and in the sectors of your life is always a good idea, in today’s world it is absolutely critical. If you want to simplify resiliency down to its core, you can do so by breaking resiliency down into two things. The first is your ability to withstand adversity. The second is your ability to adapt well in the face of adversity. Essentially, for something to have resiliency, it must be able to withstand and also to adapt. Take this concept and apply it to anything to see how resilient that thing is or isn’t. For example, if your positivity depends entirely upon something good happening to you, that is not a resilient mentality. Having a mentality of it being up to you and in your power to create something good to feel positive about is an example of a more resilient mentality. Or for example, if your finances are solely dependent on what comes to you through a boss and you could easily get fired and therefore lose your only source of income, your finances are not resilient. Making sure that you have multiple sources of income, so that if one source is cut off, you still have a backup, makes your finances more resilient. Or for example, rupture is inevitable in relationships. What creates security in your relationships is your ability to resolve rupture. If you do not know how to create resolve in relationships or if the people you are in a relationship with are not interested in creating resolve, your relationships are not resilient. If you know how to resolve rupture when it occurs in a relationship and have relationships with people who want resolve, your relationships are more resilient.
The reason to create resiliency is not because the universe is against you. The reason to create resiliency is that you want to be able to endure and rely upon your own fortitude and the fortitude and endurance of things in your life, even if you or those things encounter oppositional forces. Keep in mind that oppositional forces are not limited to something being intentionally against you. Change is one thing that can act as a form of adversity, as so many businesses have found out the hard way, by continuing to do the same thing instead of being able to adapt to changing times and changing demands.
Over the course of our lives, we will all encounter situations where we discover that something was not as resilient as we thought it was. The disillusionment and vulnerability we experience as a result is very scary. And while we can’t completely prevent this, we can decrease the likelihood of the negative manifestations of things like weakness, rigidity, fragility, vulnerability, failure, collapse and loss by deeply questioning how resilient something in ourselves or our life is, and consciously working towards creating resiliency. All this being said, here are some concrete tips for how to create resiliency.
Clearly recognize what is not resilient about you and about the sectors of (and things in) your life. The goal of this exercise is to get very specific. How resilient are you overall? How resilient is each one of your relationships? How resilient is your community? How resilient is the society in which you live and the structure of that society? How resilient is your lifestyle? How resilient are your finances? How resilient is your business? How resilient are your plans? How resilient is your sense of purpose and meaning? How resilient is your mentality? How resilient are you emotionally? How resilient is your health? How resilient is the environment in which you live? You should then break down each sector of your life into smaller components. Such as: How resilient is my style of communication in my relationships? Or How resilient is my employee retention plan in my business? Or how resilient is my circulatory system? Once you have answered these questions, be willing to go back to the drawing board so as to make changes so as to create what is actually resilient instead. Think: How could I make X stronger?
What is your contingency/back up plan? So much resiliency comes as a result of creating a contingency plan for things. Never take a thing for granted and assume it is forever. So many people have found this out the hard way. It’s one reason why so many famous musicians and athletes are now bankrupt. Of course, a contingency plan applies to everything, not just a financial contingency plan. An example of this in a business is to have different plans for how to generate income and not to be dependent upon one product or one service. An example of this relative to health is to say I’m going to try this remedy wholeheartedly. But if it doesn’t work, I’m going to try this other thing. An example of this relative to your housing situation is: I’m committed to this place, but if my finances dip past a certain point, I’m going to get a roommate. Some people fear that if they create a contingency plan, it is like giving energy to the idea that a bad thing will happen. This is one reason why so many people hate the idea of pre-nuptial agreements. It feels to them like they are wanting to have faith in the fortitude of their marriage. And a prenuptial agreement feels to them like putting energy towards divorce or having no faith in the marriage. I want you to start to look at contingency planning a different way. If anything, just like wearing a seatbelt in a car, it can make it so you feel more security and sense more fortitude and therefore stop thinking about, worrying about and putting any energy towards whatever negative potential may exist. Therefore, a contingency plan doesn’t just protect you from being blindsided by adversity. It also protects you from focusing your energy towards adversity.
Face and Integrate Your Fears. Nothing destroys resiliency quite like fear. Nothing builds resiliency quite like integrating fear. When fear rules us is when it is behind us, controlling us. We need to turn around and become intimate with our fear. This means we need to see, hear, feel and seek to deeply understand it. From there, using the information that we gained by doing so, instead of fighting against that fear, we need to do what it takes on a mental, emotional and physical level to resolve it. By doing this, that fear no longer controls us and so others cannot control us with it. It is easy to see how much stronger you will be and how much more adaptable and able to withstand you will be by doing this. If you would like to learn about fear in a more in-depth way, an entire section of my book titled: The Anatomy of Loneliness, is dedicated to fear.
Build a support network. Resiliency is about developing autonomy as well as interdependence. We live in a world that currently values independence and dependency is shamed. The structure of society is set up to make people more and more separate and more and more able to do things for themselves. The thing is, people need other people. Humans are a relationally dependent species. Having a support network in your life and being a part of other people’s support networks, means you can add their energy and mental, emotional and even physical resources to your measure of resiliency. There is a reason that some people with addictions end up on the street and some don’t. The answer is: resources. The answer is having a support network or not. And the way to maintain a strong support network is to give/support. Lend your mental, emotional and physical resources to others in order to support their resiliency. In a group of people, other people’s resiliency adds to your own. Communication skills is a very important part of doing this. And never forget that collaboration may be a key element to resiliency. Two heads are better than one… many are better than two.
Accept change when it happens and accept that change will inevitably happen. Rigidity does not create resilience. Denial does not create resilience. The more adaptable, flexible and on board with (instead of opposed to) change you are, the better. Acceptance is the opposite of denial and avoidance. To accept is to recognize something as valid or correct. Doing this makes your being consent to receiving it and digesting it as truth instead of fighting to not acknowledge it and not take it in. Acceptance has nothing to do with liking something. Acceptance has nothing to do with condoning something or condemning something. It has nothing to do with whether you want to change something or not. It is simply about being able to acknowledge something as valid enough to let that acknowledgment in instead of fight to keep it out. To be resilient, you’ve got to be in reality. To truly understand this, watch my video quite literally titled: Reality. Ask yourself “What am I really afraid I might be in denial about or avoiding right now?” Make a list. Denial runs deep. But often it doesn’t run deep enough to totally silence the little voice inside that is warning you about the potential truth of an unpleasant reality. Then ask yourself with each item on the list, “If the voice of denial were not so loud, what would the unpleasant voice underneath it be saying to me about this situation?” See if you can really accept those unpleasant truths. Recognize that even though you love control, when you are in denial, you are in fact giving up control. By not accepting the reality of something unpleasant, you can’t do anything about it. Eventually, it will get out of hand and take its own course with or without your consent. Denial does not work because unless you know where you actually are, you cannot know where you want to be and you can’t take the appropriate step between here and there. You may not be in denial about what is happening, but simply be refusing to accept it. Remember that you are wasting precious time and energy fighting against what is and what you cannot make un-happen. And remember, because evolution and therefore change is the modus operandi of the universe, change is what will happen… will you be ever on the lookout for and ride the wave of change? Or fight it when it comes? One strategy is the recipe for resilience. The other for collapse. Remember, the more adaptable you are, the more resilient you will be.
Change your perspective about adversity. The attitude that you hold about adversity in general, changes how you respond to adversity and also all kinds of biological mechanisms such as what stress chemicals your body releasees. What is your attitude about adversity? How do you respond when faced with adversity? Does that attitude and response bend you towards resiliency and success or collapse and failure? People who demonstrate resilience, hold the perspective that adversity makes them stronger, better and more. They take it as an invitation to learn and change! They see it as a call to re-evaluate their intentions and strategies. This doesn’t mean that they like adversity. No one likes it. Don’t try to get yourself to like it. Look for the value in it and look for how to use it for your benefit. Be very, very careful about what meaning you assign to an experience of adversity. A mal-assigned meaning can demolish your resilience and capacity to turn adversity into something that adds to you, instead of takes away. To understand more about this, watch my video titled: Meaning, The Self Destruct Button. And don’t forget to seek positive meaning to what you are experiencing.
Develop Self-Efficacy. Self-efficacy, when it comes to building resiliency, is the belief or confidence in your ability to overcome challenges and to withstand and succeed in the face of adversity. You will find that you have much more Self-efficacy regarding some aspects of your life than others. To give you a small example, a person who feels confident in their skills in the kitchen will feel Self-efficacy if they are put in a situation where they are missing many ingredients. A person who doesn’t, will immediately feel disheartened and overwhelmed and maybe even give up. Really recognize, let yourself feel good about and resource the areas in which you feel self-efficacy. Know your strengths. When you discover an area in which you lack that self-efficacy, ask yourself: What would it take for me to feel confident in my ability relative to this thing? These areas are areas in which learning and practice to develop knowledge and skill will go a long way. Think of it this way: A person who knows how to grow their own food would feel a lot more self-efficacy regarding a food system shortage. You are looking to think and do things that cultivate the feeling that you can not only cope with what happens, but succeed with what happens. The more competent you feel and are, the more self-efficacy you will experience.
Always focus on what you can control, instead of on what you can’t. It is so easy to get absorbed and overwhelmed by what you have no control over because it poses the greatest threat. But if something is out of your control, then by definition you have no power there. Instead, look for where you do have power in any situation that you find yourself in. Look for the window that is open when you have no control over a door being closed. Do not remain focused on what you can’t do. What CAN you do? Because personal empowerment is such an important element of resiliency, it may benefit you to watch my video titled: Take Your Power Back.
Find or Create Purpose. Purpose makes you more resilient. End of story. Life purpose provides the strongest resilience. But before you panic, know that you don’t need to be sure about your life purpose to have purpose. You can look for it and even create it in any situation that you may find yourself in. For example, a person might be feeling their resilience waning in the face of unjust treatment. But if they decide that there is purpose in what they are doing, because continuing to fight will ensure a more just world for many others like them, suddenly they will have much more resilience. You can withstand a great deal more and for longer. People cannot withstand pain without purpose. People can’t really strongly get their own energy behind them in something without purpose. So… come up with that purpose. Genuinely look for and come up with the purpose that makes all of your personal energy ‘back you up’ in a thing.
Deliberately focus positively. Positive focus is a slippery slope. If you are using positive focus in order to avoid something, then you are using positive focus as a tool of resistance. You are doing so because you don’t trust in your ability to cope with a negative reality. This disempowers you because it puts you in denial. That being said, as long as you accept the reality, looking for the actual positives in your life experiences will ensure you much more resiliency. And, it will mean that you are more in reality because there are always both positives and negatives to be found in any experience or situation. To be in reality is to see both sides of the coin at once. People who lack resilience tend to struggle with seeing the positive aspect of reality. So, recognizing the positive and making lists of positives and developing optimism is something they tend to struggle at. But deliberately practicing this, will increase your ability to withstand, endure, adapt and succeed.
Answer this question: What would give me energy? Having more energy increases your resiliency. But people seldom prioritize doing things that put energy into themselves. To create resiliency, you’ve got to do this consciously and directly. The answer will be different for all people. For one person, being social will give them energy. For another, it will take energy away. For one person, running will give them energy. For another, it will take energy away. For one person, taking a salt bath may give them energy. For another, it may take energy away. For one person, watching an intense documentary will give them energy. For another, it will take energy away. For one person, completing all the things on their to do list right now may give them energy. For another, it may take energy away. Write a list of all the things that give you energy and pick items off of the list to do on a regular basis. Keep in mind that what gives you energy and takes it away may change from day to day or moment to moment. And whenever you feel yourself getting weaker, fatigued or depleted, ask yourself “what would give me energy right now?
Think about resiliency as being the strength of the strategies for adversity, withstanding, adapting and success that you have on a mental, emotional and physical level. On a mental level, strategies could be things like learning, altering your perspective, critical thinking, problem solving, reasoning, creating plans, finding purpose and positive focus. On an emotional level, strategies could be things like expression, regulation, caretaking your own emotion and listening to the personal truth that is being conveyed by your emotion. On a physical level, strategies could look like taking action, doing something as opposed to thinking about it, making physical changes, building connections, creating a strong body through your diet, exercise, sleep and lifestyle habits. And doing things that enhance your health and energy levels. Meditation is an example of a strategy that can build strength in all three areas. A person is really a layer-cake of these three layers of existence. To have true resiliency, you must build strength in all three areas. You must seek to create mental fortitude, emotional fortitude and physical fortitude. And each layer feeds into and effects the rest.
As a side note, if you currently feel like you are in a crisis, know that crisis tests your resilience. And so, your resilience is probably being really, tested right now. I have created an e-course to help you with this… How to thrive in a crisis. In this course, I lead you through lessons and in-depth exercises to improve your resilience and help you thrive (not just survive) in a crisis. To learn more about the course visit: tealswan.com/crisis
Resiliency does not make it so you are immune to life’s difficulties. You will still experience challenge, pain, negative emotion, and other unwanted things. But with resiliency, those things will not ‘topple your tower’. You will be able to recover and have the strength to use adversity to add to your success. Imagine a life where adversity could amplify your success instead of bring failure. So, in the name of resilience, I leave you with the words of author Elizabeth Edwards. “She stood in the storm and when the wind did not blow her way, she adjusted her sails."
Giving and receiving are a natural part of life, just like an inhale and an exhale. Both are an essential part of life satisfaction. Both are also a necessary part of relationships. But people can have a painful relationship with giving or receiving or both. A while ago, I did a video titled: How To Receive. If you feel you have trouble receiving, you will want to watch that video! Today, in this article, we’re going to talk about How To Give.
To give is to present, bestow, provide, deliver, hand over, commit, entrust, or transfer the possession of something voluntarily without expectation of compensation. There are a multitude of different reasons why someone might have resistance to giving. A person might have an issue giving a specific thing for a specific reason. Or they might have an issue giving in general.
Some examples of resistance to giving a specific thing are: A person might not want to give a gift because they feel like giving a gift supports consumerism and greed. Or that it allows people to value material things over people and love. A person may not want to give a child a special item because they feel the child cannot value it enough to take care of it. A person may not want to give a compliment on someone’s work because they feel the compliment will cause them to stop striving for improvement and become lazy. A person might not want to give forgiveness because they feel that doing so somehow condones the person’s actions. A person may not want to give financial support because they fear it will inspire dependency.
Some examples of resistance to giving in general are: We may feel like the law of the land in this world is ‘every man for himself’ and so, because we expect to receive nothing from others, we are locked in personal survival mode and don’t want to give any of our personal resources or energy away. We may fear that if we give something, a person will now expect that from us and become entitled, in which case we start to feel like rather than choosing to give something, others are taking it from us. We may have trauma relative to things we give being received instead of rejected and so we stopped giving and instead feel frozen at the idea of extending any part of our energy or resources to someone else. We may have so much trauma about giving and receiving being a manipulative tool used for control and abuse that we rejected the idea of giving entirely. We may not want to give because we feel it sets off an awkward expectation of reciprocation in others. We may not want to give because we feel lack and starved and depleted and so we feel that only further depletion and further lack will come to us if we give. Or that we genuinely have nothing to give.
Because giving is like life’s outbreath in terms of energy, and because it is essential to life satisfaction, let’s look at How To Give.
The first step to giving is resolving your resistance about giving. This is the case if you are resistant to giving a specific thing or giving in general. You need to dive as deep as you can to gain awareness of the unique personal reasons why in order to see how your perspective might need to change or what you might need to do or to not do. Don’t dive into this with the idea that you should give or that your mission is to get yourself to give things up. Rather, do this with open curiosity really wanting to fully understand your reasons for not wanting to give; as well as any trauma that might have created those reasons. You might find out that the right thing for you to do is to choose to be consciously self-centered for a while or build up your personal resources. Two of the best methods for this are The Completion Process and Parts Work. To learn how to do The Completion Process, you can read my book that is quite literally titled: The Completion Process. Alternatively, you can go to www.completionprocess.com and find a practitioner to walk you through it. If you do this, use the sensation of the trigger that arises when you think about giving whatever it is that you are resistant to giving. To learn how to do Parts Work, you can watch my video titled: Parts Work (What Is Parts Work And How To Do It). If you do this, talk to the part of yourself who has resistance to giving whatever it is that you have resistance to giving. Or the part of you that hates giving or doesn’t want to give in general. As a general rule, do not give unless you feel in alignment with giving. This means, if you don’t feel in alignment with giving something, you have some resistance that needs to be heard out and resolved.
Change your perspective about giving. If you are able to do this, then giving will feel good. To help you out with some of this, I will now give to you some different perspectives. The first is that giving is like breathing out. You must breathe air out in order to breathe air in. Only breathing in and holding your breath means death. Think of giving and receiving like breathing. Energy in this universe is means to be in this flow of in and out. In order to receive, you must give in the same way that in order to breathe in, you must breathe out.
The second thing is that a thing should be where it can fulfill its unique mission and purpose and reason for being. And all things have a mission, purpose and reason for being. The Native Americans have a giveaway ceremony called a potlatch. It is a ritual practiced to offer or give away without attachment or regret. In this ritual, things were not given because they were no longer needed or wanted. Instead, it was common for a person to give away his or her most prized possession if he or she knew that the item would fulfill its purpose better elsewhere. All things in existence were understood to play a role in creation and thus have a particular mission. To many Native Americans, to have something sitting in a box or in the attic or closet was to deny a thing of its mission and purpose. And also to deny other people, whose wellbeing would better be served by it. So, the thing someone else would value or the cherished thing whose mission of service would be better completed with someone else, was given to that person. To do otherwise was to dishonor the medicine of not only the item/tool itself but also the maker of the item, if the item did in fact have one. Walk through your home with this in mind.
The third thing is that if what you want is a world of generosity and abundance, you must cast your vote. But your vote is cast in this life by where you put your attention, the things you say and do. This is the real meaning of ‘be what you wish to see in this world’. If you want an abundant, generous world, be generous and giving. Create a strong enough vibration of generosity that it takes over the world, like a positive virus. It is natural for people to give. They only start to hold on tightly to things and become greedy and stingy when they have the perception of lack and fear. The more generous you are with others, the less they are in that perception of lack and fear and therefore the more they in turn will also give.
The fourth thing is that your purpose is really about what you are meant to give in this life. You can imagine that each being that is born, is like a gift being given from the universe at large to the rest of existence. And so, it is only through considering what we are meant to give and what we want others to take away from us that we can find our purpose in this life.
When it comes to giving, figuring out the why, what and how will change the game for you. Why are you going to give? What is your personal motivation? In order to give, you must be inspired to give. What will you give? A lot of this is based on what you can afford to give; time, energy and resource wise. And finally, how will you give it? The point of this question is to figure out how to give what you want to give in a way that feels good to you.
Giving is not limited to gifts. But gifts are a big part of giving, so hone your gift giving skills. Gifts may seem trivial at face value, but they are anything but. In fact, gifts is what we call a love language. It is one of the primary ways in which human beings express and receive love around the globe. Gifts are a visual symbol of love. Every time that you look at a gift, it is a reminder that someone was thinking about you. That they care about you enough to understand you. And that they took the time and care to seek, secure and deliver an item as a demonstration of their love. So, learn how to give gifts. I have a full tutorial on this in my video titled: How to Express Love Through Gifts.
We may struggle when it comes to giving because we have a limited view of giving, especially when it comes to what to give. All people find giving certain things more natural than others. And there are so many ways to give. We can work on our ability to give things that do not come naturally to us give, but that shouldn’t be where the majority of your focus goes. The majority of your focus when it comes to giving should be on those things that are natural for you to give and that feel good to give. A few examples of ways to give are: You can give by providing. This means you could spend money on others or give them resources or things that they want or need. You could give your time, focus and presence. This means you could spend time with someone giving them your undivided attention and presence. You could volunteer. This means you could give your energy to some cause. You could give help. This means you could lend your time and energy to assisting someone or something in some way. You could give physical touch. This means that you could use touch as a way of giving someone affection, comfort and pleasure. You could give information, truth and awareness. This means you could give your mental resources to someone so that they have more information, truth and awareness. You could give kindness. This means that you could give small acts of kindness to those around you such as opening doors, smiling at people, shoveling someone else’s driveway, bringing a friend a treat etc. You could give affirmation. This means you could give words to others in the form of affirmations, compliments, or other positive statements. You could give humor to others. This means you could make them smile or laugh. You could give yourself to others. This means you could be open, tell people stories and information and truths about yourself. You could give your talent. This means you could offer your talents or skills in ways that benefit others. For example, if your talent is photography, you could offer to take someone’s photograph. Or if your skill is herbal remedies, you could make someone an herbal remedy. So think about how you like to give. What ways feel good to you to give?
When it comes to giving, you must consider the recipient. Think about them and what they want and need and would be delighted by rather than thinking about what you think they should want or need or be delighted by. The right thing to give can only come from understanding the person or thing that you are giving to. And it is by understanding the recipient that you know the perfect way and the perfect thing to give them.
Get rid of your expectations. Giving and receiving can only be pure if there are no strings attached. To be good at giving, you’ve got to keep transactions in one box and giving and receiving in another box. Transactions are not bad. They are a part of life. But they ought to be conscious and expressed and mutually agreed upon. Giving on the other hand should never come with the expectation of getting. Being a person who honestly does not expect something in return, because the giving in and of itself feels good, is being someone who is rehabilitating the pain people have around receiving. To become really clear about your expectations, simply take a look at your MOTIVES for giving something. And dare to be brutally honest with yourself, no matter how bad the answer might make you feel about yourself. It is better to be honest about an expectation or not give something at all, than to give something that is laced with unexpressed and subconscious expectation. That is no different than handing someone poisoned water to drink.
Take others as a part of yourself and the impulse to give will be automatic. To love is to take something as a part of yourself. Love is inclusive. It is the energetic movement towards oneness. When you love something, you energetically pull it towards you and include it as you. The exact opposite vibration of love is fear. To fear is to separate something from yourself. Fear is exclusive. It is the energetic movement towards individualization. When you fear something, you push it away and dis-include it from you. The ultimate reality in this universe is that of oneness. We may perceive there to be separate things in the world. But this perception is an illusion. We are all comprised of the same energy that is merely expressing itself as different things. If you take something as a part of you, you do not perceive yourself to be separate from that thing and so suddenly, its best interests are a part of your own best interests. You can also perceive it with more accuracy. This means that you will automatically have an impulse to give for the sake of someone else’s best interests as well as a better idea of what to give and how to give it. Never forgive that to give is a natural response to loving someone or something. And to love is a choice.
No one has ever become poor by giving. Giving has a way of making your life experience, along with everyone else’s, richer and richer. It is for this reason that I’m going to end this episode with the wise words spoken by Winston Churchill. “We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give."
A gift, also known as a present, is something that is given to someone without any expectation of a transaction, payment or return. In many cultures they are concealed, wrapped or packaged in some way such as in wrapping paper or in a special bag or box.
There are so many different occasions in which a gift can be given. For example, a gift can be given as an expression of solidarity, alliance, charity, friendship, affection, gratitude, honor, abundance etc. It can also be a custom on occasions such as celebrations, coronations, birthdays, weddings, funerals, baby showers, graduations and holidays.
Gifts may seem trivial at face value, but they are anything but. In fact, gifts is what we call a love language. It is one of the primary ways in which human beings express and receive love around the globe. It is perhaps the most misconstrued and poorly understood of all of the love languages. Many people have a bad association with gifts. For example, they may see gifts as simply a way that people manipulate each other. They may think that someone who likes or wants gifts is materialistic and greedy. There has been a lot of misinformation spread and also a lot of trauma experienced regarding gifts. For that reason, I must set the record straight.
It is at this point that I must tell you that I am not only going to set the record straight as a spiritual teacher. I’m going to set it straight as someone whose primary love language is gifts. Yes, you heard it right. Gifts is my #1 love language. It has been for my entire life.
Gifts are a visual symbol of love. Every time that you look at a gift, it is a reminder that someone was thinking about you. That they care about you enough to understand you (especially what you like and need). And that they took the time and care to seek, secure and deliver an item as a demonstration of their love.
No matter how extravagant a gift may or may not be, a gift in and of itself is not about extravagance. It is about sentimentality. It is about the meaning behind the gift itself. For a person who speaks the love language of gifts, a gift is a constant visual reminder that they are loved. Each Item reminds them of the person who gave them the item and the meaning behind the gifting of it. This is also the reason why when it comes to the love language of gifts, a gift can say the exact opposite of what you were intending.
The reason that you have to be so thoughtful when it comes to gift giving is that the right gift can be a demonstration of love. The wrong gift can convey the exact opposite. Love is very strong. But it also implies vulnerability. Whenever love is involved, you have the power to heal someone and the power to wound them. If someone’s love language is gifts, then they are even more vulnerable to gifts. This means you have more power in your hands to heal or harm them every time you get them a gift, or don’t. For example, getting them a thoughtless gift or not getting them a gift on an anniversary or special occasion or giving them a gift as an obligation would be acutely hurtful to them.
I’ll never forget the Christmas that my grandparents decided to get my cousin and I the exact same gift. The same pair of earrings. The problem was, my ears were not pierced at the time and at that time, I had no plans to pierce them. Only my cousin’s ears were pierced. For a gift love language person, instead of feeling loved that day, I unwrapped a gift that said “We don’t actually know you or care to put in the effort to do so. We also don’t care to spend any time or energy doing anything unique for any of our grandkids. We are simply performing an obligatory duty to send a Christmas present.” You can harm someone with gifts, even if their love language isn’t gifts. Enough painful experiences relative to gifts, and you can stop a child or adult from speaking the language of gifts all together. And it is a tragedy for someone to stop being able to express or receive love in a certain way.
Gifts may not be your love language. It may be a love language that you struggle at. But it is an important language to develop, especially because you may just come across someone who receives love in that way. And so today, I’m going to help you with how to speak the love language of gifts.
Instead of bulldozing your resistance to gifts or to getting someone a gift, resolve your resistance first. If there is some part of you that is in opposition to getting a gift and you go ahead and just do it, not only does that hurt your relationship with yourself, it’s like trying to paddle upstream in a river. You’re only going to learn to hate gifts more. There are many reasons for you to be resistant to giving a gift. For example, you may feel resistant to giving a gift because you dislike the person you are thinking of giving a gift to. Or because you associate it with consumerism or because you feel obligated or because doing so makes you feel financially insecure. Whatever the reason may be, you need to become aware of it and work to resolve the way you are thinking and feeling so that you feel in alignment with whatever you decide to do. The giving of a gift should feel good to do if you have achieved alignment with the giving of it. Remember that it is better to not give something as a gift than to give a gift that you don’t want to give. If your reason for being resistant to gifts is about giving or receiving, you will be helped by watching my video How To Receive. And be on the lookout for the next video that I am about to release about Giving and How To Give In A Relationship.
You cannot get the perfect gift for someone if you do not understand them. This means, do your research on the person you are giving a gift to. Pay attention to them. If I were going to get the perfect gift for a gorilla, I would study the gorilla. I would try to learn as much as I can about gorillas and about this gorilla specifically. I would learn its likes and dislikes, its wants and preferences and needs. I would figure out what the gorilla cares about and values and why. With a person, it is easier than this because you can ask them questions. You can listen to everything they say. Stop guessing and stop projecting yourself onto them. Because both of those strategies will lead to the wrong gift. If you want to understand more about this concept, because it applies to more than just gift giving, watch my video titled: Stop Trying to Love Them and Start Trying to Understand Them. Make a list of all the things the person is interested in and what defines who they are. Brainstorm gift ideas to go with every item on that list.
Dedicate a place in your house to keep gifts that you find for people in your life throughout the year. The best gifts are gifts that are randomly found because you see it and think “oh my god… Mark would love that!” You have to be much more skilled to go hunting for something last minute because you are out of time and need to get someone something. That kind of thing puts pressure on you, decreases your enjoyment of gifts and the holidays where gifts are given. It also puts you at risk for settling for something mediocre. A gift can be given at any time of year. Often the very best gifts are the ‘just because I love you is the only reason’ gifts. But if you are going to show people that you love them with a gift on a holiday, having a gift already ready and waiting for them because it was perfect and you found it months ago is a habit that will serve you well.
Gifts do not have to cost money. I can’t say that when someone spends a lot of money on a gift, that it doesn’t say something powerful. That is a big demonstration of caring. But spending lots of money is not the only way to show caring. Sometimes, gifts that cost nothing or very little are much more impactful. Remember that gifts are about the demonstration of care and love. They are about sentimentality, not extravagance. Even if a gift is extravagant, it is about someone caring about you so much that they want you to have the very best. This means, if money is an issue for you, get creative about items you could give someone that don’t cost money that say the same thing. A super helpful thing to know is that a person who speaks the love language of gifts will see most things you do as a gift. So if you make them a dinner or help them with something, where a service love language person will see it as a service, the gift love language person will see it as a gift. The term gift can refer to any item or act that makes a person happier. An example of what I mean is that I have a friend who loves a specific mountain more than anything. So one year, I hiked to that mountain to collect a little bottle of dirt and rocks and pinecones specifically from that mountain. It cost me next to nothing, but was his favorite gift he got the entire year. Another example is that for one of my friends, I wrote 365 little rolled up notes to her on printer paper. Each one was an affirmation (something to make her feel good about herself). At the end, I tied each with a ribbon and put them all in a big jar that said “open one every day this year”. It was her favorite gift she had ever been given and again, it cost me next to nothing.
Imagine you were putting a pair of rosy colored gift glasses on and practice going through your day with the lens of ‘gift giving’. Think: ‘The people in my life feel happy and loved when I bring them gifts’. When you make this your habit, it is sort of like you are always on the hunt or on the lookout for something. Gifts don’t have to be a huge ordeal. Even if you are out shopping and you pass a bakery, popping in to get someone in your life a cupcake is a great way of expressing love through gifting to them. Sometimes these little gift giving gestures are a way of saying “you’re always on my mind and I have something tangible to give you to prove it.”
Remember that not everyone’s love language is gifts. And remember that even if it isn’t, this still doesn’t mean you can’t get them the perfect gift. And remember that not all gifts are ‘items’. For example, a person may receive love through physical touch. Instead of getting them a tangible thing to look at, you can lie them down on the bed and give them a massage. A person may receive love through quality time. So, you can gift them an afternoon where it’s just the two of you doing some activity. Experiences make for awesome gifts! A person may receive love through service. So, you can clean the dishes for them. Again, if you understand another person, it will become obvious to you how they most like to receive and give love.
A gift is a powerful “connector”. Thinking of gifts this way gives you one particularly great angle with which to approach gifts. For this reason, think of the values you share with a person. What values and interests do you share? For example, you and the other person might both love holistic health. Health related gifts then enhance the connection, what unites you and the sense of relatability between you. Same goes for getting a gag gift if humor is a primary facet of your relationship. Or a cooking item if both of you love to cook.
The point of a gift is to delight a person. Therefore, don’t get a practical gift unless it will delight the other person. All too many men have found this out the hard way getting things like vacuum cleaners for their wives because that is something that they mentioned the house needs. One specific woman might be delighted by a vacuum. For another, it is simply a practical gift that does nothing for her emotionally. A child may need a backpack, but however practical getting them that backpack may be, it does not mean that they will be delighted by a backpack. So remember that a gift must delight and only get a practical gift for someone if it delights the person.
Think about what THEY would like and want and need. Not what YOU would like and want and need. You don’t have to like something to get it for someone else because they love it. It is true that sometimes, thinking about what you would want or need if you were them gives you an accurate answer about what someone would actually love and benefit by. Doing this can make for them having the experience of getting something they never knew they would love or didn’t know they needed. But unless you really trust yourself relative to the skill of gift giving, this can be a slippery slope. So many people project themselves onto other people. Or worse, get other people things that THEY want. This can damage the other person and cause you to miss the mark relative to getting them a good gift. Remember, the other person might love a color that you hate. They may not value something that you value. To get the perfect gift, you need to be able to recognize and work with your differences, not just similarities.
Be very careful getting someone a gift related to something they are really into unless you are totally certain of exactly what they need, want and would be absolutely delighted by. This may seem counterintuitive but if someone is super into Star Wars, they are probably way, way ahead of you relative to Star Wars and you may get them something Star Wars related, but not very wanted or not very cool. Another example is that if someone is really into golf, the likelihood of you being able to get them the right driver club (unless you also love and know a ton about golf) is small. This means when someone is really knowledgeable about something, either do your research diligently or avoid gifting them something related to that particular interest all together.
If the thought and meaning inherent in the gift is not immediately obvious, include it! People love to say, it is the thought that counts. Never has a more accurate thing been said about gifts. But people love to say this when they didn’t get the right gift because they didn’t really put thought or care into it. You can’t simply re-gift a candle because you don’t really like it and then say “it’s the thought that counts”. Because it is the thought that counts and you didn’t really put thought or energy or effort into it! Re-gifting is only acceptable if the re-gifting will delight someone and if you know that a person would love and value what you do not love and value. I can promise you that if you do put thought into it, you will not end up giving someone something that misses the mark. That being said, a card, explaining the thought and meaning inherent in the gift can make a gift go from good to epic or from crappy to awesome. Tell the person the thought and meaning behind the gift. For example, I will never forget the time that someone gave me a snow globe. I didn’t want a snow globe. It wasn’t a very cool snow globe. It had two very simple stars in it. But the woman who gave it to me told me that it was hers since she was a little girl and that she always used to look at it and think she was one of those little lonely stars because she didn’t have another little star (friend) to be with. But now, since finding me, she does feel that way. So, she decided to give it to me to remind me that she feels like she has found her other star. Just like that, it went from a ‘meh’ present to one of my favorite items. I put that snow globe on my dresser in my room and looked at it every day as a reminder of my closeness with her.
Once you’ve found the perfect gift, remember that the way that a gift is packaged and presented is the cherry on top. You can enhance the specialness of a gift or take away from it by how it is presented. This means to do honor to the gift and show that you took great care with it, pay attention to how it is wrapped. Make it look beautiful and important. Never underestimate the joy of unwrapping something. Another way that you can enhance the specialness of a gift is to make the giving of it into an event. For example, send the person on a scavenger hunt for it or bake it into a cake or put it in a box within a box within a box. When it comes to gift giving, there is value in theatrics.
I also want to mention that now that people have the internet, you can literally look up great gift ideas on the internet. Gift love language people like myself have compiled lists upon lists and provided examples upon examples of gift ideas. Some of them are truly epic. You simply have to put in the time and effort to actually look up and explore those ideas. Just know that if you transform your resistance to expressing love through gifts and hone the skill of gift giving, it can become one of the easiest and most fun ways to show your love.
If you are in the field of self-help or psychology or spirituality, you have probably heard people using the term enmeshment and/or enmeshment trauma. Today, I’m going to explain to you what enmeshment is and also the common effects that it has on a person’s life.
I want you to imagine a child who is sitting at a high chair. This child is not hungry and pushes the spoon away from his mouth. His mother refuses to acknowledge that “I’m not hungry” is the truth for this child and so she gets angry and shoves the spoon in the child’s mouth anyway.
Now I want you to imagine that a father has always wanted significance and status. He imagines that he will get that significance by making sure that his daughter goes to an ivy league school and becomes a doctor. He puts pressure on his daughter all of her life relative to academic achievement and she finally becomes a doctor to please him, despite not even knowing whether she ever in fact wanted to be a doctor.
Now I want you to imagine that a woman’s husband is absent emotionally and physically. She decides subconsciously to make her son her surrogate husband. She leans on him emotionally and tells all of her secrets to him and calls him her ‘best friend’. Suddenly, he feels torn because he finds himself in a situation where he is filling a role that is both threatening and all wrong for him. Only he feels he has no way out of it. But he also loves the specialness and importance that being in that role guarantees him.
There are many more examples that I could give you. But what any scenario I could give you, including these last three, have in common is that there is no real recognition of “self” in the family or relationship. Autonomy (having a sense of self vs. other) is an important part of physical existence for a person within a social group. What people need is to be able to have themselves and have other people too at the same time.
Most people think of a boundary as being a kind of fence between themselves and others. This is not a good way of thinking about boundaries. It is better to think of boundaries as that which defines you relative to everything else. A boundary is the imaginary line that uniquely defines your personal happiness, your personal feelings, your personal thoughts, your personal integrity, your personal desires, your personal needs and therefore most importantly, your personal truth from the rest of the universe. If you want to understand boundaries on a deeper level, you can watch my video titled: Personal Boundaries Vs. Oneness (How To Develop Healthy Boundaries). In an enmeshed relationship, personal boundaries are permeable, undifferentiated and unclear.
An enmeshed family or enmeshed relationship does not recognize or accept boundaries. Therefore, enmeshment trauma happens when in a relationship, the person does not recognize or accept or acknowledge the reality of your personal feelings, your personal thoughts, your personal integrity, your personal desires, your personal needs and therefore most importantly, your personal truth. In fact, differentiating yourself puts you at risk of consequences such as punishment or abandonment. The result is that you either choose those consequences and allow yourself to be controlled. Or, in order to maintain harmony in the relationship and closeness, you have to ‘give yourself up’ and mirror the other person so that your thoughts and feelings and needs and desires and truth and choices are either the same as theirs or what they want them to be. The payoff of doing this is that in enmeshed relationships, there is usually a more intense feeling of belonging. But that intensified belonging comes at a serious price.
Most parents alive today have children because of some need they have that they think the child will meet. The thing is, the child that is born to a parent is their own person with their own preferences and destiny and wants and needs and feelings. So children rarely ever conform to the real reason that the parent had the child in the first place. The child does not meet the parent’s needs. And this is a recipe for disaster. To understand more about this, you can watch my video titled: The Defective Doll.
If a person is in an enmeshed adult relationship, it is because they learned that style of relationship from their childhood. So, childhood is where you need to focus so as to understand enmeshment trauma. Enmeshment trauma is almost always present in dysfunctional families and the unfortunate reality is that most parenting today is dysfunctional. The reason is that most parents today still see their child as something that ‘belongs’ to them. They see their child rather like a ball of clay to mold into what they would like the child to become, which is really often about their own best interests rather than the child’s. Of course, no parent who is creating enmeshment trauma for their child will admit to this. Instead, they will think and say that everything they are doing, they are doing for their child’s best interests. And this becomes gaslighting for a child. If your parents are doing things that don’t feel good to you, but are telling you that everything that you can feel they are actually doing for themselves, they are doing for you, you start to doubt your own sanity and also learn that love means pain and love means sacrificing your needs and wants and truths for another person.
At a certain point in childhood, it is critical for a child to be able to develop a healthy sense of ‘self’. This is where the child starts to sort through the world and define their unique feelings and thoughts and preferences and aversions and needs and desires and personal truth. This is what a toddler is doing when he or she says “no” or begins to want to choose the outfit he or she wants to wear. If a parent does not recognize and mirror and work with (instead of against) that process of differentiation, the child has to try to establish a sense of himself or herself despite the parent. The problem is that humans are a relationally dependent species and so closeness withing the social group is the most important need. This means, at a biological level, we know that what we risk for upsetting our parents is our actual survival. This means that if a parent does not see or sees but turns against a child’s ‘self’, most children will abandon the self in favor of closeness with the parent. But this child never goes on to develop a core and a sense of self. This child becomes an adult who loses himself or herself in relationships. As a result, this person experiences a deep need for relationships, but at the same time, he or she pushes people away because having no strong sense of self and therefore autonomy, he or she feels rather like he or she is disappearing or being consumed by the other person that he or she is in a relationship with. This is a very emotionally claustrophobic experience.
An adult who has experienced enmeshment trauma either winds up in relationships with people who have very strong personalities and subsequently gives up everything about themselves willingly (whether or not this is actually what the other person wants) which creates huge issues in the relationship down the road. Or they get into relationships with people who exhibit a narcissistic style of relating to others and so it is an actual expectation that they do the same thing they did in childhood all over again. And giving themselves up becomes an expectation in that relationship. People with enmeshment trauma have learned a codependent style of relationship. They are at war with themselves because all at once, they want to be the same as the other person so as to establish closeness with them, but also to push them away and define themselves as different because they crave a sense of self and independence. They are constantly trapped between the thoughts and feelings of the other and their own thoughts and feelings. The needs and wishes of the other and their own needs and wishes. The personal truth of the other and their own personal truth. They see intimacy as both needed and also a serious threat. Therefore, people who are in a relationship with them tend to suffer from a constant push and pull.
Enmeshment trauma is in fact developmental trauma. A person who has experienced enmeshment trauma never got to develop normally relative to healthy autonomy. And so, it is a process to learn how to have a healthy relationship and to create this development of selfhood within relationships. A person with enmeshment trauma usually can either only feel a sense of self when they are in a relationship where they are specifically in opposition to the other person, or when they are totally on their own with no one near them. As you can see, this leads to a painful life either way.
In order to heal from enmeshment trauma, you must do what you were never able to do in childhood. You must begin to develop a healthy sense of self (boundaries) and then learn how to have that self within the context of relationship, without resorting to either codependent or narcissistic strategies. Obviously, this process goes much better when your entire family is involved in altering the way that each member relates to the other so that each can have a sense of self and maintain closeness with each other too. To understand more about this, watch my video titled: Family (The Truth About Family). But when this is not possible, this can be done within a friendship or within a partnership. And again, it is best if this process is something that the other person you are in a relationship with is involved in too. This makes the process of working to define yourself (ie. figuring out what you feel and think and like and dislike and need and want) and then the process of making changes and determining the course of action that best suits your needs, and communicating effectively with the other person easier.
Don’t forget that healing from enmeshment does not mean becoming narcissistic, that is simply a common albeit an unhealthy pendulum swing. You are looking to establish your own feelings, thoughts, needs, wants and personal truths while recognizing that other people also have thoughts, feelings, needs, wants and personal truths. And your decisions affect them, just like theirs affect you.
The reality is that if you suffered from enmeshment trauma and you haven’t healed, you are not living an authentic life. This means many of the choices you have made are not actually the right ones for you and the relationships you have chosen may not actually be compatible to you. This is both scary for you and other people in your life. It means that becoming authentic may imply many, many changes to your life. Changes that will affect you and everyone around you. But life satisfaction is not possible unless you are authentic and make choices in your life accordingly. To learn how to live an authentic life, you can watch my video titled: How To Be Authentic. Living an authentic life is dependent upon living in alignment with your personal thoughts, feelings, preferences, wants, needs and truths. The good news is, the life you’ve always been looking for and missing out on is on the other side of doing so.
An orphan is commonly understood as a child who has lost both parents to death, whose parents are unknown or whose parents have permanently abandoned them. Orphanhood is really a state in which one does not have parents or family and therefore who lacks those needs that usually come from the family. But what a lot of people don’t realize is that the experience of orphanhood exists as on a scale of severity. And on that scale, it is actually possible to feel like an orphan and be alienated and emotionally disowned within a family even though you technically have parents and have a family. Abandonment can exist on many levels, not just the physical. In other words, it is possible to be an orphan IN a family. Many children who are identified with orphans in popular media such as Cinderella or Annie or Oliver Twist are in fact experiencing this.
The scapegoat or black sheep in the family system always experiences some degree of orphanhood. The scapegoat becomes the carrier of the disowned aspects of the other family members. They reject the scapegoat just as they reject those disowned aspects of themselves. Therefore, the scapegoat is in fact disowned and alienated but still remains within the family system. To learn about scapegoats, you can watch my video titled: How to Stop Being a Scapegoat and Stop Being Scapegoated.
When a person is disowned or orphaned but is still living with their family physically, the family becomes in and of itself a kind of active gaslight. To gaslight someone is to sow seeds of doubt in their mind that makes them question their own sense of personal truth and reality (things like memory, judgement, perception, feelings etc). It is to try to convince someone that what they see, they didn’t see, what they hear they didn’t hear and what they feel they have no reason to feel. As it applies to orphanhood within a family, the gaslight is that when a child in a family system is in this type of dynamic, the child is emotionally disowned and alienated. The child feels emptiness, aloneness, neglect, rejection, lack of containment, lack of protection and no support. But on the surface, they have a roof over their heads. They have food. Their parents may say the words “I love you”. There may be other people in the room with them etc. So, like all good gaslighting, the child begins to tell the story that they are crazy and that something must be wrong with them. So, there is a huge discrepancy between how the situation LOOKS on the surface and the reality of the situation, especially on an emotional level. If you would like to understand more about gaslighting in depth, watch my video titled: Gaslighting (What is Gaslighting and How to Heal From it).
When a child suffers from orphanhood within a family, another element that acts as a gaslight and that will make the child feel like something is really, really wrong with him or her is that they have been traumatized. But when they are looking for the cause of the trauma, they will not be able to see anything. The reason is that this type of trauma falls into the category of trauma relative to what wasn’t there instead of what was there. For example, molestation is a trauma about what happened. Belonging that was never granted to you by your family is an example of what didn’t happen. This type of trauma is often called emotional neglect. Emotional neglect is always an element of orphanhood within a family. For this reason, if you want to understand this dynamic in-depth, it may benefit you to watch my video titled: Today’s Great Epidemic (And How to Cure It).
If in our past, we experienced trauma as a result of one of our needs not being met, the aspect of ourselves that could not get that need met, is still stuck in time unresolved. We experience that need being unmet in present time as well. So often, the thing we are lacking or missing in our current life, is that need that was not met at the time in our past that the trauma occurred. For example, say you were wounded as a child because you felt no sense of belonging with your family, that lack of belonging becomes a traumatic imprint. You feel the lack of belonging and that is really what the emptiness in your adult life is about.
The good news is that if you have suffered from this dynamic within your family, you are not doomed to never fitting in and starving for emotional needs for the rest of your life. If you have suffered from this dynamic, you need to consciously resolve the past experiences/ trauma associated with orphanhood within a family. I have created a process to help you with exactly this, it is called The Completion Process. You can learn all about this process by reading my book that is quite literally titled: The Completion Process. You can alternatively go to www.completionprocess.com and find one of my certified practitioners to lead you through the process instead.
The other thing you need to do is to accept the reality that your family did alienate you and emotionally disown you and therefore, whether you decide to keep them in your life or not, you need to find actual family. You need to meet those needs that family is intended to meet. Family is a group of people who are related either by blood (being descended from the same ancestry) or by affinity (being marriage or adoption). The affinity piece is the thing that should cause you to light up with hope because it implies that one can choose who to consider family. It implies that even though the government itself only currently recognizes relationships that are legalized in some way (such as legal marriage or legal adoption), in reality family has more to do with who a person considers to be kin or who they feel belonging with, regardless of whether they are blood related or not and regardless of whether they live under the same roof or not. This means, you need to find and choose your family. And this can be done now that you are an adult, who is not restricted to the household you were born into anymore. You have access to so many more resources. What you are looking for is the people and places where those needs associated with being ‘positively owned’ and belonging with a family can be met. For this reason, it may benefit you to watch two of my videos, the first is: Family (The Truth About Family) and the second is: Own People (How to Take Positive Ownership of Your Relationships).
When you are born into the current structure of society, it feels like your only way to belong in greater society is to belong in a family. Because of this, children who were orphaned within a family feel not only alienated within their family, but alienated from humanity at large. You may feel like you don’t belong on earth. The thing is, when you are disowned by something, you tend to disown that thing in return. It’s often too hard to be rejected by something and yet keep approving of it and pulling it close. This means, when we suffer from orphan within a family complex, we jump in on a self-fulfilling cycle. When our family alienates and disowns us, we tend to alienate and disown them. And we tend to also alienate and disown society. And we tend to alienate and disown humanity. And we tend to alienate and disown the world at large. Obviously, this means that we hold an energy and say things and do things that alienate and disown others. They obviously experience this as a rejection. And so, they reject, alienate and disown us. And this intensifies our rejection and alienation and dis-ownership even further. And so, the cycle continues on and on until we are convinced that we belong with nothing and no one on earth. And the sad part is that we don’t even see that it is us pushing others away. If we want to undo this dynamic, we have to change our perspective drastically. On top of seeking out our chosen family, we must also start being the one to do what was never done to us. This means you must take others as a part of you. You must begin to positively own people. Think about what your family would have or should have done if they really took you as a part of them and thought you belonged with them; and if they really wanted you rather than a different kind of child. What would they have felt like and said and done? Make a list and start doing those things to other people. Not only will this change your entire point of attraction, so you will be a match to the experience of family. You can also rest at night knowing that instead of perpetuating what was done to you, you are breaking the cycle and being the change that you wish to see in the world.
To end this article, I am going to share a different perspective as well. If you look at yourself through the lens of an extraterrestrial, no matter whether you were actually physically orphaned or whether you are an orphan in a family, if you step outside of the social construct called relatives, you are still related to people. You are still a part of humanity, regardless of whether you are a part of a group of related people. And beyond that even, you are a part of earth. You cannot un-belong to humanity any more than a deer can un-belong to the species called deer and any more than it can un-belong to earth as it is one of earth’s creatures. The more you awaken and the day you will consider yourself happy, is the day when you realize that humanity is your family. The earth is your family, the universe itself is your family and you cannot un-belong to it. In other words, if you don’t belong to a family, belong to humanity. Belong to the world. Belong to the universe and as such, see all things in existence as family. Choose them as family. See them as a part of you and see yourself as a part of them. Doing so will inevitably reveal your place and purpose in the grand scheme of things. And when you find that, no matter how much people may resist and reject you and disown you, you will see that they can’t actually erase your belonging. They are simply and quite painfully fighting against what they have disowned within themselves.
This is my hope for you and the gift lying dormant within the experience of being orphaned. To break free from the limitations of separation that occur when you identify with only one group and to instead be able to take your place of belonging within humanity and within the world. And as such, to be able to fly across the world and to shake hands with any person, deeply feeling and knowing that they are your brother, your sister, your mother, your father, your daughter, your son, your kin. You have simply been physically apart until this re-joining. And this being the case, you belong with them all and they all belong with you.
When we use the word stress, usually we are implying that stress is a purely negative thing. But not all stress is the same. To generalize, there are two different types of stress. Distress and Eustress. Distress is stress that is unwanted. It causes anxiety, painful tension or pressure, strain and suffering. It is negative and detrimental to you. Eustress on the other hand is stress that is perceived as positive or beneficial by the person experiencing it. It is stress that is experienced as wanted, fulfilling, meaningful, exciting, and a pleasurable tension or pressure. Eustress most commonly occurs when we are facing a new and wanted challenge. Eustress tends to occur when we feel we are adequate for the task and therefore confident and positively stimulated by the challenge. Whereas distress tends to occur when we feel overwhelmed because we feel that we are not adequate for the task, lack the necessary resources to meet the demand and are therefore not confident. Eustress is necessary for personal growth. Distress is an oppositional force to health and wellbeing.
Being so unique, all people tend to have a different experience with what causes them distress vs. eustress. This is especially true when it comes to your purpose. The experience that someone has when they are ‘made for’ a certain kind of stress makes that stress trend towards the eustress vs. distress category. So you can understand what I mean, I’ll give you some examples:
One person might find the experience of having a person’s life in their hands and having to focus with so much intensity and be so precise and perfect with every movement around them, because one tiny slip up could kill that person, tormenting. Even the idea of being in this scenario could push them into distress immediately. Another person could feel stimulated and fulfilled and fueled by this experience. A surgeon is this person for example.
One person might find the pressure of planning and organizing overwhelming and uptight and restricting and painful, like it sucks all of the energy out of life. Another person could find it a rewarding challenge, a way of gaining a sense of control and influence over their experience, a way of creating purity as opposed to chaos, a way of sensing accomplishment, as well as grounding and satiating.
One person might find the idea of taking a test so distressing that they can’t sleep and are vomiting before they do it. Another person could love the feeling of being tested and experience the tension of having to get things correct and compete for a high score to be fun and make them feel more alive and focused.
One person might find the idea of being on stage in front of people terrifying and begin to hyperventilate. Another might enjoy the pressure to perform and entertain and revel in the confidence they feel when they are able to capture everyone’s attention and make them laugh or cry.
One person might hate travel and find it unpredictable and threatening. Another might love the excitement of the adventure and the challenge of having to figure things out in a whole new place.
Eustress is not always comfortable. It does not always feel good. But it does not cause distress. Instead, it is stress that feels productive. It is a form of pressure that is wanted and therefore chosen. An even more advanced form of this is pain that is chosen. To learn about that, you can watch my video titled: Want to Succeed? What Pain Will You Say Yes To?
When it comes to developing self-awareness and identifying your purpose and correct path of growth, it is important to know what naturally causes you to feel eustress. It is also important to know that certain factors can determine whether we perceive something as eustress or distress. For example, if you grew up in a family where there were huge consequences for speaking your mind, that association you have with voicing your opinion may cause you to feel distress during a debate instead of the eustress of the mental chess game that you might otherwise feel.
Also, certain factors can turn something we would normally experience as eustress into distress. For example, a person may naturally feel eustress pushing their body towards some athletic achievement. But if they get sick, suddenly pushing their body might cause them distress.
Perhaps the biggest determiner of whether someone experiences distress vs. eustress is whether they actually want to do the thing that they are doing or not. When we feel forced to do something that we don’t want to do, we naturally feel distress.
We can change our perceptions about the things that we are doing, which means that there is a way to alleviate distress and to even change your experience of distress into eustress instead. We feel distress instead of eustress when we perceive something to be a threat rather than a challenge. And we can change our perception that something is a threat. We can turn things into a welcome and positive challenge instead. But being attuned to what naturally causes you eustress (instead of trying to make something feel good to you that currently feels distressing to you) is a very important part of identifying your personal purpose and intrinsic interests and intrinsic motivations. And so, I will leave you with these questions: What stress do you naturally find pleasurable? Have you noticed anything that feels distressing to others that instead feels like a good challenge to you?
Because the family is the framework of human society and the system into which a physical human is typically born and socialized, it is critical to become aware of family in general. But in the recent years, people have become confused about what my stance actually is on family. I’m hoping to clear up this confusion in today’s episode as well as to bring you some awareness about family in general.
Family is a complex concept because a family is really a group of people who are related either by blood (being descended from the same ancestry) or by affinity (being marriage or adoption). The affinity piece is the thing that makes family complicated because it implies that one can choose who to consider family. It implies that even though the government itself only recognizes relationships that are legalized in some way (such as legal marriage or legal adoption), in many people’s minds family may have more to do with who a person considers to be kin or who they feel belonging with, regardless of whether they are blood related or not and regardless of whether they live under the same roof or thousands of miles away.
But for the sake of this episode, I’m going to talk about family in terms of those blood or affinity relatives whom formed the social framework which you belonged to in your childhood. People like mom, dad, step mom, step dad, brothers, sisters, step siblings, grandpa, grandma, uncles, aunts, cousins etc.
Physical humans are a relationally dependent species. A family provides the framework for the sharing of material substances (such as food and shelter). It implies the meeting of each other’s needs. It implies the giving and receiving of care and nurture. It implies attachment as well as moral and sentimental ties. It implies enculturation and socialization. Family also provides the framework for successful reproduction. In theory, the purpose of families is to maintain the well-being of its members and subsequently the wellbeing of society at large. Ideally, families would offer nourishment, predictability, structure and safety. For this reason, family is a value that is placed super high in most societies if not at the very top. And because society values family so highly, you have sayings like “everything comes and goes, but family is forever” and “family is where life begins and love never ends” and “family is what matters most”.
Indeed, family must never be trivialized. Family is fundamental to a person’s foundation and sense of wellbeing in the world. It is intensely traumatic and also goes against human nature for a person to separate from, become alienated from or go against their family. Separating from family is perhaps the closest external experience that an individuated person can have to losing a part of themselves. For this reason, it is a tragedy when this occurs. It is not the ideal situation at all. The ideal situation is that an entire family unit would adjust so as to ensure the wellbeing of all of its members and get closer in a healthy way. If I had it my way, any work that a person did on themselves would bring them closer to their family and all the people in their lives. Unfortunately, this ideal situation does not always occur. In fact, it rarely does. Tragically, the family’s unwillingness to make changes might just be the very thing preventing one of its members wellbeing, thus putting that person in the lose-lose scenario of parting ways with the family for the sake of their ownwellbeing or staying close and sacrificing their own wellbeing to do so.
What I am about to say will most likely stir a lot of offense. But you need to understand that to go against the family or to separate from them is an unnatural experience. It goes against biology. What has to happen in a family for this to occur or to be a healthy choice is very extreme. But the members of the family usually don’t recognize any ‘wrong doing’ on their parts. If a member of the family has separated from or gone against the family itself, the first place that a family should look is at themselves and at what needs to change within that family system. I could go so far as to say that when a person in a family is truly willing to look at themselves so as to make a change so as to repair rupture with another member, EVERYTHING would be on their side for re-connection. I’m going to give you a rather triggering example… Cults.
You will hear people saying that a cult ruined their relationship with one of their family members or that a cult separated them. It is true that a genuine cult often seeks to separate an individual from any person who is not a part of that cult. A person who is isolated is more susceptible to control. But unless there is a gap there already… an emptiness due to pain or missing needs due to family dysfunction, there is no space or need there for a cult to be able fill. No weakness to exploit. It is the family itself that creates those patterns of susceptibility and vulnerability and the family itself that is in dysfunction when trying to “rescue” one of its members from something that the family itself helped create and re-enforce. Going into a “hero/rescue” pattern is an avoidance of this realization as well as an avoidance of seeing what patterns within the family need to be changed and would constitute an actual solution. In other words… the joining a cult is a symptom, not a cause. And yes, I know how painful that is to swallow.
The first thing that you must understand about a family is that it is a social system. Social systems involve roles and ways of relating and social strategies and beliefs that are intensely resistant to change. Social systems are not always functional even if they are operational. In fact, most families in today’s un-awakened society are dysfunctional in that contrary to popular belief, they do not ensure the wellbeing of all of their members. Because of the various roles that each member is placed into, each member tends to have a very different experience of being a part of the family itself. Even though most families create wellbeing in certain ways and also prevent wellbeing in other ways, the reality is that some members are in more pain within the family system than others. The greatest tragedy of all in a world where most families have some element of dysfunction is that the members of those very families don’t even realize it. In fact, most people think their family is functional. People will fight tooth and nail that their family is not only functional, but healthy and good and even ‘the best’ family. Families often fight to not change, even if not changing means that one of the members stays hurting. In fact, they often make that member’s belonging in the family conditional upon that person not changing too. This is the reason that the successful addiction programs insist on involving the entire family system and on creating changes in the ways that each member interacts with each other within that system. Otherwise, the family system itself acts as an oppositional force to the addict’s sobriety. So often the dysfunction taking place in a family system is the very reason that one of its members has turned to addiction in the first place. Of course, hardly any family points to themselves when they are putting one of its members into a center for treatment.
There is extreme resistance to seeing one’s family for what it is, both positive and negative. People subconsciously and potentially even consciously think there to be a consequence for recognizing anything negative about their family. And sometimes the sad reality is that they are right about there being a consequence. This is why people tend to justify everything when it comes to their family. And families tend to justify everything they do when it comes to its members. They say things like: “yeah, but they (or we) did the best they (or we) could”. Or they normalize things like “yeah but everyone’s parents did that”. Or they minimize things like “yeah, but so many other people had it so much worse than I (or you) did” or “other kids have parents that give up on them in that situation”. Or they invalidate things like “yeah, but they gave me so much money and totally set me up in life to have the success I have today”. In other words, people tend to go into denial when it comes to their own family as a coping mechanism to avoid the consequence they fear would come as a result of seeing the truth about their family or making a change as a result of what they see. But this only ends up keeping them stuck. For this reason, it is important to watch three of my videos. The first is: The Catch Up Effect (Why We Really Fear Change). The Second is: The Real Reason That People Don’t Change. And the third is: How Normalization is Hurting You and Hurting Society.
A social system (in this case your family) and the role which you play within that system and the way that each part of that system relates to one another may just be the cause of your suffering and what is keeping you stuck. Even if the intentions of the other members of that system itself are good. Because the family system itself is so resistant to change, it resists you changing. This is why living with your family of origin as an adult usually makes it harder to create positive personal change. For example, imagine that you are trying to create abundance but you live with family members that believe money doesn’t grow on trees and all that matters is hard work and that rich people are evil. That environment acts as a daily oppositional force to your desire and goal. Unless the rest of the members in that family system are truly on board with supporting your new way of being and changing themselves to do so (not just saying they are and acting the opposite), it can be compared to trying to heal on the battlefield itself. What you need is a different thought and a different experience in order to shift. Not to try to shift despite being inundated with the same thought and the same experience that did cause or is causing the problem in the first place.
The second thing you must understand about family is that it is the foundation of your physical existence. You can think of it as where you acquired your building blocks. It is where your first formative experiences with relationships take place. It is the place where you were first programmed. This means your childhood experiences, primarily in your family, is where your patterns begin. Those patterns either set you up for things like success and pleasure or for things like failure and pain. Imagine that a cake came out of your oven and when you tasted it, it was inedible. The first thing you would do is to go back to review what ingredients you added. Or imagine that a software was malfunctioning, the first thing you would do is to go back and review the code and the original programming. When a person gets into self-awareness work, they must get into the habit of going back to find the family-based origins of their problems in their adult life. Their unwillingness to do so out of a sense of solidarity with the family, makes awareness of the problem and therefore awareness of what needs to happen to resolve that problem impossible. Essentially people sometimes and tragically choose solidarity with family over all other elements of their own wellbeing, even if doing so condemns them to a life of suffering in other ways.
For example, I knew a woman who was in the role of the family helper. She only fit into the family system if she was constantly putting everyone else first. Doing so was all that ever got her approval and therefore self-esteem. She slipped into a chronic patterns of self-neglect and complained about it for years until as a result, she developed a kind of cancer that occurs when someone is refusing to prioritize their own dreams and desires and purpose. In fact the type of cancer she had is nicknamed “the self-sacrifice cancer” in the natural health community. She was conscious enough and also aware enough of the emotional element involved with cancer to know this already. But her family put pressure on her to do what they wanted her to do as usual, but this time relative to her cancer treatment. She knew she would die by going along with what they wanted her to do for their sake and their sense of what was right to do. She called me to tell me that herself. But in the end, she decided to go along with their wishes and desires and needs because “she couldn’t live with the idea that if she died without fulfilling their wishes, they would always talk bad about her and about how she could be alive if only she had done the right thing… what they wanted her to do”. She literally chose solidarity with how her family would see and remember her over her own healing and in this case survival. Never underestimate the power of family dynamics to prevent the healing and progress and wellbeing of one of its members.
By opting into the nature genetics (which includes ancestral memory) and nurture experiences within a family, what you are really doing is to metaphorically speaking opt into a deck of cards. Some of those cards we could from one level judge as awesome and others we could judge as total crap. For example, a Scandinavian athlete may have opted into incredible physical prowess which gives him sexual attractiveness at the same time as aloofness which makes his relationships feel quite empty and distant.
We need to learn how to either change or exalt our crappy cards as well as to capitalize on our good cards that were given to us as a result of belonging to the family that we belonged to. Everyone has both transgenerational gifts and burdens to sort through. Everyone has both experiential gifts and burdens to sort through. Ancestry is an intensely powerful element of self-awareness, which is why I so often tell people to go back to their homeland at some point in their process of awakening. To understand some more about this, you can watch my video titled: What Your Parents Did Right.
The third thing you must understand about family is that some families are toxic in their current state. Some families exist in a state of ‘shadow tribe” and instead of ensuring the wellbeing and positive growth of its members, some families prevent it. When this is the case, the question is where do you draw the line and decide that being around them is not healthy? Or that not communicating is healthy? This is not an answer I’m going to give you. It is a question you must ask yourself and answer yourself. In general, it is in no way necessary for people to sever contact with and stop talking to their family in order to heal. The ideal would be the opposite, that they were conscious advocates for the process. But a person might very well be in a situation where they specifically can’t heal while still being in contact with certain family members. At least for a period of time.. such as the time it takes to feel solid in themselves so that their parent’s constant criticism doesn’t impact them in the same way. The biggest problem is that so many families exhibit behavior that is dysfunctional all the way to downright abusive without realizing that it is. In fact, most families think that they are being loving when they are in fact being the opposite. For example, a father might think that demanding academic excellence from his child is beneficial to the child, when in fact it may simply be instilling the pressure and the belief that they are only going to be loved if they succeed. An older brother may think that its loving to beat his younger brother up in order to ‘toughen him up for the world’ when in fact, it is simply teaching the younger brother that he is unsafe and has no advocates in life. A mother might hold the fact that she gave life to her children as leverage over their heads so that they ‘owe’ her later. This obligation to take care of each other may be seen as love by her, when in fact, it is entrapment. So much dysfunction and damage is disguised as love or mistaken for love. And unless we recognize those patterns and change them, our relationships and families and therefore human society will not improve.
For this reason, it is critical to understand that your family had dysfunction in it, whether you consciously recognize it or not yet. This is especially true if you are the kind of person who is drawn to self-help or spirituality. To be brutally honest with you, the people who are drawn to trying to figure themselves out and sort their problems out in the first place with self-help or spirituality, tend to come from families that fall on the more dysfunctional end of the spectrum. That dysfunction, no matter how minimal or extreme you currently judge it to be, did have a negative impact on you and on your adult life whether you recognize it yet or not. It is critical to be willing to see what those detrimental patterns were and are so as to change them. If you keep making excuses for them, you will keep yourself stuck.
The reality is that everyone has a valid excuse for everything. That does not change the reality that it did damage. It does not negate the pain. It is not a betrayal to your family to look to recognize these detrimental patterns and change them so as to have a better life experience and a healthier family system. And especially, to change those patterns so that they do not repeat in future generations. What does it say if your family considers it a betrayal for you to do so?
Families MUST get to a point where they care infinitely more about awareness and improvement and evolving and about the subjective experience and wellbeing of every one of its members than families care about defending their rightness or goodness in being the way they are or were. The sad reality is that if families got on board with a full system change when one of its members well-being depended on it, a person could un-do their trauma in no time at all. Healing would happen so fast if a person could do it with their family instead of in spite of their family or with the opposition of their family. I often think about this when all I would need for a person to shift immediately is the permission of one of their family members for them to do so. We must get to a point where we do not consider it a betrayal to the family to become aware of the negatives and positives and to question things and to ask for a system change.
So all that being said, don’t mistake someone making you aware of dysfunctional patterns within your family (so that you can change them for the better) for someone trying to separate you from your family.
Healing implies that some form of positive change is taking place. At the most fundamental level, to heal is to change a pattern for the better. It is the opposite of repetition and redundancy. It is to change a pattern that is unwanted into a pattern that is wanted. This usually entails changing it into the opposite pattern. For example, if we are lonely, to heal is to achieve togetherness. Or if a bone is broken, to heal is for it to mend. Or if we feel powerless, to heal is to feel empowered. To understand healing in-depth, you can watch my video titled: What is Healing? But there is an unhealthy tendency that can arise when a person is healing, which can easily be confused for healing, but that is in fact simply a dramatic swing into the opposite manifestation of unhealthy… A pendulum swing.
It is very common that when people begin to heal something, they swing the pendulum to the opposite extreme and by doing so, slip into the dysfunction and unhealthiness that exists on the opposite side of the scale. It is often a dramatic reaction instead of a deliberately chosen response. So that you understand what I mean, I will give you some examples.
The best example of this often happens when people who have a co-dependent relational strategy begin to heal. Someone who would be labeled a “codependent” is someone who comes from a dysfunctional childhood home whether they realize it or admit it or not. In that dysfunctional home, the underlying reality was: Every man for himself. There is no such experience as “I can have a self and have closeness and connection with them too” or “we take each other’s best interests as a part of our own best interests”. This makes it so that everyone must adopt a narcissistic strategy. The budding narcissist does this by vying for their own best interests directly. The budding codependent does this by vying for their own best interests in a covert and roundabout way. They give up their “self” to please the narcissistic people around them so that those people will meet their needs. Codependency is a back door narcissistic strategy. Because the codependent has never tasted what it is to be able to have a self and to have closeness and connection with others too, they can only conceive of one way to heal from codependency and to gain autonomy… to do it against others. To start to be all about the self. Ironically, without realizing it, they swing the pendulum from covert narcissism to overt narcissism. The codependent becomes narcissistic, thinking that doing so is healing. But it is just swinging the pendulum to the opposite, unhealthy extreme. And they will suffer and also cause others to suffer from that new unhealthy extreme.
Another example is let’s imagine that a person has trauma around taking on too much responsibility. They were saddled with burden. Let’s imagine that they were put in charge of raising all of their siblings when they were growing up. This person may begin to heal and swing the pendulum all the way over to the point where they are unreliable, flaky and refuse to take any responsibility. Because of this, they suffer the consequences that exist at this side of dysfunction, such as losing relationships, being unable to hold down a job, others losing respect for them, and being stuck in life. They will suffer and also cause others to suffer from that new unhealthy extreme.
Another example is let’s imagine someone who felt powerless to the negative way they felt and powerless to the other people around them. This person might find a methodology that teaches them to control their reality by ignoring anything negative and not spending time with anyone who they think is negative. This person may begin to heal and swing the pendulum all the way over to denial, avoidance, and the refusal to accommodate others. They may begin to build a narcissistic bubble reality for themselves alone. Because of this, they and others around them will suffer from that new dysfunctional extreme.
Another example is let’s imagine a person who is addicted. They use addiction to avoid some pain within themselves that they cannot seem to resolve. They are in a perpetual state of “runaway” relative to themselves. This person might hear about shadow work and suddenly feel like there might be a way to solve their pain. This person may begin to heal and swing the pendulum all the way over to obsessively doing difficult shadow work processes all the time. This runs their nervous system into the ground, making their mental, emotional and physical bodies raw, being unable to effectively integrate and process and apply what they gain awareness of. And effectively giving themselves the damaging message that something is wrong with them and must be fixed immediately. Shadow work then becomes a different form of self-abuse. Because of this, they and others around them will suffer from that new dysfunctional extreme.
Another example is let’s imagine that a person is hurt by someone else. They experience the pain of being connected to and dependent on someone else. This person may begin to heal and swing the pendulum all the way over to disconnecting from others and becoming totally independent. Because of this, they slip into the illusion that it is possible to be separate and not depend on anything or anyone. They push people way. Deep down, they know they are very, very alone. They behave in ways that harm others because they are not genuinely connected to them. But because they are disconnected, they don’t even realize it. They and others will suffer from that new dysfunctional extreme.
Another example is let’s imagine that someone is super hopeful and excited and is wounded by a major disappointment. This person may begin to heal and swing the pendulum all the way over to expecting bad things to happen, letting themselves down and discouraging themselves before the world ever has a chance to do it for them. They may become a cynic. Because of this, they end up chronically stuck in the negative. They maintain a pattern of self-sabotage. Their negative mentality and behavior causes others to deny them of the kindness, reliability and sweetness that they actually crave deep down. They and others will suffer greatly from this new dysfunctional extreme.
By now, after these examples, you get the picture.
I don’t want you to think that the goal of healing is to find the balance. Within mankind’s consciousness, balance is something that is achieved by a process of addition and subtraction. This is also the idea behind the limiting concept of balancing work and play by either working more or working less depending on what is needed to achieve equal parts of work and play for example. If you live your life according to the principal of balance, you will end up exhausted. You will also never be able to fully actualize yourself because you will be trying to limit aspects of yourself while trying to accentuate others instead of becoming the full expression of both and finding a way for the full expression of both to harmonize. Balance upholds separation. It seeks to create equilibrium between two different things instead of seeking to combine them. Where consciousness is headed is integration. In integration, polarities come together to form a third thing entirely, the sum of both. To understand more about this, watch my video titled: F#!K Balance (Rethinking Balance and What it means to be Balanced).
When I say that to heal is to experience the opposite, what I mean is that the goal of healing is for example to re-own that polarity which is disowned or to experience what one is lacking. For example, it is for the person who is harmed by others to experience being helped by others. It is for a codependent to learn they can have and keep a “self” at the same time as being deeply connected to other people. And including others’ best interests as a part of their own best interests without throwing their own best interests away. It is for the person who is addicted to use shadow work to see themselves, including what they really need and to meet those needs lovingly. It is for a person who feels powerless to the negative way that they feel to really learn how to see what is and see what they want instead and to be able to in an empowered way, close the gap between the two. It is for a person who was traumatized with too much burden to step into free will and to choose what to take responsibility for and what not to take responsibility for, so as to see that chosen responsibility is what leads to the empowered creation of what personally benefits them. It is for a person who was disappointed to experience their hopes coming to fruition.
When it comes to healing, it is important to discern what is “experiencing the healthy opposite” and what is “swinging the pendulum”… To discern what is a polarizing reaction and what is a deliberately chosen response. The good news is that you will learn from anything that you do. A person who does swing the pendulum will eventually feel the reality of the cause and effect (and therefore consequences) associated with that new extreme. And it will eventually cause them to alter their patterns more toward their actual healthy state of being. But you can prevent the time this takes and the damage this can create both to you and to others by being aware of this typical pendulum swing of healing and by consciously discerning what genuine healing and genuine positive pattern change would look like instead.
Nothing has the power to completely alter perspective and therefore your thoughts and actions and life quite like a question. Inquiry leads to understanding. The quality of the answers we arrive at, correspond directly to the quality of question we ask. The better the question, the better the answer. One of the most important things to realize about a question is that a person learns far, far more from the process and work involved in answering a question than from the answer itself. This is why spiritual teachers throughout history (including myself) have tended to pose so many questions to their students rather than to simply offer a direct answer. For this reason, I have selected a collection of 100 of the most powerful questions that you can ask yourself.
What do I really want for myself at this point in my life and why do I want it?
What am I willing to struggle for?
What specific risks am I willing to take to be happy?
What do I want badly enough that I will say YES to any of the downsides that might come with that thing?
What am I so committed to that no amount of failure could prevent me from continuing to do it or to aim for it?
If I knew that life was not only roses, but also thorns, and I had to choose my thorns, what thorns would I choose… What pain will I choose or say YES to?
Who do I feel I am meant to be in this life?
What do I feel I am meant to do in this life?
Imagining that I died yesterday, what would I regret? What things would I have done differently? What things am I glad that I did? If I got another shot at life and was brought back to life today, what would I now have the courage to do that I didn't while I was alive? And what advice would I give to myself sitting right here in this chair today if after my death, I could come back to this moment?
Who do I need to be to achieve my purpose?
What do I not know?
If I had all the money in the world and could never run out of it, what would I do with my time, energy and resources?
What would I still do even if I never made any money doing it?
What If I lost everything yesterday and so I no longer had anything to lose… What would I do if I had nothing to lose?
What is the number one belief in my life that holds me back and prevents me from getting what I want in life?
If I were to watch myself like a fly on a wall, based on what I am seeing relative to my thoughts, words, routines and actions, where can I expect to be in five years?
If I knew that I was going to die one year from today, what would I do with that time?
What gift am I meant to give this world in this life?
What do I want people to say about me behind my back and how do I want to be remembered?
If my six-year-old self could see me today, what would he or she think of me? What would he or she want me to change?
What makes me forget to eat and sleep?
When do I remember feeling the happiest in my childhood and why?
What would I take a stand for and what would I take a stand against?
What would I risk my life for and why?
What about my life is worth smiling about right now?
What makes me feel unfulfilled and sad in the life I am currently living?
What do I complain about more than anything else?
What do I want my life to be in service of?
If I did one thing for myself, not anyone else for the rest of my life, what would it be?
What have I done in the past that is the most meaningful to me?
What do I want my being to be in service of or to be used as a tool for?
What was the defining moment that changed my life forever?
If a magic Genie gave me one wish to make for myself, what would that wish be and why?
What am I pretending to not know?
What pain from the past am I still holding on to that is holding me back today?
What one sentence will come to define my life?
What do I not want others to know about me?
What am I naturally good /talented at?
What would I leave as it is in my current life and what would I change?
What am I doing in my life just because I “should” not because I truly want to?
What makes me feel great about myself?
What am I most grateful for in my life right now?
What problem do I want to solve?
If my house was burning and I could only save one item (not a person or pet), what would it be and why?
What is my #1 value today and why?
What conflict is not resolved in my life?
What is my hidden agenda and why is it hidden?
What is something I keep telling myself that I will do when I have the time or resources?
If I could change my life somehow with no risk, what would I change? And knowing that, what risk am I trying to avoid by not changing?
What would I be willing to lose everything for, including the closeness/connection with the people who are the closest to me now (i.e.: friends and family) if I knew it would 100% guarantee me that thing?
What pain am I holding on to as a testament of my love for someone or something?
What point of view currently threatens me and why?
How do I define success for me personally? And how do I define success for others?
How am I currently neglecting or harming myself?
What expectation do I need to let go of right now?
What am I not taking responsibility for that I know I need to take responsibility for?
What armor do I use to protect my vulnerability?
How do I separate myself?
What do I say I “can’t" to?
Who or what do I blame?
Who or what is my scapegoat?
What would I try if I had no fear?
What would I most like to do for someone else if I had the time, money and resources?
What is the worst thing that I do to myself right now in my life?
What is the best thing that I do for myself right now in my life?
What assumption do I make chronically that is getting in my way?
What do I currently feel has power over me? And how might I reclaim my power from it?
If I could start my life over, what would I do differently?
Who do I envy and why? And how could I bring those things that I envy into my own life experience?
Whose life would I trade places with and why?
What do I love to do for others?
If I’m given one wish, but I can’t use it on myself, what would I wish for and for what/who?
A singer notices a talented vocalist, a car mechanic notices a well-made engine. What do I notice?
When do I feel most alive?
What would I do if I knew I couldn’t fail?
What is my rut? In what area of healing or progress am I blocked or stuck no matter how hard I try to fix it?
If I had to leave my house all day, every day, where would I go and what would I do?
What do I appreciate about myself?
What am I overcompensating for?
What do I do that doesn’t seem like work, regardless of the difficulty?
What is calling me? What desires keep tugging at my heart?
How do I make myself bigger and how do I make myself smaller than I am?
What do I refuse to accept about my reality?
What is timeless, ageless and unchanging in me?
What am I avoiding right now and why?
What have I lost?
What am I currently allowing?
What makes me lose my connection to myself and what makes me get that connection back?
What do I love too much to turn into a profession?
Who needs to know that I love them? And what keeps me from expressing that love to them?
Who am I seeking approval and validation from and why?
What am I currently afraid of?
Whose torch am I carrying and why?
What am I running from and what am I rushing toward and why?
What am I repeating?
If I was someone else, so I was able to see myself from the outside and in a dis-identified way, what advice would I give to myself?
If I were to be brutally honest, what is my priority at this time in my life and why?
What risk am I taking and what risk am I not taking right now and why?
What am I giving to get?
What do I hear in the silence?
Make sure to take time to carefully consider each question that is posed in order to meaningfully answer them. And don’t forget to come back to these questions again and again throughout your life, especially whenever you are feeling stuck, because the answers will most likely change over the course of your life and also cause you to change your course in life.
There is an idea making its way through people’s minds that if you are doing the right thing or are fulfilling your purpose or are following your joy, you will only feel good. This is not the reality of existence.
At this point in existence, no matter what you choose to do, all things will inherently come with contrast. They will come with positives and negatives, upsides and downsides. People want to be happy. They want to feel good. And a big part of expansion is about continually making changes so as to resolve the pain that you feel in any given situation; instead of simply accepting that ‘things are the way they are’. But I want you to consider today a different way of looking at life. There is a question you can ask yourself that will define your deepest joy, your actual purpose, your actual commitment and therefore the actual correct course of your life. That question is: What Pain Will You Say Yes to?
Seeing as how my purpose is the transformation of suffering, most of what I will be teaching you is how to transform pain… Which will seem at face value to be the opposite of what I will teach you in this article today. I must teach you to look at pain and at the unwanted from a different angle entirely.
Consider that all things with an upside come with a downside. All things come with some kind of pain. For example, fame comes with the downside of things like never being able to trust the motives of people trying to be near you and being treated like a commodity instead of a person and others actively trying to tear you down and strip you of your power. Entrepreneurship comes with the downside of things like unstable pay, no benefits, less security, discouragement from others who would rather you play it safe, having to work longer and harder than others and having a hard time getting loans. Being a winning athlete comes with the downside of things like blood and sweat and tears and not being able to attend that family members wedding because it is happening at the same time as that competition.
If I were to sit a group of people down and question them about what they want, chances are all of them will say that they want to be rich. All of them will say that they want to have a great relationship. All of them will say that they want to be perfectly physically fit. All of them will say that they want to be #1… You get the point. But the reality is that very few of them, potentially only one, would actually be willing to say yes to the negatives or the downsides of those things. For example, they all may want to be rich, but maybe only one of them will say yes to financial risk, or to a 60 hour work week or to the delayed gratification of saving to invest or to the extreme pressure of striking out on their own as an entrepreneur or to the extreme pressure of work place competition. They may all want a great relationship. But maybe only one of them will say yes to re-visiting their painful past to resolve the trauma that is making them behave in damaging ways in their relationships. Or committing to difficult conversations or to opening themselves up again to connect even when they have been hurt again and again.
The pain that you will say yes to and the struggle you will choose to step into with your own free will, that is what will define your success in life. The positive that everyone is looking for is born from the mud of those things that so many people look to avoid. You cannot cause yourself to want or to like those downsides and that struggle and that pain that comes with the upsides and success and joy that you want. But you can choose them with your own free will as a statement of what you are willing to experience or endure for the sake of what you want. You can look at the thing you want and decide that it is worth the cost to you specifically.
The thing that determines your success relative to whatever it is that you want is not that you want it or even how much you want it. It also isn’t how much you enjoy it. What determines success is what pain you are willing to face and what struggle you are willing to go through and what you are willing to endure for the sake of what you love and want.
So often, when a person says that they want something, but they aren’t getting any closer to it, it is because they either do not truly want it at all. Or they want a fantasy of the thing, not the reality of the thing. Or they do want it but are simply not choosing any of the ‘thorns’ that come with it. In other words, they have decided on a subconscious level that they don’t want it enough because the cost is not worth the benefit. You’ve got to want the reward enough to say yes to the cost or the struggle.
For example, I once knew a person who wanted to be a famous Hollywood actress for her entire life. She had her life entirely planned out around it and had fantasized about it for her entire life. Even so, her ‘dream’ never came. She was in love with the fantasy and the idea of the result… The flashing cameras and red carpets, the million-dollar pay checks, being on the cover of magazines, feeling significant. But in truth, she hated the process. She hated sitting next to a thousand other people in audition lines. She hated the embarrassment and drudgery of rehearsing. She hated the cutthroat atmosphere of LA. She hated networking. And so, she didn’t really pour all of her energy into it. She didn’t actually say yes to it, regardless of whether she didn’t like it. She refused to go to certain auditions. She didn’t really work on the ‘craft’ of acting itself. She avoided the business side of networking and marketing and selling herself. People may say that she gave up on herself or wasn’t courageous enough or that it just wasn’t in the cards for her. But the reality is that she didn’t really want it. She most certainly didn’t want it enough to decide to say yes to the pain and struggle and process of it.
You are here on this planet for a very specific reason. You being here is no mistake. You have a purpose and that purpose will be indicated to you through your joy. This means that you have something that you want and you have something that you want badly enough to say yes to any of the downsides that might come with that thing. You may simply not know what it is that you want ‘badly enough’ yet.
What are you willing to struggle for? What are you willing to endure pain for? If you knew that life was not only roses, but also thorns and you had to choose your thorns, what thorns would you choose? What are you so committed to that no amount of failure, only death could prevent you from continuing to do it or to aim for it? The quality of your life experience depends on you answering this question. It depends on determining what values you care so deeply about that you are willing to struggle for them. And how people answer this question will give you the most accurate picture of how their lives will turn out. And so, it may sound odd, but a key element of surmounting suffering relative to success is having the answer to the question “How Do I Choose to Suffer in This Life?”
It is inevitable in life that certain circumstances, events and experiences will call your life into question. They will cause you to re-evaluate your life. For example, when someone gets married, it might cause you to question the quality and satisfaction of your own relationships or the sacrifices you might be making for the sake of your career. When you go through a breakup, it may call into question your identity. It may force you to re-evaluate your own behaviors and thoughts and desires. When you start feeling stuck in your endeavors, you may start to wonder what or who you are doing it for. When you come across some information or an experience that causes you to question a belief that you have always held, it may make you question so many of the decisions you have made up to this point. It may cause you to doubt the people whom you have depended on to tell you what is true. When someone dies, it may make you existentially question life itself. It may make you question what is important in your life and who is important. It may make you completely re-evaluate what you are doing with your time.
We don’t like to re-evaluate. We don’t like to question ourselves or others or our lives. The majority of people in the world are under immense pressure to have everything all figured out all the time. And when we don’t consciously “choose” to re-evaluate and to question, because we feel a life circumstance has forced us to do it, we feel destabilized and insecure. We feel like the rug of certainty is being pulled out from under our feet. And we also feel shame. Because of this, if you are in one of these situations that causes you to question your life, I suggest you watch my video titled: Uncertainty (How to Deal with Uncertainty).
All people have been socialized to believe that they should do the right things and be the right way. When our lives are called into question, we often lose the certainty of knowing that we have done or are doing the right things. We lose the certainty of knowing that we have been or are being the right way. We tend to feel we might have done wrong or might currently be doing wrong. This often causes us to slip into vulnerability and total lack of confidence. And in response to this, we often become very defensive and rigid, trying to re-establish that certainty by defending what we have done or are doing… When really, we are not even convinced of our rightness.
Because of all of this, we naturally resist this calling of our lives into question. We feel that nested inside these experiences that cause us to re-evaluate is some kind of personal failure and badness and wrongness. But what is really nested in these experiences is the calling for change and the opportunity for life improvement. Nested in these experiences is the reality of ‘the better it gets, the better it gets’. And because of this, we should welcome them. And we should also realize that they will never stop coming. They will come in the form of people that we will inevitably meet, events that will happen or not happen and things we will hear or read or watch etc.
Embrace the idea that you can never be 100% sure. You are obsessed with knowing because you think that if you know, you can prevent unwanted things from happening. But the state of learning is a higher state than the state of knowing because it is a state that is open to all possibilities, including possibilities that will offer much more happiness than you have now. Knowing is a state of ended-ness. You are here to expand, to evolve, to progress. This means that you must open to the idea of adopting a different and better truth down the road. Having an open mind is akin to having a life raft on the river of life. You can metaphorically take that raft and ride the rapids of the current of life.
When you welcome the calling of your life into question, you become curious about where this life is going to take you. If our life journey were to be compared to a river, most of us spend our lives trying to control the current of the river. We do not consciously know where the river will take us. Some of us only know where we would prefer for it to take us. We can develop practices and take actions and think thoughts that make the trip down the river, a journey of more ease. But in order to embrace the circumstances that cause you to question your life, let go of the idea that you can control the river itself. This is what we are trying to do when we try to find and hold on to affixed, solid answers and/or ways of thinking and behaving in our life. What does this universe want to show you and where does it want you to go? With that kind of curiosity comes a willingness to change course completely. What doing this causes, is a rooting into improvement in and of itself, instead of a rooting into that which can be destabilized or lost or changed.
Because the calling for change and the opportunity for life improvement is nested inside these experiences that cause us to question our lives, we should welcome them. The word welcome has a connotation that you have to feel happy and good about these circumstances and events and situations. That is not what I mean. You don’t have to try to feel good about or appreciate the things that cause you pain, as some of these experiences will. You can’t force yourself to want them. What you can do is to metaphorically speaking ‘open the door for them and invite them in for tea’ when they arrive. Greet and receive them. Instead of resisting the fact that you are experiencing something that is causing you to question your life, actively and willingly get on board and question your life. Actively seek new and different and more information. Look through the lens of different perspectives. Questioning (when the intention behind it is to truly be open to different answers) is always an open door to more awareness and better answers. This means questioning is an open door to improvement and positive change. The people who are the most aware and the happiest are the people most willing to question their life and make changes to it. If you are able to form this association, even the painful circumstances that call your life into question will contain potential and promise and therefore, be less painful than they would otherwise be.
Just think about where we would be if certain people hadn’t questioned and re-evaluated things in their life… How many inventions would never have been invented? How many barbaric practices would still be practiced? The Buddha would have continued to live his entire life on a satin cushion as a prince and never found awakening. Abraham Lincoln would have stayed retired after the senate elections and never become president and the US would be in a very different spot with slavery and segregation today. Where would you be today if you had continued thinking and doing the exact same things as you did 10 years ago or 20 years ago?
Let those questions come. Welcome those things that call your life into question. See them for the improvement opportunity inherent in them. We can address the shadow of resistance to dependability and resistance to keeping the course in another episode. You must know that there is no failure or shame in changing course over and over again in your life. There is nothing bad or wrong about going back to the drawing board. In fact, you must be willing to do that if you want true life success. You must stop and re-evaluate and question to be sure that you are on the right path and/or to figure out what the right path for you actually is. So be brave enough to open the door to the re-evaluation and the questioning of your life. Be brave enough to open the door for your growth.
Looking to complete something or finish what you start is an important element of creating success, except for when it comes to things where there is never going to be an end. And one of the reasons that people suffer is that they tend to look for a point of ended-ness in things that have no end. They look to get things done, when there is no way to get it done.
One of the most common pitfalls of a person’s early spiritual practice (and when I say early spiritual practice, consider that a person could potentially be practicing spirituality and remain in the early stages of spiritual practice for an entire lifetime) is that they look to reach some point of ended-ness. They work incredibly hard, often making themselves miserable trying to reach a finish-line. That finish line could be something like enlightenment or complete integration and wholeness or being totally healed or being so fulfilled that you have no more desire or being totally conscious with no more unconsciousness within their being. Essentially, they strive relentlessly to be done in some way so that they can finally feel good. What they don’t realize until they experience years of never being able to reach that finish line is that the finish line doesn’t inherently exist. They are chasing a receding horizon line.
Before I continue with the rest of this article, I should probably tell you that I am not one of those beings who is relaxed and who loves being in the present moment and whom is all about the journey and not the destination. I am a super driven, achievement oriented being. The feeling of accomplishment and the potential of reaching a state of complete mastery is my single favorite thing. For this reason, what I am about to say comes with inherent credibility. When it comes to certain things, you need to hold to the goal loosely. You need to use it as a North Star and keep pointed in its direction. Fall in love with the potential of reaching that goal and with the possibility of achievement, knowing full well that you may never, ever make it there. Indeed, no one may ever make it there. When this is the case, your goals become a thing which dictates your direction in life. Not the measure by which you determine your success or happiness or lack thereof. It is also a literal guarantee that you will do things differently because suddenly, the satisfaction of the journey or process actually does matter. If the means are crappy, they are not justified by the ends, if the ends never come.
Let me explain just three of the things which may never have an “end”.
Enlightenment may never have an end. Enlightenment is complete awakening and complete awareness. It is to be able to resonate at the same frequency as source itself and as such, to be aware of what source is consciously aware of (this includes self-realization). It is to be able to perceive universal objective truth (which is the amalgamation of all subjective perspectives). Here is the problem with that. Humans tend to project the idea onto what they call Source or God or the Universe at large that it is all knowing, that it is entirely conscious and aware and that people are playing a game of catch up to Source’s state of completion. This is not accurate. If it were, no universal expansion would be occurring. There would also be no purpose to life itself, being in and of itself a mechanism through which learning, awareness, evolution and progression occurs. Source itself has a subconscious. It is continuously becoming more and more self-aware. It is in the process of awakening in and of itself. So any enlightenment that can be attained is gone the next second because that barrier of knowledge within Source mind itself is constantly expanding. There is no such thing as enlightened retirement or spiritual ended-ness. And even if there could be, would the universe choose that ended-ness over the exploration of all possibilities? If you could get this, every bit of awareness you gain would be an experience of ‘the better it gets, the better it gets’.
Another thing which may never have an end is healing. The spiritual field and self-help field and psychology field is full to the brim with people desperate to heal completely. They all want that one answer that is going to be the answer and that fixes the things they feel are unhealed in one go. They become completely discouraged to find layer after layer after layer after layer that needs to be healed. Because they never reach their imaginary finish line of healing, they feel discouraged, a sense of futility and a serious lack of self-esteem, as if they are just totally messed up. The entire universe, which you are a part of and also a fractal of, is in a state of fragmentation. If you could truly grasp the degree of this fragmentation and if you could grasp that other ‘things’ including other people in the universe were a part of you, you would stop thinking this was a one life-time endeavor. It would overwhelm you to such a degree that you would stop thinking you could fix it all.
Also, you don’t have to heal something completely to experience an improvement. Many people have an attitude when it comes to healing like they have to completely finish healing in order to feel good. This is not the case; every bit of healing will bring more and more improvement. More and more relief. Better and better life circumstances. So, if you looked at healing like a lifelong process, instead of rushing to get it all completed, you would have the intention and desire but not desperation to fix it all. Each time it became obvious that something needed to be healed, you’d feel excitement that an opportunity for things to be even better for you has arrived. And every time you experienced healing to any pattern or layer within your mind, emotions or body would be an experience of ‘the better it gets, the better it gets’.
Another thing which may never end is desire. Even the desire to not have desire, is a desire. Desire is the primary element that is creating both universal and personal expansion. It is not the devil as you have been encouraged to believe. You only suffer relative to desire if you think the day will ever come that you do not desire more or if you desire something that you think you cannot have. A desire cannot exist in you if it is not meant to be aligned with and thus actualized. And desire will never end. No matter how much you have and no matter what you attain, you will always, always want more and want something else. Joy must be separated from desire. Lining up with your desire can cause joy. But joy can be in the continual expansion and amendment of desire. If you know it will never end, a relaxation about attaining all that you desire will occur.
Make peace with desire. Make peace with the contrast (the wanted and unwanted) which gives birth to desire. If you accept all of this, you don’t have to make the achievement of all of your desires that goal line of happy ended-ness. Instead, allowing yourself to continually align with and follow your desires through life can in and of itself be what induces joy because it will be an experience of ‘the better it gets, the better it gets’.
Now that you are getting a feeling for this concept, I want you to ask yourself the question relative to whatever it is that you want to get done… Why do you want to get it done? What do you imagine will be the outcome or consequence if you do not? Can you see any resistance inherent in that? Really look inside yourself for the answer without making your desire to get it done wrong in and of itself. The desperate desire to get things done may just be an attitude of resistance to something. For this reason, it may benefit you to watch my video titled: Urgent, Deal with Your Resistance Before You Do Anything Else. Then ask yourself, what if I knew today with a 100% guarantee that there is no way to get it done and so I am never going to get it done? What would you do differently today and tomorrow and the next day?
You will be able to find your joy in life when you ask this question. The reason is that the people who experience genuine life satisfaction are the ones who would continue doing something and continue following the North Star of a certain desire or goal, even if they know they may never achieve it. It is in fact an indication of their love for the doing of something instead of the doneness of that thing. For example, Jacques Cousteau may have had the goal of exploring all the world’s oceans. It didn’t matter if he didn’t accomplish it in his lifetime, that wouldn’t stop him from going for it because he loved the doing of it. Each time, the better it got, the better it got. Each time he experienced more.
Another example is that a person who loves shadow work is not looking to get rid of their shadow or reach a state of total consciousness. Even if total conscious awareness is a goal of theirs, they follow it like a North Star they may never reach. The reason they keep doing it day after day is because they love knowing and seeing more and more. They love the outcomes. Each time, the better it gets, the better it gets. Each time, their shadow work causes them to be aware of more. The idea that there is endless possibility for them to become more and more aware each day; and a never-ending supply of things to become aware of, is exciting to them.
Consider that if you desperately need it to be done or to end, you don’t like the doing of it, whatever it is. And you did not come to this existence to hate the process of the doing of your life.
The fear of responsibility is actually common enough that it has even been given a name: Hypengyophobia. And like most fears, it exists as a kind of sliding scale. Some people who struggle with this fear experience a strong aversion to responsibility. Others have full blown anxiety attacks at even the thought of taking responsibility and as such, refuse to take responsibility of any kind. While this fear and aversion may seem irrational, there are definite reasons for developing this fear. It is important to know that the fear of taking responsibility isn’t usually about responsibility in and of itself. It is the fear that by taking responsibility in a specific situation, you will come into contact with or experience something that you fear. For example, by taking responsibility, I will experience intense pressure. Or by taking responsibility, I am the one to blame and will therefore be blamed and feel shame and low self-esteem as a result.
The top reason for the fear of responsibility is lack of confidence. To understand this fear, think about it like this: Have you ever been in a situation where someone was doing a job poorly and you were tempted to just take over the job to do it right? In this scenario, you were about to take responsibility for the task. The reason that you had this impulse is that you have a high degree of confidence relative to that task and relative to your ability to do it better than that person could. Now think about the opposite scenario. Think about a time in your life where you didn’t feel a high degree of confidence in your ability to do something well and certainly not relative to your ability to do it better than other people. Do you remember your hesitancy about taking responsibility for that task? You didn’t really feel that CAN relative to the situation. Many people who fear responsibility are stuck in the second scenario with almost everything in their life. If you struggle with responsibility, this keeps you in the comfort zone of not taking responsibility. But it implies that you have a serious lack of confidence in general and serious low self-esteem.
You now know the main contributor to the fear of responsibility is the lack of confidence. So, the next few points are going to outline some of the most common reasons for that lack of confidence as it applies to the fear of responsibility. The first one is the fear of making mistakes. If you fear responsibility, usually this means you are terrified of making mistakes because of what you make mistakes mean, especially based off of previous experiences. For example, you may feel a mistake will lead to conflict you can’t handle or a consequence that can’t be undone or that mistakes mean that you are incompetent and therefore will decrease your self-esteem even further.
The next reason people may fear responsibility is the fear of failure. Again, this is because of what failure means to you. The fear of failure is most common amongst people who were routinely humiliated and undermined in childhood by the very people who they looked to as a barometer of their worth and success. Instead of being supportive, their parents were critical.
You may also fear competition, especially the potential elements of loss of closeness and failure that can come with the experience of competition. For many people with the fear of responsibility, the fear of being at odds or against someone and the fear of doing worse than other people can, could, would or will do is enough to make them avoid taking responsibility for something altogether. If you struggle with this fear, consider your relationship to the idea of losing. Trauma relative to competition can involve the loss of self-esteem by being judged as worse than someone else. It can also involve the loss of closeness with people who devalue you for losing as well as the loss of closeness with whomever you are now ‘pitted against’.
If you fear taking responsibility, you have to look at your relationship to conflict. So many people with the fear of responsibility have a huge issue with the fear of conflict. This ironically can take two basic forms.
1. For some people who have an aversion to taking responsibility it is all about how other people react in the situation in which they are taking responsibility. When they took responsibility and the result led to someone’s displeasure, that displeasure became a conflict between themselves and the other person and they desperately needed closeness and alignment with that person to feel ok, but they couldn’t create that repair. So many people who struggle with the fear of responsibility have a huge issue with feeling like they let people down.
2. Some people who have an aversion to taking responsibility actually experienced success when they took responsibility for something. But that success threatened someone (like mom or dad) and made them feel bad. This also led to conflict and so, their association with taking responsibility is that it leads to conflict. Either way, consider that responsibility may be linked with conflict in your being, and conflict is not something that you feel empowered relative to.
Another reason that contributes to the fear of taking responsibility is the fear of negative emotions. More specifically, the fear of not feeling equipped to handle or regulate your negative emotions when they come up, which they would if you took responsibility for something and it didn’t go well. To understand more about this, watch my video titled: The Emotional Wake Up Call.
Aversion to pressure is another main contributor to the aversion of responsibility. Consider what your relationship to being under pressure is, especially emotional pressure. The fear of pressure is a perpetual anxiety that usually involves the constant feeling that you have to produce something, but that you doubt whether you can. It is an “I have to produce X or else” scenario and this pressure produces distress instead of the pressure producing eustress. This causes an aversion to any situation in which you experience pressure. And responsibility often feels like pressure because it implies that you are the one with the power to produce in your hands.
The next reason that you might have an aversion to taking responsibility is that the experience of taking responsibility in the past did not lead to anything that you wanted or that improved your life. It simply led to the betterment of someone else’s life. People who are hyper responsible experience responsibility as a way of gaining control and taking their power in any given situation to bring about what is in their own best interests. They have had responsibility = reward experiences and so that positive link is formed in their being. If you have a serious aversion to responsibility, so far you may not have that responsibility - reward experience. Instead, you have either a responsibility = punishment/pain or responsibility = nothing happens for me experience.
It is very common, but not usually recognized that people who have an aversion to responsibility felt forced into co-dependent relationships in their childhoods. They were pushed to take responsibility for things, but those things they took responsibility for didn’t lead to any improvement for themselves, only improvement for whomever demanded that they take responsibility for those things.
I’ll use two examples to illustrate this point. One boy may be interested in tennis. So he takes responsibility for reading about tennis, getting a summer job so he can pay for a coach, riding his bike to practice and he sees that because of this responsibility he took, he gets better and better at tennis and eventually even wins a tournament. This boy learns that responsibility personally benefits him.
Another boy may feel forced by his mother to take care of the other younger siblings in the house. Doing so did not get him any closer to what he wanted. It improved his mother’s life. But if anything, taking that responsibility took him further away from personal benefit. Consider if you have a fear of responsibility that you may have been conditioned to see responsibility as something that involves no personal benefit and therefore it may make you immediately blind to the personal benefit involved in taking responsibility in any given situation. Consider also that responsibility might just immediately trigger you into feeling manipulated, controlled, obligated and self-sacrificing.
The last point I am going to mention is the fear of repeating the past. People who fear responsibility have had trauma relative to the experience of taking responsibility. Trauma naturally puts you in the place of avoiding the same bad experience happening again. This can take a more direct form such as someone having been in charge in a situation (like being responsible for younger brother and younger brother got hurt and had to go to the hospital). Or it can be not wanting any other trauma associated with taking responsibility to repeat again such as feeling like someone is controlling you to do something for their benefit, failing, making a mistake, letting other people down, developing an even worse sense of confidence and self-esteem than you already have or getting into conflicts etc.
Knowing all of that, what should you do if you have a fear and therefore an aversion to responsibility?
Allow yourself to consider that it is actually your choice to not take responsibility ever again for anything. If you struggle with responsibility, you will notice that you often feel like you are bulldozing yourself to take responsibility; as if it is something that you HAVE to do. But this just reinforces the original drudgery and dislike with which you approach responsibility. So close your eyes and play out the decision to not take any responsibility at all. Play it out for a day, week, month, year, several years, the rest of your life. You will notice certain consequences will happen and you will watch your adaptation to those consequences. But those consequences are not being done to you. They aren’t personal. They are simply happening because we live in a universe of cause and effect where anything someone does or doesn’t do has an effect. You still get to choose whether to say yes or no to that effect and then change the causation. Essentially, you have to see that responsibility is actually a choice. And if you are going to choose to take responsibility, it should be because you have decided that you want to own the causation. You want to ensure that certain consequences don’t happen for your sake.
See if you can see how powerless it makes you to hope and expect consequences not to occur. See how powerless it feels and makes you to hope and expect for people to one day not give you any consequences. Consider what would put you back in a position of power relative to responsibility. The first step is to realize that taking responsibility is a choice that you can consciously say no or say yes to! To be conscious, you simply have to make that decision in a super informed way. You have to see the potential personal consequences and benefits of either choice.
Did you notice how much of the aversion to responsibility has to do with trauma that has happened relative to taking responsibility? You can use the trigger of responsibility or of the feeling of pressure that you have to produce ‘or else’ or of the sinking feeling of lack of confidence to go back to whatever traumatic experiences are linked to this aversion in order to create resolve with them. I have created one such process to do exactly this. You can find out how to do this process by reading my book ‘The Completion Process’ and/or by finding a practitioner to work with on www.completionprocess.com. Doing this un-does the past. It resolves the root cause of your aversion to responsibility.
Work directly with the part(s) of you that fears and/or hates responsibility. And find and resource the part(s) within you that can have a positive relationship to responsibility using parts work. To find out how to do this, watch my video titled: Parts Work (What is Parts Work and How to Do It). Nothing will give you deeper insight into what your specific aversion to responsibility is than doing this. I do have some Completion Process Certified Practitioners who are adept at facilitating parts work if you feel like you need some assistance with this.
Start to change your relationship with and perspective about responsibility. Essentially, what responsibility is, is owning your own life. Responsibility is the opposite of the state of victimhood. If you don’t own your life, chances are much higher that someone else will. Also, you forgo the power to create what the life you want, the way you want it. In order to change some of your perspectives about responsibility, watch my video titled: Responsibility (Why, When and How To Take it). As well as Take your Power Back.
In any situation in which you fear taking responsibility, become aware of that fear, look into the why you feel that way in that specific situation and voice that fear to any people involved. Face your fear of mistakes and failure (as well as the potential humiliation you fear resulting from it) instead of subconsciously running from them your whole life. Put your apprehension on the table in the exact situation in which it comes up. This takes you out of avoidance mode as well as potential self-bulldozing mode. It also puts you and the people involved in the position of choice about what to do about it and how to resolve it. Dealing with that fear and trying to create solutions to it in the situation itself will increase your empowerment around responsibility as well as decrease the likelihood that any mishap with the responsibility you took would lead to failure or conflict with others.
For example, imagine that you were given an assignment at work and you actually realized you were afraid of taking responsibility for it. Imagine that you voiced that fact to the other people. This allows both you and them to begin to brainstorm ways to resolve the situation. At the work place, a person lacking confidence in a task that they are in charge of, is a problem for everyone involved in that business. So, a boss or colleague might give you access to resources which will make the job easier for you to do or change who is in charge of the task itself. You can only resolve what you are aware of and admit to and look into the why of in the moment.
Recognize the lack of confidence inherent in your fear of taking responsibility and instead of simply accepting that lack of confidence (because you are so acclimatized to low self-esteem), actively come up with things you could do to increase your confidence in the situation at hand. For example, in one situation this could be working to un-root and replace self-defeating core beliefs. In another situation, say you were given a task at work and you didn’t want to take that responsibility because you didn’t trust yourself to know how to do it well, your confidence might be increased by learning something or finding a more skilled person to show you something that would enhance your trust that you could do the task well. In the situation at hand, relative to what you have responsibility for, what would increase your confidence?
Resource when taking responsibility goes well. If your trauma around responsibility is extreme enough, you never notice when you take responsibility and it leads to good results. You only notice when it goes badly. So begin to take notice and really feel the empowerment and confidence when you take responsibility for things and it yields a positive result. This has to be done like an active awareness practice. Without realizing it, you are actually taking responsibility all day long! For example, when you fix yourself something to eat, that is a form of taking responsibility. To consciously experience the satisfaction of eating whatever you made for yourself is to resource that responsibility having yielded positive results. Can you think of any times in the past where you took responsibility for something and it went well no matter how small or large? Make a list. You are essentially re-wiring your brain and forming different associations with responsibility by doing this.
This exercise of noticing situations in which you take responsibility and you didn’t even think of it as taking responsibility as well as when you take responsibility and it goes well will help you to recognize the exact conditions in which taking responsibility becomes an issue for you. It will help you see what those variables to what you see as ‘responsibility to be avoided’ are.
Become more empowered around conflict in general. Relationships involve the inevitability of rupture. The degree of security and joy felt within a relationship is really about your capacity to create repair. Right now, you probably don’t trust your capacity to create that, so every conflict is seen as a serious threat rather than a calling to embody greater depths of intimacy and harmony. Or a calling to become as aware as possible of ourselves and others relative to a subject. Because the fear of responsibility is so closely linked to the fear of conflict, it would benefit you to watch my videos titled: How to Overcome The Fear Of Conflict and How to Resolve Conflict.
Because as we discussed earlier, the perception for many who struggle with responsibility is that them taking responsibility is always something that benefits others instead of themselves, self-sacrifice is a problem. Because of this, you would benefit by watching my video titled: Self Sacrifice, The Most Self-Centered Thing in The World.
If you experience an aversion to responsibility, the reality is that you are currently not empowered. You may feel like you don’t have control over what happens to you in your life. But here is the thing, you may not be able to prevent yourself from being fired, but you can improve your tool kit of skills and search for another job. You may not be able to prevent yourself from being rejected by another person. But you can find out why and either choose to make changes to yourself or use that information to look for someone who would be more compatible. You may not be able to choose what’s happening to you but you can choose the way you are going to deal with it. You can try different ways of doing things again and again until you finally achieve whatever it is that you are wanting. Responsibility is about finding the CAN and WILL in any situation. Consider WHY you automatically feel as if you can’t. When and how and why did that begin? If you refuse to face your fear of taking responsibility and so you continue to subconsciously refuse to take responsibility, a part of you will always make you feel bad about yourself. Avoiding responsibility is a self-fulfilling cycle when it comes to confidence and self-esteem.
While it is hard for someone who feels disempowered to feel the CAN and WILL in any given experience, that CAN and WILL is something that you deserve to experience. That empowerment can be yours as soon as you recognize in yourself the courage to carry the emotional burden that comes with taking responsibility.
The shadow is any aspect of a thing that is not exposed to the light of consciousness. The human shadow therefore, is any aspect of a person that is not exposed to the light of their own consciousness. It is what you don’t know that you don’t know. Shadow work is the process of making the unconscious conscious and the unacceptable, acceptable. It includes any process or practice that makes you aware of the unconscious and which brings about the integration of unconsciousness. And as such, it leads to complete and total awareness. To understand about shadow work in a much more in-depth way, watch my videos titled: What is Shadow Work?, Diving Deep (Shadow Work) and Shadow Work vs. Positive Focus.
The sad reality is that for a lot of people, the term shadow work conjures up all kinds of negative and dark associations. Because of those associations we have with the word shadow, it is easy to think that shadow work is a dark spiritual practice. Or that it is internal work that involves only the more negative or sinister aspects of our personality. Or that it simply gets you stuck in pain and powerlessness. Or that if you focus on the shadow, all you get and create is more shadow. However, none of this is actually the case. For this reason, even though several books would not be enough to cover all of the potential benefits of shadow work, I’m going to explain to you the main benefits of doing shadow work.
Shadow work is a tool. It is a tool just like focusing on the positive is a tool. You can master that tool, just like one could master any tool. Shadow work isn’t a way of being. It isn’t something that happens to you. It is not something that consumes your life. It isn’t the full picture. It is a tool for becoming aware, stepping out of and changing negative patterns, getting into a more objective reality, moving into free will and conscious choice and thus creating your existence intentionally and consciously.
Shadow work makes you conscious and perceive things clearly. It is to come to know what you do not know that you do not know. In fact, there is no way to be conscious, aware and to awaken without it. It puts you squarely in the truth. And in reality. Therefore, literally any benefit that could come from seeing the truth or having a more objective perspective or being aware or being in reality can be realized through shadow work.
It creates empowerment. Your axis of power is in reality and you can’t be in reality unless you are aware. To understand more about this, watch my videos titled: Reality and How To Call Bulls#!t on Denial. But shadow implies lack of awareness. It implies what you don’t know and what you have suppressed, rejected, denied, disowned and pushed out of your awareness. Awareness puts you in a position of choice. This means it puts you in the position of free will instead of determinism. For example, you may not be aware until you do shadow work that you keep ending up in hell in relationships because your early life experiences taught you to believe that love is when someone is suffering and unhappy in the relationship and stays anyway because they care about the other person that much. Once you know that, you can consciously begin to dismantle that belief, so that your new definition of love can be caring so much that you ensure each other wellbeing and pleasure. You are then in the position to choose compatible partners to be in a relationship with. Some people fear that shadow work will lead them to be in more suffering. But this will only happen if you begin to see things as they are, but are either convinced you can’t change them, or are not willing to change them.
There is tons of gold in the shadow. Many people assume that the shadow is all bad and all painful. Actually, there is plenty that a person doesn’t know that they don’t know that is positive and pleasurable. Also, there is a lot that we suppress, deny, reject, disown and push away from the conscious that is positive and pleasurable. For example, imagine that in your childhood, you were artistic. Imagine that the purpose you came into this life with was to be an artist. But you came into a family that was obsessed with academics and that discouraged art. To gain closeness with your family, you might have suppressed, rejected and denied your artistic talent and your purpose along with it. Doing shadow work will inevitably cause you to recover your artistic talent and your life purpose.
Shadow work causes a re-owning of the self. It causes you to become authentic. To understand more about this, watch my video titled: How To Be Authentic. It causes you to get to know yourself and your personal truth. Among other things, the process of socialization and trauma that we all inevitably experience causes us to begin to fragment. Our personalities are in essence, fake. Until we become conscious and aware of ourselves, our personalities are merely the parts of ourselves that we identified with so as to stay safe and away from vulnerability in the very specific situations and circumstances that we were raised in.
We suppress, reject, deny and disown the aspects that make us vulnerable or get us disapproved of in the world. By doing this, they become subconscious. They are buried outside of our awareness and we don’t know they even exist, even though they tend to be visible to other people around us. This means, we are not who we think we are. Shadow work shows you who you really are and what you really want. It makes you self-aware. There is no way to have a happy life unless you are self-aware. You have to know your actual truth and own it in order to choose what is right for you. Choosing what is personally right for you is the only way to experience life satisfaction, happiness and fulfillment.
Shadow work gets you un-stuck. You are only truly stuck if you don’t know what is actually happening. You have to know what is happening to begin to problem solve so as to do something about it. Shadow work does that. Many people think that shadow work makes them powerless. It doesn’t… it simply makes them face their powerlessness. By facing it, you are observing it and therefore not it. You are disidentified from it. If you choose to introduce consciousness to powerlessness by choice, it is by definition not powerlessness anymore because you have introduced the frequency of free will to it.
It makes you aware of and therefore causes you to disidentify from and change patterns and cycles so they don’t repeat and can be changed. People repeat patterns personally and intergenerationally. Because of this, most people live in a deterministic way. They keep ending up with unavailable partners over and over again. Patterns of addiction and abuse and negative core beliefs keep going from one generation to the next and to the next. Humanity itself repeats the same pattern over and over again. Shadow work stops the cycle, breaks the chain and offers the ability to change these patterns so that you can consciously choose your beliefs, your actions and your life experiences.
Shadow work causes integration. Integration is what causes peace. It causes integration internally, which leads to internal peace and externally, which leads to peace in your life and world peace. It reverses the process of fragmentation, which is the cause of so much suffering in your life and suffering in the world. To understand more about this, watch my video titled: Fragmentation, The World Wide Disease.
It brings you closer to your desires so you can actually attain them. First of all, most people think they know what they want. But they don’t. For example, if you have been raised in a conservative family that is all about marriage, you may think that what you really want is marriage, when in fact the only reason you think you want that is because you want approval from your family. Or for example, we may think we want to be a lawyer. But really, we just want money and social status and we have a limited perspective about HOW we could go about getting it. Shadow work shows you what you truly want and why. It also expands what is possible.
On top of that, shadow work shows you what is in the way of what you want. It reveals resistance. Resolving those things is the key to getting what you want. For example, imagine that you have no idea why no matter how hard you try, you can’t lose weight. Shadow work may reveal that the part of your consciousness that has control over your body has no intention of losing weight. It wants to be fat because it uses that fat as a buffer against the unsafety in the world and uses it as a substitute boundary because you can’t keep your own boundaries. Working with this part to find resolve will be critical to losing weight. In fact, unless you do, every diet and exercise program will fail. To understand more about this, watch my video titled: Urgent, Deal With Your Resistance Before You Do Anything Else!
Shadow work causes you to become aware of and to resolve your trauma, which is the underlying issue that causes the current patterns in your life that are hurting you and harming your life. This is perhaps the most serious item on my list. Trauma is a state of emotional and mental distress caused by an experience that is not resolved. You don’t have to be abused or experience what a person would consider to be a tragedy (like war or sexual abuse or loss of a loved one) to experience trauma. It is traumatic to experience birth in today’s mainstream medical facilities. It is traumatic to a baby to be weaned. It is traumatic to a three-year-old to lose track of his mother in a grocery store. Even the best parents on earth cannot manage to raise a child in a way that the child will experience no trauma. The problem is that if we do not have a way to resolve and thus integrate that trauma we experience when we are young, then we shape our lives and make choices according to trauma. We also have the tendency to normalize or even forget about it. And worse than this, because this is a mirror based universe, managed by what many call ‘the law of attraction’, and in order to try to cause us to heal these traumas, this universe will continue to offer us more opportunities to heal them in the form of putting us in similar situations again and again. And they tend to amplify or get worse over time.
For example, if we never actually resolved the fact that our father left us at age four, we may simply decide that to save ourselves from the pain of loss, we will be super independent and never get attached to anyone ever again. Not only will we experience intimacy issues in our adulthood because of this experience, we will experience people abandoning us. This pattern will become worse because when we are abandoned, we will use that to justify our original decision to push people away before they ever get a chance to push us away, thus increasing the chance that they will abandon us. It becomes an ever-worsening vicious spiral. If we are able to become aware of and resolve this original trauma, as well as the alterations we made to ourselves because of it, we have the ability to actually create a stable, reliable connection with others in our life. Shadow work may also reveal that things we thought were resolved, are not actually resolved and that is why situations like it are repeating in our lives.
Shadow work causes you to go way below and above the surface of things. It puts you in touch with the blue print or the fundamental level of existence below the limits of the surface of existence. This enhances your knowledge, depth, capabilities, scope and expanse. You can think of it like a two-dimensional person becoming third dimensional. This makes you capable of seeing things others can’t and doing things others don’t know are possible. It makes you more powerful. This is the reason that awakened people seem to be so much… more.
It gives you conscious control over what you create and manifest. Many people who teach law of attraction and manifestation are over simplifying it to the point of ignorance. Focus and intention and thought is powerful. As are the actions that one takes to create. But in the effort and time it takes you to focus on one thing, your subconscious mind can focus effortlessly on several and without you even knowing it. This is why it isn’t hard for an Olympic swimmer to swim while planning dinner. The entire process of swimming is subconscious.
Your conscious mind is not responsible for the bulk of your overall personal vibration. Your subconscious mind is. And it is your overall personal vibration that is your point of attraction. This is a big deal in a universe managed by the law of attraction. It means for example that if you sit down to do the affirmation “I am good enough”, that thought is competing with several, much more engrained and strong frequencies such as “I’m too fat. “No one really wants me”. And “people who think they are good enough are always the worst kinds of people”.
Your point of attraction is more complicated than “whatever you consciously focus on and do”. Because of this, until you do shadow work, you have very little control over what happens in your life. It feels like everything happens TO you and you don’t know why. By becoming aware of the contents of your subconscious and well as what you don’t know about the world and the universe, this naturally allows you to consciously change and improve your point of attraction. And the more conscious you are, the more you are consciously creating when you are thinking, saying, choosing and doing things. It will feel like you have control over your life and you will know why things happen in your life. This pulls you out of the experience of victimhood.
In the same vein of creation, blocked energy and inauthenticity inhibits creativity. Shadow work resolves those blockages and that resistance and as the energy of conscious awareness courses through you, your creative potential comes flooding through. You become a much more creative person.
Shadow work helps you to have successful, healthy, enjoyable and conscious relationships. Relationships are life. You have a relationship with other people. You have a relationship with every element of your life such as your career, your food, your hobbies, your body etc. Therefore, your quality of life boils down to the quality of your relationships.
Doing shadow work will make it so people don’t trigger you as easily. You will become more mature and healthier and more functional in your relationship dynamics. For example, you may have a terrible relationship with your child. Doing shadow work may reveal that you hate the qualities in your child that you suppressed, denied and disowned in yourself, such as selfishness. Perhaps you rejected your own selfishness and in turn self-sacrificed your life for your husband and children. But you resent it. So, every time your child acts in his or her best interests, you feel that resentment towards them. This awareness may cause you to re-think that decision and start to do things for yourself. This might then cause you to stop criticizing your child and for there to be no more resentment towards him or her.
It enhances your mental, emotional and physical health and wellbeing. It is painful and exhausting to not be aware. It is draining and painful to keep denying, suppressing, rejecting, disowning and pushing things away or trying to keep a closet door closed when its contents are overflowing. Suppression causes fatigue and disease, plain and simple. As you liberate the suppressed energy and more of the energy of consciousness is allowed to flow through all the different aspects of you, the health of all of those levels of you will dramatically improve. You will have more energy. Shadow work also creates a sense of stability and strength, which makes you feel equal to life and very much alive.
Those are just some of the benefits of doing shadow work. The more aware you are of your shadow, the more embodied you are as a conscious being. No one ever reached enlightenment without confronting their shadow and exposing it to the light of consciousness. The time has come for people to master this tool, the tool which will lead to their liberation.
(Why self-help, personal development, psychology, relationships, physical health and spirituality go hand in hand)
Spirituality and self-help and personal development and psychology and relationships and health and wellness are so enmeshed that as far as markets go, they are often considered to be one and the same field. This can complicate things. Is a spiritual teacher giving advice on someone’s depression acting as a therapist now? Is a self-help expert now a guru? We could spend time separating these elements out from one another. But In today’s episode, I’m going to show you the bigger picture as to why they absolutely do go hand in hand.
The first thing to understand is that incarnation is really nonphysical energy (what we would call “spiritual”) manifesting physically. This means that there is nothing that is not spiritual. There is no single thing in physical existence that is not spiritual. This obviously means that it is impossible in reality to define what is spiritual and what is not. From this perspective, you are a spirit having a human experience. And you do so for a very important purpose; a multi layered purpose, which at a more objective level is about universal expansion and at a more subjective level is about personal expansion. For the sake of your understanding, the process of consciousness manifesting as a person in the 3-D can be compared to creating, and then coming into, the first-person perspective of an avatar in a video game that you also created. The point is to be fully focused into that video game so as to make the very most of that experience and use it to “level up”. This means that the most spiritual path is the path of really living life itself… Becoming self-actualized.
To make the most of your life itself, to consciously use your physically incarnated experience to become aware and to use that awareness to consciously create in the physical is in fact the highest spiritual path. This means, there are people who do not think of god and who are not aware of their nonphysical self, but whom are powerfully committed to self-development or the perfection of a craft here in the physical (say a passionate musician for example) who are in fact walking a more spiritually in alignment path than some who have dedicated their entire life to god or an afterlife or spiritual discipline. Many people who are aware that there is a nonphysical dimension to existence do not understand this. They believe that to live a spiritual life is to see physical life as an illusion to transcend. To understand more about this, watch my video titled: How Human Intelligence Is Destroying Human Nature (Anti Human).
Becoming aware implies coming to the awareness that there is more to this life than meets the physical eye. It is becoming aware that this physical self is not ALL that you are. It is becoming aware of your nonphysical perspective. Because you are not just physical, awareness implies becoming aware of what is ‘spiritual’ or ‘incorporeal’… The bigger picture of this universe. The degree of both personal and universal expansion that occurs with this awareness, is exponential.
Becoming aware implies coming into the awareness of your physical incarnation as well. When non-physical energy manifests in a physical form, experientially it manifests as the layers that could be called mind, body and feeling. Having awareness of and caretaking all three layers of your physical incarnation are critical to health and to your ability to stay in alignment with your non-physical self as well as its purpose for coming into the physical. This all of a sudden drags physical health into the picture of spirituality as well and makes things even more complicated. Health and wellness now cannot be considered entirely separate from spirituality as well. So, is a spiritual leader now a healer or doctor too?
On top of this, coming into a separate, physical incarnation immediately implies the perception of self and other. This means, the second that you incarnate, you are in a relationship, not only does a relationship exist between your physical and nonphysical ‘selfhood’ but also between yourself and all other things in existence. Life is relationships. Your sense of wellbeing in life is really about the quality of your relationships. Therefore, the mastery of relationships can no longer be separated from your path of spiritual progression.
Spirituality, self-help, personal development, health, wellness, relationships and psychology are in fact all intertwined. They are all parts of the reality of your existence as a human. You could technically split hairs so as to define a person’s expertise at any level of this dynamic I have just described. Any expert who specializes in any aspect of this layer-cake of existence will have a slightly different perspective on the person standing in front of them. And it is only possible to only focus on one layer without the other…. Until it is not.
For example, a person would not have to even believe in a spiritual dimension to the universe to unravel their childhood trauma or to work on their limiting beliefs. But if they encounter a limiting belief that calls existential truth into question, or would be unraveled only by seeing existential truths, it is no longer possible. Or, a person could pray all day long and find all kinds of answers to their own progression in meditation until the day that they realize that their meditation has all been an escape mechanism and they have some psychological avoidance patterns to address.
The basic thing to understand about life is that because these layers of existence are so integral to one another, it can be impossible to have a full picture of what is occurring with someone, without taking ALL of the elements of them into account… non physical, mental, ‘emotional’, and physical. An impediment to a person’s progression, awareness, health, success, happiness, desires and self-actualization etc. could happen at any of these levels.
Any expert in any of these fields (spirituality, self-help, personal development, relationship, health, wellness, and psychology) whether it is a guru, a doctor, a psychologist, a self-help expert, a relationship counselor, an energy healer, a therapist or a yogi etc. is wanting the same thing: For the person to find alignment… Which creates a state of wellbeing. And very often, this means that a spiritual teacher must talk not only about theology or meaning or existential truth with a person, but about the conditions of their childhood, what emotional wounds are in the way of manifesting the things they want, their relationship patterns or their body etc. This means that a doctor may not be able to find a cure to a physical ailment until they take into account the way that emotional traumas influence the tissues of the body and therefore the quality of their marriage. This means that a psychologist may need to also address a problem from the angle of hormonal imbalance or meridian blockage or ancestral trauma. What any expert in any of these fields offers another expert is deeper insight into what is going on within the layer cake of a person.
It is inevitable that one’s spiritual path, as long as they continue to progress on that path instead of stagnate, will lead them directly to the conscious understanding that they are here in this life to learn, to become aware, to love, to transform, to progress, to manifest, to heal, to create and to become self-actualized. This leads them to a curiosity about what is in the way of doing that. And this self-actualization can only be achieved with a conscious commitment to learning about all the elements of self-actualization, including but not limited to: Physical health, wellness, self-help, self-development, manifestation, relationships, shadow work, success, psychology and emotions… And consciously choosing to ‘level up in life’ by applying what they learn. This is why, instead of separate, to stand in a position of truth, all of these things go hand in hand. And as humanity continues to develop, instead of becoming more separated and defined, all elements of healing and progressing and actualizing will in fact become more and more integrative.
Agree to disagree is a common English phrase, though some variation of the concept that it conveys exists in nearly every culture on the planet. It essentially means that no resolution to a disagreement, debate or quarrel will occur and so continuing it is unnecessary, ineffective and pointless. Therefore, it must come to end by each party tolerating but not accepting the other’s opposing opinion. Essentially, the only way to find alignment is to agree upon dropping the debate and simply consent to disagreeing (having different opinions on a subject). Many people within society believe that agreeing to disagree is a mature, conscious and amicable thing to do. But the reality is quite the opposite.
The first problem with agree to disagree is that it thwarts personal and universal expansion. The universe is trying to bring people with opposing thoughts together so as to create expansion relative to thought. This universe hopes that people would constantly expand and improve and re-invent their perspective and thoughts. If two people are committed to truth and they come together holding two opposing perspectives, it is an opportunity. It is an opportunity for expansion through arriving at a higher truth. Either one person sees the truth of the other’s perspective and changes their own perspective, often in ways that benefit him or her. Or because of their mutual commitment to finding the truth, they arrive at a truth that is higher or more accommodative than either of their perspectives were originally. A philosopher is the person within society that understands this concept best. A scientist must understand this also in order to do good work. To agree to disagree is to consciously declare a stalemate. This is to agree to stuckness and lack of resolve, both of which directly defy progress and growth and movement and expansion. It is just as stuck to say agree to disagree as it is to say you agree or act like you do, when really you don’t. For this reason, it is not only a limitation for you, it is a guarantee that the universe will turn up the heat on that particular issue. You can’t avoid it forever. It will come to a head where the situation at hand does not allow for the toleration of each other’s opposed perspectives.
The second problem with agree to disagree is that it is not actually possible in the grand scheme of things. It is impossible once there is a conflict of interests. It is definitely not possible when it comes to topics (that result in conflict) which really matter. Some differences do not cause conflict. These are the “little things”. Others do cause conflict. These are the big things. They occur when two people’s thoughts, opinions, beliefs or perspective is incompatible. On top of this, given that the universe will turn the heat up on points of stuckness, if it is possible to use agree to disagree to avoid further conflict in the short term, it becomes impossible to maintain this strategy in the long run. For example, if someone was of the opinion that the best thing to do was to plow a road through your property and yours was that it was a terrible idea, you could not say agree to disagree because you’d wake up to a road plowed through your property.
Opinions lead to choices and actions. People who say agree to disagree seem to somehow believe that opinions do not lead to choices and actions or that if they do, it will somehow not affect them. The reality is that if opinions are opposed, so are choices and actions, which impact others. This is why agree to disagree depends upon the variable of safety. For example, let’s imagine that one set of parents disagrees with vaccines and the other agrees with them. They can only say agree to disagree until the point where a law is looking to be passed mandating them. The reason is that if the parents who believe that all children must be vaccinated, believe that unvaccinated children are a health risk, they may vote to take away body sovereignty as a human right. There is no longer a way for either set of parents to avoid or maintain the amicability of this agreed upon stalemate, because they have now found themselves in a zero-sum game with their safety on the line. Another example is, in most families you can say “agree to disagree” relative to religion until the point that someone in the family dies and it’s a fight over what type of funeral service will be held. Agree to disagree is conflict avoidance plain and simple. Avoidance does not make the conflict go away. It simply delays it until a later date.
The third problem with agree to disagree is that contrary to popular belief, it is damaging to relationships. Agree to disagree is often how we try to avoid conflict or prevent the loss of closeness with someone. It is our way to remain on amicable terms while continuing to disagree about unresolved issues. To understand more about this, watch my videos titled: How to Overcome the Fear of Conflict and How to Resolve A Conflict. People can only say agree to disagree when they believe that doing so, will not affect them. This means, agree to disagree can only be something that someone agrees to if they perceive themselves to be separate and separate in a way that someone’s opinion will not lead to choices or actions that go against their best interests, affect them or harm them in any way. The motto is “as long as it doesn’t affect me and mine.” It’s a ‘you do you and I do me’ philosophy of existence, which is distancing by nature. But all of this is hidden under the guise of tolerance. It is in fact a rigid and narcissistic and separate way of being, all of which are a huge detriment to relationships.
It must also be said that people who say “agree to disagree” think they are right and the other is wrong. Therefore, saying agree to disagree really means “I’ll just passively wait for you to ‘wise up’ and stop being so stupid or unaware and eventually, you’ll see I was right. Until then, we are going to put this conflict under the floor boards.” This is in fact a form of active suppression. When people use this phrase, they are waiting for the “I told you so” moment and are convinced it will come. Agreeing to disagree is about thinking you are right and so, never fall for the lie that it makes the acceptance of differences or the acceptance of diversity of perspectives possible.
To say agree to disagree is to resist a state of alignment or resist the commitment to finding alignment. Think of what is happening energetically when one chooses to forgo the experience of alignment. This is a very ‘out of reality’ perspective to hold in a consensus reality, which is what this time space reality is. You are not the only one creating reality in a consensus reality. On top of this, it opens the door wide for zero sum games in relationships. To understand more about this, watch my video titled: The Zero Sum Game (What is A Zero Sum Game and How To End One).
On top of this, seeing as how no actual resolution has come, the unresolved conflict or opposition exists as an elephant in the room. It is an active state of dissonance, which ads considerably to the emotional tension and pressure in the relationship. It is also a ‘giving up’ on alignment. People who say agree to disagree do so because they feel powerless to find alignment or to get there to be any pliability in their perspective or the other person’s perspective or both. Agree to disagree is therefore often a forfeit in a relationship relative to finding alignment or higher truth.
The fourth problem with agree to disagree is that it allows people with a poor sense of self, to maintain a sense of self specifically through opposition. It is possible for people to have a healthy sense of self and alignment with others at the same time. But agree to disagree is an out of alignment way to try to accomplish “I can have me and I can have you too”. Some people perceive the changing of their perspectives or ideas to be a loss of self. They feel consumed or as if they lose themselves when they reach agreement or alignment.
You may hear people saying things like “I’m entitled to my opinion”. This is actually a logical fallacy. Whether someone has the right or is entitled to an opinion has absolutely nothing to do with whether their opinion is right or wrong or is reflective of truth. Therefore, it is a way of discrediting opposition and creating a diversion from the disagreement at hand. It is to subconsciously fight for freedom (the freedom or right not to be right, not to be reasonable and to stick to their perspective no matter what contradictory thoughts or evidence they are met with) when that has nothing to do with the actual validity of one’s stance.
All this being said, people use agree to disagree as a way to preserve identity and get a self-esteem kick from staying in a position of opposition to something. This is especially the case for people who have experienced enmeshment trauma. There are people who are enmeshed who will see committing to reaching agreement as a giving up their truth but this is not the case. If you arrive at a new truth, that is your truth, so you cannot say you lost your truth, you simply changed or updated it. Agree to disagree is also a way that people can maintain a false sense of enlightenment or wokeness relative to their identity. There are a great many things that people think make them good, which in fact do not. Agree to disagree, (just like meditating to escape reality or using positive focus as a tool of resistance of the negative, or being politically correct to stay safe and performatively woke) is one of these things.
Instead of saying agree to disagree, we need to commit to finding alignment. To be completely honest with you, with regards to many situations that are at hand or will be shorty, it is not a luxury for the human race to agree to disagree. By defending the idea of agree to disagree, we will be unknowingly defending the idea of bulldozing others. To understand more about this, watch my video titled: Bulldozing (The Way To Ruin Your Relationship With Yourself). And consider that it isn’t a virtue to only care about bulldozing and consider it a bad thing when we are the ones being bulldozed.
We need to be honest with ourselves if our goal is something other than alignment and truth. Ask yourself what is more important for you than alignment with others and why? What is more important for you than truth and why? Notice if you feel immediately like you must conform when this topic is raised. Address the fear of loss of self, loss of freedom and loss of personal truth inherent in this. Know that conformity is not true alignment and so, that is not what is being asked of you at all.
Seek first to understand… To see more, more more… instead of to agree. Accept that we must own up to the reality that our personal experiences have shaped our perspectives in ways that might just mean that they are limited and un-accommodative and therefore not reflective of objective truth. Try to commit to the practice of seeking objective truth. To understand more about this, watch my video titled: Objective Truth. The better you are at disidentifying from your thoughts and beliefs and perspectives, the easier it will be to question and change them. To understand more about this, watch my video titled: Disidentification (The Practice of Non-Attachment).
I am going to end this article with a question: Agree to disagree is really an assertion that certain conflicts are unresolvable. Is there such a thing as an unresolvable conflict? If so, should people accept that certain conflicts are unresolvable? What are the potential benefits and shadows inherent in doing so or not doing so.
Something that sets humans apart from every other species on earth is the fact that they resist themselves. It would stand to reason that a creature imbued with self-conceptualization would be the creature to develop self-resistance. But this self-resistance is to blame for so much of the suffering within the human race. And until people recognize this pattern, they will continue to perpetuate suffering.
Upon coming into this physical life, you become two points of perspective. Your nonphysical perspective and experience, which is not human and your physical perspective and experience, which is human. Coming into a human perspective and experience means that you opt into several things. You opt into things like human limitations, human strengths, human biology and physiology, human needs, human aversions, human preferences, human impulses, and human patterns. Because the physical human is a part of the animal kingdom on earth, you opt into experiencing existence as an animal. By the way, your-self concept (ego) is the only reason you would have an issue with that.
You don’t see other species running around with an issue with this. For example, you don’t see a deer having a self-esteem crisis because it is not able to feel ok wandering around alone as opposed to wanting to be in a herd. You don’t see a cuttlefish in a state of shame because his color changes according to his environment. You don’t see a female hyena guilt tripping herself for being more masculine and dominant than the males in her cackle. You don’t see bonobos contriving ways to control their wild sexual behaviors. You don’t see a bear trying to suppress its shaking after a trauma. You don’t see a dog being ostracized by other dogs for barking. You don’t see a dolphin trying to stop thinking. You don’t see an elephant thinking something is wrong with it because it has emotions. You get the point.
People are intelligent enough to have self-concept amongst other things, but are not yet intelligent enough to ensure that their intelligence doesn’t cause problems for themselves and for other species on the planet. They have used that intelligence for thousands of years to go against their own nature. People have gone into resistance relative to what is human about themselves and others. They have become anti-human with themselves and with each other. Instead of seeking to integrate their two perspectives, they have tried to use their non-physical perspective as a trump card over their physical human perspective. They have tried to transcend their human-ness. To try to transcend that which is human in you, is to reject that which is human in you. And no two things have contributed more to this damaging pattern than religion and spirituality. The thing is, all that will come out of that resistance is pain.
Our intellect has caused us to advance and form our society and shape our world in many ways that are in fact counter to our biology and nature and therefore needs. To give you just some examples so you can better understand what I mean:
A human is a relationally dependent group species. People have gone against this and forgotten that connection is the number one human need. They have propagated the idea that independence and aloneness is a virtue and shame each other for dependence. Being relationally dependent, a person is not actually capable of not caring what other members of its group think. That is both dangerous and impossible physiologically. Yet, it is still something self-help experts try to teach. Being relationally dependent, it is not natural for a loved one to travel or to be away from the group for large periods of time. It threatens our sense of attachment and security. Yet, we live in a society now where travel is normal and it is normal for people to be gone from each other and separated at work all day. As people become more and more separate, they ‘normalize’ it, but they become more and more unhappy, relationships suffer. Suicide rates go up and health goes down.
A human female is ready to reproduce when she gets her menstrual period, the average of which is 12 years old. She reaches the peak of her fertility in her early to mid-twenties. After that, her fertility decreases and declines impressively. At age 35, doctors consider a pregnancy a ‘geriatric pregnancy’ or to be more politically correct, an ‘advance maternal age pregnancy’. In the complexity of our modern society, the age of ‘readiness’ for things like pair bonding and reproducing keeps increasing. Most women and their male counterparts are now ‘ready’ to have babies well after a woman is biologically prime. Infertility has increased at an alarming rate because of it, as have the risk factors and negative effects involved in late maternal age reproduction.
For more than a hundred thousand years, the physical human foraged and hunted… Until they figured out how to farm. Then, in the early 1800s, they came up with processing foods. Ultimately food became an industry. The decision to farm ultimately led to the food system we have today. A food system that goes directly against health for the physical human. The human body is not designed to eat processed sugars. Chemical additives are used to preserve the food so it can travel long distances, but that damage the human body. The soil is being stripped of nutrients so the food that exists today has so much less nutritional value than it used to.
The physical human is an intensely touch oriented, sexual species. However, as civilizations evolved, so did the management of human sexuality. For example, once land ownership was a concern for humans in a patriarchal society, so was the determining of paternity. Female sexuality then had to be controlled. And sexual standards had to be differentiated by gender. The institution of marriage became important as was that it be between a man and woman only. Essentially any time society changed in a way where the structure of social control was threatened by sexuality, sexuality had to be further controlled. Thus, the idea of right vs. wrong was attached to sexuality. Religions became impregnated with ideology designed to enforce social control. Just look at the seven deadly sins in the bible. All of which pose a threat to social control. It taught people when sexuality is ok and when it is not ok. People began to go against their own sexuality and to become ashamed of it. It caused people to regulate each other and to go to war with their own sexuality and bodies. The human race is now intensely out of alignment sexually.
The human being has thoughts and emotions and desire. Desire is in fact the necessary ingredient for personal and universal expansion. Emotion is a carrier of personal truth, the barometer of connection between the nonphysical and physical perspective. Thought is a necessary part of both perception and creation. When the human perceived these three things to be a problem, the human sought to get rid of or control thought and emotion. The human saw desire as a cause of suffering and sought to become desireless. Several spiritual ideologies cropped up to support this idea, turning people against their own minds, emotions and desires.
I’m going to end with a super politically incorrect reality. The physical human has taken himself out of the food chain on earth. He has transcended the elements and also geography. Life for the physical human is no longer one of natural selection. There is a lot more to natural selection than survival of the fittest. One of the reasons that humans survived to such an incredible degree is their tendency towards cooperative behavior and community organization. But this means that the weakest of our species, those who would not naturally be breeding in nature are breeding… And as humanity gets sicker and sicker, we simply come up with medications to help them survive and go on to pass on weak genes.
On top of that, females are still biologically wired to want protection and to be attracted to power for the sake of protection. But the person who has the most power in society is no longer the classic alpha male full of physical prowess. He is a Mark Zuckerberg, a Jeff Bezos, a Bill Gates. So female attraction is at odds with the new reality of masculine power. On top of that, as oppressed females sought to break free from abuse in a patriarchal society, they did so in a way where they rejected their own femininity and took on masculine behavior and traits so as to compete with men in a male dominated society. This threw the masculine and feminine completely out of alignment within humanity. And now, there is a war between genders, relationship dysfunction and all kinds of mental, emotional and physical health issues in people because of it.
You cannot get rid of or transcend that which is you! All you can do is to suppress deny, reject and disown something. All you can do is to split off from yourself and go to war with yourself. To understand what I mean by this, watch my video titled: Fragmentation, The Worldwide Disease. And the reality is, the human is at war with that which makes him human. And to tell you the truth, the spiritual field is perhaps the guiltiest of this. The entire practice of many religious and spiritual and self-help paths is to deny, push away and control that within you which is ‘human’. The practice is a war between the self-concept and the temporal self. It is the ego, disguised as a higher self that is doing right and good by controlling and refusing to own what is ‘human’ as part of itself because it sees what is human as inferior, bad, wrong, primitive, animal, limited, a liability, and as a source of suffering. People have an idea now that to live a successful, good and right life, they must live in the rejection and controlling of their human impulses, human instinct, human desires, human biology, human physiology, human needs, human limitations, human thoughts, human emotions. It is a perpetual life of self-denial and self-rejection. To the degree that some go so far as to say, your human self is an illusion. To understand more about this, watch my video titled: The Sad Truth About Most Gurus.
Think about what it is to be human. Make a whole list. Here are just a few examples: A primate, omnivorous, terrestrial, diurnal, walks on two legs, sexually dimorphic, needs to breathe air, no exoskeleton and therefore physically vulnerable. Females experience menopause, needs water and food, possesses a cardiovascular, circulatory, digestive, endocrine, immune, integumentary, lymphatic, musculoskeletal, reproductive, respiratory, urinary and nervous system. Spoken and written forms of communication, possesses genitalia, social species, relationally dependent, competitive, creative, cooking, clothing, uses tools, desire driven, desire to understand, internal fertilization, pregnancy and live birth. Possess lust, envy and jealousy. Hierarchical, driven to control and gain power, artistic, violence impulse, emotions, possesses motive, 23 pairs of chromosomes, fight or flight response, manipulative, average life expectancy of 70 years, possesses ego. Etc.
It is true that mankind has deviated so far from its nature, that most people will not be able to make a truly accurate list. But for the sake of this exercise, look at the list. What is your relationship to those things? The harder it is to make this list, the more that tells you about the degree to which you have disowned your human-ness. How much are you in resistance to those things? In what ways do you try to control those things? Consider making a separate list of your own unique human aspect. This list will be different for all people because we all have different human experiences, we are men and women, we come from different race and cultures and love and dislike different things in our physical life etc. We have things in common with all other people and also things that are unique to our own human aspect. Then consider how you might be able to better ‘own’ that human part of yourself. To understand this, watch my video titled: Own People! (How To Take Ownership Of Your Relationships). And apply everything I say in that video to yourself.
You cannot be in a state of wholeness or wellness or integration while rejecting a part of yourself and trying to control it. Because you are two points of perspective, you must think of your non temporal self and your temporal self (your soul and your human) to be in a marriage. You must powerfully own that which is human about you so as to consciously meet its needs. And allow it to consciously express. This is the only way to truly fulfill your human potential, which is why you came into this life. To understand this in depth, watch my video titled: The Secret To Overcoming Your Problems. And think about what I say in that video relative to your human-ness. The point of you coming to this life was to bring nonphysical into physical, not to try to transcend the physical so as to get out of it, as if it were some kind of jail like illusion. When you take a part of yourself (in this case your human-ness) as a part of yourself, so as to allow it to express itself and to meet its needs, it will do so in a way that is beneficial instead of detrimental to yourself and to others. Like all things, it only does detrimental things when it perceives itself to be separate from you, which it does if you reject it! So, don’t reject your human-ness. Integrate it instead.
Most of you that are reading this article have had the experience of someone in your life suddenly ending their connection with you by cutting off all communication and contact without any warning or explanation. A person who does this tends to also ignore all of your attempts to reach out, communicate or get an explanation for the behavior. The commonly used term for this behavior is ‘ghosting’. Essentially, they pull a disappearing act, like a ghost. Ghosting isn’t a new thing; however, it is getting progressively more common in large part because of social media. The more that connection is taking place online or via text and the less mutual social connections two people share, the easier it is and the less consequences there are for pulling a disappearing act. Because of this, it is practically an epidemic in the modern dating world. And unfortunately, the more it happens (either to us or our friends and family) the more normalized it becomes within society.
There are two main reasons why someone might ghost you:
Fear of engaging with you, especially in the case that any engagement with you would lead to pain or conflict.
The use of it as a passive aggressive power move.
If the former is the case, it is an avoidance strategy. It is an avoidance of whatever scenario they imagine would come about as a result of engaging with you. For example, someone might feel that you will never see their point of view and will only turn things back on them, causing them to perceive you as ‘unworkable’. Perceiving there to be no way to create resolve with you, they simply avoid communicating with you and cut off all communication instead. Or for example, imagine that a guy you are talking to on a dating site or are actually dating realizes he isn’t really into you, he’s into someone else instead. But he doesn’t want to feel like the bad guy and hurt your feelings or get into any conflict with you. He wants a “no drama, no questions asked, no need to justify himself or deal with your emotions” ending. So, he simply avoids it all by suddenly ceasing to respond all together. It’s a convenient way to bypass a breakup. Seeing as how the root of ghosting is so often fear of conflict, it might be a good idea to watch my video titled: How to Overcome the Fear of Conflict. It is important to note that if someone is in a genuinely abusive relationship, ghosting may in fact be the only way to exit a relationship safely. So, it is important to distinguish between ghosting as a pure avoidance strategy and ghosting as a way to genuinely stay safe from someone.
If someone is ghosting as a passive aggressive power move, it is a control tactic. Usually a punishment. You are probably already familiar with the passive aggressive techniques of the silent treatment and stonewalling. Stonewalling is when one person disengages from the other and maybe even walks away so as to becomes unavailable and unreachable, as if erecting a stone wall between themselves and the other person. They become completely uncooperative. When ghosting is used this way, it is a form of emotional cruelty. And it is one of the most destructive relationship habits we can do. A relationship takes two. This unfortunately means that the power in the relationship belongs to the person who chooses to disconnect and withdraw. This is one reason why the person who simply walks out of the room during a conflict is the one with all the power in the relationship. We know this at our core. We also know how painful emotional withdrawal is and therefore how vulnerable it makes someone. Which is why when we feel the need to gain power over the other person in a relationship, ghosting is a strategy we may use. If we feel justified in doing so because we perceive ourselves to be victimized by the other person, we tend to not care how emotionally abusive this tactic is. No matter what the intent is behind ghosting, ghosting creates emotional and psychological wounds.
Why is ghosting so painful? Emotional withdrawal is a form of abandonment and it is emotionally abusive. The single most important need for a physical human is connection. Even more so than food or water or sleep, which is why someone in a bad breakup often can’t eat or sleep. To ghost is to break that connection and thus, it is a direct threat to a person’s primary need. On top of this, people must assign meaning to experiences. We need to understand why something has happened to really understand what to do about it. If no explanation is given, people become consumed with a dizzying mess of potential explanations and tend to vacillate between confusion and choosing whatever painful meaning is most believable to them. Lack of closure drives people crazy. Did I say or do something wrong? Did they lose their phone? Am I not pretty enough, so I just got rejected? Why didn’t I know this was going to happen, am I a social idiot? Did they get into a car wreck and die? Do they not care? It is the meaning we assign to the experience of ghosting that has the potential to do the most damage to us long term. To understand more about this, watch my video titled: Meaning, The Self Destruct Button.
When someone ghosts us, we go from feeling like someone cared about us to feeling like they don’t care about us at all. This causes immediate humiliation. It calls into question how ‘real’ the relationship was. It causes us to negatively question and doubt ourselves. We feel disrespected and disposable and therefore, it registers in our being as a rejection and as betrayal. And guess what? Social rejection registers in the body the same as physical pain. Only it is worse, because with physical pain you are not telling yourself self-esteem shattering stories on top of it. When we get rejected, we go to work trying to figure out what is bad or wrong about us or whatever we might have said or did. Deep down, we tend to take the blame for someone ghosting us.
Ghosting also makes you feel totally out of control and dysregulated because if you don’t know what happened, you don’t know how to react or respond. For example, if the truth is that someone ghosted you because someone else triangulated them against you, the reaction and response might be to be really upset and confront both them and the person triangulating. If the truth is that someone in their family died and they suddenly sank into a negative spiral so deep that they couldn’t talk to anyone, the reaction and response might be to be hurt, but to feel empathy for them, not put pressure on them and remind them you’re here for them when and if they need you. Because of the ambiguity, we have no clear social cues to guide our behavior and this makes us feel powerless and out of control and frozen in confusion about how to react. And this is what makes ghosting so hard to resolve. Without any information or explanation or reason given, it becomes very, very hard to emotionally process what happened and the trauma of the emotional abandonment so as to feel resolved and create closure.
So, what should you do if you are ghosted?
Give it one last shot to find the truth, gain info or closure. Roll out the red carpet for people to tell you the truth. Obviously, you should only do this if you are actually dedicated to self-awareness and awareness in general. When someone ghosts you, the highest likelihood is that they are conflict avoidant. Therefore, it can be helpful to roll out the red carpet to make it super safe and super easy for them to tell the truth. You still wont be able to guarantee that they will tell you the truth or even respond. But many people have luck creating closure by directly asking for the truth and promising that there will be no consequences (or strong emotional displays or defensiveness) for the answer. This being said, you can’t promise no consequences and then give consequences. For example, imagine that a person simply stops responding to your chats on a dating site. You could try to send a message like this: “Hey, I feel like all of a sudden you just stopped talking or responding to me. It really means a lot to me to be able to find a person to be with one day and so I could use all the honesty and all the help I can get. I promise I wont get upset or defensive, I just need some honest reflection rather than to keep guessing. Would you be willing to tell me the truth about why you stopped communicating with me?” You’d be surprised how many people will answer honestly if you set up a scenario that they perceive to be safe enough to be honest. While their answer does not justify ghosting (and it is perfectly sane to feel furious at even the idea of having to do this) the feedback you might get has the potential to not only help you to find resolve in the situation at hand, but also to get closer and closer to the truth of yourself and what you are really wanting. And if they don’t respond, don’t reach out to contact them no matter what. Don’t call, don’t text, don’t email them again. Don’t put yourself out there again. Keep your self respect. The rule is: If they want to create repair with you, they have to initiate it and demonstrate to you that this behavior has changed.
Regardless of what the actual reasons are for why a person ghosts you, differentiate between any of their reasons or excuses (which may or may not have to do with you) and their decision to ghost because of it. Many psychologists and self-help experts will tell you that ghosting has nothing to do with you and everything to do with the person ghosting. This can’t actually be the case in a universe based on the law of mirroring. But to generalize, people who ghost do not know how to handle discomfort. The second that even the potential of discomfort arises, they go into avoidance mode. Many people who ghost are intimacy phobic, fear commitment, have huge issues with conflict or are passive aggressively trying to get power. The actual reality of ghosting is that you would gain a lot of self-awareness and awareness in general if the person ghosting you could tell you why they are ghosting you. But any reason for ghosting that the ghoster could possibly attribute to you, or even to themselves, is separate from the issue of ghosting in and of itself. To give you an aggressive example of what I mean, people have reasons to kill people too… But the killing of people as a response in and of itself is still a huge issue whose ownness belongs to the person doing the killing. Ghosting is the same. Ghosting is a dysfunctional relationship pattern. And that’s on them!
The biggest problem with ghosting is… you may never know the actual reason why someone has ghosted you. For this reason, you have to ask yourself, what would I do differently as of today and what would create the most resolve for me if it was a 100% guarantee that I will never know why? The answer to this question is how to take your power back in a situation like this where you are powerless to making someone engage with you.
Know that what someone is saying when they ghost you is this: I don’t have what it takes to have a mature healthy relationship with you. And for those of you who love to turn into rescuers (and therefore feel tempted to ‘heal them’ into a mature, healthy relationship and make excuses for people who ghost), yes all people have the potential to have what it takes, but just because they have the potential, doesn’t mean they will choose to actualize that potential. Free will trumps potential. It is also smart to remember that people who are capable of having and/or want to have a mature, healthy relationship with you, who are committed to you and to the connection with you will find ways to show up in the relationship. You can’t be responsible for 100% of the relationship. You can’t pull someone hard enough to compensate for the ½ of the relationship which they are not taking responsibility for. How they act towards you is an indication of their style of relationship. Therefore, ask yourself: Is this what I want to tell the universe that I say YES to?
Don’t chase ghosts… unless you want your relationships to be marked by the constant fear that something is wrong with you, intermittent reinforcement, avoidance, emotional abandonment and emotional starvation. Also, be aware that some people who ghost, are partial ghosts. And contrary to what you might think, this is even worse than a person who completely ghosts you, because it sets up one of the most abusive relationship dynamics of all time: Intermittent reinforcement. For more information about this, watch my video titled: Why You Can’t Leave the Relationship (Intermittent Reinforcement). Even though being ghosted is painful, consider that you might have dodged a bullet. If someone ghosts you, what they are saying is: I’m not good for you to be in a relationship with anyway. A person who could not be honest with you and take care of the connection, so they simply cut all communication, is not a person who you can build a safe relationship with.
Put conscious energy into dealing with the emotional wound that being ghosted has caused as well as into ways to get the opposite experience. To heal is to experience the opposite. To understand more about this, watch my video titled: What Is Healing?. When you get ghosted, you might run into feelings of rejection and betrayal and abandonment. You might doubt yourself and even your worth. You might hear your mind telling you things like “there’s no way someone would just stop communicating with me if I was a good catch or if I didn’t say or do anything wrong”. People who get ghosted tend to either turn being ghosting against themselves and internalize it or begin to form universal beliefs about all people or all men or all women or all people on dating sites. Be aware that the emotional wounds caused by being ghosted make you vulnerable to telling a story that is simply not correct. And remember, being ghosted is not about your value. If you don’t believe me, watch my video titled: How to Handle Rejection.
Ghosting is a dysfunctional relationship behavior at best, severely emotionally abusive at worst. The fact that it is becoming normalized within society today is a tragedy. But believe it or not, many people who have been ghosted, go on to ghost others! If we want a healthy society and healthy relationships, we need to respect each other enough to refuse to perpetuate this pattern.