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.

This again?!

Have you ever noticed that you can do some really amazing, deep, transformative healing, and then six months later, the same freaking thing comes back up again? I have found that it does for me, and I used to wonder why it happened and whether I was ever actually as “healed” as I thought I was.

Here’s the thing: The human mind is fantastically brilliant! Our unconscious minds compute unfathomable amounts of data from everything around us, and they are like incredibly powerful computers that can use that information to calculate things that our conscious minds cannot. The book Blink by Malcolm Gladwell explores this in detail with case studies and scientific research.

Everything we don’t even realize we see around us is computed. Even seemingly meaningless things like how well the lawns in our neighborhood are maintained and slight changes in someone’s pitch as they speak go into the calculations. The conclusions of those calculations are generally only available to us through our feelings, such as our emotions, sensations, and intuition.

Our minds develop rules for how to function to help us avoid pain, though usually we’re not consciously aware of those rules. Everything we feel changes our brains, but pain is more impactful than anything else. Our minds are so brilliant that they don’t just use our own personal experiences to create rules for how to avoid pain. They also see the evidence of the pain of others and use that information as well.

In this way, we take on the pain of others even if we don’t see the original cause of that pain. The core wound from the neighbor’s early childhood can indirectly impact us even if we never pay any attention to the neighbor. Our minds are just THAT powerful!

This is part of why you may sometimes find that you have core wounds that don’t seem to make sense based on the life that you’ve lived. Another reason is that we also have genetic memory. Scientists believe that our memories actually change our genetic material, so we pass our traumas from before having a child onto future generations through that child. Traumas experienced many generations ago due to war, practical realities of life, and social injustice can show up as core wounds even if we don’t know that they happened!

And just like other people’s core wounds can unconsciously or consciously impact us, when they heal those core wounds, the manifestations of their freedom to live their truth also impact us. When we heal our own core wounds, we walk out into the world as healers because our very presence has a healing influence on others even if they initially react negatively on the surface. This then creates a ripple effect. The people with whom we come in direct or indirect contact go on to impact others around them, and those people impact others around them, and so on. The very best thing we can do for anyone and everyone is to take very, very good care of ourselves!

Living in the world means absorbing the pain of others, and continuing to process our feelings means healing that pain not just in us, but also in others. When we heal ourselves, we’re indirectly healing everyone!

This is one of the reasons why it is unhelpful to try to figure out why you feel the way you do. You may never know, and if you make an assumption, the pain that you are experiencing will reinforce that assumption and change or reinforce your mental model. This also causes you to hold onto that pain. However, if you just go ahead and feel it without assigning meaning, you’ll likely release it. Whether or not you have an epiphany about why you felt the way you did, you’ll be better off for having processed your feelings. 🙂

Blessings ❤

“Why is this kid so freaking DIFFICULT?!” An important consideration when dealing with frequent meltdowns, temper tantrums, or aggression in small children

Do you know any young children who are difficult, uncooperative, or aggressive? If a kid younger than 5 or 6 is frequently acting this way, usually it means that there’s something with which he or she is struggling but doesn’t understand or know how to articulate. Small children NEED to be loved and accepted. From a biological standpoint, for a creature as small and helpless as a young child, acceptance by caregivers and “the pack” is necessary in order to survive. For this reason, they are generally very eager to please. They desperately want to do what’s expected of them and be well liked.
They’re also sensitive to any possible indication that they’re not loved and accepted, and for them, feeling unloved and rejected is felt as a threat to their survival.  Even things as simple as their caregivers not delighting in them or meeting their specific Love Language needs are felt on a visceral level as being unloved. This reaction is felt even more painfully when they are disciplined, scolded, or responded to with annoyance or anger, so they try very hard to avoid experiencing these things. Of course, children also need discipline, but there are things that make attempts at discipline more successful or less successful.
No matter how contrary or even violent their behavior, they’re trying their very best to fit in, get along, please their caregivers, and succeed socially. They’re trying like their life depends on it. If they’re doing things that upset people around them, it’s not because they enjoy being difficult. It’s not because they don’t care. They’re not willfully deciding to aggravate or hurt others. It’s happening because there are one or more unmet needs are overwhelming their long term survival needs.
Of course, it’s always important to consider whether a child who’s acting out is hungry, tired, sick, etc. There are also some long term conditions that can cause kids to act out over and over again.
 
One of the most common things that can cause or contribute to this is Sensory Processing Disorder. People with SPD experience sensory input differently than how most other people do, so an environment, object, or activity that’s comfortable or tolerable to everyone else in the room might be overwhelming or otherwise intolerable for them. When this happens to small children, they may not be able to communicate that there are too many chaotic sounds in the room, that they’re hot, that their shoes are uncomfortable, that the lights are too bright, that holding still that long is very stressful, that there are too many people too close to them, or that the tag on their shirt is aggravating them. They just go into panic mode. They can’t think or communicate effectively, and that includes listening to others no matter how clear and simple their requests may be.
When too much unpleasant or overwhelming sensory input causes them to go into fight or flight mode, they react and often lash out in illogical ways. These are not the type of emotional reactions that you can read on their face or in their voice like when they’re afraid because of a scary movie. Their expression may look angry or may have a “deer in the headlights look” instead of looking scared or pained. They may run away from their caregivers, physically attack something or someone, yell, or otherwise have a meltdown.
It is not possible to reason with or successfully discipline them while they’re in this state, and attempts to do so will only make the situation worse both short term and long term. Short term, attempts to get them to change their behavior without addressing the cause just adds to their feeling of being overwhelmed and their inability to use executive function in their brains instead of just reacting with fight or flight.
Long term, they don’t understand why they just can’t seem to behave. They want to, and they really do try their best. They think there’s something wrong with them, but they don’t know what or how to change it. They quickly begin to lose hope, believe they are unlovable, and develop psychological defense mechanisms. This manifests over the course of hours and weeks as no longer even trying to please their peers or caregivers or even claiming that they want to be bad or don’t care about hurting others. Those claims are very, very rarely true. They say these things because they cannot face the pain of rejection. Because these are their formative years, this impacts their sense of who they are and how the world works for the rest of their lives or until they heal those core wounds.
Different people with SPD have different tolerances and needs for different things, so figuring out what’s going on is largely a matter of observation and experimentation. The right technique or product (such as minimalist shoes or hearing protection) can dramatically change the child’s life and the lives, or at least comfort, of those around them. There are many great resources out there! Here are a few that I’ve found recently:
The most important thing is to look for the unmet needs instead of focusing on the behavior as a discipline problem. Yes, children absolutely need boundaries, rules, expectations, and discipline. These are excellent areas on which to focus after meeting their needs. For a kid with SPD, managing their environment so that they’re not in panic mode is a need!
Thank you. Blessings! ❤

Teach From Where You Are

For a long time, I had a lot of stuff that I was learning that I recognized as extremely valuable and wanted to share with the world. I held back because I thought, “Who am I to teach? Clearly I don’t have it all figure out! Look at my [insert random challenge here] situation!” I think this is very common, and I want to encourage you to share whatever you feel inspired to share with the world despite the fact that none of us ever have it all figured out while we’re in physical form.

There’s an ancient proverb that says that when the student is ready, the master will appear. A Course In Miracles says that we teach what we need to learn. Scientific studies have shown that the best way to learn something is to teach it. The Latin phrase Docendo discimus means, “By teaching, we learn.”

What I’d like to add to these adages is that whatever we’ve been learning, whatever inspires us, is something from which others would also benefit. Not everyone in the world wants or needs to hear it right now, but there are people who do. If you keep it to yourself, neither you nor anyone else will derive the full benefit of the lessons that Life has been offering you.

It’s normal to look back at what you were learning or teaching a decade ago and think, “Wow, I would never say that now!” about some of it. That’s perfectly okay! It’s just where you were at the time, and there’s no stage of the journey that’s better than any other. But here is the main point: Whatever you were learning then would have resonated with others who also needed that or a similar lesson at that time. If the current you when back in time and tried to offer your current lessons and inspiration to those people, it most likely wouldn’t resonate with them. They might not have even been able to hear it, much less apply it. In another decade, you may look back and think the same thing about where you are now. That’s perfectly okay, too. ❤ It still has value right now.

Write or speak your truth. Share what inspires you. It won’t resonate with everyone, but regardless, it will be of value to both you and others. Embrace the opportunities that the current moment offers. And as always, only take what resonates with you from whatever I say!

Blessings ❤

The Yin and Yang Within Each of Us

All things, including each of us, have a Yin side and a Yang side. Many people feel more comfortable with one side than the other for various reasons and therefore tend to focus more on that side, but no matter how strongly we lean one way or the other, we all have both, and there is always at least some expression of one within any expression of the other. They need the support of each other. One cannot exist without the other, and nothing can exist without both. Similar to Mind, Body, and Spirit balance, Yin and Yang are also in perfect balance within our True Self. Once again, note that balance does not mean equal focus at all times. Balance means responding to the needs of the situation by focusing on the required attributes of each side at any given moment. Balance also means that both sides of ourselves are valued equally even if we are not focusing on both equally.

Let’s take a look at what each is and how it manifests in healthy and unhealthy ways.

Yang is doing. Healthy Yang is strong, virile, logical, enterprising, protective, just, outwardly focused, leading, decisive, punctual, assertive, structured, dutiful, focused, firm, and active. It is productive and does what needs to be done despite whatever Yin emotional storm may be raging.

Yin is being. Healthy Yin is caring, emotional, nurturing, gentle, accepting, inwardly focused, yielding, sensitive, imprecise, affectionate, enigmatic, pleasant, flexible, soft, and passive. It gets what it needs by attracting support. It sees and tends to the emotional and comfort needs of itself and others in soft, sweet ways.

When Yang is unhealthy, it’s overly aggressive, angry, rigid, anxious, and domineering. When Yin is unhealthy, it’s helpless, complaining, depressive, and needy.

When they come together in a healthy way, Yin personal values and emotions motivate Yang to meet Yin’s desires and needs. Happy Yin brings the color and enjoyment to life. All of the Yang energy in the world is empty without Yin’s receptivity and appreciation of it. Yang loves to see Yin delighted, so Yin rewards Yang for its efforts by enjoying the fruits of Yang’s labors. When Yin is hurting or in danger, Yang mobilizes to defend as necessary or work to alter the situation. Yang’s drive, discipline, and ability to structure help Yin to get more enjoyment out of life by minimizing unnecessary delays, chaos, waste, etc. Yin’s awareness of emotional and physical comfort needs helps Yang avoid overwork and remember to take some time to enjoy itself. Yin can also advise Yang about how to be more agreeable to others and therefore attract cooperation.

Once again, we all have both Yin and Yang sides, and one can only function as well as the other. Regardless of our focus or level of comfort with each, one side can only be as strong and healthy as the other because they are a reflection of the strong, healthy True Self. They are also entirely interdependent. However, this does not necessarily mean that we will focus as much on one side as the other. It just means we can when we desire or need to do so.

It’s possible to have a side that’s strong and capable yet not strongly expressed because most of demands for it are being met in our environment. If, for example, the environment is incredibly Yang, such as that of boot camp in the military, we must respond by manifesting obedient Yin behavior in order to thrive. If, on the other hand, our partner is very Yin, in order for us to get along with our partner and for the couple to thrive in the world, we must demonstrate more of a Yang focus.

Also noteworthy is that we don’t naturally embody all of the traits of either side. Also, there is always at least some Yin within Yang expression and Yang within Yin expression as shown in the Yin/Yang symbol. Taijitu - Small (CW).svg  For example, someone who focuses more on Yang might be introverted and stoic rather than extroverted and lustful. A very Yin person may be more concrete than intuitive and embody Yin more through sensuality than through mystique. We’re all individuals with unique sets of characteristics that don’t fit cleanly into any model.

Without the support of the other side, neither can function in healthy ways. Yang side needs to have the nurturing support and emotional attentiveness of Yin, or it becomes uncaring. Yin side needs the protection, decisiveness, and productivity of Yang or it becomes weak. When both sides have the loving support of the other, the individual thrives. Eventually, both sides integrate the healthy traits of the other and use them as needed. It becomes impossible to tell which side is the strong side and which is the caring side. The individual is able to wisely act according to the needs of the situation, whatever they are, in any given moment.

In order to provide support to others, we must first be supported ourselves. It helps, of course, to have strong Yin and Yang support from others in our lives, but there are ways to develop it within ourselves over time. It can be done through mindfully recognizing and meeting the needs of each side within us with the strengths of the other. Allow your Yang side to remain strong and protective of your Yin side while it breaks down or enjoys itself. Allow your Yin side to nurture, inspire, and sweetly care for the emotional needs of the Yang side while it accomplishes things and makes decisions. Allow them to support each other! Both sides will immediately begin to grow stronger and healthier, and they will continue to grow over time as you practice this. You will notice rapid beneficial changes in your life.

Modalities, Elements, and Yin/Yang

Each Sign has an Element and Modality. The Modalities are a little bit similar to the Hindu trinity. The elements are like the various parts of each of us.

Modalities

  • Cardinal: Create, initiate, start
  • Fixed: Preserve, maintain, continue
  • Mutable: Change, adapt, edit, conclude

Elements

  • Fire: Spirit, will, passion, decisiveness, drive, essence
  • Earth: Body, physicality, practicality, material conditions
  • Air: Mind, mental understanding, social activity, communication, knowledge, beliefs
  • Water: Emotions, Intuition

Yin/Yang

  • Yang: Fire and Air. They’re strong, detached, logical, enterprising, protective, just, outwardly focused, dominant, leading, decisive, assertive, and active. They produce or acquire what they want or need.
  • Yin: Earth and Water. They’re caring, emotionally in tune, nurturing, gentle, accepting, inwardly focused, yielding, sensitive, and passive. They attract what they want or need.