Multiple levels of selfishness

I want to clarify and expand on the response I wrote in 1998 to reflect what I reiterate in so much of my writing, that recovery is not black and white – there are multiple levels to everything, including our motives. 

“Codependence is a disease of reversed focus – it is about focusing outside of ourselves for self-definition and self-worth.  That sets us up to be a victim.  We have worth because we are Spiritual Beings not because of how much money or success we have – or how we look or how smart we are.  When self-worth is determined by looking outside it means we have to look down on someone else in order to feel good about ourselves – this is the cause of bigotry, racism, class structure, and Jerry Springer.

The goal is to focus on who we really are – get in touch with the Light and Love within us and then radiate that outward.  I think that is what Mother Theresa did.  I can’t know for sure because I never met her, and it can be difficult to tell looking from the outside where a person’s focus is.  Mother Theresa could have been a raging codependent who was doing good on the outside in order to feel good about herself – or she could have been being True to her Self by accessing the Love and Light within and reflecting it outward.  Either way the effect was that she did some great things – the difference would have been how she felt about herself at the deepest levels of her being – because it does not make any real difference how much validation we get from outside if we are not Loving ourselves.  If I did not start working on knowing that I had worth as a Spiritual Being – that there is a Higher Power that Loves me – it would never have made any real difference how many people told me I was wonderful.” – The codependency movement is NOT ruining marriages! Chapter 1

I believe that Mother Teresa probably accessed the Truth within her and started focusing on that – which led her to do for others.  What is typical of a Spiritual Path in the beginning of awakening to consciousness, is that maybe 10% of the levels of our motives are focused on Higher Truth – our intuitive guidance – and 90% about stopping the pain.  As I said in an early chapter we don’t just wake up one morning and say, “Hey, I think it would be fun to do some emotional healing today.”  We start our healing process because we are in pain. 

As we commit to following our Spiritual Path wherever it leads – to our own Higher Self being True – that percentage increases over time because having the faith to commit to following a Spiritual Path produces miracles which increase faith.  If Mother Teresa was a Truly Enlightened being, maybe by the end of her life her focus was 90% on serving her Soul, the Higher Truth she had accessed through her inner channel – and only 10% of the levels involved in her motives still coming out of damaged human ego self, out of trying to earn Love, to prove worth.

I am just kind of pulling those percentages out of thin air, in order to try to make a point that recovery is about progress not perfection.  We make gradual progress in becoming more conscious and focusing on higher purpose rather than the baser / humanly selfish levels.  We were never doing things completely out of ego selfishness, we just had to lie to ourselves about it because we were taught it was shameful.  It is not a black and white dynamic.  Our motives are never just codependent – we do care.  It was because we were taught that it is shameful to be selfish that we had to learn to be dishonest with ourselves.  It is because we are not owning all the levels of our motives – including the selfish, self serving ones – that we are not seeing ourselves clearly.  Codependency in relationships starts with our relationship with our self.  It is our relationship with ourselves that is dysfunctional – which causes us to be dishonest and manipulative with others.

When I was being nice to people while still completely unconscious to my disease, it was in part because I am a good person, a nice person – a being with a True heart connection.  But I was blinded to my True Self by all the dysfunctional messages I had gotten in childhood.  Those messages were both directly stated – by my parents and teachers, by the Spiritually abusive lies of a shame-based religion, by other people, including other children – and indirect from:  the role modeling of the adults in my life;  from fairy tales, books, movies, songs, etc.;  from the interpretations of my undeveloped mind based upon how it felt to be a human child.  I suffered emotional trauma because of the behavior of the wounded human beings around me.  So my perspective of myself – as a physical, emotional, spiritual being – was distorted and warped.  I could not see myself clearly – so could not see life and other people clearly.

So, I was doing nice things for other people in part because of who I Truly am – but I had to lie to myself and tell myself that the only reason I was doing those things was because I was a nice person.  I was dishonest with myself about the fact that I had expectations of getting something in return – that I was in part at least, being manipulative.  That dishonesty led me to feeling like a victim of other people not doing what I wanted them to.  (see Serenity and Expectations.)

It was this dishonesty with self that kept me being a victim, a negative co-creator in my life.  When I got into recovery is when I started to make a transition to being a positive co-creator in my life.

Sacred Spiral with tail pointing to the right signifying going toward.

unhealthy selfish vs healthy selfish

The Dance

“The Twelve Step Recovery process is so successful because it provides a formula for integrating different levels. It is by recognizing that we are powerless to control our life experiences out of ego-self that we can access the power out of True Self, Spiritual Self.  By surrendering the illusion of ego control we can reconnect with our Higher Selves.  Selfishness out of ego-self is destroying the planet.  Selfishness out of Spiritual Self is what will save the planet.

It is because there is more than one level of reality that life is paradoxical in nature.  What is True and positive on one level – selfishness out of Spiritual Self, can be negative on another level – selfishness out of ego-self.  What a caterpillar calls the end of the world, God calls a butterfly.

Humans have always had expressions that describe the paradoxical nature of the life experience.  Every ending is a beginning.  Every cloud does have a silver lining.  For every door that closes, another door does open.  It is always darkest before the dawn.  Every obstacle is a gift, every problem is an opportunity for growth.”

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

One of the messages that most of us got in childhood growing up in a codependent society was that it was bad to be selfish.  We all have within us an archetypal inner child that is completely self centered and wants immediate gratification.  What I call the king/queen baby.  “I want what I want and I want it now.”  It comes in the stage of early childhood development where we are developing a sense of individual identity.  A couple of the big words at that age are “no” and “mine.”

Because the societies we grew up in were stuck in a polarized view of life, we got the message that selfishness was wrong, bad – and that unselfishness was good.  Since one of a child’s jobs is to manipulate his/her environment to survive, we learn to manipulate to get what we wanted.  Since we got the message that it was not OK to be emotionally honest – both from direct and indirect messages, and from the role modeling of the emotionally dishonest adults in our life – we learned to be emotionally dishonest with ourselves in order to cover up our “shameful” selfishness.

All of us are human, and – as I talked about in my January 2002 Update – have levels of motivations that are selfish and self serving on a human level.

“Awakening to my responsibility as a co-creator of my life so that I could align with the process of reprogramming my ego defense, was made possible by the dawning realization that I wasn’t the only one suffering in an emotional hell – that maybe my reality was not being caused by some inherent defect in my being.  That maybe, just maybe, being human wasn’t shameful – and that being imperfect and selfish was a natural, normal part of being human.

I need to keep reminding myself of the fundamental motives – of my need to focus on me and my process, remember I am not doing something for you – so that I can keep aligned with the selfishness of Spiritual Self that is at the heart of the recovery process.  (One of my phone clients suggested that I coin a new word to get away from the negative connotations of selfish – Soulfish, was her suggestion.;-)

In my understanding, the Truth that resonates in the phrase “To thine own Self be True” is about being True to Spiritual Self – the part of me that Knows I am connected to everyone and everything in LOVE – in order to escape the tyranny of unconsciously reacting out of wounded, dysfunctionally programmed ego self.  Ego self is reacting to programming that is trying to keep us separate from others so they do not find out how shameful we are.  (If you are not clear on what I am talking about here see Powerlessness & Empowerment – why the 12 steps work.)” – January 2002 Update Newsletter 

Being honest with our self about selfishness out of damaged ego self – owning it, learning to accept it without shame and judgment – is what allows us to start taking power away from it so that we are not letting it dictate and define our life today.  Denying that we have base ego centered motives is part of the dishonesty of codependency – is a reaction to toxic shame about being human.  One form of codependency is deluding ourselves into thinking that we are doing things for other people just out of the kindness of our hearts and are not expecting any payoff for what we are doing – it is emotionally and intellectually dishonest.

“In order to get clear on how to connect to others in a healthy way we must first realize and define how we are separate from others.  On the level of our physical being, our ego-self, we are separate and need to own that before we can open up to consciously experiencing how we are connected to everyone and everything.  We need to see our relationship with ourselves clearly in order to see our relationships to others clearly.

One of the things that I had to get clear on in order to start learning who I am was selfishness.  I had been taught that it was bad to be selfish and that I should do things for others.  I learned to steal energy from others through what I was telling myself were unselfish acts.  I was just being a “nice guy” and did not expect anything in return – Bull.  I always had expectations – I just was not being honest with myself about them – because I had been trained and conditioned in childhood to be dishonest with myself emotionally and intellectually.

I had to come to a realization that there is no such thing as an unselfish act.  If I rescue a stranger from a burning car wreck, it does not have anything to do with the stranger – it has to do with my relationship with myself.  I believe that every thing a human being does has a pay off – and it was a very important part of my growth process to start looking for those pay offs.  I had to learn to get honest with myself and stop buying into the illusion that anything I did was for some one else.  I had to stop looking outside for the energy boost I got from doing something nice so that I could own that the energy boost came internally.

The power / energy / juice that we need comes from within – not from outside.  People, places, and things can sometimes help us to access the power that is within us – but they are not the source of that power.  The source is within!” – The True Nature of Love, Part 4 – Energetic Clarity

We access the Source Energy, are connected to our Higher Power, internally – through our inner channel.  The outer / external dependence, the reversed focus of codependency, causes us to think that treating another person with respect and kindness earns us worth – proves to our self and others that we have worth.  This is reversed and dysfunctional in my opinion.

What I believe is healthy and functional is owning that we have worth as Magnificent Spiritual Beings having a human experience – and then we can see and honor other people because they are also Magnificent Spiritual Beings who have been wounded by this human experience.  It is by consciously owning that we have worth inherently – that we are children of God / The Goddess, part of The Great Spirit, extensions of The Universal Force – that we start treating others with respect and kindness because they are also manifestations of the Divine.

And Loving other wounded humans, treating them with respect and kindness, includes setting boundaries with them if their behavior is abusive.  We can Love their being while protecting our self from their behavior.  Allowing another human being to treat us with disrespect out of their unconsciousness is not Loving – it is enabling them to stay unconscious.  We demonstrate respect for their Spiritual Self by respecting our inherent worth (which comes from the same place their inherent worth comes from) enough to set boundaries with them about their codependent behavior.

“True self-worth does not come from looking down on anyone or anything.  True self-worth comes from awakening to our connection to everyone and everything.

The Truth is that we are like snowflakes:  Each individual is unique and different and special and we are all made from the same thing.  We are all cut from the same cloth.  We are all part of the Eternal ONENESS that is the Great Spirit.

When we start looking within and celebrating the Truth of who we Truly are, then we can celebrate our unique differences instead of judging them out of fear.”

If I do something nice for another person, the payoff is that I feel good about myself because I am acting out of my higher nature, my True Self – it helps me tune into higher vibrational frequencies and thus get an internal energy boost.  When we are in the moment tuned into higher vibrational transcendent emotional energy is when we feel like our spirit is soaring – is when we are accessing Love and Joy energy from the Source.  Treating another being with respect and dignity is an affirmation of my inherent worth, and my connection to them – and helps me to plug into higher vibrational frequencies, recharge my spiritual batteries as it were.  It is also, often, a way to settle Karma – which is another payoff that serves selfish motives on a higher level.

Treating another kindly out of codependence, in order to prove to myself I have worth, is a reaction to the judgments and shame I feel about myself – and often I am judging the other person as being less than me because I am acting better than them.  If I delude myself into thinking I am being nice to them just for their sake, then I will feel like a victim if they are not nice in return.

“We were taught to be caretakers instead of care-givers.  That is, to take our self-definition – our ego-strength – from what we do for others, rather than giving to others out of our Self as an expression of Love.

This is a matter of focus:  Codependence is a disease of reversed focus.  If you are taking your self-worth from what you are doing for others, you are going to end up being the victim, because they are not going to do what you want them to do in return.  (“After all that I’ve done for you!”)

If you are giving as an expression of self-worth then you do not need anything in return – and that is when you really get the gifts.

Giving should be an expression of the Love we have accessed within – not a way of gaining ego-strength by helping people whom we are judging to be less than us.”

A key difference between healthy behavior and codependent behavior – as I talk about in my article about setting boundaries (Setting Personal Boundaries) – is that we let go of the outcome.  If I am setting a boundary to try to get a certain outcome – that is being controlling and manipulative.  If I am nice to another person to get something in return without owning my selfish motive – that is codependent.  I set a boundary to protect myself and let go of the outcome.  I treat people with dignity and respect because it feels good.  I am being True to my Self by doing so – and I let go of taking how they treat me in return personally.  (This means not allowing the external to define us – rather it is positive or negative.  If they affirm and validate me, that does not prove my worth – just as, if they abandon and abuse me that does not prove my defectiveness.)

And again, this is a relative process.  If I set a boundary, of course I may want a certain outcome – that is human – but I let go of thinking that I need that outcome to be okay.  In my recovery I have learned to set a boundary because it is the kind thing, the Loving thing, to do for me – and I am willing to accept the outcome that is presented, which often includes owning my sadness that I didn’t get what I wanted.  Often in my interactions with other people I want something in return, that is natural and normal – the point is to be direct and honest about it, not indirect and manipulative.

Part of the paradox and irony of recovery is that the more we let go of trying to get external validation to prove our worth, the more external validation we receive.  As long as we think we need that external validation to prove our worth, it won’t work to meet our needs – as I said in Chapter 4 when I was talking about ego self image.

“I could not truly accept / take in / own the external validation because I thought I was living a lie.  I thought I was a fraud and was fooling you when you liked me.” –  Chapter 4: False Self Image

There is nothing wrong with external validation – it is codependent to buy into the illusion that we need that external validation to prove our worth.  This is something I talked about in my Update for October 2000 where I tried to explain how we achieve some balance between different levels:

“In case you are wondering about whether – in the instances above – I was giving too much power to outside validation, I thought I would talk about that a bit.   There is nothing wrong with enjoying validation, affirmation, and recognition from other people or outside sources.  It is if we define ourselves by that outer validation, and think we have to have it to be OK, that we are being codependent.  It is when we jump through hoops in an attempt to get that validation from people that we are being manipulative and dishonest – which is, of course, what many of us learned to do in childhood.

As with all aspects of codependence recovery – it is a question of balance.  Life and recovery occur in the gray area between black and white.  What we are trying to do is maintain some kind of sense of balance in relationship to this dance we are doing.  That involves, as I tried to communicate in the later articles in the Recovery Process for Inner Child Healing series I just finished, being conscious of multiple levels simultaneously – or as close to simultaneously as possible.  And being able to have internal boundaries so that I am choosing how I respond rather than reacting out of the old programming.

Example:  There have been instances, over the years, where I have had the opportunity to be in close proximity to someone that had been a client of mine while they were talking to someone else.  These opportunities have given me a chance to hear the former client use words in describing some aspect of the recovery process – that were the same words I had said to them – as if it were a revelation they had arrived at themselves.  This gives most of me a great deal of satisfaction because I have worked hard over the years to find the best ways of helping people discover the Truth within them in ways that help them not feel dependent on me.  But at the same time, my ego reacts in a negative way saying “hey wait a minute, I told you that.”

In my recovery, I have gradually over the years been able to turn down the voices coming from the ego/from the wounded inner child places/from the disease – and turn up the volume of the small quiet voice of the Spirit.  I have learned how to realign myself with the Spirit instead of giving so much power to the disease – the old wounds and old tapes, the damaged ego.  But if I were to maintain to myself or to you that I never have those reactions, that would be denial.

. . . . . . . This is a relative process.  Progress not perfection.  We can gradually increase the percentage of the time our conscious awareness, our attitudes and mental focus, are aligned with recovery instead of with the disease.  We do not get to wipe out the old ways of thinking and emotional reactions completely – what we do is gradually disempower them.” – Joy2MeU Update – 10-20-2000

As I say in the quote from 1998, it can be hard telling where a person’s focus is while looking from the outside.  It is what is going on within, in our relationship with ourselves, that determines rather our motives are more about being healthy than about reacting codependently.  As we become more conscious of, more aligned with, Spiritual Self, we start owning our inherent worth more and looking outside for validation less.

That is when we can start to Truly Love our neighbor as our Self – and stop letting the fear and shame programming of ego self dictate how we see, and relate to, both our self and other wounded humans / Magnificent Spiritual Beings.  It was vital for me to start getting honest with myself about my selfish motives so that I could take power away from the levels that were in reaction to my damaged ego programming.  As long as I was denying my human selfishness out of a false sense of shame, I was doomed to keep myself trapped on the codependent merry-go-round – looking outside for the solution to a conflict that exists within.

Looking externally to try to heal my wounded soul is what caused me to be trapped in a self perpetuating squirrel cage of self defeating behavior.  The dynamics of codependency – the fact that I was energetically drawn to people who felt familiar, who resonated emotionally with what I experienced with my parents growing up – dictated that I was attracted to people who would not treat me with kindness and respect in return, thus reinforcing the toxic shame, the feeling that there is something wrong with me.

“In our disease defense system we build up huge walls to protect ourselves and then – as soon as we meet someone who will help us to repeat our patterns of abuse, abandonment, betrayal, and/or deprivation – we lower the drawbridge and invite them in.  We, in our Codependence, have radar systems which cause us to be attracted to, and attract to us, the people, who for us personally, are exactly the most untrustworthy (or unavailable or smothering or abusive or whatever we need to repeat our patterns) individuals – exactly the ones who will “push our buttons.”

This happens because those people feel familiar.  Unfortunately in childhood the people whom we trusted the most – were the most familiar – hurt us the most.  So the effect is that we keep repeating our patterns and being given the reminder that it is not safe to trust ourselves or other people

Once we begin healing we can see that the Truth is that it is not safe to trust as long as we are reacting out of the emotional wounds and attitudes of our childhoods.  Once we start Recovering, then we can begin to see that on a Spiritual level these repeating behavior patterns are opportunities to heal the childhood wounds.

The process of Recovery teaches us how to take down the walls and protect ourselves in healthy ways – by learning what healthy boundaries are, how to set them, and how to defend them.  It teaches us to be discerning in our choices, to ask for what we need, and to be assertive and Loving in meeting our own needs.  (Of course many of us have to first get used to the revolutionary idea that it is all right for us to have needs.)”

As I discuss in my January 2002 Update, it was my base human level of motivation – wanting to stop the pain, stop living in an emotional hell – that caused me to open up to starting to become conscious of Spiritual Truth.  Becoming sick and tired of being sick and tired brought me to a point where I surrendered to learning how to live life differently.  Once I surrendered some of my ego definitions that were keeping me in bondage I started to listen to my intuition – started tuning into Truth from my Higher Self / Power.

Then I could start looking at myself with more clarity and start seeing how dysfunctional my behavior patterns had been.  Then I could start seeing, that yes I am a nice person, but most of the levels of my motives for behaving in the ways I was behaving towards other people was coming from my childhood programming.

Then I started to realize that a very large part of what I was calling being “nice” to others was based upon protecting myself, on selfish human motives.  I was rationalizing when I told myself that I was behaving in a certain way to protect other people’s feelings.  It was important to get honest with myself so I could start seeing how I was taking ego strength from my rationalized concern for others – it was part of how I tried to convince myself that I was worthy, that I was a good person.

I needed to get honest with myself in order to see the selfish motives.  Then I could start to see that the reason that I was being nice to someone was not just because I didn’t want to hurt their feelings – it was much more about protecting myself.  It was what I learned to do in childhood to:  avoid confrontation;  keep someone from getting angry with me;  keep from being abandoned;  try to earn love;  etc.  My defense system was set up to protect me from doing things that I thought would cause me pain – like:  setting boundaries;  speaking my Truth;  asking for help;  being vulnerable;  etc.  So, there was a level of my motives that was about caring for others – but there were more levels that were selfish, were part of the survival programing my ego had adapted in childhood.  My behavior patterns were being driven by the emotional wounds and programming of childhood but I had to rationalize my behavior as only being about the level where I did care about others.

I needed to realize that, yes those people who I was judging for not being nice, were very often abusing me out of the selfishness of their wounded ego – but that in allowing myself to be abused I was also reacting out of ego selfishness.  Both the abuser and the abused are reacting to the programming of their wounded ego.  Both are being a victim of their codependency.  Both the bulldozer who is running over other people and the doormat who gets run over are being selfish out of damaged, dysfunctionally programmed ego self.

I needed to get honest with myself in order to own that it was okay to be selfish and protect myself, but that the ways I was doing it were dysfunctional, dishonest, and unhealthy.   Then I could start to learn new, healthier ways to protect myself and try to get my needs met.

Levels of Motivation

We always have multiple levels to our motives for doing something.  What we need to do is learn how to see ourselves with more clarity so we can be honest with ourselves intellectually and emotionally – and can be discerning in our choices of behavior.   By recognizing how the conditioned programming and emotional wounds of our childhood have dictated our lives, by becoming aware of the ways in which we have been limited and powerless in our relationship with our self and life, we can start becoming empowered to change that programming and heal those wounds.  By accepting our human imperfection, our selfish and self centered ego driven motives, we can stop that level of our being from dictating our life.  We are allowing ourselves to be run by the dysfunctional survival drive of the damaged ego – by the instant gratification needs of the king/queen baby – rather we are rationalizing that instant gratification out of arrogant self righteousness or denying it because of our shame.  There can be no balance as long as we are reacting to extremes.

We need to learn to be discerning about our motives so that we can pick the baby out of the bath water.  Then we can change and disempower the dysfunctional levels and honor the “right on” levels.

“What I have found is that in many instances even though the levels that I can see, that I am conscious of, are mostly dysfunctional – arising out of the false beliefs and fears of the disease of Codependence – on deeper levels there are “right on” reasons for behaviors for which I was judging myself.

. . . . . . .  As another, more universal example, when I started to learn about Codependence, I used to really beat myself up because I found that I was still looking for “her,” even though I had learned about some of the dysfunctional levels of that longing.

I had learned that as long as I thought that I needed someone else to make me happy and whole I was setting myself up to be a victim.  I had learned that I was not a frog who needed a princess to kiss me in order to turn into a prince – that I am a prince already, and just need to learn to accept that state of Grace, that princeness.

I had come to understand that those levels of my longing were dysfunctional and Codependent – and I judged and shamed myself because I could not let go of the longing for “her.”

But as my awakening progressed I realized that there were “right on” reasons for that longing, for that “endless aching need” that I felt.

One of those “right on” levels was that the longing was a message concerning my very real need to attain some balance between the masculine and feminine energy within me – which begets dysfunctional behavior when it is projected, focused, outward as I had been taught to do in childhood.

And on a much deeper level I came to understand that I am – and have been, ever since polarization – looking for my twin soul.

As I become discerning I could learn to pick the baby out of the bathwater, that is, not judge and shame myself for longing for “her” – and throw out the dirty bath water, that is, not take action based on, or give power to, the dysfunctional belief that I am a frog who cannot be happy until I find my princess.

By learning discernment we can begin to become conscious of the reasons that are dysfunctional and based on Codependent beliefs and fears (the dirty bathwater) so that we can change the way we react to those levels, can stop giving them power, and we can honor that there are “right on” levels by not shaming or judging ourselves (the baby) even if we are not sure what those reasons are.”

The Universe used my “looking for her” longing to teach me some very vital lessons in my recovery in the later part of 1988 and through much of 1989.  This was a crucial time in my codependence recovery after I had gone through a 30 day treatment program that spring.  I was living in Taos New Mexico and didn’t have a car for almost a year.  It was actually quite an enjoyable year not having a car – it made winter a completely different experience for me because I was walking everywhere I needed to go instead of having to worry about the car starting, scraping ice of the windshield, and such things.

At that time, I was desperately trying to get clear on how to discern the difference between my intuitive guidance and the impulsive reactions of my codependent ego programming and emotional wounds – between my will and God’s will.  I had realized by that time that when I met someone who felt like my soul mate, it was much more likely to be an attraction based upon familiarity – i.e. someone who was unavailable in a way that would fit my codependent patterns.  I was selfishly trying to get clearer on how to know God’s will so that I wouldn’t set myself up to get hurt.

That summer had given me a huge wake up call that caused me to see that life wasn’t going to be all sweetness and light now that I had been through treatment and learned how to do my grief work.  I had spent most of that summer in Sedona Arizona, and had gotten a very interesting warning from the Universe when I first moved up there.  One day I was walking in the desert surrounded by the beautiful red rock mountains of that area.  I was thinking about how wonderful it was going to be now that I had done so much deep emotional work and learned so many new tools.  I was day dreaming about how exciting it was going to be able to have healthy relationships.  All of a sudden from out of the underbrush burst this mad looking dog barking and snarling and hurtling right at me – and then right past me.  I hadn’t even caught my breath after that scare when the strong odor of skunk wafted by.

The message from the Universe:  I may be a lot healthier, but I still need to watch out for mad dogs and skunks.  The mad dogs in my understanding are the abusive, aggressive codependents – and the skunks are the martyr, victim codependents.  In  other words I needed to learn to be discerning about who I open up to, who I invest time and energy in, because the world is full of wounded people – including, as I already knew, some that claim many years of recovery.  I realized that day that recovery was going to be on ongoing adventure – not some stroll through the park.  And that it was very important for me to stay conscious and pay attention so that I didn’t set myself up with insane expectations, so I didn’t allow the magical thinking inner child to lead me into believing that I had reached happily-ever-after.

Only a short time later I had an experience that really showed me how important it was to be discerning and trust my intuition.  A milestone experience that revealed to me my Karmic mission in this lifetime – that changed my life and altered my path in the direction it has been on since.

It was shortly after that milestone experience in August of 1988 I moved to Taos.  My first few months in the area I lived in a friends ski cabin on Taos Mountain – as I mentioned in the last chapter.  With winter approaching I moved down to a casita – a little studio apartment heated by an adobe fireplace – just a block from Taos Plaza.  Shortly after that I surrendered my car because I couldn’t make the payments.  A walking winter it was to be.

In the latest installment of the personal journal I share in my Joy2MeU Journal, which tells the story of my recovery and spiritual growth process, I wrote about this very vital lesson.  Here is an excerpt from the The Path of one Recovering Codependent – the dance of one wounded soul.

“. . . . . . In his cabin on the mountain, and during the rest of the time I was in Taos, many mystical, miraculous, and magical things happened to help me to better understand the process, the dynamics, my path, everything.  It was in that cabin that I started writing what became the Trilogy.

One of those magical things happened one day as I was out for a walk.  The cabin I was staying in was at 11,000 feet, which was above the ski area of Taos Mountain.  In those days there was an off season in Taos – a time when there were very few tourists around.  There were actually two off seasons.  One in the spring after the ski resort closed until summer started, and one in September, October and early November before the resort opened on Thanksgiving.  What that meant was that I was about the only person on top of that mountain on that day as I was walking.

I was walking along wondering if I would ever have a loving relationship, and probably complaining to God about it a bit.  (One of my phone counseling clients shared an insight he had in an Al-Anon meeting recently – one that I like a lot.  He said he had this image of himself as a child on a trip in the car, asking, “Are we there yet?”  “How long until we get there?” etc.  Anyone who has ever taken a trip with a kid knows this one.  The insight was this:  that pestering, irritating, impatient complaining is probably exactly what it feels like to God when we are constantly wanting to know about the future.  Sounds pretty accurate to me.  Except, of course, the Goddess is quite amused by this, as are we on a higher level – since we are part of the Great Spirit.;-)

Anyway, as I am walking along asking “When am I going to have a relationship?” – all of a sudden a woman comes riding up on a horse.  A beautiful woman that looked enough like the image of my dream woman to really get my attention.  We started talking and discovered that I had gone to high school with some of her cousins in the little town I grew up near.  It seemed like an answer to my prayers.  Hurrah.

Well, it was a message for sure – but not what I thought it was.  Even then, I was far enough on my path to realize that it probably wasn’t what I wanted it to be.

I got her phone number, and in one of our first phone conversations, the topic of what was called Taos Furniture came up.  A type of furniture made in Taos that I thought was really uncomfortable and impractical.  I voiced that opinion.  It turned out that she made Taos Furniture.

I already knew by that time that there are no mistakes.  I knew that the foot in the mouth statements I made were a perfect part of the plan somehow.  I realized that this woman’s appearance on the mountain at the specific time she had ridden up was a message from my Higher Power.  Something to this effect:

“Pay attention.  A miracle can happen any time, any where.  I work in mysterious ways.  You don’t get to know the timing or the reasons.  Yours is to follow where you are lead and keep the faith.  Know that I am with you always.”

This message got reinforced over and over again after I moved off of the mountain into town before the winter set in.   During the rest of the year that I lived in Taos that time, I was really focusing on learning how to follow where I was lead.  I knew that I needed to pay attention to what got my attention.  I came to understand that my HP would get my attention in the way that worked best – which in many cases, was my deprivation issues – my search for Her, my dream woman.

I was without a car that winter (Miracles) so would walk everywhere I needed to go.  As I was walking I would keep asking my HP, at every corner, should I go this way or that way.  I was following whatever path it felt like I should follow to get to wherever it was that I was going.  Often as I was walking through the Plaza, or along the street, I would see what appeared to be an attractive woman across the way, go into a certain store.

That had gotten my attention, so I would go into that store.  It would never be about the woman I saw go in there.  There was always something else, someone else, I needed to see.  There was always some other reason for me to make that detour – even if it was to get the timing of my arrival at the post office just right so I ran into someone I needed to see there.

I got the message real clearly:  that sometimes the Universe uses something, or someone, to get my attention so I alter my path slightly on a different heading – but that I needed to let go of any expectations or projections of where that heading was going to take me.  I learned that I got directions to veer off on a different heading not to get me where I thought I was headed, but rather to get me to a point a little farther down the path where the Universe would once again get my attention and say, “Okay, now come this way for a while.” I needed to keep following where I was led while letting go of the outcome – letting go of projecting any fantasies about the destination I was headed towards.

A wonderful lesson to learn.  Follow the guidance and let go of the outcome.” – My Unfolding Dance 14 – posted July 2002

An invaluable, priceless lesson.  My job is to show up for life today and pay attention.  Pay attention to what gets my attention without judging and shaming myself.  The Universe uses whatever works to get my attention and to motivate me to follow where it wants me to go.  The things that get my attention most effectively usually have to do with my human desires, with longings and unfulfilled needs – that is not shameful, it is human.   Follow where I am led and let go of the outcome.  Let go of assuming, interpreting, fortune telling, projecting my fantasy of where I was going to end up because of what got my attention.

It was absolutely vital for me to get honest with myself so that I could discern between different levels of my motives – so that I could see my self with more clarity.  As I explained in the earlier chapter about ego self image, as long as I wasn’t being honest with myself about my human selfishness, my behavior did not match how I was seeing myself.  This caused me to be dishonest and manipulative.  This prevented me from having any true, healthy emotional intimacy with another human being – because I wasn’t being emotionally intimate with myself.  I had to learn how to be emotionally and intellectually honest with myself before I could start to see other people with any clarity.  That is why the process of learning how to practice discernment internally so I could set internal boundaries (which I will talk about in a later chapter) was so vital to my recovery.

Empowerment comes from seeing reality clearly and then owning that I have choices about how to make the best of reality as it is being presented to me.  It was impossible for me to see reality – internally or externally – with any clarity until I was able to get past the toxic shame I was carrying to see, own, and accept the base, ego centered, selfishness that is an inherent part of being a human being who grew up in a dysfunctional environment.  Once I owned it, I could start to take control of some of the things I can have some control of – my own attitudes and behaviors.

“The higher purpose, the Spiritual motive for making recovery the number one priority in my life is intimately connected to the human motive. Our human motives are not bad or wrong.   There is nothing shameful about being human.  It is vital to stop judging ourselves based upon the belief that being human is shameful.  Codependence is a defense system adapted in reaction to the feeling that it was somehow shameful to be human – to be me.

It is self perpetuating because we react to that core feeling of toxic shame out of a polarized intellectual paradigm that judges us and our behavior as right or wrong.   Our ego relates to life as if it is a test which we can fail by being wrong.  And being human is wrong and shameful according to the beliefs, attitudes and definitions we learned in early childhood.

The more I can take the shame out of my relationship with being human and start changing the dysfunctional intellectual paradigm I learned in childhood – the easier it becomes for me to align with higher purpose, to align ego self with Spiritual Self, to surrender my will and accept God’s will.  I can learn to accept being human, and see how my human motives are connected to my Spiritual purpose so that I can find some balance in life.  So I can start relating to life as a growth process instead of a test that I am doomed to fail.” – January 2002 Update Newsletter 

Recovery / Spiritual growth is a process of realigning our ego self with Spiritual Self so that, from our human perspective, life is less painful and more enjoyable.  No matter how enlightened we become, the bottom line to the human part of us is that recovery is the most functional way to make life less painful, to find some meaning and purpose in life.  Aligning with higher purpose, with Love, is what will meet our selfish human needs as well as serve the Divine Plan and help us reconnect Spiritual Self.  Accepting our human selfishness is piece of the puzzle that allows us to integrate Spiritual Truth into our human experience.

“We need to let go of the illusion that we can control this life business.  We cannot.  We never could!  It was an illusion.  And we need to let go of the false beliefs that tell us that we are bad and shameful.  We cannot become whole as long as we believe that any part of us is bad or shameful.

That includes the ego – that bloated out-of-balance dragon within.  Thank God for our egos, they are what allowed us to survive.  Thank God for Codependence, without it we would not be alive.  But now is the time to get things into balance – the time to bring ego-self into alignment and balance with Spiritual Self.

That is the transformation which is known as “the death of the ego.”  To quote the St. Francis Prayer, “It is through dying that we awaken to eternal life.”  It is not referring just to physical death, it is referring to the death of the ego which allows us to awaken to the Truth of eternal life.

The death of the ego is not an event – it is a process.  It is not an act of violence – it is an act of Love.  A process of learning to Love.

We are bringing ego-self into alignment with Spiritual Truth. We are reconnecting with our Spiritual nature and Spiritual purpose so that we can find some fulfillment and happiness in life.” – Codependency Recovery: Wounded Souls Dancing in the Light Book 2: A Dysfunctional Relationship with Life Chapter 7: Multiple levels of selfishness

Sacred Spiral with tail pointing to the right signifying going toward.

Codependency Recovery: Wounded Souls Dancing in the Light  Book 2: A Dysfunctional Relationship with Life is available in a subscription area of the Joy2MeU website entitled: Dancing in Light

A special offer for that subscription (as well as for the Joy2MeU Journal) is available on this special offers page.

The first two chapters of this online book is available through my regular website:  Chapter 1:  The codependency movement is NOT ruining marriages!

I have published some other chapters of this work as blogs including:  Chapter 4: False Self Image,  Chapter 8 Codependents as Emotional Vampires and Chapter 13: Changing the Music: Love instead of fear and shame.

Codependency Recovery: Wounded Souls Dancing in the Light  Book 2: A Dysfunctional Relationship with Life is the third book of what I think of as the Wounded Souls Trilogy along with Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls A Cosmic Perspective on Codependence and the Human Condition and Codependency Recovery: Wounded Souls Dancing in The Light Book 1 Empowerment, Freedom, and Inner Peace through Inner Child Healing. (This is different from The Dance of the Wounded Souls Trilogy Book 1 – “In The Beginning . . .” which is a Magical, Mystical Adult Spiritual Fable that was in fact the first book I wrote – but have never finished.)

Chapter 3: Emotional honesty

The Dance

“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.” – (Text in this color is used for quotes from Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls)

In the course of writing this article – which seems to be turning into another online book – I realized that though I talk a lot about the importance of emotional honesty in my work, I probably do not give a lot of down to earth, easily understood examples of what the term means to me.  So, I decided to start this Chapter 3 with an example. 

It was focusing on the dynamic of expectations that was the key for me in starting to get emotionally honest with myself.  Starting to understand the cause and effect relationship between my emotional reactions and my expectations was essential for me to start understanding why my relationship with life was so dysfunctional.  I, of course, in my codependency, had swung between the extremes of feeling, and believing, that it was all my fault because of my shameful defective being – and being angry and resentful at other people, the system, something or someone external to my being. 

The twelve step recovery application of the disease model in the treatment of alcoholism – the concept that I had been powerless over my past behaviors because I had a disease – helped me to take enough shame out of my perspective of myself to start seeing my life with a little bit of objectivity.  The spiritual approach of the twelve step program – that there is a Power greater than myself that is on my side, The Force is with me – helped me to shift my intellectual paradigm enough to start to see life as something other than a test I could fail by doing it “wrong.”  The definition of insanity that I heard in my first days of recovery – doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results – caused me to start focusing on cause and effect. 

It was the concept of powerlessness that led me to start becoming empowered to take responsibility for my life.  Instead of viewing life through a perspective that was black and white – either I had to be perfect or I was shameful – I was able to start to see what my part had been in how painful and miserable my life experience had been.  How I had some responsibility – how I was creating cause in my life that had negative consequences – but that it did not mean that there was something inherently wrong with me.  I started seeing that my relationship with life was dysfunctional, was not working, and that I could take some action to change that relationship.

Insane Expectations – Road Rage

The specific area that opened me up to a new perspective on my insanity, was starting to understand what my part was in the road rage I was experiencing driving on the streets and freeways of Los Angeles.  Looking at the cause and effect relationship between my expectations and the rage I was feeling at all the stupid blankety blank drivers in Southern California greatly accelerated my process of becoming emotionally honest with myself – and opening up my mind to a Spiritual Awakening, a paradigm shift in consciousness.

“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.

By having expectations I was giving power away.  In order to become empowered I had to own that I had choices about how I viewed life, about my expectations.  I realized that no one can make me feel hurt or angry – that it is my expectations that cause me to generate feelings of hurt or anger.  In other words, the reason I feel hurt or anger is because other people, life, or God are not doing what I want them, expect them, to do.

I had to learn to be honest with myself about my expectations – so I could let go of the ones that were insane (like, everyone is going to drive the way I want them to), and own my choices – so I could take responsibility for how I was setting myself up to be a victim in order to change my patterns.  Accept the things I cannot change – change the things I can.” – Serenity and Expectations – intimately interrelated

Expecting other drivers to drive the way I think they “should” is absolutely, incredibly insane.  Talk about egotistical and arrogant.  I, being an excellent driver myself (how many people do you know that don’t think they are excellent drivers?), knew how people should drive – I was right and anyone who didn’t drive the way I thought they “should” was wrong.  I felt extremely, righteously justified in ranting and raving and cussing out other drivers – sometimes cutting them off and giving them the finger, while wishing I had a laser mounted on the roof of my car so that I could just vaporize them.  Luckily, this was in the days before people started shooting each other on the Freeways, or I may not have ever made it into recovery.  Actually, this was something I continued to do into my first few years of recovery.

Detaching enough to look with some objectivity at how I was relating to driving a car in L. A., allowed me to awaken to how insane it was to allow my emotions to be dictated by such a ridiculous expectation.  Then I was also able to look at my emotional reactions and get in touch with how dishonest I was being emotionally in relationship to other drivers.

What I came to understand about my emotional experience of driving, was that one of two things was happening.  One was, that other drivers were scaring me.  The way they were driving – either too slow or too fast, cutting me off, swerving back and forth between lanes, etc. – was causing an actual fear of survival reaction.  That kind of primal human emotional response that is generated by a sudden loud noise or any perception of a threat of physical harm.

When something scared me, and I reacted to the fear with anger – that was emotionally dishonest.  I wasn’t owning my true feelings.  In reaction to the jolt of fear energy that shot through me, I became the angry, self righteous victim of the other drivers “idiocy.”  The reality that this happened almost every time I drove on the freeway, just proved to me how many idiots there were out there – because I was relating to the experience from a victim perspective.  It was impossible for me to have any serenity because I was giving other drivers the power to throw me into anger – which often triggered the suppressed rage I was carrying at how unfair, unjust, and painful life was.

Once I started to look at what my part was in those emotional reactions, at how I was setting myself up with my expectations, then I could start to take responsibility for changing that which I have the power to change.  I learned to accept the thing I cannot change – other drivers – and change the thing I can, my attitude towards other drivers.  It was when I realized that this anger was emotionally dishonest, and what my part in empowering that emotional reaction was, that I was able to start taking back the power over my feelings that I was giving to those “idiots.”

After that, when something another driver did scared me, I would own the fear.  I would say out loud, “That scared me.”  Then I would say a prayer for the other driver.  I would ask that the other driver be helped to become happy, joyous, and free (knowing that the process of them opening up to that possibility would involve having their denial ripped away so they were not so unconscious – a prayer both Spiritually aligned and humanly selfish 😉 – and would offer up the incident as an amends for one of the thousands of times I had done something while driving that scared other drivers.

(During my years pursuing an acting career in Hollywood – the role of suffering artist being perfect for both my alcoholism / addiction and my codependent martyrdom – I lived out the romantic vision of the struggling actor by making my living by waiting tables and parking cars and driving a taxi.  Driving a cab for several years – often stoned – really built up the number of driving amends I owe.  Seeing those incidents as Karmic – what goes around comes around – also played a part in helping me to stop buying into the belief I was being unfairly victimized on the freeway.)

The second thing that I realized was happening, had to do with fear also.  This was the fear that caused me to try to control life.  That fear caused me to be very self obsessed.  I was getting angry because those people were getting in my way.  The immature, self centered perspective of life which was dictating my relationship with life, caused me to think and act as if I was the only person who was important.  I reacted out of an ego selfishness that told me these idiots should get out of my way because I had places to go and things to do that were much more important than anything they were doing.

This ego driven, self centered fear was directly related – both as cause and effect – to my unconsciousness, my inability to be present in the moment.  I was always caught up in the past or the future, and related to driving in traffic as a great inconvenience that was slowing me down. (Which, also, sometimes led to me driving too fast and cutting between lanes.)

The society I grew up in taught me that reaching the destination was what I should focus upon, was the thing that was vitally important.  I was always striving to reach the destination where I would be fixed, where I would be respected and loved.  When I reached that destination (college degree, fame and fortune, the right relationship, the Academy Award, etc.) then I would live “happily ever after.”

I was forever in pursuit – either of the illusive “happily ever after,” or for something to distract me from, or kill the pain of, feeling defective because I had not already reached the destination.  I was always bouncing between the extremes:  trying to figure out how to control my life, how to do the “right” things, to get “there” – or working on going unconscious (with alcohol, drugs, obsession, rumination, food, whatever) to escape the pain of being “here.”  Being “here,” being present in the moment in my own skin, was too painful because I had a dysfunctional relationship with my own emotions – and was carrying a ton of suppressed grief energy.

And it was so painful emotionally because the subconscious intellectual paradigm that was dictating my relationship with self and life, was insane, delusional, and dysfunctional.  I could never relax and enjoy life (without some chemical help, either from a substance or from an illusion/fantasy about love or success that would affect my brain chemistry) because wherever my life was at that point – according to the critical parent voice in my head – was not good enough and was my fault, or their fault.  I was always feeling like a victim. (Empowerment and Victimization – the power of choice)

I needed to start letting go of that destination programming and start learning how to be in the moment.  To actually be present and conscious while driving my car.  (What a concept!)  To start relating to driving as being a perfect part of my journey, a classroom – a wonderful arena for Spiritual growth.

When the rush hour traffic was disrupting my plans of getting someplace by a certain time, I would practice my Spiritual program.  I would take some deep breaths to get into, and conscious of, my body.  Then I would thank the Universe for this wonderful opportunity to practice patience and acceptance.  I would take some steps to let go of the urgency I felt – the inner child’s fear of doing it “wrong,” the feeling that the world would come to an end if things did not go the way I had planned them.  I would remind myself that life was a journey, and that this moment was a perfect part of that journey.  I would talk to my inner children and tell them it was okay – that if I was going to be late, that was a perfect part of God’s plan.  I would let go of my picture of how I thought things have to unfold for me to be okay.  I would affirm that I am Unconditionally Loved and am being guided on my journey.

I would look around me, to see if there was something the Goddess wanted me to see – and that perhaps, was the reason I was stuck in traffic.  I would remind myself that it was possible that this delay was really a wonderful gift.  That perhaps because I was being delayed:  I would not be in a traffic accident later that day:  or the timing would be perfect for me to run into someone I needed to see, that without the delay I would have missed;  or something to that effect.

I would remind myself that I am not in control of life, I am not writing the script, so:

I need to surrender the illusion that I am in control; 
remember that I have a Loving Higher Power who is in control; 
and be willing to accept reality as it was being presented to me, and take whatever action I could to make the best of the situation – to align with God’s will so I could flow with the Universal plan.  (Work steps 1, 2, & 3 – the dance of recovery.)

That action may just be to relax, be in the moment, and do some prayer and meditation (talk and listen to The Great Spirit – which can certainly include expressing my irritation for the delay.)  The action may be to figure out an alternate route, get off the freeway at the next opportunity and take surface streets – but not with that feeling of life and death urgency, rather with sense of adventure.  “This is an interesting twist, let’s see how this unfolds.”

I started to learn to take responsibility for my feelings – to own the things I have some control over.  Learning how to be emotionally honest with myself allowed me to start becoming empowered to take responsibility for my life and stop empowering insane expectations.  By focusing on letting go of the belief in victimization that was caused by my attitudes and perspectives – the mental level of my being – I could greatly decrease the feelings of victimization, the amount of emotional energy that was being generated on an emotional level.  I still had some feelings of being victimized, but I could be nurturing and Loving in relationship to those feelings – and set some Loving boundaries with my inner children who were reacting out of the immediate gratification urgency of a child.  (I am just going to die if I don’t get what I want!)

I learned to develop an observer self – a mature, recovering adult with a Spiritual perspective – that could tell the critical parent voice to shut up with all the shame and fear messages, and assure my inner children that everything was going to be okay because there is a Higher Power in charge of my life. (Learning to Love our self)

Twisted and Distorted is the Dance of the Emotional Cripple

“We are set up to be emotionally dysfunctional by our role models, both parental and societal.  We are taught to repress and distort our emotional process.  We are trained to be emotionally dishonest when we are children.”

Early in my recovery, it was vital for me to start realizing how emotionally crippled I had been by the role modeling and messages I had experienced growing up in an emotionally dishonest and dysfunctional culture.  I had to become conscious of how dysfunctional my relationship with my own emotions was, in order to start healing the dysfunction in my relationship with my self and life.

The single most important influence in the development of a person’s relationship with their own emotions is role modeling.  Mom and Dad were our primary role models for how a male emotional being and female emotional being behave, for how they relate to, and express, their emotions.  (As well as for how male and female relate to each other.)  The cultural role models that we were exposed to – through books, movies, television, etc., – play an important factor also, but our primary role models were our parents.

The direct messages we got – both verbal (big boys don’t cry, little ladies don’t get angry, there is nothing to be afraid of, etc.) and behavioral (punishment for expressing emotions) – and indirect messages (the ways we interpreted and internalized the behavior of other people – parents, teachers, peers, etc. – as being personal punishment, as being our fault) we got both from our parents and from society play a part in that development, but role modeling has the greatest impact.

“In order to find out who we are, we have to start being emotionally honest with ourselves.  And in order to be emotionally honest with ourselves, we have to start changing our perspective on our own emotional process.

As a child, I learned from the role modeling of my father that the only emotion that a man felt was anger.  From my mother, whose definition of love included the belief that you cannot be angry at someone you love, I learned that it was not okay to be angry at anyone I loved.  That left me with very little permission to feel anything.  That did not mean that I did not have feelings – it meant that I was at war with my own emotions, that I could not be honest with myself about having them.  As long as I could not be honest with myself emotionally there was no way I could know who I was.  Until I started owning the grief and rage from my childhood, the sadness and hurt and fear that I had denied all of my life, I was incapable of being honest with myself, incapable of knowing who I Truly was.”

I remember very distinctly the thoughts I had in one of my first AA meetings when several people at a podium spoke of being afraid.  My thought was, “Who are these people – talking so much about being afraid.  I was never afraid.  They stuck guns in my face and it didn’t scare me.”

I did not have permission from my self to acknowledge that I felt fear, because I had learned growing up that real men do not feel fear.  I was emotionally crippled because I did not have permission to own my fear – or my pain or sadness.  I had no permission to be emotionally vulnerable – “weak.”  So, like the manly man I was trained to be, instead of owning that I was afraid or hurt, I got angry.

The Truth, as I soon came to understand it, is that I had really been scared of everyone and everything.  I was scared because I knew I was not perfect, and I was sure that other people would discover what a shameful loser I was.  Scared that I would fail the life test – that I would never reach “happily ever after.”  Afraid that I would never find someone to Love me.  The little boy inside of me was scared that god would punish me for being unworthy – scared of being condemned to burn in hell forever.

While pursuing an acting career, I would pontificate to other actors, sharing my wisdom about the key to building a true character – which was to understand the characters gut level fears.  I maintained that all people were driven by their gut levels fears, and that any other levels of motivation were in reaction to that level of fear.  I was a very good actor.  I could really make characters come alive because of my insights into the human emotional process.  However, I personally was not afraid of anything.

Talk about emotional dishonesty.  The power of denial is truly awesome.  I could see other people with some degree of clarity, but I did not have a clear perspective of my my self.

What is so insidious about codependency, is that it is entrenched in our core relationship with self and life.  The intellectual paradigm that determines our perspective of our self – and therefore how we behave in relationship to life and other people – is subconscious until we get into recovery and start becoming conscious enough to stop being the victim of false beliefs, of delusional and insane expectations.  Until we start becoming conscious, we are powerless over our behavior because we cannot see our self with any objectivity.  Since the only choices in the polarized perspective of life (that was imposed upon me in childhood) were right or wrong – and wrong was shameful – my ego tried to protect me from the toxic shame I felt at the core of my being with denial and rationalization.

To own the incredible pain and shame I felt at the core of my being, the self hatred I felt towards myself for being imperfect and unlovable, felt like a threat to my survival.  So, my ego kept me in denial of any feelings which were not acceptable to the perspective of being a man I learned in childhood.

The subconscious beliefs that were dictating my relationship with self, told me that fear was not an acceptable emotion for a man – so I had to deny that I had any fear.  My subconscious intellectual paradigm, the beliefs that were defining my relationship with my own gender and emotions, severely limited my perspective of myself.

As long as I had a distorted and twisted perspective of my own emotions it was impossible to see my self with any clarity.  I was powerless to understand my self and my behaviors until I started to get emotionally honest with my self.  It is not possible for a person to be honest in relationships until they start getting emotionally honest in their relationship with self.

Control and fear – thinking to avoid feeling

Attempts to control are a reaction to fear.  I attempted to control life because I was so afraid.  As I explain in my book Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls, human beings have been doing life backwards due to a condition of reversity in the planetary energy field of Collective Human Emotional Consciousness.  One of the effects of this condition, is living life focused externally – trying to control things over which we have no control – while simultaneously judging and shaming ourselves because the way we are living life is not working.

“I spent most of my life doing the Serenity prayer backwards, that is, trying to change the external things over which I had no control – other people and life events mostly – and taking no responsibility (except shaming and blaming myself) for my own internal process – over which I can have some degree of control.  Having some control is not a bad thing; trying to control something or somebody over which I have no control is what is dysfunctional.  It was very important for me to start learning how to recognize the boundaries of where I ended and other people began, and to start realizing that I can have some control over my internal process in ways that are not shaming and judgmental – that I can stop being the victim of myself.”

I had to deny any emotions that were not acceptable to my subconscious programming in order to feel that I had some control of my life.  Since the only acceptable emotion to the definition of being a man I had learned growing up was anger – and even anger was only acceptable to feel in relationship to other men – I had to deny almost all of my feelings.

As a child I had to learn to disassociate, to not be present in the moment in my own skin, because the emotional pain was too great.  The primary way I learned to be unconscious early on was to be in my head to avoid the feelings.  Later on, I would use drugs and alcohol to escape being present “here” – in my body in the moment – but even then being in my head was my primary defense against feeling my feelings.

I would fantasize, intellectualize, and analyze.  I would focus on something or someone outside of myself – and was always caught up in the past or future.  I was not capable of being present in my own skin in the moment because it was not okay to feel my feelings.  Because I was living in so much fear – at the same time I could not acknowledge that I felt any fear – I had to put a great deal of energy into denying that fear.

I would escape from my emotional reality by thinking about the future – creating grandiose fantasies of a positive nature (rehearsing my Academy Award acceptance speech, or fantasizing about the unavailable woman I was currently obsessing about) or of a negative nature (worry, impending doom, financial insecurity) – or ruminating on the past, either beating myself up for something “stupid” I said or did, or wallowing in resentment and self pity about how someone had victimized me.  This is very dysfunctional because it generates more emotional energy.

“Worry is negative fantasizing.  It is a fantasy that is being created in reaction to feeling fear.  It is not real – it is something that is being created because my mind has slipped into the old familiar rut of right and wrong thinking.  Worry is not a feeling – it is a reaction, an negative emotional state, that is created by the perspectives of a belief system that empowers illusions like failure.  The sooner that we can pull ourselves out of that rut and start seeing the situation as part of a learning process – shift back into a recovery perspective – the less negative emotional response we will generate in relationship to the situation.

Emotions do not have value in and of themselves – they just are.  What gives emotions value is how we react to them.  We were programmed to react negatively to emotions and adapted defenses to try to keep from feeling emotional energy.  Being in our head worrying about the past or the future, is a defense against being in our own skin and feeling our feelings.  But it is dysfunctional – it does not work.  Reacting negatively to our feelings generates more feelings.   The more we worry, the more fear we generate. . . . . . .

When I catch myself worrying then I know that I am not being emotionally honest with myself.  Worry is a symptom that tells me I am avoiding some feelings.” – Discernment in relationship to emotional honesty and responsibility 2

In order to start getting emotionally honest with myself, I had to start becoming aware of the ways in which I was avoiding my feelings.  I learned to observe myself so that I could be conscious enough to catch myself when I was thinking to try to avoid feeling.

I realized that any time I was worrying about “what if,” or fantasizing about “if only,” or obsessing about a woman or the outcome of a situation, it was sign that I was being dishonest with myself emotionally.  I started to become aware of all the ways I had been taught by society to keep my feelings at bay.  The ways I talked and thought that helped me stay in denial of my feelings.

“Emotions are energy.  Actual physical energy that is manifested in our bodies.  Emotions are not thoughts – they do not exist in our mind.  Our mental attitudes, definitions, and expectations can create emotional reactions, can cause us to get stuck in emotional states – but thoughts are not emotions.  The intellectual and emotional are two distinctly separate though intimately interconnected parts of our being.  In order to find some balance, peace, and sanity in recovery it is vitally important to start separating the emotional from the intellectual and to start setting boundaries with, and between, the emotional and mental parts of our self. . . . . .

. . . . . . . I had to become aware that there were such things as emotions that lived in my body and then I had to start learning how to recognize and sort them out.  I had to become aware of all the ways that I was trained to distance myself from my feelings.  I am going to mention a few of them here to help any of you reading this in your process of becoming emotionally honest.

Speaking in the third person.  One of the defenses many of us have against feeling our feelings is to speak of ourselves in the third person.  “You just kind of feel hurt when that happens” is not a personal statement and does not carry the power of speaking in the first person.  “I felt hurt when that happened” is personal, is owning the feeling.  Listen to yourself and to others and become aware of how often you hear others and yourself refer to self in the third person.

Avoiding using primary feeling words.  There are only a handful of primary feelings that all humans feel.  There is some dispute about just how many there are primary but for our purpose here I am going to use seven.  Those are: angry, sad, hurt, afraid, lonely, ashamed, and happy.  It is important to start using the primary names of these feelings in order to own them and to stop distancing ourselves from the feelings.  To say “I am anxious” or “concerned” or “apprehensive” is not the same as saying “I am afraid.”  Fear is at the root of all those other expressions but we don’t have to be so aware of our fear if we use a word that distances us from fear.  Expressions like “confused,”  “irritated,” “upset,” “tense,” “disturbed,” “melancholy,” “blue,” “good,” or “bad” are not primary feeling words.

Emotions are energy that is meant to flow: E – motion = energy in motion.  Until we own it, feel it and release it, it cannot flow.  By blocking and repressing our emotions we are damming up our internal energy and that will eventually result in some physical or mental manifestation such as cancer or Alzheimer’s disease or whatever.” – The Journey to the Emotional Frontier Within

Someone could ask me if I was afraid, and I would respond, “No, I’m not afraid.  A little concerned perhaps, but certainly not afraid.”  Saying, “I am feeling some fear.” is a quite different energetic experience from saying, “I am a bit apprehensive.”  Naming and claiming the feeling is an important part of emotional honesty.  There is power in the way we express ourselves.  It is very important to start becoming aware of the emotional energy in our bodies.  In order to be present in our own skins in the moment, it is necessary to be consciously in touch with our feelings.

There was no way that I could start changing the way I was relating to life until I started to own my fear.  Fear is not a bad thing – just as sadness, pain, and anger are not negative or bad in and of themselves.  Emotions are a vital part of our being that need to be owned, honored, and respected.  Denial and repression of emotions is what leads to negative consequences.

“Emotions have a purpose, a very good reason to be – even those emotions that feel uncomfortable.  Fear is a warning, anger is for protection, tears are for cleansing and releasing.  These are not negative emotional responses!  We were taught to react negatively to them.  It is our reaction that is dysfunctional and negative, not the emotion.”

Human beings have a fear of the unknown for a reason.  It is part of our survival programming.  Because I did not have permission to own my fear, I was very out of balance emotionally.  It was impossible for me to own that I had fear and still feel that I had worth as a man, so the only options I had – according to the subconscious programming of my childhood – were to deny my fear or feel that I was defective as a man.

“Fear is an emotion that exists to serve us.  It provides a warning system to help us be aware of potential danger.  It is appropriate and healthy to be aware when we are driving.  To be conscious of potential threats.  It is important for us to be in touch with our fear so that we can pay attention to it when it sends us a message.

What is not functional is to completely empower fear or to deny it.  The 1 or 10 extremes of the disease.

Emotions are an incredibly powerful and important part of this experience we are having of being human.  Emotions are a vital part of our being – and dictate the quality of our life experience.

“Emotions have two vitally important purposes for human beings.  Emotions are a form of communication.  Our feelings are one of the means by which we define ourselves.  The interaction of our intellect and our emotions determines how we relate to ourselves.

Our emotional energy is also the fuel that propels us down the pathways of our life journey.  E-motions are the orchestra that provide the music for our individual dances – that dictate the rhythmic flow and movement of our human dance.  Our feelings help us to define ourselves and then provide the combustible fuel that dictates the speed and direction of our motion – rather we are flowing with it or damming it up within ourselves. . . . . . .

 . . . . there are two primary transformers from which emotional energy is generated.  Our ego self and our Spiritual Self.  Our ego was traumatized in childhood and programmed very dysfunctionally. The ego is the seat of the disease of codependence.” – Discernment in relationship to emotional honesty and responsibility 2

The ego is the part of us that composed the score and conducts the music for our dance of codependence.  It composed that score based upon the definitions, attitudes and beliefs it adapted in early childhood due to what our emotional experience of being a human child felt like.” – Newsletter part 2 May 2001 Update

Denying my fear was dysfunctional and emotionally dishonest.  Focusing on fear, giving it a great deal of power, is also dysfunctional – and can be immobilizing.  The extremes of the disease of codependency.

In writing the May 2001 Joy2MeU Update just quoted, I shared how I caught myself making a statement that set off alarm bells in my codependency control center – my observer self.  Observing and listening to myself made me aware that my fear of intimacy issues were up to be looked at again.  I subsequently did 3 Newsletter web pages of processing about those issues (and another 3 pages in my journal pages of the Joy2MeU Journal) in which I uncovered a level where I was being emotionally dishonest with myself – and was empowering some black and white thinking.

Recovery is on an ongoing process of uncovering, discovering, and recovering.  We have layer upon layer of wounding – which means layer upon layer of denial, emotional dishonesty, and rationalized perspectives.  We keep peeling another layer of the onion and getting to a deeper level of honesty – both intellectually and emotionally.

June 3rd will mark the 16th anniversary of my codependency recovery.  (I write this some time ago – my anniversary is June 3rd 1986: The Story of Joy to You & Me)  There are still times when I find the process irritating.  But the benefits have been incredible.  It is through healing my relationship with my self that I have found an incredible inner peace.  That I have learned to be present in the moment – and have some moments of Joy – every day.   Recovery works.

Focusing on the future or the past, blaming them or blaming me, underreacting or overreacting (stuffing my feelings until they exploded forth in ways that made me feel crazy and ashamed,) feeling triumphant over “winning” or wanting to die because I was such a loser, were the rhythms of my dance of codependency.  As long as I was in denial and unconsciously reacting to life I was doomed to “keep doing the same thing over and over again while expecting different results.”  Unconsciousness doomed me to ride on a merry go round of cause and effect – never getting anywhere different emotionally.  As long as I was incapable of being emotionally honest with myself, I was doomed to keep repeating the patterns that dictated my emotional reality.

Codependency recovery is the path to finding enough freedom from the past to find happiness and Joy in being alive today.  I highly recommend it. 😉 – Codependency Recovery: Wounded Souls Dancing in the Light  Book 2:  A Dysfunctional Relationship with Life  Chapter 4: False Self Image

Sacred Spiral

Codependency Recovery: Wounded Souls Dancing in the Light  Book 2: A Dysfunctional Relationship with Life is available in a subscription area of the Joy2MeU website entitled: Dancing in Light

A special offer for that subscription (as well as for the Joy2MeU Journal) is available on this special offers page.

The first two chapter of this online book is available through my regular website: The codependency movement is NOT ruining marriages!

I have published some other chapters of this work as blogs including: Chapter 8 Codependents as Emotional Vampires,  Chapter 13: Changing the Music: Love instead of fear and shame, and Chapter 4false self image.

Cover of Inner Child Healing Book

Codependency Recovery: Wounded Souls Dancing in the Light  Book 2: A Dysfunctional Relationship with Life is the third book of what I think of as the Wounded Souls Trilogy along with Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls A Cosmic Perspective on Codependence and the Human Condition and Codependency Recovery: Wounded Souls Dancing in The Light Book 1 Empowerment, Freedom, and Inner Peace through Inner Child Healing. (This is different from The Dance of the Wounded Souls Trilogy Book 1 – “In The Beginning . . .” which is a Magical, Mystical Adult Spiritual Fable that was in fact the first book I wrote – but have never finished.)

The True Nature of Love – part 2, Love as Freedom

The Dance

“The Universal Creative Force, as I understand it, is the energy field of ALL THAT IS vibrating at the frequency of Absolute Harmony.  That vibrational frequency I call LOVE.  (LOVE is the vibrational frequency of God; Love is an energy vibration within The Illusion which we can access; love is, in our Codependent culture, most often an addiction or an excuse for dysfunctional behavior.) 

LOVE is the energy frequency of Absolute Harmony because it is the vibrational frequency where there is no separation.

Energy moves in wave-like patterns; what enables movement is the separation between the valley of the wave and its peak.  The distance from peak to peak is called it’s wavelength.  It is a law of physics that as vibrational frequency rises, as it gets higher, the wavelength gets shorter.  The frequency of LOVE is the vibrational frequency where wavelength disappears, where separation disappears.

It is a place of absolute Peace, motionless, timeless, completely at rest:  The Eternal Now

The Peace and Bliss of The Eternal Now is the True Absolute Reality of the God-Force.”

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

What is Love?  That is the question.  I have been quite balled up the last week in attempting to write this column.  No, that is not quite true – I have been unable to get into a space to even attempt to write this column.  I need to get into a certain space – need to be feeling a special kind of creative energy – to write about a topic such as this.  It was much easier to write last month’s column about “what Love is not.”  Then I was writing about something much more concrete, much more black and white (the irony of this – since one of the characteristics of the disease is black and white thinking – is fodder for a completely different column.)  The dynamics of the disease and the wounding process are very clear in my eyes.  I have experienced the type of love that is shaming, abusive, manipulative, smothering, intrusive, addictive, etc., my whole life. 

In fact, I learned a new word while writing this column.  As I was composing the above paragraph, and taking note of how much easier it was to write last month’s column, the word empirical came to mind.

So, I did what comes naturally when a word pops to mind – I looked it up.

empirical  1. Relating to or based on experience or observation.  2. Relying entirely or to excess upon direct, repeated, and uncritically accepted experience: opposed to metempirical.

Aha, a new word.

metempirical  1. Lying beyond the bounds of experience, as intuitive principles; not derived from experience; transcendental.

So, even though I just said that it was easier to write ‘what Love is not’ because of my experience – in Truth when I say that Love is not shaming and abusive, I am actually stating my intuitive Truth.  If I were just relying on my experience, I would say “love is shaming and abusive and controlling,” “love is being responsible for other people’s feelings and well being,” etc. – and that would be the Truth about love with a small l.  When I say Love is not shaming, I am talking about the True Nature of Love as I intuitively understand it.  Once I started to awaken to the reality that civilized society on this planet was based upon some false beliefs, then I started to be able to validate my intuitive feeling that something was dreadfully wrong here.  I Knew deep inside, from a very young age, that this was not my home.  I Knew that Love, if it was really such a wonderful thing, should not be so painful – just as I Knew it was ridiculous for both sides in a war to think that God was on their side and would help them kill the enemy.

Love that is Freedom

I could feel that Love must be something much greater than I had learned growing up.  If Love is so wonderful, if Love is the answer – then Love should set us Free.  That is what is coming up as I write this column – Love that is Freedom.  Love that is Joy.  Love that is the only Truth that has ever mattered.

Love that is Freedom – what does that mean?  To me it means the Freedom to be OK with being me.  The Freedom to relax and enJoy the moment.  The Freedom to be – just be, without having to strive, to work for, to try to reach, to prove myself, to earn Love, to get “there.”

It means: Freedom from shame.  Freedom from judgment.  Freedom from loneliness.  Freedom from feeling separate, different, not a part of, not acceptable.  Freedom from the endless, aching longing for something more.  Freedom from the hole in my soul – from the bottomless abyss of pain and shame and sadness that I feel at the core of my being.

This place is not my home.  When I yearn for Love, I am longing to go home.

“I was ‘transported with Joy’, and my ‘spirit was soaring’, as I danced on the rock.  And in my dancing and singing I Truly understood what those expressions meant.  For in being ‘transported’ and ‘soaring’ I was merely tuning into the vibrational frequency that is Joy and Love and Truth.  I could see clearly now how human beings throughout history had been trying to tune into Love.  The primal urge that has caused humans to attempt to ‘alter their consciousness’, through drugs or religion or food or meditation or whatever, is no more than an attempt to raise one’s vibrational frequency.  All any soul in body has ever done is to try to return home to God – we were just doing it all backwards because of the reversity of the planets energy field.” – The Dance of The Wounded Souls Trilogy Book 1 “In The Beginning . . . “ (Chapter 4)

“Humans have always been looking for a way home.  For a way to connect with our Higher Consciousness.  For a way to reconnect with our creator.  Throughout human history, human beings have used temporary artificial means to raise their vibrational level, to try to reconnect with Higher Consciousness.

Drugs and alcohol, meditation and exercise, sex and religion, starvation and overeating, the self-torture of the flagellant or the deprivation of the hermit – all are attempts to connect with higher consciousness.   Attempts to reconnect with Spiritual Self.   Attempts to go home.”

Part of the reason that I have had trouble in writing this column is because of the intellectual context I was approaching it from.  I was thinking that I had to know what I was talking about, had to be able to communicate to you the Truth about Love.  That was pretty silly of me.*  Love is what I am learning about.  Love is what recovery and healing are all about.  Love is the goal.  Love is home.

*[Actually, it was my disease at work – causing me to judge and shame myself for not feeling competent to write about the True Nature of Love. This disease of codependence is so incredibly insidious, treacherous, and powerful.  It continually turns back in on itself.  The disease doesn’t want me to take the risk of Loving and trusting my self and then it turns around and causes me to judge myself because I don’t Love my self.  I don’t Love myself because of the disease – the ego programming that is a result of being wounded and traumatized by being Spiritually orphaned in an alien environment.  By being born into and raised in an emotionally dishonest and dysfunctional, Spiritually hostile, shame based, Love mutilated (mutilate – 1. To deprive of a limb or essential part. 2. To damage or injure by the removal of an important part.) civilization on a planet where civilized societies have evolved based on the belief in separation and fear-based hostility – separation between beings, separation between humans and their environment, and separation between the flesh and the Spirit.  The civilization I was raised in is so sick and twisted that it took the teachings of the Master Teacher who came into body to teach us about Love and twisted those teachings into something shameful and hate-filled.  Jesus Christ carried a message of Love – not shame and judgment.]

“Due to the planetary conditions, the human ego developed a belief in separation – which is what made violence possible and caused the human condition as we inherited it. The reflection of that human condition on the individual level is the disease of Codependence. Codependence is caused by the ego being traumatized and programed in early childhood so that our relationship with ourselves and the God-Force is dysfunctional – that is, it does not work to help us access the Truth of ONENESS and Love. It is through healing our relationship with ourselves that we open our inner channel and start tuning into the Truth.” – Jesus & Christ Consciousness

Now what I thought last month was going to be one column about the True Nature of Love has turned into at least a 4 part series.  In dealing with the shame I was feeling about not knowing enough about Love to write about it’s True Nature, I have in fact been processing through that shame to get to a place where I can be free to write about the type of Love that can set me Free.  So, I will save “Love as a vibrational frequency” and “Love and romance” for future columns.

I have only a little experience with feeling Love that sets me Free – and that has come primarily since I have been in recovery.  In those moments when I am able to connect with Love in it’s True form, then I feel that all of the pain and suffering has been worth the experience.  Then I get a taste of what home really feels like.  Then I get to feel the Joy and Truth and Love that Truly does set me Free from the illusion of separation.  In those moments, I can sometimes even feel grateful for that illusion.  Because without the illusion of separation from The Source Energy, from Love – I would never have gotten the opportunity to experience Love.

I am going to end this column with a continuation of the quote from my book “The Dance of Wounded Souls” which I started it with.   This quote is from the very end of my book.  This is my intuitive Truth.  This is an important part of the understanding which has led to the beginning of my liberation from the shame.  This Truth has helped me to start Loving myself a little bit – to start Loving myself enough to be Free to start believing that maybe, just maybe I am Lovable and Loved.

“The Peace and Bliss of The Eternal Now is the True Absolute Reality of the God-Force.

The illusion of separation – the distance, the separation, between the peak and the valley – is what makes motion possible.  Separation is necessary for energy to be in motion.  The illusion of separation was necessary to create The Illusion.

As part of the ONENESS of ALL THAT IS, we are God and God is LOVE.  We are part of the Truth of ONENESS vibrating at LOVE.  As part of the ONENESS of LOVE we would never have been able to experience Love.  It is kind of like, “If you are sugar then you never get to taste sugar.”

In God we are LOVE.  Without the illusion of separation we would never have had the opportunity to experience Love.  Would never have been able to Love and be Loved.

Separation was necessary to allow us the incredible gift of experiencing Love, of Loving and being Loved.

The Illusion that caused all of the pain is also the vehicle for allowing us to feel and be Loved.

If you pursue your path of healing, I think that you will find as I have that it is very much worth it.  It is worth it to be able to experience Love.

This is the Age of Healing and Joy.  It is time to start remembering who you Truly are, to start feeling and tuning into the Truth which exists within you.

We are all butterflies.

We are all swans.

We are Spiritual Beings.

The Springtime of the Spirit has arrived:  It is possible to learn to Love yourself.

It is possible to be happy, Joyous, and free – if you are willing to be scared and hurt, angry and sad.

You are Lovable.

You are Loved.

You are LOVE.”

Sacred Spiral

Robert Burney is a pioneer in the area of codependency recovery / inner child healing. His first book Codependence The Dance of Wounded Souls has been called “one of the truly transformational works of our time.”  His website Joy2MeU.com offers over 200 pages of free original content  on codependency recovery, inner child healing, relationship dynamics, alcoholism/addiction, fear of intimacy, Twelve Step Spirituality, New Age Metaphysics, emotional abuse, setting boundaries, grief process, and much more.  The Joy2MeU website is designed in an ancient design program which is not mobile friendly.  A new site – joy2meu2.com – is a redesign of joy2meu.com in a mobile friendly format. The Joy2MeU2 siteindex page that will help you to access most of his articles on mobile friendly sites (around 170.) 

Robert recently posted a sale page to generate some income prior to his birthday on July 23rd.  Special Birthday Sale in honor of Robert’s 70th (Egad!!) Birthday!!!  https://www.joy2meu2.com/special-birthday-sale

Joy2MeU Journal Logo

Articles 3 through 6 of this series are now exclusively available in the Dancing in Light pay to view component of Joy2MeU.com  There are special offers for Dancing in Light and Joy2MeU Journal (where the Trilogy quoted can be accessed) subscription areas of Joy2MeU.

 

The True Nature of Love – part 1, what Love is not

The Dance

“We live in a society where the emotional experience of “love” is conditional on behavior.  Where fear, guilt, and shame are used to try to control children’s behavior because parents believe that their children’s behavior reflects their self-worth.

In other words, if little Johnny is a well-behaved, “good boy,” then his parents are good people.  If Johnny acts out, and misbehaves, then there is something wrong with his parents.  (“He doesn’t come from a good family.”)

What the family dynamics research shows is that it is actually the good child – the family hero role – who is the most emotionally dishonest and out of touch with him/herself, while the acting-out child – the scapegoat – is the most emotionally honest child in the dysfunctional family.  Backwards again.

In a Codependent society we are taught, in the name of “love,” to try to control those we love, by manipulating and shaming them, to try to get them to do the ‘right’ things – in order to protect our own ego-strength.  Our emotional experience of love is of something controlling:  “I love you if you do what I want you to do.”  Our emotional experience of love is of something that is shaming and manipulative and abusive.

Love that is shaming and abusive is an insane, ridiculous concept.  Just as insane and ridiculous as the concept of murder and war in the name of God.” – (Text in this color is used for quotes from Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls)

One day several years into my recovery I had one of those insights, those moments of a light bulb going on in my head, that was the beginning of a major paradigm shift for me.  It was one of those moments of clarity which caused me to start reevaluating the mental perspectives and definitions that were dictating my emotional reactions to life.  My relationships with myself, with life, and with other people – and therefore my emotional reactions to life events and other people’s behavior – are dictated by the intellectual framework/paradigm that is determining my perspective and expectations.  So the intellectual attitudes, beliefs, and definitions that are determining my perspective and expectations dictate what emotional reactions I have to life – what my relationship to life feels like.

I am not sure if this particular insight came before or after I had started consciously working on recovery from my codependency issues.  I count my codependency recovery as starting on June 3, 1986 – exactly 2 years and 5 months into my recovery in another twelve step program.  It was on that day that I realized that my emotional relationship with life was being dictated by the subconscious programming from my childhood – not by the intellectual attitudes, beliefs, and definitions that I had consciously chosen as being what I believed as an adult.  To my horror I could see clearly that my behavioral patterns in my adult life were based on the beliefs and definitions that were imposed on me in early childhood.  And I could see that even though these subconscious beliefs were based partly on the messages I received, they were even more firmly grounded upon the assumptions that I made about myself and life because of the emotional trauma I had suffered and because of the role modeling of the adults that I had grown up around.

On that day 13 years ago (now 32 years ago) I Truly was able to see and admit to myself that I had been powerless to make healthy choices in my life because the emotional wounds and subconscious programming from my childhood had been dictating my emotional reactions to life, my relationship with myself and life.  The saying I had heard in recovery that ‘if you keep doing what you are doing, you will keep getting what you are getting’ suddenly became clear.  On that day, a paradigm shift occurred that allowed me to see life from a different perspective – a perspective that caused me to become willing to start doing the work necessary to change that intellectual programming and heal those emotional wounds.

Paradigm Shifting Insight

That is the way the recovery process has worked for me.  I have an insight that allows me to see an issue from a different perspective.  Once my perspective has started changing, the paradigm has started shifting, then I can see what needs to be changed in my intellectual programming in order to start changing my emotional reactions.  I see where I have been powerless – trapped by old attitudes and definitions – and then I have the power to change my relationship to that issue, which will change my emotional experience of life in relationship to that issue.

(When I started writing this column, I was not planning on focusing so much on the process – oh well, I guess it was necessary, and hopefully will be helpful to my readers.  Maybe, I just wanted to include the fact that my 13th anniversary in codependence recovery is upon me.  Whatever, I will get on with the column now.)

I don’t remember how the particular insight that I am writing about here came about – whether I heard it, or read it, or just had the thought occur (which would mean, to me, that it was a message from my Higher Self/Higher Power – of course any of those methods would be a message from my Higher Power.)  In any case, this particular insight struck me with great force.  Like most great insights, it was amazingly simple and obvious.  It was to me earth shattering/paradigm busting in it’s impact.  The insight was:

If someone loves you, it should feel like they love you.

What a concept!  Obvious, logical, rational, elementary – like ‘duh’ of course it should.

I had never experienced feeling loved consistently in my closest relationships.  Because my parents did not know how to Love themselves, their behavior towards me had caused me to experience love as critical, shaming, manipulative, controlling, and abusive.  Because that was my experience of love as a child – that was the only type of relationship I was comfortable with as an adult.  It was also, and most importantly, the relationship that I had with myself.

In order to start changing my relationship with myself, so that I could start changing the type of relationships I had with other people, I had to start focusing on trying to learn the True nature of Love.

This, I believe, is the Great Quest that we are on.  Anyone in recovery, on a healing/Spiritual path, is ultimately trying to find their way home to LOVE – in my belief.  LOVE is the Higher Power – the True nature of the God-Force/Goddess Energy/Great Spirit.  LOVE is the fabric from which we are woven.  LOVE is the answer.

And in order to start finding my way home to LOVE – I first had to start awakening to what Love is not.  Here are a few things that I have learned, and believe, are not part of the True nature of Love.

Love is not:

Critical            Shaming            Abusive            Controlling            Manipulative

Demeaning            Humiliating            Separating            Discounting

Diminishing            Belittling            Negative            Traumatic

Painful most of the time            etc.

Love is also not an addiction.  It is not taking a hostage or being taken hostage.  The type of romantic love that I learned about growing is a form of toxic love.  The “I can’t smile without out you,” “Can’t live without you.” “You are my everything,” “You are not whole until you find your prince/princess” messages that I learned in relationship to romantic love in childhood are not descriptions of Love – they are descriptions of drug of choice, of someone who is a higher power/false god.

Additionally, Love is not being a doormat.  Love does not entail sacrificing your self on the altar of martyrdom – because one cannot consciously choose to sacrifice self if they have never Truly had a self that they felt was Lovable and worthy.  If we do not know how to Love our self, how to show respect and honor for our self – then we have no self to sacrifice.  We are then sacrificing in order to try to prove to ourselves that we are lovable and worthy – that is not giving from the heart, that is codependently manipulative, controlling, and dishonest.

Unconditional Love is not being a self-sacrificing doormat – Unconditional Love begins with Loving self enough to protect our self from the people we Love if that is necessary.  Until we start Loving, honoring, and respecting our self, we are not Truly giving – we are attempting to take self worth from others by being compliant in our behavior towards them.

I also learned that Love is not about success, achievement, and recognition.  If I do not Love my self – believe at the core of my being that I am worthy and Lovable – then any success, achievement, or recognition I get will only serve to distract me temporarily from the hole that I feel within, from the feeling of being defective that I internalized as a small child because the love that I received did not feel Loving.

I realized that this is what I had done for much of my life – tried to take self worth from being a ‘nice guy’ or from a princess or from becoming a ‘success.’  As I started awakening to what Love is not, I could then start exploring to discover the True Nature of Love.  I started consciously realizing that this is what I had always been seeking – that my Great Quest in life is to return home to LOVE.

LOVE is the answer.  Love is the key.  The Great Quest in life is for the Holy Grail that is the True nature of Love.

Sacred Spiral

Robert Burney is a pioneer in the area of codependency recovery / inner child healing. His first book Codependence The Dance of Wounded Souls has been called “one of the truly transformational works of our time.”  His website Joy2MeU.com offers over 200 pages of free original content  on codependency recovery, inner child healing, relationship dynamics, alcoholism/addiction, fear of intimacy, Twelve Step Spirituality, New Age Metaphysics, emotional abuse, setting boundaries, grief process, and much more.  The Joy2MeU website is designed in an ancient design program which is not mobile friendly.  A new site – joy2meu2.com – is a redesign of joy2meu.com in a mobile friendly format. The Joy2MeU2 siteindex page that will help you to access most of his articles on mobile friendly sites (around 170.) 

 

 

Chapter 21 – Uncover, Discover, Recover

BookCover3This is a chapter from my book  Romantic Relationships ~ The Greatest Arena for Spiritual & Emotional Growth

“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. 

The Dance

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.” – Quotes in this color are from Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls

I spoke in the Author’s Foreword to this book about how “We were set up to feel like failures in romantic relationships by the dysfunctional perspectives and expectations of love and romance we learned growing up.”  And as I mentioned while referring to the three blind men describing the elephant joke quote from my book at the beginning of the Author’s Foreword, in order to change our relationship with anything we need to change our perspective of it.  That means getting conscious of what perspectives we are reacting out of and starting to ask “Is my intellectual view of love and romance working for me?”

What is so important is to stop blaming your self – or the people you have been involved with – for the problems you have had in relationships.  You were truly set up – as were the people you were involved with.  It is not your fault!  You were brainwashed and conditioned to have an intellectual perspective of love and romance that is dysfunctional, that doesn’t work because it is based upon fairy tale thinking.  And it is vital to realize that the programming from your childhood is still in your subconscious dictating how you are reacting to life even if you have consciously discarded that thinking as an adult.

It is not your fault!!  That is a huge thing to realize.  That is great news!!  And you have the power to change it!  More great news!!!  You can change it by getting into codependency recovery / inner child healing, doing the the work I talk about on my website Joy2MeU.com and in my book: Codependency Recovery: Wounded Souls Dancing in The Light Book 1 Empowerment, Freedom, and Inner Peace through Inner Child Healing.

There is nothing wrong with who we are – it is our relationship with our self and romance that got messed up in childhood.  We have the power to change that programming in order to change how we are relating to our self – this is really great news!

“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.

Just starting to ask these types of questions, is the first step in the healing process.  It is healthy to start wondering about the cause and effect dynamics in our life.

In our codependence, we reacted to life out of a black and white, right and wrong, belief paradigm that taught us that is was shameful and bad to be wrong, to make mistakes, to be imperfect – to be human.  We formed our core relationship with our self and with life in early childhood based on the messages we got, the emotional trauma we suffered, and the role modeling of the adults around us.  As we grew up, we built our relationship with self, other people, and life on the foundation we formed in early childhood.

When we were 5, we were already reacting to life out of the emotional trauma of earlier ages.  We adapted defenses to try to protect ourselves and to get our survival needs met.  The defenses adapted at 5 due to the trauma suffered at earlier ages led to further trauma when we were 7 that then caused us to adjust our defenses, that led to wounding at 9, etc., etc., etc.

Toxic shame is the belief that there is something inherently wrong with who we are, with our being.  Guilt is “I made a mistake, I did something wrong.”  Toxic shame is:  “I am a mistake. There is something wrong with me.”

It is very important to start awakening to the Truth that there is nothing inherently wrong with our being – it is our relationship with our self and with life that is dysfunctional.  And that relationship was formed in early childhood.

The way that one begins inner child healing is simply to become aware.

To become aware that the governing principle in life is cause and effect.

To become aware that our relationship with our self is dysfunctional.

To become aware that we have the power to change our relationship with our self.

To become aware that we were programmed with false beliefs about the purpose and nature of life in early childhood – and that we can change that programming.

To become aware that we have emotional wounds from childhood that it is possible to get in touch with and heal enough to stop them from dictating how we are living our life today.

That is the purpose of inner child healing – to stop letting our experiences of the past dictate how we respond to life today.  It cannot be done without revisiting our childhood.

We need to become aware, to raise our consciousness.  To create a new level of consciousness for ourselves that allows us to observe ourselves.

It is vitally important to start observing ourselves – our reactions, our feelings, our thoughts – from a detached witness place that is not shaming.

We all have an inner critic, a critical parent voice, that beats us up with shame, judgment, and fear.  The critical parent voice developed to try to control our emotions and our behaviors because we got the message there was something wrong with us and that our survival would be threatened if we did, said, or felt the “wrong” things.

It is vital to start learning how to not give power to that critical shaming voice.  We need to start observing ourselves with compassion.  This is almost impossible at the beginning of the inner child healing process – having compassion for our self, being Loving to our self, is the hardest thing for us to do.

So, we need to start observing ourselves from at least a more neutral perspective.  Become a scientific observer, a detective – the Sherlock Holmes of your own inner process as it were.

We need to start being that detective, observing ourselves and asking ourselves where that reaction / thought / feeling is coming from.  Why am I feeling this way?  What does this remind me of from my past?  How old do I feel right now?  How old did I act when that happened?” – Inner Child Healing – How to begin

Recognition, awareness, is the first step in healing.  Becoming aware is the beginning of getting to know our self – so that we can start getting honest with ourselves.   As long as we are reacting unconsciously out of old tapes and old wounds, we are not capable of seeing ourselves clearly – which means we can’t see other people clearly either.  As long as we are reacting to life out of toxic shame and the fear of being wrong – we are not capable of seeing our self with any compassion or objectivity.

Growing up in codependent cultures we learned that self worth was a competitive issue because we were taught to have ego strength through comparison – better grades than, prettier than, better athlete than, nicer person than, etc.  We don’t love our neighbor as our self because we did not get taught to love our self – and because we are comparing out self to our neighbor, trying to feel good about our self by feeling better than them.

We need to learn to stop buying into the dynamics of codependency – outer or external focus, competitive comparison, destination thinking, keeping up appearances, looking good (or at least not looking bad), worrying about what other people think of us, trying to avoid being wrong, trying to always be right. trying to overcome the shame of being an imperfect human being – in order to start understanding our self and why we have lived our life the way we have.  It is necessary to start learning how to have compassion for our self – and learn to accept that we are lovable and worthy – in order to become available to be loved.

We need to become – as I said in the quote from my inner child healing article above – the Sherlock Holmes of our own inner process so that we can start changing the programming – stop having perspectives and expectations of romance and love that are dysfunctional.  We need to start becoming more conscious and owning our power to change how we are relating to love and romance – change our relationship with our self, life, and other people into ones that work better to help us find some Joy and Love in life.

“The only way that we can be in recovery from codependency is to start changing the way we are looking at, and relating to, our self.   We have to get more conscious of what is going on inside of us in order to change how we are relating to our self – so that we can change the way we relate to life and other people.

In other words, we need to start taking responsibility for our own lives.  We need to start owning our power to change our relationship with self.   We need to start learning how to make choices instead of just react.  We can have the ability to respond – response ability – to life differently once we start becoming more conscious.

And the key to becoming more conscious is to start learning how to process what is going on in our lives in a way that will give us more clarity.

“The process of processing is a dynamic that in many ways is easier to demonstrate over time than it is to explain.  Explaining it on an intellectual level is complicated and difficult because the process itself involves being able to look at multiple levels.  The recovery process is spiritual, emotional, and mental.  These levels are separate but intimately interrelated.

In learning how to achieve some emotional balance in our lives, it is necessary to be able to look at our self, our own inner process, and the life dynamic itself, from different perspectives.  It is this looking at different levels that is the process of processing.  Processing is a matter of looking at, filtering, discerning, getting clear about what is happening at any given moment in our relationship with life, with ourselves, with everything that is stimulating us.” – The Recovery Process for inner child healing 1: Sharing my experience, strength, and hope

Consciousness involves being actively conscious of how different parts of us are reacting to whatever is happening in our lives at any particular moment.  I learned that I needed to observe / keep scanning / paying attention to / taking inventory of, what was happening in my internal dynamic and in my external environment continually in order to be on guard so that I wasn’t allowing the old tapes and wounds from the past to define and dictate my experience of life today.

“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 is 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.” – The Recovery Process for inner child healing 4 – the process of processing – internal boundaries

Codependency is not an issue we deal with and then get on with our lives.  Recovery is a way of life.  It is necessary to move through our life with consciousness in order to stop the childhood programming from running our lives.  The more we recover, the less power the old tapes and old wounds have – but they do not go away.

“It is through healing our inner child, our inner children, by grieving the wounds that we suffered, that we can change our behavior patterns and clear our emotional process.  We can release the grief with its pent-up rage, shame, terror, and pain from those feeling places which exist within us.

That does not mean that the wound will ever be completely healed.  There will always be a tender spot, a painful place within us due to the experiences that we have had.  What it does mean is that we can take the power away from those wounds.   By bringing them out of the darkness into the Light, by releasing the energy, we can heal them enough so that they do not have the power to dictate how we live our lives today.  We can heal them enough to change the quality of our lives dramatically.  We can heal them enough to Truly be happy, Joyous and free in the moment most of the time.”

In recovery we are developing a sense of balance, a feeling for what balance feels like, so that we can catch ourselves when we are swinging out of balance.  We are here to experience being human and to do this healing.  If we are not in recovery, then we can not be consciously present in the moment to enjoy our journey.  I did not title my book the “dance” of wounded souls just out of poetic whimsy – life is a dance.

“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.” – The Recovery Process for inner child healing  4 – the process of processing – internal boundaries

The more conscious we become, the more we can relax and enjoy the journey.

“The healthier we get, the more emotional healing we do, the less extreme our emotional reaction / response spectrum grows.  The growth process works kind of like a pendulum swinging.  The less we buy into the toxic shame and judgment, the less extreme the swings of the pendulum become.  The arc of our emotional pendulum becomes gentler, and we can return to emotional balance much quicker and easier.  But we don’t get to stay in the balance position.  Life is always rocking our boat – setting our emotional pendulum to swinging.  By not taking life events and other peoples behavior so seriously and personally, by observing our process with some degree of detachment instead of getting so hooked into the trauma drama soap opera victimology that is a reaction to our childhood wounds, we learn to not give so much power over our emotions to outside influences and events.

I have choices today in regard to how I am relating to myself, to other people, to life.  I am able to accept the things I cannot change much more quickly, and change the primary thing which I have the power to change – that is, my attitude toward the things I cannot change – so that I do not get caught up in a victim perspective.  By not buying into the illusion that I am a victim – of myself, of other people, of life – my emotional swings stay on a much evener keel and I experience a much gentler emotional spectrum in my day to day relationship with life.” – Discernment in relationship to emotional honesty and responsibility 1

In my recovery I realized that about 90% of the stress in my life before codependency recovery was caused by the attitudes and beliefs I was empowering.  Once I got aware of how my perspectives and expectations (which were reactions to my childhood programming and emotional wounds and therefore something I was powerless over until I got conscious of them) were setting me up to be a victim, then I could start owning the power to change my emotional experience of life .  Then I could start to take responsibility for my life and eliminate the stress that I was creating in reaction to dysfunctional programming.” – Joy2MeU Update August 2002

As I have mentioned in the quote above, there are multiple levels and facets to the process of recovery.

“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.” – Codependency Recovery: Wounded Souls Dancing in The Light Book 2: A Dysfunctional Relationship with Life Author’s Foreword

One of the levels of codependency recovery is intellectual – becoming aware of the conscious and subconscious intellectual programming so that we can start changing the programming that is not working for us.  Another level is the emotional.  We have a dysfunctional relationship with our own emotions because grew up in emotionally dishonest, dysfunctional cultures.

“We were trained to be dishonest.  We also got taught to be emotionally dishonest.  We got told not to feel our feelings with messages like, don’t cry, don’t be afraid – at the same time we saw how our parents lived life out of fear.  We got messages that it was not okay to be too happy when our exuberance was embarrassing to our parents.  Many of us grew up in environments where it was not okay to be curious, or adventurous, or playful.  It was not okay to be a child.

In any society where:

emotional dishonesty is not just the standard but the goal (keep up appearances, don’t show vulnerability);

as children we learned that we had power over other people’s feelings (you make me angry, you hurt my feelings, etc.);

being emotional is considered negative (falling apart, loosing it, coming unglued, etc.);

gender stereotypes set twisted, unhealthy models for acceptable emotional behavior (real men don’t cry or get scared, it is not ladylike to get angry);

parents without healthy self esteem see their children as extensions of self that can be either assets or deficits in their own quest for self worth;

families are isolated from any true reality of community or tribal support;

shame, manipulation, verbal and emotional abuse are considered standard tools for behavior modification in a loving relationship;

long embedded societal attitudes support the belief that it is shameful to be human (make mistakes, not be perfect, to be selfish, etc.);

any human being is denigrated and held to be less worthy for any inherent characteristic (gender, race, looks, etc.);

results in a very emotionally unhealthy society.

We were set up to be codependent.  We were trained and programmed in childhood to be dishonest with ourselves and others.  We were taught false, dysfunctional concepts of success, romance, love, life.  We could not have lived our lives differently because there was no one to teach us how to be healthy.  We were doing the best we knew how with the tools, beliefs, and definitions we had – just as our parents were doing the best they knew how.

We have new tools now.  We have information and knowledge that was not available until recently.  We can change the way we live our lives.  It is important to stop shaming ourselves for living life the way we were programmed to live, in order to start learning how to live in a way that is more functional – in a way that works to help us have some peace and happiness in our lives.  The only way to be free of the past is to start seeing it more clearly – without shame and judgment – so that we can take advantage of this wonderful time of healing that has begun.

Codependency has been the human condition.  We now have the knowledge and power to change our relationship with ourselves.  That is how we can change the human condition.” – The Condition of Codependency

One of the reasons communication is so hard between people is because we were never taught how to understand our own internal communication.  We were taught to focus externally and to have a dysfunctional relationship with our own emotions.

“Emotions have two vitally important purposes for human beings.  Emotions are a form of communication.  Our feelings are one of the means by which we define ourselves.  The interaction of our intellect and our emotions determines how we relate to ourselves.

Our emotional energy is also the fuel that propels us down the pathways of our life journey.  E-motions are the orchestra that provide the music for our individual dances – that dictate the rhythmic flow and movement of our human dance.  Our feelings help us to define ourselves and then provide the combustible fuel that dictates the speed and direction of our motion – rather we are flowing with it or damming it up within ourselves.” – Discernment in relationship to emotional honesty and responsibility 2

All human beings feel the same basic emotions.   All human beings have the same basic emotional dynamics – and the same fundamental internal dynamics in terms of the interrelationship of the mental and emotional components of our beings.  Codependency can look very different on the outside – but the internal dynamics are the same.  I sometimes compare codependency to Baskin & Robins (an ice cream franchise that advertised that they had 64 flavors) saying, there may be 64 flavors but it is all still ice cream.  My codependence may look very different from yours on the outside, but the internal dynamics are basic and the same for all humans.

It is so important to learn to become more conscious of our own internal dynamics – and learn to intervene to set internal boundaries so that we don’t let the old tapes / programming cause us to shame and judge ourselves for being imperfect human beings.  If we don’t start stopping the shame and judgment internally, we will not ever be available to be in a relationship that is loving.

“We need to take the shame and judgment out of the process on a personal level. It is vitally important to stop listening and giving power to that critical place within us that tells us that we are bad and wrong and shameful.

That “critical parent” voice in our head is the disease lying to us. Any shaming, judgmental voice inside of us is the disease talking to us – and it is always lying. This disease of Codependence is very adaptable, and it attacks us from all sides. The voices of the disease that are totally resistant to becoming involved in healing and Recovery are the same voices that turn right around and tell us, using Spiritual language, that we are not doing Recovery good enough, that we are not doing it right. 

We need to become clear internally on what messages are coming from the disease, from the old tapes, and which ones are coming from the True Self – what some people call “the small quiet voice.”

 We need to turn down the volume on those loud, yammering voices that shame and judge us and turn up the volume on the quiet Loving voice.  As long as we are judging and shaming ourselves we are feeding back into the disease, we are feeding the dragon within that is eating the life out of us.  Codependence is a disease that feeds on itself – it is self-perpetuating.

This healing is a long gradual process – the goal is progress, not perfection.  What we are learning about is unconditional Love.  Unconditional Love means no judgment, no shame.”

I had to become more aware of my own internal process to start recognizing when I was reacting to old tapes and old wounds.  As long as I was not aware, then I was doomed to keep repeating my patterns of reacting to extremes – I was powerless.  By becoming more aware I could start owning the power to make choices – to be discerning – about what I allow to run my life, what attitudes and feelings I am allowing to define my self and my life experience.  Then I could start setting internal boundaries so that I could take power away from the old tapes and the old wounds.

“I needed to learn how to set boundaries within, both emotionally and mentally by integrating Spiritual Truth into my process. Because “I feel feel like a failure” does not mean that is the Truth. The Spiritual Truth is that “failure” is an opportunity for growth. I can set a boundary with my emotions by not buying into the illusion that what I am feeling is who I am. I can set a boundary intellectually by telling that part of my mind that is judging and shaming me to shut up, because that is my disease lying to me. I can feel and release the emotional pain energy at the same time I am telling myself the Truth by not buying into the shame and judgment.

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.

By learning to set a boundary with and between our emotional truth, what we feel, and our mental perspective, what we believe – in alignment with the Spiritual Truth we have integrated into the process – we can honor and release the feelings without buying into the false beliefs.

The more we can learn intellectual discernment within, so that we are not giving power to false beliefs, the clearer we can become in seeing and accepting our own personal path. The more honest and balanced we become in our emotional process, the clearer we can become in following our own personal Truth.”

What we are doing in recovery is learning to live life by the rules that life actually works by – in alignment with metaphysical law – instead of the rules we learned as children which do not work at all.  Trying to do things “right” / perfect or find the “right” person to help us get to “happily-ever-after” doesn’t work.

“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.”Author’s Foreword from Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls

The rules we learned for romantic relationships are even more dysfunctional than the rules we learned for doing life in general.  It is vital to get more awareness so that we can practice discernment and own our power to change our relationship with self, with life, with other people – especially with another person in a romantic relationship.

The articles in this section of the book will hopefully help you in your understanding:  of how you were programmed and brainwashed with dysfunctional perspectives – and that you can change that programming;  of how you were taught to have a dysfunctional relationship with your own emotions so that you don’t know how to be emotionally honest and intimate with your self – let alone with another person;  of how to have a perspective of metaphysics that is balanced enough to help you be healthier in your relationships with your self and life now.  I will also be sharing how I was able to heal my fear of intimacy enough to go from having a relationship phobia to being in a successful relationship for many years now.  I hope you find this information helpful. – Romantic Relationships ~ The Greatest Arena for Spiritual & Emotional Growth Chapter 21 – Uncover, Discover, Recover  Consciousness / Awareness + Discernment can help us find balance

Sacred Spiral

Cover of book on romantic relationshipsI have special offers for Romantic Relationships ~ The Greatest Arena for Spiritual & Emotional Growth on this page. (which includes offers for my other books also.)

When you purchase Romantic Relationships ~ The Greatest Arena for Spiritual & Emotional Growth  Codependent Dysfunctional Relationship Dynamics & Healthy Relationship Behavior through Joy2MeU you get a personally autographed copy;-) but you can also purchase through Amazon.com, Amazon.UK, or Barnes & Noble.

The Greatest Arena is also available as two ebooks (each only $9.95) eBook 1: Codependent Dysfunctional Relationship Dynamics & Healthy Relationship Behavior (the first 20 chapters of The Greatest Arena) is available on Amazon, on Amazon UK, on Barnes & Noble, or in Kobo format.

Romantic Relationships ~ The Greatest Arena for Spiritual & Emotional Growth eBook 2: Deeper Within (emotionally) & Further Out (metaphysically) From Fear of Intimacy to Twin Souls (chapters 21 through 40 of The Greatest Arena) is available on Amazon and Amazon UK, on Barnes & Noble, or in Kobo format.

Romantic Relationships ~ The Greatest Arena for Spiritual & Emotional Growth eBook 1: Codependent Dysfunctional Relationship Dynamics & Healthy Relationship Behavior now also available as an audio book on Audible, Amazon, and iTunes.

A Higher Power of my own understanding – the beginning of empowerment

“This revolutionary idea was that an unconditionally Loving Higher Power exists with whom the individual being can personally communicate.  A Higher Power that is so powerful that it has no need to judge the humans it created because this Universal Force is powerful enough to ensure that everything unfolds perfectly from a Cosmic Perspective.

This reintroduction of the revolutionary concept of an accessible Loving God has been clarified to specifically include the concept that the individual being can define this Universal Force according to his/her own understanding, and can develop a personal, intimate relationship with this Higher Power.

In other words, no one is needed as an intermediary between you and your creator.  No outside agency has the right to impose upon you its definition of God.”

“Enlarging my perspective means changing my definitions, the definitions that were imposed on me as a child about who I am and how to do this life business.  In Recovery it has been necessary to change my definitions of, and my perspective of, almost everything.  That was the only way that it was possible to start learning how to Love myself.

I spent most of my life feeling like I was being punished because I was taught that God was punishing and that I was unworthy and deserved to be punished.  I had thrown out those beliefs about God and life on a conscious, intellectual level in my late teens – but in Recovery I was horrified to discover that I was still reacting to life emotionally based on those beliefs.

I realized that my perspective of life was being determined by beliefs that I had been taught as a child even though they were not what I believed as an adult.  That perspective caused my emotional truth to be that I felt like life was punishing me, and that I was not good enough – that something was wrong with me.  I felt like a victim of life, like a victim of myself, at the same time that I was blaming others for not making me happy.

I had to start trying to find a concept of a Higher Power who could Love me even though I was an imperfect human.  If my Creator is judging me then who am I not to judge myself?  On the other hand if the Goddess Loves me unconditionally then who am I not to Love myself?  And if the God/Goddess/Great Spirit/Universal Force Truly Loves me then everything has to be happening for reasons that are ultimately Loving. . . . . The only way that I was able to make significant progress in the process of stopping self-judgment and getting rid of the toxic shame was to become conscious of the larger perspective.  When I started to believe that maybe a Higher Power, a Universal Force, existed which was Truly All-Powerful and Unconditionally Loving then life started to become a lot easier and more enjoyable.” – All quotes in this color are from Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls

Twelve step recovery is a program of empowerment.  Many people erroneously assume that the fact that first step involves admitting powerlessness means that 12 step recovery disempowers people. The Truth is exactly the opposite.

It was only when I admitted that I was powerless to control my drinking that I gained the power to stop drinking.  As long as I was trying to control my drinking out of ego and will power, I was powerless to stop drinking alcoholically.  It was when I opened up to getting help from a power greater than myself that I gained the power to transform my life.  (There are some people – alcoholics – who can stop drinking using will power.  They are what is referred to in the program as dry drunks.  They are some of the most miserable, resentful, angry people on the face of the planet – because they have no spiritual belief system that is Loving.)

In the beginning for me, that power greater than myself was just the group – the people I met at AA meetings.  Those people shared their stories, their thoughts and feelings, in a way that I identified with.  Previously I had thought I was the only one who thought those kind of insane thoughts and had those kind of feelings of utter despair and hopelessness.  When I first got to AA, I realized that I was not alone – I felt a connection to these people, felt a part of something larger than myself.

I however, had a real problem with the talk of God that I heard at meetings.  I was raised in a shaming religion that taught me I was born sinful and shameful.  I was emotionally and spiritually abused as a young child by being taught that God loved me but might send me to burn in eternal damnation in hell.  I was taught that being human was shameful and sinful. (In one of my articles in my series on sexuality, gender, and relationships, I explained that it is not necessary for a person to be raised in a shaming religion to get the message that it is shameful to be human: Sexuality Abuse – the legacy of shame based culture.)

So, I had a real problem with even using the word God.  And this was not just because of my personal experience, but also because of what I had learned about the history of the planet.  I saw that throughout history “God” had been used as an justification for genocide, torture, plunder, and rape.  I saw that a civilization based upon the “command” to go forth to subdue and conquer, not only destroyed peoples and cultures that were much kinder and more Loving than the conquerors – but was an integral part of going a long way towards destroying the planet we live on.

In my younger days I had been involved in activism with Native Americans – whom I could clearly see had been victimized by subdue, conquer, and slaughter mentality of the dominant culture.  I found much beauty and harmony in the respect for nature and natural laws that was involved in the Native American concept a Higher Power – The Great Spirit.  In the beginning of my book, I state some reasons that I wrote it – which included the following sentence.

“This is my way of standing up for my Truth, and of honoring “All My Relations,” which is a Native American term that refers to the Great Spirit whose essence is present in everyone and everything.  We are all related to everyone and everything.”

If I had been told in January 1984, at the beginning of my recovery from alcoholism, that the only way I could quit killing myself with alcohol was to accept the standard version of “God” – I would never have gotten sober.  I would have been dead long ago.  But what I was told, was that I needed to find a concept of a Higher Power that worked for me – a Higher Power of my own understanding.   That was what saved my life – the revolutionary concept that I could develop my own idea of a Higher Power, and develop a personal relationship with that Higher Power that did not have to conform to what anyone else believed.

So, in the beginning of my recovery, I allowed the fact that people in meetings – whom I identified with – seemed to have found a way to live life that worked for them, to help me stay sober one day at a time.  I used the group as a power greater than myself, while I worked on trying to find a concept of a Higher Power that would work for me.

In those early days, I would call that Higher Power The Great Spirit – or The Force.  I remembered clearly that when the Star Wars movies first came out, I strongly resonated with the idea that “The Force is with you.”

It was when I was about 3 months sober that a book came into my life that altered my life, and my perspective of a Higher Power, immeasurably.  The miracle of the “coincidence” of discovering that book – a book that reached out and grabbed my attention from the paperback rack in a grocery store – is something that still reduces me to tears of Joy and Gratitude 20 years later.  I quoted that book several times in my book – and in this article I am going to use a quote from an online book I wrote that includes a quote from my book within it.  That online book is the one that I wrote about the terrorist attack of September 11, 2001.  I wrote that online book because I saw the terrorist attack of 9/11 as a blatant manifestation of the human condition of codependency – and I will in this series of article be touching on some of the cultural and international manifestations of codependency that are causing the world conditions we are facing today.

“One of the first things I was guided to, when I was only about 3 months sober, was a mind boggling, paradigm smashing book called Illusions by Richard Bach.  It presented me with concepts that it took me years to understand intellectually.  But I knew instantly that the book was full of Truth.

“In order to become aligned with Truth so that we can stop the war within and change life into an easier, more enjoyable experience, it is vitally important to become clear in our emotional process and to change the reversed attitudes that we had to adopt to survive.  Those reversed attitudes are what cause our dysfunctional perspectives – which in turn, have caused us to have a lousy relationship with life. 

I am going to quote from a book now, and again a little later, that is my own personal favorite book of Truth.  I feel a great deal of Truth in this book.  It has guided me and helped me to remember my Truth and to become conscious of my path.  It was a very important part of my personal process of enlarging my perspective – of being able to see this life business in a larger context. 

It is a book called Illusions by Richard Bach.  This is one of my favorite quotations from that book. 

The mark of your ignorance is the depth of your belief in injustice and tragedy. 

What a caterpillar calls the end of the world the master calls a butterfly.

The “depth of your belief” is about perspective.  If we are reacting to life emotionally out of the belief systems we had imposed on us as children we will then see change as tragedy and feel that being forced to grow is shameful.  As we change our attitudes toward this life experience, when we can start viewing it as a process, a journey, then we can begin to see that what we used to perceive as problems are really opportunities for growth.  Then we can begin to realize that even though our experiences in childhood have caused to think of ourselves as, and feel like, lowly caterpillars – we are in Truth butterflies who are meant to fly. 

We are all butterflies.  We are all Spiritual Beings.

I used to use the caterpillar – butterfly quote a lot when I spoke.  I would usually say something like “a measure of your Spiritual Awakening” instead of “mark of your ignorance” in order to soften it a bit.  We codependents are such experts in beating ourselves up and shaming ourselves, that we tend to see the word ignorance as being something that is our fault.  In fact, the word ignorance refers to a lack of knowledge, of not being informed.  The reason we didn’t know how to set boundaries, or have healthy relationships, was because of ignorance caused by not having anyone to teach us – no healthy role models, no resources for learning how to be healthy.  We not only did not have resources to teach us how to relate to life and other people in a healthy way – we were taught the very opposite of healthy behavior in most cases.” – Attack on America – A Spiritual Healing Perspective

The caterpillar and butterfly quote was incredibly powerful to me.  I saw quitting drinking as a great tragedy – as the end of life as I knew it.  And gratefully it was the end of life as I knew it, and the beginning of life as an adventure in learning to Love.

It was the concept that I could develop a belief in a Higher Power of my own understanding that helped to empower me to realize that I had a choice in the beliefs and definitions about “God” that I was allowing to dictate my relationship with life.  It was this revolutionary concept that started me on the path to realizing that I was Lovable – that I could reconnect with, and access, an Unconditionally Loving Universal Force in a way that would help me remember that I am a beautiful butterfly that can Fly.

So are you.  At least, that is my Spiritual Belief.

Sacred Spiral

The Dance

It is possible to get personally autographed copies of my books from my website Joy2MeU  or You can get my Books, eBooks, and Audiobooks through Amazon,  Books or eBooks through Barnes & Noble, or eBooks through Kobo.

x-ill

Grateful acknowledgment is made for permission to quote from: Illusions  “The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah” by Richard Bach.  Copyright 1977 by Creature Enterprises, Inc.   Reprinted in Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls by Robert Burney by permission of Bantam Doubleday Dell, New York, NY.

 

Bringing Codependency Recovery Pioneer to the UK in 2017

Robert Burney’s Trip to UK canceled

May 27th, 2017 – I have decided to cancel the planned trip to the UK for October.  As we were closing in on finalizing the plans for my trip there, a major change took place in my life as I got custody of my 12 year old grandson.  At first it wasn’t clear if he would be living with me in the fall or not, so I pushed the trip back from September to October based on the possibility that he would still be with me.  Since then it has become clear that he will be living with me – and that taking an 8 or 10 day trip to UK would present significant challenges in getting taking care of him during that time covered.  If we would have had people signing up for the retreat and putting down deposits in the over 2 weeks since we posted the page, that could have impacted this decision.  But since no one has signed up, it seems as if it is part of the Divine Plan to go ahead with the cancelation.  Hopefully we can make this trip to the UK happen at some point in the not too distant future.  Maybe even next summer and I can bring my grandson along.

Robert Burney Trip to UK 2017

Book cover

Robert Burney is an author, spiritual teacher and counselor.  His first book “Codependence – The Dance of Wounded Souls” has been called “one of the truly transformational works of our time” and he has been referred to as “a metaphysical Stephen Hawking.”   He is a counselor /coach and Spiritual Teacher whose work has been compared to John Bradshaw’s “except much more spiritual” and described as “taking inner child healing to a new level.”  His book “The Dance”  is an insightful, clearly written narrative that has helped countless people to understand and heal from the shortcomings of their relationships with self and others.  Robert’s work resonates strongly with those that have been fortunate enough to come across it.

Codependency Recovery / Inner Child Healing Formula

A pioneer in the realm of codependency recovery and inner child healing, Robert discovered and developed a pioneering holistic approach to codependency recovery – an inner child healing paradigm – that offers a powerful, life changing formula for integrating Love, Spiritual Truth, and intellectual knowledge of healthy behavior into one’s emotional experience of life – a blueprint for individuals to transform their core relationship with self and life.

This blueprint can be invaluable to people just starting the recovery / healing process, and is often the missing piece that people who have been healing /  recovering / on a spiritual path for decades have been seeking.  What is unique about the approach is that all of the tools are brought together in a focused system for achieving integration and balance – and even someone who has a very good therapist (or is a very good therapist) right now, can still find it very beneficial to attend one of his workshops.

Creating the Possibility of bringing Robert Burney to the UK

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Robert Burney

In order to share his experience, strength and hope – and teach others his integration formula – Robert has offered intensive workshops and retreats in the US, Canada, and twice on the Spanish Island of Ibiza, as well as on cruises in the Caribbean.  In spite of having a healthy following in the United Kingdom Robert has not physically presented his work in a similar fashion.

Several years ago Angel Morrison (who had both attended a retreat in Ibiza and been on a cruise with Robert) suggested the idea of working to bring Robert Burney to the UK.  Angel understood the importance of expanding the knowledge of Robert’s work.  Rachel Hawadi who had read Robert’s work (and done phone counseling with him) agreed and the two agreed to volunteer and commit to making this a reality.  This has then given birth to a Facebook Group which aims “To make the possibility of bringing Robert Burney to the UK” in 2017.

As of February 14th, 2017, initial plans are being formulated.  The goal is to make this trip happen in September 2017.  This page is being created to survey people who might be interested in meeting and/or attending an appearance by Robert, to ascertain what formats people would like to have available and where it would be best to offer these opportunities.

Location

It is assumed that London would be one of the locations – and both Birmingham and Nottingham have been proposed by people interested.  Email us to let us know if you could attend in London or want to suggest another location in the UK.

Formats

In order to make the best use of Robert’s time the following mixture of sessions could be offered during the tour.

  • 1 to 1 sessions: These could either be face to face/Telephone and Skype sessions for those in the UK.   Depending on availability these can be 1 hour sessions.   Given that the unique selling point of this tour is being able to see Robert face to face it would seem that a “face to face” would be the main offering.

  • Weekend Retreat: A residential retreat in a comfortable, peaceful setting starting on Friday with a 6:30 arrival, dinner and a session until 10 pm.  An intensive session on Saturday which would end on Sunday around 4 pm.  It would be important to ensure that those attending have excellent food and a general feeling of being cared for.

  • 5-day Retreat: A transformative retreat for those needing a radical overhaul in a similar setting as the weekend retreat but going deeper with more workshops, 1 to 1 sessions.  The setting will also be comfortable and nurturing.   There should be an additional offering of holistic therapies e.g. massages, reflexology, yoga, deep breathing, walks etc.

  • 1 day Intensive workshops: These would follow the exact same formats that have been offered and could be done both during the day or evening.  More than likely, evening sessions could be more successful in London – although it would need to be for 3 evenings in order for Robert to teach the formula that he teaches in his Intensive Workshops.  There might be a requirement to juggle between different towns in the UK.

Please send us some feedback so that we can ascertain the amount of interest and what people are interested in so that we can know if we can make this possibility manifest this year.  Email us to let us know.

Here is some of the feedback from the Intensive Training Workshops / retreats that Robert has done in the past.

“I found this session to be very useful in seeing the what & the why of “my” reality.  The understanding I have gained gives me hope in my future.  This has been the greatest gift I have ever given myself.”

“I really enjoyed Robert Burney’s Intensive Training on inner child work. . .  I had many revelations about my inner child and how I can reparent and stop the critical parent that has followed me my whole life. . . Thank you so much Robert.  You are a truly unforgetable person. So glad I said yes to attending.”

“Exceptionally understandable; very clear.  This was LIFE Changing – I am so thankful.  I would Absolutely recommend it.”

“Robert Burney’s training day was so inspirational and enlightening.  He was loving and warm and presented profound life changing material in a very not intimidating way.  Magical!”

“My life has been much better since I went to your seminar.”

“Brilliant.  Liberating.  So profound it is sometimes ! hilarious  I feel you completely get the dynamics of the human experience and the truth you teach can set people free.”

“It was very empowering, uplifting and gave me new hope.  The information was invaluable.”

“Robert is a very , compassionate intuitive, and intelligent soul who shares his insights to you in such a clear, fun, and poignant way that your life will be forever changed.” –  Testimonial Page for Robert Burney Seminar

Email us to let us know if you are interested.

Sacred Spiral

The key to codependency recovery is the inner child healing work I describe on my site:   A key element of that work includes learning to set internal boundaries.  The formula that I pioneered for inner healing – which includes learning to set the internal boundaries –  is something that I teach people through telephone counseling   (It is now possible to get phone cards for very cheap rates from many places in the world – and also to use Skype for free from anywhere.)  I talk about how the phone counseling can work to really change a persons life for the better in a short period of time on this page which includes some special combination offers.

Reading my book Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls  (links to all of my books in hard copy, ebook, and audiobook format are on that page – or you can get Books, eBooks, and Audiobooks through Amazon) would really help you take your understanding to a whole new level.  Understanding codependency is vital in helping us to forgive our self for the dysfunctional ways we have lived our lives – it is not our fault we are codependent.

In the last few years I have also published two more books that can be very helpful. Codependency Recovery: Wounded Souls Dancing in The Light Book 1 Empowerment, Freedom, and Inner Peace through Inner Child Healing and Romantic Relationships ~ The Greatest Arena for Spiritual & Emotional Growth.  I have special offers for either or both of these books (or for all three of my books) on this page.

I also offer periodic day long workshops to teach people how to apply my inner child healing formula.   (There is now a downloadable MP3 recording available of my Life Changing workshop  – and I have a page with special offers for both the workshop recording and an MP3 download of Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls. )

Codependency causes us to feel like the victim of our own thoughts and feelings, and like our own worst enemy – recovery helps us to start learning how to be our own best friend.  Getting into codependency recovery is an act of love for self.