The Power of Personal Responsibility

March 15, 2017

“With great power comes great responsibility.” –Unknown

“With great responsibility comes great power.” –Ven

What’s the difference between a victim of circumstances and an overcomer of them?

Responsibility. Personal responsibility. The victim avoids owning up to his or her contribution to an experience, but the overcomer does not. An overcomer not only “owns up to,” but also owns his or her experiences, rather than attempting to avoid responsibility for them.

It may well be that the person in question had little or nothing to do with the actions that led immediately to the painful event. It may be that the person was an “innocent bystander.”

No matter what the circumstances were–however little you think you had to do with the event–you will never be able to get over it and move on until you realize and accept your own responsibility to deal with the reality of it: its results, the broken pieces, the outcome.

A man standing on a curb who gets wiped out by a speeding car might not have caused the accident (although he was, after all, standing by the road), but he now has to deal with the results of the accident: the injury. No one’s body can heal but his own. No person can feel the agony but himself. He might try to avoid the pain and ignore the injury–maybe by overusing addictive drugs–but in the end, if he wants to heal as well and completely as possible, he will have to take responsibility for his own recovery.

Responsibility brings power. Avoiding responsibility brings victimhood (lack of power).

Why is “power” important, in the sense that I’m using it here?

Power is the difference between a victim of life and an overcomer of life. Power, in this sense, doesn’t mean the Naricssistic ability to harm or control others. It doesn’t mean the stoic ability to not let life affect you in negative ways. POWER means the ability to roll with the punches of life without getting stuck or bogged down in its frequent difficult situations.

Like Mark Twain said,

“Life is just one damn thing after another.”

What shall the “damn things” of life do to you? Shall they make you or shall they break you? Will you rise and accept and learn and grow from (even unwanted) experiences, or will you cower and succumb to their undying onslaught?

Aside from those situations when we seem to be innocent victims of circumstance, as adults we are perhaps far more often participants in the creation of situations that cause us to suffer. It’s very common among us (and even acceptable!) to shift blame (to deny or avoid responsibility).

“What, you’re 40 and you can’t read? Can’t swim? Can’t play music? Aw, fie on those foul fiends who have done you harm for no reason! You can never be better! You can never learn! You can never grow! You have to suffer NOW because of something somebody else did to you long ago. You are doomed to bear it for all your days; you must wait for someone else to free you from your pain; you cannot unburden yourself because you didn’t put the load there.”

Bullshit. We all have the power to unload pain from past experiences. We might not have placed the load there, but we certainly have the ability to remove it from our own shoulders. More often than not, we did help to create the circumstances that put the load there–but even when we didn’t, if we want to heal we have to act as though we DID.

We can pretend not to have responsibility for our own lives, but that doesn’t relieve us of having to live the consequences of our experiences anyway.

We are the ones living our lives. We are powerful, whether we know it or not. But our power is hidden, blunted, sabotaged. We are blind to what we are missing. We cannot see that we have to own our experiences if we wish to move on and live better. This gives us back our power–or, rather, it lets us see the power we already have but have been denying to ourselves.

We have to accept responsibility for our part in creating our experiences, and for the consequences of events that befall us–ALL of them. This is the only way not to be a victim of life, in life, for life.

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How Experience Can Reveal Inner Psyche-Wounds

April 6, 2016

There is a pattern in my life that has reached ever more deeply into my psyche:

Painful experience NOW exposes hidden inner wounds, and when the inner pain is released, a “lost” part of the self is regained and rejoined to the personality, which becomes more whole–more “myself”.

In my case, there was an unusual (I think) wound to my psyche, related to my mother being a teenager in a wheelchair when I was little.  The wound was necessary at the time, for my own safety, but when I got older it became poison to my Male-Female relationships.

This is because the wound had to do with my first experience with the Female.  I did not, and could not, see this until after many years of repeated painful experiences uncovered it and I was able to deal with it.  Until then, I was repeatedly re-living the old drama from diaper days, trying with the Female (in her various expressions as women) to “do it right”–THIS time.

Or THIS time.  Or THIS time…

The psyche-wounds instilled in us when we’re that young (less than one year old, in this case) don’t just go away.  As we live on, experiences get layered over them, and these wounds just get buried–forgotten, but not GONE.  We all have wounds in our psyches that have been lying, buried, for years or decades under subsequent layers of experience (or, if you prefer, memory).

Experience is very much like precipitation that gathers in the inner world–the psyche–with the earlier sediment on the bottom and the later sediment on top, where NOW occurs.  This is why inner work is like digging or mining for…whatever one finds.

It’s important to understand that earlier experiences lie beneath later ones in the memory-aspect of the psyche. What this means is that we must deal with later wounds before we can uncover the earlier ones, just as we must dig downward–or inward–from the surface.  Later memory-experiences “sit on top of” earlier ones (of similar type!) and hide them from conscious view.

My own experience has proven this to me–in vivid, living detail!

These wounds negatively affect our later experiences–from BENEATH our awareness.  Some wounds are worse than others, but ALL of them affect us somehow.  The worse ones affect us (and people close to us!) more.  What we call “spirituality” or “personal growth” is, largely, the uncovering of these wounds and the releasing of the emotional pain, like pus, contained in them.

I’ve observed over the years that I can use my “NOW” experience to remove these “layers” and uncover the wounds hidden beneath them.  I only figured this out in my late 20s, and it’s taken more than 10 years of conscious experience to uncover this very deep and early wound–which was like a broken bone that had healed crooked–and fix it.

It was very much like a femur, as far as the inner structure of the self is concerned.  That’s how much it affected my daily life–as much as if I had a broken and crookedly-healed femur in my physical body.

Most of the wounds I’ve uncovered have NOT been like broken bones.  Most have been like abscesses that just needed to be lanced and drained.  This one was much more fundamental to the structure of my psyche because it was so early in my life and central to my psyche.

I do not have the ability to conscoiusly MANIPULATE my life experiences in order to aid self-discovery.  In other words, I DIDN’T DO IT MYSELF!  “Life” did it, through my living it with my eyes open.  Even if I had tried, I wouldn’t have known what to uncover, or what experiences would be required to do so!

“Hidden” ain’t just a word.  It means INVISIBLE to the conscious awareness–part of the inner “darkness” that conscious living reveals.

In my experience, PAIN uncovers these inner wounds.  When I experience a painful event NOW, it relates to a painful wound in my psyche, as if the experience NOW were necessary to bring that inner wound to the surface where I can finally SEE it and deal with it.

It has taken 25 years of painful experience in Male-Female relationships to uncover the wound that was infecting them, and I literally have never been in touch with, or able to use–or conscious of!–this very central part of myself that has just recently returned to me since I lost it in a very unintentional and maybe even necessary way nearly 40 years ago.

I have NO conscious memory of the experience that caused this original inner “break”–but I know how it FELT, because I felt it again on January 12, 2014.  More correctly, I felt what I had NOT felt back then, for whatever reason.  It was the remainder or residue of the emotion–the part that had not been felt and expressed completely at that time.)

It seems that, if I had felt and expressed it in its totality when it happened, the residue would not have been left to infect my future relationships.  Another way to put it is that my inner “femur” would not have been broken…and stayed that way until Narcissistic abuse uncovered it and brought it to the surface.


The Moment Narcissistic Abuse Finally “Broke” My Codependency

March 30, 2016

I’m posting this here for future reference, and for others who wish to know more about healing from core trauma and releasing emotional baggage from past painful experience, which we all have.

I have a lot of experience doing this, and I’ve written much from the aftermath of these healing releases, but not a whole lot from within them. 

This was the first time that I wrote publicly, IMMEDIATELY before and after having one.  (In case you’re wondering, this just felt right, genuine, and authentic to do.)

As I felt it coming, I wrote the following as a status update.  This was January 12, 2014:

I look to the near future with trembling and anticipation,

for I feel that a great reckoning is about to transpire

as the deep past wells up within, seeking release

and, in the process, granting freedom at last

from yet one more barricade to the Soul.

I had the feeling all day that I needed a song to take me back in memory/feeling to my earliest childhood, before the toddler years, to “contact” what I was feeling near the surface, but I couldn’t think of a song early enough and meaningful enough to do so.  A few minutes after posting the status update above, I was walking in the yard when the song suddenly hit me:

“Kumbaya”, the song my teenage mother used to sing to me as I slept in her arms as a baby.

I stopped in my tracks, giving this thought my attention, and feeling around inside myself.  The thought immediately brought tears and grimacing, so I knew the moment was close.  I dropped to my knees right there and waited for it to come.  (In these moments, nothing is more important.)  It didn’t come all the way out–didn’t go deep enough–so I got up, put my dog in his pen, and took the next step.

I went inside and looked on YouTube for a woman’s voice singing “Kumbaya” without music.  NO LUCK.  So I thought of my grandmother–my mom’s mom–singing it in her sweet voice.  That started to “poke the bubble,” bringing more tears, but it wasn’t enough to pop the bubble.  I thought of calling her and asking her to sing it (since my mom is dead), but that wasn’t really an option.

So the thought came to me: You’ll have to sing it to yourself. 

I didn’t like the idea, but I accepted it and decided to do it.  I never got to the words, though.  Having to sing a lullaby to myself brought an extremely pitiful, lonely feeling and that in itself popped the bubble.  The pain bubbled up immediately.

I surrendered and gave myself over to it, and it had its way with me.  For about 20 minutes I became, emotionally, myself as a baby again.

Mentally, I was still my adult self, and from the vantage point of my present adult mind I watched and managed the experience–as I had not done, and could not have done, when I “acquired” the pain as a small child.  This is key to understanding the experience.

Deep release occurred here.  As it subsided, I wrote these comments:

For some things, the only cure is to feel deep inner anguish–your own, not somebody else’s.

Do not ever stop your baby from crying.  Or your child, or your sweetheart…or yourself.

[Here, my friend Alice posted: Yes. Sit with it. Lean into it. Feel it. Acknowledge it. Give it regard. Then, let it go.  And cry a river! I continued:]

And cough, yell, scream, vomit, grimace, clench, grit, growl, snot, and run completely out of breath getting it out.

Ever see an infant cry so hard you think they’ve stopped breathing, and then they inhale and cry even harder, shaking uncontrollably?

Like that. Cry to the heavens for cursing you, feel regret for being born in this dirty, corrupt, filthy, broken place, only to suffer.

FEEL this, don’t think it! Surrender to it, let it topple you, let it bring you to your knees! Claw the earth, the floor, grab the carpet in your fists, beat the ground with rage for the injustice life has dealt you.

None of this is NOW, but it’s happening NOW. It’s happening NOW because it didn’t happen THEN, years ago, decades ago, when then was NOW and your mama was still a girl singing “Kumbaya” to you as you slept in her arms, when the whole cruel world could–and DID–do to you whatever it wished.

THAT is how to cry. THAT is the way to freedom. THAT is how to break free from the past, from pain, from heartbreak, from addiction, from regret, from depression.

THAT is what I want the world to know. On the other side of THAT…is freedom, the only freedom that matters–freedom to be yourself again.

Weeping like a pansy has done me very little good in my life. Regurgitating evil from within my core has done wonders…

and when laughter comes afterward,

it comes from a deeper well than before,

and it echoes mightier within.

 

(Originally written in January 2014 and titled “Notes on an Experience of Deep Emotional Release and Healing”)


7 Signs That “Radical Acceptance” May Be the Next Step in Your Recovery from Narcissistic Abuse

March 11, 2016

According to many therapists and psychologists, a healthy, functional long-term relationship just isn’t possible when one partner suffers from a “Cluster-B” personality disorder.

In other words, you cannot have a healthy, functional relationship with someone who is incapable of having a healthy, functional relationship. If you’re the partner of a disordered person, it’s not even up to you!

It’s not within your power to change another adult’s personality.

Narcissistic abuse is a freqent outcome of trying to have a healthy, functional relationship with a personality-disordered person over a long time. It’s a disordered person’s reaction to having a close relationship.

One of the first steps in recovery is “radical acceptance” of the reality of the situation.

Unfortunately, “radical acceptance” is often misunderstood—and, therefore, misapplied. This confusion can hinder recovery and unnecessarily prolong or even worsen the abuse.

Before someone else’s apparent inner condition can be “radically accepted,” though, the nature of that condition has to be understood to some degree. While a professional diagnosis is probably the most reliable and accurate way to identify a personality disorder, studies show that the vast majority of disordered people are never diagnosed.

In the absence of a diagnosis, then, a relationship partner is frequently left to his or her own judgment. Here are a few signs that I’ve identified as indicators that a relationship partner might have a personality disorder.

1. You find yourself explaining their own behavior to them. You might say, “Why in the world would you think that’s okay?” They seem not to understand why what they’re doing doesn’t work, why it’s hurtful, or why grown-ups don’t act that way. You feel like a parent with an overgrown, disobedient, rageful child who never seems to learn how to “act right”—or even why it matters.

2. You find yourself explaining logical reasoning to them. You might say, “No, this isn’t true. If this isn’t true, then that can’t be true, either!” They accuse you of wrongdoing, based on how they feel or because of some unrelated event. They ask questions out of the blue about your whereabouts or activities, which seem to have no bearing on your actual life. Then they might condemn your truthful explanation as suspicious. In an argument, they form illogical or emotion-based conclusions that end the conversation—defying rational debate, leaving you frustrated and speechless.

3. You find yourself arguing with them about what really happened. You might say, “No, that’s not at all how it went. I was there!” Even if you were present to see some event, their recollection of it is wildly different from yours. When challenged on their memory of it, they may react defensively and accuse you of lying about it. They might even accuse you of making them doubt their own memory, as if you were deliberately trying to brainwash them. (This is projection, since it’s what they actually do to you on a daily basis.)

4. You find yourself defending your own character or intentions. You might say, “How do you not know me better than that?” You find yourself being questioned when you do something completely innocent, or with the best intentions. You might even be accused of some sinister ulterior motive for, let’s say, moving the salt shaker to the other side of the table. It’s as if you were being observed constantly under a microscope with a cracked lens. It feels like continually being painted in the worst light possible, suspected for anything and everything, for reasons you don’t understand.

5. You find yourself re-hashing the same argument…again. You might say, “Why are we still talking about this? Didn’t we resolve it months ago?” Disordered people never seem to forget, move on, let go, or forgive (someone else’s) past mistakes. It’s as if wrongs (or perceived wrongs) that were (supposedly) done to them are done not just once. They’re done continually—on and on, over and over again, forever…in their minds. Their “suffering” never ends. There is no moving on. The past never recedes for long. It continually becomes the present, and it gets resurrected repeatedly during arguments. On the other hand…

6. They immediately forget wrongs that THEY have done. They might say (about something that happened literally yesterday), “Why are you bringing that up? That’s the past! I thought we were moving forward!” Then you’re made out as if you hold every little mistake over his or her head. Double standards rule with disordered people. What applies to others and what applies to them are two different realms…and they’re the ones who decide.

7. They do even ONE horrible thing that “normal” people just don’t do. These actions are deal-breakers. They are definite signs that someone is just not worth being close to, and may be dangerous:

Killing your pet. Calling your workplace to sabotage your job. Calling the police on you for no reason. Accusing you publicly of something criminal, wrong, or embarrassing that you didn’t do. Lying about you in court. Telling your family that you abuse your (or your partner’s) children. Destroying, damaging, or dismantling your vehicle. Threatening to do any of these.

If this list sounds familiar, it may be time for some radical acceptance. This doesn’t mean “radically accepting” that you will forever be someone else’s emotional punching bag or toxic waste dump. It doesn’t mean “radically accepting” that you need to get better at walking on eggshells.

It means “radically accepting” that the person you’re close to IS the way that he or she is; that he or she may have a practically incurable personality disorder; that he or she likely will never change; that the relationship probably will never improve (and may get worse over time); and that it’s up to YOU to decide what YOU will do in (or out of) the relationship.

“Radically accepting” the reality of your situation may be the first step in ending and recovering from Narcissistic abuse. What you choose to do afterward is YOUR choice—and knowing this may be the most important healing step of all.


On Suffering and Healing

December 1, 2011

I want nothing more than to understand the best way to live my life, and to do my best to live it that way. This has been the driving desire of my life since I was a teenager. Much of my time since then has been spent in the pursuit of understanding, with the intention of living my life as well as possible—that is, as truly and correctly as possible.

What does that mean?

Is there some standard by which I am to conform, as I was taught to believe as a child? Is there a potential for growth (whatever that means) which I should try to achieve—some inner mold I should try to fill to capacity so that I’m fulfilled someday? Or am I truly to enjoy every moment as fully as possible, or perhaps simply to appreciate the gift of being alive, no matter the circumstances?

If so, to whom or what do I direct my appreciation, if anywhere?

I’m moving toward the idea that the ideal is acceptance of life events and circumstances, without fighting the often uncomfortable or painful changes that they bring. This does not imply a powerless attitude and submission to fate, but rather a shortening of the healing process by immediate acceptance of change.

Healing begins with the process of adjusting one’s thoughts to change: realigning one’s concept of reality with reality itself so that there is no conflict, no suffering.

It’s a strange fact that experiences often seem extremely intense and emotional while they’re happening, even though years later we can talk about them without feeling any emotion at all.

Why is this? 

Perhaps with time and experience we are able to put past events into a context and see how the events have affected our lives since then, which takes the “sting” out of the events after the fact. We see later that things weren’t as bad as they seemed at the time. This implies that, at the time we are going through a difficult situation, our negative reaction to the situation is caused by our fear of the possible negative effects that the situation will have on us, rather than by the situation itself.

In other words, in the present extreme circumstance we fear loss, harm, pain, or death—we suffer. Suffering means fearing the loss of our own survival potential, which includes our ability to enjoy our life, since our emotional state is intimately linked to our ability to survive and thrive.

Suffering is the mental and emotional state that results from our belief that we have lost, or will lose, something necessary to our survival potential and/or enjoyment of life.

Is it possible to experience every life event with the same lack of emotional involvement and attachment that we have years after the fact—that is, without suffering? If indeed we suffer because in the midst of difficult circumstances we fear losing our survival potential, and if our fear is itself a reduction in our future survival potential, then what good is suffering in the first place?

It isn’t rational.

Is there a way to thrive, meeting life openly, yet without suffering when difficult events happen? Is this even a desirable goal, or is the process of suffering and healing an integral part of the human experience? Is “suffering-and-healing” the essence of human life, or is it a major problem to be solved and prevented? Answering this question seems to be my next task in unloosing the threads that keep the secrets of life hidden from my view.

The Buddha already answered this question for himself, with his Four Noble Truths about suffering and his Eightfold Path that describes the way to end it. I intend to see if he was right.

(Written in 2008 and freshly edited on December 19, 2016.)

54 Principles of Emotional Healing

November 25, 2011

Emotion is energy, felt in the body and inner being as pain or pleasure.

Painful emotions include despair, shame, grief, and anger.

Pleasant emotions include courage, compassion, gratitude, and Love.

In this context:

  • Painful emotion, negative emotion, negative energy, negativity, emotional pain, and “evil” are the same thing.
  • Positive emotion, positive energy, emotional pleasure, and “goodness” are the same thing.
  • Emotional release is the expression and depletion of painful emotion (negativity) that results in a return to positive emotion (“goodness”).

The following principles can serve as a guideline for people who want to know how to heal from emotional pain and improve their ability to function in the world and in good relationships.

Emotional Pain and Negativity

1. Emotional pain splits and splinters the self and the person’s energy and focus, producing functional incompetence in life and harmful, destructive relationships.

2. Emotional pleasure results in personal power and mutually satisfying relationships.

3. All emotions are experienced (felt) through either repression or expression.

4. Positive emotion is transformed into negativity through repression.

5. Negativity is transformed into goodness through expression.

6. Emotional pleasure is a sign of healing: moving toward wholeness and unity with the True Self.

7. Emotional pain is a sign of self-splinteredness and the need for emotional healing.

8. Emotional harm is caused by negative emotion (negativity) in the person harming. It causes negativity in the person harmed.

9.  Emotional healing means releasing negative emotion from your being through expression. Positive emotion automatically replaces it.

10. Human history is the process of emotional healing—overcoming or releasing negative emotion (negativity) caused by harm.

11. Everyone (at this point in history) receives harm and negativity at some point in life.

12. Negativity came to you through someone else, who harmed you.

13. The negativity you got wasn’t the other person’s, either. They got it from someone else, who harmed them. And so on, back in time.

14. Negative events happen to you for a reason: you are helping to rid the world of evil by releasing the negativity someone else gave you instead of passing it on to others.

15. You are more powerful than any negativity.

16. With any emotion (positive or negative), you can either express (release) or repress (hold) it. These are your only options.

Repression

17. Repression is postponing the expression of (or, holding) your negative emotion.

18. Repression demands a lot of energy from you.

19. The pain you feel (in the background) when you repress negative emotion is not intense, but it can last a long time—even until death.

20. Repression affects every aspect of your life in a bad way, especially your most intimate relationships.

21. Repressed emotion causes or contributes to many physical ailments, including headaches, stomachaches, high blood pressure, sexual dysfunction, anxiety, and cancer.

22. Your emotional pain will last as long as you’re willing to expend energy repressing the emotion.

23. When the perceived cost of repression exceeds the perceived benefit, you will express (release) the negativity.  (This can be inconvenient.)

24. Repression leads to the spread of negativity through your actions.

25. Repression kills. Expression brings life.

Expression

26. Expressing an emotion is the same as feeling it completely, the way you didn’t when an event happened to you (or you wouldn’t be holding it now).

27. When you express an emotion fully, you release it from your inner being.

28. When you express (release) negative emotion, you are involved in the most human of experiences: emotional healing.

29. When you express an emotion fully, others can see the emotion by observing your actions.  You can’t hide it.

30. Expressing negative emotion stops the historic transfer of negativity (evil) and spares others from harm—that is, it keeps you from transferring your negativity to them by harming them.

31. The pain you feel when you release negativity is intense, but temporary.

32. With experience, emotional release gets easier and faster.

33. To release negativity completely, you have to relive (emotionally) the experience that brought it to you.  You do not have to remember the event, just feel the pain.

34. When you release negativity, positive emotion takes its place, letting you know that you did well.

35. Although intimacy facilitates emotional release, the release itself is private and personal.

Intimacy

36. The male and female creative principles are complementary aspects of (two “halves” of) the wholeness that resides at the core of our inner being.

37. The male and female creative principles long for unity together, in humans.

38. Intimacy is the closest that physical beings can come to re-claiming the unity of wholeness in the physical.

39. Intimacy is witnessing, and accepting, another person’s emotional pain and inner ugliness.

40. Acceptance is Love.

41. Intimacy is the highest calling of human relationships.

42. Intimacy creates the strongest bonds possible between two people (except possibly for motherhood).

43. Intimacy is the result of two people’s desire to achieve wholeness and emotional healing.

44. Intimacy and monogamy are not the same thing, and neither requires the other.  They are different worlds, which nevertheless can overlap.

45. The desire for wholeness and emotional healing is a result of sexual maturity (puberty).

46. Through intimacy, we watch ourselves and each other become weak—and then more powerful.

47. Intimacy is a powerful force against negativity. No negativity is stronger than Love, which intimacy can produce (indirectly).

48. Intimacy creates a safe environment that fosters emotional healing (releasing negativity), which results in growth toward wholeness.

49. Sex exists ultimately to produce intimacy. Reproduction is a convenient by-product and evolutionary mechanism.

50. Ideally, intimacy releases negativity before sex produces children. This spares them of the burden of their parents’ negativity.

51. When sex produces children before intimacy produces emotional healing, the children bear the burden of their parents’ unresolved negativity.

52. Negativity is a physical (outer) phenomenon. Intimacy is an inner phenomenon.

53. The inner is more powerful than the outer.

54. Emotional healing will one day eradicate negativity (“evil”) in the world.


How to Overcome Pain and Suffering

October 3, 2011

There is a way out of your pain and suffering.

Get by yourself and grieve. Cry until you can’t cry anymore. Yell and howl and curl up and pound the floor. Feel your pain completely. Again, be alone. Give yourself a lot of time alone to do this. Do it more than once if you have to. Sink until you hit bottom. Then something interesting will happen: you’ll start to come back up. I have good news for you! The bottom is solid.

It doesn’t matter what you do after doing this.  You’ll be better.


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