Nightmares: How to Change a Big Fear into a Huge Asset

Nightmares by definition evoke fear. This means that when you are facing that big snake or being bitten by one, the negative emotion you are feeling is FEAR. It is not anxiety or shame or guilt or grief or any other one. It is fear. To be good at changing a nightmare into an asset you need to be good at working with fear inside of yourself.

The first thing you need to know about fear is that it has a past. You cannot have fear unless you have had an experience where the fear developed. And just because you are dreaming about a snake biting you does not mean that you have had a negative experience where you have been bitten by a snake in the past. You have to remember first that dreams are mostly based upon metaphorically language. The snake is a symbol of someone or something that happened in the past. You are not born with the fear of heights or of being attacked by a bear or being burned. Fear is based upon an experience that is interpreted by the ego mind as threatening. It tells you that there is some part of your life where you do not have the resources to fully deal with what presents. So instead of being capable, the fear in your ego mind tries to get you to run away or fight or even freeze as a way of dealing with the threat. The dream simply tells you that you are in need of growth. A nightmare is a big message.

What is particularly interesting about a nightmare is the intensity. It makes you pay attention and stays in the memory easily. A lot of other dreams fade as soon as you awaken, but nightmares tend to stay with you. So how do you deal with it?

  1. Realize that when you have a nightmare it is for the development of a new process that you have probably not done a lot of work on previously. It means that something positive wants to come into your being so that you are a much more resourceful and competent person. With that in mind set aside some time to process the dream. It is well worth the effort. It is also important to realize that dreams tend to come to you as a kind of premonition, that if you don’t deal with the fear, then the negative will show up in real life. You can turn a potentially trying situation into one where you have a lot of competence.
  2. Write the dream in a journal or notebook so that you have access to it. Writing something in journal has a way of giving yourself distance from it which will lessen some of the fear. It will not get rid of the fear. It will just take some of its negative power away as you do the processing. If you find that it puts you into a really negative spin that you cannot get out of, then it is best to seek some help from people who are experienced in working with fear.
  3. Identify the primary negative metaphors and what they make you do in the dream. For instance, if you have a dream where there is a poisonous snake, then the snake is the metaphoric image you have to deal with. It may cause you to freeze or to try to kill it or run away from it. If you are in a house that is on fire, then the fire is the primary metaphor that is critical to understand.
  4. Identify what the negative metaphors stand for in the real world. For instance, a poisonous snake indicates that there are poisonous people in your life that are filled with jealousy attempting to take the easy way out in life. A bear chasing you is a symbol for a negative power source that is about to attack you. This can be hugely challenging so if you arrive at this step and have no clue, you can write to me at and I will help you identify what the metaphor represents. This is a very important step because it gives you a profound level of understanding before you do the actual transformation. Although it is not enough to just identify the meaning of the metaphor, it is a key step in going forward.
  5. Identify when the first occurrence of the fear experience was in your life. This is also a good key for understanding more profoundly what is happening to you in your life when you have the fear. The age and the circumstances give you indicators of what to do in the change process. A lot of fears beginning when people were very young living in their dysfunctional families or when they began school or had their first relationships. If something happened, for instance, when you were five, you will be acting like a scared five year old when facing the fear.
  6. Find the positive energy that is trying to open up in you. It is always the opposite in a positive direction of the fear image. So if a snake is trying to poison you, which means that there are poisonous people in your environment who are doing things in a negative way or behind your back to harm you emotionally, then what you are trying to open up to is sweetening people’s lives or encouraging people in positive ways. If you are being chased by a bear that has a lot of negative strength, it means that you need to develop positive strength and empowerment to do positive things for the betterment of others. Just like the metaphor this can be challenging to find out what is supposed to open. You can ask me if you are stuck.
  7. Identify if the fear presents a real danger in your life or is mostly imagined. If you have snake-like people in your environment doing negative things, it is not propitious to just start being sweet and encouraging to others even though that is what is unfolding. You also need to take steps so that you are protected from the venomous people and then gradually implement the new process in areas that are safe. If you are in an abusive relationship trying to develop empowerment, the abuser will have the upper hand, so you need protection and wisdom in gradually unfolding the new capacity. It will take time. The rule is to protect yourself and find safe ways to develop the new process. If you have been to war and have nightmares about it, but now you are out of the war zone and are safe, your mind will still believe that you are not safe. You may be learning how to create peace between people, but your ego mind is going to make you believe it is not safe and it will find ways to make you feel like it is a fight. The rule is to go slowly and in an ecologically sound manner. Take your time in developing the capacities. Start by doing them in small ways.
  8. When you begin seeing the new ability such as creating peace between people and there is no longer any fear, then your behavior will have a lot more choice to it. It will not be ruled by flight or fight or freeze. You will have more positive choices.
  9. Develop a modest plan with small steps and implement it. It will be the feedback you need to take the next steps.

in the next post I will introduce what to do with some other types of dreams where fear is not the primary negative emotion and some techniques on how to deal with the ego mind so that your true mind can function better.

Dreamwork: Nightmares are Your Best Friends

When you wake up in the middle of the night because you have just had a terrible nightmare like a poisonous snake ready to sink its fangs in you or you are about to fall off a huge cliff, your heart is usually racing and your mind may feel some relief that the dream was not real life. Most people just want to get to a place of calm again after a nightmare, and then return to some kind normalcy hoping that the dream does not reappear. The goal of this post and one’s following are invitations to view nightmares or other negative dreams as your best friends because all the nightmare is actually trying to communicate to you is that you have a fear that needs addressing, and the reason you have the fear is that your inner being needs a new capacity that is as yet not actualized.

Most of what we call Western medicine is based on the idea that human beings are apes with a larger brain. This means that when there is a disturbance in the system, the purpose of medicine is to get you back to a state of equilibrium. It works in many cases like when you break an arm or leg and have it reset, but when the concept that we are animals with a large brain goes into the area of disturbances of the mind, going back to an old equilibrium isn’t all that effective. It would have you try to completely forget about the nightmare, maybe take something to calm you down, or have you practice meditation. The idea is to get rid of the disturbance because it is the enemy that causes your life to be rattled.

When you start with the belief that humans are spiritual beings living temporarily in a physical body, then the whole world of negative emotions and nightmares become so much more interesting and friendly. A nightmare awakens a huge amount of fear in the dreamer. Suddenly you are faced with a situation where you have no inner resources to deal with the challenge in front you. Your mind goes on alert and sends impulses throughout your body to fight or flee from the terrible situation. So why is that a good thing? Why would I ever want to make friends with a nightmare or any other negative feeling I might have? The fear is just the messenger. It is not the enemy. It is just sending a message that there is an aspect of your life in which you are completely incompetent and in need a huge development. It lets you know that you are at the beginning of a very long process of growth.

What is even friendlier about a nightmare is that if you do not take steps in your transformation process, the nightmare will repeat itself over time. It will just keep letting you know in whatever way it can that you need more development, more new capacities. It will not pass you onto the next grade level in life because of seat time. It will make you face the fear and change until the very end of your life and probably beyond this one. A negative dream or a nightmare is your best friend because it provides the message of where the friction is in your growth process, where you are lacking. How great is that? You can go to bed at night and wake up the next day with messages about what growth is needed.

If I have a dream with a big snake ready to put its fangs in me, and I feel a lot of fearful feelings, it simply means that I am at the beginning of the process of learning to deal with poisonous people who are full of jealous energy so that I can give out positive energy to myself and others around me. A nightmare says to you that you are at the beginning of a new process, not the end or not even close to the end. It is humbling, but also exciting because it means that with a substantial amount of inner work you can develop whole new competencies. It is an invitation to lots of great growth.

How else am I going to realize that I am incompetent with poisonous people and difficult situations unless I get the negative messages? There is another way you get messages. You get messages in real life. The advantage of a nightmare is that it lets you know ahead of time that you need this ability and that if don’t develop it, you are going to get hammered in real life. That is why it is your best friend. It is like a phone call letting you know what is up ahead. Snake people!!!!

If you can treat anxiety, guilt, jealousy, hurt, shame, embarrassment, disappointment, sadness or anger as friends who want you to develop new capacities, then the process of your growth is going to greatly accelerate. If you fight the feelings and try to get rid of them by material means, then regression happens. Your hurt is your friend. When I have a dream and it has fear in it, I just say to myself, isn’t this great? I love fear because I can work it and transform it into a new ability. They come to me at night in my dreams. I welcome them in and then give them a cup of coffee in the morning as we work through them. It is like I am on one end of the couch and they are on the other. We are both drinking coffee chatting over the steps to get to the transformation. When I come to an understanding about the messages and change them to positive energy, it is like the negative emotions sets its coffee down, thanks me for the visit, shakes hands, and quietly walks away.

I have a good relationship with the negative emotions because I know that they will give me good info. I cannot imagine a life without the kind of friction that they bring.

In the next post I will talk about the steps in dealing with a nightmare or other big negative emotions that come your way. See you then.

Transformation and the Tendency to Use the Wrong Energy to Solve Your Current Life Situation

If you are a lawyer and you go into a courtroom to argue your case, you need the ability to show the judge or jury that you are right and that the other side is wrong. You may have to do endless hours of research and craft brilliant thoughts to get the desired result. If you are brilliant scientist or computer programmer, you need to have a strong mind that is capable of problem solving and long sequences of thought. If you work on a farm or in construction, you often need to put in intense physical labor that requires sticking to an outcome under great difficulties. If you are a surgeon or a dentist, you may have to be able to do very delicate and intricate work that requires great dexterity and flexibility in a dynamic situation. If you are an endurance athlete, you need the ability to keep going despite the pain you may be feeling in your body.

What happens to a lawyer or an endurance athlete or surgeon when they are no longer in their work space, when they shift from a work environment to more social environment like their family? What often happens is that the energy that made them so successful in the work environment, is the exact energy that makes them a major failure in their home life. Why is this? It should be painfully obvious, but many professionals and blue collar workers seriously make the mistake of using the same energy at home that they used at work. It is pretty obvious that parenting or your relationship with your spouse is going to go miserably downhill if the household becomes a courtroom or an operating theater.

Why do people do it? Why would a lawyer run the home like a courtroom? Lawyers are successful by clearly defining that the are right and the other side is wrong. However, we know that in a relationship being non-judgmental and compassionate are important energies to have for the thriving of closeness. It means that when lawyers leave the courtroom, they need to shift energy to a completely different side of the energy spectrum, which has neither right nor wrong. It is like being on one planet that has a certain type of gravity, and then suddenly finding yourself on one with a much different gravitational force. At one moment you are making a judgement and doing everything in your power to hold onto your argument, and then at the next you are being ask to have no judgement. Or what about engineers? They have to pay attention to great details so that they do not make mistakes. Their work, like an accountant, requires sorting for errors. So when they come home and parent as if they are an engineer or an account, they start looking for all of the things wrong in their children so that they can be corrected. It is not wonder that children of engineers often feel unloved. Parenting requires the ability to see the positives in others and nurture new abilities. It is not so much that children have weaknesses, but more that they have undeveloped capacities.

Lawyers can think that if you tell a child or a spouse that they are wrong and here is the evidence to prove it, that the child or spouse will suddenly want to change and do an instant transformation. What most often happens is that resentment builds up with the lawyer not being able to figure out what when wrong.

How then do you become more flexible with multiple energies available to you for various situations in life? The first step requires a measure of humility. Humility allows you feel perfectly at peace with not having already developed certain abilities. It recognizes that we all have infinite potentialities that are going to require the rest of this life and beyond to develop. We are, in other words, a constant work in process. Without humility you are left with feeling like you should have already developed abilities that you have never worked on before. Most people have difficulties in relational processes like being non-judgmental because it is not part of school curricula.

The second step, which is closely related to humility, is that life does not give you a choice about what to work on. You must surrender to the requirements of your life rather than arrogantly thinking you can choose to work on whatever you wish. Surrendering means that if you need to set clear boundaries with firmness because of the abusive nature of what is coming to you, then when you develop firmness, your life will thrive. If you do not surrender to its development, your life will just give you more difficulties of your own making.

A lawyer who is a parent must surrender to the process of developing nurturing abilities because that is what is going to make the family thrive. It will be uncomfortable. It will be filled with fear and anxiety and all kinds of challenges, but the rewards will far outshine the alternative.

Steps to developing the Uncomfortable energy.

  1. Find out what part of your life is in the most serious need of change.
  2. Make a commitment to learning about the new energies you need to be successful in that area.
  3. Start to get comfortable with the negative emotions that arise in the process of developing the new abilities.
  4. Think about the new area of developing like you would getting another degree from a university and then dive in.

How a Dream Can Help You to Achieve World Peace

As I am writing this post the news of the day is that 12 children have been killed in a Texas elementary school and many more will be casualties of an unnecessary war in the Ukraine. As my small part to achieving world peace I wanted to write more specifically about the process I use in the dream work so that the world becomes a better place. The promise is that if you get the message of the dream and make a transformation in yourself, the world gets that much better. We all want the leaders to do their job, but it is obvious that they are failing miserably when a leader of one of the most powerful countries in the world prefers blood and death over peace and prosperity.

In the dream I am being attacked by every type of vicious, larger than life snakes.

Snakes can attack you in two ways, by injecting venom through fangs or be constricting you like a python. For the sake of this dream we can start with the venomous types. A venomous snake represents people in the environment who use vicious criticism often behind one’s back, to secure an undeserved advantaged for personal gain. The venom that is spread is usually based on a lie, but is told in such a way that others, especially those with authority, believe it. In one particular job that I had the practice was so common that it could be considered institutionalized. If you had ability that was actually beneficial to the work community and used it, you were viewed as a threat. To keep a person with ability from advancing the leaders’ practices included blowing up small mistakes so that they looked huge, and believing what was ever told that was negative about the people with ability. These practices are the venom because the people with authority can use them to weaken positive action toward higher goals.

In most cultures the reaction to venomous leadership is to fight back with criticism or rational proofs to counter the erroneous charges. It simply doesn’t work. Being on the victim side leaves one powerless and depressed. It happened to me often.

What we know from the years of doing dream work is that an animal has two natures in dreams, because human beings have two natures. The dark side of the snakes is what is being manifested in the dream. It creates huge fear, which makes me depressed. The goal is to get to the positive energy of a snake. There are many positives aspects of the snake, but to keep things simple, I am just going to name just one. Snakes have the abilities to shed their skin. In spiritual/emotional turns this is the ability to let go of the negative things that have happened. In this case it means letting go of the vicious attacks. Letting go is not necessarily an easy process to learn. If you are a creative person doing new things and experimenting with new possibilities, then criticism is going to come because mistakes are inevitable. There are thousands of advantage predators looking for an easy kill. When you are competent in letting go, you don’t even hear the vicious criticism. Instead you hear waves of internal encouragement and see positive signs. You are like Thomas Edison inventing the light bulb trying to find the right filament by having a willingness to fail time after time. President Obama used to say that if he had listened to Fox News, he would have thought of himself as the worst person of all time. (He knew how to let go of criticism).

Photo by Rakicevic Nenad on

Most vicious snakes are afraid of the unknowns of the future, afraid to play with possibilities and be creative. They are like Donald Trump’s campaign of Making America Great Again, which is short for let’s go back to the past and pretend everything was so great then so that we can hide from the fear of the future. The point here is that MAGA’s people are going to criticize and attack because they are really good at it. They are not going to the world of possibility and creativity. To deal with them best is to let go of their criticism and attacks. In outer terms it means not engaging in the attacks in any kind of defensive way. Inwardly it means turning the volume of the attacks off while turning on a lot of positive encouragement to go ahead with creativity and innovation.

The dream teaches me that if I am going to be creative and innovative in making the world a better place or as was the case in making classes for students interesting and engaging, then I need to learn how to let go of vicious attacks. When I do so the world changes for all of those students. If I let the vicious attacks stop me, then their world has that much less quality.

The dream recounts the past attacks which had left me fearful and unable to proceed forward in the way I had wished. It gives me a second change to learn a new process and then go forward to make things better. And even when I fail again, the dream world will keep reminding me where I need to change so that I can get to that abundance of creative energy.

Process your dreams and then change the world around you.

The Challenges of Creating Unity: Dream World Perspective

When I wrote my book, Dreams for Peace, in 2004, not many people had the perspective on the dream world that I had. The basis of the book is that the dream world, which is one of the infinite worlds of God, has, as its main function to bring human beings into unity with themselves and in the larger world. If we would do the work that the dreams presented, I reasoned, then we could have peace in the world and unity between people. A lot of people in the last 5-6 years had thought that racial and gender and national prejudice were not big issues anymore, and then the issues blew up so that we could get to a higher level of unity. Had we each paid attention to our dreams and done the work that they presented, we would be much further along as a world community. World peace and unity is a process that is inevitable, but we seem to want to drag our feet and hold onto the old power structures and old ways where one side has the advantage and does not want to give it.

To do the work of the dreams so that we can create a better planet, there are a few essentials. Of course, there are a lot more things to add, but this post is only going to identify some of what I think are the basics.

  1. Take responsibility for your own issues. There are enough corrupt business people and politicians in the world for us to all feel quite justified in placing blame for our current situations on others. It is very popular for one political party to blame the other. Certain media outlets have made a fortune in helping people feel free of responsibility of their own situations in life. They are smart enough to know that placing the blame, usually on liberal thinking, gets a lot of viewers and readers, and then a lot of advertising money. The more the blame from media, the less one has to do the hard work of personal transformation to change the mess they are in financially or inter personally. The reason that taking responsibility is such an amazingly powerful process is that it shifts the locus of control from outside of oneself, to inside. Imagine that you had the power to change your life rather than waiting for the leader of your country or leader of your business or whoever else, like your parents to change. This is the power inherent in taking responsibility.

The first step in taking full responsible for your current situation is to be completely truthful about what you are feeling inside. If your angry at a politician, then you are lying about your inner feelings. You probably have a lot of fear, a truckload of fear. Taking responsibility just means that the fear belongs to you. You may have been abused, thrown out of your country, fired many times, or constantly put down. The fear that comes from it does not belong to the abuser. It belongs to you because you are the one feeling it. Being angry at an outside source is just a way of hiding from it. The wonderful thing about dream work is that it allows you to come face to face with the fears over and over again. They keep coming until you deal with them. In the dream world as in all of the spiritual realms, there is no such a thing as hiding. In the material world you can hide from your issues by placing a lot of blame on others, but in the worlds where time and space do not exist, there is no progress unless one faces the issues head on.

Facing difficult issues can be extremely difficult work especially if you have experienced a lot of trauma. When you take steps forward and find it too difficult, you can go for help to work through things. The point here is that all movement toward having peace and unity in the world starts with people taking responsibility. Hitler convinced his whole country that the problems in the nation were from the Jews and from the other countries in Europe. Everyone but the white Germans were the problem. He took no responsibility so he just created a lot of division. Creating division and blaming others goes hand in hand.

2 Find the positives in others and encouraging their expression: After taking responsibility and working through issues to become united with one self, the next step is to find positives in others. It is pretty difficult to do this step if you haven’t done the first step. If you are angry at immigrants or another race or another gender, it is not going to be easy to find the positives in others and relate to the energy. Finding the positives in others and acknowledging them is such a powerful strategy that it is almost impossible to over emphasize its importance. Here is a simple thing to do when you go to a social gathering. Before you walk into the gathering hang up your judgmental, protective self on a coat rack somewhere. Just leave the protective self out of the social gathering for the time being. It is so not useful. Then go around sensing people’s positive energy, and if you have enough courage tell the person what you admire. If you can do this, it creates a bridge between the two of you and multiplies the amount of positive energy in the gathering. If you find that a person is so negative that you cannot bare to be with them, acknowledge that also (to yourself, not the other), and then just leave that energy. It is not important. The more people that you can acknowledge, the more unity will be created. Unity is a web of connected positive energy that grows in power when it is acknowledged. “I really admire the way you can articulate your thoughts so clearly.” “I admire the way you look after others at a social gathering.” There are endless possibilities.

3. Listen to other non-judgmentally. It is hard to know which of the three strategies has the most power, but I can say that this one is my favorite because when I am using it, it opens up huge interesting worlds inside others. When people say to you, that they have never told anyone what they just told you, then you know you are practicing being non-judgmental. If you feel compelled to offer advice when people tell you things, then you are not fully in the non-judgmental world. In the world of no judgment listening is the king and queen. Loving the act of listening without burning to say something important creates the environment for people to do step one, which is to take responsibility for oneself and one’s issues. If you can learn the art of paraphrasing when people are sharing from deep inside of themselves, then they will know you are with them when they are trying to walk their life’s path.

Take Responsibility- Find the Positive- Listen Non-judgmentally

Your world will change. Unity and Peace will abound.

Dream Podcast

Below is a talk I gave recently on dreams. Have a listen.

Here is the specific podcast page link for your show (50 minutes):

Presentation of Understanding Your Dreams

Do you remember your dreams? Reflect on them? Welcome insights

Richard Hastings began doing dream work in 1989, including authoring the book, Dreams for Peace. He has traveled to the U.S., Canada, South America, and Southeast Asia doing dream meetings and personal change work. His approach is solution-oriented, so the participant is provided with an analysis of the dream’s meaning and a solution. He has listened to more than 10,000 dreams so far. Richard is currently living in Vancouver, Canada.

Please join us:

Tuesday, April 12, 2022 between 7:00 and 9:00 pm Eastern

Richard welcomes you to write your dreams ahead of time so you can share with him during the show and he can talk with you about them. If you send the dreams to me, I can screen share during the talk. Or if you write your dreams on your computer, you can do the screen share. Richard also suggests we have ten minutes at the beginning to write some of our dreams. Maybe fresh from the night before!

Imprisonment Dreams

Imprisonment Dreams

Feeling imprisoned as if you are in jail is a very common dream theme. Generally speaking when you have a prison dream, it means that you are stuck being controlled by forces outside of yourself. You are jailed inside, while a prison keeper has the key or control to your freedom. It can come from having grown up in in a very controlling household, or experience an overly strict environment in school or in your work. The commonality of the experience is that your own higher self is not the one in control. Who is in control is someone else’s ego or an institution’s ego. As long as you do what you are told, you are fine in life, but the imprisoned feeling comes when you are feeling like your own spirit is confined.

Photo by Frank Cone on

The best solution to an imprisonment dream is to become a metaphoric eagle inside. An eagle flies high and free. From up there it has vision and then a lot of choice. Down below in prison you just think about escaping all of the time from your life or being angry and fighting it. Many people escape through substances or inappropriate sexual experiences hoping to get some kind of relief only to wake up and experience the same thing all over again.

Being an eagle does not mean that you fly away from your current reality. It means that you change the locus of who is in control of your being. You take it away from others negative egos and put it in your own higher self. So if you have a controlling manager or a really restrictive school, you can choose to leave or find the freedom within the environment.

When you choose to stay in a situation that has a conservative, controlling management, there will be spaces of freedom open to you that you may not have considered. When you go to the spaces, amazing positive things can happen. Normally what is open in a constricted environment is spiritual space where the management is most fearful of going. You can ask yourself what the manager/teacher/your parent is most afraid of, and then you can be certain that that space will be open and free.

It takes a fair amount of letting go of the spaces that are closed to act in this kind of manner, but when you do, great things open up. As a general rule controlling people are extremely fearful of getting close to others. They are too busy trying to make sure that nothing bad happens in the outer world so they do not venture into the world of closeness and spiritual intimacy. Indeed, to be very controlling means that you have experienced trauma in personal relations.

Photo by Maksim Goncharenok on

This is just one example of how to be free in your life. When you are an eagle, the world comes under your higher self’s control.

Random Thoughts on Living Life as it were a Dream

In the early 1980s while I was working with a holistic education project called Anisa in Vista, California, I thought that I had arrived at the place where I would stay for a long time including going for a doctorate in education. Two years into the project the founder of the model died suddenly while on a trip to New York. The university made moves to undo the core of the program so a number of us began to search for other places to work. It just so happened that a small First Nations band in Alberta had adopted the model and was trying to implement it in the reserve school. Since they need assistance in the implementation process, we were eager to go to see what we could do.

Anisa is a process-oriented approach to education, which means that besides the traditional content that you learn in school, the model focuses on the processes you need to develop in order to become a competent learner. I had a fairly good grasp of many of the cognitive, perceptual, physical, and volitional capacities of the model, but was extremely lacking in the emotional area and in relating to the spiritual world, which Anisa calls the world of the unknowns. Over time I began to study dreams as well as the processes related to emotional competence. What I learned from my experience with indigenous people is to treat the experience of daily life as if it were a dream. It is what most people who spend most of their time in nature do. For instance, if you were to go out hiking and come upon bear, then just as you would wonder why a bear came into a dream, you could wonder why a bear came into your life that day. In my early years I doubted that a bear could have come to give me a message. Indeed most people growing up in a material civilization cannot have communication with nature, but after a few years, the communication that was opened up to me from the natural world greatly aided my everyday life.

It is difficult in the busy city to get into the mindset or even believe that the natural world is connected to the same spiritual world that gives you dreams each night. There is so much coming at you all at once in the city, that the messages you are meant to get are not listened to or attended to. Indeed people largely believe that nature does not communicate with us in a spiritual manner. When I opened myself up to the understanding that the physical world is a metaphorical experience for the spiritual worlds, then my spirit became receptive. Lots of things came to me.

In my current life I tend to take a moderate approach to what I am suggesting. Much of the time my logical, rational mind is engaged to follow a sequence of thought or figure things out, and then some of the time is more open to what comes to me intuitively and metaphorically. What I have found helpful is to believe that the spiritual world is ever present and always in communication if your motives are pure. It allows for a lot of positive things to come to you that you do not have access to in your conscious cognitive thought processes. Much of our language is geared at separating the physical world from the spiritual world, but there are times when the two worlds seem to be as one, and then they show up in language. People will say things like the dream felt so real as if it were happening in waking life or conversely that the experience in the physical world felt like a dream. The physical world is governed by the laws of time and space, but the spiritual worlds have flexibility with how time and space operates. For instance, in the spiritual realm the end is often in the beginning or shifting from one place to another instantly can easily be done.

How is your daily life like a dream?

Stay tuned for thoughts on how to see time and space in a more flexible manner.

Encouraging Yourself 4: Clearing your Past

You probably won’t get much out of this post unless you read the the three previous ones. Take your time to go back and study them.

Encouragement as a process is largely centered in the ability to remember positives in the past and hold them in memory for a long time. Having clear access to positive memories puts your being into a highly up-state for doing what you want to do in the present and for making plans in the future. Not having access to positive memories means that something else is there in your memory in its place that is negative.

The largest blocker of positive memories by far is a history of criticism, of being put down, yelled at, minimized. When your being wants to go forward into a positive future and have access to the up-states that positive memories give, if you have a significant history of unprocessed criticism, the mind will not allow full access to positive memories. You will remember negatives and the critical voices. Then instead of being free to act, your behavior will be very conservative. You won’t get where you want to go.

Encouragement is triggered by a positive voice that gives access to positive memories and a push toward the positive future.

How do develop a positive encouraging voice

Review the steps given in Encouragement 3 and keep practicing.

Make a list of the 10 most critical people that have affected you in your life. Then systematically go through each one using the exercise from the previous post. What you will find over time is that the positive voices normally start with another person’s voice and then gradually transition to your own. The worse the history of criticism, the harder it is to develop the positive voice.

Remember to give your new voice some positive goals.

Encouragement Part 3 Changing Criticism the Comes from Hurt and Embarrassment

Despite the fact that parents and administrators and well, just about all us, rely heavily on criticism as the main tool in trying to get other to change, the research has consistently shown that it is completely ineffectively. About one in ten people can use criticism constructively. What happens to the rest, to the 80-90% when we are criticized or put down?

Criticism, whether it is written or spoken, focuses the attention of the one that it is directed to on mistakes, weaknesses, what is wrong. The positive intention of the one doing the criticizing, such as a teacher looking at a student’s writing project, is to improve the quality of work. It is hoped that all of the red marks will somehow make the person write better. It is perfectly logical to think in this matter except for one thing. What is that one thing that we do not understand about corrections? If you could understand this one thing, then it might be possible to give feedback that actually works. Most of us just repeat what was done to us. It didn’t work with us, but it is all we know, so we use it anyway.

The one thing that most of us do not understand is that when people are criticized, the ego, rather than the true or higher self, is the first to react to it. If we were more developed and were acting out of our higher selves, then we would rationally look at the criticism and then change what needed to be changed. But this rarely happens. What happens is that the ego responds in a negative matter. Generally it has one of two responses, but it can also react in other energies as well. The two responses are with either hurt or with embarrassment. They both put you in a highly dysfunctional space that makes you either hide away and avoid showing your work at all costs or spurns a fighting response that makes you angered and against the criticism. Either way you are in trouble.

Hurt occurs when you take the criticism personally. You take it into your heart rather than keeping it at a distance and looking at it rationally. It can feel like the person is stabbing you in the heart or pounding you down or running you over. As soon as it goes to the heart, whatever the positive intention was of the criticism, is now gone. The heart feels hurt, takes it personally, and then reacts negatively in behavior. Fixing or remedying hurt requires strengthening the heart or strengthening the love. When hurt is the response, then the person does not have a lot of love for the thing they are involved in. If you have a lot of love for what you are doing as in your heart is full of love for writing, then the criticism can be seen as helpful, you can keep it out at a distance, and decide what to do it with it.

From the point of view of the one receiving the criticism the important thing to do when you feel hurt from criticism is to work on your love for the activity, to open your heart more to it. If you are the criticizer and the person receiving the criticism feels hurt from the criticism, then your work is build love for the activity. And this explains why managers and parents and teachers rely so heavily on criticism. It is much easier to criticize than to build love for an activity. Building love requires a lot of creativity and resourcefulness, whereas criticism is just plain lazy.

What if the response is embarrassment? Embarrassment is different than hurt in that embarrassment makes you feel put down in a way that you probably should have done better. When your response is one of embarrassment, it means that your ability to do the thing you are trying to do is undeveloped. You are new at the capacity you are trying to build. Embarrassment makes you feel down about yourself or your ability which then usually spawns a hiding or fighting response inside. The message of embarrassment is that you are new at what you are trying to do.

If you are the one giving criticism and the person reacts with embarrassment, it means that they are new to the act. How you give feedback is very important. You should be giving at least 5 times as many positive comments as correcting ones. This is based on research. To just criticize is the lazy way. To encourage with positive comments and then precise and nurturing corrections is much more effective. 5 to 1.

If you are feeling embarrassment, then you need a really positive voice inside to remind you of your positive ability to learn and spur you on. You also need to recognize just how new you are to the learning.

Building a Positive Voice Inside

A positive voice inside your head is a gold mine. As was stated in other posts, the tendency for all of us, because our cultures are so ineffective and lazy, is to have negative and critical voices inside our heads. Here is a little step by step to begin the process. In the next post I will help you strengthen it even more.

  1. Go inside and listen to the person’s voice that has been the most negative in your life. Especially listen to the tones and volume and quality of their voice.
  2. Next find a voice inside of you or someone else. The voice should be extremely positive and opposite to the one that was so critical. For instance if the tone was harsh, you would want to pick a voice that is more nurturing and gentle. If it was loud, you would want a softer one with less volume.
  3. The reality for us is that the first voice is our default one. Default means that when we are under stress, it is the one that turns on. Most people have a negative and critical default voice. The goal of the exercise is to make the second voice the default one. It is going to take some practice, but it is definitely possible. Here’s how
  4. You can start with hearing the negative voice in your head, but at the same time your positive voice is standing by ready only turned off. You hear the negative voice.
  5. Then you begin to turn off the negative voice, and at the same time, turn on the volume of the positive voice. You will notice how instantly you feel so much better after you make the switch.
  6. Repeat this 3 to 4 times until you can begin to keep the positive voice permanently.
  7. After you have done it, try doing an activity like washing the dishes or another simple task with the positive voice. Notice how much easier it is to move to the task.
  8. Sometimes when there is a lot of trauma the voice will not last. This is just protection for you so that you will do the deeper work on the trauma. For most people having a positive voice as a default is a total gold mine.

Encouraging Yourself: Part 2 Culture

The biggest difficulty we all have in dealing with the way our culture brings us down is that we essentially learn our culture the same we learn how to breathe. We learn our culture unconsciously which means that much of what we do comes without ever having made any conscious choices. There are positive aspects of every culture which do not need to be challenged. In my upbringing in America I was taught the positive value of taking initiative, which is a capacity that is not that common in the rest of the world. It has served me well in all the countries I have lived.

I was also taught that if I didn’t do everything that the school told me to do in the learning process, that I would end up in poverty. It was an unconscious fear that made me feel like I had to achieve at the highest in everything I did. When I had to achieve big in all fields, it focused my attention, as it did on nearly every student, on the areas where I was weakest. My inner voice was mostly self-critical about the poor performance in certain areas. Instead of being highly motivated to go in a direction where my inner self wanted to focus, I was living in fear of not doing well in the weaker areas.

As easy as the solution is that I am going to present here, the unconscious belief of having to achieve highly in all things seems to have been a mechanism by the highly wealthy to keep the work force controlled to serve its desires. You can question that assumption, but it is the only one that makes sense to me. When you can keep a group of people in a state of fear of losing out or being excluded or living in poverty, then you can control the flow of resources to yourself. That seems to be the model that I grew up in and still largely exists. It makes you focus on not having anything weak about yourself, which is impossible.

The solution to the unconscious belief that you have to achieve highly in everything is the belief that we are all unique in our capacities, and development can be highly encouraged in all of us by focusing on the positives. Development is not about having to achieve highly in everything. It is about focusing on the positives in us and the positive steps forward. One of the best examples of this type of encouraging approach happened to me while I was living in Malaysia. I was about 60 years old trying to learn new ways of hitting a tennis ball from what I had learned as a young person playing with different types of racquets. My coach started with giving me a few instructions on hitting a certain stroke. When I hit the ball correctly, he would say, “that’s it” or “great forehand”, etc.. Occasionally he would see something, stop the play, call me over and make a small adjustment to what I was doing, and the return to the drill. At all times the focus was on the positive and reminding me of what I was doing well. He only ever made minor corrections in a matter of fact (as opposed to critical) voice. And he used a lot of humor to make the corrections feel as if it were not the end of the world. My game improved dramatically over a short period.

In the system I grew up in there were very few positive statements, and almost no attention to small, incremental steps. It was largely about high expectations, lots of assignments, and focus on the mistakes in a negative manner.

Once again, the belief that unlocks an encouraging voice inside is the belief that we are all unique and development can be highly encouraged by focusing on the positives.

In the next post, I am going to write about how to change a critical voice in your head. For now it is important to understand that we all have areas that are much weaker than other ones, that achievement does not have to be at an equal level across the board in everything you do, and making small positive gains forward is the best way to go about achievement. It is like a woodpecker pecking away at development.

Encouraging Yourself: Part 1

One of the main processes we need in our minds if we want to achieve our life’s goals is encouragement. Many of us go searching for encouragement outside of ourselves, but it only ever gives us a temporary lift. The permanent source of encouragement is within one’s self. It is almost exclusively initiated with a positive voice in our heads. If we have an encouraging voice that reminds us of our positive capacities and tells us how capable we are to make goals, then we are long way to achieving a lot. The difficult thing in the current world is that the great majority of people in every culture have grown up in critical and discouraging environments. The voices in our heads, both our own and other’s, are negative and remind us of all the mistakes and inabilities. The voices in most our heads brings us down and then keeps us from living out our destiny. When we eliminate our negative voices and replace them with positive ones, it is as if the whole world of positive possibilities opens right up. In the next post, I will share how to create a positive voice and some of the steps you can follow.

What if God Is a Woman?

Yesterday I was working with a client who had difficulties relating to the God, to the divine world, because she experienced a significant amount of abuse from a father who was very zealous about religion. Her association with God is that God is masculine and extremely judgmental. The first question I asked her was what if God were a woman? Her answer was She would emanate beauty, compassion, being non-judgmental, and wisdom. Try answering the question for yourself. It is so illuminating.

Who is God if She is a Woman?

The Whining World

My wife and I are on our way to Butchart Gardens to celebrate our 47th anniversary. It is amazing to think that I have spent 2/3rds of my life with her. Butchart is on Vancouver Island which takes a ferry ride of 90 min from the mainland in Vancouver. It is a hard to imagine a more beautiful show garden in the world than Butchart. The colors and variety overwhelm you at nearly every step. As we are docking at Swartz Bay to begin the drive down to the gardens I am glancing out to see how the ship will dock. Along side me is a fellow Canadian tourist. It takes about 2 minutes into the conversation for him, a visitor from Ontario, to start complaining about the prime minister and something he did early on during the pandemic. I brush the comment aside, get back in the car, and have a gorgeous day. How could you not?

We are once again at the ferry terminal this time waiting to head back to the mainland around 5:30 pm. We head over to one of the stands and buy a smoothie. As I begin to say how great it was to get back to Butchart, the owner of the stand quickly begins to complain about the government bailing out Butchart to the tune of one million dollars. At this point my curiosity is peeked. Why have so many people become whiners? Mind you two people complaining about the government is a bit of an over-generalization on my part, but the question persists.

Earlier this year my wife had been in a car accident where she spent a few days in the hospital with a broken sternum. They also found some heart irregularities. Afterwards, the insurance company wrote off our car, gave us more than we thought and then paid for 6 months of various treatments for her. My daughter was also in the hospital twice this year. The cost to us as a family was exactly $0 for the hospitalization and treatment and, believe it or not, our insurance rates went down instead of up in the following year. Go figure. There is a lot of room for improvement in the medical system, for sure, but for the care that she got at no cost, I am very grateful. And the same care is available to every Canadian.

Back to the whiners. So what happens psychologically if you open the conversation with a complaint? It is very interesting. The complainer is protected because he is actively expressing negativity. He throws out the negative and expects the other person to be in rapport with his negativity. I am expected to agree with him and since there is very little he can do to change how the government works, then he can go about keeping his life status quo. He puts his change process into the hands of the government and looks for others to agree with him on how bad others are acting. This is a recipe for being a loser in life. It reminds me of the university professor in Canada who got fed up with having to be politically correct so now he goes around the world whining. Lots of people like the ones I met seem to follow him.

What are you feeling if you are whiner? Whining is the result of one of the most difficult negative emotions to overcome, and the one that tends to be the most destructive of relationships, envy. Envy is the negative emotion that is felt when there is a lot of desire, but very little motivation to make substantial internal changes that get positive results.

What if, instead of whining about the government, the man could have been astonished by the beauty around him and taken it all in. And what if the man selling me the smoothie, would have engaged me in a conversation about healthy living. Those are big what ifs! Envy prevents people from experiencing the best that exists in life. Instead of being grateful or engaging in positive experiences, it keeps life at a distance, protected by its desire with no positive action. When I lived in Brazil, much of the male population of the country depended on the Brazilian soccer team or their own club team winning to find some kind of joy in life. If a bunch of guys kicking a ball around did not perform well, then the press attacked them viciously as if they had committed mortal sin. The British press is even worse when it comes to sport. There is a lot of envy, hoping someone else will give joy, and not a lot of embracing of life in a positive manner.

In the Olympic games the U.S. track and field team had 26 medals, more than twice as many as the next closest country, but what made the biggest news was that one man didn’t run as fast at he had been running and the 4 X 100 relay mishandled the baton. if the men’s basketball team had not won the gold medal, it would have been a national shame. What is that? It’s envy. It is wanting something for nothing, expecting something for nothing. On the other hand, when a young Australian rode to a gold medal run in the skateboarding competition, the person who first embraced him after the run was the American rider who had been in first place! You could see the same kind of embracing of the full experience in the sport climbing event as well. They all love to see each other perform well. When Andre Deplantis, competing for Sweden, but having a parent from both the U.S. and Sweden, won the pole vault competition, he personally went around to every competitor and embraced them. So it seems that it is possible to either whine about what someone else is not doing for you, or you can embrace the very best of life and go for it. That large sections of the population are whiners is a bit troubling.

We had a glorious day at Butchart. We embraced beauty and it gave us back so much.

ALmost Completely Positive Dreams

For the last two nights I have had dreams that started very positively and then ended up in fear or in a negative situation. I was in adventures in surfing, snorkeling, and being in the third world. Having a dream that starts well and ends badly means that whatever process you are working on is only partially developed. It is not that I didn’t have the courage to go out on adventures. After all I have lived on three continents and have traveled extensively through them. I love travel and love new experiences. So what’s up with the dreams!

The dreams tell me that there is something that is holding me back from taking the adventure experience to a brand new level. In doing the work with the dreams I found that I was fearful of being really put down by others that could put me in a state of paralysis at times. It has multiple origins including life in junior high, life at a military academy, and working for administrators who were very critical and vengeful. The interesting thing is that when I wanted to have the courage to go fully into the midst of things, I heard their voices like ringing in my ears. To fix it, I had to systematically go back to all the times when I felt held back and then replace the put down discouraging voices with my own very positive and encouraging voice. The change is absolutely phenomenal.

As great as the change is for me the point of the discussion is that when you have an almost positive dream, it just means that you need to do some key interventions in your process to get amazing results. It is very much different than a nightmare or very negative dream which are the harbingers of brand new processes. Here are some things you can do if you have an almost completely positive dream.

  1. Analyze the positive energy you have already and remember it because the process you are going for is an extension of what you already have.
  2. Find the negative energy/emotion that you experience in the dream and name it.
  3. Discover how the negative energy works inside of your mind as in where your thoughts go when you are experiencing the negative.
  4. Find some of the origins when the negative energy would have begun.
  5. Switch the negative process in your mind to a positive one that is the opposite. (If you have a critical voice, you need an positive and encouraging one to replace.
  6. If you get into a big bind when trying to change, find some help. You can write me.

Happy Transforming to a Completely Positive Energy

RAt Dreams

Last night before I went to bed I had a combination of chills and hot spells. I could barely keep my eyes open when watching TV. Then when I slept, I dreamed of being in a car that had rats in it. I could even grab the rat in front of me. When I woke up and started processing the dream, I realized that I had spent a great deal of my life trying to get rid of the rats in myself , and also in others. The major rat I saw in myself for much of my life was shyness, timidity. The mistake in the dream and in my life was trying to fight or get rid of the rats in myself or others. The idea of getting rid of something in yourself rests on the belief that if you get rid of a bad quality or energy then everything will be great. Most of modern medicine is built on this principle. When you get rid of the tumor, for instance, you can go back to normal. The problem is that normal is what got you the tumor in the first place. Getting rid of it does not change the environment in which the negative was created. The more effective process is to let go of the ratness (shyness) instead of fighting against it to get rid of it, and at the same time opening up more of the positive quality, which in this case is the courage to initiate relationships and actions with others.

When I let go of the rat (timidity) and remember instead all of the times when I had courage to initiate action in relationships and other parts of my life, then the big changes in my life really happen. The origin of the dream was when I was a youth, around 18-19, leaving home for university and being out on my own in the world. I became very angry at myself at that time for being so timid (not more courageous). I was focused on the rat and not on my courage and initiative. It also made me see the rats in others. In working through it by letting go of the rat, I remembered how much courage I had and how many positive relationships I had and how much initiative was there also. Then I could really see the positive in others and run with any goal that I have.

The fundamental starting principle of transformation is that your being (true self) is always wanting to actualize new potential. It is ever-advancing, ever-growing. In the process of the development, the ego puts up big resistance until the new energy if fully in place. Then it magically lets go easily, but until the process is learned.

So the goal today with the rat dream is to become more courageous in initiating action and in relationships. If it were a brand new process that I needed, it probably would not have been a rat that showed up. It would have been more like a hungry, vicious tiger or poisonous snake. The rat let me know that I was annoyed, but not completely fearful as in a lion dream. Letting go of the anger opens me up to the realization that I already have tons of courage to initiate.

Now you listen to the same post by pressing on this link. It is not my voice, but a new way to make a podcast for me from Spotify.

The Strange Inner Life of Liberals and Conservatives

If you are like me, you may have a tendency to lean toward wanting an environment that is free and unrestricted. You want a supervisor who gives you a lot of leeway to experiment and go your own way. You get angry when a leader gets overly restrictive because you cannot expand what you want to do. On the other hand, you may prefer an environment that is highly organized and largely mistake-proof, where things rarely go sideways. You abhor liberal leaders that give too much freedom because it is difficult, in that kind of space, to get things done.

The latter group tends to prefer religion that is more highly structured and certain like in fundamentalist Jewish, Christian, or Muslim religions, whereas the liberal group tends to be more on the mystical side where there are not as many restraints in access to the divine. It is not a matter of the choice of the religion as it is preference for how it is practiced.

When I was recently working through some of my issues around feeling constrained, the process started by me feeling fearful of outside conservative forces. I saw them as a threat to me being innovative and experimental because I have had numerous experiences in the past where the more expansive and innovative I acted in my work, the more restrictive the management became. The conservative management was extremely fearful of rapid expansion of programs. My inner work was to eliminate the fear of that kind of experience happening again. As I processed, the freedom to innovate began to grow as the fear diminished. At some point in the inner work, which is true for almost every issue you may face long term, the work shifted from external people being restrictive to how I learned how to constrain myself from a fairly early age. It was no longer about the bad guy outside of me, but rather the bad guy inside of me. I was the fundamentalist fire and brimstone person inside of myself. Here is how I did/do it. What I seem to do is to out in the future and make the worst picture of future possibilities, and then, I go to the past and remember only negative in the past. This keeps me in a prison or constraint and tension and then I get nowhere. The shift I had to make was to go out in the future and make very positive visualizations of possibilities combined with very positive memories of past experiences. So instead of focusing on the negative future and past, I had to start shifting to a positive orientation to the past and future. It is absolutely incredible what the shift does internally.

If you are on the conservative side upset with liberal thinking and moral laxity, it means that after you clear or detach from the liberal disgust you have, you will begin to feel more organized and have better self-discipline and moral uprightness. At the same time, you will find internally that you are too lax with yourself in one way or another. You are the thing inside that you most hate in others. To get to a place where you are more self-disciplined, you have to understand what you do to yourself to maintain a negative space internally. Generally speaking conservatives try to maintain order at all costs. However, while they are trying to do this, there is an internal ego self that is breaking all kinds of rules and doing whatever it wants. The pressure of trying to maintain order may cause a person to eat too much or start getting lax with substances. There are also outburst of anger toward others because everything is not in its exact place. To be a great conservative, which includes having better self-discipline, a person has to give a certain amount of space to having some disorder in the same way that a liberal has to give space for rules and order so that the baby is not thrown out with the bath water. If a conservative does not give space for disorder, then there is very little chance for growth. Likewise, a liberal, more unconstrained person, without rules can create devastation and chaos.

Here are some questions depending on which side you might be leaning.

How do I feel constrained in my life? Who is constraining me? How do I constrain myself?

How much disorder can I tolerate before I start to get really irritated? Which rules am I following that are too restrictive to my personal growth? How do I get disordered?

The Secret Code to Transformation 6: Guilt

Imagine that you are a university student whose family has a path for you in the sciences leading to a medical degree. Your high school science grades were among the best. You are doing well in your coursework, but something is not right. Your motivation is lagging. It is harder and harder for you to finish your assignments. As you finish of the term you decide that during the next term that you are going to take some different courses in the arts. You realize that you have to keep your decision secret so that your parents won’t find out. When you start veering from the expected path, the negative emotion of guilt suddenly appears in your mind. It comes with the family voice and some finger pointing because you have broken away from the family expectation.

At the moment that the negative emotion of guilt comes in, it should be an automatic code signal to you that you are in conflict between what your inner self is moving you toward and the standard or expectation that someone else has for you (usually an authority or parental figure). Much of the guilt that we receive from our parents has to do with the recognition that they want to get from others by you following the path that they want you to follow (even though their words are quite to the contrary and seem to be all about you. If you are feeling guilty from a situation like the one above, it means that the standard being set by others has absolutely nothing to do with your own inner development. The guilt comes because there is an inner belief that you have to be pleasing to others, not your own true self. Hardly any culture is free of it in the modern world. Most of us feel some guilt when we move from other’s expectations towards are own inner drives.

Guilt leaves you in the stuck place where you feel like you have no choice. When the feeling of guilt enters your mind and body, it means that you have not fully responded to what your inner self wants for you. You get out of communication with the inner world which can and most likely will take you away from your destiny as a human being on the planet.

When you respond to the inner messages of your inner being, It does not necessarily mean that you should pack up your bags and leave whatever you are currently doing as in the case of studying the sciences. The inner world does not usually recommend a revolutionary-type move. It more often seeks a gradual evolutionary path. Because you may need a path that includes more arts, it does not mean that you should pursue it as a profession. It may be a professional choice, but you only know when you are responding to the inner world and where it wants to take you.

People with a more introverted nature have an easier time with guilt because they tend to be in more constant communication with the inner world. Extreme extroverts, who have little ability to respond inwardly, are the ones in the biggest trouble because they are always seeking guidance from outside of themselves, which usually isn’t very helpful. It is like men who are having relational problems who asked their friends for advice. It is almost always disastrous.

What many people do not understand is that the inner (spiritual) world is in constant communication with us if we turn to it. If we turn outward and respond only to the pangs of the materialistic world and our egos, then it shuts off. Often the best question to ask yourself when you feel guilty is whose standards/rules are you breaking? They are not your own.

As in the above case, the problem that arises with guilt is that if you start responding to your own inner guidance and going your own way, there will be consequences you have to face from the source of the guilt. While guilt requires a change of mindset or a change of belief such as in the above scenario, actually living out of the new path requires both courage and wisdom and involves overcoming the fear of being ostracized or abused. If you do not feel guilty, then you only have to deal with fear, but feeling guilty means that at least some part of you believes you should abide by their wishes.

When you have trouble with guilt, it probably means that you do not have a very well developed habit of meditation or reflection. Being guilt-free means that you can easily commune with the inner divine spirit.

There is such a thing as positive guilt. It is related to the positive fear of God which is when you know something is wrong, but you do it anyway such as cheating on an exam or harming someone else. In that case guilt allows you to reflect on the wrong doing and then change it. Like negative guilt, the goal is take you inward to find the appropriate guidance or to follow the right standard. When you do not have positive guilt or the fear of God, you are likely to commit wrong-doings and act with criminal intentions. You are likely to follow misguided authoritarian rulers because they promise to get you what you want regardless of the methodology.

Dream About Praising Each Other

I had a dream last night that I thought was significant about my dad. Among some other things happening he wrote this very elegant letter to our high school football coach praising him for all of the positive things he had done for Ron and me. It was surprising to me because, in this life, he was normally more conservative in expressing praise to us. It was always as if he had to hold something back. I was in a bit of astonishment. I had always thought that, when he crossed over, that he would be involved in writing in some way, whatever that looks like in a spiritual realm. This dream seems to confirm it. When I was meditating on it this morning, it was like his new self was with me. He said that when you remember the positives of others and take it to an extreme state, it is what it is like to be in the heavenly realms. This is what He (God) would have us do because it binds us together.

The big source of unity is to praise one another to an extreme. Don’t hold back.

Viral Thinking

Viral Thinking: A negative virus is something very small, unseen, that multiplies quickly when given the right environment. This is what we see with the pandemic or most flu viruses. Viral thinking is when there is something small, unconscious in your thinking and believing process that keeps you from doing what you want to achieve or causes you harm to others. For instance, you may have the belief that competition alone is what stimulates economic growth whereas cooperation impedes creative impetus. If you have that virus, then you will hide your information from competitors and be every vigilant so that they don’t steal your ideas. The recent production of vaccines by various companies proves that the viral belief is incorrect. In the development of the vaccines it wa a combination of cooperation and striving really hard with creative impetus that shorten the process from the normal 10 years to just a matter of a couple of months. Thomas Edison’s workplace was a large open space where everyone could see each other’s work and spark off of it. Imagine what would have happened if Edison and Tesla, both brilliant inventors, could have worked together in the inventing process.

Another common virus is that the way you help a child to achieve is to push them to work really hard by finding where they are weak and pointing it out until they improve. While hard work is a positive characteristic of people who achieve a lot, constantly pointing out negatives weakens people’s resolves. It turns out that creativity along with hard work is much better formula for achievement than just hard work alone. It is also more effective if encouragement (finding positives) is at a rate of at least 5 times that of the corrections.

I woke up this morning with my own negative viral thinking that I found while doing my journal work. My virus was the belief that I am too small to have an impact on a lot of people. It had the effect of stopping me in working consistently as if my mind was thinking, “What’s the use?” So I decide to change the belief to a positive virus. My new belief is that when I continually do positive work, it spread in positive ways in places where I couldn’t have possible imagined. What is your negative virus? What would be a better belief for you?

Why so many People Believe in Conspiracy Theories and Not in the Facts

If you are like me, you may be scratching your head at why so many people in the world seem to be able to completely ignore facts and data based upon research, but readily believe conspiracy theories or cling to old worn out practices. I first came upon this phenomenon when I attended the U.S. Air Force Academy from 1968-71. I was taking a psychology class at the Academy in which the research clearly indicated that encouragement, finding positives in others or focusing on the positive, was much more effective than being highly critical and focusing on the negative. It sort of stopped me in my tracks when the professor was teaching this principle because the whole organization was doing exactly the opposite, and as far as I can tell still are 50 years hence when there is overwhelming research to the contrary. When I started teaching the principles of encouragement in the early 90s to a group of teachers, there was still widespread distrust and almost religious belief that encouragement would lower achievement and the standard. As late as 2004 I had an administrator tell me, when challenged with the encouragement research, that it was the admin’s job to point out every negative so that it could be corrected. You can already surmise that the administrator never invited subordinates to find the negatives in herself nor intend to root them out. It was one way traffic from the top down. It is sort of like the leaders who were asking their underlings to do a suicide bombing, but not willing to blow themselves up or, for that matter, a country’s leader who feels that it is ok to criticize everyone who is against him, but cannot invite the criticism back. The facts and the research indicate that encouragement works to boost achievement and raise the standards, but my head scratching is about why it has not been widely accepted and practiced.

Encouragement is just one area. The latest conspiracy theories exist around the pandemic and of course, the U.S. election. Not too long ago, when I was meeting with one of my clients who had been a die hard supporter of populist leaders, some things in his experience began to shed light on how conspiracy theory based upon almost no data can take over a person’s mind. The first condition for falling prey to conspiracy thinking is significant anxiety. Anxiety is an emotion that sees a made up negative in the future. When we have anxious moments, our minds make up things that are not necessarily based upon reality. This then puts us in a highly protective mode of fight or flight. When anxiety is your “go to” negative emotion, it means that you have experienced some profound moments of abandonment or neglect in your life. What you need, when you have high anxiety, is confidence or energy like self-discipline, but your mind goes off into an imaginary world and then starts blowing up negatives and feeling like the world is out to get you. There is no rationality in the state, but it just seems so true. A populist leader knows how to take advantage of people’s vulnerable states by promising them that everything will be taken care of if you just do whatever the leader suggests. It is just as true in religious arenas as political. When you are anxious, you can ignore the obvious negatives in the approach or ignore your thinking mind, because the promises of the leaders bring a relief from the anxiety. Given data and the promises of a populist leader that are not very real, anxious people will choose the populist leader every time. The condition that leads to anxiety seems to be a significant period of abandonment, feeling alone. Abandonment or loneliness is the negative soup that causes the mind to believe irrational things.

Confidence and self-discipline are positive states, which are the actual things you need when you are in an anxious state, are founded on remembering how to do things that work in your life and then doing them. Anxiety takes you out of self-control which makes you vulnerable to a leader who promises you everything. It doesn’t matter which side of the political spectrum you lean to. When you are anxious based upon abandonment, the tendency is to look for someone who is going to take care of your worry. While you may believe that the government is corrupt and out to get you and some of it may have some truth, what gets you where you want to go in life is a reliance on things that actually work.

I had another client who believed that she couldn’t make friends in the American culture, that she could only make friends in the Latin culture. She had this made up story in her mind that American culture is cold and distant because she experienced abandonment in her own family and when she was in middle school in the U.S.. To counter this kind of thinking I challenged her to drop the story and just remember what worked for her in building relationships. The very next day she started connected to an American who she had had difficulties with. The key is that she dropped her anxiety and the false story that goes with it, and adopted what actually works.

Last night I went skiing with my family to a local mountain. It is early in the season so the conditions made the skiing more challenging than when we have a good base of snow. We had to allow our skis to slide more on the hard packed snow before making a turn. It took a couple of runs to get used to the way things were, to relax with the conditions, and then to continue having a great time. We needed the confidence that we could learn how to deal with the current conditions. It showed me how silly it is to wait for the promises of a leader to make my life better. For the most part your life is in your own hands, not others, even when you have the worst leadership in your job or community or nation. If the conditions become challenging, you learn your way through them. You relax and do what works rather than fighting the conditions.

The Secret Code To Transformation 5: Disappointment

You are running a really great race. Your breathing is relaxed and rhythmic. Your pace is strong. You have the goal of achieving your personal best time in today’s event. About 500 meters from the finish line you begin to get a cramp in your left calf muscle which turns into writhing pain. When you cross the line, you are in pain from the muscle aches, and as you look up to see your finishing time, it is a full minute slower than you had hoped. At that moment you have two choices of inner states. First you can have a great deal of satisfaction for how well you felt throughout most of the race which will allow you to compete in many more races in a similar fashion, or you can end up in disappointment because you did not reach the time you set out to achieve.

When I first self-published Dreams for Peace in 2004, I had the expectation from the advertising that the company said they would do and from using Facebook and email that I would sell a lot of copies of the book. It didn’t happen. Even when I did a series of dream meetings, the sales were unspectacular. Like the racer above, and believe me I have been in that situation in a race, I ended up in the negative emotion of disappointment. At that time I had not worked on the secret codes with negative emotions. It was only a vague idea that had not yet come to fruition.

First Effort in Climbing the Black Tusk. Didn’t make it to the top.

Disappointment is the feeling you get when something is not correct about the expectations. You forget about the positive processes that got you to where you are, begin to think that something is terribly wrong, and then believe you have to change everything to get a better result. Disappointment is a bit tricky and peculiar for the following reason. If the racer would have been satisfied with the race and avoided disappointment, it would mean that he/she was ready to add something new to the training. If however the predominant feeling is disappointment, it means that the training process was correct. It just needs to be remembered and repeated.

Since I felt disappointment about the result of the sales after the publication because it didn’t meet my expectations, what I did next was completely incorrect. I started to think that I needed to promote more and put it out there more. It seems logical, right? No sales equals lack of promotion therefore more promotion. With disappointment you have to understand that the goal is wrong, but what you were doing prior to setting the wrong goal was absolutely correct. It is very challenging to have enough self-discipline to use the logic that disappointment requires, but when you do so, it produces marvelous results. My original goal in writing was to prove, that since a family is the core unit of society, that the predominant goal of our time is the unity of the planet (God’s will for our age), and that the dream world is another one of God’s worlds, that if you study the dreams of everyone in your family, you will find the answers for peace in the world. When I finished writing Dreams for Peace, I felt like I had achieved the goal. The false expectation was to sell thousands of books. By having the experience of disappointment, it showed me that the process that worked for me in my writing was solve a challenge that I had before me, not to sell a lot of books. As absurd as that might sound to some of you reading this post, when I think about writing as solving a mystery, I am extremely motivated to write. So interesting!

Second Effort 3 weeks later at the Black Tusk on top. Staying out of disappointment and remember positive process.

With the example of the runner who is disappointed with the time, the real goal is about how to sustain a pace and feel relaxed while doing so for a long period of time. When the runner has that as the focus, rather than the time, the internal motivation will soar. The time, just like the sales, will take care of itself. There is no need to focus on it.

When you compare disappointment with frustration, you find that the two are in direct opposition to each other. If you are not clear about the distinction, it would be easy to use the states as synonyms. Frustration, as described in an earlier post lets you know that the goal is correct, but the means to getting there is wrong or inappropriate. With frustration you keep the goal, and change the process to getting there. The attachment is to the incorrect process. For instance, you can believe that if you use strong discipline, it can change any child’s behavior, and then when it doesn’t work, you just need to use more negative discipline. Whereas maybe listening and gentleness needed to be added to the picture, the insistence on the one process brings failure. The goal is correct, positive behavior, but the method is not.

When a child comes home after having failed an exam, it is easy to get into a disappointed state, but other states are possible as well. If you are disappointed, it means that you were doing some really positive things that were correct, but because the child failed, you will most likely give them up. You have to remember what worked and then keep doing more. If you are frustrated, it means that what you did was incorrect or ineffective. It needs to be changed. If you are angry, at the child, it means that you have lost all of calm, which means that you will not be able to figure out how to get the best results.

The questions for Disappointment.

What are the expectations that I have set that are incorrect for myself/others?

What are the processes that are successful for me? How can I get back to them?

Why am I so attached to the expectations?

The Secret Code of transformation 4: Frustration

You are looking at your email today and seeing that you have a communication from your boss letting you know how awful your performance is in every way imaginable. When you think about responding all kinds of frustration comes up because you have already tried to change your boss’ perspective on numerous occasions through rational explanations and reasonable agreements. You begin to do the same and then you realize that you are caught in the negative emotion of frustration.

Frustration happens when you have the correct goal in a situation, but you are utilizing the wrong process or pattern. It is just the opposite of disappointment where the goal or expectation is incorrect, but the pattern is the right one. The attachment with frustration is to using the same pattern of behavior because it was probably successful at sometime in a different context in the past. As soon you feel frustration the key is to change the pattern. It means getting unstuck from using the same thing that isn’t bearing much fruit. Often frustration makes you do something with more effort or more intensity, but the results still get you nowhere.

In the above scenario a heated exchange of who is right or who is wrong is not going to get you anywhere. It may make you feel self-righteous, but you won’t get to where you want to go. With disappointment your energy level goes down approaching something like sadness or depression, but with frustration it rises and approaches anger.

In the above scenario the boss throws in the bait and then you can get caught taking the bait and running with it ending up no closer to the goal. Frustration throws you into a negative mind state where you are seeing negatives in the past, like the person’s actions, and then responding with negative action of your own. It is a lose-lose situation. When someone is throwing negative comments your way, the solution is not to throw negative comments back at them, but to find your positive mind, then calm down and give yourself a lot of choice in the way to respond.

Where is the positive mind when people are throwing negatives at you right and left? The positive mind starts in your memory of positive experiences, embodying the memories by actually feeling them, and then allowing the positive memories to inform the positive possibilities in the future of what your actions might be. It is easy to be triggered in the modern world because people mostly believe that that they have the right to get heated and respond accordingly. It only seems to raise your energy for a short time before everything comes crashing down with you being no closer to the goals. When you let go of feeling like there is one solution to the fix you are in and then access your positive memories, you have an inner calm and renewed enthusiasm for new approaches.

If you understand that frustration means that you have to change the negative mind space you are in to a positive one, then it is easier to get to new ideas. For instance, you could choose to not respond respond to the boss or you could choose to ask him for a raise.

The Secret Code of Transformation 3: Grief/Sadness

It is 5:00 PM the day before the last day of school, the day of anticipation of the long awaited and deserved rest period. I have just arrived in my apartment and am about to lie down on the living room couch to get a few moments of rest. The phone rings. It is the executive secretary of the acting director. She tells me that I have a meeting with the executive committee of the school council the next morning. I fear the worst in the same manner that any of the 750 students do when an administrator suddenly pulls them out of the middle of a class. It must be bad, but I quickly dismiss it with a host of other reasons for the meeting. When I mention the call to my wife, she is certain that my fear will be realized. She calls our children in Vancouver to say that we may be spending the next year with them. Then we sit down at the dining room table to consult about our options should the worst actually occur. Should we stay or should we go? That is the question. We both agree to return to Vancouver if it happens. Our children are already leading cheers for the worst in hopes that our bad is their gain. We also talk about going to the Pantanal, a huge watershed in Brazil, known for wildlife observing if the worst does not happen. My wife begins to pack and make a list of all the household items we should sell. She is certain.

Before the meeting I tell her that in an hour I will tell her whether we are going to the Pantanal or to Vancouver. I walk into the meeting and realize that the end has come. They tell me that I am disconnected from the school. It is a strange word for me even in Portuguese to be disconnected as if I had ever been connected to them. They give a few reasons. I ask them why I haven’t been informed previously about the perceived weaknesses. They tell me that they have been giving me signs, but I haven’t been reading them correctly. At that point I know that any chance for justice is impossible. I arise from my chair, turn, and walk away.

From the meeting room to my wife’s classroom is about a 100-meter walk. I move slowly and deliberately trying not be noticed. The reality has not fully set in. I approach her door, gaze at her, and say, “We are going to Vancouver.” The words now spoken make the decision of the Council suddenly feel real. My voice cracks, tears begin to flow.

Grief is the emotion that you experience when something is over, where there is loss, and there is no chance of going back to the former reality. The difficult thing with grief, is that the attachment to the former state is very strong. In the above scenario I do not want to leave Brazil. I love the people I work with, the work I am doing, and the results that I am getting. That the results were in conflict with what the administration was striving after meant that my dismissal was inevitable. At the moment of separation the tendency of the mind is to not give in to what has clearly happened, to stay and fight your way back to the former state. The message of grief is that something is over. When you feel grief, it is the signal that something is over. The difficult part of grief is accepting when something is finished, when you have lost. It knocks the energy right out of you. If you are human, you cannot help but feeling depressed.

The worst part about being fired and having to leave a country is that the ones doing the firing do not seem to feel any of the pain or remorse. They are, in fact, joyful that you are gone. It is celebration day for them, while you just want to dig a hole and bury yourself in it.

The way out of grief is first the acceptance that something is over, that you are not going back to the old reality. The meaning of grief is that there is a new reality that is more positive than the old one, and it is impatiently waiting for you to move to it.

baby turtle poking his head up

After we leave Brazil and spend an amazing year with our family, the time comes when we need to start seriously searching for new work. We hop on a plane to Boston to an international schools hiring fare. I am still completely attached to the old reality because all that I can think about is getting another school administration job. We have 7 interviews with 7 strike outs. I am laying on the hotel bed shattered (as my Aussie friends would say).

We arrive back in Vancouver after scrapping Plan A and then go to Plan B. Plan A was administration like a school principal. Plan B is a p.e. teacher/athletic director. It is so difficult to give up on Plan A. I am wrestling with my depression, but as it turns out Plan B lands us a job in Malaysia as part time P.E. teacher, part time athletic director. I must be a gluten for punishment because after five years, when the program is getting to where I want it, I get fired again from the administration work. I am a Taurus by birth, a stubborn bull. Sometimes it takes me a long time to get something. It is obvious that even though I can do excellent program development as an administrator, it is not the new reality that the Divine world has in store for me. The new reality is to directly help people transform their lives.

Grief in the short term is acceptable. It is human. Grief in the long term is not. It is stubbornness. I seem to excel at it. I have this bad characteristic to hold onto lost causes for a long time. The goal of grief is first to let go of the attachment to the old reality. I am embarrassed to say that holding onto the goal of being an administrator again took years, not days or weeks to get over. I think I am over it.

After you detach yourself from the old reality, then the new reality will begin to show itself. It seems as if it is lying ready for you to let go. When the letting go happens, it awakens and begins to show itself. As it shows itself the appropriate response to the new reality is the virtue of enthusiasm.

The formula looks like this.

  1. You feel lots of grief/sadness because of a loss.
  2. The grief is the messenger that the old reality is over.
  3. You go through a process of accepting that the old reality is over.
  4. You understand that when you detach from the old reality, a new reality will appear that is specifically designed for you.
  5. As you detach for the old reality and depressed feelings, then you see the new reality appearing before you.
  6. When the new reality appears, you use enthusiasm to begin moving into it.
  7. New positive results begin to happen that benefit others and yourself.

I know you are probably tired of talking about Covid-19, but it should be clear that the world we lived in before the virus has ended. Grief is going to set in. A new world is coming where we are much more connected and we care about each other. Let’s embrace and not be stubborn Tauruses.

How to Deal with the Present Generalized Anxiety in the World

As I was making my way into dreamland last night lying in my bed, I started wondering why I felt so tense and stressed about getting to projects that normally would be so easy. My digestion was off. I was napping a couple of times a day. I took some magnesium powder to ease into the sleep mode. When the morning came, I noticed that it was already 7:15. Usually I am up an hour earlier.

I took about 40 minutes to begin processing sipping a morning brew before taking the dogs out for their morning routine. What came to me was that I was feeling completely anxious. Normally I do not worry a whole lot in comparison to most people I know. As I zoned in on it, it became clear that it was not my anxiety that I was feeling. It was the world’s.

The world is worried and I am feeling it. Worry is an emotion that, unlike fear, does not take you to a past experience where you may have experienced abuse or trauma. It takes you to the future and starts generating all kinds of negative possibilities that are not based in reality. Suddenly my future is filled with doom as if the whole world is going to come to an end. When the future becomes negative, no matter which emotion I am feeling, fear or anxiety, the internal response is tension followed by a lack of positive action, a kind of retreat into my protected self.

As I reflect upon my anxious and tension-filled state, the first work is to realize that the energy does not belong to me. It is not my energy. I feel it. It feels like it is mine, but it is more like I am allowing it to come in. My true energy is bouncing and flying. It is so living in the world of positive possibility despite the anxiety ridden world. I am now letting go of the worry of others and the tension. I am flying.

What I am beginning to understand during this period of necessary restriction from the social experiences we normally have is that the world of possibility is still hugely wide open. I have lost my skiing, my tennis, and socializing, but there is so much open. Covid-19 reminds me of my experiences in certain schools where I had very restrictive administrators who wouldn’t allow for the expansion of what I was doing. The doors of opportunities seemed closed. But were they?

I am being pushed to new possibilities. Come and join me.

The Secret Code to Transformation 2: Anxiety

One of the ways I help people get a handle on anxiety in my practice is to compare it to fear. Fear results in a negative vision of the future because of some experience that has occurred in the past. Fear is experienced based. It always requires developing a new capacity to improve one’s effectiveness in new contexts. Anxiety, you can say, is the opposite. Anxiety is the code that lets you know that you already have an ability from the past that you are not able to access and use confidently or with empowerment. What a person does in their minds when they have anxiety is to create (unconsciously usually) negative visions of the future and then act as if the visions are real. It causes a person to stay out in the constructed negative future and try to solve the thing that their ego mind has created. In doing so they forget their positive capacities which causes them to lose confidence. It is like having a temporary memory loss of what one can do. In a sense it is creating an image that haunts the person and then makes them try to solve the haunting.

turtle’s first steps to the sea

The goal with anxiety is to discover what caused the mind to create an illusion and then to remember the positive states so that a person can act confidently.

One of the most common form of anxiety is the feeling of being overwhelmed. The onset of feeling overwhelmed often occurs when there are too many tasks to accomplish and not enough time to do them. At the point when there is too much to do, the mind begins to make every task seem a lot bigger than it is. Instead of being able to do more work, a person feels paralyzed or barely able to do the slightest thing. The mind forgets how effectively you might have been able to achieve things before. Everything just seems so immense. The coded message with being overwhelmed is the need to reevaluate the quantity of work that one is trying to do, mainly to cut the amount of work to something more reasonable. This often happens to new parents. No one can tell just how much your life is going to be changed when an infant arrives. The baby takes a huge chunk of time that parents used to have for other things. By changing the amount that needs to be achieved, the anxiety can be replaced with confidence because each task can be perceived as relatively small in the mind rather than big.

The origin of anxiety is often the result of a child having been given an adult task when they were young. They were too immature to achieve what was given to them such as caring for other siblings. Instead of being confident in their playful and curious selves, which is the state of childhood, the future is heavy with too much responsibility that they are incapable of achieving. As an adult the confidence to go for doing a project will be met with inner resistance of feeling that every step is going to be heavy and difficult. The heaviness is an illusion that causes the person to be stuck. What is needed, when facing a new project, is the confidence to be playful and curious.

In the dream world anxiety shows up often as ghosts or haunted situations. Your mind doesn’t know how to act with confidence so you get a ghost in a dream that you believe to be real.

Once you know that anxiety is like temporary dementia, then a person can take the states to remember their positive capacities so that they can act. The negative pictures of the future that are often cloudy or obscure can be replaced with great memory pictures. The advantage of current technology is that thousands of past photos are available on one’s laptop. By browsing through them or making a list of past achievements the memory can be stimulated and become the key player again.

With overwhelm a person can start with a small task like washing the dishes or taking a short run.

The other big worry that people have is what others will think of them. This is the place where the imagination goes completely bonkers. The worry image is one of others not approving of whatever it is you are going to do like preparing a dinner or planning an event or what you are wearing. The origin of this type of worry comes from living in a culture where every action is compared against the highest level. For instance, if a person doesn’t look like the magazine cover at the grocery store (which even the people in the photos don’t like in real life), then the mind gets active creating all kinds of negative reactions from others that are not real. As soon as that happens then a lot of frantic behavior occurs to raise the level of whatever you are doing to get up to the higher level.

By dropping the image that the mind has (which is culturally based), one can begin to remember their competence and live in the joy of it. Then the activity like inviting guests becomes a happy one.

With anxiety the key is to remember what you can already do, do it, and then gradually build new capacities.

This post is from Rachel’s blog.

Healing With Dreamwork

Day 2: How the Virtue Will Change Your Entire Life

O SON OF BEING! With the hands of power I made thee and with the fingers of strength I created thee; and within thee have I placed the essence of My light. Be thou content with it and seek naught else, for My work is perfect and My command is binding. Question it not, nor have a doubt thereof. Baha’u’llah

The advantage of choosing a process or virtue for your focus of change this year is that virtues and processes are automatically generalized to all parts of your life, not just the one that may be giving you the most problem. When you learn how to have endurance, for instance, you can stay positive for long periods of time with any project. However, it is my experience that the mind often needs some help in the process of generalization.


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Stranded on a Ski Chair Doing Our Work

It is 1C. The three of us, Diego (grandson), Erika(daughter) and myself are suspended above the snow sitting on the Raven’s Ridge chair. Instead of moving forward, as you would expect, the chair comes to a halt. Under normal circumstances it usually restarts after a short wait. Now 5 minutes go by and still we haven’t moved. Diego begins to shake the chair to get out some of his stored up impatience, while my mind begins to wonder about how I am going to descend if it doesn’t start again. Erika suggests that we continue the inner work we started the previous evening in our Transformation Training group (a group of 7 people who gather each Monday evening to learn and then do inner transformation work).

She wants to work on the blocks she has of doing more painting. Meanwhile, my mind keeps drifting in and out of the thought that I am going to drop out of the sky and die. Interestingly enough, it turns out that the virtue Erika needs in order to do her work closely resembles that of being uplifted. She needs the up virtues like enthusiasm and vibrancy and the ability to use color to uplift others.
About the time we start getting somewhere on the work, the chair begins to move. As we get off the lift, the chair operator instructs us to go to Guest Services at lunch where later Erika will get free lunches vouchers for the 3 of us worth about $60.

Instead of going on more runs connected with the Raven’s chair, we head over to some others. It is not too long before we are on the Sky chair. The metaphor is compelling. Erika needs upliftment and I am scared of falling out of the sky. We continue the work. This time we do it simultaneously because sitting on that chair suspended without moving brought up issues. We are both faced with the ego’s past, the fear of death. While hers surrounds painting, mine centers on writing. She is trying to get upward, but the virtues I am going for on are on the earth. I hear gentleness and softness calling to me.

I am reminded of being a young man of 18-19 at the Air Force Academy being trained in the numerous ways the Vietnamese have of killing me. It teaches my ego(not my true self) that I need to be tough if I am going to survive a war, but it is a strategy that is built on the fear of dying. I need a more advanced one for assisting others to transform their lives. So I begin to replace toughness to prevent death with softness and gentleness which is the quality most associated with helping another person to make changes. Meanwhile Erika’s fear of death is a dark wall which she changes into more vibrant colors and then begins to feel much lighter.

The change shows up immediately, which is always its nature. Erika starts flying by me on her skis as if the snow does not exist, while the virtue of softness allows me to relax and be gentle on the turns. We are transformed, doing the thing we love, and have been given a free lunch. How sweet is that .

Balancing Toughness with Compassion to Become Stronger

Our tough Dogs

I am writing this short post to share a few thoughts about the relationship between inner strength/toughness and compassion. I have this great client who came to me some time back mainly because he was having relational difficulties. He was an unembarrassed supporter of people on the far right and had positive thoughts toward people like Hitler. Most of my clients come from the other side of the spectrum so it tested my kills of being non-judgemental to not just kick him out and tell him I couldn’t help him. The great thing that I learned when I did my NLP training some years ago was to be curious and to put any judgment to the side when helping a person through what they are facing. It turns out that he had a really tough time growing up in his family and was bullied in school. He found that the key to his survival was to be really tough and then work really hard. It made him very successful in many aspects of his life except the long term relational aspect. I could see right away that the virtue he needed was compassion, but when he tried to go to that kind of energy, he just felt disgusted. His thinking was that compassion equals weakness and it gets you nowhere, that people who are compassionate are whiners.
Growing up in America in the 50s and being a white male in household that believed only in toughness and discipline, there is a large part of me that goes along with him. But, then on the other hand, I have also done years of working with people to deal with the worst kinds of abuse imaginable, so I have first hand experience in the value of being non-judgmental and compassionate.
What my practice has taught me is that having both energies working together harmoniously is a big key to solving the kinds of issues that the world is facing. What is so interesting is that while you would expect religious groups such as Christians and Muslims to side on the virtue of compassion because of the teachings of Jesus and Muhammad, large numbers of those religions (not all) have emphasized toughness as the main virtue. They do not seem to be able to do both.
Why, for instance, do the Evangelicals tend to side with politics that do not support universal health care? You would think that a religion whose central teaching is love and compassion would make that their first priority, but the message you get from them is one of being tough.
So if a woman has had to fight her way through a masculine dominated system and she gets sexually abused along the way, why does the tough side get so upset when she talks openly about her experience. She had to be a lot tougher than any man, but those who believe only in toughness are disgusted and call the women weak for bringing it out. It is so interesting. Why did it take the Catholic Church so long to even begin to admit that it had a problem with blatant sexual abuse when they knew what was going on for years? Why did the leaders of the Church have no compassion? Why did they tell the people to just be quiet and take it? Why did they make them just tough it out? Where was the compassion of Jesus?
What I think, and I may be wrong, is that when a person is faced with seeing abuse, it calls up their own feelings of having been severely mistreated or abandoned inside. For an instant they feel the feeling, but because it is so hurtful and automatically weakening, then they run from it by trying to be tough. For the longest time in sport we made people tough out there injuries to the point of humiliating them if they quit in the middle of a match. When I first started playing tackle football in the U.S., I had severe back pain, but I kept playing for a long time because I thought I was just supposed to tough it out. Finally my coach saw that I could barely move, and then I went to the doctor.
What most people do not realize is that compassion is the virtue that helps you look at the abuse/pain, see where it is affecting your life, and then begin to take steps internally and externally to make you a stronger and better individual. Without having compassion, the amount of inner strength that one can use is limited.
Balancing compassion and toughness is what is needed, and the key to compassion with yourself is the ability to realize that in order to move forward in your life, you can greatly benefit and use the negative and hurtful experiences that have happened to you. It is not about examining what happened and giving into feeling sorry for yourself and then being depressed. It is examining the hurt and pain and then going to a much higher level of functioning than you could ever examine.