Wednesday, November 25, 2015

What Our Future Holds

"Even if you fall on your face, you are still moving forward."
-Victor Kiam

This has been quite a year. I have written about my father with inspirational stories, with what I have learned about myself, my family, and from my patients. It has been a year of weaving my life and stories and learning with that of my father and a memorial of sorts to him. We all have family stories and beliefs, events, thoughts, and memories that have shaped us. If felt important to me to bring this together for my learning and to share what I have learned with you. As this year is nearing completion, what does the future hold? That is a question we can all ask ourselves as the new year is approaching; what does the future hold?

This  has been a year of talking a lot about family, our parents, and their influence on us. It has been a year of talking about interrupted bonds between us and our caretakers, talking about truth and grief and mourning, talking about aging and the winter of our lives, making our lives more conscious, learning how to move from being reactive to people and situations to using our reactivity as a tool towards our growth, seeing repeating patterns in our lives, the power of secrets, what it is like living with those who are all about them or who see everyone as if looking into their own mirror, and more. I have depicted examples from my own life, the life of my father and his stories, and from aspects of my patients. 

My father is gone now. His stories remain. He touched many people in his life and left a true legacy; good and bad. We are all good and bad. Hopefully, as we are able to recognize our own goodness and badness we can begin to have more compassion for everyone. We are all in a state of growing and learning. To live such that we bring more light into the world is something to aspire to. Although my father touched many lives and gave a lot to a lot of people, he was all about himself. He wanted to save everyone he could. He wanted to be the savior. He did love to help and his motivation was mostly about himself. I was able to give him a last gift in his life. The gift I gave him was letting him know I knew him and I saw him. He was seen as the person he was in life. What a gift that is…to be seen. Many of us go through our lives wishing we would finally be seen.  In contrast, I went to a memorial for a friend just the other day. In this memorial to my friend, it was well talked about that he also helped many people. He did this certainly for himself, but also with the consciousness that he wanted to help others, and was genuinely concerned  about the world and its affairs and everyone in it. A story was told that touched me. He would carry granola bars with him wherever he went. When he would run into a homeless person, he would give that person a granola bar instead of money or anything else. It struck me how that little thought and gesture implied a lot of thoughtfulness. It also is a little story which tells a lot about the man.

This is the end of the year 2015, the end of my father's life and the end of a year of my story- telling of stories that held meaning to me. What stories held meaning to you in this last year that you will take with you into the next? What have you learned this past year that you can take with you into the future? The future is unknowable in many ways. What we do know is that the work we do now in our lives on knowing our truths, on seeing clearly what we bring with us from us and from our families, across the generations, and the power to consciously see us clearly and with compassion, the more that does affect our future. We then become conscious collaborators and creators in our lives. There is nothing I know that is more empowering that we can do. It also helps us to live the vital, whole, and healthy lives that can be our inheritance.

Change your Story Change Your Life: Guided Visualization

Sit down in a comfortable chair. Empty your mind and begin to breathe deeply. Take 2,3,4, deep breaths and tune into yourself. Feel yourself being held by your chair. We are going to take an inner trip. Imagine yourself in a beautiful place where you feel safe. This could be a favorite place or someplace in your imagination. See what flowers or trees you want to be surrounded by; if you are outside in your minds eye. Imagine you are surrounded by those you love and feel safe with. Now imagine you are in the middle of the area and all of your ages are around you. See your one-year-old self, your two-year-old self, and so on all the way up to your current age. Ask any of them if they wish to tell you something…how they feel, what they need, etc. Listen to them one by one. Let them know what you really want in your life…more peace, greater happiness, good relationships, a successful business, and so on. Ask them how they feel about your desires. Do any of them have reactions to your desires? Listen to the positive and the negative reactions. Tell them you really want to know. As they share their fears and anxieties and excitement, and so on, listen. Ask them what would help them to move in the direction you want to go towards your desires. Imagine yourself holding those that need comfort. Thank them for sharing with you and let them know you will come back again to this place and to be with them. Now tune into your breath again and breathe deeply. Become aware of your body being held by the chair and when you are ready, slowly open your eyes. If you need to, then write down what you want to remember from this visualization that will help you move into your future.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Blast From The Past

"Most people think that shadows follow, precede, or surround beings or objects.
The truth is that they also surround words, ideas, desires, deeds, impulses, and memories.”
-Elie Wiesel

These days many of us use the social media of Facebook to find and re-connect with old friends and/or school acquaintances of the past. This can be quite fun and bring back many old memories we haven’t thought of in a long time. As I am coming to the end of this year, 2015, in my attempt to honor my father’s life in a true way, I am intrigued with the memories that are surfacing for me. It is through these old memories, blasts from the past, that we can also gain greater insights into ourselves. We can use these to see old patterns of our parents, our grandparents if we know them or hear stories of them, and ourselves. Seeing the patterns helps us to bring consciousness to them for us and then to make different choices in our lives.

Through my work, I love to continue to learn for myself and also to help others. One of the new tools I am working with and learning is the Imago work as founded by Harville Hendricks and Helen Hunt. One of the things I love about it is its ability to bring out old memories to see how they shape our relationships today. Working with my patients, it is also fun to help them to see the patterns that re-occur for them as they are so familiar to them from their early lives.

One young woman, I work with is finding a pattern that she is realizing comes from her early experiences in life. In her family, she has constantly found her to be the one who helps others, and when she needs help, finds herself stranded. She then realized that she does the same thing in her choice of friends and boyfriend. She unconsciously chooses friends who need her and in her experience are “needy”. Most of the time she enjoys being in the helper role and the one person they come to for help. It makes her feel good…..until it gets too overwhelming and she realizes she needs to focus on herself. Even her boyfriend whom she leans on for many things, she finds that when she really needs his help with something, he is not available. This is familiar to her. Even though she doesn’t like it when she needs help, it is what she knows and where she found her power in her early life. Her mother and father were teenage parents. They were children themselves when they birthed her. Her role became helping her mother; especially when her parents separated and divorced. Then when she was with her father, she would feel like she needed to help him emotionally. Recently she told me a poignant story. When she was 5 years old, kindergarten age, her mother would wake her up and then have to go off to work. This five-year-old was left at home to get herself ready for school. This included getting dressed, brushing her teeth and hair, eating breakfast, and then catching her bus to school. Can you imagine at five being responsible for all of this? She remembers feeling good and powerful by being praised for taking care of herself. She brings this same dynamic to her life today and is in the process of changing it.

My father too was a helper. During the Depression when he was little he and his mom were living by themselves for a year or so while his father was in another city. He was left on his own a lot of the time also. He helped his mother by being self-sufficient. He was the only one he knew he could count on and in his life even today, he is the only one he trusts or counts on. It is hard for him to take emotional help from others. He can take money from others, but emotional support, no. In life, he was a helper; in his work and personally. He would over help and didn’t know the boundaries of when to stop and empower another.

Our blasts from the past do affect us. His grandparents were immigrants and left their homeland at young ages with children. His grandmother was orphaned from her family and sent to live with another family as a young girl. This pattern was repeated in his parent’s lives and in his life. I look at this pattern and see where and how it affects me, in my past and also in my present. I look at how it affects me personally and in my relationships.

Small Lifestyle Changes that Promote Big Results:

Take a moment and close your eyes. Breathe deeply two or three times. With your eyes closed think back to a time when you were younger that has importance to you. Sometimes just having the intent that you want a memory to surface that is important, is all it takes if you don’t have one come to you easily.

What do you remember? How old are you? How does this memory affect you today? It could be of your parents fighting, or you fighting with them or a sibling, or a good memory of import, or something you have been proud of or something you are ashamed of, and so on. Do you repeat in some way a pattern you see if this memory? Again, here we are just noticing and not trying to do anything.

Next, ask yourself how you could do things differently by action or by how you react. What could you do, moving forward from the present into the future that could use this memory in a good way?

Friday, November 13, 2015


"No memory is ever alone; at the end of a trail of memories,
a dozen trails that each have their own associations.”
-Louis L”Amour

Memories are interesting things. They can be elusive and we can make them intractable by constantly repeating them to ourselves and others. They can also be beautiful tools to help understand ourselves, and rarely are they factual or objective. Our memories tell us about our perspective of people, things, and events. We can get many people in a room and have them talk about their memories of the same event, and everyone will remember it differently.

With my father, he loved to repeat stories over and over again, and they become unchangeable in his mind. This happens with all of us. Yet these memories or stories help us to understand us and others. What we remember, how we remember, the words said that we remember, and our reactions to our story help us to understand our unconscious. I love it when I facilitate constellations for others in a workshop setting when the client talks about an important and impactful story in their lives, and we set up the important people involved as representatives to help them to see their story from a different and greater lens as well as to help them to see dynamics at play in that story between the people involved. The client most always has a set way of viewing people and events, and they are shown by the movements of the representatives a very different story. It can be very illuminating.

Images are helpful for us to take something so close to us that we can be blind to something important and to take it away from us so that we can see it more clearly. One of the stories of my father’s involves a hike up a mountain with two other siblings and myself. In his story, he is a hero and superhuman. In my story, he put us in danger and we were very lucky that nothing bad happened. The bigger truth is not so simple. My dad needed to be big and a hero and save others. I have written about this aspect of my father in earlier blogs. I didn’t have a very strong hold on myself at that time. Without going into the fuller details of this story, we both view this event differently. I finally had a chance to tell him my perception of what occurred on that mountain on a short trip back to Estes Park last year. He started to tell his version and I told him how that differs greatly from mine, and yet I can see why he sees it the way he does. Then I told him how I see the story, and he did hear me. It did make an impact and he understood how in my eyes, it was hurtful to my siblings and myself.

We all have situations like the one above, and we all don’t have an opportunity to tell our truths to the person involved. I was very grateful for that opportunity. A memory I have of him which gives me pleasure also involves us as young children. We had moved to a new city and lived in a suburb where we didn’t know many people yet. My mother was having great difficulty. My dad worked until late afternoon or early evening, and I remember as it was getting close to the time he would come home, we would sit on a cement wall at the entrance to our subdivision and wait for him to drive up and surprise him. He loved to drive convertibles at that time, and he would wear a baseball cap. He would stop his car and let us in and we would all go for a ride in the convertible feeling the air move all around us. Then we would come home and sit with him as he ate dinner, or we ate dinner together. He could still be the hero and we could enjoy him at his best.

Memories can be helpful, and they can also be hurtful in that by constantly repeating certain memory/stories to us, it can be harder for us to change perspectives in order for us to do our own inner, healing work. As we are learning, as we change our inner stories, we can change our lives. In using them as a tool to understand us better, they can be incredible helpers. What memories do you have that are enhancing your life, and what memories do you have that you keep repeating as internal stories that are keeping you back? They can be a great tool to live the vibrant, healthy lives we would all like to live!

Change Your Story/Change Your Life:

Again, get a sheet or two of paper and a writing utensil. As you sit down to prepare to write, first take a couple of deep breaths and calm your mind and come to a place of quiet. This may take a few minutes. If your mind doesn’t fully quiet, that is ok, just breathe deeply a few times to bring an interlude from your previous activity. Write down the first memory that comes to you….. doesn’t matter if it is a bad or difficult memory or a pleasant one. How does this memory make you feel? Is it a good feeling, a bad feeling, an uncomfortable or unsettling feeling, what? Ask yourself if this is a memory you come to often… a repeating one. Now, write down a memory that you don’t often think of. It might take awhile for one to come to you. How does this one make you feel? Next, write down the same memories from the point of view of another person in your memory. How would that other person view the same experience (of course this is from your own mind’s eye)? Looking at this memory from another perspective, how does it make you feel? Is there any difference or not?
Do this writing exercise for 3 days in a row. Afterward, re-read them and see what you gain from them?

Again, I would love to hear from you as to how this exercise works for you if you are so moved.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Sunday Mornings

"Memories of our lives, of our works and our deeds will continue in others.”
-Rosa Parks

What do you do on Sunday mornings? I bet most of you have a Sunday morning ritual. Some of my best memories of my father reside with Sunday mornings. If you have been following my blogs for the year, I have been writing a memoir of my father, what I have learned from him, how it pertains to what I learn with my patients, and family stories and tools to help us to live fuller, whole and vital lives. Even to this day my Sundays are influenced by him in a good way. I have written about some of my negative learning experiences, and this is a positive one.

Sundays were a more leisure day which began with a morning adventure and then a breakfast outing. He worked a lot and was very available for his patients, and Sunday mornings felt like our time; me and dad sometimes, and often, me and the family except for our mother. Sunday mornings dad gave her a gift of sleeping in until we were older and she chose to join us. We would go to a park and hike, or we would take a long walk to a bakery and pick up goodies for breakfast, or we would go for a bike ride, or something equally active and outside. I think I got my love of walking and outside from him. After our activity, we would find a place to eat breakfast and we would all enjoy our time together.

My father died a few months ago, and as it is an end of an era, it is also freeing in many ways. If we think about it, I would imagine most of us are held in an active or passive influence by our parents. There are certain expectations they have from us towards them or in general, there are expectations of how we act and how we live and even how we think. There is something about an influential person in our lives passing that allows us and allows me to let a lot go that doesn’t serve me anymore. We can see things more clearly. I also miss him and realize how much he has given me, and am filled with appreciation for him, as well as also seeing how difficult and troubled he was in life and some of his ways of being influenced me and my siblings and others in ways that aren’t so good. The task for us is to see clearly and to accept others as they are, warts and all.

In fact, when my dad was on his death bed I had written a letter for him. He couldn’t read anymore nor understand much, so my sister was going to read it to him. In the letter, I expressed how I saw him and the good and the bad and that I saw his true self and that I don’t blame him, I love him. My sister phoned me and asked if I wanted her to read it to him and I decided that no, I didn’t. I asked her to just tell him that I see him and that I love him warts and all. That night he died.

Seeing clearly, or as clearly as we can, is a very freeing experience. It takes a lot of work and the ability to hold two things at the same time: our inner sense of self and focus, and an outer awareness of things and those around us is an important skill to develop. What memories do you have that influence you in both good and positive ways, and also in not so good ways? Do you have a Sunday ritual that is important to you, and where did that come from? I would love to hear your sharings.

Small Changes that Promote Big Results:

This is a simple exercise to use memories and how they help us.

Get a piece of paper and a pen. Write out the first memory that comes to you that has importance to you. You don’t have to know why; just let it pop in. Take a moment and look at the memory and write out what and how it is a good memory for you, and what and how it might be not so good. What did you learn from the memory and how has it influenced you?

If you want to do this with another memory, please do. The more we do the more we learn. And again, if you would like to share your experience, I would love to hear from you.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Nearing The End

I wrote this blog just before my father passed. As I re-read it now, it is very poignant. I have no regrets between the two of us and feel complete. In fact, as his last years were so difficult, I feel much relief with his passing.

"There is always tension between the possibilities we aspire to and our wounded memories and past mistakes.”
-Sean Brady

Throughout this year, I have been going over memories and stories and thoughts and feelings regarding my father and his legacy and entwined them with stories in my life and with my patients. It is already November as I am coming close to the end of this year of writing, my father is also coming closer to the end of his life.

When we are nearing the end of anything often many bitter/sweet memories begin to swirl in our minds. Often at our death beds our main thoughts revolve around our families. We hold on to life for them, we reach out to them, we yearn for them, and so much more. As we near the end of something rich, we have a much larger perspective with which to view our work, our relationships, and our lives.

I have learned and also have experienced personally and with my patients that the more we have had difficulty with something or someone, those very aspects we have the most trouble with are the ones which we re-create in some form. This happens because we have scrutinized those things we dislike and we know them so well. We try so hard to be different, to do things differently and yet, there is also a part of us that loves, even blindly, even in a very deep hidden place, that person we are so conflicted with, or that career we so hated. So those aspects we disliked the most can squeeze out of us in ways we don’t like to see or acknowledge. Here we also have the makings of a blind spot within us. We all have them. At the end of things, we sometimes can more easily see these blind places.

With my father, as I have written, he is a very complex man and inside of me are complex emotions regarding him. Yet as his life is waning, I find that also some good memories are surfacing inside of me. Baseball is a popular sport here in America and it was a favorite sport of my fathers. As I have been enjoying the season this year, a memory is so very vivid in my mind; a good memory.

This event takes place in the 1960’s and the St. Louis Cardinals were in the World Series. At that time, bleacher seats were on sale only at the start of the series. They could not be purchased beforehand. They were available at a first come first available basis. My dad was excited about the series and wanted to go to a World Series game. His excitement was palpable and infectious. We slept out all night so that we could get tickets to a game. All four of us, me and my siblings, went with him. We played catch that evening and brought food to eat as we stood in line waiting for the next day’s excitement and anticipating tickets to the game. We had brought sleeping bags and pillows with us and camped out on the pavement. I remember having fallen asleep and was rudely awakened by my head hitting the pavement. A group of people had stampeded the line and someone had taken the pillow out from behind my head. By the time we reached the box office, all the tickets were already given out. We were so disappointed, and my father was angry. To make up for it, he took us all out for breakfast at my favorite pancake house. He later wrote Anheuser-Busch a letter documenting what had happened and that because of the early morning rush on the line, we had lost our chance at series tickets. Instead of sitting in bleacher seats for the game, we received from Anheuser-Busch great seats behind home plate and thoroughly enjoyed the game.

Again, as his life is waning, I am so filled with memories of my life with him; good and bad and ugly. This memory is one of my best. To this day, I love the game of baseball. No longer am I aware of mainly bad memories, or of idealized memories; but I am swimming in many of the good things he has given me and has influenced me in my life.

Small Lifestyle Changes that Promote Big Results:

Think about a situation or a person that and who has influenced you. What good memories surface for you? What did and do you like about that person or event?

Focus for a minute now on someone important to you that you are conflicted about. Let all the memories surface; the good and the bad or difficult. If mostly difficult memories surface for you, let them come and in your mind’s eye, just as easily let them go. Keep doing this until they have slowed down. After these memories, open your mind to anything that is a good memory or even a neutral memory. Maybe your mother was aloof and abusive, and maybe she was also funny or did something for you or you did together that was good, or that you learned from her. As they begin to flow, let them come and don’t stop or censor them. Then, if any stick out in your mind, write them down so that you have a written record of them.  It is easier for our brains to remember our hurts and pains, and less easy for us to remember good and helpful things. This exercise can help us to remember some of the better ones.

The Spaciousness of Time

"Better three hours late than a minute too soon.” 
-William Shakespeare 

I remember when I was young time seemed to go on forever. My days were shaped by others; particularly my parents. It is time to wake up, it is time to go to bed, it is time for lunch, it is time for dinner, it is time to go to the store, and it is time to go to school, and so on. It felt as if time was not mine and I was a slave of sorts to time. I would play and wait after school until it was time for dinner. I couldn’t eat before then. My mother wasn’t the type who invited help so that it wasn’t even a thought as I got a bit older to ask if I could help her in the kitchen to prepare a meal. Weekends could last so long with lots of unstructured time. I also think that as adults it is easy for us to forget that what seems like a short period of time for us can seem like an eternity for a child.

We can say to a child, I will be right back; it might be 5 minutes for us, and seem like forever for the child. Time is also important for us in an internal way. The time it takes for us to really digest and understand something new for us takes its own time. For one person, an understanding can come in an instant, and for another, it can take years. 

There is another way that time is spacious. I was working with a young woman who was experiencing an anxiety attack. Her heart rate was at least 122 beats per minute and she was nauseous and also would vomit at times throughout the day. As I was speaking with her, I asked her if she knew the trigger for this anxiety. She said it began on Saturday as a Jewish holiday had ended. I asked her the importance of this, and she said that suddenly there was nothing for her to do. What became clear was that those words had great meaning…if only we understood them. In addition, after she spoke those words she became without words…she only experienced feelings of what I would call dread and fear. I had asked her mother what was going on during her pregnancy and birth and she related how, about two months before her due date she had a placenta crisis and became very frightened. She also delivered early as the cord was wrapped around her neck. Then, shortly after her birth, her older daughter became very sick and had to be hospitalized. 

With this information and with being with this young woman in the throws of anxiety without words, only feelings, it felt like she was experiencing moments in utero and after birth. She must have been extremely frightened, felt her mother’s fear also without knowing separation from hers, and was suddenly thrown into a different world. Something about the sudden change from what was expected of her during Passover into a different world where she didn’t know what she could do and felt at such a loss, triggered a memory in her reptilian brain that was still fully alive. Suddenly she was living in those early moments. Time became spacious in the sense that she was at once living in those early, scary, unknown times, and also in the present. Her young brain knew not that she was actually now a young woman in a safe world. Her conscious brain and cerebral cortex knows that she is, in fact, a young woman living at home with people she loves surrounding her. Those two brains became at odds with each other; each one living their own truth. Time became an experience of two periods of time at once. The key here is to help her to recognize what is going on, help to give her words to understand her young traumatized experience, and also to work with her body through acupuncture, cranial/sacral work, energy medicine and gentle massage to help her present self to be able to soothe herself. We even had her mother with us to hold pressure points on her forehead to help relieve stress so she could feel her mother actually with her in the present and the living past. Putting these two worlds together and helping her to find ways and words to help her and to speak with herself are also crucial. 

This type of experience happens to us all at times. Trauma does live within our early brains that only remember action and reaction and the traumatic feelings. We find this occurring with our returning veterans, with those who have been traumatized and abused in life and in experiences such as this woman was experiencing. What happened with her is that she was so very young and at a crucial time for her brain development and at a time when she had no words or skills to help her to understand or deal with what was occurring in her life. We can learn to work with our traumatized selves. We can learn words to speak with us and to help us to bring our two worlds together. We can learn to work with the spaciousness of time. Here too, I remember how my father talked about so often about the crucial development time of the last three months in the womb and also the first three years of life. He spoke so eloquently about what happens to us during that time frame and how crucial it is for understanding how the brain develops, and how trauma can affect our developing minds and influence our health in all ways. 

Learning how to see the spaciousness of time and how to make it our friend and ally is a very helpful skill for us as humans to become the whole, vital and healthy souls that are so possible.

Shift Your Story/Shift Your Life: Simple Exercise That Can Promote Big Results

We all have times in our lives where we are triggered in such a way that we react instinctively in a very primitive way. Take out a sheet of paper and a pen. Think about a time when you have been triggered and regressed in your feelings and reactions. Maybe you had someone pass on who you were close to and you can’t stop crying, maybe you broke up with someone and you fall into a deep depression, maybe you fell and hurt yourself and find yourself unable to breathe and having a panic attack, maybe you have some pains that won’t go away and there is really nothing physically wrong, and so on. Take a moment and take anything that comes to mind without censor. You may not consciously understand why you are drawn to that memory, but you are. Write down what happened and how you felt. Take about 5 to 10 minutes to write down what comes to you and what feelings you remember. 

Then, take a moment and think about how old you feel, or how old you were and what this feeling reminds you of. When this occurred, you felt ... and the last time you remember feeling this way was when... What was going on in your life at that time? 

Another example was one that happened to me when I was learning to scuba dive. I had to go down to the bottom of the pool and take off my mask and change tanks, and then put a new one on and come up. When I had to take off my breathing tube I went into a total panic. I couldn’t do it. I found out later that I was born being strangled by my umbilical cord. I had told my parents what happened and they told me about my birth.

After you trace what was happening, write down what you would say to this self at that time. What words can you tell this younger self to help him/her to understand what was happening? Write them down and write down what feelings you feel as you give your younger self-words. 

If nothing comes to you, don’t worry and don’t belabor this exercise. Try it again sometime when you find you are reacting to something, if it feels right to you. This is for you and about you. Again, feel free to share your experience if you are so moved.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Do You Enjoy Drama?

"Time is what we want most, but what we use worst.”
-William Penn

Just like most everyone I know I enjoy a good dramatic series. I like watching the characters and what motivates them. As I watch them I am exercising my abilities to see how people affect and influence us, even over generations. Yet if I am honest with myself, I am watching and am in my head, and not really feeling how it affects me. I don’t often take the time to look at myself and my family and use what I am seeing to feel and see similar things and dynamics in myself and my family. We also do this in life, not just in watching a dramatic show. We see and sometimes invite drama into our lives and we don’t see what we are doing or feel what we are doing.

One of the things I do in my work with my patients is to blend physical/Chiropractic work with emotional/spiritual work. There are many ways I do this. One way is to listen to their words as I am working with them. I listen to the language of their body and also their language and use of language as well as to watch their facial expressions. I see my work often as helping others to know their own soul through their expression of it in their bodies. Then when I speak to them, I speak through the interventions of massage, acupressure, cranial/sacral work, manipulations of the spine and extremities as well as through words and visualizations. Sometimes I also use physical footsteps and figurines to help them and us see an image of something they are experiencing.

As I was working with a patient recently, she had expressed to me that she was stretching her leg out on a table and as she was finishing and went to lift her leg off the table, her foot got caught and she fell backward onto a bookcase. Needless to say, she felt awful a couple of days later with back pain and a headache. I asked her if she knew what, if anything, symbolically affected to her getting caught and swept off her feet and conked on the head. She told me of one sad thing that happened to a friend of hers, and then something else came up regarding a relationship of hers. She said she had agreed to go to another city for a weekend with a friend where there might be an opportunity to make their relationship more intimate. This other person is currently married and is also her boss. She doesn’t want to take the chance of losing this job, but she is very interested in this person. I asked her why she needed to go on this trip and she said it would be an opportunity to know this person better. I asked her why she had to do this to know him/her better; that all she needs to know is in front of her. She laughed and then, I asked her if she likes drama. She said, in effect, “Who doesn’t?”

This exchange stuck with me. How many of us bring in drama when we don’t have to? How many of us unconsciously and even sometimes consciously look for drama? For some reasons, drama fulfills something for us. It gives us some temporary excitement, although often this excitement is short lived and transforms into a negative experience. We want to feel. Sometimes we live in a state of numbness which can help us to continue in life with protection around us. Numbness is a protection or defense. Inviting in a situation which can give us excitement and make us feel something can be enticing. Sometimes we are unconsciously recreating an environment similar to one in which we grew up. If our family thrives on difficulties and trials, we can be driven to re-create that experience.

What we don’t often do is to look at what our experience was really like in our family and to feel how it affected us and still does to varying degrees. This recreation of dynamics in our families often is repeated for generations which also gives this compulsion more energy and weight and makes it more difficult for us to break the pattern. Do we really need unnecessary drama in our lives? Life itself can be messy enough, so do we need to invite more mess in order to feel? Sometimes we do, and it can feel like we need it. What we really need is to finally be able to see and to feel our pain and to see and feel how certain actions and events in our lives affected us. There is plenty of drama in that. Can we learn from our experiences and welcome in change? Yes, it is possible. First, though, can we see ourselves and our actions and compulsions with a fuller and compassionate perspective? I believe this woman has that drive and capacity to see and to feel. I think it is possible for all of us.

Shift Your Story/Shift Your Life

Let’s look at where you consciously and unconsciously welcome drama into your life. Take a piece of paper and a writing utensil. Breathe deeply 2 or 3 times. Ask for guidance intuitively to help you to see the drama in your life. Let’s start small. Where today, if anywhere, did you experience a dramatic situation with another person, with yourself, with seeing someone else being triggered and maybe you wanting to put in your two cents, with you being triggered, and with you calling a friend and gossiping about someone? There are just a few examples of how we invite drama in. You could think of a different situation entirely. Write it down. How did you feel afterward? Did you feel empowered, energized, drained, or what?

Now, take a minute and ask yourself what you could have done differently. Maybe you could have kept your nose out of someone’s business, maybe you could have walked away from a situation, maybe you could have stopped yourself from gossiping about someone, and so on. Write down any ideas that come to you. Do this exercise for a week and at the end of the week, go back through the week and read these entries so it becomes much clearer how you might intentionally and unintentionally bring drama into your life.