Energetic Connections

My energy sensitivity has been much higher lately, and it’s been super interesting to observe. 🍿 I’ve been learning a ton!

– My energetic system can get hijacked not only by the energy of other people and places, but also the 3rd energy created when I have an emotional/energetic relationship with another person. The third energy has a will and life of its own, and it can speak and act through me if I’m not conscious of it. In the past, I’ve mistaken this for my own excitement about a new friendship or relationship, and on outside it can look like an obsessive crush or even mania. If I am aware of it, I can still feel that energy and even utilize it to fuel my daily activities if I wish, but I’m also aware of how I feel, what I want and what my body needs. I can choose to consciously focus on my own stuff while holding other people’s stuff or 3rd energy stuff in a space of allowing, patience, and compassion. Note: I think most people if not everyone can experience this at times, and that’s why it’s so hard to sleep and sometimes even eat when you first fall in love, and you often feel optimistic and energized and ready to take on the world (unless you have a lot of attachment trauma in which case the experience is more uncomfortable and possibly even downright scary), for example. Some 3rd energies are a lot stronger/more overwhelming/overpowering than others.

– The same is true for group energies (such as in a living space, work space, class, friend group, a band, an audience, a Facebook group or group chat, a family, etc.) though it’s not usually as apparent because those energies aren’t typically as stable. They’re less stable in large part because they’re not as commonly built on physic/telepathic/energetic connections between/among the people involved. It’s also because…

– When I have strong energetic/psychic connections with multiple people or am party to a strong third/group energy, all those different energies can intermingle with each other within my energetic field and psyche even if those people/groups never meet each other. Similarly, the energetic connections people have with others can impact me.

– Sometimes, having a very strong energetic/psychic connection with another person means you’re literally in each other’s minds, and you’re each trying to use the same mental space for your own things. There’s a process of “getting to know each other” when relationships/friendships get established that involves rearranging your mental space (or rather, the stuff in it) to function well with theirs sharing some of that space. It’s like the mental version of two people who each already have their own sets of everything trying move in together in one space that may or may not be much bigger than what they each had alone. You need to either figure out how to live and work around each other’s stuff or learn to share. This is one of the reasons why getting involved with a new person can be really confusing and make it hard to think, focus, and function as normal. This is also why splitting up with that person can be so incredibly difficult and once again make it incredibly hard to function for a little while. You need to go buy a new can opener again, so to speak. (Again, some relationships and friendships have a MUCH greater area of overlap than others, so this isn’t always so notable.) The level of confusion this creates has to do in part with how compatible the people’s ways of thinking and areas of focus in life are to start. Note: The process can happen with or without much “real life” interaction between the two people.

– These types of connections can have a very healing or somewhat (possibly even very, in some cases) damaging impact on one or both of the parties involved in the relationship/friendship regardless of how much they actually interact (though it is generally stronger with more interaction provided the same amount of conscious awareness of is present both ways).

– Unconscious parts of each person can interact with unconscious parts of the other, so there can be A LOT going on beneath the surface of consciousness. Partners can share dream space as well. When involved in these types of strong energetic connections, it’s a good idea to take time to hold space for parts of you, the other person or people, and the third/group energies to bring concerns to conscious awareness so things can be addressed/healed/unburdened in loving, compassionate ways.

– These people are also able to emotionally uplift each other or spiral off of each other’s bad moods and ruminations when these connections are strong, so it’s incredibly important to be conscious of them! Without that awareness, it’s very, very easy to just spiral and assume that it’s your own feelings, thoughts, and experiences in the world that are causing you to feel that way. With that awareness, conscious focus can be returned to your own thoughts, feelings, desires, and needs.

– Reminder: Don’t assume that thoughts and feelings are yours just because you’re hearing them in your head or feeling them in your body or heart. Ask if part of you is thinking/feeling that way and why. Explore it. When you have particularly strong psychic connections with others, sometimes parts of you feel something just because parts of the other person is feeling that way! It’s so incredibly helpful to be able to recognize when this is happening.

– I’ve learned to recognize how it feels when others are willing me to do things. It has a distinct feeling that I unfortunately can’t describe, but it’s incredibly valuable to be able to notice this now because it’s a really uncomfortable feeling, and I didn’t know what it was in the past!

– I already knew I could literally send energies that come at me into the ground when they’re overwhelming to me when I’m out and about or interacting with other people, but I forgot that. I’ve also learned that when the energy in a place is unpleasant, I can do something similar while filling the place with white light, but it takes repeated efforts over a somewhat long period of time in order to make a real change UNLESS there are entities hanging around there that can be addressed/cleared or there are people who spend a lot of time there with whom I interact (whether in person or energetically).

– I’ve been finding that interacting with me is often more impactful on the energies of others than I’d imagined. Watching someone’s energy before, during, and after a brief interaction with me is fascinating and incredibly humbling at times. Sometimes, just saying hi to someone can catalyze a major shift in the person that lasts beyond whatever simple, quick interaction we may have had. I’ve seen other really impactful people as well. Most people are usually only slightly impactful, but there’s a whole range of possible levels of influence that people can have. Observing this gives me a sense of responsibility to take really good care of my body, mind (parts), and energy. I wonder if my negative impact when I’m in a bad place is as strong as my positive impact… It doesn’t seem like it though. It seems like I’m either mostly ignored or lovingly supported by others when I’m in a bad place. 💕

– Most of what I’ve said above can apply to entities as much as to people, and a lot of people have entity attachments of which they’re unaware.

Pluto Conjunct Moon in a Natal Chart

A conjunction is two planets being so close together that they have a very strong impact on each other. This particular conjunction is one of the most intense, and it also provides the person with strong intuition and an ability to transform themselves and their lives dramatically. This is a very, very powerful aspect that can turn quite dark at times. If you have this aspect in your chart, understanding and knowing how to work with these intense energies is the key to harnessing your personal power in the world and finding significantly more comfort in your life.

When the Moon is conjunct Pluto, it means that the way you were nurtured as an infant and child was somehow tied into power dynamics. Power dynamics do not belong in emotional nurturing or caring for an infant, and the result of combining these two discordant energies is a very complicated and sensitive relationship between your emotional security needs and themes of control and dominance. Even if the primary manifestation of this conjunction in your life is merely a reluctance to allow others to see your emotions, that’s still a form of self-control that leads to internalization and therefore intensification of your feelings. There’s no escaping the intensity of this conjunction, but there are ways to make peace with, positively utilize, and even enjoy it once you learn how to work with it. And yes, the amount of intensity experienced in day-to-day life does diminish, and the heaviness lightens up, as you go through the process of unburdening.

There are many different possible manifestations for any placement, of course. It’s possible that the people who nurtured you (especially your mother) withheld affection and acceptance in order to control you, were emotionally manipulative, were secretive, had their own dark moods, expected you to control your feelings, were vindictive, were prying regarding your inner world, were controlling just in general, or were extremely clingy to you. If your mother was especially healthy, then this may have instead manifested as her encouraging you to explore your darker feelings as she held space for you to process them. However, varying amounts of the former types of patterns are more typical with this conjunction.

Our early nurturing is the foundation for how we process our feelings throughout life and inwardly reflect on what’s happening around and to us. Nurturing is largely about soothing and preventing discomfort, emotional bonding, and the development of trust that we’re safe and our needs will be met. Having this conjunction indicates that you were taught that in order to receive those things in life, you’re also going to have to deal with a lot of heavy and intense themes as described below.

Keep in mind that the rest of the natal chart (as well as the charts of important people in your life) are extremely important in determining how themes will play out for you. That said, these are some of the positive and negative possible themes and tendencies that may play out in adulthood if your Moon is conjunct Pluto in your natal chart:

  • Having an intense inner world and strong emotions
  • Trying to control your feelings
  • Trying to keep your feelings a secret from others
  • Trying to read other people’s emotions and analyze what you see
  • Being sensitive to any possible attempt to manipulate you
  • Being perceptive just in general
  • Being secretive just in general
  • Ruminating
  • Using escapism of various types (substance abuse, distractions, etc.) to keep yourself out of your feelings
  • Having the ability to handle dark subjects and situations
  • Tending towards psychoanalysis of people and situations
  • Being a bit of a natural detective
  • Needing the correct power dynamics (whatever that means for you) in relationships in order to feel emotionally safe, secure, and happy
  • Having a stronger than average need for human touch in your life, particularly physical affection, in order to feel your best in day-to-day life
  • Trying to analyze how emotionally safe you’ll be in later stages of a relationship instead of staying present with where things are now (this can paradoxically lead to forming intense attachments without having first built the relationship’s foundation together which can sometimes then lead to disappointment or further feelings of rejection because your partner may not be as intensely invested quite yet, and this can cause you to want to withdraw or push them away before they have a chance to get there as well)
  • Obsessively thinking about something or someone (possibly to the extent of limerence)
  • Focusing intently on what you want over long periods of time (which can lead to successes of various types in life due to your persistence)
  • Learning as much as you can about any subject that’s interesting to you
  • Learning as much as you can about other people’s inner worlds
  • Perceiving rejection that isn’t actually there (even in long term relationships)
  • Withdrawing when there’s a perceived rejection
  • Feeling jealous and possessive of romantic partners
  • Withholding attention or affection when you feel hurt
  • Having revenge fantasies
  • Isolating yourself when you’re hurting and/or being emotionally reactive instead of communicative
  • Worrying that if you share how you’re feeling with others, it’ll be too intense for them
  • Eventually having strong emotional outbursts at times
  • Needing intensity in close relationships
  • Fearing abandonment
  • Having a very hard time with break ups
  • Having strong intuition about what’s happening inside other people (which will sometimes be shockingly accurate but sometimes way off the mark)
  • Analyzing your own feelings to look for the cause of them
  • Needing to experience deep levels of intimacy in order to feel truly emotionally safe and comfortable in life
  • Needing deep levels of emotional intimacy with another person in order to feel comfortable with physical intimacy (or even possibly desiring physical intimacy at all)
  • Mistaking longing for love
  • Having a heavily guarded heart
  • Having a deep desire to have your strong feelings for another person reciprocated
  • Being extremely self-controlled (or at least trying to be) just in general
  • Transforming yourself throughout your life (like the caterpillar turning into a butterfly)
  • Having the capacity to heal yourself very, very deeply through various types of inner healing work such as depth psychology or more spiritual or esoteric approaches
  • Being able to hold space for very intense emotions from other people
  • Being a catalyst for major life transformations for other people
  • Having the capacity for healing yourself and/or facilitating healing for others through sexual intimacy
  • Being able to feel the energy of people, places, and things and possibly eventually having a talent for energy work
  • Having an interest in and/or natural talent for magic, divination, etc.
  • Having an increased capacity for psychic gifts and telepathic connections with others (though please explore yourself deeply when you perceive these to see if there’s something you’re projecting onto others)

It’s important to note that one of the best ways to get out from under some of the heavier energies, feelings, and themes associated with this conjunction is to develop connections with trustworthy people who are able to hold space for your feelings no matter how intense they are and be there with you while you work through them. Co-regulation and acceptance can be powerfully helpful in facilitating self-healing.

Remember, you’re far more capable of transforming difficulties, trauma, and pain into healing, insight, gifts, and joy than the average person. If you do the work, you’ll also know levels of freedom in life that most people never do. Many of the burdens you’re carrying can be released, and when they are, there are surprising gifts waiting there for you in their place. 🙂

Group Session Testimonials

“What I think about with the 10th House in Astrology is work, monetary gains, public relations, sometimes father figure, etc. The group session that Joy hosted about the 10th House went further than the superficial layers of that and uncovered many things I didn’t know before yet could relate to very much. I especially liked when other participants pitched in to tell their stories and how they’re trying to hone in/struggling with using their 10th House to their full potential. I related to their stories very much and the way Joy approached with giving sound advice. The most notable (I think) advice she gave was about the inner child and how that could impact greatly in how the person view themselves and may be hindering their ability to move forward in the success they want in the future.

For me personally, I’m currently a homemaker and while I love being able to be with family everyday, I felt a tinge of dissatisfaction everyday with not doing what I really want – which was to draw and create (it could also be because my NN in 5th house as well). From when I was a little girl I dreamed of one day being a graphic novelist. Reality is hard though, you need to make money and afford food so I did many jobs that required service for other people, at one point I was a massage therapist for 7 years until I got pregnant with my daughter and decided to stay home. It wasn’t until I heard this video session that I decided to pick up my pencil again to draw. And I was in my zone. Maybe I can’t be a famous graphic novelist but I’m going to keep doing what I love. Joy’s session taught not only me but others as well that you yourself is the only person holding you back and once again that Astrology doesn’t lie. Thank you for the epiphany, Joy, and hope to keep listening to your sessions as much as I can!” -Ayumi H

“After the group session with Joy I felt a weight lifted, not just from my shoulders, but also from my heart and soul. She pin pointed the exact right questions that I needed to hear. Sometimes on our journey we get so lost in the mist we forget to realize how far we have already come, and to take that in our stride. I felt incredibly empowered and still carry that session with me in my heart.” -Brooke D.

“Joy Bott’s lesson on understanding your tenth house was, as a student, one of the more awakening moments I’ve had since starting this journey. Not only was she able to explain it with great clarity, she was also able to communicate important information about other houses that helped expedite the process of understanding. I look forward to future classes, especially if they are anything like this one. Joy is an effective teacher, very patient, and a pleasure to work with.” -Kat M.

“What I liked the most about Joy’s group session was Joy’s approach in better understanding the 2nd house in our Birth Chart . Joy gave useful and healing advice in how to understand our limiting self-beliefs about money, self-worth and abundance in general and how to develop better and more empowering Self-beliefs. It was also beautiful to see and feel how her insights resonated with us on a deep level.” – Valentina B.

“Joy has a great understanding of relating astrology in a practical manner. I loved the way her group sessions felt just like that. It was great to feel part of almost a support group environment while asking questions, sharing stories, and most importantly learning so much from Joy and each other. It was truly a remarkable experience.” -Jennifer L.

“Both the 10th house and 2nd house sessions were extremely enlightening as I was able to gain such great knowledge on the true nature of these houses. I have a Cancer 10th with a 6th house Pisces Moon. I’ve realized I need to succumb to my nurturing side and not be so sarcastic and protective of my true feelings. I’ve certainly been putting my truest emotions on display lately and everyone is freaking out! But, it feels good to finally express myself and my feelings without fear of invalidation from others. I’m being me! By doing so, I’m also strengthening my 2nd house. I have a Scorpio 2nd containing a Sagittarius Pluto. My values are my power! Especially when I’m feeling adventurous as I have been lately. It has felt great to step into myself and explore things I’ve always had an interest in. I’m learning to just get up and go (finally!) and not wait on someone else or second guess myself. Sounds like I’m working on my Aries Saturn Rx as well! I’ve been truly enjoying my life and it feels great to really do so without fear. Thank you for such insightful sessions!” -Shanae S.

The Social and Economic Stages of Awakening

As we start to “awaken”, people become very drawn to us, and for good reason. The process of awakening is basically the shedding of our illusions, of the inaccurate or incomplete beliefs we hold. As we do this, our Life energy shines through us less restricted. People see the Life in us, and it sparks a recollection that there is Life within them as well. They find themselves drawn to us without knowing why. The more false layers of self we clear, the more brilliantly we shine, and they more people are drawn to us. How does this impact us socially and economically?

1.) Beginning to Awaken: People are inexplicably attracted to you, though neither they nor you seems to know why. Everywhere you go, many people think they want to befriend or date you, or in the very least, tell you their life story. Simultaneously, your empathic abilities sudden become much stronger, so you can feel their pain and their feelings for you. You want to be there for them and be kind, but it’s starting to get overwhelming. At the same time, you’re also beginning to experience the physical symptoms of awakening, many of which are unpleasant and not something our doctors can explain. (Note: Do see your doctor if you’re experiencing any concerning symptoms.) You will wonder if you are going crazy. This question is a normal part of releasing your old beliefs.

2.) Dark Night of the Soul: At this point, you have seen many of your illusions for what they are and released them. As a natural result, the ego-driven attachments that you had to those in your life start to fall away, often very rapidly. Most of your existing support system no longer understands you or what you’re doing with your life, and you understand them too well to be able to connect with them in the now superficial-seeming way you once did. Many of the topics you used to discuss with them now seem pointless, and you can barely remember how to engage them on that level. The physical symptoms of awakening are in full force, so you may feel sick and have a lot of fluctuations in energy and sleep patterns as well. You feel totally alone. You don’t know who you are, your place in the world, or what life even is anymore. At the same time, your empathic abilities are heightened to the extent that it becomes too painful to be around others because you feel their pain, often more strongly than they do. It seems like almost everyone is suffering deeply. There’s just so much pain out there everywhere you go. It’s unbearable, so you avoid people as much as possible. The isolation is painful but necessary at this stage. It can be difficult or even impossible to “function properly” in your life during this time. If you’re there now, remember, “This too shall pass.” (Note: The Dark Night of the Soul isn’t a one shot deal. We repeat it to some extent each time we release a lot of old pain and heal core wounds. Usually it goes faster in later stages of the journey though because we recognize it and know how to work with it.) You’ll find your way out of this stage as you learn about and begin to embrace the practice of self-care.

3.) Finding Your “Tribe”: In this stage, you’ve realized that you need to focus on self-care and self-love, and as you begin to “fill your own void”, your level of happiness climbs rapidly. You get in touch with (or much more deeply in touch with) your spiritual guidance and inner guidance. You begin to make new social connection or discover significantly more depth in ones you already had. You begin to recognize your “soul family”. Other awakening or awakened people stand out to you, and you fearlessly connect with and learn from them. At this stage, it’s a wise investment to hire a healer, teacher, mentor, coach, etc. if someone really resonates strongly with you. You also begin to connect with and mentor/teach others, but you yourself are likely not yet truly in a place to make “awakening” or spirituality your livelihood. You just want to learn as much as you can and spread knowledge and joy in the world. Now, even more people are drawn to you, but you’ve learned that self-care means managing where you spend your time, attention, and energy. You know that you cannot spend a lot of time around suffering people without being negatively impacted, so you don’t unless you have to, and if you do, you immediately take some time to recover. You still have your struggles, but life has become much more light and joyous overall. You find it difficult to care as much about practical concerns in your life because they seem pretty meaningless compared to the areas in which you’re expanding. You invest in books, tools, classes, etc. and may work at your regular job less to give yourself more time for your new interests and self-care.

4.) Spiritual Volunteer or Starting Spiritual Entrepreneur: You’ve continued to release your untruths while hearing many other people’s depictions of their truth (in ancient texts, from talking to people, from taking classes or courses, from studying under someone, from reading about topics that grabs your attention, and from discussing many other people’s journeys with them). You’re at a point where you’re most trusting of your own inner guidance, but you still also rely on your teachers and spiritual guidance as well. Others are more drawn to you than ever before, and now you’re in a position to interact with even the most miserable of people without being harmed by it. This is because you know not to resist pain, so you can feel their pain with them, bless them, and release the pain (whether they’re also ready to do so as well or not), and keep moving. This ability to see who people truly are at their core and to be where they are with them without judgement is indispensable for those who are struggling. People regularly tell you that you’ve changed their life. It feels amazing to touch people’s lives in this way! However, you’re starting to feel overwhelmed not by the emotions or struggles of any one person or group of people at a given time, but by the sheer quantity of people who are coming to you for insight. Additionally, there are some people with whom your manner of explaining things resonates very strongly, and those people seek continued frequent contact. You don’t want to turn anyone away, but your life is out of balance. You’re working for free or for low fees. You’re running yourself ragged, and all of this focus on spiritual stuff has meant even less focus on practical concerns. You’re definitely richer and healthier than you’ve ever been before in many ways, but you wouldn’t know it by looking around at your material conditions. Your work at your day job, if you still have it, is starting to suffer as well because you can see how much more important your spiritual work is. While you feel bad charging people “just to talk to you” and certainly don’t want to turn anyone away, you’re finding that you’re no longer able to give ANYONE the time or attention you once did. It’s time to redress the balance.

5.) Spiritual Entrepreneur: At this point, you understand that the best way for you to serve the world right now is to charge for the expertise that you’ve invested a countless amount of time, energy, and other opportunity costs to acquire over the years. People aren’t “paying just to talk to you”. They’re investing in themselves, and you’re able to be a part of that because you’ve invested so much in yourself over the years. You’ve sacrificed nearly everything (if not everything!) you once were to get to this point. You also understand that Life is infinitely abundant and flows through us all inasmuch as we allow it to do so, and you understand that this applies to both your finances and those of your clients. If someone is meant to work with you at this time, Life will provide them with the means to do so. Their means is not your responsibility, and you can see now how it’s egotistical for you to think that it is. You charge what you feel guided to charge and recognize that Life will sort out who your clients will be. You also recognize the immense value in this type of exchange and hire your own healers, coaches, teachers, etc. This change to charging a healthy amount allows you to focus all of your efforts on your own continued growth in life and on serving your clients in the very best capacity you have to offer rather than on accounting or fixing cars or whatever your livelihood used to be. You now recognize that it’s prideful for you to work for free (why exactly WERE you doing it, anyways? because you believed you have something to offer that no one else does? because it made you feel important? these are good questions to answer 😉 ) unless you’re already in an extremely comfortable financial position and feel guided to do so. This change works quickly and wonderfully to redress the balance, and soon you’re able to play and rest more, dive more fully into your spiritual practices, and offer the best input to your clients. As you do this, you lose even more layers of false knowledge, and you draw even more people to you! Your spiritual business growths until there comes a point where you start to have so many referrals and people ready to sign up for your services that you have to raise your prices and create waiting lists. You begin to see that you’re once again no longer serving the world as well as you could be.

6.) Spiritual Guru: At this stage, you stop doing individual and small group sessions and begin to offer your message to much larger groups. Eventually, you fill any size auditorium with those seeking to find themselves in the messages you allow to flow through you. Your book is on best seller lists, and you’re in a position to effect true social and political changes in the world.

7.) Spiritual Master: At this stage, you no longer use 10,000 words to teach spiritual truth. You just live your life. People come to you for guidance, and you answer their questions with very short answers that to them may seem nonsensical. They may say you speak in riddles. (People who are on steps 1 through 6 take on the task of attempting to explain the meaning.) You see the truth so clearly that you now know that there is nothing you could ever say to show it to anyone else. They must get there in their own time and in their own way. All is in perfect, divine order. The wiser you become, the less you speak and the less you do. “Before enlightenment, chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment, chop wood, carry water.”
Where are you now? Remember, this journey is the natural result of dying a thousand deaths. That is, you let go of who you think you are and what you think life is. If you attempt to skip steps, you’ll become a “false teacher” and bring too much ego into your message. You’ll also fail to connect with people the way you need to in order to achieve real, lasting results. Thank you for reading this! Blessings to you all. ❤

The Process

  1. Tune into the energetic frequency of the life you want to live. This step works really well when you’re in a somewhat meditative state- calm and comfortable without any distractions. Visualize yourself in the position you wish to be. Really get into it, and notice how it feels. That feeling is the key to this step. Our motivation for wanting to experience a particular circumstance in our lives is essentially because we believe that it will make us feel a certain way. Find that feeling. Explore and experiment with different ideas and visualizations. It’s important to be open to surprises in this process. You may find yourself imagining a circumstance that you’ve never considered in the past. It doesn’t matter. All that matters is how it feels. Play with it. Try different things and see what feels best. What mental picture or idea gets you to the best feeling the fastest in this moment? Notice that your mind tries to figure out how realistic it is or what steps would be necessary in order to get there. Let your “inner planner” know that right now, you’re just looking to experience a feeling, nothing else. You’re not making a plan right now. Savor the feeling. Envision the energy of the coming into your energy field and body through your crown chakra just above the top of your head.
  2. Bring that feeling into your day-to-day life. Use specific physical objects and activities as cues to bring yourself into that energetic frequency as often as possible as you go about your day. For example, you could wear a bracelet or ring that reminds you to focus on that feeling whenever you notice that you’re wearing it. You could buy a different hand soap for your bathroom and tune into that frequency every time you wash your hands. You could put on some music in the car that brings you closer to that feeling, and then intentionally open yourself to bring in and fully experience even more of that energy while you’re driving. When you’re washing dishes, showering, getting dressed, or whatever else, bring that feeling into it. It may be helpful to imagine doing those same things within the situation you desire. Live from this feeling now as much and as often as you’re able. Intend to allow more of this energy to flow in through your crown chakra (just above your head) throughout the day. As you’re falling asleep at night, focus intently on allowing yourself to be filled with the feeling. Be open to changes in what you envision. The visualizations and ideas are only tools for experiencing this feeling now. They’re not goals or plans or even intentions. They don’t need to be specific or consistent. Their only use at this point is to help you focus on the energetic frequency from which it feels best to live, so play with it. Explore and be open to being surprised by what you see.
  3. Notice how you’re feeling, and address concerns and resistance as they arise. The first two steps of this process are pretty common “Manifestation” or “Law of Attraction” practices. The reason that these practices very often either don’t work, create only temporary changes, or work but create negative, often seemingly unrelated consequences in life is because they miss this critical step. These first two steps are pretty much guaranteed to bring some doubts and unpleasant thoughts and feelings to the surface. At this point, people usually just try harder to focus on feeling good and attempt to overpower their doubts. Eventually, they either use force of will to push through it (at least temporarily) until they achieve their goal, become extremely ungrounded, or give up and feel worse than they did when they started. This process addresses inner concerns and resistance gently, effectively, and compassionately through a number of tools that I’ve discovered over the years such as IFS*, the Enneagram, and others. This step of the process is extremely important for truly changing our lives for the better in lasting ways that don’t have unintended negative consequences. (For example, a metabolic weight loss doctor I once saw told me that it’s common for her patients that experience extreme weight loss to suddenly develop new unhealthy habits such as compulsive shopping, having a lot of sex with strangers, etc.) This is because there are unconscious beliefs and worries that need to be explored and addressed, and if this doesn’t happen, the results will essentially be, “The more things change, the more they stay the same.” True transformation and growth (not to mention major positive life changes) cannot happen without effectively addressing unconscious limiting beliefs and concerns. See https://modern-mystic.mykajabi.com/the-process-opt-in to see a recording a group session for an example of Step 3.
  4. Upgrade your energy. Part of the process of changing your “energetic set point” is that once in a while, you might feel totally drained of energy for no apparent reason. Trying to push through this or figure out what’s wrong doesn’t help when this occurs. That just makes it take longer to recover your energy. This happens when the energy which had previously been fueling you is no longer available because you’re releasing it to make room for new, different, better energy. Trying to use the old, familiar energy from this state is essentially trying to hold onto that old energy. Don’t. Just sit or lay still and relax as deeply as possible. Let the old energy drain away entirely, and intentionally allow new energy to fill your energy field and body through your crown chakra. Once it’s complete (usually within half an hour to a few hours, but sometimes it’s necessary to sleep before you can use the new energy), you’ll feel better than you ever have. Congratulations! You’ve just received an upgrade! You’ll likely find that as you embody this new energy, you’re able to access even better feelings through your visualizations than you could before your energetic upgrade. Lean into it. (My experience has been that this tends to happen at relatively convenient times. I’ve never felt this way during a time when I needed to be active and function unless I didn’t take a previous opportunity to rest when I needed it.)
  5. Flow with Life as it moves within and around you. As you live your life from this new energy, you’ll start seeing the world around you differently. Opportunities that you wouldn’t have noticed or recognized for what they are will suddenly stand out to you. You’ll find yourself coming up with ideas that you never would have had from your previous energetic set point. You’ll feel inspired and empowered to take small and large actions that align with this new energy. It will also draw individuals and opportunities to you as other people will unconsciously pick up on your energy. Life itself will suddenly seem to move in unexpected, amazing ways that totally surprise you, and you’ll be in a position to naturally align with the flow of events in the creation of a different set of circumstances in your life. The outer circumstances of your life will change to match the energy on which you’ve been so intently focused throughout this process. Your circumstances may match what you’ve been visualizing, or you may find that what appears in your experience meets your needs and desires even better than whatever you thought you wanted. (This is part of the reason that it’s not a good idea to get too attached to the specifics of your desires. Life can and will account for details that you hadn’t considered if you flow with it. <3) From here, you’ll be in a position to apply this process to other areas of your life, and you can continue to grow and evolve in this area as well.

*Please note that I am IFS informed, not certified. Also, I’m not a therapist. I may recommend professional therapy if it seems like a person’s concerns are related to trauma or are otherwise beyond the scope of services that I’m qualified to offer.

Neptune Retrograde: Entrapment vs Empowerment

Do you ever wonder if your dreams and visions are merely self-deception? Do you ever doubt your path or wonder if you’re believing what you want to believe instead of seeing what’s actually there? Do you ask yourself if your grand vision is realistic or if you’re just fooling yourself and hiding from the reality of the situation? Do you have sickeningly discouraging moments of doubt when you consider whether the wisest course of action would be to give up on your dreams and just stick with the path that’s less of a stretch for you but also feels disappointing? Do you sometimes consider whether acknowledging and accepting defeat would be the prudent course of action instead of continuing to reach for a desire which, in the end, may very well prove beyond your grasp? Do you find yourself worrying, mentally exploring worst case scenarios, and mentally playing out scenes in which your deepest fears come to pass? Are you ever unsure of whether you’re just being paranoid or your concerns are well founded? Have you ever had a nightmare and wondered if it was actually a warning that would be wise to heed?

If so, good job! It’s very painful for any of us to take a long, hard look at cherished dreams and truly consider the possibility that our paranoia may be valid, but when we’re willing to deeply question ourselves from time to time, we’re more likely to catch our mistakes and correct our course. However, if you tend to get stuck in self-doubt or you are unwilling to consider the possibility that you may be mistaken about something important to you, then it may be useful to consider the nature of dreams and reality.

The essence of this dilemma lies in harmony vs disharmony between our inner world and outer world. These are not two separate realms. Our experiences with the outside world deeply influence us from before we’re even born, and the way we live our lives impacts the world around us. There are, of course, some things outside of us which are completely outside of our influence and direct experience in every way, and there is something very deep within each of us that remains unchanged no matter what we experience in life. However, most of our existence as an individual lies somewhere on a spectrum in between those extremes. I’ll come back to this idea in a bit.

The more harmony there is among the various layers of our inner and outer existence, the more empowered, free, fulfilled, and effective we are in life. Our dreams, visions, and intuition are an extremely important part of us because they bring knowledge of the innermost and outermost layers closer to the middle where we’re able to consciously interact with them. These insights may come to us as gut reactions, daydreams, dreams while we sleep, fantasies, worries, premonitions, hunches, synchronicities, symbolism, divine guidance, and deep, inner knowing that we cannot explain. We may also consciously use our imaginations to help us recognize and explore our innermost layers, worries, and aspirations in life. We can later decide what we intend to do and make plans for the future based on our exploration of our fears and dreams.

In astrology, all of this dreaming, doubt, and intuition falls into the domain of Neptune. However, Neptune also has even less pleasant ways of showing up in our lives, too. When it comes to areas which fall under Neptune’s influence, there is an alarmingly vast difference between the higher and lower expressions of what we do, how we do it, and how it impacts our lives. Neptune’s influences encompasses our aspirations, inexplicable fears, dreams, fantasies, symbolism, synchronicities, illusions, escapism, self-doubt, confusion, entrapment, self-delusion, addiction, imprisonment, loss of identity, powerlessness, resignation, submissiveness, self-sabotage, blindness, insight, clarity, surrender, spirituality, broader truth, and ultimate empowerment.

In short, Neptune broadly represents the subconscious mind, and the way we interact with it can be our self-undoing or the path to attaining our greatest victories in life. Why is there such a dramatic polarity within the realm of this one planet? Looking at Neptune’s retrograde cycle sheds some light on this subject.

What is a “retrograde”? The planets in our solar system revolve around the Sun, but we observe their movements from Earth. In astrology, we track their positions in the sky on a two dimensional chart called the Wheel of the Zodiac. As planets move through sections of the sky, they move around the wheel. From this perspective, it appears that planets occasionally stop moving (go “stationary”), start moving backwards (go “retrograde”), stop again, and then start moving forward once again (go “direct”). On the Wheel of the Zodiac, a planet passes over the same part of the wheel three times whenever there’s a retrograde: Once before the retrograde (the “pre-retrograde shadow”), once during, and then once more as it moves forward again after the retrograde (the “post-retrograde shadow”). The part of the chart that it passes through three times before continuing onward is called the “retrograde window”.

In astrology, the retrogrades of all of the planets can be excellent learning experiences because they give us opportunities to take another look at stuff from our past so we can reconsider it and then, when necessary, do something differently moving forward. They offer opportunities for self-correction and growth. They’re generally a time for reflection and contemplation, repeating the past, and more deeply exploring old or outdated themes. This can be very frustrating for people who don’t understand these cycles because it’s human nature to want to keep pushing towards our goals and get frustrated when it seems like we aren’t making progress. However, these times of repeating our past or taking a step back and turning our attention inward are a critical part of progress. Life is cyclic in nature. When we anticipate taking two steps forward, one step back, and then two steps forward again, we can make the most of opportunities that present themselves as they arise, even if the opportunity is simply to stop what we’re doing and focus on inner contemplation for a bit.

Neptune spends ALL of its time in the retrograde windows. It 2018, it entered the retrograde window on February 26th, went retrograde June 18th, went direct on November 24th, and won’t leave the retrograde window again until March 15, 2019. However, it enters the pre-retrograde window of its 2019 retrograde on February 28, 2019. That means that between February 28 and March 15, Neptune will actually be in two different retrograde windows at the same time, and in the 2019 retrograde, it will retrograde back through part of an area that it had already traveled back through in 2018. It does this during every retrograde. This is a big part of picture when we are considering the nature of Neptune. It graciously gives us many chances to “get it right”! (Pluto has overlapping retrograde windows as well, by the way. None of the other planets in our Zodiac charts do this, though Uranus comes very close. It is also worth noting that the Sun and Moon never retrograde.)

While it can be frustrating and quite painful at times when Neptune’s retrograde influences us to more deeply face issues that we thought we had already addressed, it’s a wonderful gift because, for better or worse, our dreams and fears shape our reality. When there’s harmony within the various layers of our existence, our dreams empower us to realize our deepest truths and take effective actions in directions that will ultimately lead us to greater fulfillment in and enjoyment of life. When our perceptions of reality and behaviors are based on our unconscious fears or we cling to our goals despite their disharmony with our inner truth and the outer realities of life, they then become our undoing.

What’s more, it’s very, very easy to misinterpret the meaning of the messages that we get through Neptune, through our subconscious. Humans are indeed extremely prone to allowing their unconscious minds to drive them to repeat the same painful patterns they have experienced in their past because those experiences formed their understanding of how the world works and their place in it. They deeply and unknowingly adhere to that understanding and continue to behave in ways that will allow them to fill the same role and experience the same types of pain they did in the past despite their conscious wish to change their lives. This aspect of human nature is also strongly related to the roles of the Moon and Pluto. The Moon rules Cancer and the 4th House which are about how they way we were nurtured in early childhood forms our psychological foundations, and we most readily notice them through our changing moods and how we’re sensitive to our surroundings. Pluto rules Scorpio and the 8th House which are all about depth. They’re where we face darkness and pain. They’re also where we experience intimacy with others, form deep attachments, and process the pain of losing the people and things we love here. Obsession and addiction to pain are the lower expression of Pluto’s influence. Facing our shadows and depth psychology involving healing core wounds are the higher expression of Pluto’s areas of influence, and if we don’t get stuck focused on the pain, they can lead to profound personal transformation as we let it go when the energy moves into the higher expression of Neptune’s areas of influence.

It’s very important to consider the influence of the Moon and Pluto in order to understand Neptune because each area of influence actively feeds energy and input to the next. The Moon’s areas of influence in large part determine what happens in Pluto’s areas of influence, and Pluto’s areas of influence in large part determine what happens in Neptune’s areas of influence which include Pisces and the 12th house. How we respond to the influence of Neptune then continues to progress back to the Moon’s areas of influence where our emotions and sensitivities are once again impacted by our unconscious minds. If we have experienced healing through this process, then our emotional experiences in life and our attachments and capacity for intimacy will heal as well. Either way, the energy and events keep moving through this progression throughout our lives. (Each of these areas of influence is also directly related to other areas of influence in our charts as well, and the entire interconnected dynamic makes up the whole picture of a chart. It’s fascinating stuff!)

The bottom line is that all three of these areas of influence involve our feelings, desires, fears, and intuition. All three areas also tell us when there’s disharmony among the various layers of our inner and outer worlds.

For this reason, the subconscious messages we get can just as easily (if not more easily) come from our fear-based core beliefs formed in early childhood, from our attachments, and from our addiction to pain (which everyone has to some extent) as from the deeper, unchanging, inner truth at the core of our being or the broader truth that’s so much bigger than any individual. This is why it’s important not to just blindly trust our feelings or our intuition. In order to accurately interpret the meaning of our dreams and intuitive messages, to know what’s real and what’s illusion, we must look to whether we’re experiencing harmony or disharmony among the various layers of our existence.

This is where escapism becomes extremely relevant when we talk about Neptune. This lack of harmony is what we experience when our unconscious fears are holding us back, when our goals do not resonate with our deepest truths, when we’re processing grief, when we’re faced with the possibility that it’s time to let a long-cherished dream die, or when circumstances do not seem to be cooperating with our aspirations. While such experiences can be pretty unpleasant even while we’re doing our best to distract ourselves from them, actually facing them can be excruciatingly painful.

This is why addictions are also related to Neptune’s areas of influence. When we are unwilling or unable to fully face a painful reality, we may find ourselves addicted to ideas, substances, people, or activities that help keep us from facing that painful reality. The disharmony doesn’t just go away though. As time passes and we continue to take (or fail to take) actions based on misconceptions and pain, the disharmony between the various layers grows. This is why addictions are progressive. The pain of living out of harmony with reality gets stronger and harder to ignore, so we have to work even harder to avoid facing it. We become more and more dependent on whatever we’re using to distract, numb, or delude ourselves.

I’d like to pause to make it very clear that this article is in no way judging those who are unable to kick their addictions or face some reality in their lives. All of us do this to some extent. Escapism is very necessary in life! In fact, our ability to keep things out of our conscious experience is an essential survival skill. We need our illusions and distractions. We can only handle so much of reality at once because our conscious minds are not infinite. We can only face so much pain at once because our central nervous systems get overwhelmed and start to shut down if we experience too much at once. This isn’t a race, and there’s no finish line in life where we finally arrive and are fixed, healed, and perfect. We’re all always perfectly imperfect, and if we can deeply accept this about ourselves and life, we can open ourselves up to experiencing so much more joy and wonder and success in life. Each person’s journey through life is unique and a necessary part of the whole of it. There’s no part that’s better than any other because it’s all one interconnected thing. We have to struggle in order to grow, and we can’t experience happiness without also experiencing sadness. It’s important to forgive ourselves for not being perfect and have compassion for our suffering. I’m saying this because I want to be clear that it’s okay to mistake fantasy for reality. It’s okay to get confused. It’s okay to hurt. It’s okay to avoid facing the truth. If we’re really meant to face something, we will do so when we’re ready. As previously stated, we get many opportunities to see what we need to see, and it happens when we’re ready for it to happen. We will be incapable of seeing it until then no matter how loudly it is screaming at us. There are things we can do to support ourselves in this area, but there’s really no need to push or judge ourselves. We can even just relax and enjoy the ride sometimes! Life will always be messy. Be gentle with yourself.

That said, I will discuss some perspectives that may help find the highest expressions of Neptune’s areas of influence, but first I’d like to briefly describe how Neptune’s retrograde cycles can influence how we experience truth and illusion. When we’re able to work with the natural influence that Neptune’s path has on our lives, we can make the most of her retrograde phases.

The first phase of Neptune’s retrograde cycle is when Neptune is direct and no longer in the previous retrograde’s shadow. In 2018, this was from mid March to mid June. This phase is relatively straightforward for Neptune. It’s a time for just dreaming our dreams and attempting to bring them into reality. It’s a good time to try new things and put previously clarified insights into action.

The second phases is Neptune’s retrograde. In 2018, it occurred between mid June and late November. During Neptune’s retrograde, we’re likely to be influenced to face our fears, take a closer look at our dreams, and struggle to figure out what’s real and what’s just wishful thinking. It’s a time of confusion, but we may not see the confusion for what it is until we look back at it later. At the time, it may instead feel more like a struggle or like we’re fighting for our dreams. We may consciously or unconsciously halt progress towards one dream to work towards another in order to see what we need to see about it. Circumstances may even force us to slow down or stop working towards one or more of our dreams during this time. If we take the opportunity to work with the influence of the retrograde, this struggle or confusion will eventually give way to a whole new level of clarity.

Some clarity may arise during the retrograde, but typically, the fog doesn’t fully lift until Neptune goes direct again. Those who are particularly in tune may have sudden realizations or epiphanies as Neptune stations or begins to move forward again. If we used the opportunities to deeply question ourselves that we encountered during Neptune’s retrograde and we stuck with them until clarity arose, then during the third phase, we’re able to begin to apply what we’ve discovered. We may begin to correct areas that need some adjustments, or we may wrap up whatever old business we needed to address and begin to move towards other aspirations once again. We may also simply renew the same dreams and continue on the same path with increased confidence and empowerment. Towards the end of this phase, we may finally get some of the answers for which we have been searching.

In the fourth and final phase, the pre-retrograde shadow starts before the post-retrograde shadow of the previous retrograde has ended. What happens during this phase may lead us to realize that the answers to our questions raise even more questions. We may begin to feel a new stage of our journey beginning despite not having much, if any, clarity about what it will entail. It may feel like everything is coming together all at once. We may even feel a sense of events being tied together in beautifully expansive and intricate ways. Or we may simply begin new endeavors and develop new dreams as we move on from our past. Stay alert and ready to make big changes during this time. In 2018 and 2019, the fourth phases occurs between late February and mid March. Once the fourth phase has ended, the first phase begins again. Watch for the theme of a realization received towards the end of the fourth phase to repeat itself with increased clarity and depth the following Autumn.

I’d like to take a moment to point out that transits and natal chart placements are not definitive predictions. They are, for the most part, simply natural tendencies. Also noteworthy is the fact astrology is incredibly complex. Our natal charts are simply snapshots in time, and they’re impacted by current transits (what’s happening in the sky now), the charts of people in our lives, and other factors. Additionally, everything in any chart is connected to everything else in that chart one way or another. No placement is an island. I’ve read books by people who have been astrologers for four decades, and those astrologers say that they’re still seeing things in their own natal charts that they’d never noticed before.

One of the things in a chart that can impact how Neptune’s areas of influence impact us is placements in those areas and aspects to those placements. For example, if Neptune in your natal chart is in hard aspect (square, opposite, or conjunct) to a personal planet (Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus, and Mars) or if you have personal planets in Pisces or the 12th house, than the cycle I described related to Neptune’s retrograde may impact you much more strongly. You may also find that you experience this cycle more often and in shorter periods of time than what is described in this article. If, for example, your natal Neptune is in hard aspect to your natal Moon, then you may find that you experience these cycles every month as the transiting moon conjuncts your natal moon.

How might we make the most of Neptune’s influence? As mentioned above, people usually see their inner world and the outer world as two distinct things, but they are not actually two separate realms. Our experiences with the outside world impact us from before we’re even born, our perception of the outside world is a direct reflection of our inner state, the way we understand our perceptions influences our behavior, and our behavior impacts the world around us and the types of experiences we will have in the future. We are an inextricable part of the world and people around us, and vice versa. There are plenty of things in the world that are entirely beyond our influence and direct experience, of course, and there are things within us that are so deep that we never consciously observe or alter them.

There is an entire spectrum of levels ranging from the deepest level within us, the part of us that never changes, to the outermost level. One might say that the second to outermost level is existence itself. The universe. Life. Science says that matter and energy cannot be created nor destroyed. They just keep changing forms. Everything exists within, arises from, and returns to the same universal pool of matter and energy. The very outermost level is the timeless stillness, silence, and space upon which the dance of existence manifests as it swirls into and out of a myriad of forms throughout time.

Our conscious awareness lies towards the middle of these levels. Some people naturally focus more attention on the outer, and some people focus more on the inner. Our range is generally pretty limited either way. We can explore in either direction, and when we do, we also wind up with a better understanding of the other because our outer world is a direct reflection of our inner world. We can learn about ourselves by going out and experiencing more of life in the world around us, and we can learn about life and the world around us by diving to new depths within our own unconscious minds.

Our subconscious minds deliver information to us from the levels outside of our conscious awareness. These messages come to us through our emotions, dreams, visions, intuition, symbols, synchronicities, imagination, IFS, etc. The information in the messages could come from our own unconscious minds, or it could be from something bigger than us.

Rainbows are a wonderful analogy for these levels. If the warm end of the color spectrum is the innermost layers and the cool end is the outermost layers, our conscious minds would generally focus on yellow and green. We can explore orange and blue through introspection and experiencing the world. We can, if we so desire, explore further and learn a bit about our deepest unconscious workings and our individual Selves in red as well as the broader spiritual truths of the universe in violet.

There is, however, another color in the spectrum. The same color can, at times, be seen either the red side or the violet side of the spectrum. It’s the color magenta. In this analogy, magenta represents that unchanging level of ourselves that lies beneath everything else. It also represents the outermost level, the void that allows for the birth of the world of form. It is the timeless stillness, silence, and space that exists within, beneath, and beyond all things. It is awareness of this level of our being that makes us one with the whole of existence. It opens us up to experiencing the entire rainbow. It is why surrender is the only thing that leads to true empowerment.

We can most fully access “magenta” by looking deep within ourselves. This is much easier said than done because there is a gaping hope, a void, an emptiness within all of us that we feel threatening to swallow us and spend all of our efforts trying to avoid. It’s the pain of separation, of aloneness. We must allow it to consume us entirely in order to realize that it is not our end, but our beginning. By allowing ourselves to be fully annihilated by the aching chasm we feel within us, we find home, wholeness, and unconditional love and acceptance. We finally find the fulfillment that we have been searching for somewhere out there all along by surrendering to the very pain we have been trying our very best to avoid and finding that this pain is “magenta”. The void is true freedom. We cannot know this until we allow ourselves to be fully engulfed by it. Until then, it will feel like we must avoid it at all costs.

We can also catch little glimpses of “magenta” by experiencing the world around us in a way that causes let go of our attachment to our personal significance in the world. This may be done through activities such as staring into the night sky or observing the view from a mountaintop while contemplating how infinitesimally small we are.

Either way, there must be a loss of ourselves as an individual in that moment in order to experience “magenta” and know that everything is right in the universe. Magenta is Oneness. Magenta is the highest expression of Neptune.

It’s entirely natural to fear death. Humans have a very strong self-preservation instinct. It keeps us alive as individuals and as a species. Facing any kind of death, whether it’s of our bodies, dreams, ideals, beliefs, relationships, or anything else can be extremely difficult. Even change can be difficult, especially if we don’t know how things will turn out. There’s a part of all of us that craves stability.

Consider the position of Pisces on the Wheel of the Zodiac. Each sign resolves an issue created by the previous sign, but it also creates an issue for the next sign to resolve. In Scorpio, things are dark and intense and very personal. Sagittarius comes in with a drive to lighten up, let go, and explore the world in search of Truth. Capricorn comes in with traditional values and society’s expectations, and it seeks to create material gain in the world as it exists. Aquarius comes in and says, “You know what? There are some things about the way the world currently works that are messed up. Let’s fix it.” Aquarius is very idealistic, progressive, and driven by its belief systems. Pisces comes in and just lets it aaaaaaaaall go. It’s the end of the cycle. It’s where we release our attachments and beliefs and allow things to change or end. And what comes next? Aries. Aries is the spark of life. It’s the creation of new energy. It’s passion and strength.

The lesson of Neptune, Pisces, and the 12th House may best be summed up with the old adage, “If you love something, let it go. If it returns to you, it’s yours forever [or at least until the end of the next cycle]. If it doesn’t, it was never yours to begin with.” When we allow our dreams to just entirely die, we’re allowing the opportunity for them to be reborn full of new life or for new and better aspirations to take their place. It’s scary because we don’t know what will happen, but if we can allow ourselves to stay in the space of not knowing for a bit, it gives way to a much deeper clarity when the time is right.

One final thing to consider is that the higher expression of every sign of the Zodiac incorporates a bit of its opposite, so it’s necessary to stay grounded in Virgo in order to realize healthy expression of Pisces. The old proverb, “Before enlightenment, chop wood; carry water. After enlightenment, chop wood; carry water,” describes this dynamic quite well. The higher expression of Pisces is very much about opening ourselves up, but in order for it to be safe to do that, we need to make sure our physical and practical needs are met. One area in which Virgo particularly excels is keeping our surroundings well organized, so de-cluttering can be an excellent way to support higher Pisces expression. Physical self-care such as eating nutritious food, maintaining a healthy sleep schedule, and getting enough physical activity are also part of Virgo’s domain. There’s much more that could be said about Virgo, of course, but the main idea here is to remember that balance is important. Take good care of yourself!

It’s okay!

I’ve recently been reminded that we heal in layers. If it seems like you’re struggling with the same old stuff that you thought you already released, it’s likely either a deeper layer or someone else’s. We unconsciously “learn” fear-based conditioning just by living in the world. There’s pain all around us, and when we process it, we walk back out into the world as healers.

The source of your pain doesn’t really matter. Treat whatever comes up for you the same as any other pain you experience. Hold it in a space of loving compassion. Allow it to just be whatever it is in the moment. While you’re processing feelings, keep reminding yourself to focus on the sensations you’re feeling instead of your thoughts about your feelings (including why they’re there and if you should be feeling that way). Take care of yourself as if you were taking care of someone you love very much who is completely dependent on you and is going through whatever you’ve been going through.

This means pampering and nourishing your body, giving yourself a serene sanctuary in which to rest, allowing yourself time your renewal, lovingly protecting yourself, meeting your needs for socialization with with people who enrich your life, doing nice little things for yourself (such as giving yourself a small frivolous gift) just to show you how much you care about you, addressing any unpleasant tasks that putting off is causing stress (either by doing it as a form of self-care or just letting yourself off the hook), feeding your heart and spirit with soul food, getting help when you need help, and just cutting yourself some slack.

Remember, we’re always perfectly imperfect. There’s no such thing as healed. There’s no finish line towards which to race. There’s nothing you need to do to make yourself worthy of love, acceptance, support, protection, peace, joy, or rest. Remember:

– It’s okay to feel the way I feel right now. Just about anyone would feel this way in this situation given ALL of the factors involved.
– This, too, shall pass.
– This is hard, but I can do hard things.
– I don’t need to understand everything right now. It’s totally okay to just not know something. If I can make peace with not knowing, whatever answers I truly need will become clear to me when the time is right.
– Everything is perfectly imperfect. Everyone is perfectly imperfect. It’s perfectly okay and even beautiful that my situation and I are not perfect and never will be.
– Happiness is always NOW. It can never be experienced in the past or future, only in the present moment.
– It’s okay to be just allow myself to happy.
– It’s also okay not to be happy right now.
– It’s okay to say no.
– It’s okay to take time to rest.
– It’s okay to ask for help.
– If I fill myself up first before giving to others, I can give from a full heart and feel blessed by the giving. If I do this, I will never be depleted or resentful, will be able to see the true needs of others more clearly, and will have SO much more to offer the world!
– Nature heals.

Take good care of yourselves! ❤

Inner Peace: What Usually Works, Why It DOESN’T Work for Everyone, and What Else Can Be Done

There is no peace without surrender.
 
I’m a recovering alcoholic and love addict. The love addiction is actually what drove the alcohol consumption (though, of course, there’s a genetic component to alcoholism as well), and I was not able to address one addiction without addressing the other simultaneously. Learning how to process my feelings was both the key to motivation behind and the key to my recovery, and it all comes down to surrender.
 
What is surrender? Many people equate surrender with passivity, resignation, or defeat. It is none of those, though it may feel that way from a position of clinging to the edge of the abyss.
 
Surrender is basically just radically acceptance of what is. If pain is the reality of the moment, then it is accepting that reality without resistance, judgement, hope for a certain future, will, or any concept of “supposed to”. It is about just experiencing the situation without trying to make sense of it or otherwise control it.
 
It is also necessary to give up all beliefs about how awful or hopeless everything is in order to surrender. This is, perhaps, the hardest part! Beliefs such as, “I will always be in pain,” or, “Things will never get better,” or, “I will never be enough,” are JUST as much a defense mechanisms as addictions and other forms of escapism. They prevent us from the most intense and terrifying of all vulnerabilities: happiness.
 
Surrender is releasing the notions that drive our suffering. It’s acknowledging that we don’t understand and can’t know or control what will happen and that we can no longer pretend that we’re capable of adequately preparing for or shielding ourselves from all of the intensity and pain in life, that sometimes things just really, really suck for a bit.
 
It’s accepting that that the experience of the present moment just is whatever it is in THAT moment, and we don’t know what to do about it, how long it will last, if there’s a way to prevent the same pain in the future, or even why it’s happening.
 
This is why it’s possible to be in pain and be at peace at the same time. In fact, inner peace is not dependent on the presence or absence of pain. Peace is truth. When we’re struggling to hold onto our untrue ideas about a situation, we experience turmoil in direct relation to how strongly the situation is showing us our error. When we release those beliefs and open ourselves to experiencing the situation for whatever it truly is right then and there, we have peace.
 
The trick is that there’s a physical component to this, too. For example, some people’s brains are wired in such a way that their emotions are overwhelming and drive their thoughts to be unrealistically negative. The unrealistically negative thoughts, memories, and beliefs then feed the emotions which feed more unrealistic negativity, and it just continues to spiral. In their case, mindful acceptance of what is can be impossible at times because intense emotional suffering is currently their natural set point.
For people who do not experience fast, incredibly profound relief from just allowing themselves to experience the reality of their pain for a bit (10 or 15 minutes), a different approach is necessary. For those individuals, steps must be taken to gradually re-wire their brains and heal their nervous systems so that they will be in a position to experience distress without being sucked into a vortex of pain and spiraling downward. Their brains are wired to remain stuck in turmoil, so pushing themselves further into it may only make things worse for them.
 
For such individuals, studies show that the most beneficial things they can do are to join a DBT group and learn DBT skills, to receive treatment from qualified professionals, and to have the ongoing support of loved ones who have learned about how their brains work and are committed to doing what they can to support their emotional needs. Many of the responses involved in providing this type of support seem counter-intuitive, but over time they have an incredibly healing impact on the individual. (The brain is, after all, plastic.) It takes time and practice to learn them, and it takes time for them to work. Understanding and accepting that mistakes will be made and progress will be gradual is important for success, but if you love someone with this type of struggle, it’s well worth the commitment, effort, and patience.
It’s worth noting that sometimes, a person isn’t even for DBT or even professional help yet, and in those cases, the knowledgeable and loving support of the people closest to the individual is the most critical factor for healing.
For more information, I very highly recommend checking out book Overcoming Borderline Personality Disorder: A Family Guide for Healing and Change.

How to Get With Someone

You meet a person. You’re attracted. You learn more about him or her, and you become interested in the possibility of pursuing a relationship with the person. What now?

Here’s what doesn’t work:

  • Directly tell the person that you want to be together without a bit of back and forth flirtation, hints, and time spent together leading up to it.
  • Think about the person constantly even though you’re not actually dating him or her.
  • Plan your future with the person in your head in ways that wind up causing you to feel empty or discouraged.
  • Worry a lot about whether or not the person will be interested in you, will stay interested in you if you do get together, and will actually make you happy once you’re together.
  • Debate or criticize yourself about whether you should feel this way about this person.
  • Get way more emotionally invested in the outcome of your interactions or relationship than the other person is.
  • Get caught up in waves of intense highs of hope and lows of despair.
  • Determine that this person is the one person you want, and no one else will do before you’ve even dated.
  • Get ahead of where the relationship is.
  • Contemplate how to potentially get with the person for hours upon hours.
  • Learn as much as you can about the person before dating him or her.
  • Believe that this person could save you from feeling empty inside.
  • Talk about the person to your friends constantly.
  • Contact the person a lot even though they don’t contact you as often, doesn’t always respond, and don’t seem to care as much about your interactions as you do.
  • Spend more time focused on the other person than your own life.

When you’re very focused on the other person, your feelings for the person, how to get with the person, or what a relationship with the person would be like, you’re filling up a whole lot of room in your mind and heart with ideas about the person. It doesn’t leave much room for the actual person even if he or she might otherwise be interested in being involved with you.

When you’re significantly more emotionally invested in a person than they are in you, you’ll unconsciously send out that message, and it will repel the person whether he or she realizes it or not.

When you believe that another person can save you from loneliness, you’re setting yourself up for severe disappointment no matter what happens because while human being do need connection, affection, and intimacy, whether your need for those things will be met is entirely dependent on you, not your partner or a potential partner.

When your moods are very dependent on your perception of how things are going or your sense of how likely it is that your feelings will be returned, you won’t be capable of truly receiving the person’s feelings, particularly his or her feelings for you. You can’t truly understand and connect with another person unless you’re able to accept his or her feelings in a given moment, whatever they are. When your own feelings hinge on other people’s, not only are you not able to see theirs clearly, but you’re also prone to reacting to them in ways that make it unsafe for them to truly show you themselves.

So what does work?

  • Go ahead and appreciate the things about the person that you admire. Feel the warmth of the experience, and then let it go when the feeling passes. Don’t go out of your way to do or think things to feed that feeling outside of your interactions with the person. It will come back if you and the person are a good match and proceed towards dating and then being together. Do this for anyone you meet, not just that person.
  • Do daydream about your desires if you’re able to do it in ways that leave you feeling good. It’s okay to put that person’s face to your daydream if it helps you create the feeling of being in a happy, healthy, loving, supportive relationship. However, know that this mental practice is about showing your unconscious mind what you want in a relationship, not about getting exactly what you see with exactly that person. If your daydreams leave you feeling deflated or lonely, then you’re putting too much expectation into it. Back off and focus on other things that work for now.
  • Ask yourself what conditions would make you feel better about yourself. Explore how it would feel to feel better about yourself. How would you act? How would you interact with others? What would it look like? What would your home look like if you felt better about yourself? Then ask yourself if there are any little steps you could take right now that are in line with what you saw. Focus on the things that are within your power to do right away. Consider this multiple times per day. Do those things.
  • If you find yourself thinking about the person in a way that makes you feel bad, just notice those thoughts and feelings, and then either sit with the sensations you feel (refocus your attention on the sensations when your mind wanders) until they pass or up to fifteen minutes, whichever comes first, or…
  • Do something nice for yourself. Ask yourself what you need right now. A night out with friends? A delicious meal from your favorite take out restaurant? More sleep? A hot, relaxing bath? Time in meditation? To wrap yourself up in a warm blanket and watch your favorite old movie? To go for a hike? To go back to school for a new career??? Ask yourself this multiple times per day, and then tune into the most compassionate, loving, wisest part of yourself. Use that part to decide whether or not to do it.
  • Focus on the above actions until you feel you can interact with the person without being too invested in the outcome. When it feels right and you’re in a pretty positive place with yourself regardless of what that individual says or does, it’s time to put yourself in his or her path. You’ll be in a position to casually show positive reactions to the person, to truly see and feel how the person behaves and interacts with you, to develop an equal relationship if that’s where it goes, and to happily walk away if you discover that you’re not as good a match with the person as you might have previously suspected. If you do walk away, you’ll then be in a position to start a happy, healthy relationship with another person with whom you’re more compatible whenever he or she happens to walk into your life. You also won’t be as likely to carry the baggage of past loves and rejections into the relationship, and you won’t just restart the same old pattern of longing and despair from which you finally just escaped with another person.
  • If you do wind up dating and in a relationship with the person, take one step at a time. Make a conscious effort to communicate openly about where each of you is, including openly receiving their feelings for you, so that you’re both connected to where the relationship actually is and are open to each other instead of getting caught up in your ideas and disconnecting from each other.

In short, be AWESOME to yourself, and you’ll wind up in a position to attract, date, and get into a relationship with the right person for you. That person may very well be the one who initially caught your eye! If it’s not, you’ll feel just fine about walking away from that possibility because you will see it for what it is and know that there are better options for you (even if you don’t know what they are yet).

Blessings ❤