Transforming Toxic Shame into Joyful Belonging

Transforming Toxic Shame into Joyful Belonging

“Shame is the grease of the devil.”

 

Caution Advised!

I originally entitled this workshop “Draining the Cesspool” with a photo of a deep murky cesspool because toxic shame is a dangerous waste dump that creates tremendous pain in our lives and is inherently challenging to heal. You will need support, if you are like most of us, so I suggest you enlist friends, recovery partners, therapists, mentors, sponsors and others you trust to handle your pain skillfully and with empathy.

Understanding Toxic Shame

Healthy shame is simple embarrassment that passes after a few hours. How we feel when someone sees us pick our nose and wipe it on our shirt is an example of embarrassment.

  1. Healthy shame is adaptive. It is tolerable and helps us learn how to fit into our families, our tribes and our society.
  2. Guilt is different than shame. Guilt says we did something bad.
  3. Toxic Shame is an internal experience of being bad to the core. Toxic shame says we, not just our behavior, are BAD.
  4. Toxic Shame is a sense of something being seriously wrong with our thoughts, emotions, bodies and can include our very spiritual essence or being.
  5. Toxic shame is combination of thoughts, emotions and sensations that we are somehow defective combined with the belief this is a permanent condition. We are inherently defective deep down and that won’t change. 
  6. “Shame is the intensely painful emotion that we are unworthy of love.” Brene Brown
  7. Shame is the most powerful master emotion. It’s the fear that we’re not good enough.” Brene Brown
  8. Shame screams that I do not deserve love or good things.

More Information about Shame

  • Children pick up and take on the shame from adults around them.
  • “If you put shame in a petri dish it needs 3 ingredients to grow exponentially: secrecy, silence and judgment.
  • Shame tells us to hide and withdraw.
  • Toxic shame is overwhelming.
  • A trance or black hole of unworthiness. The inner child continues to dream its young dream, formed by abuse, neglect and traumas, and continues to project it as an adult onto current relationships including in our career relationships.
  • Descriptors of Toxic Shame includeRepulsive, dirty, defective, disgusting, worthless, revolting, unlovable, utter failure, loser, humiliated, mortified, a mistake, hideous, self-hatred and self-loathing.
  • Sex, in our culture, is deeply associated with shame.
  • It is not unusual for people raised in dysfunctional families and unhealthy cultures to grow up in a Toxic Shame Soup. Addiction is known to be a “shame-based” disease.

Toxic Shame Origins

  1. Can be passed down through the generations probably through our genetic material.
  2. Is a force field that can be energetically absorbed from another person’s “pain body” (their store of unresolved emotional pain). I experienced absorbing sexual shame while inside my mother’s womb.
  3. Can be injected into us with emotional abuse when we experience someone’s disgust directed at us or with repeated acts of rejection or profound humiliation.
  4. Can be transferred or “injected” from one physical body to another directly especially during severe boundary violations of physical and sexually abuse. Sexual abuse may be the most damaging because of the physical intimacy involved.
  5. Many religions communicate shame especially about sex.

Common Shaming Comments

  1. “Is that the best you can do?”
  2. “I’ve shown you a hundred times how to do this, and you still can’t?.”
  3. “You’ll never amount to anything.”
  4. “You’re such a loser!” “
  5. “You are ugly.”
  6. Children should be seen and not heard.”
  7. “I am going to send you away if you don’t behave.”
  8. “My life is miserable because of you.”
  9. “I wish I never had you.”
  10. “You were born a sinner.”

Healing Shame Quotes

  1. “I decided that the single most subversive, revolutionary thing I could do was to show up for my life and not be ashamed.” Anne Lamott
  2. Sometimes light can only shine through a cracked pot. … God’s light shines greater through “cracked pots” than it does through those who have it all together.
  3. “Shame says that because I am flawed, I am unacceptable. Grace says that though I am flawed I am cherished.”
  4. “If we share our shame with someone who responds with empathy and understanding, shame can’t survive.”- Brene’ Brown
  5. “Empathy’s the antidote to shame. The two most powerful words when we’re in struggle is ‘metoo’.” – Brene Brown
  6. “Only if you’ve been in the deepest valley can you ever know how magnificent it is to be on the highest mountain.” – Richard Nixon
  7. If you put some shame in the petri dish and douse it with empathy, it can’t survive.
  8. “You grow up the day you have your first real laugh – at yourself.”
  9. “Failure is the condiment that gives success its flavor.”

Motivational Quotes to Persevere

“The road to success is always under construction.”  Lily Tomlin

Moral: Which is why you should make your own path in life. Even if you get a few cuts and bruises going through the bush, you will get there before everyone else.

“If you hit the target every time it’s too near or too big.” Tom Hirschfield

Moral: – Keep stepping slightly outside of your comfort zone because if you don’t you will never improve. Seek great challenges and those challenges will turn you into a force to be reckoned with.  

Ask Yourself

  1. Can I identify when I are triggered into the experience of toxic shame?

Circle one:   No      Sometimes    Getting better at it!    Most of the time, yes!

  1. When I realize I am triggered into shame, am I able to communicate my inner experience to another person responsibly? For example, “I am in a toxic shame spiral right now.”

Circle one: No      Sometimes    Getting better at it!    Most of the time, yes!

WRITING EXERCISES

Remember writing is a powerful tool that helps us access deeper material held subconsciously. If you are ready to heal, consider doing these exercises. Use as much extra paper as necessary. Remember it is strongly advised to have support to move through toxic shame.

Generational Shame Inventory

List events, situations, occurrences, incidents in your family history, including ancestors, that may be associated with shame. For example- child abandonment, racial discrimination, handicaps/diseases, family secrets, abortions/adoptions, suicides, murders, extreme poverty, severe illnesses, huge financial losses etc.

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Rank your shame for each item: 1 through 5

1 mild shame……………….3 moderate shame……………  5 intense shame

*Put a star in front of the item you wish to share with someone else today (can choose to not share but encouraged to do so).

Shame is often passed from one person to another.  List three incidents, maybe from childhood, in which you sense someone passed shame to you that you think or know you continue to carry in your body.  Shame is usually being passed with all forms of abuse and neglect. 

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 Rank the intensity of shame for each item: 1 through 5

1 mild shame……………….3 moderate shame……………  5 intense shame

*Put a star in front of the item you wish to share with someone else today (can choose to not share but encouraged to do so).

What were your parents, caregivers, teachers, siblings, religious leaders or other perpetrators common shaming comments or behaviors?

Rank the intensity of shame for each item: 1 through 5

1 mild shame……………….3 moderate shame……………  5 intense shame

*Put a star in front of the item you wish to share with someone else today (can choose to not share but encouraged to do so).

List the 3 most shame-filled things you tell yourself about your body or yourself?

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Rank your level of rejection of this part of you for each item: 1 through 5

1 mild rejection…………3 moderate rejection……………5 intense rejection

*Put a star in front of the one you wish to share with someone else today (can choose to not share but encouraged to do so).

 List 3 emotions, if any, that you feel shame about feeling or expressing.  

Fear, grief/sadness, anger/rage or even shame.  Yes, we can shame ourselves for feeling shame!  You can additionally choose from hurt, helplessness, powerlessness, loneliness or maybe your challenging emotions are happiness or joy?

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Rank your fear for each item: 1 through 5

1 mild fear……………….3 moderate fear……………  5 intense fear

*Put a star in front of the item you wish to share with someone else today (can choose to not share but encouraged to do so).

What are your habitual thoughts you say to yourself when you are triggered into shame? 

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 List 3 things you carry shame about or are ashamed of that you usually do not want people to know about.  Note: Will only share today if you choose to.

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Rank your level of shame for each item: 1 through 5

1 mild shame…………3 moderate shame………. 5 intense shame

*Put a star in front of the one you wish to share with someone else today (can choose to not share but encouraged to do so).

Demonstrative Healing Step for All Practices Above

Now, hide your shame writings. Take what you wrote and sit on it, hide it behind your back, in your shirt or somewhere else you prefer to demonstrate to yourself how we coped with this in the past.

HEALING SHAME TOOLS

 Shame Art 

Let the young part of you or inner child draw freely. They need to get this poison out of their systems. Use dull and yucky colored crayons and/or colored pencils or paint. (I see shame as yucky colors).

  1. Draw your shame. Just draw, don’t think too much. After you are complete with your drawing:
  2. Hide your shame.Sit on it, fold it up, hide it behind your back, put it in your purse or pocket etc. Shame tells us to withdraw or hide so hide your shame now.
  3. Share your art with a therapist, mentor, pastor or trusted friend who has the skills to empathize with it. Consider burning it when you feel you are complete with carrying this dynamic in your body/mind/life.

Writing Practices

Again, these have the power to be deeply healing if you actually do them and don’t just read them. Consider loving yourself enough, if you are ready now, to do the following exercises. Remember, recommended you have adequate support when doing this healing work.

Healing Generational Shame 

We often carry unhealed shame from our ancestors. We can be carrying shame from ancestors we are not even aware of. The TWO CHAIR TECHNIQUE: Put two empty chairs next to each other with them both facing in the same direction. I suggest using hard seat chairs and not those with cushions that might absorb energy more easily. Sit in one chair. If you know of shameful incidents such as alcoholism, drug abuse, infidelity, child abuse, sexual abuse, suicides, murders other criminal behavior etc. it will be helpful to think about them briefly. Set your intention to consciously connect with this unhealed shame. Trust this process and don’t think about it too deeply. Bring up these feelings/energetics and use your will to make them as intense in your body as you can tolerate. It is common to access a feeling tone on an energetic level that may be familiar to you. It is not uncommon that we have assumed this was our own personal baggage. This energetic may have been in the background of your awareness for a very long time.

When you feel the energetic strongly, stand up and sit in the adjacent chair. Use your hands to physically imagine removing this energetic from your system and see yourself placing it on the chair you just got up from. Notice that it is now physically separate from you. You may imagine seeing it as a package on the other chair. Now bless this energy. You may wish to place your hands above the energetic and say a prayer that you acknowledge your ancestor’s shame and release it to a favorite version of your Higher Power or the earth herself. Get up and notice how you feel. Hopefully you will feel lighter. Congratulate yourself for acknowledging and being a healer for your ancestor’s pain that they were incapable of processing.

Expressing Carried Shame to a Safe Partner 

To be done in pairs with recovery friend, mentor, therapist, sponsor, pastor or another person you trust. This can be done with each person revealing their shame or only one being the Shame Revealer depending on the situation. Remember healing shame comes often from expressing or sharing of shame with safepeople.

  • If only one person sharinggive them 3 timed minutes to talk.
  • If duo sharing, share for 3 minutes and then switch and the other has 3 minutes. First, assign who is the Shame Welcomer and who is the Shame Revealer. The Shame Welcomer can only say thank you after each revelation but no other feedback during the exercise. If Shame Revealer stalls the Shame Welcomer invites them to continue with, “Your shame is welcome here.” If Shame Revealer is unable to speak, the Shame Welcomer simply keeps repeating “Your shame is welcome here” until the 3 minutes is up.

Write a list of your good qualities or character assets. This is the “gold” in you. It may be a quality of your inherent spiritual essence or skills or personality characteristics you have developed. Many people find this a very challenging exercise and harder to do than listing their negative qualities or “defects” of character. I encourage you to ask people who are safe and love you what they see as your qualities and write them down. Refer to this list often to change negative focusing that many people are addicted to.

Write about how God sees you. I know deep in my being from a revelatory experience that God loves each one of us perfectly and completely. My experience correlates with many others that view God like the sun. Its warmth shines equally on all. Take a piece of paper and pen, get quiet, close your eyes and ask God to use your mind and hand to tell you how God feels about and/or sees you. Refer to this often for healing our negative and false perceptions about ourselves.

Good for you! You took a courageous step in your healing. Please get the support you need to process the material that is now arising.  To more enjoyable experiences of joyful belonging. 

I love you, Vanita 

 

 

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Women, Anger & Power

Women, Anger & Power

I am sharing this from a presentation I gave. Now I am making it available openly to empower women. Women are the ones speaking up and saying no to the abuse they have tolerated for so long. Reading this material and actually doing the practices, will assist women in setting healthy boundaries and experiencing more fulfillment in their lives. It will help make the families in this world more sane and healthy.

Our Society is Emotionally Retarded!

Society, many religious and spiritual traditions discourage healthy anger expressions as well as many of the other emotions including positive ones!  Women are more naturally gifted with emotional intelligence and therefore often at an advantage to spiritually awaken since closer to Source since they are closer to their feelings.

Irresponsible Anger is Scary

Violence- emotionally, verbally, intellectually, physically, sexually

Causes harm, impaired or destroyed relationships, physical damage, criminal behavior

Shades of Red

  • Anger is a “hot” emotion; it is emotional FIRE and like fire often needs containment to not cause damage.
  • Irritation, displeasure, annoyance, aggravation, frustration, indignation, anger, outrage, livid, rage, fury, wrath etc.

Repressed Anger- Get is out!

  • Stored anger is a result of previous anger not fully experienced.Often it is from childhood when it wasn’t safe to express it and the child didn’t have proper or sufficient bresources to cope with it. Stored anger is toxic to the body.
  • May be associated with depression, rashes, acne, cold sores,acute inflammation in body or joints,acid reflux, gastric ulcers, heartburn, indigestion, inflamed eyes etc.
  • Often associated with judgment, impatience, criticism, intolerance,excessive perfectionist tendencies.
  • Often stored in liver, gallbladder, intestines, genitals, shoulders, jaw. Can be anywhere in body.
  • Dangerous anger/violence is usually stored rage that gets triggered by current circumstances and “hitchhikes” on current reaction.
  • Unhealthy men have learned to use anger to control women. They escalate their anger in stages using just enough to get what they want.  Undeveloped women do this also. 

Real Time Anger

     Current anger is a message that something isn’t quite right- usually a violation has occurred, a boundary has been crossed.  The level of anger is appropriate to the situation.

The transmutation of anger into response-ability doesn’t take place when you choose to use meditation in an escapist way, pretend that everything is fine, or play the forgiveness game.

The Gifts of Responsible Anger

  • Makes us whole- We are designed to feel the full range of emotions just as a rainbow is made of many colors including RED.
  • More energy- lots of energy is stored in anger and TONS of energy being used to keep it buried or at bay that comes back into your system when anger allowed to be felt.
  • Energy to protect the self physically, emotionally, intellectually, energetically etc.
  • Energy to set boundaries or enforce them.
  • Respect- Our demonstration of our self-respect by setting and enforcing boundaries teaches others we value ourselves and often leads to them respecting us more.
  • Fosters true intimacy- not sharing honestly creates barriers between people that build up over time.
  • People value people who are emotionally responsible. Men adore women who can communicate responsibly.
  • People can’t manipulate you with threats of anger when you have healed it in yourself.
  • You will attract healthier people to you as you transform your stored anger.
  • Ability to feel anger and respond in healthy manner in the moment
  • A more peaceful family, workplace and society.
  • Often is step depressed people need to take to move out of depressive states.
  • Direct and clear communications re: anger are better received than “sideways” anger expressions or passive-aggressive behavior.
  • Makes our lives more productive, effective, peaceful, colorful, flavorful, passionate, ALIVE!!!

Inquiries About Our Conditioning

Most effective if you do this exercise in writing.

  • What judgments do I carry about anger?
  • Who taught me my primary lessons about anger?
  • How did my caregivers react when I was angry as a child?Teen?
  • What age did I fully shut down my anger if I did that?
  • On a scale of 1 to 10, how comfortable am I with my anger and expression of anger?
  • What do I see as the gifts of anger?
  • Am I open to being in my power to a greater level?
  • What less than ideal strategies do I use to try to control other people’s anger for my comfort?
  • Who do I know who is a good role model for demonstrating heathly relationship with anger?

Our Relationship to Our Anger

  • First, work towards owning it more fully.Whether you choose to share it with others or not it is helpful to be honest with yourself about what is true for you.
  • If you are not sure if have suppressed anger ask your family members, friends, co-workers etc.
  • What did I thinkthat created this emotion? Event/Thought/Emotion
  • Be careful not to confuse thoughts with emotions which is very common and can impede effective communication.

Template:  When such and such happened or I heard him, her say ____________  I thought, I interpreted it, I made the meaning     ______________        and I felt   ___________.

  • Where do I feel it in my body?
  • What is my anger trying to tell me?
  • Am I willing to feel it more fully?
  • Am I able in this moment to feel it completely?
  • How would I like to be with my anger right now?
  • Are there feelings underneath my anger? Hurt? Fear? Sadness? Shame? Guilt?
  • Is there a belief I am powerless and/or helpless now? (Often this clues us to the victim child or may be situational as in someone is dying).
  • Is there something I need to express to someone?
  • Am I willing to express it?
  • Do I need support to express it? If so, what support do I need?Am I willing to ask for it?
  • Is there something I need to do? Is refraining from action the best course?
  • Am I angry with myself for something I did or omitted to do?

Communicating Anger Responsibly to Another

  • Anger can be “hot” and relational if expressed responsibly. (Susan Campbell, PhD, “Getting Real”. Rage can be expressed responsibly in the moment if you have ability to contain it. If contained the person will feel safe.
  • When we don’t share our truth with people we are no longer in full relationship with them. Most important is to be intimate with ourselves.
  • Don’t “leak” anger directly to others. Talk to other’s to calm down and get clarity but consider discussing it directly with person who triggered it for resolution.
  • If stored anger is triggered consider using words such as, “When you said that old anger got triggered in me” or “when you did that a button in me was pushed”.
  • Only express to safe people you trust. There are situations, such as work etc., where it may not be appropriate to share your feelings directly.
  • Contemplate if “I don’t want to hurt them or they can’t handle it” is an excuse you use to avoid communicating with someone.
  • Example of event/thought/emotion communication: When you interrupted me while I was speaking I made the meaning you thought what I was saying wasn’t important and I feel angry.  (Stop speaking, allow pause and see if other desires to speak)
  • If afraid of sharing anger can open with- “I want to share something with you and I have fear about expressing it.  I fear you won’t receive it well.   Are you willing to hear it?  Is this a good time to discuss this?”  “If this isn’t a good time when can we get together to discuss this?”
  • If very upset consider taking a time out. “I am very upset and need to be with myself.  I will be back when I am calmer”. (Communicates care and connection, not abandoning other).
  • Don’t minimize by saying, “I’m a little angry”. Consider saying, “I am angry”,

“I feel angry”, “I felt angry” (irritated, frustrated, aggravated etc.)  “Anger is in me” or “anger was in me”, “I feel rage in this moment” or “I felt rage”.

  • Take full responsibility- work to end blaming.Avoid the common expression “you made me angry” or “when you did that/said that it made me angry”.  It is your anger, own your reaction.
  • Allow your feeling to express in your tone of voice.

Dyad Work to Increase Power

What am I most angry about?

What is my level of fear in admitting, experiencing or feeling my anger 0 to 10?  _______

What is my level of anger currently in my body? 0-10  (0=no anger) to (ten = intense rage)?  _______

Where do I feel the anger in my body?  What color is it?  Texture?  Size? Shape? Density?

What is my anger telling me or trying to tell me?

Am I angry with myself?  If yes, what did I do or not do that I am angry about?

Is there something I need to do or communicate to someone?

What is the next step I need to take to be more responsible with my anger?

Am I willing to do that now?  If no, what is my resistance?

Additional ideas?  Comments?

Possibilities for Releasing Anger

  • Pound on bed, couch or cushion
  • Scream if appropriate to situation you are in.
  • Scream underwater, into a pillow or in a car (but not while driving).
  • Break things you don’t mind destroying, chop wood, clean the house, get a piece of red meat and tear it to shreds!
  • See a therapist comfortable with anger
  • Go to a workshop where anger is welcomed or encouraged.
  • Share it with someone you trust.
  • Remember resentments are like taking poison and expecting the other person to die.
  • Write/Journal unedited. Use dominant and then non-dominant hand writing.
  • Paint or other creative art
  • Breathe
  • Pause
  • Meditate if anger is mild and going into anger and not escaping or transcending it.

Decreasing Excessive Fire in the Body

Ideals to Strive Toward/Progress Not Perfection

  • The ultimate ideal is to fully feel your feelings in the moment.We abandon ourselves when we abandon our emotions.
  • Have your thoughts, emotions and actions be congruent.

Resources

Not all therapists, clergy or spiritual teachers are competent to help you with anger!   Ask them how they dealt with their own rage and notice their response! You want someone who has worked through their own rage and is at peace with yours for them to be helpful.

 

 

 

How to be deeply honest

How to be deeply honest

“He who dares not offend cannot be honest.” – Thomas Paine

“Most of us feel that others will not tolerate emotional honesty. We … defend our dishonesty on the grounds that it might hurt others; and having rationalized our phoniness into nobility, we settle for superficial relationships.” Why Am I Afraid to Tell You Who I Am? – John Powell.

What is deep honesty? Ability to communicate our thoughts, perceptions, feelings, body sensations, needs, etc. in a straightforwardand respectful way.

Why aren’t we honest more frequently? Reasons include believing, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it at all.” Most of us did not learn functional relationship and communication skills. Irresponsibly delivered “honesty” has often led, in the past, to negative outcomes.

Pre-Requisites for Deep Honesty

Know Thyself. Desire to be aware of, and in touch with our thoughts, judgments, interpretations, emotions, perceptions, body sensations, values, etc. and a willingness to reveal and share what we are experiencing with others. We obviously can’t be honest with others when we are not in touch with our inner selves.

Addictive behaviors, which are rampant in modern Western culture, serve to help people disconnect from their emotional baggage sometimes referred to as the “pain body.” Leaving addictive behavior behind if often challenging since the unresolved pain and traumas are bound to surface. The path of personal growth is working towards acceptance and tolerance for all our thoughts and feelings including jealousy, anger, rage, terror, toxic shame and also the positive emotions of happiness, joy, love etc. If you are not in touch with your feelings/body consider therapy including Somatic Therapy.

Bravery. It takes courage to face our fears of being honest and learn to console our frightened selves, which is often a younger aspect of ourselves. Honesty requires vulnerability, the ability to tolerate disagreement/conflict, a willingness to listen and learn more functional relationship/communication skills, let go of the “right/wrong dynamic” (ego) and choose instead intimacy and authenticity. Many of us learn to substitute being “nice” with being “real”. We work towards becoming more comfortable with the unknown, trusting Life and others, and letting go of the attachment to outcome.

Share with safe people. It is a part of self-care to share our deepest selves only with safe people- those we trust to accept and honor our inner truth without judgment. though they may also have their own emotional reactions. Be aware that some people use “not feeling safe” (feeling fear) as an excuse to not be vulnerable; get feedback from friends/mentors/therapists/wise ones. As we become more skillful, we often are surprised that we can say almost anything without others reacting poorly. We also learn we do not need to share everything in our minds/hearts.

Know the “Dangers of Dishonesty”.

  • Living an inauthentic life or illusory life
  • Disconnection with self, others, Higher Power.
  • Fuels addictive behaviors leading to holding resentments, emotional constipation, a relentless quest for love, and even physical harm.
  • Denies us the possibility of ever feeling truly loved for who we are. How can I trust that anyone really loves me when I haven’t shown them who I really am?

Know the “Gifts of Honesty”.

  • Path to and the result of self-actualization.
  • Leads us to deeper connection with our authentic selves resulting in greater intimacy and integrity with self, emotional intelligence, empathy and sense of wholeness.
  • Generates connection, satisfaction, intimacy, depth, affection, genuineness in our relationships.
  • Can lead to more tenderness, a richer experience of life, peace, joy, love, respect, sexual pleasure
  • Weeds out people who aren’t open to authenticity.
  • We eventually learn we are loved for who we are.

Know honest communications are short and simple.

Do your own inner work first. Avoid impulsivity. It can take significant writing/processing with mentors/friends/therapist to get clear what to say or not to say. As you gain skill and experience you may get to the place where you can maintain being emotionally responsible “under fire” but this is a long-term goal.

Remember that “honesty without tact is cruelty.” Being brutally honest is a character defect that alienates others. Ask:

  • Is this any of my business?
  • Am I being sensitive?
  • Am I being kind?
  • Is what I am saying true? Is it my deepest truth?
  • Is it necessary I share this?

Check your motivation. Is your intent to relate or control? When your goal is to relate, you are most interested in revealing your true feelings, learning how the other feels, and connecting heart-to-heart. When your intent is to control, you are most interested in getting things to turn out a certain way – avoiding conflict, getting the person to like you, being seen as knowledgeable or helpful, etc. (From “Truth in Dating: Finding Love by Getting Real” by Susan M. Campbell, Ph.D.)

Accept that relationships can get messy. The person you are being honest with may get defensive, upset or counter-argue but that doesn’t mean the conversation’s over. Interactions between human beings are less messy when we are straightforward.

Guidelines for Honesty

Warming Up. When we have strong feelings, fears or shame about being revealing, we can venture into the scary waters with vulnerable and intimate lead-ins that tend to createcuriosity, interest, support and lay the groundwork for you to wade in deeper. Some examples are: “I’m taking a risk by telling you the truth,” allows for complete honesty without sugarcoating, but it lets the person you’re being honest with know you’re coming from a place of vulnerability. “I am scared to tell you this. I am afraid you will not listen to me and you will react.” “I want to share something with you but I have a lot of shame telling me not to”. “I want you to know that I am sharing this with you because you are important to me and I don’t wish to harbor a resentment”.

Distinguish facts/data from interpretations. It is essential that we learn to distinguish facts or the raw data from interpretations, which are the meanings our minds make up or the story we create about the facts. Our minds do this at the speed of light so it takes training to separate them. The facts are what you would see if watching a video playback of the situation. “You walked into the room and left in two minutes” are the facts if the other person remembers it the same way. Our interpretation may have been, “You don’t like me.” State the facts or data clearly and concisely. “I lent you $100 with our agreement you would pay me back in one week and it is now 5 weeks later.” “You are not trustworthy” is one possible meaning our minds may have created about the facts. Share the data, you thought/thoughts/interpretations (my mind made the meaning), judgments/emotions, feelings, body sensations.

Don’t confuse thoughts/concepts with emotions. Betrayed is a concept or “false feeling” and not a primary emotion. How did you feel when you interpreted or your mind made the meaning of the data/facts that you were betrayed? Other common concepts that people often try to pass as feelings are “abandoned” and “rejected”. We don’t feel rejected; something happened that we interpreted as rejection. Ask yourself what you felt when you thought you were rejected, abandoned, betrayed. Additionally, people often say they felt “uncomfortable”. You might inquire what emotions are they uncomfortable with? What is under the discomfort? Stick with the primary emotions- fear, anxiety, sad, hurt, happy, angry, frustrated, distrust, disappointed, grief, shame, etc. If you have mixed feelings, expressing them all can add depth to your communication.

Use extreme caution sharing judgments. Expressing judgments generally triggers defensiveness in the other. If you choose to share a judgment preface it with, “I made the judgment that ________.” This can help you move past the judgment into a deeper conversation that is more intimate and connecting.

Use “I” statements. “I think you are a jerk,” is not the most responsible “I “statement. It is an improvement compared with,“You are a jerk,” because you are now owning your judgment of the person.

Hang on to yourself. Many people, especially from dysfunctional homes, dissociate or abandon their inner reality when stressed and check out of their  emotional, intellectual and even physical bodies. Work to stay in touch with yourself and if you notice you have checked out, bring yourself gently back to the present moment; consider sharing “I have dissociated, can you please repeat that?”, if in a conversation. Work to stay connected with your feelings and not repress them.  Give yourself permission to feel a wide range of emotions. We are complex beings that often feel a combination of conflicting and ambivalent feelings.

Hang in with the other. Be willing to stay connected (relational) and in the process with the other/s. Avoid dumping your honesty and disengaging. If you’re going to be honest with someone, come prepared to express yourself and then to listen to their experience of the situation. These conversations can be a back and forth process as the conversation meanders down to deeper levels.

Go for mediation if necessary.

 

Resources

 The Center for Non-Violent Communication.  https://www.cnvc.org

Susan Campbell, PhD. Honesty expert, relationship counseling & honesty salons. Tools & Tips for honest relating in love and work. Author of “Getting Real” and “Truth in Dating: Finding love by getting real.”  Lives in Sebastapol. http://www.susancampbell.com

Mick Zippert Easter Beauty, Easter Grief

Mick Zippert                                                                 Easter Beauty, Easter Grief

As the spring holiday approached, the not unfamiliar dread of being alone without any plans or built-in companions threatened to deepen my despair but I wouldn’t allow it much airtime. I found myself Sunday morning at a local women’s meditation retreat accompanied by a friend. As I walked towards the carefully designed and expensively built simple zendo it was the petite solo tulip tree with her huge lush royal magenta flowers that was the first to en-trance me. Next was the overflowing flower and vegetable gardens bursting with fresh color and fragrances as I wound through on the narrow cedar-shaving lined paths. The gentrified barn housed several gorgeous far-from-feral longhaired cats.  Two huge koi, one a golden yellow, lazily swam the turtled pond. A powerful, well-groomed but gentle horse was roaming the grounds. I recognized the casually prettied-up shed on the far side of the garden from the email invitation that drew me to this idyllic slightly overcast Easter gathering.

As the meditation practices were coming to a close, I sensed, for the first time in three months that I might barely possess a sufficient quantity of courage to visit a long-time friend. Two days before I had authorized his entering into hospice care through email. I had awoken the morning of “signing day” feeling overwhelmed and chose, for my self-preservation, to remotely give the go ahead to this change in his care. My unusual friend had been existing in this “nursing home” in a nearby town since summer, however, it was a marked improvement over his last living situation. Yes, nurses served there but to refer to that drab institution with its decaying urine stench as a home was far-fetched.

I had only spoken to my friend on the phone twice since my partner died two months before. I was emotionally unable to visit him and face more sickness and death. When I had called Mick in early February, he immediately asked how Jeff was doing. My sweetheart had befriended Mick after  meeting two years before. Jeff was intrigued by Mick’s spiritual insights. My partner, in turn, had helped Mick solve various electronic and practical issues when our aging friend was living in senior housing. Jeff also visited our infirm friend weekly for months after Mick had been shipped to this facility. out of town. Mick was distressed knowing my sweetheart, who was considerably younger, had been quite ill. “He died, Mick.” “Oh no,” he cried out, “that is horrible!,” and his generous expression of anguish soothed something in me.

The “home’s” social worker had called to tell me my friend was declining rapidly. I knew he was confused in the fall but he always recognized me when I came to visit. Now this bear of a man was consistently 350 pounds and hadn’t gotten out of bed for weeks. The brand-new synthesizer he had purchased with the money from the sale of his paint-stripped, malodorous and dandruff strewn gray Honda had never been played. I was impressed that my diabetic hand-trembling friend had successfully engaged the ombudsmen (with some coaching) to persuade the “health center’s” administrator to allow his sizeable synthesizer to be in his room. The space was now more crowded with his bed, cheap furniture, wheelchair, walker, commode and tattered belongings. The social worker made it clear the music equipment was her proverbial thorn.

I dreaded facing my friend’s death since my own yawning grief wounds were rendering me so fragile. On the other hand, I couldn’t bear the thought of him leaving this realm without one final visit. Timidly, I walked into his room noticing a different roommate. The new addition was thinner and more virile appearing than the previous one. This handsome slightly graying man was sleeping on his side, facing the door I had just entered with the white sheets pulled up mid-chest. I sensed sleep had been inspired to escape the odd situation of having an irregularly breathing stranger on the other side of the drab curtain.

I walked to the far side of the dim room wondering why the blinds were always closed. Their Russian immigrant nurse Elena followed me. As a nurse myself, I was impressed that Elena always seemed genuinely invested in my friend’s care.

Mick was lying on his back with his head slightly propped on the institutionally white pillow, staring blankly ahead towards where the wall and ceiling mate. “Oh no, he really is leaving!,” grabbed at my guts. Then I gratefully noticed his crisp linens and gown and finally he was well groomed. I approached his right and called “Mick, hi, it’s Vanita.” His head turned barely noticeable towards the familiar voice with eyes remaining unfocused. “Hi Sweetie,” he said. I knew he recognized me though I had never heard him use a term of endearment in the twenty-six years we had known each other.

Sadness flooded me. What can one say? “You are going home Mick. You are going to see God”. He nodded slightly and another wave of uninvited grief overtook me.

To the strict but compassionate nurse witnessing the intimate exchange I offered my excuse. “I couldn’t come before. With my partner dying I just couldn’t bear it”. Her skilled response eased my burden, “It is okay, you did what you could. You have been through a lot yourself. Yes, he is going home.”  She seemed grateful that this obvious spiritual fact was being acknowledged. I had posted on Facebook and a local community website about Mick’s situation but had only gotten a handful of responses. “Have others come to visit him?,” guilt inquired. “No, just you”.

I doubt the staff had any idea what an advanced being Mick was or the secrets, good and bad, this clairvoyant knew about them. Mick was more evolved than I and he pointed this actuality out intermittently over the years with a very factual tone. He had guided people at psychic fairs on the West Coast with his creative and insightful readings. He was a gifted music channel proud that he had opened for the famous spiritual teacher Ram Das. I had never heard of music channeling before Mick made his debut in my life. This being’s greatest pleasure was to lazily stroll in the forest playing his silver flute while communing with Nature. He attempted several times to convey his light-filled visions but I could only grasp the edge of his perceptions and resultant bliss. Once when he endeavored to describe his experience of the “Eternally Swirling Eye of All Creation,” I was able to briefly glimpse the awe-inspiring enormity of God. Didn’t I realize that God was creating everything in existence in every moment?

I suspect we all often feel alone but Mick’s loneliness was extreme. He was born with a birth defect that resulted in violent projectile vomiting whenever he fed and he underwent major surgery at six weeks of age. He was severely neglected as a child with frequent bonding ruptures and an assortment of caretakers. His mother banished him to a military school at age 5 and his absent father barely tolerated him when he was around. My friend’s dismal socialization plagued him. Add his unique view of reality and his intuitive awareness of people’s hidden selves and he had a large load to cope with. Top this off with his beloved wife’s sudden car-wreck death in 1991 near their home. He was incapable of metabolizing this mountain of grief and never recovered.

I met him six months after the accident that he recounted incessantly for decades. His music, ecstatic spiritual experiences and increasingly infrequent readings were the only things that kept him inching along. His most reliable and comforting companion was the excess food that kept him sedated from the pain of years of inadequate meaningful human contact.

Though he had been briefly in the military and had attended college, Mick was unable to function in everyday practical matters.  Showering regularly, wearing somewhat clean clothes or keeping his dwelling from smelling like a garbage dump were impossible tasks. Despite his shortcomings, he was a rare precious lifeline for me. He casually informed me one afternoon that my guiding essence in life was the “Heart of Love” and encouraged me to always follow it. Whenever I was upset and felt lost he would guide me to an expanded perspective and soothe me with divine wisdom. “How could someone so dysfunctional with so many unresolved issues be so clear and wise?,” I often wondered. Let me tell you about my introduction to this extraordinary, fascinating and complex human being.

I was deeply in love with a man Mick later announced was “my essence twin”, the closest of the soul connections and commonly referred to as a “twin flame”. My twin had met Mick the evening before and received a personal channeling that thrilled him. The next day he wanted to take me to the psychic musician’s home for a couple’s reading.

My twin warned that Mick was quite depressed since the trauma of the tragic accident. We arrived at the beautiful rural three-acre property with its respectable manufactured home. As the front door opened the smell of rotting garbage startled me. This huge man, 6 feet tall and well over 300 lbs, invited us in. He moved and spoke heavily but I was drawn to his deep resonant voice.

The home was filthy and Mick pointed out the garbage “zones” throughout the house. He was proud that the trash was contained in a myriad of large cone-shaped piles. The kitchen sink and counters were laden high with thickly crusted dishes, glasses, cups, pots, and pans with an array of dirty utensils strewn about. Dropped or carelessly discarded food was drying up everywhere including on the floor. He explained he hadn’t been able to keep the house up since the loss of the woman who was so dear to him.

The unkempt man ushered us into his bedroom to our left. “What do you want the reading to focus on?,” but before our reply formed he interjected, “don’t bother, most people are too stupid to know what to ask anyway.” Surprisingly I didn’t feel offended by this, later to be learned, very accurate observation.

The bedroom was cleaner and the odors less. His queen-size bed was elevated four feet off the ground and pushed up against the left and far wall; his black synthesizer faced the foot of the bed and the room was devoid of chairs. “Climb up on the bed,” he instructed. I scanned the sheets and deemed them clean enough to sit but first went to the adjoining bathroom which was another unbelievable scene.

Now we were seated on the cushy bed stage and Mick settled in behind the keyboard that happened to bear the uncommon name of my essence twin in big white block letters. I never expected the musician to casually invite, “Feel free to make love while I play.”  Stunned, but eternally curious I asked, “Has anyone ever taken you up on that?”  “Yeah”, mentioning the names of a couple we were acquainted with. Notably the vibe from him wasn’t perverse which struck me as even more odd. “Uh, we’ll just sit here”.

He began playing his silver flute while watching us. After the haunting opening he put the flute down and created a melody on the synthesizer that touched into the deepest part of me. He began his spontaneous song referring to me as “Anita” but despite that faux pas I was weeping with profound relief of finally being seen and known by another. He sang of an ancient bond and indescribable love between my essence twin and I. He sang of the joy of finding each other after many years of searching. He sang of my vibrantly colored strands of emotion that often got entangled and overwhelmed me. He sang how my twin would help me unravel them into something manageable and useful. “I can’t go on anymore,” he suddenly announced overtaken by a wave of pain. He abruptly pushed his wide slumped shoulders away from the keyboard ending my sorely needed influx of divine grace and I was hooked.

Our friendship grew and deepened but he never recovered from his soulmate’s death; she was not his essence twin he explained but another type of deeply fulfilling but less tumultuous soul connection. He lovingly spoke of her in most every conversation we ever had and clearly was idealizing her. I knew they were in the process of separating just before her death which he rarely remembered. About ten years ago he announced that part of her soul had reincarnated in Australia. During a vision he had seen her home and he gazed on the newborn through the window. He was comforted she was again on the planet with him.

I had numerous intriguing experiences with him as the years passed and also plenty of frustrating ones. His honed spiritual abilities were always dramatically contrasted by his inability to function in the world and his drug of choice, food, was doing him in. His undeveloped interpersonal skills constantly plagued his intermittent attempts at relationships. His wife had founded the popular local metaphysical bookstore with his support and they had been well known though now he was an almost forgotten hermit. By the time he entered the nursing home, he hadn’t seen his middle-aged daughter since she was a toddler, was estranged from his family and one by one managed to alienate most of his few friends.

Now it was time to leave him on this late Easter afternoon. I had been with my partner throughout his illness and only rarely left his side during the last week of his life so it felt really wrong to desert a dying friend in this bleak institution. But I needed to buy groceries for the week and attend a support group that would be able to console me. I was sitting  in a chair on his left side. “Mick, I have to go”. Was that a nod?  “You will be with Joan soon, you will be so happy to see her again. Mick, I love you”.

I knew from studying grief that saying goodbye to his physical form, saying farewell to the friendship we had shared was crucial. Our relationship was eternal but I also knew I needed to utter that powerful word while dreading the anguish that was sure to follow. I finally mustered my “goodbye,” but immediately copped out with “I will be back,” knowing that wasn’t feasible. Though his otherworldly stare continued the entire visit and he hadn’t spoken since his brief affectionate greeting, I was startled when he began whispering the last words I would ever hear him say. “It is so….. beautiful.”

“I am glad Mick, I am so glad,” and I knew he was okay.

Pierce Michael Zippert was prophetically born on April Fool’s Day. His body died March 31st, 2016. He would have been 74.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Great Confusion

The Great Confusion

So many confused.

Christ is not a man who lived long ago,

Nor a woman.

The Christ is not of this world.

 

Men and women, even a child,

Can realize the Light.

It will not come through the body’s eyes,

Glory supplants our binary earthly existence.

 

Wish to become fully the Light?

Be not fooled. Pain will be involved.

How are dense gray rocks transformed into transparent crystals?

How is gold purified?

 

The Christ is Quietness.

A snowstorm scribbled a solid excuse to stay home,

Relief washes over you,

Your daily burdens miraculously lifted.

 

Peace envelops the forest, or city street,

Blanketed in pure heavenly white.

Sunlight transfigures the brilliant wonder,

into a unexpected in-breath of long-awaited awe.

 

This same Love reaches through a young woman’s

Fatigue to comfort her cranky infant,

Or sensed as a man opens his heart

To his woman’s upset directed at him.

 

It is felt as skillful compassion is extended to a distressed addict,

Understanding the incessant attempts to keep the inner demons at bay.

It shines through a neighbor’s soaking of a small dog’s infected wounds,

As day after day, she coaxes the little creature from death’s claws.

 

Christ is the Eternal Remembered,

Not a religion.

Christ is those who embody the Deep Stillness,

Those transmuted by the Joyous Emanation of Immortal

Radiant Light.

 

God’s Peace

road-sun-rays-path.jpg

As you were drawing your last breaths,

I made an altar on your body,

Stuffing your hands full with raisins.

You would have plenty to eat as you journeyed.

 

Your last breath, 3:54am

Another came 3 minutes later surprising me.

 

A spacious medical suite overlooking the bay,

We could see the hospital of your birth from our

window.

 

I sat in the dark, cross-legged

A high backed cushioned chair

Next to your bed

Listening for you.

 

I didn’t experience much

When I let go of my wanting to

I sensed you.

Quiet , dark and deep

To my right.

 

The months of sickness began to ebb,

I remembered

Who you really are

And why I softly fell in love.

 

Our connection was nurturing and sweet,

Quiet and deep.

It took me time to trust it.

 

As I sat in the dark,

I remembered how your presence calmed me.

The first time we cuddled,

Fully dressed,

We feel asleep in each other’s arms.

 

The first time I stepped into your home,

Higher up in the mountains,

Surrounded by tall trees,

Peace enveloped me.

 

I have many Jeffrey’s in my life.

“What number am I?,  you asked and I laughed.

Well, both wasbands have your name,

My son ‘s middle name is that,

My grandson is Jeffrey and

then our Atlantean spiritual brother too.

 

We called you Jeffrey the Sixth.

 

You have some weird pattern some have commented.

Jeffrey means  “God’s Peace”, I tell them.

This is what you are for me.

 

 

An Eclipse’s teachings about Christ

An Eclipse’s teachings about Christ

On August 21st, I was at my sister’s cabin in the Smoky Mountains of North Carolina and all were grateful for an uncharacteristically clear day. Though I had originally planned to experience the eclipse from a music festival in Oregon, I had been led to fly east to be with my family.

Anticipation had been building for months and millions were staged across the diagonal swath of our country where totality could be viewed. Kayaking that morning on a huge lake we joined excited spectators who were camped along the shoreline and on the water for the event. I was heartened that multitudes had detached themselves from their terrestrial fascinations with sports and tumultuous political happenings and were focusing on a momentous cosmic event.

The moon’s courtship with the sun extended over hours, though totality would last for less than three minutes. My first inclination was to meditate indoors as totality approached but I found myself instead on a forested hill above the serene cabin with a clear line of sight. I wondered if darkness would descend that early afternoon with totality, but a surreal gray sepia enveloped our surroundings as crickets began their harmonious chirping. “This is disturbing,” my niece announced as our normal reality was mysteriously being rearranged. Gazing upwards with now naked eyes, we were spellbound. A solid black sphere, the moon, was surrounded by a mesmerizing halo of vibrant, dancing pure white light as if encircled by innumerable fast darting white fire flies. I had not researched the eclipse phenomena beforehand and was gratefully unprepared for what occurred next.

Some background information might help you comprehend my experience. There is growing awareness in spiritual circles of the ancient knowledge that the deepest level of existence is infinite, non-visible black light. Some traditions refer to it as the Void, Nothing, Beingness, Dark Light, or simply the Unmanifest. Even the mystics of common religions refer to this in their writings and I have heard it from Zen Buddhists and the Mexican Toltecs. This black light is the “Source of All” and not to be confused with the destructive psychological and emotional darkness caused by human repression. No, the Unmanifest is profound stillness, deep silence, the peace that surpasses all understanding and the source of all manifestations and infinite possibilities. Shamans access and use this power for regeneration, healing etc. However, most religions and spiritual paths focus on finding or realizing the visible spiritual light. Many overlook this dark light inside them since it is “no thing” or they may experience abject terror peering into eternal vastness.

A spiritually awakened man guided me to this awareness when I was in my twenties. When I looked within myself, I saw what appeared exactly the same as the clear night sky dotted with stars. Turning away, I screamed imagining I would disappear if I went into it. Interestingly, for many years now, I no longer see any stars or visible light in that blackness but find comfort as if being enveloped in a velvety soft black blanket. One shaman-friend reports seeing it as a dark purple black.

I refer to this deep inner reality as God/Goddess and some ancient cultures named it the “Great Womb” or “Mother.” Obviously on a physical level, humans and mammals are conceived, nourished and grown in the dark of the womb before these beings emerge into this outer realm of visible light. Women are known, for a variety of reasons, to have a spiritual advantage in being able to access this inner reality more easily than men.

Now, back to totality on that hill I was perched on. The celestial mating now complete, the moon began her leisurely slide to the left off the sun. Shockingly brilliant, absolutely pure translucent white light burst out at one o’clock on the black sphere. I gasped at the miracle before me and finally understood what the words the “Glory of God” meant. My awestruck educated niece uttered the astronomer’s label for the phenomena, “the diamond ring.”

Though I have studied the Course in Miracles intermittently for decades, I had never before understood how the Unmanifest or Black Light created us. The white light or Christ was born in a single burst and is the one and only “Child of God.” Light is genderless and that afternoon it struck obvious that the “Son of God” would more accurately be named the “Sun of God.” Jesus fully realized he was that light and referred to his Creator (the Unmanifest) as “His Father.” Now there was infinite black eternity and also pure white light but they are somehow inseparable.

How this single burst of white Light became the “10,000 things” is another tale. Our physical eyes perceive innumerable forms today- people, animals, birds, insects, trees, oceans, etc. But whether it is realized yet or not, everything contains the brilliant white light which some refer to as the Christ. The term Christ comes from a Greek word meaning the “Anointed One” which is one who remembers their divine origin. The man named Jesus Christ realized this fully and spent his life attempting to awaken others to this fact. When we remember we are immortal light and not primarily an impermanent body we are “saved” or enlightened. Other Christed beings have walked the Earth including Buddha, Krishna, Rama and Sita, and alive today are Eckhart Tolle, Adyashanti and the female hugging Indian guru Ammachi to name a few.

If you resonate with the great teacher and our powerful loving brother, Jesus, honor him. His entire existence is dedicated to helping us remember who we are. Everyone is the beautiful immortal Light of God/Goddess (Christ consciousness) though purification is often needed to become aware of it. Do you think you are primarily a body that is changing every moment? How depressing is identifying with a decaying form? You, as well as the rest of all physical forms, are made of light! A practical way to train yourself to remember who you really are is to begin to look past the physical forms of people, animals, objects etc. to the light of who they are. Each being you choose to see as light reminds you that you are light also! How cool is that?

What to do with any resentments, hard feelings or grievances you carry about yourself, others or the world? What to do with deep disappointments or judgments you may be addicted to that form the dark clouds blocking your sunlight? This year I have been learning about the stupendous power of true forgiveness. Not the world’s version of arrogant forgiveness that says, “I am better than you so I will bestow forgiveness on that awful thing you did.” Not the namby-pamby version that feigns holiness while suppressing anger or even murderous rage at what happened. True forgiveness accepts our human emotions and works through them until we realize we are all the same. As we forgive others we begin to undo our own shame and guilt about all the errors and mistakes we have also made. We learn to forgive ourselves more quickly. It is a purification practice that is a free ticket to inner peace and freedom. A enlightening book you can delve into is, “Radical Forgiveness” and I invite you to consider committing to a practical forgiveness practice in the coming year.