July 01, 2018
The Lonely Kingdom of Naught
There is a lot of power that can be derived by being contrary, critical, and well, just downright negative. When nothing is good enough, or clean enough, our discomfort, hopefully, becomes the impetus for others to change and accommodate us. It makes us right, defining us as separate from, and superior to, the flock. People who feel unworthy of love, and believe they must please another to win it, will respond accordingly. For everyone else, this is exhausting behavior to be around.
Children learn the power of the word “no” at about the age of two, when the ego starts to really form. “No, I don’t want to eat spinach,” or “No, I don’t want to go to bed yet.” It is the doorway through which they find their will, and thus define who they are as beings separate from their parents. This becomes particularly pronounced in adolescence, and is healthy in this context. People who suffer from childhood trauma, however, do not automatically step beyond this sophomoric form of “self empowerment.” They would rather anchor in to what they know, and fortify their walls with criticisms of what they don’t. There is never really any true connection here, though, as implicit within this fabricated superiority is a power differential that keeps them forever in isolation. In truth, this is really just a lonely kingdom of naught.
June 01, 2018
Transitions, Endings and New Beginnings
We start with dreams. We begin a relationship or a new job with a vision of all kinds of possibilities, and we push forward, putting things into place so they can happen. We invest great time and resources, and at times we are asked to overcome great feats. As much as we put our hearts and souls into it, sometimes, however, a dream may end. It just dies on the vine, never coming to full maturity.
When we put all of our eggs in one basket, as one does when really wanting something, and that dream evaporates, how do we pick up and move on: the marriage that has died, that career path that has evaporated, or maybe you are having to pack move towns? After so much time and identity invested, we can lose our sense of self. Who we were dims into a flicker, and we fear we will fade out all together. Transitions are that space between the death of the old, and the birth of the new. In the throws of it one can feel dark and hopeless, and at the doorway of depression. The losses are palpable and can leave a bitter taste in our mouths, especially when the new path is not yet visible. We may even feel let down by God him/herself. Floating in an undefined space, with no direction at all, can be one of the most agonizing, and challenging of times.
February 01, 2018
Chasing Rabbits, Dark Holes, and Other Forms of Suffering
Our minds are like dogs running through the fields chasing rabbits. Just as any small animal darting across the field, or up a tree, catches their attention, the unbridled mind pursues every thought that arises, without discrimination. If we think it up, the mind chases it down. There are thoughts we really don’t need to think, however, and some that lead us down dark rabbit holes. One of the most challenging aspects of personal growth is learning which rabbits to chase, and which to let go.
Our thoughts craft the contours of our lives. Since most of our emotions are elicited by our thinking, the thoughts we choose to think strongly affect how we feel. A person may have voices that, for example, although designed to help them avoid further pain, actually cause more. Addictions have a seductive voice that says, “Hey! Come on, follow me, this will make you feel better!” When we let our minds grasp this thought, and engage in it emotionally, we are off and running. Doubt has a voice that says “Oh no, you can’t do that.” There are paranoid voices that keep us in fear, and victim voices that allow us to rage. When we chase after these thoughts, seduced by their call, we find ourselves taken down into dark passageways. More thoughts await us there, thoughts that beat us up for having listened, thoughts that evoke dark emotions that bring on even darker thoughts. Once we engage, we become tangled in an underworld of knotted roots that refuses to let us go. This is our suffering.
September 01, 2016
Depression: A Spiritual Crisis
It is a gloominess that descends upon you like a thick, water soaked blanket. Colors fade to shades of gray, joy becomes completely inaccessible while sadness overtakes your body. While this is experienced briefly by many wading through loss or grief, to others depression takes up permanent residence in their psyches. The outside person sees their relentless sadness as unwarranted, as physically they look quite capable. While they may be on many levels, the depressed person is caught within a quicksand of hopelessness inside that pulls from them their very will to survive.
In science, animal models are used to study depression. In one model a dog is restrained by a cage on a platform where it receives a mild shock regularly. Once the animal realizes it cannot escape this shocking it withdraws, expecting it will never end. Eventually the dog is put on the platform without the cage, but it doesn’t leave, even when it can. It stands there and continues to be shocked. This is called “learned helplessness.”
February 01, 2016
Fight Flight Or Freeze
One of the most crippling side effects of being highly sensitive is running high levels of anxiety. Sensitives, or SuperCeptors, are highly tuned to pick up on the nuances of their environments, keeping their bodies forever on alert. They are not the only ones, however. Anyone who has been imprinted by a stressful or traumatic period in their life, also has a brain tempered for further stress.
In the first five years of our lives everyone’s brain is being “tuned” for how it is going to react to the world. If those first years are filled with high levels of stress, we develop a brain prepared for more. Unfortunately, this creates a “trigger happy” stress response ready for danger behind every corner.