mindingmybiz

This blog is my shared process in working towards integrating self-awareness with all other aspects of life, while on my way to becoming more authentic and whole.

Archive for the category “spirituality”

Knowing Thy Self

Self-knowledge and wisdom go hand in hand. 

Being awake to what goes on inside of you helps you to sense your unique Self.  Having an unconscious relationship (or insecure attachment for those who understand attachment styles) to your Self creates internal isolation and suffering.

Developing Self-awareness that doesn’t feed off of (but notices) the mental chatter or judgment (the kind of evaluating which leads to either self-contempt or self-aggrandizing) will energize and stabilize you the more you practice this.

Feeding off from judgment (towards Self and others) will cause spiritual decay and death.  This happens when you are ignoring your inner world, which is a habit of the mind in a Self-abandoned state of consciousness.

The unexamined life is not worth living.

Socrates

And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will certainly die.”

Genesis 2:16-17
from:

On Morality & Love

There’s a story of a man named Simeon in the Bible (see Luke 2:25-35) who was described as being “righteous and devout”.

What does it mean exactly, to be righteous and devout? I’ve got my personal stereotypes and caricatures that portray someone who is “holy”, meaning a bit emotionally cold or stoic, conditionally approachable, not very down-to-earth or relatable, probably intelligent, sophisticated, and rather arrogant. That’s the best description of the image I find that initially emerges into conscious awareness.

Well according to how Jesus answered a teacher of the law, the highest form of morality can be boiled down to love (see Mark 12:29-31). Sequentially and specifically; loving God with your whole inner and integrated being. And then Jesus adds an addendum that seems inseparable to the first command (and that’s much easier to measure) – ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’

So, I think it’s safe to presume that being righteous and devout means loving an external, metaphysical, ethereal, abstract Being with YOUR whole internal, metaphysical, ethereal, abstract being – measured by an empirically validated and evidenced way – how you treat “your neighbor” as well as yourself.

It’s so simple that we don’t buy it and we often find ourselves adding on a multitude of “morality measurements” with countless other morality clauses than what Jesus added. Just love your neighbors as yourself, that’s hard enough. And your “neighbor” is something else to contemplate in the story of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10, which I won’t go into in this post.

So, the question I’m pondering here is this: How is mental health and development, factored into this command – to love so integratively in a way that it manifests with congruency with other people?

By all appearances and experiences of mine thus far I’m quite sure of this: being loving is not an inborn human trait. Being loving isn’t innately and independently present in human infants. I’ve given birth to and am raising 3 human souls, and I’ve watched them closely.

Now to be clear— being IN NEED of love, at birth and onward is inborn and innate. And when you form a secure attachment and nurture and protect your babies they coo, smile, and affectionately bond with you right back. It’s a beautiful circle of love. But it didn’t begin with the baby first loving me. It started with a baby who needed to be loved and cared for, FIRST.

The nature of the intimate dyad of human caregiving determines (although not exclusively) a great deal in how “loving” a person will eventually be, influenced by how much they themselves felt loved, or more specifically – securely attached.

“Loving” is not to be confused with merely how “nice”, “polite”, socially acceptable, or virtuous they appear in public. This is about way more than mere etiquette. Rather, it’s far more about how much they’ll be able to enjoy consensual and reciprocal vulnerability, authenticity, and work through the inevitable interpersonal conflicts with a selected few. In other words: healthy interpersonal relationships.

In an ideal world, humans would produce loving human beings – generation after generation. It doesn’t take much to see that we don’t live in an ideal world. Far from it.

So if children grow without enough of this kind of emotional secure attachment created within their earliest and formative interpersonal relationships, how can we expect them to give what they don’t have? For so many who didn’t, are we screwed? No. There is a path of healing and inner recovery. God is sensitively attuned to the broken-hearted, who hunger and thirst for righteousness. Just meditate on the Beatitudes in Matthew 5.

I believe humans are biologically wired to be moral creatures. When we are immoral, we suffer and often find ways to escape or find relief from suffering. To be clear again: We are innately moral creatures which means our biology is wired for thriving when we’re morally strong. And I hope I’ve made it clear enough by now that when I say “moral” I mean we’re biologically created to be loved and loving – this is how we’re morally biologically wired – for love, aka to need to give and receive secure emotional attachments. Possessing a familiarity of attachment styles in both childhood and adulthood is helpful to understanding where I’m coming from. Hopefully if you’re making a living within the mental health field or personal development arena, you’re more than a little familiar with the scientific literature on attachment styles and neurobiology. Hopefully.

I digress. Getting back to morality and love…

“We love because he first loved us.” 1 John 4:19

So, to those who perceive themselves as morally righteous, and therefore loving as described above – What is your detailed and coherent, autobiographical narrative that’s made sense of your adulthood in light of your childhood?

In all transparency, this is somewhat of a trick question. I’ve heard people saying they grew up with love and support from their parents, yet these same people are often times some of the quickest to criticize or judge others and are also some of the most emotionally cold or shallow people I know. To be sure, they are often very “nice”, “polite”, socially acceptable, and fluent in practicing social graces/etiquette. Yet, there seems to be a gaping hole, a sense of wtf-ness that’s hard to explain and even harder to convince them of.

Now of course, I could very well be totally off myself here. But the disjointed feeling I get in this wtf-ness experience is because I hear they consider themselves as lucky for growing up the way they did, and therefore they don’t “morally” struggle much. Yet at the same time, I observe that they find it very difficult, unvaluable, and unnecessary (if they even notice) to be emotionally vulnerable, authentic, and show capacity to work through interpersonal conflicts with their loved ones. It’s a head-scratcher for me.

This is the best I can come up with to try and explain the dissonance between morality and love, profoundly the kind of love from God, that pours out interpersonally. Unless you experience it yourself with God, it’s hard to explain to others.

There was a woman who was described in Luke 7:37 as “a woman in that town who lived a sinful life”. She wept on Jesus’ feet (portrays her as probably crawling on the floor in approaching and being next to Jesus) kissed his feet, then wiped his feet with her hair, and poured perfume from an alabaster jar.

To be loved and to love.

I think she gets it.

Intuitively.

Without explanation.

Her story might help shed light on this gaping hole for those who need an explanation. Jesus saw that Simon the Pharisee didn’t get it either.

“Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven – as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.”

Luke 7:44-47

How well you understand the love of God for yourself has much to do with how much you’ve experienced forgiveness from God. And if in your own self-estimation, you don’t have much to be forgiven for, you’ll find it hard to love others who do.

It boils down to compassion. If you don’t have much need for compassion from others, you won’t feel much compassion for others either.

If you’ve never felt much need for love from others, you likely won’t feel much love for others.

Superb Literature Messes With Me

I believe that the Bible contains within its page’s superb literature.  I think it’s superb because I no longer see it telling me what to think, rather it MAKES me think.  It MESSES with me.  It engages with me and I it, deeply and reflectively.  It is provocative literature.

For years now, off and on, I’ve been captivated by the story in Genesis 3, probably because I’ve always journaled this question “what’s wrong with me” ever since I was a teenager.  “Nothing is wrong with you other than that you think something is wrong with you” is the rebuttal.  Yet – that is a judgment that doesn’t completely resonate.  It sounds corrective and even enlightening, but there’s something amiss and dismissive about it.  The truth is, for as long as I can remember, I’ve always felt a subtle disquieted thing in my soul.  It’s hard to explain.  I wrote many pages trying to find out how it got there but the longer I seek insight and wrestle with this, the more I see that this is not a “me” phenomenon.  This is not a “Kristen” issue.  It’s not merely personal, it seems to be universal.  The ancients seemed haunted by this and wrote down a profound story to try and answer “what’s wrong with us?” – that is how I see Genesis 3 in a nutshell.  In other words, I’m not alone in this search.  The ancient ancestors echoed this.  Perhaps this is really a universal and human phenomenon.  This story beautifully illustrates something profound and relatable to me even though it’s a very ancient story.

Yesterday I asked God to help me become less and less offendable over time.  I thought about asking God to make me unoffendable and found several books on Amazon by Christians titled “Unoffendable” but I’m skeptical about the reality or implications of attaining that goal.  I rest in the opinion that only God is truly and purely unoffendable, and Jesus demonstrated this.  Yet for me, at least right now it boasts as too perfectionistic, and not very down to earth.  I see spiritual bypassing to attain that goal, at least for me.  Nonetheless, I’d like to become less easily offended.  I told God that I’m pretty hypocritical in this respect, I have a low tolerance level for people (especially those who are closest to me probably because they mirror certain aspects of my shadow) who are easily offended and take everything so damn personally and react by hiding this fact and lash out at me for their shit.  To be fair, I can admit that I do this too – but not as much as other people I can think of!  Maybe I’m wrong and I need to first look at the log in my own eye…“Why do you see the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye?  Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ while the log is in your own eye?  You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.”  – Matthew 7:3-5, NRSV   

I digress…irregardless, I told God and myself that I’m offended by how easily offended I am!

This morning these thoughts came… (I swear, I’m a bit obsessed with Genesis 3 again)…

Eating from the tree of knowledge of good and evil is about feeding off the narrative or getting my sense of self or identity or value from moral judgments about others including myself.  Moralizing the Self and others leads to polarizing the Self and others.  Having or possessing judgments versus them having or possessing me is a subtle but very important distinction.  Humility grows with practicing this distinction.


Judgements about good and evil present as “desirable knowledge” that will elevate me.  I do become a bit of a “God in my own image” as I feed my Self with moral judgements.  I forget that I am ummm, NOT GOD.  That role is not well fitted for me because when I take up this role unconsciously, blurred lines cross over into identity. Without humble conscious awareness, this creates relational ruptures within myself and others, to varying degrees. What is more useful is to focus more on judging what I can know to be true or false, for me. 

I cannot know for certain what is right or wrong for others because I cannot perceive for others, objectively.  I have a human bias, specifically I have a “Kristen bias” and you have a “(your name) bias”.  This isn’t “good or bad” but I do believe it is what is, which is truth – simply what is.  

I was listening to a Jordan Peterson podcast and Jonathan Haidt said something that has both struck me and stuck with me along similar lines of Genesis 3!  Mr. Haidt said that “Moralism messes everything up” when Jordan asked him to clarify what he meant by “moralism” Mr. Haidt said “Moralism is that if you look at things in a framework not of true versus false but of right versus wrong, bad versus good, once you put on that frame…Tyler Cowen has a quote somewhere in a Ted Talk he says ‘We think in stories but as soon as you interpret things in a good versus evil story, your IQ drops by 10-15 points’….Arguments become all out war…you lose touch with truth and your goal is to win and strangely you win in ways that alienate the person you are trying to persuade…making your case with moral grandstanding…”  

This really struck me as profound in light of the Genesis 3 story and the symbolic “tree of knowledge of good and evil”.  Today I am witness that eating from this tree creates many problems; the least is of polarization and alienation between intimates and every level of society.  When we receive our sense of identity, meaning, or value from our moral judgments/positions (eating from the tree of knowledge of good and evil), the environment for polarization is ripe. I suppose this is what Jonathan Haidt meant when he said “moralism messes everything up”. It’s not that having moral judgments is problematic, but rather – moralism is not merely possessing moral judgments, but being possessed by them – they are your source of life and identity and defending them starts to cause you to lose touch with a conscious state of what is true and what is false. And I would add what we don’t know is true or false, admitting that is admitting a kind of truth in itself which is ultimately what I’m coming to understand is humility. Owning and making peace with the truth of our human limitations with openness and acceptance is being in harmony with the truth. In contrast being offended and resistant to our limitations (humility) can lead to hiding from the truth within, and when we defend ourselves from owning our truths that we don’t like, there’s a self-rejection/denial that must be defended with something that is not so warm and sincere. This usually leads to being easily offended! Until we lean into and learn from discomfort, it’s a wise teacher.

Now when we intentionally make a move towards finding out what is true or false, not what is right or wrong, good or bad/evil – this will often prove more helpful for human relationships and civilizations to make and maintain progress. 

I’m finding that approaching the bible not as a “moral rules” book is very satisfying to me. It’s a storybook. There are many ancient characters and themes that I find are still relevant and have profound implications for wisdom in daily living.

Lately I’ve been reflecting on what I believe about the Jesus story.  Some believe this is a legendary story birthed out of conspiracy, some believe that this is a historical story based in people giving honest, human (fallible), accounts.  I’m leaning more towards believing the latter, yet that’s why I trust it – its too imperfect to be conspiratorial and because of this I find it provocative and yes, even offensive at times. In some uncanny way this inspires me and touches me, in an ineffable way.

Now I suppose that any of these views on the Jesus story have their own implications. Personally, I believe he was a historical figure that died by means of Roman crucifixion and that the accounts of him being resurrected are honest (imperfect but not conspiratorial) accounts, and that the implications and meaning of this man’s life and death, and his teachings, are still being wrestled with inside myself and many others. I find this Jesus to be akin to how I find the bible; provocative, mysterious, and illuminating. I don’t see much space for retreating in the bunkers of neutrality while engaging with this stuff. So, on one hand, I guess I can understand why people are avoidant or hesitant to engage this fine piece of ancient literature called the bible. Studying the accounts of Jesus and his teachings isn’t “playing it safe”. This ancient literature is compelling to me (and others across time and culture) and forces me to think and reflect deeply about my life and the essence of life itself.

While there are many emotions I feel towards both the bible and Jesus (of which some seem to contradict each other) – indifference is not one of them. This is an area I am not complacent in, and at times I need a break because of that.

Who was Jesus?  Who do others say that he was?  Who do I say that he was?  What are the implications of how I answer these, in the here and now?  These are worth deeply and honestly contemplating for myself and with others who will not either moralize or patronize me, either way.

Positivity Isn’t a Virtue

I was recently asked if I was a “glass is half-empty” or “glass is half-full” kinda gal, to which I said “Both. I’m a ‘glass is half-empty and half-full’ kinda gal, because both are simultaneously true when it’s true.”

In certain cases, positivity is more of a vice than a virtue when it’s fueled by emotional dishonesty in my relationships. It’s not virtuous to deceive myself or others, regarding how I think or feel, just to appear or sound “positive”. I believe this kind of emotional deception can actually lead to disconnection and depression, are those “positive”?

It takes a level of courage to practice vulnerability and allow yourself to be fully seen by others. This is vital for intimate connection, which starts with being honest and clearest with myself. Sure, I can admit that I don’t like how I feel or think because they make me feel uncomfortable or unpleasant. But to omit them from conscious awareness and prevent me from attending to these parts of me isn’t a positive attribute in my opinion. It’s being out of touch with myself and, all while deceiving myself into believing this is really a “positive” thing to practice!

This kind of positivity is a type of emotional vanity and shallowness. It bolsters shallow and insecure connections, and is rampant in many religious/faith/spiritual circles, where I would hope to find these spaces to be where I can truly show up and take off the masks.

Owning what is true for me, is a more virtuous pursuit than “staying positive” if that means bullshitting about how I really am. That said, I also understand the sad reality that many people cannot contain the full weight of my truth, so I choose whom I share my vulnerability with, discriminately. As long as I know the truth of where I’m at, and am practicing being clear and honest with myself, and can be seen in this light in at least one other relationship, I think that is a positive thing.

An Open Letter to the 12-Step Literature Approvers…

I’m trying to work through the 12-Steps and keep bumping up against what appears as dogma with the Disease Model of addiction. I’m reading Al-Anon approved literature as well as material written by other addiction experts like Gabor Mate and Jamie Marich and am feeling more and more disjointed.

I’ve been personally impacted by a loved one’s addiction and have entered into recovery myself. In 12-Step recovery I’ve been urged to study alcoholism and the disease of addiction. I’ve been studying this subject for years as I’ve been in relationships with people who’ve either been addicted themselves or been impacted by a loved one’s addiction, or both actually. I’m finding myself feeling confused and disjointed, unless I strictly read Al-Anon approved literature! I’m trying to integrate 12-Step approved literature with non-approved addiction literature and am forming my own understanding with as honest and open-minded of an attitude that the Al-Anon program promotes, probably mixed with some of my own defects of character, in process too.

This is my take on addiction thus far coming from someone who finds this subject matter so relevant to her personal life. It’s become an area of passion and vested interest due to my family relationships being touched by addiction. Although I’m not an addiction professional, I represent a voice that’s been deeply impacted by this subject. I’m forming my understanding from a conglomerate of reading from addiction professionals inside and outside of the 12-Step model. It also comes from my lived-experience of going through a loved-one’s relapse into hell. So for whatever it’s worth, I offer my personal reflections from this vantage point. I’m still making sense of my own lived-experience as well as studying the topic of addiction from a variety of sources as I work through the 12-Steps. In other words it’s still slowly brewing, like me. If this benefits someone who has or is going through their own experience of this, I’m grateful.

So without further ado this is my evolving summation on a very complex subject that touches millions of lives every day.

To the Unnamed 12-Step Literature Approvers


I’ve read addiction and codependency literature, outside of your approval. And this is what I’d like to share as a newcomer member of Al-Anon, who also feels deep gratitude for the service of Al-Anon Fellowship. What have we learned about addiction since the 1930’s when A.A. first formed? That it’s complex. And a coherent narrative of addiction in layman’s terms could be that it’s not merely a chronic disease. Consider this narrative that’s backed by addiction and trauma research, and please integrate your approval for literature that offers more. Perhaps something along the lines of this…

Addiction manifests in its burgeoning stage as an unconscious adaptive survival trait in the presence of feeling overwhelming distress, coupled with the absence of a close and secure relationship to an attachment figure like Mom, Dad, or another caregiver.

Notice the Theme, it’s a Duet: Presence + Absence

A presence of Distressing Emotional Experience (based in past and/or present) PLUS an Absence of a Safe enough or secure relationship.

These overwhelming feelings may not even register on the level of conscious awareness until it over-reaches maximum capacity. Until then, the response to overwhelm is constructing and maintaining a thick wall of emotional armor. Any unprocessed feelings from the past accumulate while current feelings which bare any striking resemblance to the past also gets heaped onto the pile. This occurs all while the Absence part of the equation remains – Absence of a Safe Enough or Secure Relationship.

The Absence is a void. A hole consisting of profound disconnection and isolation. A substance or “filler” which acts as a substitute, is reached for in an attempt to fill that void. The momentary relief from pain, and fleeting sensations of pleasure string you along while making increasing demands that you sacrifice more to get more. The constant pursuit and chasing the carrot-on-a-stick can never deliver what you’re pursuing. Freedom from suffering. As this phenomenon takes root like a seemingly innocuous weed, the human’s soul becomes a host for a parasitic-type entity of whatever addictive filler hooks you.

12-Step Fellowships offer a beautiful solution to the Absence part of the equation. The absence of intimate connection which is a fundamental, hardwired, basic human need – creates a void. Filling that void with non-human substances is often a way to cope and while enabling dependency on emotional vulnerability armor. The core issue is an aversion to emotional vulnerability within relationships. When a substance or sabotaging behavior mitigates this aversion despite negative consequences and disturbances in other areas of life, you’ve got the active mechanism of addiction at hand.

So why do relapses occur even after dramatic changes in lifestyle going from using or drinking, to being clean and sober, occur? Well, the other part of the equation needs to be looked at, the presence of distressing experiences especially pertaining to the past which haven’t been processed and integrated.

What came first, the chicken or the egg?

The etiology of addiction is hotly debated among experts, addicts themselves, and those who love them. What came first, the chicken or the egg? The addiction or the unresolved trauma? They both feed off one another, so does it really matter? Not in order to reduce harm and initially get clean and sober. But to stay clean and sober, heal from the aftermath, and truly make living amends – I believe this is relevant.

It’s my developing opinion based from what I’ve learned from various schools of thought and my own experience, that unresolved childhood trauma provides fertile soil for addiction to take root. Along with family history, social conditioning, lifestyle habits, and genetic factors. I don’t hold to the belief that addiction is merely a disease. This belief is antiquated now that so much multidisciplinary scientific inquiry and findings regarding addiction and the plight of human suffering, have been shared.

The strictly disease-based model that posits addiction and/or alcoholism as a disease, is sometimes a helpful simplification for such a complex phenomenon like addiction. Yet further down the road of recovery after encountering relapse, it’s a harmful over-simplification which can create a false sense of security. I believe it inadvertently creates barriers to healing the roots of addiction when these roots prove to be deeper than what first appeared. The disease-model of addiction can inadvertently bypass critical trauma recovery, which can weaken relapse prevention.

Growing up in family subcultures which are reinforced outside the home by the broader culture, enabling self-ignorance, self-neglect, and/or self-abuse in response to distress – creates ripe conditions for addiction. And relapse. An innocent ignorance or a blatant indifference towards healing trauma in response to addiction recovery, furtively enables the practice of emotional self-neglect which often leads to physical self-abuse/harm through drug/alcohol abuse. When this is tacitly considered “normal” within recovery programs, you’ll find that necessary, deeper recovery is stilted, versus the addiction.

I realize my take on addiction and its development doesn’t exclude many people, including myself. Addiction development is quite inclusive and many will be counted as vulnerable towards investing in its empty promises when you have a permissive culture of enabling trauma denial.

Addiction is a very human struggle. It accounts for the struggle of being human in dehumanizing cultures and environments. In my opinion, relegating it as strictly a “disease” seems ignorant. Much has been learned about the nature of addiction and I wish recovery programs would honor this progress. It would help those suffering from addiction and those who love them.

Spiritual principles make room for progression, because you keep an honest and open minded attitude. How can the spirit of 12-Step fellowship principles include the latest findings of addiction without losing it’s unity?Is there room for a different ideology beyond addiction and alcoholism as a disease? Well, even if dogma doesn’t make room for it, my own understanding of the 12-Step spiritual principles, do.

This goes without saying but I’ll say it anyway – these ideas are a representation of my own evolving perspective. Take what serves you, leave the rest.

And with that, I pass. Thank you for reading.

The Gift of Rejection

I did it again. Practice makes progress in being, me

I felt our collective discomfort but didn’t sell out
In that trance-like, shape-shifting blurring into “not really me”, me

As usual
I wasn’t paid by your approval
I was paid however, by my own

As anticipated, failed approval-seeking came my way
I now know what I didn’t, so I don’t despair
The fear of rejection subsides
So my authentic self doesn’t need to hide

I know in the absence of your approval, is mine
But when I reject my authenticity
I taste it in my gut
I taste it in my soul
And it always leaves a hole

Damn, the anxiety I once felt when falling in that hole
It left such disparity in my soul
In that disparity I found MY soul
But it never truly left me, it was only but an illusion
The absence of your validation doesn’t cause such an ego contusion
Where once forsaken energy can flow, that which truly satisfies me whole





Whose Shit Is This?

Is it mine?
Or is it yours?

Long entangled strings from old baggage seem to follow,
like a shadow.

The longer you’ve traveled this earth, the more you collect.
In it can be treasures or and, rotten waste.

Open up your baggage! Its damn flowing train is getting too long!
It’s now a tripping hazard for you and for me!

I wish it were as easy as the Baggage Claim at the airport. 
Travelers recognize their own or can check the name tag. 
But this baggage isn’t so easily claimed!
It’s mistakenly claimed as mine when it’s really yours!

Back and forth the disclaimed and misclaimed baggage gets passionately tossed between us. 
Like a hot potato.
Scorched are the hands who hold on too long.

Not all of this will burn.
There are unclaimed treasures inside too.
There’s been a spill from the unfinished business of your past.
It has contaminated everything.

When you indiscriminately throw away your past, it comes back.
Boomerang.
Give and it will be given back?
Karmic energy?

Reclaim the abandoned energy within and between you.
This will be a joint success, a joint failure, or a joint holding pattern; awaiting clearance.
You cannot abandon this energy force, without consequence.

The whole is more than the sum of its parts.

I repeat…

The whole is more than the sum of its parts.

So…
Whose shit is this?
It’s ours.

Your past, my past
Your beliefs, my beliefs
Your experiences, my experiences
Your pain, my pain
Your dreams, my dreams
Your grief, my grief
Your fears, my fears
Your victories, my victories
Your strengths, my strengths
Your weaknesses, my weaknesses

It all goes into one bag.
Like different threads, weaved into a tapestry.

Joint ownership.  Joint consequences.  Joint time limit.

One bag
One tapestry
Many threads
Our threads

We work to carry it together and move on,
Or we toss it back and forth together
And, remain firmly stuck in a holding pattern; awaiting clearance…
someday. Who knows when?

Meanwhile, time passes by.
Time – non-renewable resource.
Time.  No returns, refunds, or exchanges.

Whose shit is this?
Ours.
Whose treasure is this?
Ours.

*This is a poem about coupleshit coupleship.

from

“Freedom from Ego-Illusion” Take #40

Here I am again. Learning the lesson that my ego is so defended against, but doesn’t understand it’s in her best interest to truly learn that I am more powerful than she believes.

I have the power to learn and grow; emotionally, spiritually, and intellectually. That power isn’t dependent on anyone else.

My ability to learn and grow as I go, does not depend on externals beyond my control – this is good news, it’s freeing news. I am free from depending on my partner, children, ex, economy, the weather, my family of origin, the personal choices of others, etc. in order to learn and grow. Am I impacted by these externals? Absolutely. This doesn’t foolishly deny the reality of interconnectedness and interdependence, it collaborates with it.

Opps, I did it again. I’ve fallen asleep to the illusion that I cannot learn important life lessons and grow, unless another is doing “xyz”.

I passionately want to learn and grow as much as I can in this lifetime. A common illusion I often zombie out to is this illusion of dependence within the context of learning and growing that purports: “In order for you to learn and grow, your partner needs to be learning and growing with you, and in similar fashion.”

Bullshit. It’s an egoic fallacy that justifies so much fear of people, places, and things I can’t control – and therefore, try even harder to control.

It was once true, in childhood. And sometimes I admit, I doze off and fall asleep and stumble through life as an adult, forgetting that I am one. Emotional pain is a jarring alarm clock. It’s adult O’clock. This is a discerning reminder that is wrapped in self-compassion, not judgment. Self-awareness at such a keen level requires an above average, adult level of consciousness and self-compassion. So the mere fact that I am aware of this and owning it means, I’m kicking ass again.

I’m up now. This is the lesson being taught through pain:

I am independent and free to grow, learn from mistakes and courageously do my inner work, and release the insane expectation that I can “get” anyone else to do this for themselves (and me). This is messy work because my ego will put up a huge fight because she believes my survival is at stake. This is why my gentle reassurance, and truly sustainable loyalty to her is so important. She fears being left without the support and loyalty of others because she’s lived through that. So, she needs to know how powerful my own loyalty to her, is.

This is where my loyalty can shine – in showing up for myself as a powerful resource and stop compulsively outsourcing my loyalty to others in hopes that they will be loyal in return. Huge waste of energy and time. Huge.

There are tremendous rewards when I wake up to my own presence, that includes both pain and joy. It is freeing. I may will need to come back to this reminder time and time again. It’s sage wisdom that often flows shortly after an egoic break-down. The aftershock of being swept up by my ego’s “good intentions” leads to breakdowns, yet also make room for breakthroughs.

I’ve been known to say “Don’t let shit go to waste, it makes for great fertilizer.” I’m using my shit to grow independent of others. You are free to do the same, my friend. That is way better news than depending on others to change, so I can grow.

Until next time, keep learning, growing, falling down, and getting back up. And remember, you are free to be loyal to your own growth path, independent of anyone else doing so or not for themselves.

from:

Seedling of Power – Enneagram Type 6

There’s a seedling of power within me.  It’s sprouting.

I’m waking up to the subconscious belief I’ve been loyal to for so long as though this was a survival-dependent strategy:

“It’s safer to be weak and unsure, doubtful, and shielded from my inner power.”

The deeply entrenched belief that claims the best source of validation is external, the most reliable feedback is the feedback from others that accentuate my imperfections, that any feedback will do as long as it will protect me from encountering my inner authority and power. Because that is a dangerous place.

For various reason, I somehow internalized early experiences in my formative years which developed into an anxious either covertly or overtly, dependent personality. This personality which is perceptively explained by Enneagram Type 6, is driven by a belief that it’s safer to project my power or any other “threatening” aspects of myself, onto others.

In certain contexts, this strategy had another layer: a callous. I didn’t want people to see how I struggle to fear my own power and even hid this from myself, unwittingly. Some people exploit vulnerability instead of provide protection and guidance, depending on their own internal structures. Sometimes I can’t tell if others will be a “protector” or a “perpetrator”. So when in ambivalence, the best defense is a good offense. This counter move against vulnerability and the fear of being exploited has sometimes made me feel “powerful” or at least, protected. It’s armor. But this armor is not the kind of power that’s sprouting within me.

The kind of power that’s sprouting within is a sense of inner awakeness to my inner world. It’s a very subtle form of awareness sprouting from my internal validation that doesn’t first depend on external validation. This sense of inner trust to what I’m awake to within, is often paradoxical yet hidden in plain sight. It connects me to inner wisdom that trusts myself enough to take risks, and learn valuable lessons from mistakes and regrets. That external validation is important and yet not primary, but supplemental to my own validation. If I don’t get it when I’m looking for it from another, I’m OK. No need to panic or get pissed off and go to combat to get it from a specific source. Nor do I need to shape-shift and contort myself to receive validation that will always miss the mark if I’m shape-shifting in order to receive it.

This conscious awakeness can rest in the faith that there’s plenty of space for seemingly polarizing “truths” to coexist, in harmony. So when I don’t receive external validation, there is no need to worry. That’s where faith fills the void, that there’s enough space for a variety of perceptions, including mine. This kind of faith requires a boldness because it may go against the current of polarization. Yet if this faith isn’t boldly embraced a fallout can occur within me, a split which can be expressed in my relationship with others, and with my worldview because that faith is the bridge. It can be that significant and also play out on a collective macro level, for better or worse.

Who can hold this kind of space where it’s safe to coexist between opposites? An Ennea-type 6 who is awake and has reconciled with their own inner power and authority. This takes tremendous courage and inner reconciliation. Breaking out of that cage of “smallness” requires inner “bigness” which goes against the flow of “safety in smallness”.

I fear my power. I fear my confidence. What if it’s wrong? What if I mess up? What if I get hurt? What if I hurt others? Power can do all sorts of unpredictable things that hurt people.

And

so can abandoned power.

Owned power has the potential to also help set people free from their chains of “what if’s” that focus exclusively on catastrophic endings.”

What if…

you were to own your inner power and live alive and awake in it?

Self-Reflections on Real vs. Fake Confidence, In Relationships

I like who I am.  I genuinely do.  Yes, there are parts of me I feel more comfortable with than others, but they all make up who I am.  They all belong to me.  The sum of all my parts make up who I am; deep, passionate, caring, and completely lovable. Not everyone will see me in this way, at least not all the time. I don’t either, and I’m OK with that. 

Others have parts of themselves they’re uncomfortable with too, and when certain parts or emotions are expressed in me, it may provoke a reaction from others which illuminates how they feel or interact with their own similar parts.  It’s very rarely personal, but almost always revealing of how one holds certain parts of themselves, usually unconsciously.  That’s exactly why it isn’t personal, yet to the degree an individual can make space for all their parts it will impact the degree of intimacy or intimate-capacity they have for another.

In conflict, pivotal opportunity arises.  The opportunity to strengthen a connection by showing up with openness.  When the struggle (and it’s often a struggle, hence the conflict) to do this is self-acknowledged, compassionate curiosity can soften the edges.  

As a type 6 on the Enneagram, I can detect extremely subtle emotional energy, for better or for worse.  You see, emotions tell on us. They reveal what we tell ourselves about ourselves, and what we tell ourselves about others, all at lightning speed. Curiosity engages with this process and slows it down, because it all happens so rapidly. Slowing the speed down serves to prevent defensively disengaging and shutting down the process, or reacting to it by going on the offense against whatever or whomever we feel defensive towards. What often happens when we don’t consciously slow down to reflect, is a missed opportunity at best, and a self-sabotaging repeat of things we’ve later come to regret.

When an individual shows up with a non-defensive presence and can attune, or meet me where I’m at with sincere, non-judgmental engagement i.e. empathy – it is extremely subtle but profound. This is how intimacy is built, and it is also where it is lost if someone cannot engage with this process. The capacity to be intimate and emotionally available with themselves, and therefore with others is what’s illuminated in these moments. And with that, the opportunity to grow. And, there is always room to grow individually and relationally.

When the opportunity is seized, it’s truly a gift.  A gift that’s birthed in imperfection. It’s a privilege to witness this. What I’m witnessing is another sacred human’s strength and profound trust in themselves, and the impact of being trusted by them as well. There’s risk involved. I want to show up as honestly and authentically as I can, there’s little room for perfectionism in this process.

The natural slower rhythms of synchronicity within this level of intimacy spring from doing enough of this on an individual level first. When two individuals mutually cultivate this kind of space between each other there’s a shared protectiveness and enjoyment, and it’s quite nice and quite rare! So, treasure it.

And while enduring the experiences where there’s a lack of synchronicity, I’m learning to not take the misattunements personally.  It’s more than likely a ripple effect of the rapid past-time insecurities, anxieties, and defenses at play. The key word is: rapid. It cannot be overemphasized how important slowing down is, in order to engage in this process productively.

In certain cases you may find yourself in isolation when it comes to having the intention to evolve, and strengthen your own self and the relationship. When another individual (of which you have no control over) is more invested in their ego boosting their self-esteem, they will defend and resist with great effort. It’s hard to believe because it feels so personal, and it is, but it’s not about YOUR personhood, it’s about theirs. Their very own sense of self-esteem is dependent on a false self (ego) to feel secure, and there is rigidity, not flexibility, in the ego. It’s ego-preservation vs. self-preservation.

When the True self is the one fueling self-esteem, there’s an openness that emerges because the True Self, knows itself and all of its parts (the good the bad and the ugly) can belong so clearly to itself regardless of how anyone may react. It’s an integrated Self that is self-accepting.

So when you experience resistance, understand this is where you can also grow. And to be clear, resistance and defensive reactions can range anywhere from avoidance to fleeing to going on the offense by becoming either passive-aggressive or blatantly aggressive. This is indicative of ego-preservation, that results from having a fragile source of self-esteem (the ego).

When (not if, but when) this happens, you’ll have an opportunity with yourself to get very clarifying information around your own ego-preservation activities, which we all have to different degrees, and of different levels of awareness and intensity depending on how your personality operates (read up on Enneagram). The cracks in your own armor around this may likely get exposed.  Ouch. And welcome to the human race, once again. How you respond has impact. Invite yourself to become empowered.

Some of us are more easily duped by our egos than others. To those who have very sophisticated egos when it comes to self-awareness and where we are on our growth maps, you may want to ask yourself some discerning questions:

  • Do you value or dismiss what’s triggering you? 
  • Do you engage in vulnerable and compassionate self-reflection, sharing this with at least one individual who will challenge and vet your narrative?

If not, you’ll stay stuck and your evolution will pass this opportunity by, and will return again and again until you’ve worked this through to completion.  And, may then visit your descendents for the opportunity to evolve in the next generation.

Little by little, (which is the pace that organic life grows) you’ll stretch your window of tolerating discomfort as you receive these Divinely inspired opportunities to say yes to building a sense of genuine self-confidence that stems from grace and truth.

This is how ultimately how I see adult development works, whether I like parts of it or not. 

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