I really don’t have to go into any detail about how to know whether you are having a nervous break down because if you’re having a nervous breakdown, you know it. It is very similar to an anxiety attack that doesn’t seem to end. You may feel like you’ve lost touch with reality. Exhaustion consumes you. It is debilitating to the degree that you can’t carry on with day-to-day life, even the smallest task is too difficult. Instead, it feels like you are forced to simply surrender and allow the feelings to take over your body like an emotional version of the flu. The most common causes of nervous break down are past traumas, problems in intimate relationships (such as break ups or divorces), experiencing the death of a loved one, problems relative to occupational pursuits like career or schooling (such as sleep deprivation or a schedule that is too rigorous or inter office conflicts), health problems (such as injuries or chronic illnesses) and financial problems (such as debt or poverty).
Why did I list these common causes? Because it is important to realize that breakdowns happen for a reason! When you’re in the middle of the breakdown, you will be feeling crazy or mentally ill and like you’ve lost your capacity to control yourself, you will feel like the potential reasons for it happening are not big or bad enough to justify the way you feel. And most importantly, you will not feel like it is temporary. You will feel like you have lost it for good.
So what should you do if you’re having a breakdown?
1. A breakdown is like a rip tide. If you fight it, you will only drown quicker and be drug under the water in such a way that you can no longer breathe. So, let it take you. Do not resist a break down. Treat it like an emotional flu… Like a healing crisis. If you had a bad viral illness, you literally couldn’t function. Treat your breakdown the same way. Intentionally let go to the experience. The worst thing you could try to do during a breakdown is try to function. You may fear that if you give into the breakdown and what the breakdown is compelling you to do to cope (like curing up in bed) that it will never end, but the opposite is true. So don’t go get a psychiatric medication prescribed. Try to get help from others with the things that “have to be done”. Of course question whether something has to be done or whether you’re choosing to do it because you’re telling yourself it has to be done. If you haven’t yet, watch my video titled “How to Heal the Emotional Body”. During a breakdown, you may choose to apply the technique presented in that video or give yourself permission to not do any personal work on yourself, but you will notice that the most interesting thing about a nervous breakdown is that during a nervous breakdown, your body is forcing you to involuntarily do the very process I ask you to voluntarily do in the video because it is attempting to self generate a healing. Instinctive healing forces are at work during a breakdown. And remember, these feelings are not trying to hurt you. They are not something happening to you. They are instead like small, completely powerless and frightened children begging for your help. 2. The breakdown is telling you that change must be made to your life. You cannot let your life go back to normal. So don’t think that just surrendering to it for a while and letting it pass and then returning to life as normal is going to cut it. Once you identify the stressor that tipped you over the edge, brainstorm changes you could make to that specific area of your life to reduce the stress level of it. Seek help with it from others. Both trusted friends and/or professionals. A nervous breakdown happens when stressors uncover your deepest fears. So the time is ripe to discover what those fears really are and to address those fears directly when you feel capable. 3. Stop living for the future or for plans. Literally reel it in and live five minutes at a time or an hour at a time. Live for whatever decreases your stress. Live according to the question: What would feel like just a little bit more relief at this moment? Maybe it’s eating a bowl of mashed potatoes, maybe it’s watching a funny move, maybe it’s laying on a blanket in the forest, maybe it’s crawling under the covers. Whatever it is, do it and then when you feel done with that, ask the question again. When you begin to feel more energy and less incapacitated, you will naturally begin to do normal daily life activities again, so contrary to popular belief, this doesn’t have to be forced.
4. If you have a tendency to have chronic nervous breakdowns, you can be sure that there is a chronic stressor that needs attention in your life. Most often this chronic stressor is unhealed trauma left over from childhood. And on this note, I’m going to expose a common pattern amongst those who have chronic breakdowns. That common pattern is un-safety. People who feel chronically unsafe have a diminished capacity to deal with other stressors. It’s a bit like trying to tightrope walk when you are also piggybacking an elephant. The likelihood of collapse is much higher. And on top of that, when we feel unsafe, we tend to use people to feel safe. Many people who chronically experience nervous breakdowns have the subconscious belief that there is going to be a negative consequence to being well or happy. So, if you chronically experience nervous breakdowns, ask yourself this question and think way outside the box to discover potential answers: “Why do you need to be weak or unhappy or in need of rescue? What bad thing will happen if you’re powerful, happy, and healthy with no need for rescue? Put yourself in the position of being happy and powerful and healthy and see if there are any negative feelings associated with that condition. Some of us find that being well means being abandoned by others so only by being unwell, can we guarantee connection or support. Some of us find that by being well, we feel we will be attacked, so by being unwell we send up a white mercy flag that says to others “I’m the underdog, have mercy on me”. Don’t take this to mean that you’re faking nervous breakdowns in order to have people around, rather see that you can’t stop having breakdowns because of the absolutely incapacitating fear you have of abandonment or harm. 5. When we are having a nervous breakdown, something in our life is going really crappy. And we have begun to spiral as a result of that. One exercise you can do that is really beneficial is to look at the situation that is really bad and ask yourself “what has this caused me to know that I want” or “what possibility exists as the exaltation of this circumstance?” And then brainstorm both things you could think and also things you could do to bring you closer to that possibility or thing this situation has caused you to know that you want. Make sure you do this when you have the energy and inspiration to do it. This should never be forced. Forcing something during a breakdown will actually just cause further breakdown. For example, say you’re having a nervous breakdown and you realize that the trigger for that breakdown was that your husband just said that he wanted a divorce. Potentially the circumstance has caused you to know you want to be valued for who you are and to feel like you have value. To get closer to that state, you could perhaps sit down and write a list of valuable attributes that you possess that others might find attractive. You might buy and read a self-esteem book and try out the exercises provided in the book. You might get a makeover. You might sign up to a life transforming workshop or seminar. You might fill your schedule with things that you know cause you to feel more confident, like a hobby you are particularly good at. Or maybe you could get on a plane and go visit a friend who makes you feel valued.
6. Do things that make you feel safe. Safety is a difficult feeling to access when we are feeling unsafe. But if you’re having a nervous breakdown, you are feeling unsafe and need to find ways to feel safer than you currently feel. For this reason, I like to have people make a safety list. A list of all the little and big things that cause you to feel safe, like listening to the sound of a cat purr or the smell of cinnamon or warm towels fresh out of the dryer or the sound of someone’s voice etc. Make this list as long as possible and whenever those feelings of un-safety arise, go pick something off of the list and do it. One of the things that feels the best to people who feel unsafe is the feeling of being cocooned. So allow yourself to be cocooned. Visualizations of being cocooned in light or in a flower bud, or any other type of thing that creates a safe sense of containment are great. Letting yourself hide under the covers is a good thing. Potentially even creating a secret hideout for yourself, regardless of whether or not you are an adult is good too.
7. Do trauma release exercises. If you are having a nervous breakdown, your nervous system is shot. One of my favorite techniques for helping your body to release trauma was designed by David Berceli. It is called the “Trauma Releasing Exercises” or TRE. So look them up and try them.
8. Give your body something to build upon. Go for a walk, even if it is just around the block. During a nervous breakdown, you may lose your appetite entirely. But you need to try to sip and nibble so as to not feed the cycle of your stress hormones wreaking more havoc on your body than they already are. Do NOT indulge in junk foods; this will only exacerbate the problem. Instead, eat tiny bits of healthy foods or protein shakes that require no preparation. And get out into the sun for 20 minutes a day. Just pull a blanket outside to a chair or to the ground and lay out in it. Vitamin D is a mood stabilizer.
The way our society is set up is ripe to cause nervous breakdowns. And the worst part is, it’s not set up to allow for them, the very thing it creates. Many of you might watch this video and say, “Teal obviously doesn’t live in the real world, where things have to be done and so I don’t get to have a nervous breakdown… I wish she’d just tell me how to stop a nervous breakdown so I can get on with life as usual”. But trying to get on with life as normal is why you’re having the nervous breakdown in the first place. We need to create a life for ourselves and eventually a society that allows for things like breakdowns and illnesses. We can’t expect ourselves to function under the stress of most of our lives. The serious reality is that if we do not allow ourselves to have a nervous breakdown if it occurs, our body will find a way to stop us and usually it does this through debilitating chronic illness so my question to you would be, do you want to willingly do it today and make hard changes that guarantee you a life that feels good, or do you want to wait for your body to literally force you to do it unwillingly? Also, I hear the excuse often that “I can’t have a nervous breakdown because of my kids”. The question to ask yourself then is, “what message do I want to be sending to my kids with my actions?” Do I want to be sending them the message that they need to cope with life and do what has to be done, no matter how they feel? Or do I want them to thrive as a result of sculpting a life according to what feels good to them? Children do not need you to be perfectly strong for them all the time, what they need is a secure connection with you. They can handle the reality that people have a hard time and get sick, what they can’t handle is the repercussions of you treating them like they are just one more reason that you have to keep it together. Can you feel the guilt and pain of being saddled with the perspective that you are a burden or one more item of pressure from your parent? The parents, who handle breakdowns the best, reassure their children of their unconditional love and the security of connection while still allowing themselves to have a breakdown.
Letting yourself intentionally melt into the breakdown, is the quickest way through. There is no way to come out the other side the same and time will only ever show an improvement as a result of it. So repeat after me, “It’s ok to not be ok”.
We are born whole, but that wholeness is short lived because we are relationally dependent. Being born relationally dependent into families that socialize us into a society that is not fully evolved yet, spells trouble because it causes us to learn that some aspects of ourselves are acceptable, and others are not. What is acceptable vs. unacceptable depends on the perspective of the family you’re born into. The aspects of us that are seen as unacceptable (both positive and negative) are rejected by our family and the aspects that are seen as acceptable are not. So, being relationally dependent, in the name of survival, we do anything we can to disown and deny and suppress those aspects in ourselves that are disapproved of whilst exaggerating those that are approved of. We dissociate from what we disapprove of. This creates a split within the person that we call the conscious and the subconscious. This self-preservation instinct of dividing ourselves into conscious and subconscious is in fact our first act of self-rejection. Years ago, the revolutionary psychologist Carl Jung (while studying with Freud), observed the fact that there were parts of his patients that they, themselves were aware of and to the contrary, there were parts that they, themselves were unaware of. Consciousness has long been referred to as a light. To become conscious of something is to be able to see it in the same way that we see something that is exposed to light. When something is unconscious, we cannot see it. It is as if we are trying to see it in the dark. And so, Carl Jung began to refer to the unconscious aspects within a person that they, themselves are unaware of or could not see as their ‘shadow’. The human shadow is any aspect of a person that is not exposed to the light of consciousness.
The reason that the human shadow contains mostly negative things is because we tend to reject or deny or suppress or disown the least desirable aspects of our personality. For example, we are more likely to suppress jealousy than to suppress a talent we have. But the most common misconception about the human shadow is that it contains only negative things. In fact, the human shadow often contains disowned or rejected aspects of a person that are truly positive. This is especially true for people who struggle with shame and low self-esteem. I’ll give you an example of how the positive could end up in the human shadow: Let’s say that a little girl is born with a definite sense of self. She is confident and asserts her opinion. Now let’s say she’s born into a family that thinks little girls need to be obedient and sweet and quiet. The aspects of her that are confident and assertive will be rejected by the family. So for the sake of survival in the social group, she will also begin to reject those things in herself. She will deny that aspect of herself in order to get love to the degree that as an adult she will most likely be sweet, quiet and obedient. Her life will be painful because she has exiled part of herself. She is divided. As an adult, she may work with someone to discover what feelings or beliefs or memories are part of her subconscious and discover that she is in fact confident and assertive. When she re-owns that aspect of herself, she will have the confidence to create a life that feels good and assert herself to those around her instead of remain obedient to those around her. Now I’ll give you an example of how the negative ends up part of the human shadow: A child is born into a family where anger is not an ok emotion to express. When the child gets angry, he is shamed for that anger so the child suppresses and denies his anger for the sake of survival within the household. But the anger doesn’t go away. He just consciously denies it. It becomes subconscious. As an adult, he will most likely not have any awareness that he has any anger in him at all. He will not and cannot see himself clearly because he has denied that aspect of himself. So when people tell him that he is angry, he will not relate to that at all. He will probably only relate to himself as easy going. If he works with someone to discover the feelings and beliefs and memories that are part of his subconscious, he may discover that he really is angry and that that anger has been coming out all along in passive aggressive ways and hurting the people around him. If he addresses the anger directly, his passive aggressive behavior will cease to exist and his relationships will become much more enjoyable. When we deny, suppress or disown something, it doesn’t disappear. It just fades from our awareness. This is the reason we do so many things that we feel out of control of and this is why we feel so many things but don’t know why and this is why we do so many things without knowing why we are doing them. To acknowledge whatever we have suppressed or denied or disowned into the subconscious, brings up the same fear of rejection that we were met with the first time around, by our parents and caregivers and so it makes us feel like we are going to be exiled or punished again. It sets off our survival mechanisms and thus, makes us feel like we are quite literally going to die… No wonder self-awareness isn’t so easy to attain. Every human in existence that was ever socialized (which is everyone), went through this process of splitting themselves into parts. Parts that are owned and parts that are disowned. This self-rejection is the birth of self-hate. The emptiness that we feel is the result of those missing rejected or disowned parts of our self. And the soul wants one thing, to make us whole again. We will be provided every single opportunity to become whole again and to make the subconscious conscious. But in order to become whole again, we need to see and accept the aspects of ourselves that we disowned and denied and rejected. This is what shadow work is all about.
Unfortunately, shadow work has become a controversial practice, especially in the positive focus community. For this reason, I urge you to watch my YouTube video titled: Shadow work vs. Positive focus. Shadow work can be painful. Self-awareness does not come naturally to those who make a practice of avoiding pain because to become aware of those aspects, you must stop trying to escape the pain and emptiness within you where those missing parts should be. But it is also the key to a consciously aware and free life. In summation, shadow work is now a term used often in spiritual and psychology circles to describe any process (of which there are thousands) that makes the subconscious conscious. The more aware you are of your shadow, the more embodied you are as a conscious being. And no one ever reached enlightenment without confronting their shadow and exposing it to the light of consciousness. Ultimately, shadow work is bringing attention and love to those things that have been previously rejected. And so, if you ask me, shadow work is in fact the highest form of light work you can do.
A long time ago, I was over at a friend’s house for tea. We were discussing the fact that people tend to have a relationship with Source or God that is distant. A bit like the relationship you might have with a distant authority figure like the president or a king. But deliberate manifestation depends upon having a close relationship with Source or God. I confessed that day that I had a love hate relationship with Source because at times, I felt like the universe was on my side and at times, I felt like the universe was against me. This friend of mine suggested that I start having conversations with Source directly, like a wife would speak to her husband. Basically conversing with Source as if I were in an intimate relationship with Source. The idea of speaking directly to Source felt difficult and forced to me. But I am a writer, so I turned this idea into a practice that I still use to this day. I’m going to share this practice with you today.
At the most ultimate level, the level we call Source or God, all is one. All essentially is God and is indivisible from God. So, the living room table is God, your mother is God, your dog is God, the grass growing outside is God. You are God. Everything is just a different expression of this one energy, which is imbued with consciousness that we call God or Source. What does this mean? It means you can mentally bypass the person or the dog, or the grass or the table or your mother and talk to the God in them. It’s a bit like pretending that the only relationship you do have is with Source and that this being called Source is simply expressing itself to you in all these different ways for the sake of your own awareness and growth. So, for example, if you get in a fight with your mother, you can write directly to God about why God (as your mother) decided to make you feel the way you feel.
To do this exercise, purchase a journal. Then every day, write a letter to Source. You may not have had any real connection to Source or God before and that is ok… you will not be ignored just because you’ve never interacted before. And be prepared to find out how you really feel about Source or God or the universe. Pay attention to how you feel writing these letters. This is your time to let yourself really be known to source and to let yourself be honest and to be heard. Be prepared to express some really strong emotions. What you will find is that we overlay the personality of our authority figures in childhood (usually the one we were the most afraid of) over our idea of God and so we expect the same treatment from the universe as we got from them. This means, if you had authority figures who punished you, prepare to discover that down deep, you feel the universe wants to punish you. Remember that Source can handle any and all of your negative emotions, even hate and revenge and anger. It is not like your parents, it will not punish you for the way you feel and it will not hate you for hating it.
These letters can be positive or negative or both. They should be true to however you feel at the moment. Perhaps you will write source a love letter one day or a praising letter the next or a letter asking for something or a letter to express how much source has hurt you and why. Ask any questions you’ve been dying to know. This exercise is like prayer on steroids. Here are two example letters that my clients were so kind to lend me for this episode:
1. Dear God, When I was standing in line today at the grocery store, you smiled at me as a little boy. It made me remember that I am taking life too seriously and that I need to play again so I made a decision, I decided I’m going to take my son mountain biking this weekend. I need you, as my boss to let me have an extra day off. I’m going to ask you for that day off tomorrow. Please say yes. I don’t want to be put into the position again where I have to choose between making one person mad to make another one happy. Why do you do that to yourself? Put yourself as me, in between two people who want two different things so you, as me have to choose between them? I hate this feeling. It makes me feel like I’m 6 years old again choosing which parent to go with after the divorce. What decision did you want me to make? Why keep putting me in the situation over and over again. I don’t understand it, please help me understand it. Thank you for becoming the sunset tonight. I love when you turn into a sunset. I am proud of myself because ever since I started trying to notice the little things in my life that make me happy, I am seeing things like sunsets again and life feels more livable. I hope that you are proud of me too. I really want you to put more little things to appreciate in my path this week. I’ll be looking for you in them. Thank you for the little things. 2. Dear God, Why do you hate me? Why do you want me to hurt so much? You know what I want. I want safety and belonging and to feel valued, so why did you, as my husband leave me today? Why have you, as my husband been ignoring me, shaming me, punishing me and making me feel like I’m unlovable for months? Why did this have to happen? I do not understand what you want from me. Leaving me is not loving me. Why does it have to be the hard way? Why do you, as people have to find out how to feel love before you get love to feel rich before you get rich. Why can’t you just help yourself out once in a while by becoming a man who will love a woman even if she’s never felt loved before? Why are you so unfair? Sometimes I think you want me to suffer. What do you like about suffering? I’m tired of the idea that suffering leads to enlightenment or happiness, I don’t think it’s worth it. Please stop torturing me. Stop leaving me through all these people. Please stay with me instead. I need your help, please help me?
After you write your letter, just remain open to receiving answers or messages to your letters in the world around you. Some will be subtle; others will not be so subtle. If you don’t recognize any return messages, don’t stop the exercise; simply write letters asking why you aren’t seeing messages, or why Source is ignoring you.
Also, when you have finished each letter, do a little exercise in self-awareness. After you write your letter to Source, mentally exchange “Dear Source” with “Dear Self” and then each time you say “you” referring to source, mentally exchange it with “I”. So a line that read “why are you punishing me?” Is changed to “why am I punishing me?” We do this to see how a great many of the things that cause you to suffer, are in fact things you’re doing to yourself. And also how a great many of the things you credit to God, you are doing for yourself. Once you have done this, exchange “Dear Source” for Dear Mom” or “Dear Dad”(try both to see which parent you overlay with source) and then read the letter over as if you have written it to that parent. This exercise will show you the true origins of your feelings towards God and also what unresolved wounds are still present from childhood. This exercise can release trauma we’ve been holding for years. If you don’t like writing letters, you can speak or think your messages out to God as if you’re talking to the universe directly. If any of you saw the amazing scene in Forest Gump where Lieutenant Dan is screaming at God from the crows nest of the ship and the peace he felt after the interaction, have a picture of how this can go.
After a time, you will begin to feel like you have a connection to source everywhere you go, and a secure one. You will begin to feel source in everything and everyone. It may even turn into your primary attachment relationship. You will feel much less alone and your manifestations will be amplified greatly. You want to work towards a relationship of trust and closeness and connection with the universe itself. It will make life seem livable and safe and abundant. But for some of us, this journey to closeness with the universe will begin with the realization about how disconnected, distrusting and hurt we feel with Source or God. Screaming at God is still a better relationship than no relationship at all. So try it out for yourself.
You have one option when it comes to your needs and that is to meet them. I’m going to repeat what I just said so it sinks in… Your one option when it comes to needs is to meet them. Why is this your one option? Because if you do not meet those needs consciously, you will meet them subconsciously. This is what manipulation is. Manipulation carries a big stigma and makes it sound as if someone is malevolently controlling someone else. In reality, it is highly subconscious and also quite innocent.
MEETING OUR NEEDS SUBCONSCIOUSLY
Manipulation is what we do when we feel we cannot meet out needs directly, so instead we try to meet them in round about ways. We try to influence others to do what we want them to do so our needs are met. For example, a person who needs to feel safe but who cannot ask directly to be protected, may create a situation where they have to be rescued by someone else or paint the false picture that they are in danger so other people will step up and offer their protection. Or, a person who needs help or needs to feel supported, but who cannot ask directly for help or support, may develop an illness that makes it so people have to help or support them. Or a person who needs to feel accepted, but who can’t seek that out directly, will become a chameleon to try to influence people to accept him or her. Every one of us manipulates. The question is to what degree are we conscious of that manipulation?
Some common ways of manipulating people are lying, dropping hints, guilting others, self sacrificing, being passive aggressive or using emotional punishment against them, flattering people insincerely, being a chameleon, being seductive, making false promises, doing favors, making yourself out to be the victim and making threats etc. Keep in mind that we all use what we have, so we will usually manipulate people with whatever is currently working to our advantage. For example, a spiritual medium may use their abilities to “divine” messages for you from God simply to keep you dependent on them and thus guarantee that you will never leave them. Manipulation doesn’t make you a bad person, but dare to take a look at your life and ask yourself, how do I manipulate? In what ways do I ensure that I will get the reaction I want from others instead of just asking for what I want upfront? In what ways do I think I can meet other people’s needs just so that they can meet mine?
Manipulation will always feel out of alignment with your own sense of integrity because if you are manipulating, you are not being authentic. So a good question to ask yourself might be… What things cause me pain or make me feel ashamed of myself that I cannot give up or get over or stop doing? For example, a person might find that even though it causes them pain to cut themselves, they cannot give it up because when they cut, they get people to stop what they are doing and attend to them with concern. Therefore the cutting is a way of meeting their need to be seen and understood. Also, take a look at what was not ok to need or want in your family. We tend to manipulate to get the needs met which we feel are not ok to have, especially emotional needs. And once you find those needs, ask yourself one by one, how do I go about getting this need in my life currently?
BE BRAVE ENOUGH TO BE VULNERABLE
Stopping ourselves from manipulating is difficult for one major reason… it requires us to be brave enough to be vulnerable. We have to be willing to admit to needs that we feel are not ok. Once we become conscious of our manipulation, it no longer feels good to do the manipulative thing that we were doing and we will naturally find ways to replace our way of meeting that need. When we catch ourselves in the act of manipulating, we can ask ourselves, “What is it that I am trying to get by doing this?” And then we can express that need directly or meet that need directly in another way.
Get in touch with what you want and what you need. You’ve got to take the time or take pauses over the course of the day to ask yourself what you really need or really want. If you need help, look on the Internet for a list of needs. Physical, mental and emotional needs. And from those lists, make a list of your individual needs. Then, when you feel negatively, go to the list and identify the need you have and find ways to fulfill that need or express it to others. In my community, sometimes we bring these sheets of needs to someone in the community and ask them to point to the one they need. Another good exercise to do throughout the day is to ask the inner child what it needs. Inner children are better at picking out the need they have from a list than they are at verbally expressing it. With each and every need, you can then brainstorm ways to meet the need yourself and have the need met by others. Involve other people in this brainstorming task if you get stuck. If you are truly clueless about your needs and wants, take a look at what you know that you don’t want. To the other side of those aversions, are preferences. You may have heard of the hungry ghost, which represents greed… the concept that if you begin to give into your needs, they never stop and you just keep wanting more and more. This couldn’t be any further from the truth. Imagine for once that a need that is met is a need that is met and that if you meet a need, you will feel satiated. The truth is greed is not a natural state… because starvation is not a natural state. If one’s needs were met consistently, one would not become concerned with the self-centered desire to hoard resources. Hoarding only occurs in the presence of the fear of scarcity. So not meeting your needs is a great way to become greedy.
No need is too childish… It’s tempting to see needs like being held or like being comforted as childish needs. But these needs often exist because they were not met within us in childhood. If a need isn’t met in childhood, we never actually mature past that point. And it may be tempting to think that if we start to meet the needs of the inner child as an adult, that the inner child will never be satiated. But it will and the result of satiating the inner child’s needs is that the inner child grows up. In other words, if needs were not met in childhood, they must be met FOR us to grow up. And as a side note, they will be met by us in round about ways whether we like it or not, in fact most of the sexual fetishes in the world are actually about unfulfilled childhood needs. I’ll tell you personal story. I was not protected as a child and some time ago, I realized that I needed to feel safe and didn’t especially when I was sleeping at night. So I directly asked one of my housemates to sleep next to me. I found that the next day, I felt much more secure in the world. Now let me ask you a question, would it have been better to deny this need because it was childish? Would that have made me a “better person?”
YOU ARE DEPENDENT ON OTHER PEOPLE
You may think you are needless, want less or anti-dependent. You may think you don’t need anything from anyone. But in this world, you are dependent on other people. You need them and they need you. This doesn’t mean you are powerless. When you are in the space of thinking you don’t need anything from anyone, you are too afraid to be vulnerable and so you don’t ask for what you need and so your subconscious runs the show, getting you what you need in all kinds of round about and highly manipulative ways that you may not even recognize.
The reality is it’s scary to acknowledge your needs to others, after all someone might say NO to your needs. But I want you to think about it this way… If you were honest about your needs from the get go, people who could not meet those needs would gravitate away and people who could meet those needs would gravitate to you and your life would look a lot different than it does currently. And guess what? It makes us happy to meet each other’s needs. And meeting someone’s needs, might just meet your own simultaneously. For example, one of us might feel happy when we are meeting someone’s need for comfort. Meeting their need for comfort may in fact meet our need for connection. On the flip side, another of us might feel like meeting someone’s need for comfort is as pleasurable as getting our teeth pulled, meeting their need for comfort may in fact conflict with our need for autonomous achievement. So we simply need to allow ourselves to line up with and select people whose needs are met by meeting our needs. You might just be surprised… the people around you might just be relieved to know what your needs are and to be able to meet them. A good question to ask yourself is, what needs make me happy to meet?
MULTIPLE RESOURCES TO MEET YOUR NEEDS
And for those of you who are wondering, what if the person you have chosen for a partner doesn’t want to meet your needs, here’s your answer… Ideally, your needs would be met through various people, not just one. Powerless dependence happens most often when one person is your sole resource for your needs getting met. But you have to be very honest with yourself about what needs you specifically want to have met through a partner and which ones you are ok with getting through someone else. This is an individual preference. And if you find that the needs you specifically want to have met by a partner cannot be met through your partner, let yourself find another partner. Honoring a person when they say No to meeting your needs is a very important thing because it means you can put them in the proper place in your life. For example, if one of your needs in a partnership is emotional availability and your partner can’t be emotionally available, you can now choose to take them out of the role of partner and place them in a friendship role in your life or you can choose to alter your expectation of a partner if that is possible or you can choose to be unfulfilled in that partnership. In my opinion, it’s better to not make each other miserable, resenting each other for things you aren’t providing for each other.
To expand upon the idea of needs, I want you to listen to my video on YouTube titled: The Zebra and The Watering Hole. And I also want you watch my video on YouTube titled “dependence vs. independence.”
There is nothing spiritual about denying yourself of things you want and need. Letting yourself have what you want and need does not turn you into a selfish, entitled, or otherwise bad person. Letting yourself have what you need is food for the soul. So my challenge to you this week is to discover your needs, admit to them and then meet those needs directly. Yes, it will require bravery because it will make you feel vulnerable. But it will also place you squarely in your authenticity and it will give you the best shot at feeling nourished that you’ve ever had.
The best way of describing indecision is that you are in a “frozen state” where you are stuck and you feel powerless to get free. The course of our lives is determined by decisions and so the happiness of our lives, depends upon them. We are on this earth for the purpose of expansion and progression and so when we are stuck where we are, especially if where we are is uncomfortable, our soul pulls at us to move forward and expand and the resistance we have to that movement is felt as extreme negative emotion.
First off, it is important for the sake of awareness to be aware that if you have a difficult time making decisions as an adult, you often find that as a child, you experienced one or both of two traumatic “freeze states”. The first is an experience (or many) where you felt like you couldn’t win no matter what you did. The classic damned if you do, damned if you don’t scenario. The second is an experience (or many) where there was a high degree of value placed on right or wrong, success or failure. So you experienced painful consequences as a result of making the choice that your adult caregivers thought was wrong. This created a fear of making the wrong choice.
Let’s just jump right into it… what the hell should you do about you indecision?
1. If we can’t make a decision, it is because we fear the consequences. So ask yourself, “What do I think the consequences are of each potential decision?” In the western world, when we feel stuck because we can’t make a decision because we fear negative consequences on both sides, we call this being stuck between a rock and a hard place. So the question to ask yourself is, “What is the rock and what is the hard place?” What bad thing will happen if I make either decision? What does this consequence mean?
2. When you find what you are afraid of… face it. You will find that your worst-case scenarios deal directly with childhood wounds. Re-visit these wounds. Grant them your unconditional presence. Let’s say your worst-case scenario is abandonment. If you can feel the feeling of abandonment, be with the feeling of abandonment and use the feeling to access the memory of abandonment that is being triggered by the scenario you are currently in. To learn this process, watch my video on YouTube titled: “How to Heal the Emotional Body”. When we integrate these childhood wounds, we will not feel the same way towards what we are afraid of. Potentially, if you chronically struggle to make decisions, you will even be lead to memories where you suffered as a result of making decisions as a child or memories where you are stuck in a lose lose scenario. Also, release resistance to the fear by allowing yourself to go to the worst case scenario and deliberately find thoughts to soothe yourself into feeling better about the worst case scenarios so they don’t preoccupy so much of your focus. The more aware we are of what we are afraid of, the more conscious we are and the less power these fears have over us. Find the beliefs you have about those worst-case scenarios. For example, if I think a consequence of making a decision might be, I’ll lose my whole family, then I ask myself, “Why would that be so bad?” and “What am I really afraid of about this worst case scenario and what it means?” The answer might be, if I lose my family, I’ll be all-alone. This is a belief I can work with. I can question the belief and change the belief. My favorite process for questioning a belief is offered by Byron Katie, it is a process called “The Work”. If you want to change a belief, you can watch my video on YouTube titled ‘How to Change a Belief”.
Remember that the meaning you give something controls how you feel. We have to be willing to alter the meaning of an experience if we want to feel better about it. And how we feel about something controls the decision we will make about something, or whether we will make a decision at all.
3. Once we have done that, we can take a look at each of these worst case scenarios and ask ourselves, “What is this potential consequence making me aware that I want?” Any time we are experiencing negative emotion or fear, we have keen awareness of what is unwanted. To the opposite side of that unwanted experience, we are coming into the awareness of what is really wanted. This is one of the main gifts of indecision. When we are in a space of indecision, we are gaining clear awareness about what it is that we truly want as well as the awareness of who we really are. First and foremost, we are becoming aware that what we want is clarity and to know ourselves and what we want. From there, our job is to focus on what we want. Focus is everything when it comes to decisions. If I focus on the fact that I don’t know, I’m giving more energy to not knowing and so I get more of that in my life. If I focus in an unconscious way on what I don’t want, I get more of that in my life. And so, I must focus on what I want, for the clarity of what decision to make to come into focus. If you’re struggling to figure out what you want, watch my video on YouTube titled “How to Discover What You Want”.
4. If we really can’t make a decision, we need to release resistance to the idea of having to make a decision and instead focus ourselves into alignment. In layman’s terms this means we have to deliberately focus at anything that causes us to feel good. In the universal sense, the minute we know what we want (which can be conscious or subconscious), our higher self already becomes the vibrational equivalent of that thing and we are then pulled towards it as if by a huge magnet. When we are focused on things that cause us to feel bad, we are turned in the opposite direction of it and when we are focused on things that cause us to feel good, we are turned in the direction of it. So if we will focus upon anything that causes us to feel good about any subject, we are allowing ourselves to flow towards what is wanted and then the opportunities and people and circumstances that are a match to what we want, come into manifested reality. It is very easy to then feel clear about the decision we need to make. The decisions made from a space of feeling good, are always the right decisions for you personally. The actions taken from a place of feeling good are always the right actions to take.
When it comes to making an important decision, unless you feel so inspired about taking an action that nothing could keep you from it, you are not ready to take action yet and so the order of the day is to just focus positively and release resistance to the negative that arises until the action you need to take feels undeniable. So, how does this look practically? Let’s say that you have to decide whether to end a relationship or not. But you just can’t decide. It seems like pain either way. You face and release resistance to the potential consequences of both staying in and ending the relationship by revisiting and integrating the wounds that are being triggered from childhood. You soothe yourself into feeling better about the potential consequences and question and change your thoughts about the consequences. You then focus on what this scenario is causing you to know that you want. So let’s pretend that it is causing you to know that you want to know yourself and what you want so clearly that you are confident of what decisions to make. Perhaps it is causing you to know that you want a partner that you are sure you want to be with because the relationship feels supportive and safe and consistent. You visualize what already having those things in your life would look alike or feel like. You think about why you want those things. You deliberately choose thoughts and things to focus on that make you believe it is possible for you. You look for ways you already do have those things you think you lack in your life already. OR if it’s too hard to focus on what you want, you focus on anything general that feels good like gratitude lists, funny movies, exercise, inspirational speeches etc. What you will find is that eventually, with enough alignment, the decision will become clear to you. You may find that when you are in alignment and thus feeling good, you know that the best choice is to end your relationship and instead of it feeling terrifying, it feels right. Then, you might feel the impulse to call your partner and ask to meet up so you can end the relationship. In other words, your inspired action or inspired decision will become clear to you. And it will be the decision that will bring you to the doorstep of what you want. And then, instead of trying to go find the opportunities and circumstances and people who you think will fulfill your desires, they will come to you and all you will have to do is say yes or no to it. But because you are already in alignment, the saying yes or no to the opportunities will be an easy choice or as we say in America, a no brainer. If we are in alignment and feeling good, the decisions we need to make come to us with no effort.
That sums up the way we intended to make decisions in this life before we came into this life and decided that making decisions was terrifying. But here are some more tips that may help you with your indecision.
1. You need to recognize that no decision is in fact a decision. It is a decision to not decide and this takes you out of the driver’s seat of your life completely. When you decide to not make a decision, a decision will be made for you by life and by those around you. You cannot stop the stream of life and you can’t stop time. There is no pause button on life and so, you have to ask yourself, is it serving me to be in the back seat of life and let the universe or other people decide my life for me right now, or does it not serve me? We have to be really honest with ourselves about the answer to that question but keep in mind that sometimes it absolutely is the best decision to just sit in the back seat and let life make the decision for you. Other times, it is absolute self-sabotage to let life make the decision for you. You already intuitively know whether your decision to not decide, is a beneficial practice of allowing or whether it is self-sabotage and the unwillingness to take responsibility for your own life.
2. No matter what decision you make, you can always make a different decision. Knowing this will help you to feel less stuck and trapped by the decisions you make. This universe is a free will universe and so, you retain the freedom to change your mind always. You can change course at any time and go in a radically different direction. You always have the ability to choose again. Choice is in fact the freedom that no one can ever take away from you. And every single decision we make, brings us closer to knowing the right decision for us specifically. Every decision brings us closer to knowing what we really want. This is important because to create the life we want, we first have to know what we want.
3. You can’t get this life wrong. Because every decision you make only brings greater clarity about what you really want, you are only ever moving closer to the life you came here to live. If you make a choice that feels emotionally wrong to you after you make it, all you did is gain more clarity about what you wanted and thus ads more to universal expansion. And the universe has not decided what is right and what is wrong for you. Free will is about your ability to choose and know what is right for you personally and not anyone else. So, you ultimately can’t make a wrong decision.
4. Take a serious look at your addiction to rightness and goodness. Why do you have to be right or good? What are you trying to get out of it? You cannot struggle with making a decision without first having an addiction to rightness and goodness. You need to look at the universal truth that there is no right or wrong because right or wrong is a matter of perspective. Right and wrong is born out of cultural relativism. Don’t believe me? Look at the world today. If you lived in an Eskimo culture, you would believe there is nothing wrong with killing your infant if you could not reasonably support it. If you lived in American culture, you’d believe someone who killed their infant should go to jail for murder. Your definition of right and wrong depends upon the society and family you were raised in. Hope they were right! And if you’re searching for a universal truth that will allow you to know what is right, here it is… there is no such thing as right or wrong. You can only make decisions based off of what feels in alignment for you personally and we may call that a ‘right decision’. Even if you just took any action and made any decision, that would be progression and movement and would give you more information about what is right for you and what you want.
5. The thing that we may hate about indecision is in fact uncertainty. Sometimes, when we feel the need to make a decision so strongly that we begin to resist indecision itself and feel the desperate urge to make a decision, we hold ourselves in a place of indecision. Whatever we resist persists. When this is the case, we have to take an opposite approach to indecision and become ok with it. For this reason, I want you to watch my YouTube video titled “How to Deal with Uncertainty”. I also want you to get outside the box and think of as may reasons as you can think of for why it is ok to not make a decision. The bottom line is, you will eventually make a decision. As your desires become more obvious to you through your life experience, they will gain strength and momentum and so it will simply become more and more uncomfortable to stay where you are until one day, you will know and the decision will be made. So, if you are feeling desperate to make a decision but don’t know what decision to make, repeat after me… I’ll know when I know. 6. Make your life practice, the practice of increasing your self-concept. The more self worth and self-esteem and self-love you have, the easier it is to make decisions that are right for you. You will have the confidence to know your heart and mind and other people’s approval or lack thereof will not factor into the decision making process. You will no longer be obsessed with how you appear. If you struggle with self worth, watch my videos on YouTube titled “How To Overcome Shame” “How To Develop Healthy Boundaries” and “ How Do I Discover Self Worth”.
7. Trust Your Gut. Trust your intuition. Most of the decisions we are faced with, we already know the answer to; we just don’t have the courage or readiness to act according to the answer we already have. Your intuition will not compete for airtime with your ego, which is ruled by fear. So it will often be the stable, solid, subtle knowing that is always there, just below the surface. The more you live according to your intuition, the louder your intuition will become. Your logical mind is ruled by a very limited perspective where as your intuition is ruled by an objective perspective. Analyzing your choices, often paralyzes you instead of helps you to make decisions. And often no matter how much information you have, making a decision does not get any easier. No matter what, your intuition will never lead you in the wrong direction. But know that the eternal soul has no intention to avoid pain. What it is after is expansion. And so, it often leads us to a learning experience that will provide us with the most expansion and growth. Sometimes this will feel amazing. Sometimes, this will feel like pain. But pain is often the greatest teacher and pushes us to become so much more. So ask yourself, “Is my goal to avoid pain, or is my goal to experience the things that I am wanting?” They are very different things. Also, if you struggle with intuition, you struggle with self-trust. For this reason, it is a good idea to watch my video on YouTube titled: “How to Trust Yourself.”
8. Flip a coin. If you simply must make a decision, you can flip a coin to make the decision and one of two things will happen. Either you will end the stalemate and move forward in the direction that the universe has decided for you, or by flipping the coin, you will become aware of which choice you truly wanted to make and then you can make that decision you are now aware you want to make.
After having outlined my suggestions for dealing with indecision, I could not fail to mention that when we think we have to make a decision between two options, it is often because we are inhibited and limited by our own perspective. If you get outside the box, you will find that almost always, there is a third option or more. So, when you feel trapped between two extremes, practice the art of thinking outside the box and looking for this third option. It is often a blend of the best of both options.
Once you make a decision, do everything you can do to find alignment with the decision you have made. As a creator, do not waste any energy doubting or second-guessing the decision you made. Do everything you can do to find ways to feel good about the choice you made and you will experience joy as a result of consciously allowing yourself to flow with the current of your own expansion. And remember, you cannot make a wrong choice.
There are beliefs that are surface beliefs, such as “black people are angry” “kids should clean their rooms”, “I have to keep my job”, “Women are flaky.” Etc. These kinds of thoughts are like branches of a tree. Each one of them is the byproduct of a deeper, core belief. The core belief is like the root of a tree. Core beliefs are the building blocks of the life we are living. They are the source from with everything grows and most importantly, they are the very source of how we see ourselves and how we see the universe we live in. They are both the root of the joy and the root of the suffering in our lives. Some examples of core beliefs are: “I am unlovable”, “I will be hurt if I get close to someone” or “There is no point to life”. Core beliefs can be positive or negative. But for the sake of this episode, I’m going to focus on negative core beliefs because they are the ones that are not working for us. Core beliefs are mostly subconscious. They are the result of impactful childhood experiences and most of them develop over time. And once we develop these beliefs and gather more proof of their accuracy, they become un-flexible. We tend to only notice evidence that supports them and ignore evidence that contradicts them. We think these beliefs so often that they become subconscious. They become a part of the human shadow. Most of the core beliefs we have, we are totally unaware of. This is why core beliefs are a big part of shadow work. To understand more about shadow work, watch my video on YouTube titled: “What is Shadow Work?”
That being said, we can find and become aware of our core beliefs. The first step is that we have to notice the events that are making us upset. If you have become upset, you have been set up by the universe to discover something that is hidden in the subconscious mind… including core beliefs. When we notice this upset, we sit down and begin to repetitively question the upsetting situation with two specific questions, gradually whittling down our thoughts until we arrive at the true source of our upset. The two questions that we ask are:
1) If that is 100% true, why is that so bad? 2) What does that mean to me or mean about me? So lets say that you notice that you become upset because you get home and the house is a total and complete mess. You begin with the most surface thought you can find which in this case would be the judgment:
Thought: “The house is a mess” Questions: If that is 100% true, why is that so bad and/or what does that mean to me or mean about me? Answer: It means I live in a pig sty. Questions: If that is 100% true, why is that so bad and/or what does that mean to me or mean about me? Answer: It means no one respects my house Question: If that is 100% true, why is that so bad and/or what does that mean to me or mean about me? Answer: I’m getting used by people. Question: If that is 100% true, why is that so bad and/or what does that mean to me or mean about me? Answer: No one cares about how I feel. Question: If that is 100% true, why is that so bad and/or what does that mean to me or mean about me? Answer: Its inevitable that I’m going to be hurt by people. Question: If that is 100% true, why is that so bad and/or what does that mean to me or mean about me? Answer: Suffering is the purpose of life. Question: If that is 100% true, why is that so bad and/or what does that mean to me or mean about me? Answer: Life is a punishment. Question: If that is 100% true, why is that so bad and/or what does that mean to me or mean about me? Answer: It means I’m bad. Question: If that is 100% true, why is that so bad and/or what does that mean to me or mean about me? Answer: I’ll be unloved. Question: If that is 100% true, why is that so bad and/or what does that mean to me or mean about me? Answer: I’m all alone.
“I’m all alone” is the core belief in this above scenario. So ironically, the reason that we got upset when we came home and saw that the house was a mess is that it instantly triggered the belief and all the memories associated with that belief that “I am all alone”.
Beware of “cop outs” or “justifications” during the process of finding a core belief. We have the tendency, especially when we are just about to reach the core belief, of veering in the opposite direction of digging deeper and justifying why we are right to think what the thought we just presented. For example, if someone said “Suffering is the purpose of life” and they asked themselves “If that is 100% true, why is that so bad and/or what does that mean to me or mean about me?” The truthful answer might be, “It means Life is a punishment”. A “cop out” answer or a “justification” might be, “Suffering shouldn’t be the purpose of life.” When we are finding core beliefs, we always need to be willing to admit to a belief that is a bit more painful and a bit more painful than the one before, rather than trying to bypass the pain by justifying why a less painful belief is correct. We can apply this process of questioning to any judgment or negative thought that we have. You will be absolutely blown away at the real reason behind why certain things upset you. Often we find multiple beliefs that would benefit by being questioned in one core belief finding process. For example, in the above scenario, the belief “no one cares how I feel” and the belief “I am bad” would benefit by being questioned and changed.
Once we find the core belief or multiple beliefs that are fueling our upset, we can question those beliefs. My favorite process for questioning a belief is a process called “The Work” by Byron Katie. So look up “The Work” and try it out for yourself. The next thing we can do is to change the belief. To find out how to change a belief, watch my video on YouTube titled “How to Change a Belief”. We need to begin consciously challenging these beliefs and looking for proof that they are not true. We also need to use these core beliefs to determine what we would rather believe. So once you find a core belief, ask yourself “What would I rather believe?” And begin looking for proof that this new belief is true. Read and watch and seek out any material that supports this new belief. As you go about your daily life, ask yourself “what would I do right now if I believed this new belief with all my heart? And do those things. With enough focus, you will manifest more proof that the new belief is true and the belief will become stronger and stronger until it has completely replaced the old core belief.
Most of us struggle for years against beliefs that have been deeply rooted in our being. We do everything we can think of to try to resist and fight against the beliefs when all we really need to do is sit down and directly pull these roots up so we can see them clearly and then replace them. It may be a bit time consuming, but look at it this way… you have the choice to struggle against them every day of your busy life or to take an hour or two of your time and focus specifically on doing the work necessary to alter them for good so you no longer have to struggle against them.
Just what is the Emotional Dark Age? It is the age of ignorance relative to emotions. Most people on earth do not understand emotions; they are not terribly conscious of them, they do not know what function they serve, they do not know what to do with them. This is a serious problem considering that emotions are the very basis of every person’s life experience.
There are many awakenings that must occur relative to our understanding of emotions but today; I’m going to trigger a specific one of these awakenings because it is at the very core of our adult dysfunction. I like to call this particular aspect of emotional ignorance, “The Great Epidemic” because it quite literally is. It is an epidemic that is responsible for more chronic unhappiness and suicide than all other causes combined.
Many of you who are reading this article, are aware of emotional abuse. Things like deliberate threatening, shaming, humiliating, exploiting, and isolating to name a few. But there is another form of emotional abuse that goes on between people, which is harder to recognize. And it leaves even deeper scars. It is this form of abuse that is today’s epidemic and it is called ‘Emotional Neglect’. The best way to understand emotional neglect is this: Instead of trauma caused by what IS done, it is trauma caused by what IS NOT done. Keep in mind that the traditional expressions of emotional abuse can go hand in hand with emotional neglect. But a person can still emotionally neglect another person without overtly emotionally abusing them in the traditional sense. Emotional neglect begins in childhood, so childhood is where we shall begin; but not until we examine the life of a person who has suffered emotional neglect in their childhood. One such person who suffered emotional neglect in childhood is Mary. Mary has a very successful job at a law firm. She came from a small little town in Colorado. She was the last of three children. When Mary looks back at her life, she had what anyone would consider to be a good childhood. Her family was financially successful, she never wanted for anything. Her parents (who are still married to this day) never argued. They had low tolerance for negativity of any kind. When any of the children would whine or complain or cry, they were promptly sent to their rooms. So Mary is confused about why she is the way that she is. She is confused about why she goes to bars on the weekends and drinks until she blacks out. She is confused about why she cannot seem to create a successful relationship with a man. She is confused about why she often fantasizes about suicide. You may be confused as well, but lets look at Mary’s life under the lens of emotional neglect.
It is a parent’s responsibility to be attuned to the needs of their child. It is obvious that one should be attuned to a child’s need for food, shelter, water, clothing, cleaning etc. But what about emotional needs? Chances are when I just said “what about emotional needs?”, you just thought to yourself, “what are emotional needs?” If that doesn’t tell you just how deep in the Dark Age we are, I don’t know what does. That being said, we all have emotional needs. And children have emotional needs and when these needs aren’t met, we end up empty. To understand more about emptiness, you can watch my YouTube video titled “Emptiness, How to Stop Feeling Empty” When a parent does not meet their child’s emotional needs, the parent is essentially invalidating the importance of their child in their life. This child does not feel seen, heard or felt. There is no intimacy in the relationship and so this child lacks the knowledge about how to form intimate relationships. When a child is shamed for having emotional needs and wanting to have them met by the parent, the message the child receives is… There is something fundamentally wrong and unlovable about me. This child grows up being completely blind to his or her own emotional needs as well as being very afraid of his or her own emotions.
It is a parent’s job to establish emotional connection with their child, to give the necessary undivided attention to their child, seeing them as a unique, separate individual who has a right to feel the way they feel and to use this emotional connection and attention to respond to the emotional need their child is currently displaying. This can sound like a tall order if you, yourself have never experienced someone being emotionally attentive to you. But it is my promise that you can learn.
Looking now at Mary’s childhood scenario, we can see clearly that though meaning well, for the sake of keeping a peaceful household, Mary’s parents trained their children that if they were thinking or feeling anything negative, they had better keep it to themselves. Negative emotion was bad and not to be tolerated. Every time Mary had these feelings, she would feel ashamed of them. She would isolate herself and not let anyone else see them. She would try to escape them by drinking. And she was so intent on hiding this shameful aspect of herself (believing that if anyone saw this side of her that felt bad, they would abandon her) that she never got past the third date with a man. She was lonely and regardless of whether or not Mary’s parents did actually love her, she did not feel loved as a child. Remember that we can know a parent loves us without feeling that a parent loves us. Long story short, Mary felt isolated from the world. Like she was on the outside looking in and like no one knew her really. And so, she often thought, “What is the point of being alive?” And one day, when Mary was feeling lonely enough, she did commit suicide. And no one saw it coming. It was a shock to everyone, because no one knew how much pain she was really in. Mary’s parents loved Mary and all their children. On the outside, their family life looked perfect and even enviable. They were simply completely unaware of the emotional needs of their children and unwittingly, as a result of not meeting those needs, taught Mary a few lessons that eventually led to her death. Most people who suffered emotional neglect, either keep their suffering entirely to themselves, or go from psychiatrist to psychologist trying desperately to figure out what is so wrong with them. Most are drowning in a sea of self-condemnation because they can’t see what it is that caused them to feel the way they feel. This is because emotional neglect is not what you see. It is what you don’t see. It is the encouragement that didn’t happen. It is the comforting that wasn’t given. It is the loving support that wasn’t offered. It is the loving words that were not said. It is the sense of belonging that was never granted. It is the understanding that was never reached for. Emotional neglect is so hard to recognize because you can’t see what isn’t there and so you can’t remember what isn’t there and until you see what could have been there, you wont even know something was missing. All parents at this point in history will emotionally fail their children at certain times. And the more aware you become of the emotional neglect in your own childhood, the more obvious it will be when you emotionally fail your own child. But it isn’t the occasional failure that corrodes the foundation of a person’s life enough to make their adulthood crumble. It is the chronic failure to meet a child’s emotional needs. And why is this an epidemic? Because it is rampant like a disease and emotional neglect is passed from generation to generation to generation and each generation is completely unaware of it… until someone becomes conscious of it.
If your emotional needs were not met in childhood, you will have a difficult time meeting them as an adult. This is why emotional neglect is a major cause of unhealthy codependency. Now before you let yourself off the hook by saying “I’m not codependent, I’m the most independent person I know, I must not have been emotionally neglected”, let me remind you that independent people often have the most difficult time meeting their needs for closeness with others and intimacy and support.
There are many, many symptoms of emotional neglect. But here is a list of some common things that are likely to occur in adulthood if you have suffered from emotional neglect in childhood: Feeling like you do not belong Feeling chronic shame Feeling an insatiable sense of Emptiness Difficulty asking for help Chronically unhappy relationships or the inability to form lasting relationships You are wither too dependent on others or pride yourself on being completely independent. The feeling that you are a fraud Feeling either like you are safer alone or that you absolutely cannot stand being alone Judging yourself more harshly than you judge others Having a hard time figuring out what you are feeling Feeling like you are on the outside of life looking in Suicidal feelings or thoughts Difficulty calming yourself or self-soothing Feeling a great deal of self blame or self hatred Feeling as if something in you is defective or unlovable… there’s something wrong with me Feeling wither like you are too self disciplined or that you struggle with self-discipline and are lazy. Having difficulty nurturing others or providing adequate affection You feel unhappy for no obvious reason
If you suspect that you were emotionally neglected as a child, I implore you to watch my video on YouTube titled: “Meet Your Needs”. Once you discover what your emotional needs are, it is easier to see how those needs were not met in childhood and this will tip you off to the kind of emotional neglect you suffered in childhood. Learning how to self-care and also how to let others care for you… how to meet your needs and also hoe to let others meet your needs, is a critical part of healing from emotional neglect.
Also, it might be enlightening for you to do a little research on your own time about emotional neglect and about the many different family dynamics and circumstances that are emotionally neglectful. You may just finally be able to connect the dots between what you experienced (or should I say didn’t get to experience) and why you feel the way you feel.
If you have suffered from emotional neglect, you need not despair. With some deliberate focus, you can learn how to emotionally be there for yourself and others and you can learn how to let others be there for you. The first step is diving head first into the art of emotional awareness. Develop your emotional intelligence. Start to become aware of how you feel. Learn as much as you can about emotions, their purpose and what to do with them. If you feel you want some assistance in doing this, seek out a Somatic therapist or a Hakomi therapist in your area. You also may want to watch my YouTube videos titled, “Positively Embrace your Negative Emotions”, “How to Express Emotion” and “How to Heal the Emotional Body”.
Next, you need to learn about emotions and relationships, most especially how to deal with other people’s emotions. If we want to end the epidemic of emotional neglect in our society, we must learn how to treat emotions and how to meet our own emotional needs as well as each other’s emotional needs. For this reason, it’s a good idea to Watch my video on YouTube titled: “Emotional Wake Up Call”. Since emotional neglect affects our ability to be authentic and our ability to be intimate with others, learning how to be authentic and intimate with others is also a key ingredient for healing from emotional neglect. Keep in mind that true intimacy has nothing to do with sex. True intimacy is to see and feel and listen into another person and to be truly seen, felt and heard by them. In this universe, there is only the presence of something and the lack of that very same something. This is the true polarity that exists. So one could say that darkness does not exist, only the lack of light. Lack is the furthest vibration you can get from the vibration of source or what many call god. And so, the most painful thing you can experience in your waking life is in fact lack. More damage can be caused to you by what is not done than can be caused to you by what is done. And so it is with emotional neglect. It is my desire that by becoming aware of this human epidemic, we can collectively shift our focus in the direction of emotional awareness and learn to meet the emotional needs of our children, ourselves and each other. May you live long enough to see what becomes of the world on the day that we succeed in this.
To start, I want you to do away with the idea of constructive criticism. The word criticism has been tainted anyway in the mind of the collective consciousness. And there is no such thing as constructive criticism. Criticism challenges our sense of value. And when our sense of value is threatened, a part of our brain that is cued into social survival is triggered. Criticism can literally feel like a threat to your survival. But we need feedback. Our growth and awareness is dependent on it. So I want you to think of feedback as belonging to two distinct camps. The first is criticism. The second is sharing your individual and honest perspective or experience. Giving criticism is much different than sharing your honest perspective because it is given with little to no regard about whether the person on the other end is receptive. It is often done in a state of reactivity, when we are in a state of defense. The intention behind it has almost nothing to do with the person receiving the criticism, and almost everything to do with the person giving it. Any time we provide feedback with the goal of getting someone to better meet our needs, rather than being responsive to theirs, it’s unlikely to produce our desired outcome and will most likely produce an undesired outcome. For example, a dance teacher might critique a performance of a young dancer with the intention of helping the dancer to excel. In this scenario, the opinion could be said to be more helpful than harmful. If however, the dance teacher critiques a performance of a young dancer with intention of preventing herself from embarrassment and maintaining her own prestige by making the young dancer correct the flaws in her routine, the criticism could be said to be more harmful.
There is a caveat I must insert here. We cannot say that you should absolutely never offer your opinion if you are doing so out of your own self interests or if the opinion was not asked for. For example, if you are someone’s boss in a work environment, you cannot afford to take this approach with regards to your employees. But we should be aware enough that we are acting in our own best interests so that we can make a conscious decision about whether or not sharing our opinion is in fact in alignment with the highest good in the scenario we find ourselves in and if it is, how to deliver the opinion that is in our own best interest and not solicited. Intention is everything when it comes to criticism and sharing our opinion. We have to be aware of why we feel the need to share our opinion. And even if we have good intentions, we still must ask ourselves if despite good intentions, we are harming the other person with our critique. I can help you to understand the key difference between criticism and sharing an honest perspective in this way: The prerogative with negative criticism is to try to push something unwanted away from you, that is why it feels so resistant in nature. In the above scenario, the dance teacher was using criticism as her way of trying to push away the possibility that she could be humiliated by her dancer during a performance, by making her correct her routine. On the other hand, the sharing of a perspective is given in a way that the person giving the critique is not thinking about what he or she wants or does not want as much as she or he is quite literally just sharing an honest perspective or experience that was invited in some way. It has a much more neutral feel to it.
To have a perspective at all, you must judge. To even call a clock a clock is to judge it as a clock and thus restrict its potential energy to that of a clock. We judge. That’s what people do. And judgment, like any tool can be beneficial to you or harmful to you depending on when and how it is used. We all have a perspective about each other. If you have an opinion, you have judged. Good luck trying to not have an opinion. It defies life. It is the flexibility or openness of the opinion that makes the opinion either more painful or less painful. And it is our perspectives and individual preferences that fuel universal expansion. Hearing other people’s honest perspectives can be very beneficial to our growth and to the expansion of the universe. A great many people in the spiritual field try to get rid of all judgment in themselves. I think this is neither beneficial nor possible. Noticing and changing your painful judgments (the ones that seek to push something away from you) as well as developing a flexibility in your perspective however, IS beneficial. What we must first understand is that it is painful to negatively judge and disapprove of something for both the giver of the criticism and the receiver. In giving a negative criticism, we must match the frequency of the criticism that we are giving and so we hold ourselves as well as the receiver in a low vibrational chokehold of sorts. This is what we do when we try t push away anything in a universe based on the law of attraction… we do nothing but vibrationally join the thing we are pushing against. It becomes included in our vibration. This is why many teachers will tell you to just not give any negative criticism and instead adopt the policy that “if you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” But this is neither practical nor useful and it puts a muzzle on a part of you that very much so needs your attention and care. Becoming aware of our own judgments opens the door for growth and sharing our honest opinion or experience, even if that opinion or experience is not positive provides others the opportunity for growth. People, who struggle chronically with being criticized, struggle with self esteem and self love. The universe mirrors to them their own negative self-appraisal. For this reason, if you struggle with being criticized, watch my video on YouTube Titled “How to Develop Self Worth” also, you could read the book I wrote titled” Shadows Before Dawn, finding the light of self love through your darkest times”.
People who chronically criticize (yes, we know who we are, let’s just admit to it) struggle with chronic fear. We are only critical of something when we are afraid we will be affected by something. Criticism is a cry for help in disguise. It is a cry for help that says the following… “I feel powerless to others and so I can’t trust myself to make myself feel good and especially to feel emotionally safe and so I need you to correct this thing that is going to cause me pain so I don’t have to feel bad.”
What we need to learn to ask ourselves if we have the tendency to criticize is: What am I so afraid of? And What do I want to have happen as a result of this criticism? We would not give criticism if we did not have something we were afraid of and something in mind for what we would prefer. We need to learn to ask for these things directly instead of manipulate others by criticizing them. For this reason, it is a good idea to watch my video on YouTube titled “Meet your needs”. Also, many of us who criticize, have a very hard time being honest with ourselves and are instead prone to denial of our true motives and justification. For this reason, we would do well to take our judgments or negative appraisals of others and find the core beliefs that are below them. For this reason, watch my YouTube video titled: “How to Find a Core Belief.”
When we have the tendency to criticize because we are trying to get a need met, we mask our criticism under the guise of help. We then get angry when our criticism isn’t received well. The idea of constructive criticism has allowed us to do this for years. For example, we might have a need to feel good about ourselves and so we get that need in a round about way by using criticism to de-value someone and then we call it helpful, when all it was, was us trying to get what we needed by delivering the criticism. Another example is that a mother could criticize her daughter for being fat, not realizing that what she is hoping is that her daughter will start exercising and lose weight so she can feel good about herself as a mother. She could say this is constructive criticism because it is for her daughter’s own good, when it is really just her trying to get her need for approval from others met. So beware the excuse and mask of constrictive criticism. Once you perceive a green light to deliver your honest perspective and you know it is not coming from the place of wishing to defend yourself and your own interests, how you do so is important. The more the person you are criticizing feels compelled to defend their value, the less capable they are of absorbing what they are hearing. Many people, whose perspectives are not well received, find themselves in that position because they deliver their opinion without establishing any rapport. What I mean by this is, there’s no suggestion of caring for the other person or of empathy and compassion. It is too blunt or too harsh. Empathy can easily be demonstrated by softening the delivery of a perspective. For example, you could say “you’re doing it all wrong” or you could say, “You may want to consider changing your approach”. Another example is you could say “You lost track of all the numbers I needed on this sheet” or you could say, “I noticed there are some numbers missing, can you tell me why?” Softening your delivery does wonders for being received well. And it is still honest. It is simply honesty backed by caring compassion for how another person feels. And let’s face it; we want other people to care about us when they deliver us a perspective that is unfavorable. So we should quite literally be addressing them like we would wish to be addressed. Keeping in mind that some people are more sensitive than others.
You’ve all heard of the technique of organizing statements like criticisms into “I statements” before delivering messages to people. So the statement “You are lazy” should be turned to “ I feel like you’re being lazy.” You’ve heard of it because it works. Instead of blaming and shaming and labeling, it forces us to own our perspective and take responsibility for our perspectives and most especially own how we feel, which minimizes other peoples defenses. Another good tool to use is to relate to someone as you’re delivering a negative opinion about their behavior or creation. This builds rapport. If you are making them aware of a mistake they have made, you may wish to share a story of you having made a similar mistake in the past. Another technique you can use is to place two compliments on either side of a negative appraisal. In social skills, they call this sandwiching. And try to end the conversation on a positive note so the other person feels a sense of the critique adding to their life instead of taking away from it. Yet another good thing to do is to try out your criticism on yourself. Close your eyes and pretend for a moment that you are standing in front of someone whose opinion mattered to you and whose opinion would make a real impact on you when given. How would you wish them to word this very same opinion if it was their opinion so it did not hurt you and instead conveyed care for you? Then word it like that to the other person instead. Pay attention to internal criticism. People, who harshly criticize others, are like terrorists to themselves. So listen to the little voice within you, the one that is always feeding you an endless commentary about you and your life. Is it harsh and critical and unforgiving? If so, becoming aware of the pain that internal critique causes you and consciously offering love and compassion to that critical inner voice (that is in truth a very frightened aspect of you) and altering your internal commentary to be softer and more loving will cause you to become softer and more caring with others. Learn to recognize receptivity and invite. Sometimes it’s easy because the circumstance you entered into, you entered into with the understanding that you would be either giving or receiving critique. But when this isn’t the case, choose the right time and place and be aware that there are many subtle social cues (besides just being told flat our that they want your opinion) that can tip you off to the fact that a person actually wants your honest opinion. Beware though that a person can be fishing for approval instead of wanting an honest appraisal. But when in doubt, ASK them if they want to hear your perspective and honor the answer that they give. Chances are that if the other person hasn’t demonstrated a receptivity or invitation of your perspective, you are wanting to provide it because of your own interests and not theirs.
Before you share your negative opinion, remember this cardinal rule: Seek to understand rather than to make a statement. If we’ve already determined the other person is wrong, we have closed the door on them energetically. The mistake we make is to assume that we’re right about whatever opinion we’re inclined to say. We cannot find a meeting of minds and we cannot establish connection with someone if we are rigid in our viewpoint to the degree that we are unwilling to understand theirs. Our truths and perspectives are an interpretation, as all perspective are. Offer your opinion as the beginning of the journey of discussion instead of the end. Adopt an attitude of curiosity instead of certainty. Also, a great many criticisms that are given, are dripping with projection. For this reason, I encourage you to watch my video on YouTube titled: “Projection, (understanding the psychology of projecting)”. Sharing a perspective can be the thing that imprisons someone, or the thing that sets them free. It can also be the thing that imprisons us or sets us free. And it is not an exact science. Remain open enough to questioning yourself about whether or not it is in alignment with the highest good. And beware that the reactivity that spirals us into criticism, is always a byproduct of trauma we have suffered. It is indicative of the ways that we have been hurt. If we tend to that hurt, we will be less reactive and so we will become less critical. Our opinions will be wanted by others and received well by others.
A very, very long time ago, man became consciously aware of thought. Man noticed that there were two perspectives inherent within him/her. There was the direct experiencing of the world and there was the observation of the experiencing. Mankind began to call the direct experiencer the body or ego and the observer of the experience the soul or consciousness. And just like that, spiritual practice was born. The body will die, but the soul lives on. In the most ancient spiritual traditions all around the globe, one of the very first spiritual practices was the practice of becoming aware of the observer (the souls’ perspective). In fact, you’d be hard pressed to find one spiritual tradition that does not include some form of spiritual practice that involves becoming aware of the observer self. That is because it works. It has worked for centuries and it still works today. In order to understand what I mean by the ‘observer self’, consider that when you have an experience; say you’re in the middle of a disagreement with someone, you can be completely in the experience where you are fully immersed in the feelings of anger and the thoughts about the experience (thoughts like “you’re such an idiot”) are very real. But you could conversely be observing the argument and your reactions to the argument. When you do this, instead of being fully immersed in 1st person perspective in the argument and being the anger or the thoughts, you could simply watch them as if from 3rd person perspective. When you do this, you are not fully immersed in the experience. You are watching yourself being immersed in the experience instead. This is a practice in detachment. Detachment from what is occurring (which is different than escapism), can allow us to remain fully conscious so that we may chose to respond instead of react to situations that occur. It also helps allows us to transcend the limited perspective of the direct experience so that we are more objective instead of subjective relative to our life experiences. I will tell you that when people seek to spend all their time in this objective perspective, it is not a sign of enlightenment. It is because they have resistance to the subjective experience. They are afraid to fully feel. But that being said, it is a very important skill to develop, because people, who spend all their time in the subjective perspective, do not have awareness of themselves from an objective point of view. They are cut off from the conscious awareness of their own consciousness and divinity. So in my opinion, we should develop both skills so that we can choose which perspective to take on. Seeing as how most people are already adept at the 1st person perspective of the subjective way of living, the thing that must be practiced is the third person, objective way of living. They must learn to become the observer. The best way to do this is to add a mindfulness meditation to your repertoire. To do this meditation, find a comfortable space and watch your breath. You want to go into meditation the same way each time if you can. This becomes a positive trigger for your mind to focus down to business. If you were to use the observation of your breath every time for example, your mind will form an association between watching the breath and meditation and so it will slow itself and change it’s frequency quickly like a conditioned response. After a time, I want you to focus and become awake to the present moment by beginning to simply observe your external reality and begin to label things as you observe them. For example, if I hear the highway in the distance, I might internally say to myself “Hearing the highway”. If I smell grass, I might say “Smelling grass”. If I feel a pain in my arm, I might say “Feeling pain in the arm”. My objective is just to notice.
Then, I turn my concentration to my own thoughts. My objective is simply to watch my thoughts, to become aware of them. I do not need to change them. I am not judging them as good or bad. I am simply noticing them and labeling them. For example, if I notice myself thinking, “This is stupid” I might say, “Thinking a negative thought”. If I notice myself thinking, “This feels so good “ I might say “Thinking a Positive thought”. Or I can label what kind of thinking it is that I am observing. For example, if I notice myself think, “He’s such an idiot” I might say, “Judgment” or “Blaming”. I want to remain dis-identified with the thoughts themselves and simply watch them pop up and name them for what they are. Doing this affirms the idea that “I see you” to our Ego self. Then, after a time, switch your concentration to your internal world. Again, simply observe this internal reality and being to label things as you observe them. I can pay attention to sensations for example “burning in the solar plexus” or “tingling in the fingers” or “tightness in the forehead”. I may also notice emotions. I can label these as well. For example I can say “anger” or “despair” or “joy”.
If you watch your mind wander during this exercise, that is ok, you can observe that too. Just say, “mind wandering” and bring your attention back to what you were focused on before. You can maintain this exercise for as long as you want. And when you are ready, you can bring your attention back to the breath and observe the in breath and out breath for a time until you are ready to come back to subjective reality. Even though you can maintain this mindfulness practice for as long as you want, I suggest beginning with ten minutes and then, when you are comfortable with that amount of mindfulness; you can extend the time for as long as you want. It is hard for a mind that is not practiced at mindfulness meditation to remain focused for longer than ten minutes to begin with. The aim is to no longer be identified with the things you’re experiencing, the thoughts you are thinking, or the emotions you are feeling for a time. You’re just observing them and letting them be there. You want to experience the relief of being outside your subjective experience instead of immersed in it. In the future, your mindfulness practice can take place in silence. By silence I mean no talking inside with the mind and no talking outside with the mouth…. No commentary, just observing in a state of non-judgment; just noticing everything that is occurring or being perceived in your now.
What you will notice is that just like working a muscle, you will begin to become more objective in your every day perspective. Your level of mindfulness will increase. Your ability to observe will be honed, like a skill that you can use any time you wish. It will start to be easy to be mindful not just in meditation but even in your day-to-day life. It is particularly helpful when you are in the midst of a conflict to be able to become mindful enough to be objective about whatever you are experiencing. It allows you to be conscious about the choices you are making and the ways you are responding to your life, to yourself and to others. By becoming mindful, you ensure that you are not just sleep walking through like, you are awake to life. You can see life through the eyes of your ego and also through the eyes of your eternal self.
We spend our lives trying to keep everyone happy, trying to be nice, trying to conform and fit in, trying to pacify everyone and trying not to rock the boat. The result is, we are secretly deeply unhappy. We spend our lives trying to avoid what we don’t want to have happen, instead of living according to our own sense of what we do want and the individual values we do hold. We lose our integrity in the name of trying to keep other people happy. The result of losing integrity is that our self worth plummets. We can’t live out of alignment with our own personal sense of integrity and feel good about ourselves at the same time. To not feel good about ourselves is a problem when we have to live inside our own skin everyday.
How does this fear of conflict begin? Like everything… It begins in our earliest years on the planet. In the ideal family, each member of the family is loved and accepted for who he or she uniquely is. To use a metaphor, the family is regarded like an Indian curry dish. Each unique flavor that goes into the dish is thought to enhance the dish. So the coriander does not want to convince the pepper to become coriander and the ginger does not want to convince the cumin to become ginger because it is the differences between the flavors that when combined, makes for the beauty of the dish. In this kind of household, differences are acceptable. In many families however, especially in families where parents seek to be validated through their children, difference is not acceptable. When a child in this kind of home tries to express his or her differences, they are shamed, criticized, withdrawn from or likewise punished. They are met with disapproval instead of acceptance and thus the child stands to lose love as a result of being different. These families usually revolve around one dominant or even narcissistic adult, an adult who makes his or her happiness or lack thereof the direct responsibility of everyone else. If this kind of family was an Indian curry dish, the most dominant flavor in the dish, say ginger, would be trying to turn every other flavor into ginger and there would be consequences to not becoming ginger. Consequences like shaming and even getting kicked out of the dish completely. So if we grew up in this kind of household we develop a fear of opposition of any kind. We have learned there are serious consequences for non-conformity. We experience a traumatic reaction any time there is conflict of any kind.
In relationships, if we have a conflict, this is considered a rupture in the relationship. And when we find a way to come back together and heal the rupture after it happens, that is called repair. Ruptures are inevitable in relationships. There are going to be those times in any relationship when we just don’t see eye to eye or we mistakenly say something that upsets the other person. What really matters in relationships is not our ability to avoid rupture, it is our ability to create repair once rupture has happened. This is what gives us a sense of relationship security. If we fear conflict, we have had limited experience with relationship repair. Most often what we see is that one parent in our childhood or both, were unconcerned with creating repair in the relationship. When a rupture occurred, they did not seek to solve it with us. Love was a power struggle and so they expected us to be the ones to yield and create the repair we so desperately needed by conforming to something they were wanting from us. So we had no relationship security. We spend our lives trying to avoid the rupture in all of our relationships because we feel no security that if there is rupture, there will be repair. The security of the relationship and therefore our emotional safety was entirely at the mercy of our ability to never upset this parent. In adulthood, we panic whenever a conflict arises because we’re convinced there will be no repair to the relationship. So we begin to scurry around doing anything we can to pacify all parties involved. We think we are doing this for their benefit, when in fact; we are just doing this so we can guarantee our own emotional safety, inner peace and security.
If we are truly afraid of conflict, we will avoid 2 types of situations…
1. Conflict that involves people being upset at us specifically. This is scary because of the consequences we think are going to come as a result of it. Things like permanently losing connection, feeling bad about ourselves, losing love, or being emotionally or physically punished. Most of us who fear conflict are afraid that if someone disagrees with us, especially if they challenge us, it means they don’t like, love or approve of us. And since we are a social species that registers as a threat to our survival. 2. Conflict that doesn’t directly involve you but is between other people. This is scary because we feel we are being forced to side. And by doing so, put ourselves at risk of someone being upset at us specifically and thus experiencing the consequences we are afraid of if someone is upset with us specifically. This makes us feel emotionally unsafe whenever people are upset. And we cope by trying to avoid or escape the situation.
Conflict is inevitable in life. We are all living our lives through individual perspectives and so we experience differences in opinions, experiences, preferences and ways to deal with situations. So, what we find is that we cannot avoid conflict and in fact whenever we try to avoid it, we end up deeper in it. We attract people into our lives who seem to stir up conflict. This is of course the universe’s way trying to get us to face and heal our issue with conflict so we can live a more fulfilling life. But when we are tiptoeing around in life, trying to avoid conflict and can’t, we set ourselves up for failure. We cannot live a life of authenticity and integrity and we cannot experience relationships that are healthy. We lose all self-respect. We also lose the respect of others. We are ironically hurting ourselves for the sake of trying to stay emotionally safe. Also, a little known fact is that we are hurting other people by avoiding conflict. There are so many ways that we hurt other people by avoiding conflict, but I’m going to list just a few of the ways for you here. First, we are setting them up to be unhappy with us by misrepresenting ourselves. If our prerogative is to express who we genuinely are and what we genuinely think instead of to tell people what they want to hear, we will end up surrounded by the people who love us for who we are and who are happy being around us. If however, our prerogative is to tell people what they want to hear, we run the risk of people who love a façade and when we can’t keep up the façade, we will have deceived them potentially into being in relationships they would not have gotten into if they would have known our true preferences and opinions and feelings. When we avoid conflict, we avoid being real in relationships and so real love is not possible. We also fall prey to being very passive aggressive and there is hardly anything worse for people that to be with someone who is passive aggressive. Also, when we avoid conflict, we often make people feel abandoned. We leave them to deal with problems alone. We are like the person who runs the minute that war is declared, leaving them on the battlefield alone. We cannot remain present with the people in our lives. This is hardly loving behavior. There is also a little known pattern that we fall into with the people we love if we are afraid of conflict. It is the classic story of the ‘turn coat’. We sacrifice the people we love for the sake of avoiding conflict. Here’s how it goes… If we have someone in our life that we have been with long enough to experience a lot of rupture and repair, we now have a sense of emotional security with them. We know we run less of a risk of losing our connection with them. So, if that person in our life gets into a conflict with someone else, we will side with the opposition and throw our loved one under the bus so to speak because the opposition is the one we cannot guarantee that we are emotionally safe from yet. Yikes!! Our loved one that we do have emotional security with becomes a pawn we use to avoid consequences from others we don’t have emotional security with.
So, now that you understand what creates a fear of conflict, what are you supposed to do about it?
1. If you fear conflict, you have got to make a serious practice of developing healthy boundaries. Your boundaries are too weak. For this reason, I want you to watch my video titled: “How To Develop Healthy Boundaries”.
2. You’ve got to see that you are going to be emotionally uncomfortable no matter if you face the conflict or avoid it. This enables us to make the decision that is the most self-loving. There are serious costs to avoiding conflict that we are not making ourselves aware of yet. We need to see that by avoiding conflict we may be temporarily escaping the discomfort of being opposed to someone we want to be in coherence with and we will avoid our fears. But if we avoid the conflict, we will most likely end up in a situation that feels less than desired by us. We will spend our time complaining, feeling resentful, ruminating on what happened, and feeling bad about ourselves because we have abandoned ourselves or others and thus are aware that we are not living authentically and with integrity. So the question to ask ourselves is… “If there is going to be discomfort either way, is avoiding the conflict worth it?” 3. You need to begin to see conflict as an opportunity instead of as a disaster. Conflict is an opportunity to become clear about yourself and your values and beliefs and desires. Conflict is the perfect breeding ground for authenticity. Every time a conflict arises, we can see it as an alarm bell that tells us… Here is an opportunity to really know yourself. Contrast (which is really all conflict is) is the only way that we can gain clarity about anything. Without the comparative experience, we would have no understanding at all. Opposition or polarity enables us to gain understanding. When conflict arises, you need to use those conflicts to ask yourself… What do I really believe? What do I really want? Why did I really do this thing or say this thing? What do I really think in this situation? And beyond the understanding, it is also an opportunity to take action to line up with your integrity and by doing so, to give yourself the message “I am going to stand by my own personal truth”. Get ready for a boost of self-confidence and self-esteem because doing this greatly deepens and improves the relationship you have with yourself. It will lead to self-trust. On that note, because self-trust is such a struggle for those of us who have a fear of conflict, I want you to watch my YouTube video titled: “How To Trust Yourself”.
4. When you experience conflict, use the immediate fear or resistance you feel in your body as an alarm bell to alert you that you have been triggered. And now, you need to really become aware of what it is exactly that you are afraid of. The most obvious thing to ask yourself about fear of conflict in general is: “What would be so bad about upsetting someone?” You also need to become aware of what it is you are afraid of in the specific conflict and directly express that fear instead of running away from the conflict. For example, if someone tells you that you have to come with them to something you don’t want to go to and you are feeling the fear come up and are tempted to say yes just to avoid the conflict, ask to have a minute to decide. Then, use that minute to decide what you are afraid of about saying No. You might discover that the fear you feel is that if you say no, they will become disappointed and withdraw from you so you lose the connection. Then challenge yourself to express that truth directly. Like this: “I really don’t want to go, but I’m afraid that if I don’t go, you will be disappointed and withdraw from me.” This is an authentic expression so you are in a space of integrity and if the friend is worth having, they will respond to that honesty with something that will reassure you of the connection. They will not require you to abandon yourself for the sake of the relationship. The more reassured you are that the conflict will not lead to permanent rupture, the easier it will be to dive right in when conflict arises. And yes, I’m asking you to be brave enough to be vulnerable like that. 5. Develop empathy for people. We need to deliberately look for the vulnerabilities and fears of other people and see their pain in order for us to not take peoples reactions personally. If we avoid conflict, we tend to take everything personally. So when conflict arises, ask yourself, “How is this person hurting?” And meditate on that long enough to see below the surface of the conflict that is arising. 6. To get in touch with what is active in your subconscious mind, you can do a practice when you feel the fear of conflict arise, where you write a letter from your child self to your adult self. But the hand you dominantly write with is wired to your adult conscious mind. So you must use the hand you do not write with. Invite your inner child to arise within you and to hold the pen and to say what he or she needs to say. If you want, you can ask your inner child questions and the inner child can answer them. For example, if I ask “Why are you feeling so scared right now”? The inner child might say, “Because if they are mad at me, I will be put in my room all alone”. Becoming conscious of these suppressed fears can really enable us to be willing to consciously face conflict and see that we are being ruled by childhood fears that are irrational in our adulthood.
7. The avoidance of conflict is all about feeling emotionally unsafe. Instead of running around manipulating other people into be happy so you can feel emotionally safe; be brave enough to take the direct route to emotional safety. Repeat after me: It’s ok to want to be emotionally safe. So ask yourself “What would make me feel emotionally safe.” Survey your life and think of all the things that make you feel emotionally safe. Maybe it’s the reassurance that you’re not going to lose someone if you voice your opinion. Maybe it’s a comfort item you have around the house. Maybe it is being touched by someone. The point is that sometimes the very thing we need in order to be able to face conflict instead of to avoid it, is to ask ourselves or to have someone else ask us “What do I need in order to feel emotionally safe enough to face this conflict instead of avoid it? And repeat after me: I am not emotionally safe with myself if I keep sacrificing myself and compromising myself to keep other people feeling happy and pacified.
8. Get in touch with your feelings. If you struggle with conflict, you are not in touch with your emotions and honestly have not learned how to deal with emotions when they arise. This is especially true relative to conflict because your emotions were not dealt with adequately by the adults in your childhood experience. You do not yet understand that conflict does not have to be the frightening, destructive, explosive or aggressive situation you are picturing in your head. Your early social training was not supportive, it was punitive. For this reason, when you become emotional, you have no idea what to do with it and when other people become emotional, you have no idea what to do with it. In order to learn what to do with your own emotions and what to do with the emotions of others, I want you to watch two of my YouTube videos. 1. How To Heal The Emotional Body. 2. Emotional Wakeup Call. 9. Develop your communication skills. The easiest way to resolve conflict and to become confident about conflict is to become confident about your ability to communicate with others. Perhaps in the future I will do an episode on how to communicate. But until then, a simple tip is to ask as many questions as you can. Questions often result in quick resolution. Questions imply openness and so they do not inspire defense. Especially focus on questions that narrow down expectations. Many conflicts arise as a result of unmet expectations, differing needs or needs that were not met. If we can identify the needs that we have that were not met, we instantly have the opportunity to find resolution; we just have to figure out how to best meet those unmet needs. Now is the time to end the cycle of sabotaging yourself and others by spending your life in avoidance mode. When it comes to conflicts, time will not make it better. Sleeping on it will not make it better. Conflicts will not go away; in fact they will only fester. The more you face conflict, the less afraid you will feel of it. You will experience the good that comes as a result of it. You will experience relationship repair. Also, the better you will feel about yourself and the better your relationships will be because you will be learning how to be completely present with yourself and with others. By becoming comfortable with conflict, you will finally be able to stand by your own personal truth squarely enough that your life will reflect your authentic self and your life experience will become one that you really want to show up for every day. And it is more than possible, it is in fact how it is supposed to be, that instead of causing us to lose our connection with others, conflict can cause our connection with others to deepen and become even more secure.
Now if you’re one of these people who trusts that the universe or God has your best interests at heart and is always taking you in the direction of your highest good, then mentally give yourself a gold star. That there is just one less thing you have to worry about and you can consider yourself very lucky in the beliefs department. But if some of us are honest with ourselves, we do not feel this way at all. We feel like the universe is against us. Our lives feel like a very scary dance whereby we feel the odds are stacked against us and that it pleases the universe to watch us suffer. Every positive thing that comes into our lives is viewed as a cruel trick that will turn into a source of suffering. Our futures seem harrowing and bleak.
The best way to describe this highly subconscious mentality is that we are in a deadly chess game against the universe at large. We try to outmaneuver, overpower, placate, please and bargain with the universe, because the universe is not our ally. It is our adversary. And we end up tormented because we are playing against something much bigger than ourselves. Where there literally is no way to win. If this is our reality, we have a terrible relationship with the universe we live in. Yet it’s a relationship we can’t escape. Life is terrorizing. Think of a fish that lives in water, but is convinced the water is trying to torture it. We start to believe that life is about suffering. We look around our world at all the suffering that is going on and then that suffering becomes more proof of it.
This belief pattern begins in the earliest experiences we have in life. Its roots are deeply entrenched in trauma. Some children are “lucky”. The conditions of their gestation and birth and upbringing are nurturing. For some of us however, this is simply not the case. Some of us came to mothers who themselves felt the universe was against them and began to adopt this frequency while in the womb. Some of us had traumatic birth experiences. Some of us had parents who were less than nurturing. The result is that we believe that we are powerless to powers that be; powers that did not have our best interest at heart. Life itself began to feel inhospitable. Even though the experiences vary that create this pattern of mentality in our subconscious minds, the most common trauma I see creating this thought pattern is a pattern that begins with either one or both of our parents. Parents are supposed to be advocates. They are supposed to be on our sides. But if we have this pattern of not trusting God and thinking the universe is against us, it usually means that we felt like one (or both) of our parents was against us. They were an adversary. Many times, this parent acted as an adversary unintentionally and even thought they were being an advocate to us by being adversarial. So it is not usually a sinister dynamic. But nonetheless, it imbued us with the idea that this parent did not have our best interest at heart and in fact we had to try to feel good in spite of them.
When we are young, our parents are something that is much bigger, wiser, stronger and capable than us. They meet our needs. In essence, our parents are our Gods. And then we grow up. Since we now live at adult capacity, our God usually becomes more like the God that is recognized by mainstream religion or spirituality. An omnipotent consciousness. Because this omnipotent consciousness is larger than us and wiser than us and stronger than us and more capable than us, we view it as an authority figure. And so our subconscious mind searches through its rolodex for its current definition and expectation of authority figure and it then superimposes that definition and expectation over the top of the new concept we have of God. This is the point at which you had better hope your parents felt like advocates instead of adversaries. Because if your first authority figures felt like adversaries, God will feel like an adversary to you as well. Everything will be viewed through the lens of how the universe is against you instead of for you.
Make a list of the things you disliked and liked the most about each of your parents individually. Then look at those lists and see how this is the expectation you have of God. If you had a confusing mother, you’re apt to be confused by God. If you were punished by your father, you will most likely expect punishment from the universe and so on and so forth. You will find that you usually project the parent that had the most authority in the household over your concept of God the most.
Now this issue of distrusting the universe is only compounded if you suffer further trauma and disappointment and pain in your life. With each hardship, this belief digs in deeper and deeper. This is compounded further if you are raised in a religion whose idea of god mirrors that of a punitive parent whom you have to please or else there is a consequence. And one day, it doesn’t matter if some missionaries show up on your doorstep and tell you “God loves you”. It doesn’t matter what spiritual teacher professes to you the benevolence of the universe. You may want to believe it, but you don’t. And there is one glaring mystery that is left ricocheting around in your mind, nagging you incessantly… “If God is benevolent and loves me and is on my side, then why did those things happen to me? Why would an omnipotent god let me suffer like that or like this?” We can take this further and apply it to things we are witnessing in the world. If God is omnipotent and loves us, why does God let children be abused, women be raped, men get blown to bits in wars, natural disasters happen, animals get slaughtered etc.
Rather than wander off into the land of hypothetical answers that spiritual people usually give to answers like this, it is best to simply work towards developing a better one on one relationship with God or the universe or whatever you want to call this omnipotent consciousness. I don’t want to sit here trying to convince you that God is on your side, it’s obnoxious to hear and you have mountains of proof to the contrary. So… instead, I want you to consider and attempt the following:
1. I want you to get out a piece of paper and write down all the proof you can think of for God or the universe being against you. And with each item of proof, I want you to “shoot holes in the evidence”. This means, think of ways that each item of proof is not actually good proof that the universe is against you. Involve other people in this process if you just can’t see how to shoot holes in the evidence. If you feel that the universe is against you, you feel like a victim to circumstances. So without slipping into self-blame, look for the ways that you helped create those circumstances. What choices did you make that helped to create those circumstances. Also, try to see how each item of proof might instead be proof that the universe is FOR you. How did each thing benefit you?
2. Start a “How God Is On My Side” Journal. This is an advanced version of the synchronicity journal. You have to write down how God helped you. Start with your past and then gradually make this a daily thing. Every day, you have to write how God was on your side. For example, let’s say you rolled your car. This could seem like God is against you. But what if you rolled your car on the one patch of dirt that was on the highway? Or what if a plumber flooded your basement and the floors had to be redone, but you already wanted to re do them and now, you don’t have to be the one to pay for it? These are two ways the universe is on your side. What even worse scenario could have happened but didn’t? When we feel like the universe is against us, we ignore the ways the Universe is on our side and focus on how it is against us. I’ll give you a tip, you want to look for the silver lining. Even little things that you feel gratitude for, like a flower in the sidewalk, are ways the universe is adding to your happiness and is therefore on your side. And yes, synchronicities are ways the universe is on your side too.
3. Start to open up dialogue with God or The Universe. To understand how to do this, watch my YouTube video titled “Letters to God” 4. Consider the following… You are indivisible from the universe and thus you are an extension of God. And as such, what reflects in the universe at large is a reflection of us. And so, instead of “The Universe is Against Me” consider the truth “I am against me.” How is this true? Think of all the ways the universe is against you. Does it kick you while you’re down? Does it take everything you love away from you? Does it expect perfection from you and punish you when you fail? How are you doing each of these things to yourself?
5. If you feel that the universe is against you, you do not trust that the universe has your best interest at heart. And because the universe is a reflection of you, you can guarantee that you do not trust yourself. Most of all, you do not trust yourself to keep yourself emotionally safe. So developing self-trust is crucial. For this reason, I want you to watch my video on YouTube titled: “How To Trust Yourself”.
6. Right your perceived wrongs. There is no right or wrong within this universe. That is a judgment that the universe does not make. But it doesn’t matter. If we think the universe is against us, we are living according to right and wrong and for now; we must work within that belief structure. If we feel the universe is against us, we feel powerless and usually very guilty. Why else would the universe punish us? So I want you to think about what exactly it is that you did that was so wrong. What did you do that was wrong enough to displease God or the universe? Now, take your power back by figuring out how you could make up for those perceived wrongs. How could you make it better or demonstrate that you are correcting your mistakes? And once you find out the answer, take action. Make positive lifestyle changes.
It must be said that many of us feel God is against us, not because of something that we did specifically but because of something wrong or bad that we are. This is called Shame. If you struggle with shame, watch My Video on YouTube Titled: “How to Overcome Shame”.
7. Meditate. Meditation allows you to actually experience God or the universe at large beyond your mind and emotions. Much of what anyone tells you about the goodness of the universe cannot be just heard and accepted, it must be directly experienced. Being disciplined about meditation every day is one of the best ways to do that. Try out all kinds of different meditation techniques to find the one that works best for you specifically.
8. Recognize that if we could not get much positive attention from our parents, we most likely latched onto negative attention because it is still attention. Any kind of attention is better than being ignored. So there is a bit of an incentive to believing the universe is against you. If the universe is against you, it must mean you have a bit of power and that you matter. Why would the universe go to all that trouble for someone who posed no threat and who did not matter?
9. When we feel that the universe is against us, it is usually because of a disappointment or a string of disappointments. We make disappointment mean that the powers that be are against us being happy. And yes, we make it a very individual thing with this belief: “Disappointing things happen to me and not to others”. You can bet that we struggled with disappointment as children and have not achieved resolution about those disappointments yet. We also expect disappointment in the future so we worry and succumb to catastrophic thinking as well. For this reason I want you to watch my YouTube videos titled: “Disappointment (How to Get Over Disappointment)”, “How To Stop Worrying” and “Catastrophizing”.
We also need to look for the ways that disappointing things do happen to other people, not just us and that it is devastating to them as well when it does. This helps us to not feel so singled out. If you need, you can ask people to reveal their disappointments to you as well as how it made them feel.
10. Alter your perspective about ‘negative’. We live in a happy obsessed world. Anything less than happy is not ok. This is because we have learned that it is not ok to feel. Therefore, when we get into really low spaces where we are in pain, we try to do anything we can to feel different and get happy this minute. But in these low vibrational places struggling to feel better is like struggling to escape a spider’s web. The more you struggle, the more stuck you get. We need to instead see that these dark nights of the soul might actually be necessary. They might actually be a springboard for a much better place in life. When we are really struggling, what is usually happening is that we are in a phase of deep healing. Things are coming up to be faced and cleared. These are phases of metamorphosis. Think of it as a purification process. And can you know 100% that you shouldn’t be feeling bad? Perhaps this is the universe helping you to see and clear the blocks you have between you and bliss.
11. If we feel that the universe is against us, we feel unsafe and unprotected. We feel conspired against. We feel targeted. For this reason, I want you to Watch My YouTube video titled: “Psychic and Energetic Protection”
12. If we feel like the universe is against us, we do not truly believe we create our own reality. We may want to believe that, but we do not yet. We believe the world happens TO us. We do not see that thought turns into things. So it is time to actually put manifestation to the test. Start with something small. Something you do not have much strong positive or negative emotion about. Like chickens. Focus on chickens, visualize chickens, imagine then with as much clarity as you can muster. And then watch for how they show up in your reality. You’ve got to prove to yourself that you can create reality to stop fearing that the universe is going to create your life for you and so you are helpless to whether the universe thinks you should or shouldn’t get to experience what you want.
Ultimately, you are not separate from God, Source, The Universe or whatever you want to call it. This omnipotent consciousness permeates all life; all things are made of it. Even as Jesus spoke of being the son of God, his words when translated lost their meaning. The word he was using is more accurately translated to “continuation of” or “extension of” which is how they saw progeny back then. What does this mean? It means God does not differentiate between itself and you. You are essentially a microcosm of the whole of that which we call God. And as such, you are imbued with the same power to create and to choose. This is the heart of free will. This is why God does not judge whether what you create is right or wrong or whether what you chose to focus on is right or wrong. This world is an impartial, neutral reflection of what we choose to focus on and think about. This means, if we carry around belief patterns that the world is against us, the universe will reflect situations to us that feel that way. And why would God intervene and stop us from this suffering? Because it would mean that God judged our belief, choice or creation as wrong. It cannot hold that perspective. It is through our experience of thinking, having those thoughts reflected to us and deciding what we would prefer that God even knows what it is or isn’t. God is in a process of self-actualization by projecting forth into different perspectives, in your case a different human perspective. There is no pre-determined state of perfection to reach. God cannot see any aspect of itself as powerless. If you are not separate from God, but instead an extension of God with your own perspective and free will, why would God doubt your inner guidance so much as to stop all the bad things from happening here? These things would not happen if there was not some purpose for them happening. And when we judge all negative feeling things as bad, we mentally acknowledge that they shouldn’t be happening and that there is no purpose for them. We miss the gift inherent in the experience.
Often years after disappointments and painful circumstances occur, we look back and because hindsight is 20-20, we can clearly see how the very thing we thought was the road to our demise, was the road to our freedom and joy. This is when we begin to see that everything comes to bless us to the degree that we begin to trust instead of distrust God. It is highly unfair for you to expect yourself to see this while your smack in the middle of a seemingly unfair and tragic circumstance. So don’t force yourself to be grateful for something you truly are not grateful for. Instead develop an openness to the possibility that one day you will see the greater divine purpose in all of this and that it just might be different than you think. It takes practice to change a belief that we have lots of proof for. Chances are, you’re not going to wake up one day and instantly feel the love that God or this universe holds for you and feel that everything is on your side. But you can begin to develop a different relationship with God or the universe and begin to see and feel its connection to you and by doing so begin to live in a state of peace with the universe. I challenge you today. Instead of asking in an attitude of doubt, “If God loved me, why would this bad thing have happened or be happening” ask in an attitude of curiosity “Assuming God loves me, why did this thing happen or why is it happening?”
Your mind is meant to be a tool that you can use to assist your intention for this life. But this is simply not the reality for most people. For most of us, our mind uses us. When painful things happen, our mind is pulled into the vibrational range of the event that occurred and is then a point of attraction to which like-thoughts are drawn. Soon, we are spiraling downwards and spiraling fast. You are the junction where two aspects of you meet, your eternal aspect and your temporal aspect. The way you feel is really about the vibrational similarity or difference between these two aspects of you. If they are far apart in vibration you experience negative emotion and if they are close together, you experience positive emotion. Your thought influences the vibration you hold. Therefore, you can use your awareness of emotion and deliberate thought to close that vibrational distance between your eternal self and your temporal self. The mainstream psychology community would call this process self-soothing. So I’m going to introduce you to a self-soothing process that bridges the distance between your eternal self and your temporal self. I like doing this process through writing or typing, but some people can do it in their heads.
Just as you would if you were planning on getting from point A to point B and had a map sitting in front of you, you are going to first decide where point A is and then you’d decide where point B is. And then you’d figure out how to bridge the distance between point A and point B.
Point A is decided by answering three questions.
1. What negative thing happened? What negative thoughts did it cause me to think? How did it make me feel?
Point B is going to be decided by answering three questions.
2. What did this experience cause me to know that I want? What did this experience cause me to know that I want to think? What did this experience cause me to know that I want to feel?
And now, the final step in the process is that you are going to bridge the distance between where you are (point A) and where you want to be (point B) by thinking or writing down anything that causes you to feel a little bit better and a little bit better than that and a little bit better than that until you feel as if the things you have written for Point B are reachable, accessible, believable or current truth.
Here is an example of a self-soothing process.
What happened: I wrote my crush a letter six days ago and he has not responded to it at all. He has not been contacting me at all.
What thoughts did it cause met to think: It caused my to think that I am worthless I am unsafe, that I was stupid for writing that letter that no one cares about me.
How did it make me feel: Uncertain, unstable, confused, sick to my stomach, afraid, punished, like I did something wrong. Afraid of the future, worried, waiting for the axe to fall, unsafe, at his mercy, not cared about, like I’m falling for a merciless person. Abandoned. Forsaken. Alone. Unresolved, like there’s no solution, stuck and in a purgatory of waiting.
What did it cause me to know that I want: I want to have a partner in my life who prioritizes the way I feel and who wants to actively work towards resolve and solution badly when conflict arises. I want someone who creates the third entity of the marriage with me and puts effort into it. I want someone who genuinely cares that I feel good and does what it takes to add to my happiness and take away distress. I want a man who values my time and values me enough to not make me wait on him to decide things. I want healthy boundaries.
What thoughts did it cause me to know I want to think? I want to think, “My partner loves and values me” I want to think, “my happiness matters and the people in my life love me enough to add to it”. I want to think, “I am emotionally safe”.
What did it cause me to know I want to feel? I want to feel empowered. I want to feel valued and like I am special. I want to feel excited for the future. I want to feel safe and feel the trust inherent in knowing I can keep myself safe.
Bridge the distance:
It is understandable why I feel this way, I expect to lose love and be punished every time I do something that displeases someone because that is what my mom did to me all growing up. Now I’m feeling like love should feel this way. But I’m open to the idea that it doesn’t need to be that way. Mom taught me that love is painful. In truth, I don’t have to feel like an idiot because I’m trauma bonded with this man so I feel like if I don’t latch on, I’ll be harmed by him or abandoned by him and thus and hurt by someone else. I am seeing that connection should feel good because it feels loving and supportive and warm, not because it is the only guarantee of not getting hurt. This is not an emotionally safe relationship. And I’m dedicated to keeping myself safe. I can close the door to this pattern of mine without closing the door to the person. To me, closing the door to the pattern would mean I would spend my time focusing on what I like to do and remind myself that I do not want to spend my life chasing after a man. I can’t know 100% why he is not writing back. I might in fact not be hearing back because of all the healing I’ve been doing lately. He might not be in my presence because I am now a match to a different kind of man, one who is committed and who honors my boundaries and who cherishes me and really wants a relationship with me. By not pursuing a man and leaving the ball in their court, I’m selecting for a man who really wants to “play in the game”. I am excited for someone who will not be passive in my life. I am so looking forward to the feeling of being with a man who really wants to be with me. I am so looking forward to being with a man who puts real effort into the relationship and real effort into my happiness/wellbeing. I am so looking forwards to being with a man who feels so lucky to have found me. I am feeling that a man who is capable of really participating in my life is right around the corner, waiting for me and that he will come into my life according to the law of attraction not because of bells and whistles. I’m super proud that I haven’t contacted him since writing that letter and I haven’t begged him to tell me what he’s thinking. I’ve been playing this correctly saying “you come forward and if you don’t come forward, I’ll eventually take that as your answer.” A solution is on its way. I don’t have to know until I know. Each day is getting better and better so one day I really will have the answer and I will have resolve and I will have closure. It’s ok to be where I am.
There is only one wrong way to do this process and that is by not being tuned into your emotions enough to know whether a thought makes you feel better or worse. Think of this like paving a bridge between where you are and where you want to be. Follow the feeling of relief. But express as much as you need to in order to find relief. We might find that we need to express a lot of anger in order to feel good when we think a pessimistic thought. The exercise can be ended whenever you feel relief relative to the whole situation. Feel free to involve other people in this process if you feel inclined.
It takes a bit of practice. But by doing this process, you are consciously deciding to alter your vibration relative to a subject. You are consciously drawing closer to the things you want to have manifest in your life, you are releasing resistance to unwanted things and you are experiencing the empowerment of being able to self sooth. This is an exercise I use in my own life on a weekly basis at least. So I encourage you to try it. And remember whatever you make a habit, your brain will learn to do on it’s own!
When we become aware of this aspect of life, we begin to live our lives differently. We begin to allow the qualities of that consciousness to penetrate through our lives. We become living embodiments of that consciousness. This is what the concept of living Buddha or living Christ or becoming an embodiment of the higher self is all about. This incorporeal, united consciousness is imbued with certain qualities such as unconditional love and awareness and spaciousness and presence and creation and destruction and stillness and expansion etc. Spiritual teachers are here to help people to allow these specific qualities to shine through them. But spiritual teachers tend to focus on or specialize in teaching other people to embody one of these qualities, whichever one they determine from their individual identity is most important to embody. This would not be a travesty if this united consciousness were straightforward. But it is not. It contains many contradictions. For example, one of the qualities of source is stillness; the other is expansion (which is a kind of movement). A teacher of stillness can teach stillness to the degree that their disciples reject expansion and thus disallow themselves from embodying the expansion aspect of their higher self and experiencing the beautiful gifts inherent in that experience. A teacher of expansion can teach expansion to the degree that their disciples reject stillness and thus disallow themselves from embodying the stillness aspect of their higher self and experiencing the beautiful gifts inherent in that experience.
It is in the merging of these beautiful dichotomies that the progression of this world and human consciousness lies. The dichotomy that holds the most potential for right now is still presence vs. creation. You are familiar with the concept of embodying the creation aspect of universal consciousness. This is the idea taught through so many channeled entities. It is the ability to create your own reality with the mind; to achieve all of your desires and to use your wanting along with your emotional guidance system to get you there. Creation causes expansion… movement within the united consciousness. You are also familiar with the concept of embodying the still presence aspect of universal consciousness. This is the idea taught by so many yogis and meditation experts. It is the being completely present in the now, in a way where one dis-identifies with thoughts, which halts the momentum of thought and allows one to exist in a state of pure being, experiencing oneself as the stillness or space in which thoughts and emotions take place. Teachers of both disciplines tend to reject the opposing discipline, arguing that it takes disciples further away from becoming the true embodiment of their higher self. In other words, many teachers of still presence argue that creation causes one to become completely identified with the wanting of the ego and thus ignorant to the eternal self. Many teachers of creation argue that still presence causes one to exempt themselves from participation in life and more importantly participation in universal expansion. Both can be correct about the other because each is sitting in a perspective where they can clearly see the unconscious or shall we say shadow aspect of the opposing discipline. But what each is missing is the gifts inherent in each other’s discipline. Each holds the key for the other because each dichotomy holds the key for avoiding the shadow potential in the other. We are not meant to live our lives in a state of waking meditation any more than we are meant to become consumed in endless seeking by the ego.
In other words, it is the practice of still presence that enables the practice of creation to occur without a practitioner falling into completely identifying with the wanting of the ego and thus becoming ignorant to the eternal self. It is the practice of creation that enables the practitioner of still presence to practice still presence without falling into exempting themselves from participation in life and expansion. Call this a marriage or a union of opposites.
We can see what the beautiful union of dichotomies would practically look like by witnessing the natural progression through the practice of spirituality in the following 3 steps. 1. First we become interested in embodying the creation aspect of universal consciousness. We learn that we can create our own reality and so we go to town intentionally using our mind to create what we desire. But we are creating almost entirely from the ego. This was the issue with the movie “The Secret”. This is in truth what felt “off” about it to many people. 2. We become aware of the ego, both the light side of the ego and the shadow of the ego. This begins a process of dis-identification with the ego so that we have a direct experience, not just a conceptualization of the fact that we are two points of perspective. We are the junction of the eternal, non physical self and the temporal self that we call by our name.
3. We now create intentionally, but our ego is used consciously by the eternal self to create in alignment with its omniscient consciousness and as such, we are walking, breathing embodiments of this universal consciousness. We are creators, but we are fully conscious creators. In short, we go from unconscious creators to conscious beings to conscious creators.
I urge you to consider that all of the practices that spiritual teachers offer are in fact merely tools to enable you to allow yourself to become the embodiment of universal consciousness and the various qualities inherent in that consciousness. Becoming attached to a specific spiritual quality or a specific tool to help you to actualize a specific quality could cause you to disallow the others, especially the ones on the opposite side of the scale. This is really what the Buddha recognized when he discovered the middle path. Time will see us learning to developing the choice and thus the flexibility to fully embody all of the qualities of source consciousness equally, even the seeming dichotomies. We will take thought beyond what it has been before, and thus fully participate in expansion. We will also experience pure being in a state of spacious presence. They will take place within us like a perfect blend of stillness and movement, like a beautiful dance between darkness and light.
We encounter various experiences in our day-to-day life. Some we could consider positive and some we could consider negative. But the quality of our experience relative to those experiences is flavored by one thing and that is the meaning that we assign to the experience. It is well known that the experience of labor and birth can be drastically more or less painful from one mother to the next based on the meaning she assigns to the experience. Two people’s experience of the same event is often drastically different based on the fact that they interpret different meaning out of the same experience. Think of it this way… if you started uncontrollably vomiting right now and you thought that the meaning of the experience was that you didn’t wash your hands well enough and had caught a deadly virus, your experience of that event would be drastically worse than if you thought that the meaning of the experience was that your body had begun to cleanse itself of all the toxins within itself so as to become renewed to a state of health. It is critical to recognize that there is a difference between what actually happens and the meaning of what happens. We must see that meaning does not inherently exist in the world in and of itself. Therefore, meaning does not inherently exist in a situation. It is an interpretation. And it is best not to confuse interpretation with truth. If meaning does not inherently exist in an experience, we must and do assign it to the experience and then we mistake the event and the meaning of the event for the same thing. Think of this like peanut butter and jelly. Peanut butter is the experience, jelly is the meaning we assign to the experience and if we stir the two together, we mistake them for one thing… a third substance. This disallows us to see the truth of an experience. We must learnt to separate the peanut butter from the jelly, or the experience from the meaning if we are ever to regain a sense of truth and learn to select meaning that benefits us instead of destroys us. If you think this idea of assigning meaning to events doesn’t sound too serious, consider that you can destroy your whole life based on the meaning you assign to an event. Case in point, a little girl asks her dad to play dolls at 3 years old, but he is on the phone. He yells at her to stop bugging him. This is a traumatic experience for her at three years old. She takes it personally. Now let’s pretend the meaning she assigns to this event is “I am insignificant to my dad”. That was not the meaning of the experience of the event for the father, the meaning for the father was, ‘I’m busy right now’. But the moment that little girl assigns that meaning to the event, it is as if a colored lens comes up over her eyes (demonstrate) and from that moment on, all things that happen between her and her father are filtered through that colored lens. The truth is now colored and distorted by that perception that the meaning creates. Every time something happens between the father and daughter that causes her to feel bad, it will automatically strengthen that meaning she’s perceiving her life through.
The colored lens gets thicker and thicker until anything that doesn’t reinforce it, cannot pass through. This father could really love her daughter more than anything in his life and do all kinds of loving things, but it will not matter because all his actions are now being filtered through the lens of the meaning she adopted at 3 years old. The father has no idea why she is so angry with him as she grows up. The girl in this scenario is likely to grow up believing she is insignificant to men, just like she was to daddy and will end up in relationships with emotionally unavailable men, covering up her misery with various addictions, wondering why her self esteem is so damn low. Looking at this analogy of the colored lens, doesn’t this account for why two people perceive the same thing so differently?
What I want you to consider is that the painful meaning you assigned to your experiences, was never the actual meaning of those experiences. What we must consider is that we’ve been punishing people or avoiding them for a meaning that we, ourselves assigned to that experience with them. What we must consider is that much of the pain we are experiencing in our lives is not because of what we actually experienced but because of the meaning we’ve assigned to those experiences. Doesn’t this also make much more sense why we tend to be so confused about other people’s defensive behavior? It is important to note that conflicts about interpretation of meaning account for the majority of our more than frequent miscommunications with others. Take a look back over your earliest memories. With each memory ask yourself, what did I decide that it meant? What did I think was the meaning of the experience? Then imagine that at that moment, your ‘meaning glasses’ went on and you interpreted everything that was to follow up into your adulthood through those lenses. Does some of your life make more sense now? Do some of your relationships make sense now? What if the meaning you assigned to an event was not an accurate interpretation? I am going to propose that from this day forward, whenever we encounter a trigger or an event that causes us pain, we ask ourselves, “What am I making this mean?” So that we can discern the difference between what is actually happening and what we think the meaning of the experience is. This gives us the opportunity to set the record straight. For example, let’s say that someone gives you a really crappy birthday present and you feel your heart sink. Ask yourself “what am I making this mean? And the answer may be, ‘he or she doesn’t really care enough about me to figure out what I like and want’. At this point, instead of assuming that what actually happened is that they demonstrated that they do not care about you, you can either question this meaning you have assigned to the experience or you can authentically inform the other person of what you are making it mean and ask if that is in fact the actual meaning. This gives them an opportunity to set the record straight. It also gives you the ability to not put those meaning glasses on in the first place and thus to remain illusion free.
Separate out the peanut butter from the jelly and question the jelly. In other words, separate out the events that occur from the meaning you interpret from and assign to the event then question the meaning instead of assuming it. Take off those glasses that you put on so long ago… And prepare for your whole world to become a whole lot clearer.
Why do I use the word addiction? Because we can use comfort to cover over something we are trying to avoid, we develop a dependence on it to the point that if it is taken away, we have extreme reactions to it as if we were in withdrawal, we limit ourselves and our lives while inside our comfort zone and yet we continue to stay in it even when we know it is harming us. This is in fact the criteria for an addiction.
As people (especially the older we get), we spend our time justifying staying comfortable and justifying where we are. Justification is like the jail bars keeping you in this comfort zone and keeping you away from a better life. If you went to jail willingly, without the beliefs you associate with jail and without other convicts you could see how jail would feel pretty safe. You know what you’re going to be doing every day, you get regular meals, and you have a routine that protects you from uncertainty and risk. No one new is coming in or going out. That is what life is like inside your comfort zone. But it is not self-loving to stay there because no matter how comfortable it feels, it is still a prison, it keeps you from your true desires, which require risk and it keeps you from your true self, which requires change. Most people on earth live their lives in this kind of prison to one degree or another. Some of these prisons are more ornately luxurious than others, but they are prisons all the same.
We have to learn to recognize the jail bars. To do this, we have to take a good look at our justifications. The very rational, mature reasons we give ourselves for why we cannot do something we feel inspired to do or even know we must do. When we justify, we are more committed to proving that where we are or what we are doing or have done in the past is right than we are to things like happiness and love. We use our reasons and justifications to deny ourselves expansion. And so we have to decide if it is more important to be right or more important to feel joy.
For example, I could feel compelled to paint. But the justifications I could use to not act on that inspiration enough to actually paint is that I don’t know how, It would cost money to get paints, I was never an artist type, I wouldn’t know what to draw, I don’t have enough time, I am just too busy to have gotten around to it etc. And these justifications seem very reasonable to me, but all of you listening to this can feel the limitation or prison bars I am imposing on myself and my life. Take a look at your life; what areas are you the most unhappy about? If you can recognize what is unwanted, this means you have already given rise to the idea of what is wanted instead. And the minute that happens, new ideas and opportunities happen upon you. Why aren’t you acting on those opportunities, why aren’t you doing that thing you want to do? Take a look at all of those justifications and either question them one by one, finding thoughts that contradict them enough that you can let them go, or simply see them for the prison bars that they are and walk right through them. If you need a fresh outside perspective, go get it… offer up your resilient justifications to other people and allow those justifications to be slaughtered in front of your eyes. Just make sure you don’t pick someone equally imprisoned who would like to use you and your justifications as a justification to stay in their own comfort zone prison.
Beware the trap of preparation. Preparation is as good as it does, I don’t need to explain the obvious merit in preparation, but preparation can be yet another ‘reason’ you give yourself to stay in your comfort zone prison. One day you will reach the point where you realize you can’t plan anymore and that planning itself is keeping you from living today. And I’ll tell you a secret, the most fulfilling experiences in life, the real stuff of life, you’ll never be fully prepared for or ready for no matter how much you prepare.
Admit that you’re scared. Name your fear. Guess what, we’re all scared. We do not need to fight our fear any more than we need to deny it. We need to metaphorically pick it up like the crying child that it is and carry it with us tenderly while we move forward anyway. Pain and fear are a call to become more present, conscious and aware, not an indication that what is occurring is wrong.
Let’s get this one out of the way quick… you’re not going to get everything right. For all you perfectionists out there, you’re in good company feeling absolutely terrified at what I just said. But if you think about it, it is also a kind of freedom. If you’re not going to ever be able to get everything right, I mean if it’s literally not possible because the game is rigged because you don’t have all the information you need to play the game perfectly, then what’s left to do? To give up on the pressure you’re putting on yourself and simply chose what you think is the most right for yourself in any given moment, knowing that you could be right or you could be wrong; but you did the best with what you had from where you were and that’s enough.
People don’t want to be vulnerable. But this is what we are. We are vulnerable because life itself involves the possibility of uncertainty, risk and hurt. The people who live the lives worth living here are those who own that vulnerability instead of push it away because there is gold inherent in vulnerability too. With vulnerability comes the possibility of love and joy and expansion. Also, nothing makes us feel more vulnerable when it comes to getting outside our comfort zones than uncertainty, for this reason I want you to watch my video on YouTube titled “How to Deal With Uncertainty”.
If you want to practice getting out of your comfort zone, begin switching up little things. Throw a wrench in predictability. Do them differently. For example, take a different route to work, learn something new, eat something different for breakfast, and take someone up on an offer you’d usually refuse.
A good technique you can use as a tool until you learn to fully embody your own unique expression of source consciousness and be confident in yourself is to pick someone that you feel is totally confident and brave and free as a role model. It could be someone alive or deceased, someone real or make believe, a famous historical figure perhaps and ask yourself what they would do and model your behavior according to that. For example, let’s say your role model was Albert Einstein, if you’re faced with a scary decision or stuck in the prison of your justifications, ask yourself, “What Would Einstein Do?” And then do that!
If it were up to me, you’d live your whole life free of the justifications that keep you from your dreams but for today, I give you a challenge… I want you to select one thing that you have been keeping yourself from doing because of your justifications and do it this week.
We so often live our lives as if there will always be more to live, we put things off until tomorrow, and then tomorrow and then tomorrow to avoid the discomfort of facing them. But what if there is no tomorrow? What is the point of the lives we are living today if tomorrow never comes? So many people live their life sensibly, only to arrive at death carefully. This is a waste of life. You are going to die one day and you never know when and so must know somewhere deep inside you that you did not come here to live a careful life. So break down the jail bars, lay aside your justifications and go in the direction that your heart is calling you. Any bumps and bruises you could possibly accrue along the way, will all be worth it.
We all know the dangers involved with falling into victim mentality. Why? Because spiritual teachers and psychologists and self help gurus have been warning you about these dangers for years. The ego often uses victimhood as a way to ensure it’s own survival or shall we say positive self-image. And the problem with the ego is that it can make positive relationships, which are the heart of our life, really hard if not impossible to pull off. But today, I am not here to tell you anymore about the dangers of victim mentality. I’m here to expose a hidden egoic pitfall that exists to the opposite extreme… Those who are dedicated to never seeing themselves or being seen as the victim. In today’s world there is so much shame inherent in victim mentality that many of us do whatever we can to give the impression that we are NOT feeling like a victim when we are, and that we do not see ourselves as the victim when we do. The raw truth is that we feel hurt and we feel helpless. Our relationships absolutely depend on our ability to be completely authentic about how we feel. So when we cannot be authentic about feeling hurt and feeling helpless, we cannot culture positive relationships. We are instead manufacturing a façade so that we will look good to ourselves and to others.
The unhealthy Ego is concerned with power. Not the good kind of power (like empowerment), the kind of power that needs something to be less powerful in order to feel powerful by comparison. And the ego can gain this power by being the good guy. People who are trapped in victimhood mentality are after the kind of power that belongs to someone being righteous or good. But the ego that is concerned with being righteous or good needs someone to be the bad guy to exist. Similarly, an ego can gain power by being the victor. People who are trapped in victor mentality are after the kind of power that belongs to someone superior and strong. This kind of person cannot ever admit to vulnerability. This kind of ego may be unwilling to admit to any negative emotions at all. Or it may not have a real problem with expressing anger or negative emotional states that it perceives as strong, while refusing to admit to negative emotional states that it perceives as weak. This ego crumbles at the thoughts of admitting to fear and especially hurt. Admitting that their feelings got hurt is like a death sentence. This ego thinks that by denying vulnerability, especially any notion of victimhood, it is a victor. It was won. We get to choose between being in polarity such as right and thus making someone wrong, or good and thus making someone bad, superior and thus making someone inferior, justified and thus making someone unjustified. OR love. You cannot have both. Separation into self and other or love is your basic choice in every moment of interpersonal interaction. Another way of saying this is we get to struggle for power of we get love. The ego that is concerned with being a victor is on a disguised power trip, a power trip that is disguised as virtuosity. We mistake for strength and a power trip that we commend and approve of. I meet with people so often who refuse to acknowledge their powerlessness, pain, disappointment and hurt to themselves or to anyone else because they don’t want to see themselves as succumbing to victim mentality and they don’t want anyone else to see them this way. This is especially true if we are in a ‘you create your own reality’ or ‘positive focus’ community. We will avoid admitting to anything that suggests we felt hurt by someone else because we know it will be turned back on us and invalidated just as fast as we say it. Consider that the willingness to be vulnerable enough to admit to feeling hurt can be the opposite of victimhood. Consider that we can share our experience of feeling hurt, powerless or afraid without blame or attack, but instead simply to authentically share our experience. This allows us to own what is ours and the other person to own what is theirs and create repair in the relationship so that we reconnect with one another.
If you have an ego that is addicted to seeing itself as the victor and never the victim, Ask yourself the following: “How is sharing how you feel, even if how you feel is hurt, the opposite of being a victim? Pretending to feel differently than how we really feel comes at a serious cost no matter whether or not we are doing so to avoid something we have decided is unacceptable. We are out of alignment with our own sense of integrity. We cannot address our real feelings, instead they become suppressed.
The universe is full of contradictory truths. This is because the universe is multi dimensional and so a truth from one universal perspective is “all is well” and at another, where children are losing their limbs to grenades at war, a truth is “the world is screwed up”. Both of these truths are true. So at one level of the universe, it is a truth that there is no such thing as a victim. Sometimes this perspective or truth serves us greatly. At another level of the universe people do get hurt by each other. Just think about the Nazi concentration camps and you’ll see this truth. We run into trouble when we try to use universal truths to invalidate other universal truths instead of learning to hold and honor contradictory truths. What do we know about invalidated feelings? They do not resolve themselves. If we feel hurt by someone else, it is important to own up to that instead of simply invalidate that feeling in ourselves by using the universal truth that there is no such thing as a victim. When we feel hurt by something that someone said or did, it is like a tear in the fabric of our connection. If we do not address the tear that occurred, it will not heal, it will fester. It will turn into resentment and distance between us. If we do address it, in a way where we own our feelings that occurred as a result of whatever happened (rather than telling them what they did wrong and blaming our hurt on them) we open the door for relationship repair, relief, healing and even greater closeness and intimacy.
If you’re scared, say you’re scared. If you don’t know, say you don’t know. If you made a mistake, say you made a mistake. If you feel hurt, say you’re hurt. If you’re in love, say you’re in love. Be as transparent and real as you possibly can be. It is useless to expect yourself to stop caring what other people think. You are going to care, we all are. We all care what other people think. But we have the choice to let that caring imprison us or not. Be real and transparent even with the fear that they will think poorly of you because it ‘looks bad’ because honestly whether it’s today or years from now, you will come to find it is too painful and impossible to live any other way. Don’t believe me? Just try to ‘look good’ for two groups of people with opposing values at the same time. Being vulnerable means opening yourself up to the risk of being hurt because the potential pay off of opening up is greater than the risk of being hurt. In order for connection to happen, we must allow ourselves to be seen and felt and heard. Our capacity for love is hidden like a seed in the vulnerability that we keep so carefully guarded behind our egos and our ego’s many defenses. Ask yourself, if I knew that being hurt was inevitable and there was no way to avoid it, how would I live my life differently? What risk would I take right now that I haven’t been taking? My favorite quote of all time which just so happens to be from Anais Nin really does say it all… "And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom."
Hopelessness is one of the lowest vibrational frequencies on earth and the one that causes people to commit suicide. Why does it lead people to commit suicide? Because hopelessness is a feeling state that tells you, you will suffer forever. This causes you to think…if there is no way to improve the situation, you can guarantee one thing about your future, pain. No one would stick around for that. If you have experienced trauma in childhood, especially abuse of any kind, this feeling of hopelessness is most likely deeply ingrained and continues to reappear in your life. And who blames you? You did experience a situation where you were trapped and powerless to do something about it. Anyone would struggle with hopelessness if they found themselves in that situation. And if you currently feel hopelessness, it is important to know that nothing has gone wrong if you feel that way. The way you feel is an accurate reflection of the thoughts you are thinking about whatever conditions you find yourself in. Anyone who experienced those conditions and thought those thoughts as a result of it would feel the exact same way.
But if you are in a state of hopelessness, here is what to do...
Whatever you do, do not try to focus positively and do not try to think happy thoughts. Don’t you dare write a single affirmation or even look at one. This will only serve to make matters worse and make you feel more hopeless. Hopelessness functions like a spider’s web. The more desperate you feel to try hard with effort to get out of it, the more ensnared you become. When you are feeling hopeless, you’ve already entered into anything you do with an attitude of “it’s not going to work”.
You have two options: The first option, which is a more short-term solution, is to completely distract yourself. This means get your attention off of the thoughts you are thinking and the conditions you are in and place your focus on anything that feels better because it captures your full attention. For example, you could read a book, watch a stand up comic, play a video game, play a sport or something else and when you feel your emotional state improve, and then you can begin to deliberately focus positively or do some other activity that is specifically designed to improve your mood. The one thing you want to watch for with this option is it can be tempting to use distraction as a permanent state of escapism from life itself. The second option, which is in fact my favorite because it is a much more long-term solution, is to stop trying to do anything else and instead, be completely present with the experience of hopelessness within your body. Instead of resisting it, invite it to consume you and flow through you. Give it your undivided and unconditional presence and attention. Allow the hopelessness fully. The feeling of being hopeless and trapped is a reflection of childhood experiences of helplessness. To understand this process fully, you can watch my video on YouTube titled: “How to Heal the Emotional Body”.
Dis-identify with your thoughts. To do this, you step into an observational state of being. If you are the observer of your thoughts and feelings, there must be an aspect of your consciousness that is beyond them. In other words, you must not simply be your thoughts and emotions. This awareness allows us to disconnect with that aspect of our experience. The best way to think of it is to imagine yourself as a deep, still glacial lake. Your thoughts and emotions are like ripples on the surface of that lake. They are still part of the lake, but they are not the whole lake. By sinking beneath them, you can experience yourself as the stillness underneath that is now observing the feelings and thoughts on the surface of you. You can experience them without judgment about whether they are right or wrong or about what they mean. This dis-identification is an amazing way to stop the momentum of thought which is critical when it comes to downward negative spirals. I have a meditation that will help you to do this, to try it watch my video on YouTube titled: “Mindfulness Meditation (The Observer Self).”
Once the doom has dissipated a bit after doing these things, like a fog clearing from the mountains, start a list to hang somewhere in your room in plain sight of things to look forward to. These could be little things and big things. If you don’t have anything to look forward to, start putting things in your schedule to look forward to, things that will make it feel like you actually have a tomorrow to live into. Hopelessness is the opposite vibration of things to look forward to, so this exercise will improve the way you feel. Just remember, if you’re trapped in hopelessness still, trying to do this step or the next step I’m about to give you is a bad idea that will only make you feel worse.
Every day, do a scavenger hunt (either on paper or in your head) of things you appreciate about your current life. Things that are positive and are going right. It is not possible to think a thought of appreciation or gratitude and think a thought that vibrates at hopelessness at the same time. It is like an antidote to thoughts that try to convince you that life has gone badly and is going badly and will go badly for you .
Face the issue by directly addressing the situation, which is really at hand. This situation at hand is that you feel trapped. How do you feel trapped? What do you feel trapped between or by? Keep in mind that it might be negative thoughts that you feel out of control of and trapped by. What situation feels intolerable? How am I holding myself back or holding myself prisoner right now? If there are any changes you can make to this intolerable situation, make them. Involve other people, including professionals to see the options that you most likely do not see in this seemingly futile situation. Even if we cannot control any aspect of our external circumstance that we find ourselves in, we still have control over what we are focused upon. We are interpreting circumstances and events in our lives through the lens of meaning that we are helplessly trapped. We need to be willing to ask ourselves… is it 100% true that we are trapped? All too often we are endlessly focusing on the things we can’t change about a situation instead of on the things we can. That being said, the more futile the situation seems, the more important it is to embracing uncertainty. For more on how to do this, watch my video on YouTube titled: “How to Deal with Uncertainty”.
Do activities you enjoy or used to enjoy. When we feel hopeless, ironically we give up on doing the things that cause is to feel better. So force yourself to get out and do something that you know you enjoy currently or that you used to enjoy once upon a time.
Hopelessness is in fact indicative of a need that we feel powerless to meet or to have met. And all too often, we are not even consciously aware of what the need is. The circumstance that we are experiencing is causing us to experience a deprivation for that need. So, once you discover what that need is, brainstorm other ways to get that need met. Ask directly for what you need from others as well.
Consider that if life is hopeless, then you can give up. Embrace hopelessness. This may sound counterproductive, but hopelessness functions like a spider’s web. The more you try to resist it, the more stuck in it you become. Sometimes, we have to release all resistance by just giving up in the situation we are so desperate to get out of or fix or change. This is the practice of surrender. Then we are left with the question… if it really is hopeless and there’s nothing to do but to give up on this, what can I do instead to feel just a little bit better?
Let yourself cry, even try to induce crying. Crying is a huge release. As it applies to hopelessness, crying is magic. It is an internal release of resistance. It may be just what we need to clear the fog of helplessness from our minds and thus allow clarity to return.
If you are feeling hopeless, it is tempting to think that you have given up and surrendered, but the truth is that if you feel hopeless, you have not given up; you are instead banging your head against a wall. You are in a state of resistance and you are stuck in a kind of futile desperation to change what you want to change. We have been told for all our life that the strong never surrender. But I am proposing the opposite. I am proposing that it takes even more strength to willingly surrender and to let go of what cannot be changed so that the universe may open doors to what can be. Perhaps it is when we surrender the fight that the jail bars will swing open.
You cannot have a sense of self without also simultaneously having a sense of other. Identity served universal expansion because source (otherwise known as united consciousness) could not become conscious of itself from a platform of non-identity. There was no contrast inherent in that. Oneness cannot comprehend oneness except from a vantage point of separation. Just like a fish cannot conceive of water until it has experienced air. And so, identity was conceived. A more practical way of explaining this as it relates to you is that the separate self, or ego is the necessary condition for you to experience oneness or enlightenment. Whenever we associate something with our self, we identify with it. It becomes part of us. We make it the same as us. This is what attachment really is. It is identification. And if that thing we identify with is ever threatened, we experience it as a threat to our own survival (a personal attack). One could argue that identification is a good thing when we identify with things that cause us to feel good. But the thing is, the minute we identify with something that causes us to feel good, it contains within it the seeds of it’s own opposite. Worthiness carries the seeds of unworthiness; excitement carries the seeds of disappointment. Far more troubling however, is that we often identify with things that cause us to feel bad and as such, we must keep those things alive in order to keep our own sense of self alive. A great many spiritual teachers will emphasize the importance of dis-identifying from things outside you, most especially other people. But it is my opinion that when it comes to identification, it is not other things external to us that cause us the most amount of suffering. It is identification with things we perceive to be internal to us. We are the most identified with the three primary aspects of ourselves; our body, our mind and our emotions. Each of these three aspects is inherently a different expression of source consciousness. We mistake these expressions to be the totality of who we are. A bit like a painter who has become so identified with his painting that he has forgotten that who he ultimately is, is more than his painting. We think we ARE our emotions, we ARE our body and we ARE our thoughts. And as such, we are so attached to them that they affect us immensely. They cause us to suffer. Those of us, who have painful emotions, painful thoughts or a painful body, suffer to the degree that life is a torment.
This is the reason that dis-identification is one of the highest forms of spiritual practice you can take on. In truth, you could dis-identify with just about anything. To dis-identify with something, you must identify it as different to yourself. You must see it as “other” than you. For example, if you would like to dis-identify from your own pain, all you must do is to conceptualize of your pain as a separate entity and when you experience pain, observe the pain as if you were watching this separate entity reacting. In this way, you do not take the pain personally. You have disowned it. But the most important thing you can do if you have taken on the practice of dis-identification is to dis-identify from your body, your thoughts and your emotions. What you will find is that any external identifications with other people, places and things, will fall away when you do this, because all these external identifications pass through the filter of the identification you have with your body, thoughts and emotions. The hardest part of spiritual practice is the complimentary contradictions inherent in a multidimensional universe. Ultimately, the highest truth is that all is one. The painter is one with the painting. And so, any form of dis-identification is to enhance ‘self’ and ‘otherness’ in this universe. Nothing is other than you, not your mind, not your body, not your emotions, not other people, not your kitchen table, not your dog, not the clouds nor the cement on the sidewalk. But to even see, much less experience this truth, we must first dis-identify with the very things that are keeping us locked in our own intense sense of identity. The false self is a composite of things you are identified with. Like onion layers, when we strip each thing we are identified with away to expose the truth of who and what we really are… the true self is revealed. We do not do this “separating from” process with an attitude of resistance. Instead we allow the aspects of us we are wanting to dis-identify from to fall away like rose petals exposed to the sun as a result of exposing them to our conscious awareness. This is the key. To try to push away the things you are identified with, only causes you to become more identified. It only causes you to feel rejected by yourself. You will essentially cause an intense survival reaction within yourself in response to your own self-rejection. You cannot try to take something away from yourself without hurting yourself. As it applies to body, thoughts and emotions, you cannot try hard to disconnect from those aspects of yourself without those things being perceived internally by you as self-abandonment. The way to allow these aspects to fall away is to recognize them first and foremost. I want you to take out a sheet of paper and jot down all the things you suspect you might be identified with. Yes, you can be sure that there are many more than what you will come up with. But this is a consciousness exercise. A good way to find things you’re identified with is to look at everything you call “mine” for example, the minute you say my friends, you are identified and thus attached to them. Also, everything you would put after “I am (x).” For example, the minute you say I am (sexy), you are identified with being sexy. Try to identify thoughts and beliefs you are identified with. For example, “money doesn’t grow on trees” might be a thought you are identified with. Try to recognize emotions you are identified with. The ones you are the most identified with are the ones that are chronic or come up most often. For example, disappointment might be one of them. Also, try to recognize the aspects of your body that you are identified with. For example, if you see yourself as fat, you are physically identified with being fat.
Anything you identify with will cause a strong reaction in you. The ego has owned it as part of the composite that makes up what it is. Whenever those things are threatened, the ego will go into a state of reactivity and defense. The ego has motive to maintain these aspects of our life, even if they cause us pain. It sees the loss of these things as annihilation. We can even become identified with pain and when this is the case, the ego has motive to keep us in pain. But it is the identification with pain that often leads to a crisis point, by which the pain becomes so acute that one eventually commits emotional suicide by shedding their identifications and thus identity all at once. This is what occurs during a spontaneous awakening. All this being said, the real practice is to recognize the things we are identified with as they arise. This is easiest to do with emotions. You can use strong emotions as an alarm bell, awakening you to the fact that you are identified with something and thus need to recognize something. It is a call to become intensely present and aware with your full attention on what is really occurring within you. By recognizing it, you are observing it, meaning you are in the perspective of the higher self-being present with your temporal self rather than being lost in the perspective of the temporal self. When a strong emotion arises, face it within yourself instead of reacting to it or reacting in order to try to get away from it. When you feel it, use the feeling as a reminder that this feeling is the emotional body becoming activated or charged like an electric fence (as in not me). It is not the emotion itself that is causing the suffering you feel, it is the fact that you identify with it that is causing you the pain you feel. This is all it takes to dis-identify with something.
Don’t try to stop caring about how you feel and don’t try to change how you feel. Just recognize it and let it be there. You will often experience insight coming as a result of observing the emotion. You may discover what triggered it, what meaning you assigned to the trigger and also insight about the situation that causes it to dissipate on it’s own. When it comes to negative emotions, we can see how we identify with them even in how we speak. We say, I am angry or I am sad as if those emotions are quite literally what we are. Don’t worry about this process repressing your emotions. Dis-identification is not repression or suppression. Instead it introduces choice into your emotional expression. It is helpful to think that in the moment you are becoming totally aware of your negative emotions, recognizing them and observing them without resistance to them, you are introducing the light of consciousness to them and thus, they are consumed by the light of consciousness like a filmstrip when it is burnt. When it comes to thoughts, it works the same way. By recognizing a thought and observing it and letting it be there, you do not add fuel to it. It stops attracting other like thoughts and so you have stopped the momentum of thought. This stops the negative spiral. When it comes to the body, if you think you are your body, and the body changes, you lose your identity. You can practice observing the body as if it is an experience you are currently having rather than who you are. This is the whole ‘spiritual being having a human experience’ concept. When you recognize your body, see it, feel it and consciously experience it, you are in that moment not your body. You are dis-identified with it.
You are not the ego. You are not the separate self. The minute you dis-identify with it by becoming aware of the ego or the separate self, you are in that moment, not it. You are acutely aware of who and what you are not and so the greatest obstacle between you and the true self or united consciousness is dissolved. All that remains is what you are, a state that transcends all opposites… A state of peace and unwavering grace.
Take a look at our lives. While there are some things we do specifically because we are following our joy, the bulk of things we do in our life, we do specifically to avoid and escape pain. We go to school and then work so we can guarantee we wont feel the pain of being broke. We try to be as careful as possible with selecting a partner who is a safe bet so we don’t have to feel the pain of heartbreak. We get married so we can guarantee we wont feel the pain of separation. We take that pill so we don’t have to feel the residual pain of previous traumas in our emotional body. We put money in a retirement fund so we don’t have to feel the pain of working forever. Just take a look at your life objectively and see how much of it is lived to escape or avoid pain.
This is not your fault. All species on earth are physically designed to avoid pain and gain pleasure. We are designed for the constant movement away from pain and towards pleasure. This is not a tormenting process until we add painful meaning to pain… until we make feeling pain mean something. This causes us to resist pain itself. And what do we know about resistance? Whatever we resist persists. Most of us are absolutely terrified of pain because of what we have made pain mean.
So right now, I want you to ask yourself and answer as deeply and honestly as possible from the core of your being, what do I make pain mean? Here is an example: To one person, pain might mean that they did or are doing something wrong and therefore they need to correct something or change it instantly. If they don’t correct the thing that is wrong, this might mean to them that they are unlovable, not good and unwanted which leads to being rejected and forsaken. So pain equals being rejected and alone. The physical human, being a social group species, equates being alone with death. In truth, for many of us, being isolated is worse than death. So we would prefer death to being alone. If this is the case, pain becomes a worse fate than death. If we are this person, we will become terrified of pain. If we are this person, we have made feeling pain wrong and therefore bad. We will be desperate to get out of pain the second we feel it. We will chronically ruminate and worry. Our life will be a futile, desperate attempt to control external conditions so we never feel pain. And we will be in more pain than the average person because of it.
This is what most of us think. We think pain is wrong and therefore bad. If we feel pain, we think something has gone terribly wrong. And nowhere is this truer than in the spiritual community. Modern spiritual practice has recognized that emotions serve as a compass. When we subscribe to the idea that we create our own reality with our mind, we begin to use the way we feel to indicate whether we are in the process of creating and attracting something we want to create or whether we are in the process of creating and attracting something don’t want to create. Suddenly, negative emotions and pain becomes enemy number one. Pain becomes conceptualized as an error. Pain becomes wrong. We need to drastically alter the way that we see pain. Pain is not bad or wrong. Pain is an indication that you are alive. Numbness is an indication you are not alive. Pain is also a multi dimensional experience. It involves the physical, emotional and mental aspect of our being. And it is all interrelated, meaning physical pain causes emotional and mental pain, mental pain causes emotional and physical pain, and emotional pain causes mental and physical pain. No matter whether you perceive pain as starting at a physical, emotional or mental level, it will end up involving the other two aspects of our being.
When we feel pain, it does something; it calls our attention and focus to whatever is in need of presence. This is the real reason why suffering has been the main doorway to enlightenment for so many thousands of years. The presence of your consciousness transforms suffering into awakening. Because of this, to try to make it go away shouldn’t be our goal; we need to let the pain show us what needs to be shown and known. It alerts us to where we are out of alignment. It is a crucial aspect of healing. What modern medicine will eventually figure out is that pain in fact triggers repair mechanisms. It alerts us to the aspects of ourselves that need to be brought back into alignment so that we can become whole. In fact, a while back I was teaching a group of health professionals and one of them shared this beautiful insight with me that the letters of the word pain stand for… Pay Attention Integrate Now. Pain prompts you to re-evaluate and change your life.
The purpose of life is to facilitate consciousness becoming conscious of itself. Pain calls us to become conscious of ourselves. It is the catalyst for self- knowledge. It wakes us up from our unconscious slumber and as such, people who experience pain are provided the opportunity to wake up. It is a biofeedback system telling us about ourselves. It is a messenger. All too often, when we think pain is bad, we shoot the messenger.
Pain calls for presence. When we go into pain, it puts others in the position of providing their presence, often in the form of assistance. It unites us in this way. Pain equalizes us and forces a shared experience. This has powerful implication as it applies to ourselves as well. Pain calls us powerfully into the present moment with ourselves; it causes us to fully be with ourselves. This is the opposite of self-abandonment. Being fully present with ourselves and with what is, is a high level spiritual practice, one that is forced by pain. Pain is a catalyst for expansion. The universe expands when we expand and we expand as a result of forming new preferences. Pain causes us to become acutely aware of what is authentically desired and what is not desired so that we can go in the direction of what is desired and thus expand. The entire process we call evolution is in fact the byproduct of pain. Discomfort triggers wanting and that wanting triggers an evolutionary process by which we align with our desires.
Pain creates a very empowered person. Each time pain gives us the opportunity to become aware of the cause of the pain, we must face an aspect of ourselves and our lives that scares us or that we are trying to avoid. By doing this, we become more and more non reactive, more and more present with ourselves, more and more comfortable with facing fears until the things we fear lose their power over us. We develop a kind of graceful immunity.
Pain is contrast. We need contrast to become aware. We cannot understand black without white. We could not understand or truly experience pleasure without knowing pain. In this way, pain enriches positive emotional states and in fact increases our capacity for pleasure. To the degree we have suffered, we are capable of the opposing level of joy. Pain is also the seed of compassion. We must know pain, to recognize it in another. We must know pain to care enough to create a world that is free from suffering. Pain is the catalyst to improving all of your relationships… Your relationship with life, your relationship with other people, your relationship with the universe at large and your relationship with yourself. Pain becomes suffering when pain is not responded to with presence. When it is hushed, suppressed, denied, disowned and pushed past and when unconscious meaning is added to it. You do not need to suffer because of pain. Suffering is about perception. In other words, suffering is what happens when you make pain itself mean something negative. To understand how meaning changes pain into suffering, watch my YouTube video titled: "Meaning, The Self-Destruct Button".
It is well known that pain is experienced differently by people who make the pain mean something positive instead of negative. During World War 2 it is widely reported that a great many soldiers could be operated on with little to no anesthetic because they took pride in their wounds. For these individuals, their wounds did not cause suffering because of what they meant. This tells us that we need to change the meaning we add to pain. Treat pain like a teacher and learn from your pain. Visualize the pain; see it in your mind. What color is it? What texture is it? When did it start? When, by your experience, do you expect it to stop or decrease in intensity? How big is it? Where does it exist? Where does it not exist? Explore around the pain and find the edges of it. If your pain could speak to you, what would it say? What does it need? We need to be willing to choose to be present with our pain and surrender to it to use pain to transform ourselves. See the truth that it is a companion for improvement rather than an adversary. To understand how to be present with your pain, watch my YouTube video titled “How To Heal The Emotional Body”. We often become identified with our pain. This is especially true if we have been in pain for a long time. But you are not your pain. The pain is an experience just like the ripples on the top of a lake are disturbances of the lake water; they are not the whole lake. We may benefit by dis-identifying from our pain by imagining the totality of it as a separate entity. When we feel pain, we can see that it is this pain entity that is “charged or activated” and not us. When we experience chronic pain, it means that pain is no longer an experience for us. We have not used the pain to create the change that it is telling us to make and instead, the pain has become us. It is our reality and it is our identity. The ego has now identified with it and thus sees it as crucial to its survival. We need to ask ourselves honestly the following questions: What bad thing would happen if I sat with my pain and allowed it completely instead of trying to make it go away? What would it take or what would have to happen for me to completely allow my pain? What bad thing would happen if the pain truly did go away? To understand more about dis-identification, watch my YouTube video titled “Dis-identification (The Practice of Non Attachment)”.
We are programmed in our current society not to feel. We are conditioned to believe that feeling pain is both unnecessary and a bad thing and that we’ve somehow failed. This attitude fuels all kinds of addictions by convincing us that we must escape the pain as fast as we can. It causes us to resist pain and thus feel even more pain. Next time you feel pain, remind yourself that pain is the catalyst for the true alchemy of life change. It is one of the best things that can happen to you. It is not an indication that something is wrong any more than birthing contractions are an indication that something is wrong. It is an indication that you are expanding transforming and becoming conscious and aware. You are evolving into what you are meant for. You are giving birth to a new self and a new life.
Infidelity is a betrayal of a relationship. And infidelity is a leading cause of lost friendships, breakups and divorces. Infidelity is not just about being sexually unfaithful. Infidelity is about any discontinuation of loyalty or support. And lack of allegiance. See where this blows the doors wide open for confusion? Infidelity is completely subjective. Some people have a very strict definition of fidelity and some have a very liberal definition of fidelity. It is based on belief systems, past experiences and education with regards to morality and personal preferences. If we witnessed or experienced infidelity in our childhood, we will most likely not even recognize the ways we lack fidelity. It will be a huge blind spot. This is especially true if we had a parent who was disloyal to us directly, or whose allegiance we could not trust. You will find that infidelity is perceived differently amongst cultures. For example, in some cultures, it is considered perfectly appropriate and therefore not a breech of fidelity for a man to have a mistress. In others, that would be considered wrong and bad. Though sexual infidelity is the dominant fidelity concern in modern society, emotional infidelity is in fact the number one fidelity threat to relationships. Emotional affairs are where one person is emotionally intimate with someone other than their partner where the attachment formed to the other person, negatively affects the connection or partnership. Infidelity is all about trying to get one’s own needs met. When infidelity is present, someone’s needs are not being met within a relationship so they seek them outside the relationship in ways that are damaging to the relationship itself. For example, if we feel we lack self-esteem, we may flirt to be admired by others so that need is met.
If we try to get one single person to meet every one of our needs, we are particularly at risk for infidelity because it places too much pressure on our partner. They will fail at that task and then, we will look for the needs to be met elsewhere. A person will not stay in a space of self-denial for long. Which is why we have to be clear about which needs must be met by a partner specifically and see if that is something they are willing to do. But no one can tell you which needs are appropriate to have and which needs are not. A good relationship is not about learning to have no needs. So for example, romance may be a need that must come through a partner as opposed to a friend and if this is an agreement, seeking romance outside the relationship is an infidelity. Where we run into a big barrier with fidelity is when we begin to involve morality in the picture. Arguing over what is objectively right and wrong within a relationship is futile and is also not a winnable argument because relationship conduct, especially fidelity is subjective. It is mostly based on cultural conditioning. So rather than have a conversation about fidelity based on wrongness or rightness, we need to have one based on individual perspectives and reach an agreement within the relationship that is accepted by both parties. In other words, we need to set out the parameters of fidelity within each relationship we have, whether it be a friendship or a romantic partnership as soon as possible. This provides a stable structure for conduct within the relationship. It is a platform for trust, which can be easily and innocently broken if we do not find a meeting of minds about fidelity enough to agree upon a course of conduct. Communication is not important when it comes to this agreement… it is critical. Obviously the topic of infidelity is closely related to the topic of jealousy. So don’t worry in the very near future, I’m going to do an episode on jealousy and envy. Fidelity is about both people agreeing upon the boundaries of the relationship itself as if the relationship itself were a third entity that both were in charge of. For example, one person might see venting to other people about the relationship as an infidelity and the other might not. So this leaves the door wide open for trust to be broken and so it is important to reach an agreement about this act within the relationship. Only you and the other person know what constitutes relationship infidelity so leave society’s opinion out of it.
We have to begin to define and set up boundaries for the relationships we are in. Sometimes, these are defined as you go… usually when there has been a violation. But because these boundary violations can be so detrimental to a relationship, it is best if we set them up at the very beginning. That way we can set up the rules we both play by. This can prevent us from feeling like we are walking our way through a field of buried land mines… we don’t know where the trigger is, but we seem to trip the trigger every time. You know what that kind of relationship feels like. If you have a hard time with personal boundaries, it will be very hard to create healthy boundaries for a relationship because to create healthy boundaries for the relationship itself, you have to definitively know the needs and wants of each person within the relationship. For this reason, I urge you to watch my YouTube video titled “How To Develop Healthy Boundaries”. To define boundaries within a relationship, you must communicate. You must voice your preferences and see if compromise can be reached in every area of your life where you might run into a feeling of broken trust. For example, sexual conduct, privacy concerns, time spent together vs. apart and how to handle problems in the relationship. Try to be very specific as well. For example if you’re discussing the relationship boundaries involving flirting with other people, avoid making sweeping statements like “no flirting”. Be specific about what kind of flirting is ok and what kind of flirting isn’t ok and if no flirting is ok, define what flirting is to you in practical action. An example of a specific practical boundary with regards to flirting might be no touching or no seductive eye contact with another person.
I suggest that when we begin a new relationship, we begin by answering compatibility questionnaires together. The more specific and uncomfortable the questions are to answer, the better. As long as you are able to answer truthfully, instead of by saying what you imagine the other person wants to hear. Trust me, if you experience enough painful relationships, you’ll decide it’s much better to discover you’re incompatible before you commit to the partnership. These compatibility questionnaires can flush areas of potential future infidelity to the surface. And be open to boundaries changing within the relationship as time goes on. Relationships evolve just like people do. Now we come to a very fascinating aspect of fidelity. Polyamory vs. Monogamy. Monogamy can be seen as intimacy with only one person. Polyamory can be seen as intimacy with more than one person. Intimacy is more than sex. Sex may be an aspect of intimacy, or it may not. But intimacy is the closeness that occurs as the result of sharing oneself with another. Seeing into, feeling into, listening into another and partaking of their inner world. So you see, most people on earth are in fact not solely monogamous and not solely polyamorous. They are instead a unique blend of both. To greatly simplify what I mean, lets’ pretend that under each person’s name is a line of boxes, where you can check polyamorous or monogamous. In the various areas of a relationship, any given person will be either polyamorous or monogamist. For example, one person might be romantically monogamist but polyamorous with regards to sharing intimate details about themselves like their deepest fears. Another person might be monogamist sexually and also monogamist with regards to sharing intimate details about themselves and their deepest fears. Intimacy conflicts in relationships arise when there is an incompatibility between these checked boxes. These boxes fit into the categories of physical, mental and emotional. When one is sexually polyamorous, they fit into the category of physical polyamory. When one is committed to the idea of openness and transparency, they fit into the category of emotional and even mental polyamory.
Be aware that sometimes, we are holding double standards in our relationships. These are areas where we are polyamorous and expect our partner to be ok with that, but we expect our partner to be monogamist in these same areas.
It must be said that most of the people in the spiritual field are emotionally polyamorous. And with the rare exception, if we live in an intentional community, we are actively practicing emotional polyamory at the very least. But it is more than possible to practice emotional polyamory whilst not being emotionally disloyal to a partner. Providing that a partner does not require emotional monogamy from you to feel a sense of connection and allegiance. In fact, when we have children in a relationship, we begin to practice a form of polyamory. There is a difference between infidelity and polyamory. With infidelity, we have broken an allegiance. This is what we call “cheating” or having an affair. Instead of including other people in our love, we have excluded someone from our love. We have excluded our partner or left them out of something. We are violating the connection. This is why secrecy is such a big part of infidelity. If you feel like you have to hide or keep something secret from another person, especially a partner, you have engaged in infidelity. Depending on your definition of fidelity, anything you do that is a detriment to the connection between you, can be seen as a form of infidelity. Which is why yet again, it is so crucial to define what is and isn’t considered detrimental to the connection. Complete open, honesty and compromise in this area is important to create a safe structure of fidelity for the relationship.
Defining this safe structure is often lovingly referred to by therapists as creating a ‘couple bubble’. Only you and your significant other can decide upon the parameters of that couple bubble and what pops it or maintains it. Compromise is when we give up something important for something we see as more important. But because we value the thing we are gaining by giving something up so much more, it does not lead to resentment. We see it as a good trade. When we try to give up something we value highly for something that we feel holds lesser value, we end up with resentment. This is not healthy compromise, this is sacrifice. And it’s important to know that when many people use the word compromise, they really mean sacrifice. This is out of alignment. When we develop relationships, we rarely consider whether or not we are compatible. We fall in love and think our fate is sealed. But genuine intimacy incompatibilities with regards to fidelity are rarely incompatibilities that can be worked through because they cannot be worked though in a way that compromise is satisfying to both parties. Both parties usually have to sacrifice instead of compromise and this leads to breaks in trust, resentment and disconnection. It is tempting to believe that love conquers all within a partnership, but you may want to watch my video titled “Is love enough” before you make up your mind on that account. Relationship experts keep saying that communication is the key to a good relationship. Why do they keep saying it? Because it’s the straight up truth. This is especially true when it comes to establishing fidelity in our relationships. If we don’t communicate, we set our partner up to fail and our relationship does not stand a chance. We are setting our relationships up for failure when we expect our partner to know and adhere to the parameters of our definition of fidelity. We have to tell people; especially our partner when our needs aren’t being met or our boundaries are being violated in a relationship and give them and ourselves the opportunity to work through it to find a way to accommodate those needs. This includes our children. As parents, we practice infidelity with our children all the time without realizing it. And this is what sets them up to repeat the cycle in their adult relationships. Take an objective look at your relationship with your child; pretend to step into their perspective and observe each interaction with you (the parent) over the course of a day. Can you see ways that you are not faithful to them by discontinuing loyalty and support? For example, perhaps when you sided with a sibling against them, they felt betrayed. Do they observe infidelity between you and your spouse?
Chances are in a relationship; we are going to make mistakes. A huge part of fidelity is about doing what it takes to repair a relationship once a rupture in the relationship has occurred. This imbues the relationship with a sense of loyal, supportive and secure trust. So don’t worry as much about not making mistakes as you worry about using mistakes to define relationship boundaries and taking action in accordance with them to develop greater future trust.