The Recovery Process for inner child healing - The Process of Processing 2

This page contains quotes and excerpts from various writings of Robert Burney and is intended to add some extra levels of perspective to the series of articles about the Inner Child Healing Process that concludes with the Process of Processing article.

Excerpt from Energetic Clarity

"As I say in the quote above from the last column in this series, relating to nature is easy - relating to other people is messy.  That is because we did not learn how to have a healthy relationship with ourselves in early childhood.  We have to clear up our relationship with our self in order to see our self clearly before we can start to see our relationship to other humans clearly.

And I want to make a point right at the beginning of this article that this is a gradual process of finding a sense of balance - not an absolute destination. The language I have to use to describe this multi-leveled, multi-faceted growth process is very limiting.

"Unfortunately, in sharing this information I am forced to use language that is polarized - that is black and white.

When I say that you cannot Truly Love others unless you Love yourself - that does not mean that you have to completely Love yourself first before you can start to Love others. The way the process works is that every time we learn to Love and accept ourselves a little tiny bit more, we also gain the capacity to Love and accept others a little tiny bit more.

When I say that you cannot start to access intuitive Truth until you clear out your inner channel - I am not saying that you have to complete your healing process before you can start getting messages. You can start getting messages as soon as you are willing to start listening. The more you heal the clearer the messages become."

(All quotes in this color are from Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls)

So, with that qualification about the limitations of language, I am now going to try to communicate as clearly as possible how clearing our relationship with ourselves can help us to be energetically clear in our relationship with other people and with life."

Excerpt from Grief, Love, & Fear of Intimacy

"That poor little boy. It wasn't until almost 30 years later, leaning up against the side of the meeting room, that I got the chance to cry for that little boy. With great heaving sobs, tears pouring down my cheeks, and snot running out my nose, I had my first experience with deep grief work. I did not know anything about the process at the time - I just knew that somehow that wounded little boy was still alive inside of me. I also did not know at the time that part of my life's work was going to be helping other people to reclaim the wounded little boys and girls inside of them.

Now I know that emotions are energy which if not released in a healthy grieving process gets stuck in the body. The only way for me to start healing my wounds is to go back to that little boy and cry the tears or own the rage that he had no permission to own back then.

I also know that there are layers of grief from the emotional trauma I experienced. There is not only trauma about what happened back then - there is also grief about the effect those experiences had on me later in life. I get to cry once again for that little boy as I write this. I have been sobbing for that little boy and the emotional trauma he experienced - but I am also sobbing for the man that I became.

I learned in childhood, and carried into adulthood, the belief that I am not lovable. It felt like I was not lovable to my mother and father. It felt like the God I was taught about didn't love me - because I was a sinful human. It felt like anyone who loved me would eventually be disappointed, would learn the truth of my shameful being. I spent most of my life alone because I felt less lonely alone. When I was around people I would feel my need to connect with them - and feel my incredible loneliness for human relationships - but I did not know how to connect in a healthy way. I have had a great terror of the pain of abandonment and betrayal - but even more than that, the feeling that I could not be trusted because I am not good enough to love and be loved. At the core of my being, at the foundation of my relationship with myself, I feel unworthy and unlovable."

Excerpt from The True Nature of Love - Romantic Relationships

"So the next question then is: am I feeling the tension and the turmoil because of what is happening now - or because of fears caused by my wounds from the past. By being in the Loving observer self we can figure out how much of our reaction is to old wounds and how much of it is to what is happening right now. If we figure out that we are reacting to the now out of our fear of the unknown then we know that we can walk through that fear. If we are feeling terror, panic, desperate neediness, deep insecurity - then we know we are reacting out of wounded child places within. The more that we can observe our inner process from a Loving, wise place, the more we can feel clear and peaceful about the fear of the unknown even as we feel it. It is possible to feel peaceful and scared at the same time - or grateful and sad, or calm and angry. The more we raise our level of consciousness the easier it is to discern between the types of feelings we are having so that we have a place of feeling centered and serene in the midst of an emotional interaction with another person. We can learn to honor and respect and release our feelings but we do not have to identify them as our only reality. We can feel the higher vibrational emotions at the same time we are feeling the lower - and can learn to discern between them.

In the beginning of our healing it is easiest for most of us to access serenity and clarity by ourselves in relationship to nature or animals or people we do not really care about. It is hardest to have serenity and clarity in our most intimate relationships - because that is where we have the most at stake, where we are most vulnerable to getting hurt. That is why romantic relationships are such a wonderful arena for growth for us, because it is the relationship that is the most important to most of us.

As we do our emotional healing and change our intellectual paradigm, we increasingly have a calm place within that we can call on even in our most stressful moments - even in romantic relationship."

Excerpt from a message sent to my e-mail community June 1999.

"Here is a quote from my Trilogy which I am publishing in installments in my Journal. My Trilogy is a Mystical, Magical, Adult Fable in which my Higher Self appears to me as a Unicorn This is an excerpt from Chapter 6 of the Trilogy in which we are discussing the growth process.

"Okay, my beautiful unicorn, I will tell you what you want to hear," I said, rather grandly. "The meadow is circular in shape, just like the Medicine Wheel. And the Medicine Wheel religion contains as much Truth within it as any religion on Earth. Within the Medicine Wheel teachings, there is great significance in the four directions. The North, to which you galloped first, is the place of wisdom. It is the place you represent, the Higher Mind which contains all wisdom. From there you traveled to the East, which is the place of illumination. The direction of the rising sun which brings light to chase away the darkness, and is symbolic of the Light of Truth. It is the 'sees far and wide' place of the eagle. In other words, you lead me towards the Light by expanding my perspective so that I see things in progressively larger contexts. In this way, you teach me to see the Truth of how perfectly the pieces of the puzzle of life fit together when viewed from a large enough perspective.

"From the East, you traveled to the South," I continued. "The South is the place of innocence and trust. One of the colors of the South is green, and that is one of the colors of healing energy. It is also the place of the child within. It was through surrendering to your guidance and trusting that my inner self was innocent, and not some horrible shameful monster, that I was able to access the healing green energy. It was in the South that my emotional healing began, because I was able to start accepting that God really is Loving - despite all of the evidence to the contrary. Once I started remembering enough to trust that God is LOVE, and that everything is unfolding perfectly, then I could access enough courage to open the 'Pandora's Box' of repressed emotional energy that was caused by the trauma of my childhood..

"From the South, you traveled to the West - the place of introspection. It is in this 'looks within' place that everything starts to make sense. For it is within that Truth exists. Only by looking within can Truth be found, and that Truth leads to God. For everything that we see around us is only a reflection of that which exists within. And if we cannot find God, and Love, within - we can never find it without. The Medicine Wheel is a mirror, and only by visiting all four directions can we become whole. The goal of the healing process is balance, and by visiting all four directions we can find the balance that allows the integration of the Spiritual and the physical."

"I would say that you are awakening very nicely," she communicated with what seemed to be a rather self-satisfied look on her face.

"Thank you," I replied, feeling rather proud of myself. "It is your guidance in leading me to the four directions that has brought me some wisdom - which is where your little gallop ended."

"Au contraire, mon amie," telepathed my Higher Self,"I didn't stay in the North, did I?"

"Well no," I said, somewhat confused. "You came back here to the center of the meadow."

"And in returning to the center, which way did I travel?" she asked, with that sly grin.

"You came South," I answered, still not understanding.

"So, from wisdom, I headed back to the South?"

"Yes," I replied. And then I had a sinking feeling in my stomach. If her heading back to the South was so significant, then it could only mean on thing - it was time to trust again. And if it was time to trust again, that meant emotions. I have learned that my growth process is a continuous series of upwardly spiraling circles through ever expanding levels of awareness. In relation to the Medicine Wheel, this means that I need to visit all four directions within each level, or in regard to each issue, in order to achieve the balance that is wisdom about that particular level, in relationship to that particular issue. And once I have gained enough wisdom and balance about a level then it is time to head South again, to trust and feel. To peel another layer of the onion.

My understanding of this process is that each time I move upward from one level to the next, it requires a lot of trust/faith because that particular phase of the growth process feels terrible. This is because each time I move to a larger level of awareness, I have to surrender some of my ego definitions of who I am and how I relate to everything around me. It is the most confusing and terrifying part of the process because I have to let go of the old definitions before I know what it going to replace them. This is the process of 'the death of the ego'. This metamorphosis - death is a process of transformation not an event - occurs as I shed progressive layers of ignorance to bring my ego-self into alignment with Spiritual-Self. This journey to wholeness and Oneness within is how the process of healing brings me to consciousness of the ONENESS of ALL THAT IS.

However, just as my Higher Self had stated only moments before, it does not matter how much intellectual knowledge I have of the path - I still experience the primal fear of the unknown when it comes time to proceed down that path. And my ego fights the process because every time it has to give up some of it's definitions, that is, it's illusions of control, it feels like it is dying. My ego reacts with fear to the out-of-control feeling, not only of the process of redefining which is growth and to it's terror of the uncontrollable unknown in general, but also to the grief energy which it is necessary to release with each successive layer of the 'onion'.

This process translates in my experience in this way: just when I have reached a comfortable understanding of the level I am at, and start to think that I have it all together (that I have finally reached happily-ever-after) - then it is time to move up to a new level. And as I come out of the top of one level into the bottom of the next level, it feels like I am at the bottom of the whole thing once more. It feels like I am in a deep dark hole huddled in a fetal position in despair and pain, and that I have made no progress. I feel very confused, because of surrendering some of my ego-definitions, and it feels like my emotional reality has never been anything but pain-full.

So naturally, my human impulse is to resist the process of surrendering to the grief and the growth. And even though my experience of the process had taught me that when I get to the other side of the grief and the confusion it will feel wonderful, in my humanness I still resist, progressively less then I used to, but resistance nevertheless. And each time it becomes time to surrender once more, I get angry at the process."

The Dance of Wounded Souls Trilogy, Book 1"In The Beginning . . ."

I wanted to share this with you as part of explaining where I have been at in my process. I am at a place of emerging at a higher level - of coming out of the tunnel, breaking out of the cocoon. And this week I have been dealing with my anger that this process never ends. I feel like I have worked long enough and hard enough and I deserve a break. It is natural and human to feel like that - it is also the ego resisting letting go again. And, as I said above, even though I know that I am about to break out into a higher level where the world is Lighter and brighter and more Joy-filled than ever before - I still get angry that the process takes so long (from my perspective) and is sometimes so painful and lonely.

What is important is to not judge and shame myself, to be nurturing and Loving to my inner children, and to keep intervening in my own internal process to tell myself the Truth - that this too shall pass into something different, that every time I go through the tunnel it is very much worth it (once I get out the other side), that I am Loved even though it hasn't felt like it very much of the time lately, etc.

It is also very important to give myself permission to have my feelings - the anger and the pain. They are a perfect part of my growth process. I tell myself the Truth, use positive affirmations and such, as a way of balancing my relationship with the feelings - not as a way of denying them.

The reality that I have been experiencing while going through the tunnel is not punishment or because I have done something wrong - it just feels that way. What I am going through is not just about me - there are changes occurring on a Planetary level that are affecting everyone. We have just been through a compressed, dense period that is going to explode into a very accelerated period. It is a heck of a ride, a glorious time to be alive for this adventure of healing the planet - even thought it feels pretty crappy sometimes. (so much fertilizer!)

I wanted to share what I have been going through in hopes that it might help you be more patient and Loving with your self in your process. Everything is unfolding perfectly. That it is very painful and terrifying and lonely sometimes is not because we are doing something wrong or that there is something wrong with us - it is just the way this human adventure works. Feels like a pretty stupid game sometimes - and at others it feels like a Magnificent, Amazing Adventure. Be kind to your self and your inner children by not buying into the judgment and shame as much as you possibly can.

So, that is what I wanted to share with you. Love starts at home by being Loving to our selves internally. That is what leads us home to the Loving Source."

Excerpt from Wounded Souls Dancing in The Light

"The key, in terms of the concept of internal boundaries as I use it and apply it, is to set those boundaries from a loving place instead of from a shaming and judgmental place. We all learned to try to control our behavior and feelings with shame, guilt, and fear because those were the tools our parents and society used on us. That is where the critical parent voice is born. It is an attempt to have internal boundaries through shame, criticism, and fear of consequences.

To set internal boundaries from shame and fear is dysfunctional in the long term. When we try to control our behavior out of shame and fear it doesn't work because we end up rebelling against that attempted control. We rebel by acting out in the self abusive ways that we are shaming ourselves for in the first place. Thus the codependent cycle of shame, blame, and self abuse, the squirrel cage that most of us have spent our lives running around and around in, is fed by the very shame and fear messages that we are using to try to stop it.

"If I am feeling like a"failure" and giving power to the"critical parent" voice within that is telling me that I am a failure - then I can get stuck in a very painful place where I am shaming myself for being me. In this dynamic I am being the victim of myself and also being my own perpetrator - and the next step is to rescue myself by using one of the old tools to go unconscious (food, alcohol, sex, etc.) Thus the disease has me running around in a squirrel cage of suffering and shame, a dance of pain, blame, and self-abuse."

The reason we rebel is because when we are shaming and abusing ourselves we are betraying ourselves - and on some deep level we know that is not right. The rebel in us fights against this self abuse - but at the same time because we are reacting out of a false, dysfunctional, black and white belief system, the rebel also becomes allied with the very addictions and dysfunctional behavior we are trying to stop with the shame. On the highest level the rebel within is trying to get us to be True to our True self - but because of the black & white, dysfunctional and false attitudes, beliefs, and definitions we are reacting out of, it identifies our True self as being the part of us that feels the need for the addictive substance or relationship or whatever.

Thus, does the dysfunction feeds more dysfunction.

"Any time we judge and shame ourselves, we are feeding back into the disease, we are jumping back into the squirrel cage.

This is a brilliantly insidious disease!

The war within cannot be won by fighting the disease, by fighting ourselves. The only way to break out is to start giving ourselves a break, to start being kind to, and having compassion for, ourselves and our inner children."

Love is the answer

The only way to effectively stop the self destructive, reactive codependent cycle is by loving ourselves - by treating ourselves in ways that are more loving. The only Truly effective way I have found to effectively do this is to integrate into all levels of our internal process a Spiritual belief system which supports the idea that we are Unconditionally Loved. And the key to integrating Spiritual Truth into the internal emotional process and to finding balance emotionally and mentally is to have Loving internal boundaries.

Excerpt from The True Nature of Love - Romantic Relationships

"Tune into your feelings. Recognize that if you have an intense emotional reaction, there is a lot of energy attached, that your old wounds have been triggered. Then you can process the old stuff and separate it from the now. Learn to have a healthy, emotionally honest relationship with your self - and you will start to trust yourself more. Choose to have a Spiritual belief system that includes a Higher Power who is so powerful that everything is unfolding perfectly.

Do the work. Become willing to do whatever it takes to learn how to Love yourself so that you have the capacity to Love someone else in a healthy way.

Let go of judgment and shame. Let go of trying to control life and other people. Let go of thinking you have to do it perfectly. Let go of thinking in terms of right and wrong.

Learn to have compassion and patience with yourself. Know that you are being guided and that you do not have the power to screw up the Great Spirit's plan.

Then just do it. Live. Suit up and show up for life today. Be in the moment as much as you can. You will not always be able to be clear. Trust your Spirit to guide you.

When people ask me how to discern the really gray areas - like: Is this setting boundaries or being controlling? Is this caring or codependent? Is this a geographic or am I following Divine guidance? - what I tell them is to use the short version of the Serenity Prayer.

First I will give you my adapted version of the Serenity Prayer:

God, Goddess, Great Spirit,

Thank you for helping me to access:

The Serenity and Faith to accept the things I cannot change (other people and life),

The Courage and Willingness to change the things I can (me and my attitudes towards other people and life),

And the Wisdom and Clarity to know the difference.

Now for the short version (slightly cleaned up from how I usually express it.)

Screw it.

Screw it. Do what it feels like you need to do. Plunge ahead - or pull back, whatever your heart and gut tells you is the most important thing to do. It will be an opportunity for growth no matter what you decide. It will not be a mistake - it will be a lesson.

The more you heal, the less power the painful lessons will have (because you are taking the shame out of the process), and the more Joy you can tune into. The more you can let go and just live in the moment in a responsible adult way - the more your spontaneous, Loving, playful inner self can come out and play (because the more you trust your Higher Power and the process, the more your inner children can trust you to protect them.)

The more you align your intellectual paradigm with Spiritual Truth and heal your emotional wounds, the more freedom you have to be in the moment no matter what you are feeling. The more that you can have the faith and courage to walk through the fear, the more you will take the power away from the fear and start being Truly free to Live. The more you open up to receive Love and Joy, the more opportunities you will have to tune into Joy in the moment - and the more moments you will be able to stay in the Love.

Then you can, in the moment some of the time, learn to Love as if you have never been hurt."

Inner Child Healing - The Process of Processing

Internal Boundaries

"This is of course a dance of balance, because there are also times in which I need to force myself to take some action (which is a very different thing from trying to force an outcome.) I won't get into how that works right now because this will end up way too long. I will just say that it is so important and helpful to learn to listen to, and trust, our intuition instead of giving the negative, shaming, fear based, critical parent voice the power to determine how we feel about ourselves today. Our Spirits will guide us to do what we need to do, when we need to do it. The more we heal and learn to discern which internal messages are coming from the Spirit and which are coming from the disease - the easier it becomes to see our path more clearly. Learning to have internal boundaries was the key in my process of learning to trust myself and the process more."

Joy2MeU Update Announcement 3-24-2000

"Internal boundaries could also be described as self-discipline or taking responsibility or growing up. They are what is necessary for any real growth to occur. It is necessary for an alcoholic to start having internal boundaries in order to stop drinking - for anyone to stop any addictive, compulsive, or obsessive behavior. In order to start changing our behavior it is necessary to have an internal boundary with the child in us who wants immediate gratification/immediate relief from the feelings. In order to change what we are doing so we can change what we are getting - it is necessary to start having some internal boundaries with ourselves.

Terms like self-discipline or responsibility carried for me the shame and guilt of the dysfunctional society I grew up in - whereas internal boundaries was a much cleaner term, and a much more accurately focused term. I came to focus on internal boundaries in my private therapy practice and in my personal recovery - and found application of the concept to be powerful and effective in starting to help myself and others become more integrated and balanced ."

Wounded Souls Dancing in The Light

"Learning to have internal boundaries is a dynamic process that involves three distinctly different, but intimately interconnected, spheres of work. The purpose of the work is to change our ego-programming - to change our relationship with ourselves by changing our emotional/behavioral defense system into something that works to open us up to receive love, instead of sabotaging ourselves because of our deep belief that we don't deserve love. . . .

These three spheres are:

1. Detachment

2. Inner Child Healing

3. Grieving

Because Codependence is a reactive phenomena it is vital to start being able to detach from our own process in order to have some choice in changing our reactions. We need to start observing our selves from the witness perspective instead of from the perspective of the judge."

Learning to Love our self

It is in relationship to learning how to set internal boundaries that the process of processing is so important. Processing involves observing our own internal dynamic. Observing our thoughts and feelings. It is very important to raise our consciousness, to become more conscious, of our own process.

When we start observing our internal process then we can start discerning between the different levels involved - we can start separating out the codependent, dysfunctional messages from the information that useful and informative. Then we can start setting internal boundaries within the mental, between the mental and emotional, and within the emotional levels of our being.

Within the mental we can start discerning and separating the shaming messages that are coming from the disease / critical parent voice from our own wisdom, knowledge and intelligence. Once we start realizing how much we are allowing the critical parent voice to abuse us, and to dictate our perspective of self and life through a filter of shame, blame, and fear - then we can start taking the power away from those messages. The more we take the power away from the shame and fear the disease is focusing on, the more we can honor our own wisdom, knowledge and intelligence.

By learning to set a boundary between emotional and mental, we can stop reacting to life based on the false belief that what we feel is who we are - that what we feel defines our reality.

"The next time something does not go the way you wanted it to, or just when you are feeling low, ask yourself how old you are feeling. What you might find is that you are feeling like a bad little girl, a bad little boy, and that you must have done something wrong because it feels like you are being punished.

Just because it feels like you are being punished does not mean that is the Truth. Feelings are real - they are emotional energy that is manifested in our body - but they are not necessarily fact.

What we feel is our "emotional truth" and it does not necessarily have anything to do with either facts or the emotional energy that is Truth with a capital "T" - especially when we our reacting out of an age of our inner child.

If we are reacting out of what our emotional truth was when we were five or nine or fourteen, then we are not capable of responding appropriately to what is happening in the moment; we are not being in the now.

When we are reacting out of old tapes based on attitudes and beliefs that are false or distorted, then our feelings cannot be trusted.

When we are reacting out of our childhood emotional wounds, then what we are feeling may have very little to do with the situation we are in or with the people with whom we are dealing in the moment.

In order to start be-ing in the moment in a healthy, age-appropriate way it is necessary to heal our "inner child." The inner child we need to heal is actually our "inner children" who have been running our lives because we have been unconsciously reacting to life out of the emotional wounds and attitudes, the old tapes, of our childhoods."

(All quotes in this color are from Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls)

Once we start the process of learning how to stop allowing the critical parent voice to abuse our wounded inner children, then it becomes easier to start separating out our different wounds - the different ages of the wounded child within. When we start recognizing our inner children - asking ourselves how old we feel - then we can start to heal those wounds. Then we can start to be Loving and nurturing to our inner children instead of shaming and abusive.

"Inner child work is in one way detective work. We have a mystery to solve. Why have I have I been attracted to the the type of people that I have been in relationship with in my life? Why do I react in certain ways in certain situations? Where did my behavior patterns come from? Why do I sometimes feel so: helpless; lonely; desperate; scared; angry; suicidal; etc."

Inner Child Healing - How to begin

We need to discern between different ages of the child, between different emotional wounds, in order to see our own inner process more clearly. Once we start having boundaries within the mental, and between the mental and emotional, then we can also start having boundaries within the emotional level of our being. We can start determining the roots of our patterns, the causes of our emotional wounds. We can start getting in touch with the 5 year old who feels so much shame; with the 14 year old who is rebelling by self destructing; with the romantic within who wants to believe in fairy tales; etc.

If we are feeling a lot of emotional pain over our last relationship, and only looking at that relationship as the cause of that pain, then we are only seeing the tip of the iceberg. Our emotional wounds have been repeated over and over in our life. Our main issues of abandonment and betrayal, of deprivation and loss, of loneliness and insecurity, etc., all stem from our childhood. They did not just magically appear in our adult life. They are part of a cause and effect dynamic. And the closer we can get to cause, the more powerful the healing becomes.

So, there are levels and layers within the emotional to separate out and see more clearly. It is also vital to start discerning between the emotional truth that is coming from our old wounds and the emotional energy that is Truth.

"Truth, in my understanding, is not an intellectual concept. I believe that Truth is an emotional-energy, vibrational communication to my consciousness, to my soul/spirit - my being, from my Soul. Truth is an emotion, something that I feel within.

It is that feeling within when someone says, or writes, or sings, something in just the right words so that I suddenly feel a deeper understanding. It is that "AHA" feeling. The feeling of a light bulb going on in my head. That "Oh, I get it!" feeling. The intuitive feeling when something just feels right . . . or wrong. It's that gut feeling, the feeling in my heart. It is the feeling of something resonating within me. The feeling of remembering something that I had forgotten - but do not remember ever knowing."

One of the reasons that we have repeating behavior patterns is because we have not been capable of discerning between intuitive Truth and impulses arising out of our emotional wounds. It is very important to start learning how to tell the difference between an intuitive message from our spirit and a message that is being generated by the lonely inner child who wants to prove him/herself worthy by earning the love of an unavailable man/father, woman/mother. One of the things that I came to realize in my recovery was that if I met someone who felt like my soul mate, it was much, much more likely to be about an old wound than to be intuitive Truth.

Our intuition is right on. It has always been right on. We did not trust it because of the reflections and messages we got as children. It is real important to start discerning what is intuition and what is an old impulse in order to start trusting ourselves and the process - in order to start relaxing and enjoying life.

A Boundary between Being and Behavior

"It is important to start setting a boundary between being and behavior. All humans have equal Divine value as beings - no matter what our behavior."

"We do not need fixing. We are not broken. Our sense of self, our self perception, was shattered and fractured and broken into pieces, not our True Self.

We think and feel like we are broken because we were programmed backwards.

We are not broken. That is what toxic shame is - thinking that we are broken, believing that we are somehow inherently defective.

Guilt is "I made a mistake, I did something wrong."

Shame is "I'm a mistake, something is wrong with me."

Again, the feelings of that little child inside who believes that he/she deserves to be punished."

The purpose of the inner child healing process, the codependency recovery process, is to learn how to change our relationships into healthier, more fulfilling, and happier experiences. The goal is to learn how to stop empowering the past so that we can relax and enJoy life today. The goal is to learn to be Loving and kind to our self so that we can manifest Love into the world.

In order to do these things it is vital to start eliminating the toxic shame that has been dictating the human experience. As we learn to eliminate that shame from our internal process, we can stop projecting it onto other wounded souls.

As we learn to own our inherent worth as beings by eliminating the shame from our internal process, then we can start seeing the inherent Divine worth in the being of others - even as we do whatever is necessary to protect ourselves from their wounded dysfunctional behavior if that is necessary. Allowing someone to abuse us in the name of love is the opposite of Love - is a denial of Self. Judging and shaming ourselves for behavior that we adapted to cope with our emotional wounds is definitely not Loving.

By learning how to have internal boundaries we can change the quality of our relationships. Our relationship with self/Self. Our relationship with life. Our relationship with people, places, and things.

Becoming more conscious, so that we can learn to have internal boundaries is not a linear process. It involves multiple levels, multiple perspectives. It involves seeing, and taking action, on multiple levels, in a number of different spheres of our dynamic internal process - sometimes focused on a single area, ultimately (at least some of the time) with awareness of multiple levels simultaneously.

"In order to Love ourselves we need to have boundaries within as well as external boundaries. Codependence is a disease of self-victimization - "I'll show you, I'll get me!" We need to stop feeding the dragon within by giving power to the part of us that shames and judges us. We need to stop listening to the disease voices which tell us that we "should" be able to control things over which we have no control.

. . . . . I had to become willing and open and honest enough to start becoming conscious of the dysfunctional attitudes, the dysfunctional perspectives. I had to become willing to learn discernment in order to make choices about the changes I needed to make in my perspectives - especially my perspective on my own emotional process.

Once I started to feel the feelings, to do the grief work, then I could begin to trust myself to be discerning about which of my emotions were telling me the Truth. Only then was I able to substantially change my relationship with my God, with myself, and with life.

I learned that I was able to feel and release the feelings without having them destroy me. I learned that I could change my mental attitudes, I could change the way I think, so that my mind was no longer my worst enemy. I learned that by owning and honoring my inner children and their emotional wounds I was able to take the power away from those wounds by releasing the stored energy, so that I had choices over how I would respond instead of blindly reacting. I learned that I could trust myself to have the wisdom to recognize Truth so that I could accept the things that I could not change and change the things I had some control over.

When I became willing to surrender the old attitudes and beliefs, to surrender to feeling the feelings, to surrender trying to control things over which I had no control, then I accessed the power to change myself and my relationships. I became empowered to change my life into an experience that was defined by Joy, Love, and Peace instead of fear, anger, and pain.

It was vitally important for me to learn how to have internal boundaries so that I could lovingly parent (which, of course, includes setting boundaries for) my inner children, tell the critical parent/disease voice to shut up, and start accessing the emotional energy of Truth, Beauty, Joy, Light, and Love. It was by learning internal boundaries that I could begin to achieve some integration and balance in my life, and transform my experience of life into an adventure that is enjoyable and exciting most of the time."

Levels of the Inner Child Healing Process

I am going to conclude this article and series (except for another page with quotes) with a mention of the major areas/levels that need to be addressed. This is not a linear process! There is no right or wrong way to do the process. There is no diagram that can tell you how your Path is going to unfold. Each person has their own path to follow. We all are going to end up in the same place - but how we get there is unique to each of us. We do have the same basic human emotional dynamic. We have much more in common then we have ever had differences. So, the feelings, and the wounds, are basically the same for all of us. The magnificent complexity of our internal process is part of a human dynamic that we are all here to experience.

"The individual human being is a fully contained system involving multiple interrelationships within multiple levels. This is easy to see, and understand, when looking at the physical level. The interrelationship of the organs to each other, to the blood, to the skin, to the nervous system, etc. - is a dance of grand, and compelling, complexity.

Just as grand, and compelling, is the complexity of the dance of interrelationship between the mental, emotional, and spiritual components/levels that dynamically interact to form the make up of the individual being - the persona, personality, consciousness, of the self. The more awareness is acquired about the different levels of the self, and the interrelationships between those levels, the easier it becomes to diagnose the dysfunctional interaction dynamics."

Wounded Souls Dancing in The Light

When I first got into recovery, someone said to me "All you have to change is everything." Boy, was that the Truth. I did need, and continue to need, to change my relationships with everything. All of my relationships were based on intellectual programming and emotional experiences from my early childhood. Attitudes, beliefs, and definitions determine expectations and perspective. My expectations and perspective dictate my relationships.

In order to start changing the quality of my relationships, I need to own that I had choices about what attitudes, beliefs, and definitions I was empowering. The intellectual paradigm that is dictating my relationships is what determines how I relate to: self; life; the concept of a God-Force; my emotions; my body; my gender; etc., etc. So they also, of course, dictate how I relate to people, places and things.

I had to become aware of my own thoughts and thought process in order to start changing it. I had to become aware of how much the critical parent voice was determining the quality of my life experience. I had to become conscious of the reality that I was negatively affirming myself hundreds of times a day. That I was allowing fear and shame, belief in scarcity, lack, and separation, to dictate my relationship with myself and life.

I needed to fire the judge that was always watching me ready to put a negative spin on anything in my life. I realized that I had the power to take steps to replace that judge with a Loving observer. An observer that could give me the detachment to start discovering that those messages were based on warped distortions, insane expectations, and obscene, soul wounding lies.

In terms of the process of processing, this is an ongoing process. I don't actually get to fire the judge and exile him from my inner kingdom - what I can do is gradually disempower that judge. I do that by changing the attitudes, beliefs, and definitions that are creating the insane expectations and dysfunctional perspectives. I do that by choosing to introduce different programming - taking action to change my intellectual paradigm. (One tool in that reprogramming is using positive affirmations to replace the negative ones.) I do that by owning that I have a choice about where I focus my mind - and a choice about what beliefs I empower. One level of beliefs that it is very important to own that we have the power to change, is our beliefs in relationship to the nature and purpose of life. We do have the right to empower in our life a Higher Power of our own understanding - we do not have to be the victim of anyone else's concept.

Choosing to empower a spiritual belief system that supports the belief that we are Lovable and precious beings is a very valuable part of the process in my opinion. Much of the mental and emotional work can be done without buying into the belief system that I believe to be Truth - but it is much easier when your spiritual belief system is large enough to take the shame out of the equation.

Owning that we have the power to take some control of our own mental processes is vital to changing our relationship with ourselves. We do not have to be the victim of the wounded, dysfunctionally programmed part of our own mind. We can change the way we think into one that is gentler and more Loving. Again, this is a process that unfolds over time - not a destination to be reached.

Emotionally, it is vital to change our relationship with our own emotions into one that works to help us open up to Love - instead of battling our emotions as the enemy. We need to embrace our feelings so that we can release the repressed grief and rage - at the same time we start learning how to have some Loving control over our own emotional process. Our wounded inner child is often like a dog that was abused as a puppy - either cringing in fear or snarling out of reaction. It is a long gradual process to learn how to Lovingly parent those wounded children within us - we cannot do it without owning our childhood experiences and releasing the repressed emotional energy that has been dictating our relationships. Often the dysfunctional attitudes and beliefs we are empowering are subconscious ones from our childhood that we may have rejected consciously in adulthood - but which are still dictating our reactions emotionally. These subconscious beliefs may only come to light when we do our grief work. It is very critical to be willing to do the grief work.

Emotional balance is not a destination. It is a constantly changing dance. In doing our reprogramming intellectually, and our emotional and Spiritual healing - we are changing the music of our dance. We are choosing to have the opportunity to dance with Love and Joy, to dance in Light and Truth - instead of in darkness and disharmony. In order to have the capacity to dance with Love and Joy, we must first be willing to dance with our anger and fear, with the pain and sadness. Through owning our wounded inner children, we get to uncover and release the spontaneous, playful, Joyous Spiritual child within that is the one who will lead us home to LOVE.

Balance in dancing is about having a feeling for equilibrium, moving in harmony, adjusting, balancing, rebalancing. Likewise our inner dance of finding balance is an ongoing process - ever changing, fluctuating, oscillating in tune with the vibrational rhythms. Once we learn to have a sense of balance, a feeling for emotional clarity, then we are able to adjust and rebalance more quickly when some external (life event, other people's behavior) or internal (wounded child reaction, old tape kicking in) stimuli throws us out of balance.

In this process, it is necessary to be continually rebalancing our relationship with our self.

We will not find balance in all areas, on all levels at the same time. The goal is to be at balance in as many areas as possible as much of the time as possible - and to accept wherever we are at as a perfect part of the dance. We focus on an area of relationship (with some part/level of our being, and/or some outward manifestation of that issue/area) and find some balance in that area - and then it is time to focus on another area. And then another and another. By that time, it is time to come back and find a new level of balance in the first area - because we are constantly changing and growing.

We may work on healing our relationship to our same sex parent - which also involves healing our relationship to our own gender, sexuality, emotions, etc., and how we relate to others of our gender and the opposite gender - and that may lead us into focusing on our relationship with money which was distorted by that parents relationship with money. This leads us into looking at the blocks we have within us to receiving abundance in money and all other levels - which leads us into our fear of intimacy issues - which leads us back to our relationship with our parent. Etc. Etc.

Each issue branches off into many other related issues, into all the different emotional and intellectual levels of each of those issues. As we peel away the levels of denial in relationship to each issue, as we get emotionally honest with ourselves on a deeper level with that issue - it opens up more levels, more grief, more denial to peel away. And we find ourselves back looking at the original issues with a new perspective.

In this process, it is not just necessary to uncover and let go of the dysfunctional attitudes and false beliefs of childhood. We need to be willing to see, and let go of, our attitudes of 6 months ago, of 6 weeks ago, of 3 days ago. Because we are growing and changing, our perspective keeps changing. That means our relationships keep changing.

Part of finding emotional balance involves accepting ourselves wherever we are at in the moment. I can have a place where I feel very balanced emotionally, Spiritually, intellectually - but still have some obvious imbalance in my relationship with my physical body. That is OK. That is part of the ongoing healing process. I also have places in time when I feel no balance or clarity about anything. That is OK too. We are works in progress - in process. By not judging myself, and not buying into the belief that there is some destination I have to reach before it is OK to Love myself, then I can have some moments of balance today.

There is no destination to be reached. We will be growing and learning, uncovering and discovering, peeling away denial and releasing emotional energy, for the rest of our lifetime. On subtler levels, with less pain and discomfort as we heal - but it an ongoing process nevertheless.

It sure is a good thing that we aren't in control of this process. It is a good thing that we don't have to figure it out. We will be guided. We are being lead through the process. Our job is to pay attention and learn how to manifest as much Love as possible into our dance in the moment.

In order to do that, it is vital to start taking the shame out of the process. In one sense, the dance of recovery works like a pendulum swinging. The more we are in reaction out of shame, out of the right and wrong paradigm of the disease, the more extreme our swings are in both directions. We react (to an emotional button being pushed), and then we react to our reaction (with shame and judgment.) The less we judge and shame ourselves, the less extreme our swings become.

The more we do our emotional healing so that we are not taking life and other people so seriously and personally, the less power we give to old reactions. The more we take the power away from the old tapes and old wounds, the less extreme our swings become. The more gentle our swings, the easier it is to maintain some equilibrium - some semblance of balance. Gentle swings is what we are looking for and that can only come by being gentle with ourselves.

By getting in touch with, and building an ongoing relationship with the different inner child places within us, we are able to recognize and respond more quickly when we get triggered. When we get triggered multiple old wounds can be triggered at the same time. The reopening of old wounds triggers old defenses to kick in so that the lonely, needy child reacts out of a deeply painful place which triggers the older child who had to get tough, to react with disdain and hatred for the needy part of self. The internal battle is off and running.

The internal battle is what we are working to stop. This is where we need to manifest Love for those wounded places within us. Having compassion for our self, and forgiving our self on an emotional level for our powerlessness as children, is the hardest thing for us to learn.

"We were powerless out of ego-self to do anything any different than we did it. We are powerless out of ego-self to heal this disease. Through Spiritual Self, through our Spiritual Connection, we have access to all the power in the Universe.

We need to have the willingness: willingness to get to a new level of self-honesty; willingness to start listening to the Loving inner voice instead of the shaming ones; willingness to face the terror of healing the emotional wounds.

Codependence causes us to have a distorted and repressed emotional process, and the only way out is through the feelings. Codependence gives us a scrambled mind, a reversed dysfunctional way of looking at ourselves and the world, and we have to be able to use the wonderful tool that is our mind while changing our attitudes and reprogramming our thinking.

It seems awfully complicated, doesn't it?

That is because it is!

On another level it is also very simple. It is a Spiritual Dis-ease. It can only be healed through a Spiritual Cure. It cannot be healed by only looking at the symptoms. That is backwards.

The cure is available through surrendering control to a Higher Power. We cannot do this healing by ourselves. We need a Loving Higher Power in our lives. We need other Recovering people in our lives."

Complex and complicated is this dance of recovery. Multiple interrelated issues branching off into multiple intertwined levels. Some feelings that need to be trusted, some that cannot be trusted. A part of our mind that is the enemy, most of our mind a magnificent resource that we have hardly begun to tap. Twisting and convoluted is our inner journey. Often confusing and baffling, scary and frustrating. So easy to feel the victim of a somehow defective self.

We are not defective. There is nothing shameful about being human. It is not only OK to be confused and scared - it is a normal, natural part of the human experience that it is very important to accept as a perfect part of the process. The less we judge and shame ourselves, the more quickly we get to move out of the painful places. The more we align with how the healing process really works, the more control we have of our own inner process.

We do not have to figure it out - we just need to learn to pay attention in a conscious way. We need to be willing to learn how to be emotionally honest with ourselves so that we can have a more balanced relationship with our own emotional process. We need to learn to discern between the things we cannot control and the things we can have some control over, so that we can start learning how to relax and enjoy the growth process we are experiencing.

Recovery is not self help - or at least not only self help. We need to do our part of the process and let go of trying to do our Higher Power's part. We are not alone. We are being guided. We are being led to new horizons. Our paths are unfolding perfectly.

One of the great gifts of aligning with a Spiritual growth process, is that we get to discover who we are in Truth. As we learn to change our relationship with self and with life into one which allows us the possibility of opening up to Unconditional Love - we learn that we already exist in that State of Grace.

As we learn to remove the distortions, false beliefs and lies from our intellectual paradigm, as we clear our emotional process of the twisted, polluted residue of judgment and shame, then we start to see ourselves more clearly. Then we start to see our Self. As we strip away the masks we learned to wear, remove the garbage and lies from our perspective of self - then we get to see the wonderful Truth.

We are exactly who we always wanted to be.

"A "state of Grace" is the condition of being Loved unconditionally by our Creator without having to earn that Love. We are Loved unconditionally by the Great Spirit. What we need to do is to learn to accept that state of Grace.

The way we do that is to change the attitudes and beliefs within us that tell us that we are not Lovable. And we cannot do that without going through the black hole. The black hole that we need to surrender to traveling through is the black hole of our grief. The journey within - through our feelings - is the journey to knowing that we are Loved, that we are Lovable.

It is through willingness and acceptance, through surrender, trust, and faith, that we can begin to own the state of Grace which is our True condition.

We are all beautiful swans who exist in a state of Grace, in a condition of being unconditionally Loved. The dance of Recovery is a process of learning to accept and integrate the Truth of Grace into our lives.

The goal in this Age of Healing and Joy is integration and balance. To integrate the Spiritual Truth into our physical experience so that we can fill the hole inside and find wholeness within. As we integrate our True Spiritual nature into our relationship with our physical being we can begin to achieve some balance and harmony with and between all of the parts of our being.

This age is a time for growing and learning, a time to become conscious of the True nature of the Source Energy, a time of Spiritual Awakening. We have been given the wonder-full gift of having the ability and the tools to start integrating the Truth of a Loving Universal Force into our day-to-day experience of life. We now have the knowledge and guidance that we need to start bringing some balance to our relationships - with ourselves and our God/Goddess, with other people and the planet - so that we can live in a way that allows us to experience some Peace and Love on our life path.

We can heal our wounded souls enough to change the dance of life from a dance of endurance and suffering to a dance that celebrates living. We now have access to the power to transform the dance of Codependence to a dance of healing and Joy."

The Recovery Process for Inner Child Healing - A Dance of Emotional Balance

This article is part of a series that began with Sharing experience, strength, and hope - My Process and Taking Action about the inner child healing/codependence recovery process and how to achieve some emotional balance in life. In the process of writing these articles, numerous quotes from other things I have written came to mind. Far too many to include in the body of the articles without making them impossibly long (they ended up being pretty long anyway.)

These quotes however have value in that they express different perspectives on different facets of the process. The interrelationships involved in the dance of life are multi-dimensional and multi-faceted. Communicating in a manner which clearly explains the factors involved in trying to achieve some balance in this dance of life is, to say the least, very difficult.

"Everything within the Illusion exists in relationship to the rest of the Illusion. This means that communicating Truth about any facet of the Illusion can be done in relationship to a variety of factors. This involves perspective through multiple levels. It can make a great deal of difference rather a facet of Truth is being described individually, or in relationship to (i.e. God, objective reality, human emotional process, etc.), or if the relationship itself is being described. . . .

Paradoxically, the statement which contains the most Truth may not be the statement which best communicates Truth."

The Dance of the Wounded Souls Trilogy Book 1 History V

A new Age of Healing and Joy has dawned on the planet and a transformational healing process is unfolding. Access to Spiritual Truth is more available to human beings now than it has ever been in the history of humanity. Unfortunately, in my opinion, a great many of the teachers who are accessing that Truth are communicating in a way which feeds right into the shame based polarized thinking (right/wrong) of the disease / condition of codependency.  (For some more recent articles that address some of what I believe are misunderstandings and misinterpretations of Metaphysical Law you can see: The Law of Attraction - Misunderstood & Misinterpreted or New Age Misinterpretations of Metaphysical Truth.)

"To empower polarity, by making black and white statements is to me, a sign that someone is not looking at the human experience from a large enough paradigm. As wonderful a person as I am sure Marianne Williamson is - and she is a wonderful teacher who has brought enlightenment and a new perspective on Love to many, many people - I deduce from statements like the one above, that she still has some black and white judgments going on in her relationship with herself. That is not bad or wrong - just human.

Statements such as hers above, give the message that fear and anger are negative and shameful. I very much disagree. The dysfunction in our relationships with ourselves have resulted in fear and anger being manifested in some really awful ways - but that does not impart negative value to the emotions themselves. Our planet was stuck in a negative paradigm, one that was reversed to the Truth of Love, for thousands of years. The whole human race was the victim of planetary conditions that caused humans to react to this human experience from a place of fear and survival, from a paradigm that empowered belief in lack, scarcity, and negativity. It was the human condition - not something that any individual human being should judge them self for."

News Addendum to Update Announcement 7-20-00

My personal journey of recovery - my search for a way to live life that would help me to Love myself more, to find some peace, happiness, and freedom - lead me to looking at life in larger and larger paradigm. The expanded perspective of life - what in my book I call a Cosmic Perspective - helped me to change my relationship with myself into one that works to help me relax and enJoy life much more than I ever thought possible. That to me, is the bottom line about my personal Spiritual belief system - it works for me.

In sharing my experience, strength, and hope, in sharing what works for me as part of my growth process, I have discovered that it works for many other people also. The bottom line for me in terms of what I attempt to communicate as a teacher, is a way to live life that helps people manifest more Love in their relationship with themselves. Intellectually remembering the Truth of a Loving God-Force, Goddess Energy, Great Spirit will not greatly change the quality of our intimate relationships unless we can integrate that Truth into our emotional relationship with ourselves and life.

"Almost any statement can be shown to be false on some levels and True on other levels, so it is important to realize that the use of discernment is vital to start perceiving the boundaries between different levels.

In the next section, Part Five, when I discuss the Cosmic Perspective and the Cosmic Perfection of this life experience, I will be discussing the paradox, and confusion to human beings, that has been the result of these multiple levels of reality - but I have devoted Part Two and Part Four to discussing the Spiritual growth process and our perspective on that process because the Cosmic Perfection does not mean crap unless we can start integrating it into our day to day life experience.

In order to start changing life into an easier, more enjoyable experience by attaining some integration and balance in our relationships it is necessary to focus on, and clear up, our relationship with this Spiritual Evolutionary process that we are involved in."

Quote from Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls

In the second article in this series about spiritual integration, I discuss the concept of spirituality in terms that are different from my Spiritual belief system. I did that in the hopes that some people, who were reacting negatively to my beliefs, could get past their emotional triggers and old beliefs to see that the formula that I share for inner child healing works. In hopes that readers could start applying some of the tools and techniques to their own life in a way that can help them be more Loving to themselves.

I believe that some of the quotes that came to mind as I was writing this series might be helpful in presenting a little bit different perspective on what I am trying to communicate. On this page I am going to share some of those quotes that are related to finding some emotional balance. Sometimes hearing something from a little bit different outlook can help us to relate and/or understand a facet of the process in a way that works better for us individually. I am hoping that these excerpts about my process and how I apply the tools and techniques in my life can help some of you see more clearly how you can apply them in yours. Maybe you will find that some of these insights will help you to find a way of relating to yourself and life that works better for you.

"This dance of Codependence is a dance of dysfunctional relationships - of relationships that do not work to meet our needs. That does not mean just romantic relationships, or family relationships, or even human relationships in general.

The fact that dysfunction exists in our romantic, family, and human relationships is a symptom of the dysfunction that exists in our relationship with life, with being human. It is a symptom of the dysfunction which exists in our relationships with ourselves as human beings."

Quote from Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls

Some Different Perspectives

Excerpt from Joy to You & Me Newsletter III 10-98

"Working on the positive affirmations page was also a perfect part of my process as usual. While I was doing it I got a perfect example of how wonderful and powerful positive affirmations are - and how dramatically they have changed the quality of my life.

My car broke down.

It was a wonderful opportunity to be reminded of how much work I have done over the years in integrating my Spiritual belief system into my emotional responses to life - when some seeming tragedy occurs like my car breaking down, my very first reaction is gratitude that it happened when and where it did instead of when and where it could have. I used to react to life events (like car break downs) and other people's behavior out of my childhood programming that told me that if something "bad" happened it was because I was bad. I had gotten the message in childhood (in a variety of ways) that there was something wrong with me, that I was unworthy and unlovable, and that God was going to punish me for it. So life events felt like punishment.

Due to all the work that I have done in changing my subconscious programming (including at several different times making recordings of positive affirmations and messages of Love in my own voice to myself that I would play as I was going to sleep at night) my first reaction to life events now, and for the last 4 or 5 years, has been acceptance followed by gratitude because whatever it was could have happened at a worse time and place than it did.

It is amazing to me to see my capacity to let go of things that used to drive me crazy with worry and feel like punishment. The key for me has definitely been integrating the belief that everything is unfolding perfectly into my emotional process - it makes life so much easier.

Of course, that does not mean to ignore the feelings. Unfortunately, a lot of people use tools like affirmations, meditation, gratitude lists, etc. as another way of denying the feelings. These tools are meant to be used to balance the feelings not negate them. After my initial reaction of gratitude, then I let my adult take charge in terms of doing the footwork - finding a mechanic, calling a friend, calling a tow truck. As the car was being towed and I was following with my friend then I relaxed into the feelings and let myself cry with the pain of how hard life can feel sometimes. And when I say cry I mean cry - with heaving sobs. I can access those feelings and release them because of the energy/breath techniques that I have learned on the way (I describe these on the Grief Process page).

Just using the affirmations to keep from feeling my feelings would be out of balance, just staying in the adult to keep from feeling my feelings would be out of balance, just feeling the feelings and letting myself feel like a victim is also out of balance - we need to be able to use all of the tools and own all of the parts of ourselves.

What we are working toward is to find balance. That means using tools like the positive affirmations to integrate a supportive Spiritual belief system into our inner process, as well as using them to balance the feelings that come up. It does not matter what happens in my life - I start immediately to tell my self and my inner children that it is all perfect somehow, that everything is going to work out in the long run - that way I can keep from buying into the shame and doom messages that are coming from the disease so that I can maintain some emotional balance."

Excerpt from Joy to You & Me Newsletter II 8-98

"About frustration, since I mentioned it several times. 10 years ago when I was in a 30 day treatment program for codependence (clinically called: depression) one of the counselors gave a definition of frustration that made me angry then, and still riles me when I am getting frustrated and I remember his words.

Frustration (he said) is what you feel when you are in a power struggle and you are losing.

Which means, for me, that there is something I need to let go of - some part of my plan, my picture of how I think things should be that I need to surrender - so I can see and accept reality as it is and then make the best of it.

A small example: I go to the post office, or the bank, and the line is longer than I want it to be (now that is kind of an oxymoron - I mean really, when has a line ever been "shorter" than I wanted it to be.) I am standing in line and I realize that I am "revving up" (getting wound up tight inside, feeling turmoil, conflict inside) because these people are in front of me (and the nerve of them - some of them have a bunch of packages (never mind how many I have)) holding me up. That is when it is time to stop, take a deep breath and talk to myself. "Now really, this is only going to take 5 or 10 minutes and we've got a half hour to get to the next place. So chill our, lighten up, relax and look around - maybe there is someone or something here you are supposed to see."

And then I can relax and go with the flow of life. My programming is to want to rush, hurry, force things along - so it is very important that I catch it when I am starting to create anxiety for myself - because those feelings are my responsibility, they are not the fault of the people in line or the post office for not having enough people at the windows (It is always so easy to blame bureaucrats - and it is also insane of me to expect reality to be different than it is.)

Every day in my life there are plans, expectations that I need to let go of. I realized at some point in my recovery that the days I was calling bad days were actually the days that things weren't going the way I wanted/expected them to go - and those were the days that I was actually learning the most - so I had to stop calling them "bad" days. (I started calling them adventures instead. What we name things has power - the more we call something hard or bad, the harder it is - attitude adjustment.) That brings to mind one of my columns - here is a quote from it:

"There is an old joke about the difference between a neurotic and a psychotic. The psychotic truly believes that 2 + 2 = 5. The neurotic knows that it is 4 but can't stand it. That was the way I lived most of my life - I could see how life was but I couldn't stand it. I was always feeling like a victim because people and life were not acting in the way I believed they "should" act.

I expected life to be different than it is. I thought if I was good and did it "right" then I would reach 'happily ever after.' I believed that if I was nice to people they would be nice to me. Because I grew up in a society where people were taught that other people could control their feelings, and vise versa, I had spent most of my life trying to control the feelings of others and blaming them for my feelings." - Serenity & Expectations

Learning how to let go of my "shoulds," surrender my picture/idea/plan of how my life is supposed to work or other people are supposed to act, and be willing to accept reality as it is, are the Principles of the Twelve Step Program at work. They are ancient Principles that are an invaluable part of both empowerment and finding some peace within

If we are in a power struggle that we are losing (with trying to control someone, or with how our life is unfolding - trying to force things, or with the God/Goddess Force - something I tend to want to do a lot) then the best strategy is to surrender that fight and find a way that is going to work for us to meet our needs. I spent most of my life with my insides churning, feeling frustrated and angry, because life wasn't what I wanted it to be. (I can remember the first time in recovery that I was aware of feeling serenity - it was like, ick, what is this? I feel empty inside - because there was no turmoil or conflict going on.)

It is so much easier to accept life as it is and make the best of it - there is a catch however. When we accept reality, and let go of trying to force our will on life and other people, there are feelings to deal with. One of the reasons we keep trying to control someone else (to get an alcoholic to stop drinking for instance) is because with all that frustration and anger, mental obsession and rumination, we don't have time to stop and feel how much is hurts, or how scared we are, or feel the grief of letting that other person go. The reason we try to control other people is to protect ourselves from our feelings - and it is important to admit that. Of course we want what is "right" for them, what is good for them - but we don't know what their "right" path is. Some people are supposed to die of Alcoholism - that is their path."

Excerpt from Joy2MeU Journal article "1, 2, 3, and a 1, 2, 3 - The first three steps"

"Recovery is a process of learning to accept reality. Empowerment is about accepting reality as it is and making the best of it. In order to accept reality, it is necessary for me to be honest enough with myself to realize that I am not in charge of this process. I cannot make life do what I want it to - so I need to continuously surrender to the plan of The Great Spirit rather than try to force my plan on the Universe (and feel sorry for myself, or blame others, when that doesn't work.) It is not bad or shameful for me to try to make things happen the way I want - it is just human, dysfunctional, and painful. The sooner I catch myself not accepting reality as it is, the sooner I can let go of my picture of how I think things need to be, the more serenity I have in my life.

Melody Beattie says "Learn the art of acceptance - it is a lot of grief." She is right. Many times the reason I am not accepting reality is because I do not want to own the feelings involved. The grief and anger over a loved one self-destructing. The grief over having to let go of something or someone that means a lot to me. The grief over accepting that life - from my perspective - is not fair or just. One of the reasons that I try to control life is to protect myself from having to see someone I Love in pain. I cannot protect others from the reality of life, or from themselves, - and if I think that I am trying to control someone else just for their sake I am lying to myself.

The principle behind the first step, and the foundation of the twelve step, or any Spiritual program, is self-honesty. If we are not being honest with ourselves, then we are not capable of being honest with anyone. It is vital to start stripping away the layers of denial, self-delusion, disassociation, magical thinking, victim thinking, blame, resentment, and dishonesty that we learned to protect ourselves with in childhood. Again, it is not shameful or bad that we have used these behavioral and emotional defenses to protect ourselves - it is because we were wounded in a variety of ways in childhood."

Excerpt from Joy to You & Me Question & Answer Page 2 8-98

"We can go out of balance with anything. I can use acceptance as an excuse for not taking action or responsibility. I can use forgiveness as an excuse for not standing up for myself - to avoid confrontations. I can say I am taking care of myself when I am really isolating and indulging in instant gratification.

Recovery is a continuous balancing act. What is so important to get clear on, is that the answers are not in our head - they are in our heart and our gut. We can't think our way through recovery. But in order to start trusting our feelings we need to do the grief work. It is a complicated and complex process that has to be taken one step at a time - literally, I am saying just keep putting one foot in front of the other doing what is in front of us - following where our Spirit is leading, where our Higher Self is leading us.

. . . . About a year before I went into a thirty day treatment program for Codependence I read a meditation in a meditation book that really made me angry. It said something to the effect "that knowledge of the path does not replace putting one foot in front of the other." I always wanted to think my way through recovery but there is no way - recovery is like life, it is messy and I don't know what the outcome is going to be - there are feelings involved and that is real scary. I had programming that told me that it was shameful to make mistakes or be wrong - so I was always trying to figure out the outcome before I committed to the course - does not work that way. We can't figure out the outcome because we have never been to the places we are going. Every year in my recovery has brought me to new dimensions that I didn't know existed before - I never knew that I could possibly live my life with as much serenity and happiness as I do now without having some of the things (financial, relationship, etc.) that I thought were necessary for happiness and peace. I keep learning and growing. I keep going back to kindergarten again just about the time I think I have finished graduate school - it is a continual balancing act."

Excerpt from Joy to You & Me and Joy2MeU Update 2-4-00

"Recovery is a dance of balance. As I talk about in Energetic Clarity:

"And once again here, I want to make the point that clarity with our self is not an absolute destination. This healing is a gradual process of finding a sense of balance - a sense of what clarity feels like, so that we can look for and recognize when we have it and when we do not. In order to do that it is vital to learn how to be emotionally honest with ourselves so that we can be discerning in our relationship with our own mental and emotional process. Through that honesty we will achieve some energetic clarity as well.

Through that energetic clarity we will be able to access Love from the Source - and we will learn to Love and trust our Self to guide our self through this boarding school that is life as a human."

A sense of balance - not a destination. We are on a Journey - the point is to be present for the journey, not to reach a destination.

It is important to have goals because that gives us a direction - but then we need to let go of reaching that destination, at least in the way we picture it is going to be.

That is part of the paradox of recovery. It is very important to know that it is Ok to have dreams, to affirm and visualize our dreams coming true, to take action and plant seeds to make them possible, to open up to receiving all of the abundance of the Universe - and then we need to let go of believing that we will not be Ok until, or if, those dreams come true. We need to let go of the future and be present today. And know that we are Unconditionally Loved today - and every day, rather we reach our goals or not."

Excerpt from Joy2MeU Journal First Issue Newsletter 4-99

"More Will Be Revealed about how this is all going to unfold. And, of course, we all know (or any of you that have read my newsletters ) that my plans usually end up giving way to the Universes Plans (what am I saying usually - always is more like it!) I was talking to someone the other day and really liked how I said something (this sort of thing happens a lot - when I listen to myself consciously I learn. It was a little over 15 years ago when I first realized that I could consciously "move" my ego-self aside and allow myself to be a clear channel for my Higher Self / The Spirit.)

"The purpose of me making plans is to provide God with a framework in which to teach me about surrender, acceptance, patience, and Faith."

I think that is really beautiful and True - and it also pisses me off some. Oh well."

Excerpt from Joy to You & Me Question & Answer Page 5 9-98

"We are powerless over outcomes in the future. The future is not really our business - it is our Higher Powers. We worry about the future because of our innate human fear of the unknown - it is natural and normal for humans to fear the unknown - but ultimately the future is not something we can control.

Now that does not mean that we are not co-creators of our lives - that doesn't mean that we just sit around doing nothing. There is an old story about a guy who wanted a garden and went out on his land and spent every day praying to God for a garden. This went on for days and then weeks and then months - finally one day the man got fed up and yelled at God "Where is my garden?" A gentle voice came down from heaven saying, "My son, you must plant the seeds."

We need to do any footwork necessary, gather any information that is helpful, make any connections that can help us, etc. and then let go of the outcome. Some days are seed planting days and some days aren't - if we put all of our energy into trying to create the future we want then we miss out on today - but if we just think of today and never think of the future then we are not being co-creators of our life.

We need to have a balance between being a responsible adult and being free to be spontaneous in the moment. By having internal boundaries and starting to change our patterns so we are not always reacting to the past - we can start having the choice of being present in the now. It is very important to be available for life today. I heard someone in a Twelve Step meeting not long ago say "What if today is the happiest day of my life and I miss it because I am busy getting better?" Balance is what we are seeking - balance between being in the now and taking care of business so we can eat tomorrow. . . . .

And most important, remember to lighten up and enjoy life when you can - take time to smell the roses and hear the birds and watch the sunset - we need to own the anger and the pain and the fear but they are not what defines us - who we really are is Light and Love and Joy and Beauty - and that is the Truth. We are the music of The Great Spirit - we've just been way out of tune."

Excerpt from Joy to You & Me Newsletter IV 10-98

"Which brings me to what I wanted to talk about. I am so incredibly grateful for this path I am on. The miracle of the Twelve Step Recovery Program Spiritual Principles first saved my life when I was trying to kill myself - then saved my life again when my Codependence was close to killing me. My Codependence Recovery then turned living from something which was miserable and unbearable for me into a Glorious Exciting Adventure. I am so glad to be alive today - and have a life work that I passionately believe in, Love doing - and which brings me great Joy. I am not sure how I am going to pay my rent next month, haven't had anything close to a Love relationship for several years, and have some health problems - but those don't matter today. I am free to be Happy and Joyous in the moment for the majority of the moments of every day.

What I can see now is that my response to my car breaking down last month (Newsletter 10-25-98 below) broke me through to a whole new dimension of existence. I have for years had a bumper sticker on my car that says Happy Joyous and Free - and I have had increasing tastes of what that means over the years - but now I am Truly living in a space where that is my reality most of the time. I am Free to be Happy and Joyous in the moment most of the time because I am also free to be angry or sad or scared or hurt in the moment. I am Free because I have let go of the "What ifs" and "If onlys" which are just my disease wanting me to feel deprived and victimized. I am Free because I know in my heart and in my gut that I am Unconditionally Loved and I don't have to earn it. I am Free because I know the future is not in my control - and I know that I am doing all of the seed planting and footwork that the Universe is prompting me to do. I am Free to relax and enjoy life because the Spirit is guiding me.

Years ago I ran across a saying that I really liked and wanted to set as a goal - "Serenity is not Freedom from the Storm - Serenity is Peace Amidst the Storm." I always thought that I had to stop the storm. Now I can be serene and peaceful no matter what the storm brings - life events like car breakdowns, other peoples behavior which is just them dancing with their own wounds, apparent financial insecurity, that I am still doing some unhealthy behavior health wise, whatever - I don't have to be perfect, I don't have to have money, I don't have to be in a relationship, to be happy."

Joy2MeU Journal Newsletter Second Issue - May 8, 1999

"My process works in cycles [I talk about the dynamics of this on the Self Nurturing page of my web site, and in Chapter 6 of the Trilogy] that are always rising to higher levels - but it doesn't always feel that way. When I break through to a new level, I am at the bottom of the new level but it feels like the bottom of the whole thing again.

. . . . Whenever I get to a new level it feels like shit (fertilizer) for a while because I am having to let go of some of my old ego definitions and I don't get to know what is going to replace them until I get to know. An analogy I used to use that just came to mind is this: It feels like I am flying through the air on a trapeze and I have to let go of the one I am holding onto before I even see the one that is going to swing down for me to grab a hold of - an incredible act of faith. The empty handed leap into the void.

. . . . . This "hanging here terrified" is a perfect part of my process. It is confusing and scary and very, very painful. I am getting to revisit it, in part, to heal some of the shame that I allowed my disease to heap on me so many of the other times I have been in transition.

It feels very familiar - this place. And the disease (and unsafe people) want me to believe that it is my fault that I am here again. This is the time when I most need to be Loving and nurturing to myself - and the hardest time to do that. It is a time when I really get to see who is my friend and who isn't. Anyone that will lay any judgment on me at a time like this is someone that is not going to be in my life anymore. It is a great time to discern who I want in my life and who I don't.

It feels like the same place I have visited before - but it isn't really. It is the same wound, the same abyss of pain - but I am visiting it now on a higher level."

The Path of one Recovering Codependent - the dance of one wounded soul - 6-99

"It is quite common - especially with "New Age" types, but also in 12 step recovery programs - for codependents to give other codependents the message that "you must be doing something wrong" or you would not be: 1. in financial difficulty, 2. sick, 3. out of a job, 4. in a relationship, 5. not in a relationship, 6. whatever. For people to judge others for how their life looks on the outside. No one has a right to judge someone else's path. No one can know what Karma someone else is settling, and what is necessary to settle that Karma. If one person is able to cure themselves of cancer and another person dies of cancer - that doesn't mean one person did it right and another did it wrong. Each of them is perfectly on their path. There is no right and wrong. We are all one. We all get to go home. We have different lesson plans while we are here. There is no right and wrong.

. . . . . I do not have the power to screw up The Great Spirit's plan. I am perfectly where I am supposed to be on my path. I don't have to like what is happening in my life - but in order to have any serenity I need to accept my reality as it is today. The quality of my life today, in this moment, is directly related to how much I am allowing the disease to shame and judge me. When I have internal boundaries with the disease so that I can choose not to give power to the shame and judgment, then I am a success. I am being successful in Unconditionally Loving myself in this moment. When I have a Higher Power that Loves me Unconditionally and I can accept that State of Grace - then I am Loving myself. Then it does not matter what anyone else thinks of me. That is True empowerment. That is Love. I am a great success today. I really have it together right in this moment."

The Recovery Process for Inner Child Healing - Through the Fear

Emotional Balance - through the fear

"Recovery is not a dance of right and wrong, of black and white - it is a dance of integration and balance. The questions in Recovery are: Is it working for you? Is the way you live your life working to meet your needs? Is the way you are living your life bringing you some happiness?"

Quote from Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls

"Codependence and recovery are both multi-leveled, multi-dimensional phenomena. . . . I am going to make a brief point about two dimensions of this phenomena in relationship to empowerment. These two dimensions are the horizontal and the vertical. In this context the horizontal is about being human and relating to other humans and our environment."

"On a horizontal level empowerment is about choices. Being victimized is about not having choices - about feeling trapped. In order to start becoming empowered in life it is absolutely vital to start owning our choices."

Empowerment and Victimization

Codependence involves feeling trapped; feeling victimized; feeling like we don't have any choices.

On a very core level, codependence is about buying into the belief that we are trapped. Trapped in relationships, in being abused by a parent, in jobs, in a geographic area, in having someone else's belief system define us, etc. Feeling trapped is a function of believing that we do not have any choices. That is never the Truth. We always have a choice as I talk about on my page about Empowerment and Victimization.

The most insidious and powerful level of victimization that codependents have to overcome in recovery is the level of feeling victimized by our self - by who we think we are, our false image of ourselves. We have a core relationship with ourselves in which we feel that there is something inherently wrong with our being - that we are unlovable and unworthy, somehow shameful. (See inner child healing section.) Because of that, we learned to try to do things "right" in order to overcome our defective self and earn the love of others - or we went to the other extreme, and tried to convince our self that we didn't need others. These are the two extremes of the disease of codependency - classic codependent behavior and counterdependent behavior. (See Codependent Relationships Dynamics part 3 - Codependent & Counterdependent Behavior)

Anytime we say something to the effect of "I can't help it, that is just how I am" or "That is the way I have always been" or "That is just me." or that type of statement, we are being the victim of the false self image we built up to protect ourselves. We are empowering our codependence. "I can't" is almost never a true statement. The true statement is "I choose not to."

But we can not make choices until we realize that we have the right to make choices. Growing up in environments that taught us that life was about right and wrong, was black and white, caused us to be afraid of making choices for fear of doing it "wrong." We were powerless to make choices as long as we thought the only choice was between right and wrong - because as long as we believed that we were in reaction to old tapes.

We grew up in societies that were emotionally dishonest. In societies that taught us to do things "right' in order to feel valued and loved. In societies that taught us that life was about destinations and that when we got "there" we would feel fulfilled and happy.

It is not about getting "there" - not about destination. It is about learning and growing on our journey - it is about making enough progress to have the capacity to enjoy "here" as much of the time as possible. Balance is a shifting, changing, constantly fluctuating dance that we are learning to relax into - it cannot be forced, it cannot be restricted by some arbitrary and rigid beliefs about right and wrong. It is about each of us following our own path, our own Truth, in learning to align with the Truth that is Love.

Life, and recovery, are multi-leveled dynamics. There are multiple levels within the horizontal level. There are multiple layers to our wounding. Part of the reason it is so important to start to learn how to have internal boundaries is so that we can start seeing the different levels - start sifting through the layers. As long as we are reacting to old wounds and old tapes then we have no choices - and our perspective is all messed up.

"Our "self" is made up of a myriad of relationships. We have a relationship with our own mind, our body, our emotions, our soul, our gender, our sexuality, our concept of a Higher Power. We learned to relate to ourselves according to how our father, our mother, our siblings, our classmates, our teachers, our relatives, etc. related to us. The events of our life added dimensions and flavors to our relationship with our self. . . . . The ways in which we experienced our self in those early years were through what we felt and the reflections we saw in the eyes of the people around us - in the ways in which people reacted to/behaved toward us. We had to learn to define and defend ourselves in the best ways we could because the reflections we saw, the behaviors we experienced, were coming from people who were wounded and reactive, angry and scared, hurt and ashamed. We learned to relate to ourselves, to other people, and to the life process, in early childhood - and then had more experiences growing up (and as adults) that reinforced in different ways the original experiences.

We have layer upon layer of attitudes, definitions, and beliefs that are a factor in how we relate to ourselves. Until we become aware of how those events, traumas, experiences, etc., have effected us we cannot change how we react in the situations that stimulate memories of those incidents - cannot defuse and disempower the reactive buttons that have been running our lives."

Wounded Souls Dancing in The Light

It is vitally important to start sifting through the layers in order to see life as it really is - and to learn how to be honest with ourselves. We have lived our adult lives in reactions to our childhood wounds and programming. Our patterns in relationships (all relationships - with other people, with money, with work, with our own bodies, etc.) are symptoms of our childhood wounding. As long as we are focusing on the experiences of our adult life without looking for how it is connected to our childhood, we are not seeing reality clearly. As long as you are looking at your last relationship from the perspective of blaming your self or the other person for your problems, you are not being honest with your self - you are reacting from old black and white perspectives.

In order to change our experience of life we need to heal the causes - not keep focusing on the symptoms. In order to do that it is vital to start practicing discernment - start practicing picking the baby out of the bath water instead of swinging between reactive extremes.

"Learning discernment is vital - not just in terms of the choices we make about who to trust, but also in terms of our perspective, our attitudes.

We learned about life as children and it is necessary to change the way we intellectually view life in order to stop being the victim of the old tapes. By looking at, becoming conscious of, our attitudes, definitions, and perspectives, we can start discerning what works for us and what does not work. We can then start making choices about whether our intellectual view of life is serving us - or if it is setting us up to be victims because we are expecting life to be something which it is not.

One of the core characteristics of this disease of Codependence is intellectual polarization - black and white thinking. Rigid extremes - good or bad, right or wrong, love it or leave it, one or ten. Codependence does not allow any gray area - only black and white extremes.

Life is not black and white. Life involves the interplay of black and white. In other words, the gray area is where life takes place. A big part of the healing process is learning the numbers two through nine - recognizing that life is not black and white."

Quote from Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls

Clarity comes from changing our perspectives so that we can see the different levels involved in the life dynamic and not buy into the black and white perspective of the disease. The disease of codependence, as I define it, is centered in the ego - which was damaged, traumatized, and programmed very dysfunctionally in early childhood.

In recovery we are reprogramming our ego-defenses to help us open up to the Truth of who we really are instead of buying into the lie that we are defective, shameful beings. We are changing our tool box for dealing with life from one that is full of dysfunctional, self-destructive tools to tools that actually work to help us get free of the old programming and open up to having moments of Joy and happiness in our life experience.

Changing our relationship with Fear

The number one tool of the ego is fear. Anytime we feel fear, there are multiple levels involved - multiple perspectives from which that fear is originating. And, like all the other emotions we experience, fear has a purpose and needs to be honored as a gift. Emotions do not have value in and of themselves - they just are. What give emotions a positive or negative value is how we react to them. Most of us learned to have negative reactions to emotions because our perspective of our own emotions was all messed up in childhood. (Due to the messages and role modeling of the adults around us.)

Fear is an important tool in living. It is there to protect us, to help us avoid situations and people who will do us harm. It is our relationship to fear that is dysfunctional because of our childhood experiences.

There is a level of fear that is unavoidable in being humn - that is fear of the unknown.

"This human experience is a process that involves inherent conflict between the continuously changing nature of life and the human ego's need to survive. In order to insure survival (which is the ego's appointed task) the human ego needs to define things. What is food? What is friend or enemy? Who am I and how do I relate to them? What can hurt me and what brings me pleasure? It also learned that it is healthy to have a fear of the unknown (it was important to check an unknown cave for saber toothed tigers before strolling into it.) As a result, the ego fears change and craves security and stability. But because life is constantly changing, security and stability can only be temporary."

Loving and Nurturing self

Fear of the unknown is a natural, normal part of being human. It has a purpose - and deserves to be honored as something which serves us. But, like our relationship with all the aspects of our being, our relationship with that fear is dysfunctional.

The damaged ego responds to it's programming by generating fear of the things we learned to fear as a child: making mistakes; doing it wrong; being emotional; speaking our Truth; taking risks; being alone; not being alone; whatever. We then empower the fear by focusing on it, magnifying it, and generally giving it the power to define us and our life - or by denying it, which also gives it power because in denying our fear we are denying our self and reality. Going to either extreme results in the inability to see the situation clearly.

Because our ego was programmed to react to life from fear, negativity, scarcity, and lack (again due to emotional trauma we experienced, and the messages and role modeling of the adults around us) the disease focuses on and magnifies fear - and then it scrambles around trying to find something to cover up and repress the very fear it is generating. The disease blows the fear way out of proportion and then leads us to addictive and/or compulsive behavior as a way of stuffing the fear.

This is the essence of the dysfunction. We live our life reacting to fear, and the shame, that the disease empowers and then "helps" us avoid by causing us to focus on something outside of ourselves as the cause and/or the cure for the core place within us where we feel empty - where we feel unlovable and unworthy.

We are afraid of our own emotions - of all the repressed feelings and unresolved grief that we are carrying. We learned to be afraid of our own anger and pain and fear. We feel afraid of our fear of our own emotions. It is this fear once (or twice) removed that is paralyzing. That is, the fear of our own fear is our greatest block to healing. We are afraid of our own pain and anger - and then we are afraid of our fear of our own pain and anger.

In order to start finding some balance in recovery, it is important to learn how to take power away from the fear. In order to do that, it is very important to clear up our relationship with fear. And to look at all the different levels involved in our reaction.

The first step is to stop judging ourselves for our fear (or anger, or pain, or lonliness, etc.) - or denying to ourselves that we even have fear.

"So the resistance to growth and to feeling my feelings, which I feel, is not just some kind of a 'character defect'. It consists of ages old adaptations of behaviors and attitudes which the human species found necessary for survival. It was important for me to start understanding this so that I could stop judging myself for my fear and resistance. I had to learn to accept, and honor, my fears and my resistance - in order to stop fighting the growth process so much. Then I could start to align myself with the growth process and make my experience of life easier and more enjoyable. Then I could start to understand that faith is not the absence of fear - faith is having the courage to face my fears and walk through them so that I can reach the next level of growth."

The Dance of the Wounded Souls Trilogy Book 1, Chapter 4

We need to take the shame and judgment out of our internal process. That is why a spiritual belief system is so important - so that we can start seeing ourselves more clearly, start seeing realistically instead of through the shame filter of the disease.

Once we have started integrating a Spiritual belief into our process - or a spiritual philosophy that allows us to start looking clearly at cause and effect - then we can start to be detached enough from our own process to see it more clearly.

Taking power away from the fear

In order to start finding some balance in recovery, it is important to learn how to take power away from the fear. In order to do that, it is very important to look at all the different levels involved in our reaction so that we can start to clear up our relationship with own fear.

Anytime we have a strong reaction to someone or something, it means there is old stuff involved - old wounds, unresolved grief. One of the first steps to taking the power away from the fear is to detach from the feeling a little and take an honest look at reality. It may feel terrifying, may feel life threatening - but is that the truth?

There is a tool that comes out of Transactional Analysis that can be very helpful in taking some power away from fear. It is called a fear slide. The way it works is that you write down what your fear is - say, I am afraid I will be alone on Valentine's Day, or I am afraid he won't be my friend any more, or I am afraid I won't get the job, etc. Then on the next line you write the answer to this question: "If that happens, then what?" Then I will feel hurt, or whatever. On the next line you write the answer to that same question, "then what?" And you keep doing this down the page. Eventually, you will come to: "I will die." or "I will cease to exist."

    I am afraid _______

    If that happens, then what?

    If that happens, then what?

    If that happens, then what?

    If that happens, then what?

Then you go back to the original fear, and ask yourself, "Will I die if I am alone on Valentine's Day? The answer is, of course, no you won't die.

As mentioned the ego is focused on survival. That translates into avoidance of pain. In order to help us avoid what it perceives as survival threatening pain the ego generates fear and then magnifies it - turning it into a huge monster. It is very helpful to force ourselves to take a realistic look at the monster in order to stop giving our emotional reactions all the power.

In our disease, the fear of being alone on Valentine's Day feels life threatening. It feels like a big monster. If we give power to that fear, what happens is we get so uncomfortable living with the fear that we try to find some way to repress it. The ways we find are usually self destructive - alcohol, drugs, food, whatever.

If we can take a realistic and honest look at the monster, and say to ourselves, "No, I won't die if I am alone on Valentines. But I will be sad." Bingo! The reason we are afraid is because we have a lot of unresolved grief over lonely holidays, pain over failed relationships, etc., - all going back to the core wound of the little child who felt alone and unlovable.

If we can start to be emotionally honest with ourselves, by owning our grief, it will help us to take power away from the fear.

Learning to be emotionally honest with ourselves, is a whole other aspect of the processing dynamic that I am not going to talk about in this article - I will get into that in another article in this series and there are other articles on my web site about that. What I will say about it, is that it is very important to do some of our processing verbally or through writing. We do not get in touch with our feelings through thinking. It is when we start talking about or writing about what is going on internally that we start actually feeling and releasing the emotional energy.

There are certain other things that can help us to get in touch with emotional energy - including through various types of art, drawing, painting, collage, etc.; movement and music; body work; etc. - but the primary processing tools are writing or talking.

Writing about fear

In the update announcement that sparked this article, I was processing through some levels of fear in order to become clearer on where the fear was coming from. I was having resistance to finishing an article, and since I knew that resistance comes primarily from fear, I was processing.

First I looked at the reason that my head was telling me I was procrastinating. Fear about stating a controversial Truth in public. Almost as soon as I wrote that, I knew that was not the main level. I have been speaking and writing my controversial take on Truth for many years now and that one does not have any real power anymore.

I then went on to a different level, that of fear of saying things in a way that a reader could use to beat themselves up with. Ultimately I am powerless over how someone reacts, but it is something that I give some power to because I want to communicate as clearly and cleanly as possible. By touching on that level of fear, I could put some effort into clear communication and then let go of the outcome. By focusing on a level and then surrendering to my ultimate powerlessness over others, I can take a little of the fear that is out of balance out of the equation.

The next level I touched on was that of the "out-of-control" feeling that I get with my writing. This is jumping off the diving board kind of fear that is just inherent in the process for me. That there is a basis to feeling not in control of my writing process is proven by the reality that writing about my fear in that update has lead to at least five other articles so far. I was afraid of where the writing was going because I had a picture of what was supposed to be written next - of what my priorities were for my writing time and energy. By acknowledging that certain things cause me to feel afraid because they feel out-of-control, I can take a little more fear out of the process.

Through writing about that fear, I could get in touch with what attitudes of mine were magnifying the fear. That is, how my picture of where I needed to focus my time and energy was causing me to resist going where the writing was taking me. I am responsible for how my perspective, my attitudes, set me up to have emotional responses. When I am not open to events unfolding in way different than I had planned, then I am setting myself up for feelings.

When I think that things have to go a certain way for me to be OK, then I am setting myself up to be a victim when they do not unfold the way I think they need to unfold. I am making a choice to see life in a certain way. That choice, that attitude, then sets me up to be afraid if things go differently than I want them to go. I am responsible for that fear. I am creating that fear out of the intellectual paradigm, the expectations, that I am choosing to empower.

If I have a picture, an expectation, of how I want life to look today and you do something that messes up that picture, my codependent reaction is to get angry at you and blame you for messing up my day. This is doubly dishonest. First of all, I am getting angry in response to my fear that I will not be OK if things do not work out as I had planned. That is emotionally dishonest. Secondly, I am blaming you for the feelings that are being caused by my attitudes, my expectations. That is codependency.

In regard to the situation I have been talking about, there was no other person involved - so I was getting angry at, and blaming, my self. I was having a hard time finishing the article I was writing. I had a self imposed deadline for finishing that article that was part of my agenda for how I saw the immediate future unfolding. I felt that I needed to finish that article so that I could send out my update announcement so that I could get on to whatever the next important thing I thought I needed to get done. I was trying to control my life by forcing an outcome.

I was trying to control my life because I was afraid that I wouldn't get the things done that I thought I needed to get done to take care of myself, to meet my needs. I was afraid of the unknown future, so I had designed my own agenda, and then was getting angry and frustrated that I could not meet my own agenda.

Because I was judging myself and impatient with myself, the rebel within me was rebelling through procrastinating. I was then judging myself for my procrastination - and then turning around and shaming myself for judging myself for my procrastination. (I stopped judging and shaming myself in gross ways years ago - i.e. I don't call myself names like stupid or loser or whatever - but the disease dynamic still kicks in on much subtler levels. As we make progress in treating ourselves better in recovery, the disease gets more subtle and cunning. This recent judgment/shame upheaval would be like a 3.0 earthquake vs what used to be a 9.0 earthquake.)

This is the disease of codependence working in it's most insidious, malevolent, treacherous, and powerful expression.

"If I am feeling like a "failure" and giving power to the "critical parent" voice within that is telling me that I am a failure - then I can get stuck in a very painful place where I am shaming myself for being me. In this dynamic I am being the victim of myself and also being my own perpetrator - and the next step is to rescue myself by using one of the old tools to go unconscious (food, alcohol, sex, etc.) Thus the disease has me running around in a squirrel cage of suffering and shame, a dance of pain, blame, and self-abuse."

Quote from Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls

An innocent little child

And it all goes back to being afraid that if I do it wrong I will not survive the shame and pain of being imperfect. It all goes back to a little child who was terrified of his own father and could not count on his mother to defend him from his father. The little child whose higher powers were wounded and were reacting to life out of their fear and shame.

That fear is not rational. It is not logical. It is not conscious. It is an emotional reaction caused by early childhood trauma.

If I am alone on Valentine's Day I will die. If I do not get this article finished on time I will not survive.

These fears are not stupid, they are not ridiculous. They are the result of the emotional experience of a little child. That child deserves, and needs, compassion - not judgment and shame. When we judge ourselves we are abusing that little child inside of us. When we are impatient with ourselves, we are dragging that child behind us as we run to get "there" - to the outcome, the destination that will make us OK.

I heard Claudia Black in a workshop many years ago, talking about going for a walk on the beach with a 4 year old child. She asked something to the effect of, "What pace do you walk at, the child's pace - or do you drag the child along behind you at your pace?"

We have spent our lives either dragging the child along, or running away from the child within us. Working real hard on getting "there" - and/or doing whatever we could to go unconscious to our own feelings. We locked the child up in a dark place within us, at the same time we let the child's emotional wounds run our life. We were powerless to do life any differently until we got into recovery. Just as our parents were powerless to do life any differently because of the wounded children within them.

In early recovery I learned to catch myself every time I heard myself calling myself stupid. I would change it to silly. I couldn't go from calling myself stupid to calling myself a blessed child of the Goddess in one step. So, I substituted silly in order to be less abusive to myself. In order to start decreasing the shame and judgment I was laying on myself and the innocent child within me.

It was not stupid, or wrong, that I fell into the judging-resisting-shaming running around the hamster cage cycle of the disease dynamic. It was a little silly - and entirely human. It was a natural, normal part of being a recovering codependent. It was a perfect part of the process of learning/teaching, remembering/reminding.

I was afraid. Fear is part of this human adventure we are experiencing. It is through changing our relationship with our own fear that we transform being human from an ordeal to an adventure

Fear is Primal

Fear is an innate, genetically ingrained, emotional impulse in human beings. It is a programmed response to survival instincts. Fear is an emotion that can serve us. It is a necessary tool for survival in a hostile environment.

I get really angry when I hear some old timer in an AA meeting say, "Fear is the absence of faith." That is bull. If we did not have fear, we would not need faith. Faith is what gives us the courage to walk through our fears.

It is important to accept fear as part of our reality. It is important to clear up our relationship with our fear. The disease of codependence, our damaged ego, is programmed to react to life out of fear of what caused us pain in our childhood. Our ego is fighting for survival based on programming from early childhood - that is what is dysfunctional.

It is important to learn new tools to counteract the powerful programming of the disease / condition of codependency. It is important to change our relationship with our own fear by changing our perspective of our fear.

Denying our fear is dysfunctional. Relating to our fear as if it only comes from one place - is only about one thing - is dishonest. There are multiple levels to our fears. A few of those levels may be right on - most of them are dysfunctional. There are some levels that are about False Evidence Appearing Real - to use a 12 step acronym - based on assumptions, mind reading, and fortune telling, our fantasies/nightmares that we project onto others and life. Some of the levels are reactions to our childhood wounds: 'if I am alone I will die;' 'if I take the risk of loving someone and they don't love me back, I will die;' 'if I don't have security, I will die;' etc.

Not looking at our fears keeps us in the dark and gives them power. It is only by bringing them out of the darkness into the light that we can take the power away from them.

Once we bring them into the light of consciousness, then we can filter, sift through, get clearer on what is causing them. We can discern what part of the fears are being caused by our own attitudes - so that we can own the responsibility, and make choices to change our intellectual paradigm into something that will work better. We can get in touch with the inner child wounds that are being triggered so that we can have some compassion for those wounds and set whatever Loving boundaries we need to set. We can get conscious of the outcome we are trying to control so that we can take some action to let go of that outcome.

By taking the action of processing through our reaction, we can get in touch with what other actions we can take to lessen and let go of our fears.

Clarity through processing

So, by writing about my procrastination, I was able to see the causes of that procrastination more clearly. In processing through the resistance I was having, I could get clear that what I thought was the reason for the procrastination (controversial Truth) really was not the reason at all. I could see that there were several layers of reasons - and that the bottom line was that I was creating much of the resistance because I did not want to let go of my preconceived idea of the outcome.

I diminished some of the fear by speaking it out loud (in this case, writing it.) And I got in touch with how my attitudes were adding to the fear. Then I could take some action to let go of the attitudes that were amplifying the resistance. I could do some work to surrender my way of doing things so that I could stop creating emotional resistance by trying to control the outcome.

Acknowledging fear, actually speaking my fears out loud or writing about them, often diminishes them. I can own the fear and then accept it and move through it.

And the ironic thing, the silly part of it, was that the real - right on - reason for my resistance was not even in the areas I was looking at directly. The real reason for my resistance was that the article I was writing was not working in the structure I was trying to force it into. What would have been the best thing to do, would have been to walk away from that article completely for a period of days so I could come back to it with a fresh perspective.

It turned out that I surrendered the "wrong" thing. I surrendered to just publishing the article to meet my deadline, instead of shifting my paradigm to a completely new perspective - such as going ahead with that update without that article. But it wasn't the wrong thing at all, because the way the whole thing unfolded was perfect to set me up to write this series of articles about the inner child healing process. Thus the Universe has forced me to write about emotional honesty and balance, about internal boundaries and clarity, in a little bit different way than I had previously. It is different because I am growing and learning, my perspective is shifting and changing.

The adventure of recovery keeps getting different. The dance of balance is continuously changing, shifting, expanding. One of the most important things we can do for ourselves, is to not take it all so seriously, not take ourselves so seriously. Don't worry be silly, is a motto my Higher Self communicated to me many years ago. Instead of worrying about doing it right, instead of empowering our fear of consequences, instead of trying to force outcomes - it is much better to lighten up (dark to Light, heavy to light) because that helps us see with more clarity.

The inner child healing process is a journey from dark to Light, from serious to silly.

As long as we are denying our fear, it has power to drive us to compulsive or addictive behavior. If we are not seeing the multiple levels of our fear clearly, then we are not being honest with ourselves. The only way to take power away from the fear is to own it, honor it, and take action to dissolve the levels of it that are codependent. When we are seeing our fear more clearly, we can see that a lot of it is pretty silly.

Fear is not bad or wrong. It is not the absence of love, as some spiritual teachers and authors would tell you. (Except in the metaphysical sense that the illusion is caused by an absence of/separation from LOVE.) It is integral part of being human. It is because we are afraid that we need to learn to Love ourselves. The more we learn to Love our self the less power the fear will have to define our reality. The more recovery tools we have, the sooner we will catch ourselves when we get caught up in the disease dynamics. The less we are reacting to life out of black and white, right and wrong; the less we are judging and shaming ourself; the less fear we experience. We can learn to feel Love and compassion for our inner child wounds - instead of fear, instead of shame and judgment.

Your fears are the places within you that await your Love. Your fears are the teachers that will help you uncover your wounds. Uncover, discover, recover. Progress, not perfection. It is through the fear that we find our way home to Love.

The Recovery Process for Inner Child Healing - Spiritual Integration

"Recovery is not a dance of right and wrong, of black and white - it is a dance of integration and balance. The questions in Recovery are: Is it working for you? Is the way you live your life working to meet your needs? Is the way you are living your life bringing you some happiness?"

Quote from Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls

I write a great deal about the importance of being open to looking at anything and everything from alternative perspectives in my latest article Spirituality for Agnostics and Atheists. Prior to writing that article, I would have explained integration pretty much as I do below in a quote from my web page Learning to Love our self - Inner Child Healing / Codependence Recovery.

"(I need to make the point here that Codependence and recovery are both multi-leveled, multi-dimensional phenomena. What we are trying to achieve is integration and balance on different levels. In regard to our relationship with ourselves this involves two major dimensions: the horizontal and the vertical. In this context the horizontal is about being human and relating to other humans and our environment. The vertical is Spiritual, about our relationship to a Higher Power, to the Universal Source. If we cannot conceive of a God/Goddess Force that Loves us then it makes it virtually impossible to be Loving to ourselves. So a Spiritual Awakening is absolutely vital to the process in my opinion. Changing our relationship with ourselves on the horizontal level is both a necessary element in, and possible because we are working on, integrating Spiritual Truth into our inner process.)"

When I talk about Spiritual Awakening, I am talking about my Spiritual Belief system and what I believe to be Spiritual Truth. I talk about my beliefs in my book and throughout this web site. They can be pretty well summed up in the following two short quotes from my book.

"Life is not some kind of test, that if we fail, we will be punished. We are not human creatures who are being punished by an avenging god. We are not trapped in some kind of tragic place out of which we have to earn our way by doing the "right" things.

We are Spiritual Beings having a human experience. We are here to learn. We are here to go through this process that is life. We are here to feel these feelings."

"We are transcendent Spiritual Beings who are part of the ONENESS that is the God-Force. We always have been and always will be. We are perfect in our Spiritual Essence. We are perfectly where we are supposed to be on our Spiritual Path. And from a human perspective we will never be able to do "human" perfectly - which is perfect.

We have been trying to do human perfect according to a false belief system in order to get Spiritual. It does not work. It's dysfunctional."

Quote from Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls

The core healing of the dis-ease / condition of codependence, in my opinion, is stopping the shame and judgment internally - in our own inner relationship with ourselves. We do not know how to be Loving to ourselves because we were raised in societies that taught us it was shameful to be human - shameful to make mistakes, to be emotional, to be sexual, to be something other than "perfect." Feeling that there is something inherently wrong with who we are as beings is the toxic shame that is the enemy within.

Society then teaches us to look to outside or external circumstances / sources to overcome this feeling of unworthiness. Those exterior sources (money, property, prestige, etc.) can only distract us from toxic shame, can only help us to build up a strong ego that hides the inferiority complex beneath - they cannot help us to feel Truly serene and happy because any outside source can be lost, any external circumstance can change.

Obviously, my beliefs about Spirituality address this toxic shame in a very effective and efficient manner. If who we really are, is Spiritual Beings having a human experience - then it becomes relatively easy to take that toxic shame out of the equation, then our inherent worth is not tied to material manifestations.

There is Spiritual and spiritual

My own personal Spiritual belief system is one form of spirituality. It is certainly not the only one. Mine works for me very well in helping me to have a relationship with life that allows me to be happier today. It is not necessary for you to accept my belief system in order for you to use the tools, techniques, and perspectives that I have developed for emotional healing / codependence recovery / inner child integration.

For the purposes of this discussion of spiritual integration, I would now define what I refer to as a Spiritual Awakening in the quote above, as: being open to a larger perspective - awakening from being trapped in a limiting perspective. In this regard, spiritual would be a qualifier, an adjective, that describes the quality of one's relationship with life.

This adjective, spiritual, would be (in my definition) a word describing an expanded level of consciousness. A level of consciousness, of awareness, that is expansive and inclusive and facilitates personal growth - as opposed to limited, exclusive, rigid, and inhibiting growth, development, and alternative view points.

By this definition, any religion that claims to be the chosen one, that excludes alternative perspectives or certain people, is not spiritual.

[And I want to add here that capitalizing my Spiritual belief system and not capitalizing a general spiritual belief system, is not in any way intended to indicate one is necessarily more important, valuable, or worthwhile than the other. I capitalize certain words in my writing - Spiritual, Love, Truth, Joy, etc. - as a tool that helps me to differentiate between the vertical and horizontal dimensions that I refer to above. Love capitalized, for instance, is to me the Transcendent emotional energy of Love that one can tuned into when in touch with one's connection to everything - while the type of love on a horizontal level that we learned growing up in dysfunctional societies, is more often than not associated with some kind of possession and an excuse for addictive (with the other person as our drug of choice) and/or dysfunctional behavior (shaming, abusive, controlling behavior in the name of love.) It is certainly pleasurable to feel joy in relationship to good things happening in one's life - while Joy comes from within and can be tuned into in the moment (in relationship to a beautiful sunset, a baby, taking time to smell the flowers, etc.) no matter what is happening in one's horizontal experience.]

The Objective

"One of the reasons for the human dilemma, for the confusion that humans have felt about the meaning and purpose of life, is that more than one level of reality comes into play in the experience of being human. Trying to apply the Truth of one level to the experience of another has caused humans to become very confused and twisted in our perspective of the human experience. It is kind of like the difference between playing the one-dimensional chess that we are familiar with, and the three-dimensional chess played by the characters of Star Trek - they are two completely different games.

That is the human dilemma - we have been playing the game with the wrong set of rules. With rules that do not work. With rules that are dysfunctional."

Quote from Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls

The objective, the function, of developing a spiritual relationship with life is to explore ways of living that work better than the ones which have resulted from the limiting belief systems that have so impacted the course of human history. Unless your life is happy, fulfilling, and working just as you want it to, then it is important to look for alternate ways to do life. A different set of rules to play by. It is important to become aware that it is possible to stop being a victim of life not being what we want it to be, in order to start changing our relationship with life into one that works better for us each individually.

"The first requirement in any healthy problem solving situation is awareness that a problem exists. Until there is awareness that a condition exists which is causing some adverse effect, no positive, proactive action can be taken to change the situation for the better. (I am referring to "healthy" problem solving and "positive, proactive" action as opposed to unconscious, negative, reactive action - such as blaming, scapegoating, focusing on symptoms instead of cause, killing the messenger, etc.)"

"The healing process is full of paradox and irony on multiple levels. One of those paradoxes is that in order to get in touch with our ONENESS with everything, we must first be able to define our self as separate from others. And in order to become an integrated whole being, we must first separate and own all of the different parts of our self within. As long as we don't have clear boundaries between our self and others - we cannot know where we end and someone else starts - we cannot get clear on what is our stuff and what is theirs. As long as we don't have clear boundaries within ourselves, we are set up to be the victim of our own thoughts, feelings, and behavior.

Wounded Souls Dancing in The Light - Detachment

In order to stop reacting to life from a victim perspective and start waking up to our own power to change the quality of our life it is necessary to be open to larger definitions of the meaning and purpose of life than the ones we were taught growing up. If we are reacting to life based on the black and white perspective of a rigid belief system - or in reaction to that black and white perspective - then we are not open to expanding our perspective. Then we are stuck in being the victim and we cannot see reality clearly.

It is important to start seeing the reality of the cause and effect dynamic that governs life so that we can start changing the behavior patterns that we adapted to cope with life. Until we are open to seeing the cause and effect between our childhoods and our adult patterns, we will continue to give power to the belief that there is something wrong with us individually. That toxic shame feeling that tells us it is our fault that life hasn't worked the way we thought it was going to, is the main enemy here. It is very important to develop a relationship with life that allows for the belief that it is not shameful to be human - and that who we are is not bad or wrong.

"None of the details of any of these explanations of the unexplainable should be taken too seriously or literally - it is impossible to describe the indescribable. They are merely tools to facilitate a paradigm shift in consciousness - to help us open up to larger definitions of the Creation than those we were taught in childhood. The goal here is to empower a more expansive context within which to view the dance of life - one which allows for a perspective of human existence that does not include shame and sin."

The Dance of the Wounded Souls Trilogy Book 1 History of the Universe Part IV

The shame and sin is, of course, a facet of the Western Civilization form of this dysfunctional condition. The Eastern is somewhat different (I talk about some of those facets in my article about Buddhism) but is also out of balance and dysfunctional - and also gives the message that being human is something less than a gift to be enjoyed.

I use the term dysfunctional here in the sense that the individual being does not feel honored, respected, and connected to the whole in a way that promotes happiness and fulfillment. It is very helpful to have a spiritual belief system that allows for the possibility that some kind of Cosmic order exists - that there is in fact, some meaning and purpose for human life. A belief system that affords the individual being dignity and respect and promotes the possibility that there is a connection between the individual and the whole that makes some sense.

Codependence is, on one level, a defense system wherein we take ego credit if things in our life go the way we want them to - and if they do not, we blame somebody or something. Because we were taught that doing life right would lead to happily-ever-after, we think that something is wrong with us because we don't feel fulfilled and happy. So, we blame others - or the system, or fate, or whatever - to help ourselves try to overcome the deep seated feeling that there is something wrong with us. Codependence is a defense system that developed in reaction to a basic belief that being human was shameful or negative in some way.

Integration of some type of spiritual belief system that allows for the possibility that maybe we are not sinful and shameful - that maybe life is not about sin and punishment, but rather is about cause and effect - is a major step in changing our relationship with life. It is important to understand the cause and effect in our own lives - to start seeing how the patterns in our adult lives have been caused by our childhood experiences. It is important to start looking at our lives from the perspective of understanding cause and effect instead of assessing blame.

When we start wearing a new pair of glasses that allows us to see cause and effect instead of viewing life through a filter of shame and blame, we move into a growth paradigm in our relationship with life. We start to shift out of a victim place into a place of being empowered as a co-creator in our life. Once we start looking at the cause and effect dynamics in our life, then we can start striving for some balance. One of the paradigm busting concepts that was introduced to me in early recovery was a simple statement about cause and effect: "If you keep doing what you have been doing, you will keep getting what you have been getting."

We start recovery as soon as we realize that there is something to recover from - and that we can take some action to change, that we can be part of the solution instead of just being a victim of the problem. Integrating a spiritual belief system that helps us take the shame out of being human, enables us to start being able to see more clearly that we have some responsibility - that our behavior and attitudes have been causal - in how our lives have unfolded. We can then start finding some balance in the middle ground between blaming others and blaming ourselves. We can start taking responsibility for our part in what has happened - our side of the street - and holding others responsible for their part in things.

Once we start owning our responsibility, and understanding the cause and effect, then we can began changing our experience of life. Then we can start to find some balance in our relationships: with ourselves; with life; with other people.

Spiritual Integration

So, spiritual integration in this sense, is our relationship with the whole of the horizontal dance of life. It is very helpful to have a sense of spirituality, a relationship with the dance of life, that helps us to start being able to find some balance in our life. The reason to find some balance in our life is to take away the power from the past and make it possible to make living more enjoyable today and in the future. The whole point of healing and recovery is to help make it possible for our lives to be more serene, fulfilling, and happy, today - instead of living life out of the false belief systems we learned as children.

There is a saying that I really like, that religion is for people who are scared of hell and spirituality is for people who have been there. We have all lived in the hell that is the feeling we are somehow shameful, unworthy, and unlovable, the hell that living life according to a dysfunctional belief system can create. Recovery is about changing our perspective with life into one that works to help us be happy to be alive today for as many of the moments of the day as that is possible. It is not possible to do that when we are feeling victimized because we are giving outside or external circumstances / sources - or dysfunctional beliefs - the power to dictate how we feel about ourselves. (One form of hell is being old and rich, approaching death feeling empty and alone.)

So, when I speak of spiritual integration - if you do not resonate with my Spiritual belief system - then think of it as your relationship with life. If you can be open to having a relationship with life that is expansive and inclusive and facilitates personal growth, if you can look at life in terms of cause and effect not to assess blame but rather to change what you have been doing in order to change what you have been getting, then you are practicing spiritual integration.

Owning your power to choose a perspective of life that is expansive and inclusive will facilitate changing your relationship with life. To see life as a growth process with lessons that are worth learning, to see experiencing the journey as being more important than the destination, is to have a perspective of life that greatly enhances your chances of enjoying being alive today. This to me is spirituality in it's simplest and most essential form.

maybe, just maybe

In addition to that, I would propose that you might find it beneficial to start being open to the possibility that maybe, just maybe:

    there is a benevolent meaning and purpose to life;

    we are all connected to each other and to our environment;

    we have worth as individuals just because we exist;

    it is ok to enjoy life.

I am proposing that there is nothing wrong with who we are - that the dysfunction comes in our relationship with ourselves and with life that we learned in childhood, from people who learned it in their childhood, from people who, etc., etc. I am asking you to be open to considering a different perspective for the purpose of improving the quality of your life on a day to day basis. This is what I mean by having a spiritual relationship with life. With these possibilities integrated into your relationship with yourself and life it makes it much easier to start finding some emotional balance in the horizontal dance of relationships that is life.

"We are all more connected than we are different. As human beings, we share a basic emotional process that is the same for all of us. . . . Every human being on the planet is someone who we could feel connected to - feel on the same wave length with - in the right circumstances in relationship to some shared feeling, interest, and/or experience.

We are all kindred spirits in terms of our humanity - in terms of our relationship to the horizontal human experience. We are all kindred spirits with more connection than differences without even taking the vertical - the Spiritual relationship - into consideration."

The True Nature of Love - part 6, Twin Souls, Souls Mates, and Kindred Spirits