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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
Repeat this 3 to 4 times until you can begin to keep the positive voice permanently.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Find the negative energy/emotion that you experience in the dream and name it.
Discover how the negative energy works inside of your mind as in where your thoughts go when you are experiencing the negative.
Find some of the origins when the negative energy would have begun.
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.
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
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.
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?
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.
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: 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?
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.
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.
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!
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?
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.
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.
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.
You feel lots of grief/sadness because of a loss.
The grief is the messenger that the old reality is over.
You go through a process of accepting that the old reality is over.
You understand that when you detach from the old reality, a new reality will appear that is specifically designed for you.
As you detach for the old reality and depressed feelings, then you see the new reality appearing before you.
When the new reality appears, you use enthusiasm to begin moving into it.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 .
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.
Fear is huge topic. There are probably as many types of fear as there are stars in the sky. A great deal has been written about fear already by numerous authors, but most people do not see the negative emotions, in this case fear, as code or positive message to spur on transformation. Much of our handling of fear stems from the same notions of modern medicine. It is most often viewed as a negative force to be eliminated. It is sort of like having a bad leader. An immense amount of energy goes into ousting the leader only to find that when the person is gone from the position, we are still the same problem-filled people as before. It gives some relief from a great deal of negative discomfort from the leader’s actions, but the end result is still the same level of incompetence.
When fear is conceptualized of as a transformation code, it can take on a more positive, attractive presence. It is no longer the enemy, but a close friend. When the code is understood, fear is even as your closest intimate. So what is the code? Fear is the negative emotion felt inside that gives the message that a new capacity needs to be developed. When a fear is felt, it means that something new needs to be actualized. It is different than anxiety, even though the two concepts are often used interchangeably. Anxiety, which will be dealt with in the next post, is message for having confidence to implement what capacities already exist. Fear is the harbinger of a new potentiality, heretofore, unseen or as yet not experienced.
When a teenager first gets behind a wheel in the process of learning how to drive a car, fear is often present. The major one is the fear losing control and crashing. The fear is the code that lets the teenager know that the capacity to control a car out in public on busy roads is not yet developed. For the most part this type of fear goes away with a lot of practice over a considerable time period in a lot of different types of situations because the capacity to have control and manage the car has been actualized. When a capacity is full developed and generalized, the fear, that was once so large an ominous, pretty much leaves on its own.
What happens to a soldier who has been off to war, has seen and participated in a lot of difficult fire fights, having to have remained at high alert for long periods of time, and then returns home to a different environment where the possibility of death is not so near at hand. How is that the nightmares of war keep being replayed in the mind? Why is the fear still present despite there being no presence of a threat? In war one learns how to be hyper-aware at all times scanning for the possibility of the enemy and being ready to respond. The mind learns how to be aware that an enemy could pop out at any moment in any situation. The fear is that someone could suddenly appear and make a lethal blow.
What the mind sees, when it looks out at the future, are possible enemies, that are ready to do fatal damage. When the soldier comes home and remains in the same kind of fear, it is because the mind still functions as if the enemy could appear at any time. The mind does not have a higher or better way of being. It is stuck in what it learned in fear in war without having developed a better capacity. The capacity that is lacking is the ability to see the future full of positive possibilities and to see oneself as friendly with the whole world in the process of actualizing them. It basically visualizes negative ends and enemies. To remove the fear so that it is no longer a crippling the force, the new potentiality has to replace the old one that was used for coping. In war seeing people as the enemy and being on full alert is a positive thing. In peacetime it is disability.
The fear is the code. What is true about fear is that when it is present, it always has an origin in the past that triggers the mind to react in a fearful manner. For the soldier the initiating event is war. For the teenager it is a time in life when he/she would have completely lost control of a situation. When you decipher the code, you can figure out the solution and move toward the actualization process.
Fear first always has a negative object out in the future, an enemy. It strengthens its intensity by doing perceptual tricks in the mind so that the it will be attended to. Most often it makes the negative object larger than life so that it looks much more menacing. It can also be darkened or distorted, whatever it takes for the fear to be felt. Imagine having to live your life with big pictures where everyone is your enemy and every picture has you ending up dead. It is not fun. All the fear wants you to do is to flee from everything in life.
The solution to fear is found in the code. When the pattern is known, then the solution is its positive opposite. In the case of the soldier at war, the first step is to change seeing the future and past as completely negative and lethal to visualizing positive possibilities of the future until they become completely compelling. The second step is to see people yourself as a friend to the whole world rather then seeing people as enemies. When you can easily form positive relationships and see a compellingly positive future, then the fear will give way to the higher capacities.
Human beings are wired in such a way that when a higher capacity is available and it is appropriate, it will be utilized over the lower one. That the soldier returning from war has not yet developed the higher capacity is the issue. It is not that the person has to completely let go of the old pattern. When the new one is in place and it is successful, why would the old one need to be used.
It is not the purpose of this post to teach techniques that facilitate the change process in fear related behavior, but more to explain the code and how it can operate. It is not necessarily a quick transformation to expect a person who has been trained to kill others to suddenly become friendly with the whole world. It is needed if the fear is going to go away, but it may take some time.
Another example may help to clarify. A person who has been in a relationship where they have been constantly belittled and criticized by the other will most likely fear being criticized in the next relationship. It could cause the person to avoid relationships altogether. The code goes like this. When the person images a new relationship or furthering a current one, what will be heard in the mind are puts downs and criticisms because the mind is remembering all of the criticisms in the past with negative tones and volume.
To get to the new capacity the person has to see that they can be friendly with everyone and encourage others so that they are uplifted. They have to go from being belittled to uplifting others. When the new capacity is fully in place then the fear will no go away.
Once again it is important to understand that it takes some skill to work with fear, but the end of the fear is the reward.
I am walking down Commercial Drive in East Van (Vancouver) on another cool and rainy day. Every step I take tells me to get out of my discomfort and into temporary relief. I could get some nice pastry, maybe some pizza, or a double macchiato latte topped with whipped cream. Don’t get me wrong here. I love my comfort foods. Who doesn’t? Everything in moderation.
So why stay in the discomfort? What is so great about the negative irritations inside? Why can’t I just use sugar to rid myself of it? Discomfort is the message that we all get inside each day that lets us know that we have a place in our lives where growth is needed. It is like code to tell us that we aren’t finished with our growth. New growth is calling us. When we stay with the discomfort, it can begin to inform us. I first started doing this work about 30 years ago. Most of the world thought that dealing with the negative experiences internally was just a waste of time. The most common method of trying to stimulate growth was to just tell someone else repeatedly what they needed to change and to just get over whatever they were feeling. It was paired with an even worse method of telling you how bad you were and somehow expecting that because you know all of this that you were suddenly going to change. Who hasn’t had a teacher, a parent, or a boss that has used these methods?
Are we further along today than 30 years? It is hard to say. The old methods prevail. The newer ones are difficult to take hold. A simple way to begin to take steps that will lead to new growth is to start with the belief that your inner being always desires change in a positive direction. There are no days off where it is not going to want to have a new capacity, a new virtue, a new positive energy. Knowing that this is true can accelerate everything and make growth constant. It may want calmness, tranquility, firmness, courage, confidence, intimacy, love, determination or any one of an infinite number of other capacities. And it is always insistent. When you have a certain level of one capacity like patience, then suddenly a new one like creativity shows us asking to be developed. There is no such a thing for human beings to say what a lot of people say to get out of change work like I am not the type of person who takes chances or I am introvert, meaning that they are not going to have to be friendly or take risks in life. Everyone has to learn how to be friendly and every extroverted person needs to learn how to meditate and go inward.
In my experience worldwide the most discomfort people have is connected with developing closeness. There are a lot of cultures where there is warmth or friendliness, but even in those cultures true intimacy is uncommon. The largest portion of our negative feelings is centered around our inability to get close to others. When you wake up in the morning and feel the negative feelings inside of you, most of the time it is going to be about your relationships with other human beings. It is because we are all underdeveloped in this area. Think about the range of emotions you can wake up with as you think about relating others. You can feel anger, hurt, guilt, embarrassment, fear, anxiety, envy, jealousy, shame, frustration, disappointment or sadness. It is all there.
What to do? First feel it. Next stay with it because it is leading you somewhere to a more intimate space with others. Each emotion is like a code to tell you where you need to go. In the next 12 posts I am going to write about the code of each negative emotion. The starting point will be fear.
It is raining a Vancouver rain this morning as Erika and I are walking our young puppies along our usual path. We are doing what we usually do (besides cleaning up after the dogs). We are sharing our dreams from the previous evening’s sleep and working through some daily issues. Vancouver rain reminds me of what the work with transformation is like. It is steady, not too forceful, and cool. As dramatic as a hurricane or tornado may be the change work that comes from dreams and daily life is usually like Vancouver rain, constant without a lot of drama. We can stay in the comfort of our soft couches ignoring the gifts that lie in the cool and wet morning air, but choosing to go out into our discomfort is where the progress is. Today’s first question is not unlike the one’s I have heard in many dream meetings. When I lie in bed processing, I suddenly forget parts of the dream. Why does this happen? How do we go into memory loss? Memory loss tends to happen the moment we dissociate from the feelings in an experience. Dissociation tends to occur when the feelings we are having our uncomfortable. To be able to process so that you can get to the positive change the choice is about the rain. Am I going to go out in the rain or stay on the couch? Choosing the rain is choosing change. It is feeling the discomfort of today’s fear or worry or other feeling and then making the effort to transform it to something more positive. Some days the sun shines, but not today. Today it is raining inwardly and outwardly. What higher state is my inner rain calling to me?
It is difficult for me to think of a more powerful inner process than the ability to access and maintain positive memories in my attention. As easy as this might seem negative memories have an uncanny ability to override the positive. The mind more readily goes to the negative rather than positive. I am sure that this has survival element to it that goes back many millennia. It turns out that when I can hold a positive memory in my attention, I am able to not only repeat it, but also to have a creative advance into new experiences. The purpose of dwelling on negative memories is some sort of survival so usually it means that when I dwell on them, I tend to not go after new things, to not go beyond my current borders. Being able to take risks relies heavily on the ability to access positive memories from the past and at the same time letting go the negative ones. When we hold onto negative memories such as when we were punished or hurt in a relationship, then our lives are ruled by fear. After the third time I was fired for being a risk taker in my career as an educator, my mind somehow would only go to negative memories. It got me to stop taking major risks by playing the negative memories over and over. When I wanted to take new risks, the memories of having been fired just incessantly reappeared. I kept trying to solve the reasons behind the injustice in being fired. The revelation to me is that the goal is not to prevent the firing. If I would be foolish enough to work for another relatively conservative administrator, I would be fired again. I have no doubt about it. Taking risks frightens conservatives because they are fearful of losing their advantage or their position or whatever they have. The goal for me is to let go of the negative memories of having been fired so that I can access the positive memories of risk taking. The benefits of risk taking, of using my creativity to go after new things far exceeds the inconvenience of having been fired. What is important to realize, in this process, is that I can not have it both ways. I cannot try to hold the negative memory and the positive one at the same time. There is only space for one. I can either have the positive memory of risk taking and go forward or I can hold the negative memory so that I will stop. I cannot stop and go at the same time. While there important reasons to stop certain activities, it doesn’t apply to me at this time in my life.
Have you ever dreamed of an animal? Animals are great as symbols because they are fairly easy to interpret. Here is what you do. Say you are dreaming about a dog, and the dog bites you. This is a negative dream so you have to start with how you feel. When you get bitten, the negative emotion you feel is hurt. OUCH!. In real life the dog doesn’t represent a real dog. It is a symbol for friendship and loyalty. So if you get hurt by a dog, it means that you are hurt or bit by friendship. You can ask yourself who the dog is in real life, which friendship or which person. Then you get to the big lesson. The lesson when you see an animal in a dream is for you to become more like the positive qualities of the animal. Dogs are very friendly and loyal. When you are hurt by someone, the tendency of the ego side of you is to turn away from the person and stop being friends, or to bite back. But the spiritual lesson is to learn how to forgive, to let go, and then stay in a loving friendship. If you had the type of friendship that was poisonous, where you would need to avoid it, you would get something like a venomous snake dream, not a dog dream. Lots of us get hurt and then turn away from our friends. Try letting go and be like a dog.
The virtues like self-discipline, organization, and determination are rooted in time in the past whereas virtues like courage, optimism, and idealism are found in the future. When they work together in perfect unity, they are capable of achieving almost anything. When you are stuck in the past because of fear, such as the fear of terrorists attacking your country or the fear of immigrants taking your job, then it becomes almost impossible to have the virtues connected to the future such as optimism and creativity and courage. You look to the past for your answers and believe that the answers lie in the past. It becomes hard to develop new abilities or to express yourself in creative endeavors. Oftentimes, you look for a leader who will restore order, restore the past.
When you are stuck in the future because of the fear of tyrants or bad authority, then it is difficult to be organized and determined. You consistently look to the future to solve everything when maybe what you need is in the past like sticking to a plan that has given you great results. For a large portion of my professional life I had to deal with authority figures who tried to keep creativity out of the organizations. As a result I had the tendency to not develop the virtues like determination and organization. I was fighting against the way the leadership was relying on tradition for doing things and not letting in new approaches. When leadership was more balanced, then I could be self-disciplined and creative, trying out new things and using older ones.
For some people the past always looks bright and the future looks very frightening. The goal is to hold onto the past. For others the future always has the solution because the past was full of inequalities and abuses of power. To achieve great things there is always a need for a balance of both energies. Courage to try new things balances with determination to finish what you began.
When we are in a state of fear, one way or the other, that we tend to not relate to time in a balanced manner. Where are you stuck in fear? Do you look for the past for solutions primarily or the future?
When there a bully in the schoolyard, he takes advantage of the fact that most of the children have a lot of fear. He can push his weight and size around because he is pretty certain no one is going to challenge him. He gains access to the feeling of power and getting what he wants. In the traditional approach to dealing with the bully, the bully is the problem that the school has to get rid of. A lot of effort is put into disciplining the bully. What isn’t so apparent is that the bully is only taking advantage of the fact that there is a huge amount of fear. If the school were filled with the virtue of courage, the energy it doesn’t have now, then the bully could be easily taken care of.
Courage is the capacity to go for a particular goal where there is a risk involved. If you just look at the above scenario in terms of the bully, then you don’t see that the people in the environment do not have the virtue of going after goals where there is some risk involved. They shrink into fear because of the risk, and then the bully has its way. If the environment promoted courage, a place where people could takes risks safely, then bullies would go away on their own. Schools traditionally don’t promote courage or taking risks. They do the opposite. They promote conformity and following the rules because the ability to take risks is such a threat to the established ways of doing things. If you can promote courage, then when you get rid of the bully, he stays away.
When people have on-going digestion problems, they have a tendency to go for physical remedies like antacids or digestive enzymes or other medications. The first place they go shopping for a remedy is the medical one. The idea is to get rid of the digestive issue and return to the good ole days when you could eat anything at anytime. What if the fear was the cause of digestive issues, that is, that you live in such a state of fear that the body’s digestive processes just don’t work well? Medication, when there is fear involved, just gets you relief for a time. Your system can go back to where it was temporarily. After some time, however, the physical remedies stop working, the problems return, and the fear is as present as ever. This happens because the fear which comes from the ego is insistent. It isn’t going to go away by physical means. It is has an emotional cause rooted in some experiences. It calls for a new capacity, a new energy, or virtue because the person living with the fear is not fit spiritually to participate fully in what life is asking of him/her. Maybe the person needs determination, but is fearful that going forward means being treated unjustly by bad leadership. If this were the case, then as soon as determination is in place and the fear is gone, then the digestive enzymes would start working because the body would not be held in a tension filled state from fear anymore.
The logic of this approach is so simple and easy to understand. The physical problems are mostly held in by negative emotional patterns. Fear, anxiety, grief, anger, disappointment, frustration and jealousy cause the body to hold negative tension which cause physical problems. When you replace the ego patterns with higher new ones such as compassion, honesty, generosity, wisdom, and patience, then the body releases its tension filled energy with new energy that is healthier.
The higher energy is the lure to us. Our spiritual qualities are our purpose in life that never stop developing.. Life is about constant change and transformation everyday. Who you are today will be asked to change tomorrow to someone even better. It doesn’t ever stop. The higher being, your spirit, will be asking you to change. It will show you your places of change in your negative emotional patterns and the bodies reaction to them. What is your life needing right now to make it work? Where are you being challenged? Get out of the old pattern of trying to return to an old state of being. Advance to the new state.
What holds true for the individual also holds true for humanity? Some leaders are gaining a lot of support these days by trying to get people to go back to old worn-out ideologies like nationalism and racism and sexism because they feel so utterly incompetent in a world based upon cooperation, respect for the rights of others, equity, and lifting the downtrodden for the same reason that the bully in the schoolyard doesn’t want to have to share a swing. The bully just wants to be able to have the swing whenever it pleases. He is scared to death of having to share.
A lot of people are going to go kicking and screaming into the world of equality and unity and will experience a lot of pain in the process, but the higher self of the world is moving to higher energy. It isn’t going backwards. It is only going to go forward. Shouldn’t you be doing the same in your life? Find the virtue that is calling to you and let it develop without so much resistance. Try some tranquility for a change. Or maybe some tolerance. And by the way, tonight when you dream, your dreams will be showing you the way.
Coming This Fall in cooperation with the Community Transformation Foundation (CTF). Learn how to interpret and transform dreams into positive capacities. Email me @ email@example.com if you are interested. All proceeds from training go to CTF.