Friday, October 6, 2017

Confident


It is a beautiful October afternoon. The sun is shining and the air is soft and slightly cool. Fall's cool transition to winter is a bit soft and slow. The vibe is a bit summery and a bit aloof. As I sit in the glow of the day I think back to a conversation I had with a patient a while ago. The conversation centered on the word confident. This person wanted to feel confident. That word choice leads me to wonder about its root meaning. As I looked it up, it made a great deal of sense to me. The root of the word comes from being loyal and having faith. It makes sense that if one is loyal to oneself and has faith in oneself and in something larger, that would lead to a sense of personal confidence.
Usually, when I hear someone described themselves as having confidence it sounds a bit arrogant to me. I really should look up the root of arrogant. Yet as I take in the root meaning, it is far from what I think of as arrogant. Confidence comes from a deep knowledge of and compassion for the self. 
As I think about it, am I loyal to myself? Do I have faith in myself and in something larger? Like most of us, yes, I sure do, and no, I really don't; at different times. What does it mean to be self-loyal? I think of it as being similar to being selfish in the best contexts of selfish; taking care of oneself first. It means thinking, doing and feeling what is truly in the best interest of the self. Of course, that also means having a good sense of self which most of us are in different phases of working towards. Having faith in oneself also makes me think of trusting oneself before trusting another. There are so many instances where I and I see others also, putting our trust in others; a leader, a guru, a mentor, a teacher, a parent, a spiritual teacher, and so on. We have to do this when we are very little children and growing up. Putting our, or having our unconscious faith in our parents and caregivers is necessary for our very survival. As we grow up and lose our childhood innocence, it is then necessary for us to retrieve that faith and to have it within us.
Do you know of someone who you would describe as confident? How would you describe that person using adjectives? The people I think of in this way is Barack Obama and Michelle Obama. To me, they exude what I would call confidence. They have wit, they speak with quiet authority, they stand strong in their body language, they believe what they are saying and they stand up for themselves and others. Adjectives I would use to describe them are: strong, having humility, intelligent, unafraid to speak their truth. 
When I think of myself, I know my underpinnings too well to describe myself as confident. I know my critical voice. We all have critical voices inside of us that undermine our self-worth and abilities. I am confident in my work, most of the time. I am confident in my ability to learn and grow. I am gaining confidence in doing what I think I am here in this world to do. I am gaining in love for myself with all my flaws and faults. I realize that in the process of attaining self-love and acceptance, I have also gained the same with my parents. I continue to work at seeing them clearly and appreciating their good parts and parts which I admire as well as their shadow parts which I don't especially like and which gave me so much trouble growing up. It is funny in the sense of ironic, that as I appreciate them more and let go of what I really don't like in them and in me, I seem to like myself more. This goes along with my having more confidence in who I am as a person. As my confidence continues to grow I become more fully whole and vital. This is my goal for me as well as for all the people I work with. What a great gift it is to be and feel whole and vital.

Shift Your Story/Shift Your Life
Take a minute for yourself and think about whether or not you consider yourself confident. Where, if any place, in your self and life, do you feel confident and think of yourself as confident? Where in you and in your life do you feel a lack of confidence?
Now, ask yourself the same question regarding your parents. How and where were they confident, if at all? Of course, this is all in your personal perspective. Where are or were they not confident? How does this correspond with yourself?
Now write down what you noticed from this exercise. Next, write down what two steps you can do to begin and/or continue to gain a sense of confidence and acceptance in yourself?
This is yours and yours alone.

My soothing words of wisdom for the week is about enchantment:


Thursday, September 21, 2017

A Miracle Pill

Many of us consciously and unconsciously look for a miracle pill or thought or idea that will set us free. People I have spoken with have talked about an idiot pill that can keep us, happy idiots. That sounds kind of funny, but if we think about it, many of us would like a pill that makes us happy. Hundreds of thousands of people and more are on anti-depressants to help them to stay more even keeled. Sometimes in severe depression, it is helpful to take some medical intervention to help us to get through difficult times where we feel we really need the help as we work through our depressive state. It can also be helpful for elderly who have lost so many loved ones to be able to live a more peaceful life. And yet, many of us use these pills in order not to feel bad. Sometimes we are even afraid to feel.  In truth, there is no magic pill that can take our pain away or that can make us happy. The only way I know of to live happier and more peaceful lives is to do the painful work of going deep into our unconscious to reclaim parts of us that we gave up in order to survive and to take a chance and to look at our truths with our eyes wide open.  Doing so is not easy and often requires help from others. We need to be able to shed light on difficult times and abuses and traumas in our lives, not to re-traumatize ourselves, but to feel them again, with assistance and with distance and perspective so that we can understand how they impacted us and what they cost us. In doing so, we gain compassion for us and learn how to be with those painful wounds in us so that we can move forward in a new way. Another patient of mine calls this process, open soul surgery.   There is a patient I work with who had been doing some very deep and painful work where she was finally able to talk about secrets she has kept for most of her life and to begin to feel some confidence in herself and some motivation to do things that give her joy. She had experienced years of feeling passive and melancholy and had begun to feel a change. Then she had gone to her medical doctor who suggested trying new anti-depressants to help her with her melancholy. She thought that was a good idea, and so added a new medicine to her existing anti-depressant. When she saw me next she was very fatigued, was sleeping a lot of the time and feeling very passive. At least she wasn`t feeling bad. As we spoke she mentioned there is a part of her hoping for a miracle pill that can take her pain away as this is such difficult work. I told her that no, there is no miracle pill, but in doing the difficult work, she can begin to do things she has wanted to do and can experience very rewarding outcomes like being happier, speaking up for herself, and having the motivation to live.   She heard me, and together we started looking at the part of her who wanted this miracle pill and to learn from her. That this part of her holding some important information that we wanted to hear and understand. One thing we discovered is that this young part of her is very imaginative and that she could learn to use this imagination in her life in some kind of art project or in writing, etc. and that this could make her life so much more fun and interesting.   As we can shift from wanting to escape pain to want to understand our pain and how to work with it in a new way, we can begin to live a life that is happier and more fulfilling.  Shift Your Story/Shift Your Life  Is there any part of you that are looking for or would like a miracle pill for something? These days, with marketing techniques as they are, many people claim to help us to have this miracle. The truth is, they may be able to help us with tools, but that there is no quick fix.   What part of you would like a quick fix? What would this quick fix entail? What would it give you, and what would it help you to avoid?  Get out a piece of paper or your table, and in one column write out what a quick fix would give you, and in another column write out what it would help you to avoid. Write free association and give yourself 15 minutes to do this exercise. Don`t read it as you are writing. When you are done, read what you have written. Take a minute and digest it.   What have you learned about yourself?


Many of us consciously and unconsciously look for a miracle pill or thought or idea that will set us free. People I have spoken with have talked about an idiot pill that can keep us, happy idiots. That sounds kind of funny, but if we think about it, many of us would like a pill that makes us happy. Hundreds of thousands of people and more are on anti-depressants to help them to stay more even-keeled. Sometimes in severe depression, it is helpful to take some medical intervention to help us to get through difficult times where we feel we really need the help as we work through our depressive state. It can also be helpful for elderly who have lost so many loved ones to be able to live a more peaceful life. And yet, many of us use these pills in order not to feel bad. Sometimes we are even afraid to feel.

In truth, there is no magic pill that can take our pain away or that can make us happy. The only way I know of to live happier and more peaceful lives is to do the painful work of going deep into our unconscious to reclaim parts of us that we gave up in order to survive and to take a chance and to look at our truths with our eyes wide open.

Doing so is not easy and often requires help from others. We need to be able to shed light on difficult times and abuses and traumas in our lives, not to re-traumatize ourselves, but to feel them again, with assistance and with distance and perspective so that we can understand how they impacted us and what they cost us. In doing so, we gain compassion for us and learn how to be with those painful wounds in us so that we can move forward in a new way. Another patient of mine calls this process, open soul surgery. 

There is a patient I work with who had been doing some very deep and painful work where she was finally able to talk about secrets she has kept for most of her life and to begin to feel some confidence in herself and some motivation to do things that give her joy. She had experienced years of feeling passive and melancholy and had begun to feel a change. Then she had gone to her medical doctor who suggested trying new anti-depressants to help her with her melancholy. She thought that was a good idea, and so added a new medicine to her existing anti-depressant. When she saw me next she was very fatigued, was sleeping a lot of the time and feeling very passive. At least she wasn`t feeling bad. As we spoke she mentioned there is a part of her hoping for a miracle pill that can take her pain away as this is such difficult work. I told her that no, there is no miracle pill, but in doing the difficult work, she can begin to do things she has wanted to do and can experience very rewarding outcomes like being happier, speaking up for herself, and having the motivation to live. 

She heard me, and together we started looking at the part of her who wanted this miracle pill and to learn from her. That this part of her holding some important information that we wanted to hear and understand. One thing we discovered is that this young part of her is very imaginative and that she could learn to use this imagination in her life in some kind of art project or in writing, etc. and that this could make her life so much more fun and interesting. 

As we can shift from wanting to escape pain to want to understand our pain and how to work with it in a new way, we can begin to live a life that is happier and more fulfilling.

Shift Your Story/Shift Your Life

Is there any part of you that are looking for or would like a miracle pill for something? These days, with marketing techniques as they are, many people claim to help us to have this miracle. The truth is, they may be able to help us with tools, but that there is no quick fix. 

What part of you would like a quick fix? What would this quick fix entail? What would it give you, and what would it help you to avoid?

Get out a piece of paper or your table, and in one column write out what a quick fix would give you, and in another column write out what it would help you to avoid. Write free association and give yourself 15 minutes to do this exercise. Don`t read it as you are writing. When you are done, read what you have written. Take a minute and digest it. 


What have you learned about yourself?



My soothing words of wisdom for the week is about where and how you feel chaos in your body: 


Thursday, September 7, 2017

In and Out of the Tunnel



I recently listened to a story on NPR on a rainy Sunday afternoon. I love the true stories told here. This was a story of a man who was on death row for the murder of 3 children. He was 18 years old when he was accused and was on death row for 18 years total. He didn't commit the murders and there was DNA evidence to support him over many appeals but the same judge heard all the appeals and designated them as not enough for an appeal. Finally, his case was heard in a state supreme court and he was able to be released after 18 years. He lived half his life in jail. He lived many years with out hope and his health failed. But some part of him never gave up.

This is certainly a true story and an extreme story of long term abuse and trauma with no end in sight. The truth is, most of us live with some form of long term abuse or trauma of some kind or another. Some of us are more affected by them than others, and some of us are more wounded than others, and some have more terrible abuse than others. It doesn't change how it affects us. One of the effects is our being able to live in the middle of a dark tunnel with no end in sight. 

Every one of us has a dark tunnel we go through many times throughout our lives. This is an internal place where we are going through a tough time and we can't see the light at the end of the tunnel. How do we get through those dark and lonely times? I know a man who has made some great strides throughout his life and has accomplished things his family had not been able to, including getting out of an emotionally abusive relationship. Yet upon his ability to move through a difficult relationship, he was in a place of, what next? He is still the same person with many old fears and wounds, he is just in a different place. 

His fears still are there. Most of us, when we move through something challenging use all our resources to move through it and have not been able to visualize what happens after. We are the same person….Suddenly in front of him are very similar issues which plagued him throughout his relationship. He thought he would experience a great sense of freedom and instead finds himself dealing with new situations but the same inner story and early traumas affecting him and influencing him. He finds himself in the middle of a new dark tunnel. Where he thought he would see light, he sees darkness. 

As we work through our early life traumas, we find new ways to deal with them and we slowly work to change the stories we have told ourselves most of our lives. The fact is that when we have pretty severe early wounds we haven't cultivated ways of being in uncomfortable and dark places. Those dark places feel too much like what we lived through when we were young and we keep getting re traumatized. How do we move day by day through the dark places with little hope, until we begin to see some light? We do this by day by day learning how to be in uncomfortable and scary feelings, reminding us that the old fears are just that, old fears. We learn how to be uncomfortable and continue doing our work as we learn to accept ourselves, to see the strengths we have learned through our challenges, and recognizing that we have learned, we are stronger, and learn to be our own best friend. Talking about what happened helps also; not to wallow in our old stories, but to reveal what we have kept hidden from us and from others. Sometimes we have to be in the dark tunnel with faith that as we keep walking we will find some light. As we do so we can begin to create a truly new life for ourselves.

Shift Your Story/Shift Your Life


So, find a comfortable safe place to be in where you won't be disturbed. Breathe deeply 2, 3 times. Imagine in your mind's eye a place where you feel good and safe. See the beauty around you and feel the feeling of what being safe might be like. From this place, mine is a field of wild flowers in a forest clearing, remember an old trauma or old wound which has dogged you….that you are still dealing with in some way, or even a fresh one if that is more appropriate. Breathe deeply and at the same time you are remembering an abuse or trauma, feel and see the surroundings you are now in your mind's eye. Tell yourself you are safe and you are no longer in that situation. Now, think about one thing that you learned from this person or situation that has made you stronger or that you even use in your life today that wouldn't have been there without that trauma. Breathe that in and thank them and you. Feel an appreciation for yourself. Take a moment and just sit there with that appreciation in that safe place. Now become aware of your body and the room that you are in and wiggle your fingers. When you are ready to open your eyes, and then find a piece of paper and write down what this was like for you.


My soothing words of wisdom for the week is about taking the time to look at the awe and wonder around us:

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Thursday, August 31, 2017

Taking Time to Smell the Flowers

In this world today we are so rushed. We rush our breakfasts, if we eat breakfast, we rush to work, we are always on our phones texting or messaging, we rush our lunch and even eat at our desks, we rush home, and so on. In America, if we are lucky we get two weeks off a year for vacation. We rush to finish things, we want to know how things end and we want to rush to the end. What happened to taking the time to smell the flowers? When I look out at the blooming trees as an example, I love to see and appreciate what they look like now and also remember how they looked just yesterday and appreciate the daily changes. If I were rushing in my mind I wouldn't be able to see these subtle changes. This sounds so simple, but if we really think about it, how often do we not take in the new beauty around us, and just see things as they were or as we want them to be? I know I am guilty of this some times.  Another example of this is that I can remember the negative reactions to things and to myself and not pay attention to the positive ones. The more we do this and also not take in how things are now, the harder it is for us to change our old internal stories we tell ourselves. We keep reinforcing our old stories. I love to find time daily to slow down and appreciate things, whether they be the change of the foliage around us, or the beauty of the rising and setting sun, or how my dog and I love to walk around our neighborhood and take hikes together. This also keeps me more in the present. When we are in internal places in our minds or situations that are uncomfortable to us, it can be easier for us to jump to an end. How often do we wish the winter was over or the graduation was upon us, or we were married instead of just dating? When we do this we miss all the beautiful, subtle changes which can expand our lives as well as many growth opportunities. Anxiety, depression, panic, pain are all conditions which also cause us to rush to the end and not be able to take the time to smell the flowers. It is our early relationship with our mothers and fathers, mostly, or our caretakers which help us to be able to be comfortable within us enough to slow down and appreciate life. If mom was rushed or anxious or unavailable, or our primary caretaker, and when we aren't held and our needs met with loving care, it literally affects the development of our nervous system and we grow up unable to sit with uncomfortable feelings and to see and appreciate the little things in life and want to hurry up to something... sometimes we know not what. We can blame it on so much to do and feel overwhelmed with things or feelings. This difficulty with handling our feelings and responsibilities which make us feel anxious and scared and rushed is a direct result of what we missed when we were little. Things like meditation, swimming, warm baths and essential oils, flower remedies, yoga and lying in Shavasana, deep breathing techniques, massage, and so on, helps us to retrain our anxieties and nervous system so that we can take one thing at a time and take the time to smell the flowers. In addition, good talk therapy, family constellation work, and other modalities to help us to heal and become more conscious of where our rushing comes from are very helpful for us to learn to speak to those anxious and scared places inside of us. It is never too late to take the time to smell the flowers.  Shift Your Story/Shift Your Life: Let's start simple. Begin a practice of morning or evening meditation and commit to it for 2 weeks. As you move gently,  or watch a candle, or close your eyes and listen to music, or take a slow walk in your garden or around your block, or however you decide to dedicate 10 minutes to meditation daily, in that quiet place, pay attention to your feelings. How does it feel to breathe deeply, and can you? How does it feel to sit quietly watching a candle, and how does it feel to have no agenda but to relax? What do you notice in your body? Does your stomach tighten, does your breath quicken, do your hands or legs twitch, do you notice body pains? Pay attention to these body sensations as well as your emotional feelings. Our bodies don't lie. Just notice and stay with it. Do this every day for two weeks. After each session, write down just 2 or 3 sentences describing your experience. When the two weeks are over, read over what you have written. Let me know how this goes for you if you feel like it!

In this world today we are so rushed. We rush our breakfasts, if we eat breakfast, we rush to work, we are always on our phones texting or messaging, we rush our lunch and even eat at our desks, we rush home, and so on. In America, if we are lucky we get two weeks off a year for vacation. We rush to finish things, we want to know how things end and we want to rush to the end. What happened to taking the time to smell the flowers?

When I look out at the blooming trees as an example, I love to see and appreciate what they look like now and also remember how they looked just yesterday and appreciate the daily changes. If I were rushing in my mind I wouldn't be able to see these subtle changes.

This sounds so simple, but if we really think about it, how often do we not take in the new beauty around us, and just see things as they were or as we want them to be? I know I am guilty of this some times.  Another example of this is that I can remember the negative reactions to things and to myself and not pay attention to the positive ones. The more we do this and also not take in how things are now, the harder it is for us to change our old internal stories we tell ourselves. We keep reinforcing our old stories. I love to find time daily to slow down and appreciate things, whether they be the change of the foliage around us, or the beauty of the rising and setting sun, or how my dog and I love to walk around our neighborhood and take hikes together. This also keeps me more in the present.

When we are in internal places in our minds or situations that are uncomfortable to us, it can be easier for us to jump to an end. How often do we wish the winter was over or the graduation was upon us, or we were married instead of just dating? When we do this we miss all the beautiful, subtle changes which can expand our lives as well as many growth opportunities.

Anxiety, depression, panic, pain are all conditions which also cause us to rush to the end and not be able to take the time to smell the flowers. It is our early relationship with our mothers and fathers, mostly, or our caretakers which help us to be able to be comfortable within us enough to slow down and appreciate life. If mom was rushed or anxious or unavailable, or our primary caretaker, and when we aren't held and our needs met with loving care, it literally affects the development of our nervous system and we grow up unable to sit with uncomfortable feelings and to see and appreciate the little things in life and want to hurry up to something... sometimes we know not what. We can blame it on so much to do and feel overwhelmed with things or feelings. This difficulty with handling our feelings and responsibilities which make us feel anxious and scared and rushed is a direct result of what we missed when we were little.

Things like meditation, swimming, warm baths and essential oils, flower remedies, yoga and lying in Shavasana, deep breathing techniques, massage, and so on, helps us to retrain our anxieties and nervous system so that we can take one thing at a time and take the time to smell the flowers. In addition, good talk therapy, family constellation work, and other modalities to help us to heal and become more conscious of where our rushing comes from are very helpful for us to learn to speak to those anxious and scared places inside of us. It is never too late to take the time to smell the flowers.


Shift Your Story/Shift Your Life:

Let's start simple. Begin a practice of morning or evening meditation and commit to it for 2 weeks. As you move gently,  or watch a candle, or close your eyes and listen to music, or take a slow walk in your garden or around your block, or however you decide to dedicate 10 minutes to meditation daily, in that quiet place, pay attention to your feelings. How does it feel to breathe deeply, and can you? How does it feel to sit quietly watching a candle, and how does it feel to have no agenda but to relax? What do you notice in your body? Does your stomach tighten, does your breath quicken, do your hands or legs twitch, do you notice body pains? Pay attention to these body sensations as well as your emotional feelings. Our bodies don't lie. Just notice and stay with it. Do this every day for two weeks. After each session, write down just 2 or 3 sentences describing your experience. When the two weeks are over, read over what you have written.

Let me know how this goes for you if you feel like it!

My soothing words of wisdom for the week is about the upcoming Fall season 🍂🍁

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Being Vulnerable

We spend a great deal of our time in life protecting ourselves from perceived hurts from life and from others. Some of us take on the role of being a victim and so we go through life over sharing and being over vulnerable with others, bonding over our wounds and almost unconsciously asking to be hurt again. Others of us take on more of a role of everything being ok, and not easily asking for help and not easily sharing our true and vulnerable, underbelly selves. Neither extreme is one which is helpful to us, and yet we developed those ways of coping from our early life experiences. Which way of coping do you find yourself most resonating with?  Both ways actually keep us from being truly vulnerable in a life affirming way. They are defenses built to protect us from hurts. Defenses could also be called fences. These fences keep others out from our hurt selves and keep us in, really not allowing our further growth and expansion. We developed these fences as a way of surviving. Our old instinctive brains, our young developing brains, are all about surviving in a world that is perceived as dangerous. To us in this young developing stage of life, it is all about surviving and belonging. We need to belong in order to survive. We are willing to do almost anything in order to be part of our family group and to survive. This includes giving a part of us up who is seen as different or bad from our caretakers. It also includes building fences around us so we don’t feel the pain and hurt and so we can live. This old primitive brain then continues to rule us in life as we get older unless we are able to learn how to recognize what is happening and learn how to talk with our young selves as well as our older selves, creating a continuous dialogue between our old primitive brain, and our brain which is aware and rationally relating to us, to others and to events and things around us in the present tense.  Our old brains get stuck in the past and don't recognize that what is occurring now in our lives is not the same as occurred when we were young and experiencing hurt or trauma. Learning to be vulnerable with ourselves and others is a part of learning how to build a bridge between our primitive brains about survival and belonging to our newer, rational brains which can take in and recognize that what is happening now is in the present and not necessarily related to the past. What this looks like in relationships with others, is that we are able to recognize when we find ourselves withholding a part of ourselves and our feelings and thoughts from a partner or friend or colleague, etc., and are consciously and unconsciously protecting us from sharing how we really feel and how we really think.  I have one client who is over vulnerable. She over shares her issues and what is going on with her and how she is feeling. This over sharing comes from not trusting herself or knowing herself very well and identifying with being a victim. We don't always consciously realize when we are identifying with a victim mentality. This can come from having someone in the family, as she does, who hasn't led a good life, in her perception. She has an aunt who is mentally challenged from early birth trauma, and she has a sister who really struggles in life. This woman almost feels as if she has to struggle, and has to make things hard and doesn't understand why. This way of behaving seems to be vulnerable, but it too is actually a way she has learned to act that in fact prevents her from knowing her own self, her own true strengths, and vulnerabilities. I have another client who seems so defended and like he has to be strong and be the fixer and the person people come to for help, not realizing he is not really being his true self and vulnerable with them in terms of being with his feelings. In fact, he is wounded, as we all are, and works very hard to cover up his wounds until he can't anymore. He attracts women to him who thinks he can fix them. Then when his vulnerabilities show up, they don't know how to handle it, and they leave him. His mother was an alcoholic who could be an out of control drunk, so to speak. His father was worried and asked his son, this young boy, to let him know when his mom acted up again. He did so, loving his father, and his mother and his father confronted his mom. Mom then knew her son had told on her, felt betrayed, and turned on her son. She basically disowned her son; that is how it felt to him as a young boy. So, trying to please his father and trying to help his mother, he ended up losing his mother. As he grew up he became a busy fixer. This worked well except for when his issues reared their head in relationships with women in particular. There comes a period where his fears of betrayal and abandonment become a problem, and these women don't understand, feel betrayed themselves, and the relationships end. As this man learns to feel his feelings and to be vulnerable with himself, he can then be truly vulnerable in a relationship with others. We all have a little of both within us. Some of us have more of the victim aspect, and some of us have more of the openly defended aspect. Learning how to be truly vulnerable with us and with our feelings is the path to our healing and living more whole, vital, and healthy lives.  Change Your Story/Change Your Life  Take a moment and breathe deeply. Get into the rhythm of your breath. Think about which you resonate with the most; the openly defended, or the openly too vulnerable victim aspect. Think of an example in your life where you had to defend yourself from someone or some thing. What was happening at that time? How did you feel about yourself? What, if anything, were you afraid of or anxious about? How did you respond, and how did the other person who's involved respond? How did you feel afterward? Now, go through that event or conversation again in your mind, but this time imagine yourself responding differently. Imagine saying your true feelings and thoughts to yourself and to the other. Imagine how it feels to you in being able to do that, and imagine how it might feel to the other involved. See and hear their reaction to your truth. How does that feel inside of you; any different than what actually did happen? Remember how this felt to you, and then begin to deeply breathe again in 2 or 3 deep breaths, and then come back to the present. Write down how this was for you and what you learned so that it becomes more available to you. Again, would love to hear how this worked for you if you would like to share your experience.


We spend a great deal of our time in life protecting ourselves from perceived hurts from life and from others. Some of us take on the role of being a victim and so we go through life over sharing and being over vulnerable with others, bonding over our wounds and almost unconsciously asking to be hurt again. Others of us take on more of a role of everything being ok, and not easily asking for help and not easily sharing our true and vulnerable, underbelly selves. Neither extreme is one which is helpful to us, and yet we developed those ways of coping from our early life experiences. Which way of coping do you find yourself most resonating with?

Both ways actually keep us from being truly vulnerable in a life affirming way. They are defenses built to protect us from hurts. Defenses could also be called fences. These fences keep others out from our hurt selves and keep us in, really not allowing our further growth and expansion. We developed these fences as a way of surviving. Our old instinctive brains, our young developing brains, are all about surviving in a world that is perceived as dangerous. To us in this young developing stage of life, it is all about surviving and belonging. We need to belong in order to survive. We are willing to do almost anything in order to be part of our family group and to survive. This includes giving a part of us up who is seen as different or bad from our caretakers. It also includes building fences around us so we don’t feel the pain and hurt and so we can live. This old primitive brain then continues to rule us in life as we get older unless we are able to learn how to recognize what is happening and learn how to talk with our young selves as well as our older selves, creating a continuous dialogue between our old primitive brain, and our brain which is aware and rationally relating to us, to others and to events and things around us in the present tense.

Our old brains get stuck in the past and don't recognize that what is occurring now in our lives is not the same as occurred when we were young and experiencing hurt or trauma. Learning to be vulnerable with ourselves and others is a part of learning how to build a bridge between our primitive brains about survival and belonging to our newer, rational brains which can take in and recognize that what is happening now is in the present and not necessarily related to the past. What this looks like in relationships with others, is that we are able to recognize when we find ourselves withholding a part of ourselves and our feelings and thoughts from a partner or friend or colleague, etc., and are consciously and unconsciously protecting us from sharing how we really feel and how we really think.

I have one client who is over vulnerable. She over shares her issues and what is going on with her and how she is feeling. This over sharing comes from not trusting herself or knowing herself very well and identifying with being a victim. We don't always consciously realize when we are identifying with a victim mentality. This can come from having someone in the family, as she does, who hasn't led a good life, in her perception. She has an aunt who is mentally challenged from early birth trauma, and she has a sister who really struggles in life. This woman almost feels as if she has to struggle, and has to make things hard and doesn't understand why. This way of behaving seems to be vulnerable, but it too is actually a way she has learned to act that in fact prevents her from knowing her own self, her own true strengths, and vulnerabilities.

I have another client who seems so defended and like he has to be strong and be the fixer and the person people come to for help, not realizing he is not really being his true self and vulnerable with them in terms of being with his feelings. In fact, he is wounded, as we all are, and works very hard to cover up his wounds until he can't anymore. He attracts women to him who thinks he can fix them. Then when his vulnerabilities show up, they don't know how to handle it, and they leave him. His mother was an alcoholic who could be an out of control drunk, so to speak. His father was worried and asked his son, this young boy, to let him know when his mom acted up again. He did so, loving his father, and his mother and his father confronted his mom. Mom then knew her son had told her, felt betrayed, and turned on her son. She basically disowned her son; that is how it felt to him as a young boy. So, trying to please his father and trying to help his mother, he ended up losing his mother. As he grew up he became a busy fixer. This worked well except for when his issues reared their head in relationships with women in particular. There comes a period where his fears of betrayal and abandonment become a problem, and these women don't understand, feel betrayed themselves, and the relationships end. As this man learns to feel his feelings and to be vulnerable with himself, he can then be truly vulnerable in a relationship with others.

We all have a little of both within us. Some of us have more of the victim aspect, and some of us have more of the openly defended aspect. Learning how to be truly vulnerable with us and with our feelings is the path to our healing and living more whole, vital, and healthy lives.

Change Your Story/Change Your Life

Take a moment and breathe deeply. Get into the rhythm of your breath. Think about which you resonate with the most; the openly defended, or the openly too vulnerable victim aspect. Think of an example in your life where you had to defend yourself from someone or some thing. What was happening at that time? How did you feel about yourself? What, if anything, were you afraid of or anxious about? How did you respond, and how did the other person who's involved respond? How did you feel afterward?

Now, go through that event or conversation again in your mind, but this time imagine yourself responding differently. Imagine saying your true feelings and thoughts to yourself and to the other. Imagine how it feels to you in being able to do that, and imagine how it might feel to the other involved. See and hear their reaction to your truth. How does that feel inside of you; any different than what actually did happen? Remember how this felt to you, and then begin to deeply breathe again in 2 or 3 deep breaths, and then come back to the present.

Write down how this was for you and what you learned so that it becomes more available to you. Again, would love to hear how this worked for you if you would like to share your experience.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Change Is In The Air

Change is not easy for most of us. Letting go of a thought or an idea or of something or someone in our lives challenges us. This is true even if and when we know they or it no longer serve us. We are creatures of habit. What we hold onto is connected with our early need to belong. This holds true even on a macro level as we see with our government and our political beliefs and we see playing out in the world. Yet what we see playing out in a big way always begins with us individually; with our internal work with ourselves. We hold onto that which served us at one time in our lives. That time period has great meaning to our inner world even if that was in the past. Our inner world knows time very differently than our outer world; the world of defenses and masks we developed to help us to survive in our world.  I remember a conversation I had with a group of friends at Passover this year. We were talking about forgiveness. How do we forgive when someone killed a family member or when we witnessed chemical warfare perpetrated against us or when we remember the Holocaust and our own personal holocausts? How do we let go of the hurts that were perpetrated against us or that we perceived and experienced? That is where real change happens, through letting go of hurts. This reminds me of a long lasting conversation I used to have with my father. He didn't believe in forgiveness. He used to say that energy doesn't get lost and that you can't let go of something that happened, as it, in fact, did happen. I used to argue that forgiveness is about the transformation of energy, not a letting go of or losing energy. My father, although he helped many people in his work and was very wise in many ways, never was able to let go of and move forward from what he believed was hurts he received at the hands of his parents. He saw his father as being jealous of him and therefore as having had little to do with him. He saw his mother as a liar and as a mother who didn't protect him from abuse by a sitter and accused her of never seeing who he was or liking him as a person. Whatever the truths are regarding him and his parents we may never know. The truth most likely lies somewhere in the middle of everyone's experience. The important thing here is that he never forgave them. He was never able to transform his anger and hurt to acceptance, or to some kind of resolution with them, much less to love them in some way. If we as people aren't able to find acceptance with our parents, if nothing else, and we hold onto our abuses and hurts, how can we ever move forward in life to forgive others their trespasses?  Is it easy to find some kind of peace and acceptance or forgiveness with those that hurt us or tortured us or took advantage of us in some way? No, it is a very hard thing for us to do and takes very much internal work on our parts. If we don't, however, we hold onto the pain forever and it robs us of a part of ourselves and our own health and vitality. It keeps us from changing our own internal dialogues and we become set and rigid in our beliefs and stunts our growth. We then own the very possibility of perpetrating similar hurts upon others. Think a minute about who hurt you and how that felt and how you reacted to the hurts. How has it been for you in holding onto them? Has it felt good or has it robbed you of something vital? Change is in the air and all we have to do is move into it.  Shift Your Story/Shift Your Life:  On my website, www.bodypresencing.com, there is an interview I conducted with Katy Hutchison in which her husband was killed and left her with two young twins. It is a very inspiring true story of how she overcame the trauma and even made friends with and business partners with her husband's perpetrator. Click on Media, and scroll down to listen. I hope it inspires you as it did me.


Change is not easy for most of us. Letting go of a thought or an idea or of something or someone in our lives challenges us. This is true even if and when we know they or it no longer serve us. We are creatures of habit. What we hold onto is connected with our early need to belong. This holds true even on a macro level as we see with our government and our political beliefs and we see playing out in the world. Yet what we see playing out in a big way always begins with us individually; with our internal work with ourselves.
We hold onto that which served us at one time in our lives. That time period has great meaning to our inner world even if that was in the past. Our inner world knows time very differently than our outer world; the world of defenses and masks we developed to help us to survive in our world. 

I remember a conversation I had with a group of friends at Passover this year. We were talking about forgiveness. How do we forgive when someone killed a family member or when we witnessed chemical warfare perpetrated against us or when we remember the Holocaust and our own personal holocausts? How do we let go of the hurts that were perpetrated against us or that we perceived and experienced? That is where real change happens, through letting go of hurts.

This reminds me of a long lasting conversation I used to have with my father. He didn't believe in forgiveness. He used to say that energy doesn't get lost and that you can't let go of something that happened, as it, in fact, did happen. I used to argue that forgiveness is about the transformation of energy, not a letting go of or losing energy. My father, although he helped many people in his work and was very wise in many ways, never was able to let go of and move forward from what he believed was hurts he received at the hands of his parents. He saw his father as being jealous of him and therefore as having had little to do with him. He saw his mother as a liar and as a mother who didn't protect him from abuse by a sitter and accused her of never seeing who he was or liking him as a person. Whatever the truths are regarding him and his parents we may never know. The truth most likely lies somewhere in the middle of everyone's experience. The important thing here is that he never forgave them. He was never able to transform his anger and hurt to acceptance, or to some kind of resolution with them, much less to love them in some way. If we as people aren't able to find acceptance with our parents, if nothing else, and we hold onto our abuses and hurts, how can we ever move forward in life to forgive others their trespasses? 

Is it easy to find some kind of peace and acceptance or forgiveness with those that hurt us or tortured us or took advantage of us in some way? No, it is a very hard thing for us to do and takes very much internal work on our parts. If we don't, however, we hold onto the pain forever and it robs us of a part of ourselves and our own health and vitality. It keeps us from changing our own internal dialogues and we become set and rigid in our beliefs and stunts our growth. We then own the very possibility of perpetrating similar hurts upon others. Think a minute about who hurt you and how that felt and how you reacted to the hurts. How has it been for you in holding onto them? Has it felt good or has it robbed you of something vital?
Change is in the air and all we have to do is move into it.

Shift Your Story/Shift Your Life:

On my website, www.bodypresencing.com, there is an interview I conducted with Katy Hutchison in which her husband was killed and left her with two young twins. It is a very inspiring true story of how she overcame the trauma and even made friends with and business partners with her husband's perpetrator. Click on Media, and scroll down to listen. I hope it inspires you as it did me.


My soothing words of wisdom for the week is about saying no in the moment and regretting the decision later:


Thursday, July 20, 2017

Self Conscious

Self-conscious is being aware of one's self. How do we do the hard and necessary work of being aware of us and who we are and discern who we think we are and what we want to be from who we truly are? It begins with our self-talk. Listening to how we talk to ourselves and staying awake to us helps guide us to seeing and knowing who we are.

I had been working on a woman's astrological birth chart recently. In looking at her chart I saw a pattern which I interpreted a certain way. Our astrological charts can show us our basic nature, the nature of our early wounds, and ways with which we can work with our minds and our wounds to grow and be our potential in this world. Her birth chart looked like she had chosen a difficult life. Her mind was being pulled in many directions and looked like there had been a lot of strife and emotional abuse in her life.

When I actually met with her and worked with her, I quickly saw and felt and knew that she had been able to transcend the gnarly work of untangling the different pulls and directions in which her mind worked so that she was living who she is and her potential in this world.

We are all given different gifts and challenges in our lives. I have yet to meet anyone who has not had some struggles in life. It is how we work with the challenges that make the difference between being stuck and afraid and angry in life and doing the work of turning our challenges around so that we are able to live more in the present, without bringing our hurtful past into how we see and live our lives.

An example of this happened the other day. A couple came to see me struggling with how they would project something from their pasts onto each other. The wife would get triggered by an act by her husband which made her feel like she didn't matter and she would then over react, not knowing consciously what she was doing. All she knew was that she became inordinately angry. When her husband would do something which made her feel unrespected and which didn't meet what she needed at the time, she would feel like who she has had no value. We all feel this way sometimes. It was her reaction and the extent of her anger which showed her that this was, in fact, something far greater than not being listened to in the present because of her husband's needs at the time.

She was living in the past in her early mind, in the present day. Her self was not consciously aware of what she was doing. Her work and all of our work is to be able to become consciously aware of ourselves at the moment. In order to do this, we need to go back in time to address an early wound which affected and still affects us in the now. When we do this when someone doesn't seem to respond to our needs, as with this woman,  it is just someone not being able to respond to our present needs because of something going on with them. We are then able to be self-conscious in the best sense of the words. We then can act more as our true selves and see the other person for who they are. We can then live in a healthy, vital and wholeness which is our birthright.

SHIFT YOUR STORY/SHIFT YOUR LIFE:

When do you get self-conscious? What is going on in your life or in yourself that is triggering your hyper-awareness of self? Is it something you said, something someone else said, a look you received, a thought you had? Now take a moment and ask yourself how do you feel, or what thoughts begin circling in your mind? Follow that thread. Are you in the present or did they go to something in your past? Just notice. Now let it go.
If you get a chance, go to my website, and click on What's New and scroll down to the BodyPresencing Hologram and listen to the words and see if they help you.

My soothing words of wisdom for the week is about selfishness and taking care of yourself: