How to Deal with Criticism: Changing What’s In Your Head

Today I woke wondering why I have this mental habit of trying to get everything done all at once or in a very short time period.   It is as if my mind refuses to live in a sequential, time-based, rhythmic world.   I have trouble doing sequences-based tasks like following recipes or sticking to an exercise program whose increments are gradual.   What I discovered, when doing the internal processing work, the kind you do with NLP,  is that  when I do sequential work or try to do it, my mind runs into the fear of criticism.    This is what happens.

  1.  My mind imagines being criticized by someone, not too dissimilar to what would happened in real life, and then it automatically turns up the volume until it is like screaming.   To avoid actual screaming I do everything I can to not let it happen by trying to get done all of my tasks before any criticism can occur.   It isn’t a very effective pattern.
  2.  There is a lot of tension connected with trying to get things done quickly rather than taking time and doing it in a more relaxed manner.

The change takes place when I go back in my mind to various times in my life such as entering school and then replace the screaming with a sweet encouraging voice.   It has a kind of calming effect that relaxes the tension.   In turns out that I have had a lot of time periods where in my life where I do the strategy of raising the volume of the criticism.

Beyond the change of screaming to sweetness in the quality of the voice,  I also noticed that I easily held on stubbornly to negative feelings against those who did the criticizing as if they were now eternal life long enemies.   Needless to say with the screaming and the holding onto negative feelings,  my ego was in a huge over-reaction out of protection.     To let go of the negative feelings toward the other people the thing that seems to help after I have the sweet voice implanted in my mind is to have a lot of understanding for the trauma that the criticizers have been through.

The combination of understanding and changing the screaming to sweetness allows the sequence of action to just happen much more easily.

Healing or Development: Finding Out What Stage You are in Makes a Huge Difference on How to Act

Healing or Development

Change is always basically the same process of changing negative energy to positive energy, but where you start from to do the change process depends upon how dysfunctional you are in your overall life.   You will have to find where you are coming in last place, where you are kicked out of Eden, but you can start from one of two major categories, healing or development.     There is nothing scientific about the difference.  They are made up inventions, nothing that is truly reality, but the distinctions may be helpful.

Seeing change as healing is a metaphor that lets you know that the negative energy is so great that it is making it impossible to function well in your life.    The advantage of being in the healing mode is that you can feel that you can take all the time and gather all the support you need for the change.   Healing is about surrounding yourself with all of the best supportive measures you can to change the negative into a positive.  Healing to me is like going to a great resort and this is probably why our collective vacation mindset thinks often of resorts.   Resorts help you relax and regain your lost energy from the stresses and strains of everyday life.   The difference between a healing environment and a developmental one is the difference between how a stress-filled parent thinks about a resort versus how a child relates to it.   A child thinks about adventure and doing one activity after another until there is no time left in the day.   A parent thinks about relaxation and recuperation and sitting in the hot tub and eating food that delights their palates.    If you want to go on a holiday and sit by the edge of the pool or walk slowly on the beach, then the resort is healing and recuperating the stresses of your life.   If however, you take a holiday doing adventurous things like repelling from 100 meters or jumping off of cliffs, then the holiday is aimed at development in the same way that a child sees the holiday.

If you need healing, you need to think in terms of resorts, but if you need development, you can think in terms of adventure.   The more stress-filled your life is, the more you will opt for a resort approach to change, and this is the place where most people need to start.   Eventually, when your positive energy reaches a certain threshold, then the healing switches to development where you begin with the positive energy that you have and give yourself an interesting challenge.  It is not a contest; one is not any better than the other.   If you need healing, that is what you need, and no matter how hard you try, you will only end up in a worse state if you go for development when you need healing.   Likewise, it is easy to get attached to the healing mode when development is the choice you need.   When you need to train for a marathon, you shouldn’t be thinking of going somewhere where everyone takes care of your needs.

Healing is recognizable when you have that feeling that you just can’t take it anymore, or you haven’t been able to take it for a long time and you are using all kinds of coping mechanisms like drugs and alcohol or sex to keep you going.    I had a friend recently tell me that he had been feeling really depressed in which case he went to a doctor for some help.   The doctor prescribed an anti-depressant, which caused his hair to start falling out and a huge loss in his sex drive.  This is an example of a practice of many physicians who try to keep people functioning in the developmental mode by giving them a drug, when they should be in a more profound program of total healing.    Healing is about giving yourself all the support that you need to recuperate your lost abilities and regain the confidence of a young child in exuberant play.   It usually requires suspending a certain amount of activities so that the healing has time to work.   The worse the condition the more you have to suspend.

Development is what you do when you are already functioning well and you want to get to a higher level.  When you are feeling positive generally already, but you feel the urge to achieve more and develop a new part of yourself, then you know that you are in the developmental phase.  This is not to be confused with someone who has a lot of money although it doesn’t exclude them.   If you have an area of your life that is severely dysfunctional like in the area of relationships, your growth is not considered development; it is considered healing.   The reason it is necessary to call it healing is that success at the expense of relationships is not success; it is failure because something about your life is completely false and you need all of the support you can possible get in order to change it.   If you cannot understand this logic, just think about the world and all of the powerful leaders who gain territory and riches at the expense of the people, then you realize how sick a person can really get when they are just after wealth.   It would be disastrous for a person who is a failure in relationships like so many movie stars, for instance, to think about their career goals until they change their relational life.  Their lives are a disaster.   One of the best movies that illustrates this principle is Regarding Henry with Harrison Ford as the principal actor.   In this story he is a very successful lawyer making gobs of money, but his relationship with his daughter and his wife are in the last place category.  Suddenly one day he is shot in the head while buying some cigarettes.   He goes into a long extended healing and then when he is cured, he changes the whole direction of his life.   At the end of the movie, you could say that he had moved from the healing phase to the developmental phase.

This is why this process is called radical change because what is being asked of people, who we consider to be so successful, is to consider that maybe they have been considering the wrong things.   There is really absolutely no difference of someone wealthy who has lived a false life and someone who is living on the street and has lived a false life.  They are both in the same situation and if we support them, maybe their lives will get better.   Wouldn’t it be ironic that if community service groups would turn their attention on the very wealthy and reach out to them to help them out.   Now that would be radical.  I am not suggesting that every wealthy business person is living a false life, far from it, but it is not a big stretch of the imagination to see that the majority are in the healing phase, pretending like they are in the developmental phase.

The difference in the process of development versus healing is the orientation you have in time.   In the healing process all of your personal goals are suspended other than the area of healing, that is, you put your life on hold so that you can deal with the great healing that you need.   In development the setting of personal goals is the stimulus for change and growth.  Healing is an orientation toward the past with an eventual awakening of the future, whereas, development is an orientation toward the future with an occasional trip to the past to deal with negatives.   In healing you are dealing with some really difficult energy that has covered up your true self and its capacities.  It is oriented toward traumatic events or cultural trauma or the trauma of your family.  When you heal, you end up with a great deal of confidence and energy and then you are ready to challenge yourself.     With development you challenge yourself with a difficult goal and this allows you to face very difficult energy that stimulates your growth.  Radical growth in development means that you give yourself a big challenge and then fail miserably, learn from the failure and then keep going forward until you have achieved the goal learning each step of the way.   Healing is like opening the hood to the engine in your car and realizing that the car has serious damage.

Maybe the biggest veil here is the culture.  The world culture has become almost entirely ruled by material values that regards who has the most stuff as the most important.   If the world culture were oriented toward spiritual values, then the most important value would be who can do the best service because it would oriented toward qualities and not to quantities.  But as we are oriented almost entirely by the pressure of the bottom line, that being quantities, the people we value the most are the ones who have the most. Unfortunately this does not mean that they are doing anything at all beneficial to themselves or to others and usually means that they are doing a lot of harm.

If it sounds like daily change is against wealth, it is a misinterpretation of the process.  Daily change is a process whereby first you become wealthy in spiritual qualities and then the quantitative wealth may follow, but the opposite is not true.  It is like division.    36 divided by 9 gives you 4, but 9 divided by 36 gives you ¼.  To do daily change you must start in the non-material dimension (spiritual) and then the material.   Money does not generate a quality, but a quality can generate a material outcome with implications for money.   When you have a united family working together, they are capable of doing the impossible, but having a lot of money does not guarantee a united family.    Materialism is just as prevalent among the poor as it is among the rich because it depends upon where you start in the process.     Money is subordinate to the spirit, but in the overwhelming majority of the world, the spirit is subordinate which makes it possible for a person to be spiritual once a week for a few hours and subordinate that work when working with money or material conquests.

The primary concern, whether you are doing healing work or work that is more developmental in nature, is that you begin by feeling the impoverished state of your true self and work on your negative energy until it releases enough positive energy that you become functional and thriving.  In the non-physical realm poverty is a positive and it is a great idea to make friends with it because it is the motivation upon which all change is possible.   Without humility radical change is impossible.

Giving Out Honey When You Receive Poison

“Act in accordance with the counsels of the Lord: that is, rise up in such wise, and with such qualities, as to endow the body of this world with a living soul, and to bring this young child, humanity, to the stage of adulthood. So far as ye are able, ignite a candle of love in every meeting, and with tenderness rejoice and cheer ye every heart. Care for the stranger as for one of your own; show to alien souls the same loving kindness ye bestow upon your faithful friends. Should any come to blows with you, seek to be friends with him; should any stab you to the heart, be ye a healing salve unto his sores; should any taunt and mock at you, meet him with love. Should any heap his blame upon you, praise ye him; should he offer you a deadly poison, give him the choicest honey in exchange; and should he threaten your life, grant him a remedy that will heal him evermore. Should he be pain itself, be ye his medicine; should he be thorns, be ye his roses and sweet herbs. Perchance such ways and words from you will make this darksome world turn bright at last; will make this dusty earth turn heavenly, this devilish prison place become a royal palace of the Lord—so that war and strife will pass and be no more, and love and trust will pitch their tents on the summits of the world.”
Abdu’l Baha

I have spent the better part of the last two decades trying to apply this quote in my daily life with moments of success followed by a great deal of internal difficulties and failure. The purpose of this post is to share some of the lessons I am learning and hope that you too will take up this amazing challenge. The promise of the quote is world peace which is the theme of my site and we all hope for.   It is coming.

Lessons Learned.

  1.  If you take out the factor of time when dealing with this quote, you don’t have to feel so bad about not being able to do it instantly.   In order to apply the quote, what you first need to be able to do is to forgive, which is the ability to let go of hurt.    If I were a more advanced soul, I wouldn’t get hurt so easily, but as I am just in the process of developing, I still get hurt and still react in negative ways.   The tendency of the ego, when it is hurt, is to act by either fleeing, fighting, or freezing.   Mostly I feel like fighting back as if fighting back is going to evoke some kind of transformation in the other.   If it worked,  we could all be fascists or mobsters and the world would get to peace.   It just doesn’t work.   The goal is not to give back what you have received that is negative.   The goal is to give back something positive when you receive negative.  The first step is to process the hurt.   Processing a hurt can take time.  Sometimes it takes decades, but if you let go of the hurt and give back some honey after a decade,  then you have created world peace.    It is a big ask to expect oneself to do it instantly even though that is the end goal.  When you are first trying to give back a positive, allow yourself a lot of time and space to deal with the hurt.   It is OK to stay away from a person who fired you if you maintain feelings of hurt toward them because being around them while you are hurt just brings out ego patterns that are not helpful.
  2.  How to deal with the hurt.  It is my experience, and this is just one of many hundreds of methods that might work, that hurt is best dealt with as a metaphor.  I don’t know why exactly.  I have just had a lot of success with myself and working with others to keep hurt as a metaphor.   The metaphor explains the feeling.  For instance,  the first time I was fired from a job,  I felt like I was thrown off of cliff.   I was crushed.   You can see the benefit in the metaphor.  It makes the feeling so much more dramatic and then allows you the extended time and space to process it.   Some cultures particularly the worldwide male culture has the tendency to tell you to just get over it, but if you feel like you have been run over by a truck or pushed off a cliff or stabbed in the back,  it will probably take some time.
  3.  How do you explain the metaphor?   If I felt like I was thrown off a cliff,  that means that before the event (the being fired) I gave the employers a lot of power over my life. I gave them the power to make me feel negative.   It was like they were the owner of my feelings, positive and negative, and whatever they did would effect them.  If they were good, I was good.  If they were negative, I was hurt.    How did I ever allow them to have control or power over my internal state?    When I understand that they are just human beings with positive and negative qualities,   then, even if  I do get fired not so justly,  it isn’t like being thrown off a cliff.  It is more expected because they are just acting human.     Being thrown off the cliff means that my expectations for them were much too high.
  4.  Once I bring them back down to earth and back into being a human,  then I can begin to transform the metaphor from such a drastic negative to a positive  where I have internal control.    What is a metaphor that I can have that puts me in control of my own internal state?   The key is in the old metaphor.   What I am doing is transforming the metaphor of being thrown off a cliff and falling.   What is a likely metaphor that works?  What works for me is the metaphor of flying like superman to reach my positive goal.  If I feel like superman inside,  then when they act out of their negative egos,  it doesn’t much affect me.   I can give them back the opposite of what I was given.   In this case I can invite them into my home and show generosity.

I am inviting you into the wonderful world of this magnificent quote.  Have a go!!!

Radio Talk on Dreams

Hi Everyone, I just did a talk this morning on dreams on the radio station below. You can click the link if you would like to hear it. It has a couple of minutes before the show of some music and announcements before it begins. Enjoy it.

The Best Case Scenario Thinking

The other day I found a new gear in my skiing.   Literally I have gone from really slow and fearful on the easiest green runs, to gradually adding a blue run (intermediate level) to just relaxing and flying down the mountain.   Some switch flipped and there I was feeling so free with the speed.   It happened.


Last year I spent a whole huge wad of money to go to arguably the best ski resort in the world, Whistler-Blackcomb, tried to get back to snowboarding at age 65 after not seeing snow for two decades, ended up on icy narrow runs, fell repeatedly, was so destroyed an hour in that the rest of day was ruined by me ending up in the medical clinic getting x-rays.

What is changing in me?  I am not exactly sure, but something is positive.  Hooray!! First let’s go back in history nearly 20 years.  Over that time I was fired three times in three different countries on three different continents.   You may  think being fired is not traumatic because maybe it isn’t for you.  It was for me.   It was the thing I most feared.  Why?  Imagine yourself on another continent where you are full of hope about your future, you are making a decent living, and then one day the plug gets pulled.  The fear has a lot to do with putting food on the table and being a long way from home.  When I wasn’t earning,  I was worrying a lot about the future.   I got used to seeing the worst case scenario and then trying to protect myself from it.    That is exactly what happened in the snowboarding crashes.   The worst case thinking scenarios took over.  I froze up and was fired.  I crashed myself.

This post is not about blame.  I could rant on with truckloads of blame, but the fact of the matter is, I turned from being a person who sees a relatively positive future to protecting myself from the worst case scenario.    It is a bad way to live.  Believe me.  Don’t do it!!!   It is quite understandable after a history of dismissals.     I am not whining.   I was just not as positive as I used to be after the third time.    I won’t go into the reasons for the firings.  In my opinion I was right and they were wrong.  In their opinion I was wrong and they were right.    Either case, I ended up in the emotional train wreck of seeing the worst case scenario and protecting myself from it.

Then a magnificent thing happened.  I retired.  Well at least I retired from the kind of work I was doing.   When I first retired,  I spent a lot of months waiting for the other shoe to drop again.   Only the only shoe dropping was being done by me as in the case of snowboarding.    No one was firing me or threatening me except myself.   It dawned on me  today that the reason that the first day of skiing was so painfully fearful was that the way I had been looking at the future was just hugely in the worst case scenario and then tensing to try to prevent it from happening.   If you would have seen me going down the runs the first couple of times, you could have spotted it plain as day.

Gradually it shifted.  The protective part of me realized that maybe it was overworking.  It didn’t need to be there anymore (if it ever did).    Now I am making the shift to the other type of future, the best case scenario.    It was never for me as if the best case scenario about my life didn’t exist.   It did.   It was more like the worst case scenario thinking was hugely dominant.   How I planned to do my life upon retirement is exactly how I am living it, but now when I get on the ski slopes or tennis courts or do therapy with people, the best case scenario is so apparent.   It is becoming the dominant force.

How to do it?  I suppose that each person has their own unique roadblocks that they have to overcome in the way of fear and other negative emotions,  but really the essential aspect of it is to see the best possible future, the best outcome, and then have an absolute belief that you can make it there.    What is my best future?  How does it benefit humanity?   Those are the two essential questions.    You have to do the second question because we are hard-wired that way.    A self-serving life will crash.




The Essentials of Accelerated Learning

I wouldn’t call myself an expert in the area of how to accelerate learning so it may be a bit arrogant of me to title this post as if I know what the essentials of accelerated learning actually are.  It fascinates me that a young person can be brilliant in almost every academic subject,  but have a great deal of difficulty learning how to be socially competent. 

  1. The first essential is knowing that learning in one type of area such as science can be very different than when you are learning how to play soccer or learning to  positive relationships with others.    If you do exactly what you do in science when you are in social situation, you may find that you are being overly critical and judgmental.   It works in science because you have to make critical judgments all the time, but if you are critical and judgmental in a relationship, you just put off the other person.   In human relations you have to suspend judgment.   Consider the difference between reading a book and playing a soccer or hockey game.   In reading  one word follows another in an endless sequence that eventually gets to an end.   In playing soccer a person has to pay attention to the other players while also attending to the ball.  The learning can accelerate when you know how to learn in a specific area.
  2.    The second essential is to be free of fear and other negative emotions when learning.   This seems so obvious that it hardly bares saying, but when was the last time you had an instructor in anything who helped you let go of fear in the process of learning.   Fear and other negative emotions have the effect of putting resistance in the way of learning.   It isn’t that difficult to learn how to stand up in front of a group and deliver an interesting speech,  but the fear of the reaction of the audience paralyzes lots of people from being able to deliver one well.   If you can let go of the fears/emotions that cause the tension and resistance, then the learning is going to be hugely accelerated.
  3. The third essential is the ability to remember successful attempts and repeat them until they are consolidated.   Because we all live in a technologically-based society that rewards science way over other types of learning,  the tendency with everything in life is to be super critical.   The culture is permeated with criticism.  Because of this people tend to focus on everything that they are doing wrong rather than what they are doing right.   When you learn anything new,  the process is to remember what was successful, repeat it, and then add a new step in the same way.   Mostly what you need is positive feedback about what you are doing right and then small corrections to get to the right movements or processes.
  4. The fourth essential is have unending curiosity about how to learn in an area.   When you face internal resistance, the appropriate response is curiosity, not devastation.  For instance, if you are learning how to ski, but you are terrified, you can get curious about the terror inside.  If you let yourself have the terror, then eventually you will learn from it, and it will go away.   Last week I returned to skiing after being some 20 years away from it because of living in tropical countries.   I felt very fearful on the first run.  I proceeded down the mountain very slowly.   I realized that the fear and tension in my body had nothing to do with skiing, but what had happened to me in work-related experiences when I wanted to have a lot of joy.  There was huge resistance inside.   Gradually, my fear lessened.   By the third run my memory of how to ski returned, the tension lessened and I had a great time.   On the second day the fear had completely disappeared and the learning began to accelerate.

Why Retreating into the Past is a Bad Idea!

In 1975 I started my first professional teaching job in a small city in North Dakota.  During that time period there was a big movement in education, probably the most exciting time of the last century,  in which many of the old practices came into question.   The old practices came into question because many young people were not making it through the education system.  They were not learning, failing, and dropping out.   We wanted to know why and what we could do about it.

Some experiments were tried.   Some were good, and some were questionable, but before any of them had a chance to prove themselves,  a big wave of “going back to the past” which was called “back to the basics” gathered momentum and virtually snuffed out the alternative education movement altogether.    “Back to the Basics” was presented in a way that made the past seem like paradise, while at the same time assailing the mistakes of the new experiments as if they were the anti-Christ.

The big mistake of the back-to-anything movements is the way they shut the doors on the future.   They retreat to the past to find the answers.    Imagine Thomas Edison doing the back to basics strategy.   Whatever filament he was using for the light bulb that wasn’t working, he just goes back to and tries again.   What got him to the filament,  was trying out new things until his team found one that worked.    He continually went into the future.

It is not so much that “past” is the bad guy in the scheme to make things improved.   The past is a mixed bag.  There are positives to keep and a lot of old patterns that need to be discarded, but when you over-glorify the past, you don’t allow yourself to take an objective look at the old patterns that are no longer working.

More often than not the group advocating the retreat to the past is fearful of losing what it has or has lost what it had.   It is the loss that motivates the movement backwards.    To move forward one needs to go out in the future, see what is to be gained, and then become inspired to go for it.

The biggest gains in the future are going to be made by cooperating with others rather than retreating into our private cocoons.   In America, Iran is the enemy, but in Iran, America is the enemy.  To China the outside world is the enemy, but to the outside world, China is the enemy.   It goes on and on.   When we are friends with another, we will do anything to help and support each other.   We will sacrifice in all kinds of ways for the benefit of our friends.    This is because the love we share is such an amazing feeling that we will do anything to keep it.

The future is about friendship and love and cooperation between all peoples.   We are moving in that direction.  The sooner we see that future and how bright and wonderful it is the better it is going to be for all of us.    Love your enemies is the way Jesus put it.



Dealing with a Friend’s Darkness

I am slowly walking down a lonely corridor.  It is bright and sunny outside, but inside the shades of my feelings range from a misty gray to the blackest night.   What was once a corridor full of hope and joy has now turned to painful attacks.   I am walking toward my wife’s classroom ready to tell her that the time in this country is over.   I have just been asked to leave the school, dismissed.   It is one thing to be fired in your own country, quite another in a land outside of your birth.

If you were my friend and you were walking with me, this is what I would hope you do.  First, let me have my darkness.  It belongs to me so don’t try to take it away.   Don’t tell me how everything is going to be OK, that this is God’s will, or some other cliché.   Just let me know that I am not alone in the dark.   Let me express every dark thought and feeling that I have.

I am certain that I will be fine in the future, but right now I need to have whatever is mine.  They took away my livelihood,  so let me have my moment in dark emotions.  I need them.   One day the light will break forth again,  but now my only possession is abandonment.  Let me be with it.    Tomorrow I will be thinking of the new life ahead,  but today I am just not understanding how people can treat others in this fashion.  Let me have that mistreatment.   Don’t tell me to let it go right away.   I am going to let it go.  Soon.   Today I ask for your patience.   Walk with me for a ways on my dark day so that I really know what abandonment feels like.    Tomorrow I will return to my bright and joyful self,  but not today.

There is a great power in being patient during someone’s trials.   They need the difficulty and the negative emotions for their learning.   Without them they have a hard time progressing.     Ask a person how they are feeling.   It is the power of being patient.


“Going Off the Deep End” in Your Life

I am driving in northern Mexico not far from the city of Monterrey.   There are 5 of us in a paneled van having just spent a few days in the beach town of Tampico where we were trying out our limited Spanish in hopes to get in with some of the locals.   It is mid afternoon.  I look out the window eyeing a simple Mexican farmer walking alongside a donkey-driven cart and then it strikes me.   It could have been a lightning bolt, but it was not.  It is a feeling that springs from the inner recesses of what I can only guess is my heart.   And then I say it.  “I quit.”

I have been forcing myself for three years to remain in what I can say is  possibly the worst environment ever invented for my true self.   It is the U.S. Air Force Academy.   I cannot say that it is absolutely worst space for everyone.  It just doesn’t work for me.   It takes seeing a simple man walking along the road in a sparsely populated region in Mexico to wake up my intuition.   I know that it is time to leave.    I tell my traveling companions.  As life would have it, it turns out to be one of the top 2 or 3 decisions of my life.  At that moment it was the best by far.

Going off the deep end in my life never seems to be a prolonged decision making process.  The intuition comes.  It feels right and I act.   Not exactly the scientific approach, but somehow it works.    When I think about the process of going off the deep end,  it seems to require a fair amount of trust, trust that it is the right decision, that things are going to work out.    This means trusting in a positive future even when you cannot see it.

The force that keeps people from going off the deep end in their lives centers itself in the need to be safe and secure.  It keeps them in the shallows never experiencing the deeper aspects of life.   They remain conservative and timid about life even when it beckons them fully.   Going off the deep end for me is a very pragmatic thing.    I didn’t quit the Air Force Academy because of airy-fairy reasoning.   I was just being real.   It didn’t work for me.    I want to be living in a life that works and gets results.   By and large when we try to be too safe,  we get meager results.

Take a leap, but be pragmatic.   Leap into the things that give you positive results.

Dying to the Past in Your Dream/Real Life

Death is not such a bad thing in your dream life for one very amazing reason.   img_4317

Death in real life is only death to the body.  It is not death to the spirit which has a life that continues on long after it leaves  the body.   Death, in the metaphoric sense like in a dream,  always means that you are leaving a past life behind.  It is not a past life life in the new age sense or how the reborn Christians see it although I think they are both on the right path.  It is being born into a new, higher state as if you are leaving the old life behind and the new ones begins.

As people begin to age there is a huge tendency to stop the process of leaving the past behind and awakening into a new self.   We especially see it as people begin to approach 50.  They over-glorify the past as if it were so much better than their current lives.  This is simply because their current lives are very problematic.  They don’t have a proper orientation to the future especially about life after death and the continued growth process of the soul after it leaves the body.  When I was studying education in the early 1970s, there was a big move to change the traditional course of the teaching of reading because so many children were failing.    A few brave souls began experimenting in new ways especially helping people to get out of the old boxes that they were stuck in, but as soon as the experiments went forward, a wave of traditionalists stomped them out before they had a chance.   They called their movement back to basics which preyed on people’s  fear of a future.    Not surprisingly a lot of people of my generation are stilling doing the same in America.   They want to go back to a past that never really functioned very well.

It is a scary thing.  You look out into the future and see that you might fail if you try something new.  This causes you to be conservative with the same strategies that never served you well in the first place.   There is a quick fix to the fear. It is so simple that it just surprises me why people don’t do it more often.  If you have this process, you will make huge progress and be unbelievably successful in ways you never dreamed of before.

Here it is.   When you have a death dream, it is a big sign that it is time for this process.  The change is this.  In your mind’s eye go out in the future and then see the most positive future you can.  See the thing you want to change the most in your life and see yourself being wildly successful.   For instance, see yourself getting along with your siblings or see yourself being really friendly with others of other countries.  Don’t give into the fear of being unsuccessful just because you didn’t succeed in the past.  Stay with it. Focus on the positive future and then just live it. It is so simple.  Don’t be a conservative.  Be into change all the time.

People who over-glorify the past do so because what they really do not want to remember or have to re-live is the trauma in their past.   If they have been severely rejected in a relationship, or abused or abandoned, they set into motion a pattern that allows them to forget the trauma and over- glorify a past that never really happened. Then they protect themselves from change.   Not remembering a trauma is not the same thing as letting it go.  

If you want to let go of a trauma, it has to be done consciously.   (See Dreamwork, if you want a detailed discussion of why we forget.)   Dying to your past means letting go of the trauma and then facing the future with a great deal of optimism and courage.    Most people need professional help to do this.   You cannot just bury trauma.   If you do, it will work unconsciously.   You will sabotage a positive future. Your future will be a false past.  You will end up in a bar recounting stories of how things used to be so great or fearing an apocalypse.   When your apocalyptic fears are huge, it means that you have already lived a huge apocalypse.  Now you want protection.

Real change depends upon having an extremely positive view of the future and then living the vision.   At the core of every human being’s positive vision of the future there is a desire for close relationships with other people and a desire to leave a positive impact on the world.  If your vision of the future is not aligned to this kind of vision, it is because you are still traumatized.

Think about your future as if it were a muscle in your body that needs to be trained and have workouts to get fit.   Everyday you can stretch to get it to the most positive.  Let go of the past that doesn’t serve you, keep the past that does, and stretch your ability to have a positive future.

The sun is just beginning to rise. img_4258





Building a Culture of Encouragement in the World

This is a fairly long article that I wrote in 2004. Take your time reading it maybe over a couple of days. It is still so relevant.

Dreams For Peace

Note:  I wrote this piece about 10 years ago, but it is obviously more relevant than ever.

Everyone in the world no matter which culture or remote island you are from suffers from the lack of living in a culture of encouragement.  We have all grown up in cultures where criticism is the rule, that is, where recognizing negative energy is the item mostly highly prized. A few people have escaped partially by living in families that encourage and maybe even a mildly encouraging community, but there is nowhere in the world today where you can find a culture that encourages as a way of life.   We have all been traumatized and even beguiled by criticism, often thinking that it is a really important part of our lives.   For instance,  we know that people produce the best art when they are surrounded in an environment of support and lots of…

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Day 5: Dealing with the Ego

This is a really important step in the transformation process.

Dreams For Peace

“Let them at all times concern themselves with doing a kindly thing for one of their fellows, offering to someone love, consideration, thoughtful help. Let them see no one as their enemy, or as wishing them ill, but think of all humankind as their friends; regarding the alien as an intimate, the stranger as a companion, staying free of prejudice, drawing no lines.”   Abdu’l Baha

Whenever you go about doing any transformation, it is important to realize that human beings have two natures, one that is highly positive and beneficial to others, the true self, and one that is limited and animal-like in nature, the ego.   The dynamic of transformation recognizes that the ego is ever present, self-centered, negative and trying to make its way to controlling the life of the individual.     When you choose a new virtue or process to strengthen your life,   it is usually because you are…

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Dreamwork 5: Podcast

This podcast was done a few years ago. You might enjoy it as it explains a lot of principles of dream work.

Dreams For Peace

Recently I did a podcast on Dream Work that you can hear by clicking the link below.  It is also on the blogroll on this blog.

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The Key to Making a Big Change is Transforming a Big Catastrophe

Not too long ago someone sent me a dream about being on the Titanic and helping people in the life boats.   It got me thinking that unless you have lived your life in a protected bubble, we all have been on the “Titanic” at one time or another.    We all have had to face catastrophes, big huge tests, that we were not ready for at the time.   The Titanic happened partly out of arrogance which is quite common to a lot of human catastrophe, but even without the arrogance,  we are sometimes tested way beyond our ability to cope at the time.

If there is a positive side to the Titanics  that we have experienced, it is this.  The huge sea of negative emotion, usually fear, that the catastrophe leaves in your memory is a place where we can go to repeatedly for lots of growth.   I have no idea why the Creator chose to make us this way.  I just know that the big negative things that have happened to me like being fired when I thought I was doing the best work ever,  are the places where I can repeatedly return for sources of new growth.   Like every other human being,  I deplore it when catastrophe strikes, and certainly would never wish it to occur to myself or anyone,  but honestly,  it would be difficult to imagine big transformation without having had major trauma.   I think that there may be some people who can go for a great deal of change without being so challenged and perhaps there will be generations of people who can go after change without feeling negative inside,  but they are pretty rare.    Our tests are our greatest reservoir of growth.

How does it work?  It is pretty simple actually.  Imagine you were one of those  passengers aboard the Titanic steaming for America  when suddenly you hit an iceberg and the ship sinks.  You may make it to a life boat,  but what happens next.  The ego takes over and puts in a memory of the experience so that you won’t forget the horror.   You now have fear every time you get on board a vessel going for a long distance from one place to another.   Whereas before you traveled from one place to another easily, now you have fear when you travel.  Fear is like an extra passenger.   Inwardly, when you think about moving from one state of being to a newer one, a better one, you are hesitant because now you have fear.    What to do?

If you understand how to work with fear, then you don’t have to be afraid of it.   It is like FDR said. “The only thing to fear is fear itself.”   Instead of being fearful of dealing with the fear,  you can learn how to embrace it and use it for growth.    It is relatively easy also.   How does it work?    So lets say that the reason you were on the Titanic is that you were going to America to find a new life.   Now when you think about going for a new life, you have a huge fear of something horrific happening where lots of people die.  You replay the death of so many, then you imagine it happening again, and hold yourself back from going for it.    The thing you are supposed to learn, the new capacity, is lodged right in the fear.  All you have to do is find its spiritual opposite and you will begin to be transformed right before your eyes.   This really works.

What is a spiritual opposite?   A spiritual opposite is the inner process 180 degrees opposite to the fear in a positive direction and beneficial for lots of others.    Instead of being in fear that lots of people are going to die when you go for your new life and then holding yourself back,  the process you need to learn is seeing positive possibilities that bring new life and energy to yourself and others and then acting on them.    Most programs that deal with trauma don’t include the beneficial piece, but it is crucial, because it is part of human nature to be beneficial to others, to make the world a better place.    I venture to say that a lot of people on board the Titanic were seeking material fortune in coming to America, but that was not their true inner purpose.    They didn’t know their purpose.  They only knew the importance of economic survival.

When catastrophe strikes,  there is always a spiritual purpose that is at the core of the transformation.   That purpose will always benefit a lot of people.   When you get attracted to the true purpose, the fear no longer needs to stay with you in such an intense way.  You have to understand that our true nature is fundamentally spiritual, fundamentally transcendent.   The material aspect of us is only temporary.

Try looking at your catastrophes with new eyes, not something that you needed to avoid, but an opportunity to learn a new process that will benefit humankind.   The positive energy is in opposition to the fear or other negative emotion.

Here are some possible examples.

  1. The fear of being assaulted =  the fear of being assaulted comes when someone forcible (using their material power) tries to take something from you for their own selfish benefit.     Spiritual opposite- reaching out to people and providing a service that will benefit others using your positive capacities.
  2. The fear of losing a big game –  this fear comes when you are trying to beat someone else and get your esteem based on the win.   Spiritual opposite-  participating together with others for a positive outcome.
  3. The fear of the apocalypse-  this is the fear of really bad stuff happening that will destroy everything.   Spiritual opposite- finding positive things to do that builds and adds positively to everyone’s life.

Happy changing!




Lions and Boundaries in Dreams

Many people get into relationships hoping for the other person to give them lots of love and caring. The hope for the love then turns off the thinking and rational mind that sees what the character flaws of the other person are. Their are certain character flaws that are fatal to a relationship like not working for a living in the real world.

Dreams For Peace

I recently had these two dreams sent to me and thought about how important they are for so many people.

I had a very vivid dream.  I had no option but to pass through a path to get to the other side. There was a caged lioness and lion cant remember but the lioness I recall very well.  They were in like a cage protected by a cage and electric fence.  I was with a friend who teased the lion. one of the lions tried to attack us I was so afraid the lion went on top of us using the cage and vegetation it tried to attack us it would have killed us. Deep down in my heart walking through this path I knew there was nothing this lion could do but I have never been so petrified. It roared and did all scary stuff to no avail. The…

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Big Wave Dreams: Are You Going to Surf or Stay on the Beach?

Dreams For Peace

Dost thou reckon thyself only a puny form
When within thee the universe is folded?   The Seven Valleys and Four Valleys.  Baha’u’llah

Last night in my dream I was at a beach somewhere it seems like California.   I went into the water and before me were these huge waves of the crushing type so I went back on the beach on my towel and then sat and watched.    Off to my right were some courageous, crazy types who took on some big waves that looked like they would be crushed and land on the beach, but as they rode the wave, the wave just seemed to endlessly come up so that they could go for another ride.  They just went on for a long time.

The problem for me is that I am on the beach just looking believing that I am going to get crushed if I get…

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Recurring Dreams: Transforming your Recurring Issue Changes Everything in Your Life

In every dream meeting I have ever given the topic of recurring dreams comes up. You can make a lot of progress with it when you do transformation work associated with the issue. You don’t need a dream to remind you that you have a recurring issue. You can make a lot of progress to release brand new energy in your life and say good-bye to old recurring problems. Try doing some work today.

Dreams For Peace

When you have a recurring dream, a dream that repeats itself over time, its purpose is to bring up a recurring issue in your life that you need to address.     Even if you do not have recurring dreams,  if you track your dreams regularly, you will find that you are dealing with pretty much the same issue as it presents itself in the changing circumstances of your life.  Circumstances change, the issues stay the same until you transform them.  That is how the spiritual domain works.   Issues never go away by themselves by leaving them alone.   They stay and get worse the longer they are not dealt with.

Practically anything can recur in a dream.   The dream I have gotten the most in my life is about returning to my first university, that I quit after 3 years, and starting over again.   Since I went to a military university in…

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Running Out of Fuel/Running on Empty Dreams

Dreams For Peace

Why do you run out of gas in a dream?   

Automobiles in our dreams are symbols of getting from one place to another in our lives.   For example, suppose you are the type of person who plans out what you want to accomplish for a day or a week or a month.    You sit down and probably write all of the things you want to do and then slot them into a time frame.    When you get into your car in a dream,  it is the part of you that is trying to implement the plan.    You begin in the present tense, get into your mental car, and try to arrive at the destinations that you have set forth in your plan.

Running out gas is caused when the plan you have made is going after incorrect goals.  Your internal car drains your energy so that you will stop…

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Super Powers in Dreams

Dreams For Peace

I was in a dangerous situation being chased by armed soldiers trying to kill me.   I am running and hiding with a few other people.  In the middle of the dream I find that I can shrink so that I am barely seen and I can also stop bullets without them penetrating my skin.

My son-in-law has a workout program in which he uses super heroes and their positive qualities while people are doing the exercises in such a manner as to begin inculcated the qualities of super heroes in their lives.    If you are like Spider Man, for instance, you might be meditating about how to have a stronger grip on things in your life.   The program produces some amazing results.

When you have super powers in a dream, you should jump up and down on your bed and yell out really loudly, “YES!!!!!”     The above dream tells…

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Dreams of Being Chased

Dreams For Peace

You can be chased by almost anything in a dream because the dream world is extremely creative in its effort to give you the most perfectly delivered message about the fear you are facing.     The main reason for having a chasing dream is to let you know that the ineffective coping strategy that you are using in dealing with your fear is  running away from it.

The first thing to do when you have awoken from a dream about being chased is to identify the thing you are running from because it gives you the clue about what your fear is.    Since dreams are written in metaphor,   the metaphor will appear in its negative aspect.   A dream symbol can have either a positive or negative value to it.   For instance, water when it is calm and warm on a nice beach is a positive symbol, but water as a tsunami…

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The 5 Secrets of Dealing with Dark Energy

Secret #1:   Everyone of us has darkness, that is, we all have weaknesses and fears and vulnerabilities that make us do things that are not so positive.   You cannot expect perfection from others, because it does not exist.  As obvious as this is most of us get angry at others when they act badly.   You have to get over it because everyone does it, including yourself.    Getting angry and yelling at someone for acting badly is about as effective as drinking poison and expecting your enemy to die.

Secret #2:  While you cannot blame or get mad at someone’s darkness,  it is equally ineffective to underestimate it or try to be nice with it.   Nice does not work.  The first step is to understand the darkness and see what it does negatively to hurt others.    It is much better to error on the side of seeing it darker than it actually is, than to pretend like it is not such a big thing.   If you are in a relationship with someone who gets jealous, you better understand how their jealousy works and how it is going to effect the relationship.  When you are nice around it, it becomes more venomous.   (Once again, just because you are not nice, does not mean you have to be angry).   A lot of people get stuck in those two options.

Secret #3:  At the core of everyone’s darkness is a profound sense of being alone and isolated.  The goal of a relationship with darkness is not to be angry, but to find a way of getting to a connection with the person in their positive energy.   Their darkness is what gets in the way of having a connection so being nice just lets the darkness know that it can continue being dark.   Start with the curiosity in your mind about where they are feeling alone in their life.   The energy that they give off from being alone will lead the way to how to have a positive relationship with them.

Secret #4:  The culture teaches us to underestimate the size of the ego inside of us. It is always much bigger than you think it is.     When you have a fear that is not addressed, it will grow until it takes over your whole being.   You should have a very healthy respect for the state of your ego.  In spiritual terms this is known as the fear of God.   It means that if you don’t deal with your growth issues they will bite you in the butt, only much worse.   In a world where domination exists like in a male dominated world the men like it when women are nice.  This means that they can continue to be dominant.  They don’t like it when women address their fears because then they start becoming more equal in their minds, it makes it harder for men to be dominant.   The dominant race also does not want to lose its dominance. It abhors equality because it loses its advantage.   Notwithstanding how hideous it is,  getting angry at dominance does not work.   Anger lets the dominant ones see the anger as out of control and allows them to blame the angry person.    A white person who is trying to dominate another race is profoundly alone.

Secret #5  The positive spiritual energy that solves the darkness is infinite in its evolution, but what most people do not have is the virtue of assertiveness.  Assertiveness is the quality that allows you to say no to the darkness, to seek the proper protection, and to go for having an equal position.   It does not have anger mixed in with it even though it is very strong.   When you add wisdom and patience in with assertiveness, the darkness really begins to move.

Say Good-bye to The Control Freak Inside of You

So I am sitting down to do my morning prayer and meditation saying the words and trying to listen for guidance when, without knowing it, my mind is going over something I have to do later in the day.   Does this sound familiar?    I am trying to have a relaxing conversation with someone and then suddenly they get up to pick a piece of dirt off the floor or have to text someone an answer.    This may be all too common.

Control freaks are everywhere!  Inside and out.   Hopefully this post will shed some light on the subject.  I am writing out loud.   Here is what I have found out about myself.

My control freak gets me to hide out and stay away from people.  It has a lot of justifications for doing this, almost endless.     When I first started doing the work on it,  it showed me that it would find out everything that  was wrong with me so that I wouldn’t have to interact.   The list was so long that the control freak always won.  If a list was finished, it would invent a new list.   My mind just kept going to what was wrong with me. It knows how to interrupt which explains what it does in meditation.    As long as something is wrong with me, the control freak can dominate the desire to be more out there with people.    Instead of just being more out there with people,  I just work on things that are wrong with me.

To let the more “out there” part of me loose  I first had to stop the obsession of finding things wrong with me and trying to fix them.   I had to let go of the tension filled memory of things I have to fix in myself.   Instead I just relax and see the vision of enthusiastically relating to others.   That was pretty interesting.

The control freaks on the outside are a bit more complicated for me because there is an element of exclusion in their behavior.  Their intention in controlling is to exclude others who are not doing what they want them to do.   A lot of them are pretty adept at what they do including the use of guilt mongering and anger.   One of the ways that they control, especially those in leadership, is to find small mistakes or small weaknesses and then blow them up.   It gives them and advantage over others.  They also take advantage of complaints from outside sources about a person as leverage for control.  Rather than investigating the truth of a complaint,  they take the side of the person who will give them more leverage.  The truth is absolutely irrelevant.   If it were a father who wanted to control his child,  he would take the side of whoever has something against his child whether or not the person is right in his claim.

What to do?

The key to dealing with control freaks is to understand that their goal is exclusion for self glorification sake.   They don’t want to include you if you are going to be inclusive because it threatens their hegemony on being glorified.    It is best to be detached from interacting with them.   You can be friendly and polite,  but as long as they are ruled by self glorification,  they are going to do what they can to exclude you especially if they have authority over you.

Detachment means refraining from having huge expectations about working closely with them.  It is not going to happen.   Instead of focusing on them, focus on others who are open to inclusion.   Gradually over time the strength of the inclusive energy will build,the control freak will be left all alone which may serve as motivation for change.

Controlling, where inside or out, leaves you alone in the world.     If you have an internal control freak, then when you change how it works you just find yourself so much more together with others.  Likewise when you let go of externally controlling others, you also are more together with others.   In the end the goal is inclusion.

Turning Around Hopeless Situations

If you are feeling hopeless or in despair or know someone who he is, this post may give you some guidance about how to proceed.   It is not by any means complete, but a place to start.

  1.  Taking an honest look at the hell you are in including being able to talk about it openly with someone is extremely valuable.   It is best to do it with someone who has experience and doesn’t overreact in a negative way.   Talking about your pain does not make it go away, but it does help to start you down the road to change.   When I am with someone who is recounting a lot of their pain, I imagine as though I am holding their hand as they walk through hell and tell me about it.   Most of the really horrendous despair comes about by people feeling all alone in the world.  As soon as someone else is there, it somehow makes the whole process less daunting.   It is such a relief for a person to be able to share what is happening inside, to not have to hold it in anymore.
  2.  There are a fair number of people in the world who put up resistance to people who are sharing their pain.   When a trauma comes out in a family, it affects everyone.  Not everyone wants to be affected.  Some may react with anger and hostility because it upsets their fairy tale world.   It is to be expected.  The sooner the fairy tale is dispelled the better.
  3.  The ego, which is our protective self, learns quickly in traumatic situations because it wants to survive.  It only takes one incident to set up a pattern of behavior that can last a lifetime.  It (the ego) reacts with some kind of variation of either fighting or fleeing which can include hiding.   For instance, you may have been sexually abused as a young person by a family member.   The survival pattern of the ego maybe to lash out at others in anger or hide away in a corner.   Even when the threat is no longer apparent like in a mutual relationship,  the survival pattern will tend to kick in when intimacy is approached.    The ego also has a tendency to believe that sharing what happened is unsafe.  This can make getting help a difficult process.
  4. The higher self always wants to go for the higher energy that is missing.   If it wants to go for intimacy,  then the obstacle it faces is the ego’s protective pattern.  This is why developing higher capacities are often so challenging.   The higher self thinks about how it might get closer to others, but the ego has control over the person with its protective strategies even when the protection is in no way beneficial anymore.  It continues to hide or lash out until the higher self can take over control.   The higher self, when it is in control, respects the need for adequate protection, and then it adds the higher energy.   For instance, when you are working in the area of intimacy,  you cannot allow people to take advantage of you nor do you want to get into a long term relationship with someone who is financial irresponsible.  Intimacy is protected by discernment and having boundaries.    If the energy that is missing in your life is courage,  then having courage necessitates also having reasonable safety precautions such as when you are rock climbing.   When the ego feels that it is safe, then it will let go and allow the higher self to take over.   At that moment you can begin to feel very close to others including depth of conversation.   The best way to think of the ego is that it wants to protect you, but its patterns  no longer serve you well.
  5. A lot of people in despair mistake physical pleasure for the solution to their problems.  Usually this is the area where addictions happen such as with alcohol or other drugs or with sex.   It is an attempt by the ego to keep the despair from completely giving up.  The addictive substance or action feels good which allows you to keep going despite the pain.  The long term problem with addictive behavior is that it covers up the problem temporarily which makes it difficult to go for what the higher self really wants.    Usually the ego in despair is covering up a lot of loneliness. Getting out of loneliness into being with others in a positive way takes the pressure off of the addiction.
  6.  When a person is in despair, the amount of time they need to heal in the beginning is very great.  As the despair changes to hope and joy then the healing interventions can lessen.   Usually people in despair need contact almost everyday in the beginning  because they going through a deconstruction of the old self and a reconstruction into a new self.   The negative energy is still intense in the beginning and still very destructive.  As it changes with the higher self taking over, then the person can take more time in between work sessions.
  7. Staying in the process of change continuously is a strategy that works for despair as well as any other challenge you have because it continuously adds positive energy to your life.

The Mathematics of Developing Your True Self/Getting Over the Subtraction Model with a Little Addition

The medical model in the Western world, of a necessity, developed itself into something of a subtraction equation.  It says that if you have something like cholera or the plague and you get rid of it (subtract it), then everything will be peachy.   If you were living with cholera in a town and then suddenly it is not there, it is absolutely true that you feel peachy for a time.   What the equation doesn’t tell you,  which should be obvious but usually is not, that if the conditions are ripe for disease, getting rid of the disease still leaves you in a condition that is ripe for more disease.  I suppose that the reason that the reason the model couldn’t embrace the overhaul of the conditions that made things ripe for disease was that the culture was ruled by pretty greedy and powerful tyrants who really wouldn’t allow them.    It is the problem with a show like the Biggest Loser, where people compete to lose weight as fast as they can and then get a large sum of money in the end for winning.    People lose a huge amount of weight in a very short time period, but they do not change the conditions in the equation that caused them to gain excessive weight in the first place, which the research is showing pretty conclusively is related to trauma.   They may feel great for a short period, even begin to change their image of themselves, but the condition that lead to overeating is never addressed.  Are the conditions of greed and power still prevalent in the modern world that make it difficult to deal with the underlying conditions?   Without a doubt.

Let’s say you have a person who is fearful of leaving his home, who stays in at all costs.  So they go to a somatic healer or another fast approach and suddenly the fear goes away. They feel completely free to walk outside and start doing great things.   This is a great formula. Win-win. Right?   Maybe not.   So now the fear is gone, but what about the world out there where the fear was created in the first place.   Does the elimination of the fear prepare the person to deal with the world out there now they are not so hyper-vigilant?    This is the same you who developed the fear in the first place minus the fear.   What I have found in my work is that, while the approaches of fear elimination have accelerated as have weight loss programs,  the work with building the self who can deal with the world out there has seemed to lag way far behind.

It is so obvious in many health conditions like heart disease or type 2 diabetes.  We can get surgery for heart problems that restores the functions of heart, but who is dealing with the person who created the heart problems.   If the person does not have an addition model to the health treatment,  then it is just a matter of time before something else happens.  Who is the self inside that lives an unhealthy lifestyle? The big gains in health only begin when you address the person having the unhealthy lifestyle. It requires a change of who the person is.   The problem with our model is that it asks the “what” questions like what is wrong, but it doesn’t ask the who questions.  “Who” in there is causing all this mess?  Maybe the subtraction model can get an alcoholic to stop drinking,  but it doesn’t address whoever the person is that began all of the drinking as a way to cope with life in the first place.   

Changing who you are is not as big of a deal as you may think.  If you can eliminate a fear response quickly in a person,  which you can,  then you can also add a new self. The place to start is by answering the question of who were you supposed to be before  the adaptive self was created.   The answer to who you were supposed to be always lies in the fear.  This is why you have to be careful about eliminating the fear too early.  Once you answer the who question, then the fast elimination approach is excellent.  Indeed, the fear tends to walk away on its own.   You can take the example of the person who is fearful of leaving their house because they are fearful that something bad is going to happen.   Who is the person supposed to be before the fear began?   This person is the person that makes good things happen.  This is who they were supposed to become, but whatever trauma or experiences happened to them caused them to adapt into a person who hides in their house.   It is a BIG DEAL knowing that who you are is the person that makes good things happen.   What about the alcoholic who takes to drinking as a way of dealing with the fear of being rejected by others?   That person is the person who accepts others unconditionally.   They probably have other identities, but knowing that this is who you are supposed to be and beginning to be that person will make a huge impact on the world.    The subtraction model is a safer model for a lot of people because anyone who finds out who they are truly by examining their fears  automatically becomes a threat to the current structure.

The fear keeps you from becoming the person you were meant to become.  It is as if it puts blinders on the true self.   Just eliminating the fear does not guarantee that the true self is going to be discovered.   The true self is opposite to the fear and it always acts in a beneficial way in the world.  It is always a higher self doing positive things to bring about positive change.  EMDR, somatic therapy, and NLP all have fast methods for eliminating fear, but what does it do to a war veteran.   A person goes to war, is under intense hyper-vigilance always in a state of the fear of being killed.   So they go to an EMDR clinician and the fear and hyper-vigilance go away.   What did they miss?   What they missed was that embedded in the fear was a part of themselves that they were supposed to become, but now are going to put aside.   Who they were supposed to be is a person who creates peace in the world.   It is as obvious as the midday sun.  A person who goes to war knows its horrors.  The reason they are traumatized is because war is essentially immoral.    After the fear goes away, then the real therapy begins.   How do I become a person that creates peace in the world?  It is so much more therapeutically complex than the elimination of PTSD.  How do you actively participate in a process that brings together a Jew and a Muslim?

If you are person who has been overpowered by abuse, it means that you are supposed to help those who have been overpowered to become empowered in a positive way.

5 Keys to Having an Amazing Inner Life

Have you ever noticed how many books in the self-help sections of book stores and how many articles in magazines start with a number.   Who knows really how many keys there are to having an amazing inner life?  There are probably at least a billion and that would just be a start.    I am going to use 5 so you as the reader don’t tire and you know when you are coming to the end, but make no mistake about it.  I don’t have the slightest idea about how many keys there are.  I am sure the number is infinite because it is an infinite world.

  1.  If you are a man and you are reading this article, you are so far behind almost every woman on the planet by virtue of having to grow up in a culture of Neanderthals, that you practically have no chance of catching up.  The average man’s range of emotional feeling inside can be summarized in these three words, sad, glad, mad, while most women can probably name 100 emotions.   As men we are taught the method of “white knuckling” negative emotions which means that you never talk about them or deal with them.  You just tense up and push them down.   When white knuckling doesn’t work anymore, we go to the pub.  Then we create a culture around the pub that gives us permission to not deal with the inner world.  Craft beer makes it seem like you are doing art when really you just are just white knuckling.  Women are much freer to express emotions and work on them as they wish.    If you are a man and can just add the phrase “I am feeling fear” into your repertoire of comfortable things to say,  then you have made a good start to a great inner life because naming the negative emotions is where everything begins.  Even if you only say it to yourself, it is good beginning.  If you are a woman and you are using the white knuckling approach,  it means that somehow inwardly you have given up being a woman to become a man.  Big trouble!!!
  2.  If you hear voices or see strange figures or feel weird vibrations when you enter a room,  you don’t have to believe that you are schizophrenic or try to shut them off.  Contrary to a lot of methodology that is practiced with meditation,  the goal of learning how to quiet yourself on the inside is so that you can see and hear and feel the inner world.    The negative things that you are quieting are like inner voices that shut out the positive.   The goal for me has never been to turn off the negative voices or pictures in the beginning.  The goal is transforming the negative voices and pictures to positive ones.    Going to a silent retreat and expecting to get some kind of tranquility is expecting a lot.  Tranquility comes when you love what is happening on the inside.
  3. Prayer without meditation is like trying to call your friend for help but just talking all the time or telling your friend all of your problems and asking for help and then hanging up.  Meditation is the process of asking a question on the inside and then listening for an answer. Sometimes it takes awhile to get an answer.
  4. The next world and the souls in it are closer to you than you can imagine.  They are actually waiting to help you out if you ask them.   It helps if you can be aware when they are around.   If you don’t believe in the next world, which is true for a lot of people, then you can call on positive energy to help you which is really effective.  For instance, if you need to be more discerning because you are taken advantage of easily, then call of the energy of discernment to help you.  As you do it you can gradually learn how to be more discerning.
  5.  When darkness pervades your life, the goal is not to rid yourself of the darkness.  The goal is to find the differentiation of the light that is trying to break through the dark areas.   Spiritual energy is one like the light of the sun, but when it goes through the prism of the human world, it is differentiated into qualities like courage, honesty, peacefulness, love, compassion, and generosity.   Each quality emanates from the same one spiritual source, but we need the differentiation to give light to various aspects of our lives.   The qualities are like prescriptions to make each part of our lives much more effective.   To have a great inner life you should always have one of the qualities that you are working on.  In this way your life improves each day.   Never start a day without knowing what you are going to be working on developing inside.

The Challenge of Being an Introvert in an Extroverted Culture

When I grew up in America in the 1950s-60s, it was pretty obvious to me when I entered school that the really strong part of me that was introverted was not valued or encouraged in any way.   Really I remember being really comfortable with myself before entering school and then suddenly being overwhelmed with needing to be an extrovert. American culture is about being an extrovert and not an introvert.    My stronger nature was to be very calm and go into the internal world, but the pressure of the culture was always be more extroverted.   I should have had meditation classes, but instead, when I wouldn’t talk to people, I was labeled shy.   If the opposite were true, then I would have been ok while the extroverts would have been labeled loud and rude which is how Americans are usually perceived in many other cultures.

It wasn’t until I first landed in a different culture, a First Nations Reserve in Alberta, Canada, that I felt validated for being able to easily go into the inner world.   It is place that is easy for me to go to.  I can spend long hours there easily with no problem.  And it is not like I don’t like the outer world.   I love doing a lot of things with others.   I am not saying that one is better than the other, nor am I saying that you can give the excuse of not being social because you are introverted or not being calm and reflective because you are an extrovert.  Life requires big doses of both, but I think that in America it is much harder to be an introvert than an extrovert.   And I think that this has something to do with the cultural fear about going inside and exploring the inner world.   I cannot usually talk to too many people about what I can do in the inner world.  I have to hold back about what I share because many people automatically are very resistant to it, a little bit like you are anti-religious or anti-American.

I am really not aiming this post at extroverts.  I love you guys because you make life fun and enjoyable.  I appreciate you for that.   I am hoping to reach a few introverts who have extraordinary inner powers that no one is going to teach you about at home or in school, that you may even feel are wrong or demonic.  The inner world is waiting.

In the next post I will discuss the dynamics of going inward with some easy tips.

Why the American Dream is a Big Fat Lie: Making it Little

The title of this post may sound like it is a rant.   It is not intended to be one.   When I was thinking about it,  I started doing some statistical work, mainly on the number of people who start out with a dream and then the actual number who get to it.  In the U.S. the percentage of high school football players who make it to the pros is something like 0.09%.   Of those who actually play regularly the percentage is probably lower.   In Canada in one university of the 5000 applicants who were qualified for medical school  only 194 were accepted.  That is about 1 out of every 25 qualified applicants.   It got me thinking about the American Dream which says something like if you work hard and do the right things, that you can do and become whatever you put your mind to.  I started thinking about 10,000 American boys who loved football, probably had the dream of the pros, worked hard and did all of the right things, but didn’t make it or the 4,806 medical school applicants who worked incessantly to get to the goal, but were not allowed in.   And then it stared me in the face.  The American Dream is a Big Fat Lie.   It isn’t true.

So if it so obviously not true from the data,  why are bookstores full of stories about the 1 person who did make it, and not about the 99,997 who didn’t.  Why are we so obsessed about believing something that is so NOT true?    It is an interesting question and a great book title.  “How We Didn’t Make it Big?”    So what happens to the 99,997 when they don’t make it big?    This is what happens.   They become part of the machine that feeds the few of the ones who make it big.   We love the story of making it big, but there is an ugliness about it that maybe we collectively don’t want to look at.  There is a dark place where we don’t want to go.  At least some people don’t want you to go there.  No one is writing about us.   I was one of the 99,997.  I even got to the next level which was college football, but something turned me when I got to that level that has helped me change my pattern of living ever since.   There was an ugliness in university that didn’t exist in high school.  It was if I was feeding a machine.   The machine had trained me well to work extremely hard, to have workaholic habits.   Really and truly I was going after the dream.  Then one day it stared me in the face, the dark truth.   “There is nothing in this experience that I doing, trying to make in Div. 1 American football that had anything to do with me.”

For some reason I felt it, began to name it, and then left for what turned out to be extraordinarily more rewarding for the rest of my sporting days which continues until the present, intramural sports.   I played lacrosse, squash, and a little rugby.   I made it LITTLE.   It was a 100 times more rewarding to play intramural lacrosse than to try to play Div. 1 intercollegiate sport.

For some reason something woke me up and told me that making it Little was so much better than making it Big.   Something told me as early as 1968 that if I try to make it Big, I will lose myself entirely.     Trying to make it big by following the American Dream teaches you from a young age to work really hard so that you can make it to the top.  What they don’t tell you is that the real goal is train you to work hard so that you become a slave to those who are already at the top.   This is the dirty truth.  I hope it doesn’t sound like I am angry or ranting.  I am not.    In 1968 I began the opting out of the American Dream process.  It wasn’t an all-at-once experience.  I did it gradually over time.   It didn’t mean that I completely opted out of reality like the hippies did at the time.   I knew that there were realities about life that i couldn’t deny like how to make a living.    The dirty truth is that the people at the top don’t really want you to make it to the top because they want it for themselves.   They allow a few people into the club because it gives the illusion that if you work hard, you can make it.   Then they write about those people as if they are some kind of heroic figures.    On occasion someone who knows how to work hard sees that it is all a dirty game of cheating, figures out the rules of cheating really well, and makes it up there pretending like it was all hard work.   His name is Lance Armstrong.  He played dirty for sure, but for every single Lance that is caught, there are thousands more playing his game that are not caught.   I am sure that if he were really honest, he would just say that his problem was that he got caught, not that he was cheating.   Nor everyone at the top cheats, but the American Dream is a culture of cheating that convinces people that working hard will get you to the top.  Lance Armstrong just realized that the American Dream wasn’t true.   Does it make him less guilty? No.   He just wanted to be part of the club. Most of us want into that club.   I could see why they wouldn’t let him into bike racing after the scandal, but he was also banned from every other kind of sanction racing even when he didn’t have a chance of winning.   That just tells me that we want him to be a scapegoat so that we don’t have to the let go of the illusion of the American Dream.

How do you opt out and maintain yourself without going broke?    It is the big question.  I don’t have all of the answers.   I wish I did.     When you opt in to the American Dream, it is an automatic ticket to losing yourself.  It is how the system works. Opting out, but having to make a living, allows you to make choices other than how to get to the top.   It allows you to make decisions on how you can be more beneficial to your family and your community.   It helps you to pursue courses of action that actual give results rather than working for organizations that are looking for material gain only.

In the end it helps you to get results that are extremely satisfying and rewarding to the lives of others.  Time to think little and make it little.


The Problem with the Way Most of Us Set Goals and Go for Visions

I have been doing a lot of work recently in my counseling sessions with various people who are having difficulty achieving what they really want to do in their lives.   One of the things that I have discovered is very revealing about the process.   Most of what I have read in the past about goal setting and envisioning emphasizes the aspect of clarity about the future targets.   You are supposed to see what you want to do as clearly as possible and then go for it.   While there are issues around questionable goals using this process, such as in the way you acquire financial wealth,  for the most part it is a sound process.  The problem is often not in the goal and its clarity.

The bigger issue is the “me” that it is trying to achieve the vision.   So here is the problem.   The vision or the goal that I have set is one thing, but the me who can actually achieve the goal is not yet living in the real world.   I can set a big vision, but can the person who I currently am achieve it?  Often the answer is no.   It turns out that achieving a goal is not often about what the goal is, but more a question of who do I have to be to accomplish it.   Who I need to be is often wanting.

The process of achieving the what, the specific target, is mainly about the degree of clarity along with the appropriate action to get there, but the process of developing the who is not so much about clarity, but about understanding how the person who can get to the target actually does the work.    It doesn’t do much good to go after a goal like doing abstract art until you can understand the state of mind and being that an painter is in when they paint.    When you have uncovered the patterns of the mind that do the activities to get to the goal, then it is relatively easily to begin doing the new patterns. You cannot  become an abstract painter when you are not in the correct state of mind, when you don’t answer the who.   Who is a person when they do abstract painting?

What further complicates the process is the limitation of not believing that being a certain type of person is possible.    You will hear people even from a very young age making self limiting statements like I am not the kind of person who……    It is a way of saying no to doing new types of activities and protecting yourself from failure.

The more helpful process at the beginning stage of doing the goal related behavior is to not jump into identity beliefs immediately such as feeling like you have to be Picasso,  but rather to explore questions about what is the state of mind that someone like Picasso is in when they do their art.    What is the state of mind that you need in order to run a marathon or fix the plumbing or sing in public?     Each person, the runner, the plumber, and the singer has a unique state of mind that allows them to do what they do.  When you can discover what they do in their minds, then you can start achieving the goals you set related to a specific area.

As a therapist for instance,  I have the ability to internally walk side by side with a person as they are exploring their own version of their own hell.   It is like  I am holding hands with them through hell.    I actually get excited when I am in there with them because I know it is going to be where I find the answers to unlock the positive potentials in them.    When I get to the darkest places, I get really joyful.   I am with them so that they don’t get totally into a dysfunctional state.    My excitement lets them know that it is ok.

So when you are thinking about a goal like planting a garden or learning a new instrument the starting place is with who do you need to be to plant a garden and what is the best state of mind to achieve that goal.   Ask someone who is good at it how they do it.

Using Your Dreams to Monitor the Intensity of Your Physical Activity

In the previous post about what kind of physical activity you can do when dealing with trauma I introduced the concepts of low intensity and high intensity exercise emphasizing the importance of low intensity work when you are in first working with your trauma.   In this post I am going to show how to use your dreams to help monitor the way you do physical activity.

The general rule is that the worst the dream is in terms of its content the lower the intensity of exercise you should be doing.   What happens to most people when they have a nightmare, for instance, is that the nightmare wakes them up, and then they are left with a huge amount of fear in their mind as well as negative emotion in their body usually in the form of tension.   The worse the nightmare, the longer the negative energy will stay in the body and mind.   If you have done the work I have recommended in Dreamwork: Module 1 (,  you will see that the goal isn’t to forget the nightmare or suddenly let go of the fear.    The goal is use the nightmare as a springboard for your own transformation.   When you have a nightmare, the goal of the exercise is to dissipate the excess tension which will calm the fear enough so you can work with it.   You need very long walks.   When you do a yoga or stretching position, you need to approach where the stress is in your body, and gently hold it without forcing yourself through the stressed area.   This also dissipates, but keeps you mindful of the fear.   At the same time that you do the long walks you need a huge amount of processing.   The more the fear the more the processing because the nightmare is the signal that you are at the beginning of a process of unleashing new potential.

The danger of a nightmare is the desire to forget it.  This is absolutely the worst thing you can do.   The tendency for a lot of people is to do really high intensity hard work when they have a nightmare or big fear because it allows you to temporarily forget the nightmare.   The nightmare goes away with really hard work, but after some time it comes back with a vengeance.   This is where you see professional athletes break down. They repeated go to high intensity hard work without processing.

If you are generally emotionally stable or have already done a lot of trauma work, then the day after a nightmare is  a good one to suspend training and  do a lot of meditation and walking.   A long walk in the forest followed by journaling is ideal.   Always feel free to send me your dreams and I will be happy to give you some feedback.  Counseling work is all the better.

A person coming back from a prolonged nightmare like war should not do any intensive exercise at least until the nightmares of war have ceased.   Recurring nightmares put you in recurring fear.   You need low intensity exercise to dissipate tension and then a lot of therapeutic work to convince the mind that it is no longer in danger.   War like conditions which are the same as childhood or adult abuse take a fair amount of work because the mind has such a hard time letting go of believing it is not at war even when it is in a peaceful surrounding.

If you are relatively healthy and you are doing inner work to change yourself, there will come a stage when the dreams will change from all negative to a mix of negative and positive.   This lets you know that you are on the right path, that the change is happening.     At this point you can have a mix of high, low, and medium intensity workouts.   The danger, when you are in this stage, is to think that because the high levels of stress and tension have left your body, that you still shouldn’t process.  This would be a huge mistake.   You should do the processing in inverse proportion to the exercise.   On low intensity days you do high amounts of processing and I on high intensity days you do less processing.     Remember that the purpose of high intensity exercise is to forget pain which is good when you can handle a challenge, but at this stage you still have work to do before the new potential is in place and becomes habitual.

The last stage of development is the challenge stage where the dreams are mostly positive.   At this stage you can just take the energy and really challenge yourself in the outer world.  This is a good time to go after a big physical goal that requires a lot of work.   In this stage forgetting is a good thing because you are forgetting or letting go of your old patterns and using the new ones habitually.

What if you don’t remember any dreams at all.  This means that whatever happened to you in the past doesn’t want to be remembered at all.   The way to get to the memory of the nightmare in your life is to do very short periods of high intensity exercise.  The challenge you put your body through will begin to wake up the memory of the trauma, but you need to have counseling services on hand because it will be intensive inner work that you need. At the point when do the intensity, you are going to meet some bad stuff.  There are supplements you can take that will assist the memory as well.  Just have the help on hand.

Going through the stages example.

Let’s say that you are a person who is moving from being cold and overly rational to warm and loving.   When you do the walking part (low intensity), you can begin to dissipate tension associated with being warm and loving.   The tension is going to be some kind of intense fear of being abandoned.   This is pretty universal for some cultures like northern Europeans.  You will always end up in your dreams feeling afraid and alone.  As you come to grips with abandonment you begin to find closeness with your true self and others.    At this point the intensity of work can be introduced.  Your dreams will have less alone feelings and more positive emotions around being together with others.   Over a period of time you can continue to process until the level of loving and warm feelings inside have reached a point where you can start to include all kinds of diverse people into your life.   At the point when you are ready for high levels of diversity because of the progress with closeness then you can also push the physical challenge.   The physical and social challenge will be matched and the dreams will be positive.

Just about the time you are feeling great about the warmth and loving progress in your life that you have made, then a new set of capacities will want to evolve in you.  That is just the nature of being a human being.  The dreams will start back at the nightmare stage.  When you think the growth process is over, bam, a new one strikes.   The difference between this set of dreams and the last ones, when you first started nightmare work, is that you already have a memory of how to work through a process.    So for exercising you don’t have stop the challenges set in the previous stage, but you still have to do the processing.     Whenever i have a really negative dream I make it a point to take a really long walk and then give myself a long time to process the dream.   The best money you will ever spend in your entire life when dealing with a nightmare is some hours in counseling with someone who knows what they are doing.    Better yet if they give you ideas on how to exercise while you are processing.  In the old paradigm counseling was seen for weak people.  It had a sense of shame to it. It meant that you couldn’t tough it out.

How to Use Physical Exercise to Deal with Emotional Trauma

I am writing this article purely from my own experience and observations and not from a more rigorous scientific point of view, but I am sure that you will see the logic and common sense behind what I am suggesting.   Healing from trauma to a large degree is achieved by long periods of sustained inner work.   It requires having to face some pretty awful stuff on a daily basis without running from it.

If you watch certain professional athletes the way they fall apart emotionally in high pressure situations,  it should be obvious that they need time off to heal their childhood traumas before returning to high intensity training.   High intensity work, which seems to be something of a fad to lose weight right now, is about the worst possible thing you can do when healing a trauma.    If you watch a professional athlete’s temperament under pressure,  you can see the ones who have suffered childhood trauma.  You can almost predict the timing of their next injury.  And the nonsense of a show like the “Biggest Loser” shows just how little we know about healing as a culture.   A person with huge obesity obviously has childhood trauma, so sure they can go ahead and lose a lot of weight quickly,  but it is going to come back just as fast unless the emotional healing work is done in a sustained way over a considerable period.

What does high intensity work do?    It shuts off the mind completely so that you will learn how to forget the pain.   It is what the Navy Seals do so that when they go into combat they will not feel pain.  When you are healing, you don’t want your mind to shut off and forget pain.   You want the opposite.   You want to be able to have access to the pain rather than forgetting it.   Trying to forget your emotional pain is what obese people when they obsessively eat.

The kind of environment you need to heal childhood trauma is one where you can constantly look at your pain without it getting the best of you.   It is usually done with a lot of supportive and competent people who know what they are doing in the healing process.

What kind of exercise do you need?   You need low intensity exercise that you can sustain for a long time, and you need to avoid competitive situations until the healing cycle is complete.  Low intensity is exactly what the therapeutic community is doing to heal the trauma.   They keep you safe and calm, but really focused and alert.  What does that look like?   Usually people start with walking.   Walking is good because it raises the heart rate to a degree and as you are moving you are still able to process while at the same time dissipating the build up of negative energy in your body.   As your body strengthens you can add elevation and speed, but you can not sacrifice distance and time.   Repeated 100 meter sprints will teach you to forget the pain and throw you right out of process.    Walking or running will allow you to keep the pain and process it, but at the same time let go of the toxic build up in your body from the trauma patterns.   If you can talk and process while you are running with a partner, for instance, then you are doing something positive for yourself.   If you are just training at fast speeds to compete, then you are throwing yourself out of the healing mode.  It is not bad that you do performance training, but not when you are doing trauma work.

With other types of exercise like strength work it should be with low weights and a lot of reps. Holding yoga positions in a comfortable positions for a long time could also be beneficial.    You can use yoga and strength work to help heal, but you need a qualified person to take you through where you are weak and frozen in your body so that you can process the emotional pain as it happens.   You probably shouldn’t play team sports in competitive situations until the trauma is healed to a large degree.

Don’t look at anything to do with weight loss until you have done the trauma work.  It will be fruitless and will make your body worse.

Please feel free to add what you have found helpful while you were healing in the comment section or it you disagree wildly.