Monday, June 29, 2015


Every person you encounter in your day and throughout your life has known some form of hurt inflicted by another. Of course there's a wide range and depth to the pain, but pain is painful no matter the degree or source. It seems an apology from the "inflicter" is a soothing balm to the wound, somehow lessening its intensity and hold over us. But what about the times that we receive no apology, where does that leave us and our suffering? It leaves us with a challenge.
What is the first thing most of us do in our efforts to receive and apology? We go on a mission to convince the other person the err of their ways. Our logic goes that if we only lay the facts our before them it will become blatantly obvious to them that an apology is in order. This can go on for years, a lifetime in fact, as we engage again and again our efforts to convince the person to see matters through our lens. We soon begin to make a laundry list of all the offenses that they seem to be responsible for imparting, each one adding fuel to the outrage, frustration and damage to the other.
When we are met with denials and clear disregard for our feelings by the perpetrator we seek others as a sounding board, just to be sure that the offender is indeed in the wrong and as a means of validating our sanity. Armed with a new confidence installed from an outsider's perspective we return once again to the individual in question, with what we believe to be a solid and clear argument in our defense of their offense. Again we leave empty handed, except for the strong desire to take the person by the shoulders and shake some semblance of sense into them.  
What allows others to remain so unrelenting in their refusal to take ownership for their behaviors? Sometimes it's something as simple as pride, in other instances it is your run of the mill denial and in some cases it's a lifetime of pathology that no amount of brow beating will budge.
It is infuriating to find ourselves once again unsatisfied with their response and understanding. So if our initial approach isn't working, what are we left with? Acceptance, that icky word that causes bile to rise in our throats and throws our ego into a tailspin.
Accept what exactly? That you most likely will never get that which you seek. That the person you are in conflict with does not have the ability to offer their remorse, no matter how flagrant the harm, because you can't get blood from a stone. That you have lost this battle, but not the war. That there might be grief that follows the acceptance as we disengage from the fight.
You see, we can get the validation we seek but it has to come from within at this juncture. We need to console and comfort that part of us that feels injured, much like we would a friend. When we find them in our inner world we may offer a hug or reassuringly say, "Of course that hurt. That was very unfair of them. I can understand why that might upset you. What do you need?" - or whatever conversation that part of you might find soothing. "Talk to myself?" you ask. Yes, you're doing it anyway why not make it a healthy and meaningful exchange.
No doubt your mind will lead you back into the throws of arguing, at least mentally, with the other person. When you find yourself in this fruitless endeavor I urge you cease the debate and once again seek to support yourself. It may take days, weeks or years but at the very least it is not in vain as we invest in ourselves and take the power to heal out the hands of others and take a firm grip on that which is ours.   
Be well and happy.

Monday, June 22, 2015

The End

There are some relationships in our life that reach this critical point of termination. I know because here I sit on Father's Day with no father to speak of, the same way Mother's Day passed for me a month earlier. It can prove to be one of the hardest decisions we have to make, saying goodbye, especially when it involves family. There is such a strong societal pressure to remain engaged with family no matter their questionable behaviors. Remaining family members turn a judgmental eye our way wondering why we are so dramatic and sensitive, code phrases for refusing to live in the denial, abuse and drama. Those of us that choose to disconnect from family members are silently frowned upon and charged quite frequently with not being loving individuals. We are told family is everything, but I'm here to tell you sometimes it's not.
"Sacrifice all in the name of family," ring the chants. But sometimes what we are sacrificing is ourselves, and that is not acceptable. Certainly no person, and therefore no relationship, is free of conflict and the occasional bumpy road. But, when the ride with another is more like a field trip through a war zone, it is time to disengage- no matter the title of their relationship to you. Parents, siblings and other close relatives are not exempt from treating us with respect, compassion and consideration. So many times the family dynamic excuses the abusive and disrespectful actions of family with a dismissive, "Well that's just how he/she is..." In my rule book, there are no excuses allowed.
Of course we all have quirks and idiosyncrasies that as loving family members we accept in those closest to us. What I'm referring to is derogatory, manipulative, abusive, demanding and condescending behaviors that leave us feeling attacked, hurt, confused and controlled. We dread seeing these people and don our emotional armor in preparation to be in their presence. This is not the true definition of family but is simply playing out of a role that was created most likely when we were children that we now continue to perpetuate as adults, not realizing that as adults we have the freedom to choose something different.
I'm not suggesting that you toss to the side each and every family member that irks you a bit. What I would like you to consider is the notion that you can attempt to have an adult conversation with the person that is creating a challenge in your life. Be honest with your needs and feelings. The goal of this is to be true to yourself, not to get the other to agree or even understand. The hope is that they love and respect you and your connection enough to develop a compromise that honors you both.
In all honesty, many times that doesn't happen and instead both parties are left feeling the need to further defend themselves as the pull of old patterns create continued strain. At that point, we are faced with a new choice- accept the situation and that person as it stands, or leave.
If we choose acceptance than we must not expect anything different from that individual or that relationship. The complaining must cease. That's tough as we can no longer play the role of victim to them or the drama because this is a conscious choice we made as an adult.
In choosing to leave we are not saying we have no love for the other person, but are actually choosing to love ourselves more. Many times it is an act of self preservation. It's a heart wrenching moment that is awash with self doubt and fantasies fed by the innocent hope for the miracle of change. With this choice we may be sacrificing family events, gatherings and holidays as we stand on the outside of what appears to be a tightly knit circle. It can be a lonely vantage point but never as painful as what we once tolerated and accepted as the norm.
I've come to understand that not all relationships are meant to last a lifetime, some possess a time-line for their usefulness despite our longing for this not to be true. I've also come to understand that leaving a relationship is not only an act of self-love but is also loving towards the other person as well, most especially when they remain hurtful or abusive. In terminating our connection and refusing to tolerate the unkindness we are no longer feeding and supporting that other person's darkness and acting out. We cease being an enabler.
Of course friendships can fall under this same umbrella and they too might require a realistic assessment of how they are serving you, or not If we're doing the work to learn and grow as individuals, then it only makes sense that not all will follow our learning curve and it might be necessary to send them gratitude as you bid them a fond farewell, as all relationships serve a purpose and some come with an expiration date. Life changes and not all can, or should, remain the same.  
Be well and happy.

Monday, June 15, 2015

'Til Death Do Us Part

That is the answer to the question I so often receive from clients, "How long do you think this will take?" What they're referring to is their process of growth and healing. So many times others want me to stamp a date on the time-line of their life for when they will resolve what ever issue(s) might be facing them. So many times they've been under the influence of said issue(s) for 30, 40, 50 or even 60 years and they want it all fixed in an hour or two. Folks, I'm not Jesus and I can not perform instant miracles but I can support and guide others if they make the choice to invest in themselves and miracles of their own making.
And let's be clear, it is a choice once some clarity and insight has been offered to us. When we don't know or understand the key factors that have led us to certain points or relationships in our life we are operating on an autopilot of sorts. But, once the spotlight shines upon the trail that took us to our present moment, we then stand at the proverbial fork in the road. Are we going to take the road that leads to awareness and growth or the one that offers continued denial and more of the same?
I certainly have known many that prefer to turn a blind eye to their inner world and its manifestations, their choice is to remain the same. One of the lines from the song Free Will by Rush reflects this beautifully as it reminds us that even in choosing not to make a choice, we are indeed still making a choice- in this instance consciousness vs. unconsciousness. If another chooses not to change or understand themselves more fully, than I think it is vital to take ownership of that choice because at that point we cease being a victim of others and are now willing participants in any drama that follows.
While that is not the path I have chosen for myself, I do understand that in many ways it feels more comfortable and provides the illusion of safety because there is a familiarity to the story, we know how it's going to play out because we've done it many times over. Those of us that choose the trail of self awareness are stepping into an unknown world and carrying with us the hope that we will eventually land on softer ground.
Time, patience and effort are necessary in the survival pack of personal growth. There are no quick fixes and dedication is paramount if we are to stand against the tides of all that came before because it will most certainly attempt to knock our feet out from under us as we make strides to test our newfound limbs of healing and insight.
We will trip and fall, it is certain, but the goal is simply to remain aware we have stumbled and make attempts to pull ourselves upright. Forward is where we are headed but many times we will pass through our personal ghost towns to get there, some will be appear to be favored vacation spots as we curse that fact that we stand one more time in a place we swore we would never return.
You see, personal growth is a layered process, not linear in nature. We will revisit the same or similar issues and themes many times over as we very slowly peel away that which continues to hinder us on our trek of self actualization. Some obstacles we face will be easier than others to overcome, but all will reappear on our journey until we have resolved the issue or have fully integrated its lessons.
So, how long will it take? As long as it takes. Our progress is in direct relation to our efforts, focus and greater good. There is no finish line, except death, as one step leads us to the next and yet another stage of learning. In embracing this truth we are relieved of the pressure to "get it right" and no longer struggle to reach the illusory final destination. 
Be well and happy.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Deja Vu, Again

Can you have deja vu about deja vu? I believe its happening to me. I feel like I'm beating a dead horse here guys, so please forgive me. But in keeping with my intentions for this blog, I bring to light whatever themes are currently presenting themselves in my little corner of the world, with the understanding and my personal agreement with the universe that it is applicable to my readers as well. Whew, that was a big ole mouth full. In short, what I'm about to say I feel I've said ad nauseum but the topic of discussion has presented itself one too many times for me to stubbornly ignore it. So it here goes....
Positive affirmations. Untold amounts of money have been spent on various products offering a gentle phrase for us to consider. A very popular woman in the New Age circle has made a living out of instructing the nation on the powerful impact and necessity of such expressions. I would never say that positive affirmations offer no value. Please, continue to repeat the newest saying being shared on your daily desk calendar. Certainly, focus on a positive affirmation is much healthier than plastering a magnet on your fridge that says, "I'm an asshole." Positive affirmations can temporarily provide us with a kinder approach and mental focus to consider, and of course that is never a bad thing.
In the field of neuroplasticity they have discovered that we can indeed create wiring for these new thoughts and beliefs. Our cells certainly do respond to the "positive" or "negative" energy of our words.
But...(You knew it was coming.) what it can't fix is that flip side of the coin, that side of you that doesn't believe one word you're uttering or reading in bold print- despite the exclamation point being offered up at the end of the sentence. No, I'm not being a Negative Nancy, what I am being is realistic.
When others are sharing their life stories with me, many are filled with unresolved issues such as abusive parenting, parental depression, alcoholism, familial suicide, betrayal, divorce, abortions and absent parents to name a few examples. These dear souls sit mired in shame, hatred, rage, confusion, pain, trauma, unworthiness, distrust and fear. I'm sorry, but a post-it note in their car that professes, "You are loved," does nothing but disturb a dust mote or two that has accumulated on their mountain of emotional turmoil.
The power and the force of all that old programming is monumental. The gravity of their situation, both figuratively and literally, will hold them in that energy and the thoughts and feelings it creates. The grip that it possesses reflects the impact of the true daily mottos that are swimming about in their psyche: "I'm not loveable. I must be perfect. I'm worthless. I'm selfish. Everyone abandons me. It was my fault. I'm a bitch. I'm ugly. I can't trust myself. I'm all alone." Do you feel have heavy those thoughts are? Unfortunately, they are from uncommon and are tough to budge without consciousness. They get much more airtime than people are able to dedicate to each day's positive affirmation.
So if you choose to utilize positive affirmations I think that is wonderful but I would encourage you to take the next step, which is examine that part of you that stands in complete opposition to it. Ask yourself, "Do I really believe that?" If the answer is "No," then take time to understand the origins of that defeating thought. That "negative" belief is simply a part of you that is crying out to be heard and receive healing. Hold it, don't run from it. The beauty of it is that as that old baggage is examined and slowly released, there is now more space for the positive affirmations to land and truly stick. That fertile soil is where our accelerated growth manifests.
Be well and happy.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Trigger Happy

That, my friends, is a twist on words because when we are triggered we are anything but happy and are instead more likely to shoot from the hip with little concern for where the shot may land. The term triggered comes from those moments when we find ourselves caught up in some drama, either externally or internally. It might come from out of the blue and its origins vary, but once it has pushed the activation button within us we are in a reactive mode. While in that mental space we may be inclined to behave in a hostile nature or become over the top with our emotions. It can be people or situations that start the chain reaction but either way this is actually a gift (Did I just hear an, 'Oh, yay!' ?) that is being handed to us.
How do you know when you're triggered? Many times it is that initial, swift response to something that has been said or done. The emotion connected to it is intense and all consuming. "It" is upon you before you can stop and think. But once you do pause, the conversation going on in your own mind, or the highly charged talk as you share with a friend, is usually one of the first clues that an alarm has been set off. Rumination is the order of the day as the scenario and possible responses replay again and again in your psyche. The thoughts become intrusive in your day and no amount of willpower or self berating will keep them in check. Sound familiar? It does to me too, in fact I'm triggered right now.
I despise triggers. It feels as though some universal forces are playing with my life. My number has been called and now I play the puppet as I entertain the powers-that-be with my rendition of emotional epilepsy. I know better than that though, it is really me who has invited this dance that causes me to trip over myself.
I've done this work long enough to feel that first twinge, the emotional zinger that sparked the unfolding of what was to come. As a result of the most recent trigger I felt used and betrayed, a naive fool to have trusted in the intentions of another woman. This story reminded me of one I lived when I was 14. And just like then, I wanted to stare down my perceived threat and say, "You don't know who you're fucking with." I see my ego doing the fist pump as I type those words. I was ready for battle. Or was I?
No. I didn't really want to go to war with this person that stands in my life today and so I tried to take the higher road, but that only lead me to the realization that I had found my way to the land of denial. Denial of my feelings as I continued to fruitlessly obsess about not obsessing. My trigger was taunting me, continually setting off detonations in my mind. Truthfully, I just didn't want to deal with it, but ironically I was doing just that as it poked and prodded its way into my life. I had a choice, take the gift or allow myself to continue to be taken.
And so, I did a conscientious inventory of my inner world and not the external trigger. Let's be honest, its easier on some level to focus on the external as we imagine possible weaponry in our arsenal for the slightest provocation. It's much simpler to remain the victim of others and the world instead of holding and hearing ourselves, but that was where I needed to travel next if I was to find my way out of this hell hole.
I listened to my needs and emotions, not the rantings of my well seasoned ego. I permitted the sorrow and grieving its space. I cried. I longed for things both then and now to be different, and strove to accept that they weren't. As the dust settled from that initial trigger it was with clearer vision that I saw and felt that my naivete was not the actions of a fool but was instead the sharing of an open and loving heart; and I would do it all again because that is who I am. 
My gift? A precious piece of me that I had safely tucked away many years ago. The trigger was  deactivated and the obsession ceased.
The blast from a trigger unearths that which is in our way, creating an invitation and space for us to dig deep within ourselves. Life is providing us with constant lessons and opportunities to examine and understand our thoughts, patterns and beliefs. The world is not out to get us but is instead bountiful with moments where we can choose to heal and peel away another layer of that which shrouds our soul. Always, the intention is to unwrap and release and strangely enough, come to understand it is the triggers that can ultimately lead us to joy.
Be well and happy.