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.)

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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.

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

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

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.

I don’t have to know that today. I don’t have to decide that today. I can let it go for today

“I didn’t have to live in fear and make myself crazy about something that didn’t happen”

October 29, 2013 at 1:31pm (I originally wrote this as a note on Facebook)

Yesterday I got the results of a biopsy and it was negative – great news! What was also really great is that in the 10 days between the time the biopsy was taken and when I got the results, I didn’t have to live in fear and make myself crazy about something that didn’t happen. That is because of my recovery and having had the blessing of learning how to set internal boundaries emotionally and mentally so I can keep letting go of the outcome, of things I can’t control. In the past, waiting for an outcome that was important to me – like the results of this biopsy – would have been excruciating. I am so grateful for my recovery. For having learned how to have the ability to let go of my fear in the moment and say to myself that is about the future, I don’t need to know that today.

My disease wants to project horror movies into the future of impending doom, financial tragedy, being along forever. Because of my recovery I don’t have to get all emotionally caught up in things that haven’t happened yet, in outcomes in the future which may never happen. I am very grateful that I have the tools and knowledge to not allow my childhood wounding and programming to dictate the quality of my life today.

“When I was about two years in recovery there was a time when I was talking to my sponsor on the phone. I had just lost my job, the car had broken down, and I had to move out of my apartment in two weeks. Talk about tragedy and impending doom! I was laying in bed feeling very sorry for myself and very terrified about how painful it was going to be when I became homeless. After listening to me for a while my sponsor asked me, “What’s up above you?” It was a stupid question and I told him so. I was pissed that he wasn’t giving me the sympathy I deserved – but he insisted that I answer. So I finally said, “Well, the ceiling.” And he said, “Oh, so your not homeless tonight are you?”” – Gratitude – a Vital Tool in the Recovery Process

“One of the things I say often, is that I realized I had spent most of my life before recovery worrying about decisions I never had to make – because when it became time to make the decision it was obvious what to do. The situation had changed or new information had come in – and the days and weeks (and sometimes months) I had spent worrying about that decision were a waste of time and energy. One of the greatest recovery tools I have learned is just to be able to say, “I don’t have to decide that today” or “I don’t have to know that today” – and let go of the outcome I am worried about for today.” – Joy2MeU Update Newsletter April 2009

“They say that God made the world round so we can’t see too far over the horizon. The details about how those events over the horizon are going to work out are not my business today. If I am putting all my energy into figuring out how I am going to cross the mountain way off in the distance, then I am liable to step into a hole that is directly in front of me on my path today. (Could cause me to hurt my leg 😉 I need to keep an eye on the horizon so that I can make any adjustments to my heading that I need to make – but most of my attention and energy needs to be focused on what is in front of me to do and experience in my life today. I want to be present for my life today and be able to enjoy the scenery that is part of the texture of my journey today. In my codependency, my fear and shame driven relationship with life caused me to be incapable of being present in the moment because I was focused on the future or the past. One of the gifts of my recovery is the ability to be here today, to be available for moments of happiness and Joy no matter how many frightening unknowns are looming on the horizon – no matter how impossible it looks to me for me to ever get there.

I haven’t reached a point in my journey from which it is possible to see the details of how this transition is going to unfold. My part as a co-creator in this life experience means that I am responsible for planting seeds and gathering information and doing the footwork to prepare myself for those events on and over the horizon – but the details will not become clear until I have reached the point in my journey when I need to see them clearly. One of the greatest stress reducers in my recovery was the insight that it wasn’t doing me any good to worry about decisions that it was not yet time to make – that worry was in fact a symptom that I was in my disease trying to figure out how to control life because of my fear, and it created more fear. A very dysfunctional dynamic – that is the essence of the condition of codependency – which prevented me from ever really living life, until recovery.

“Worry – which is negative fantasizing – is a reaction to fear of the unknown which creates more fear, which creates more worry, which creates more fear, etc. This fear is not a normal human fear of the unknown. It is codependent fear: a distorted, magnified, virulent, mutated species of fear caused by the poisonous combination of a false belief that being human is shameful with a polarized (black and white, right and wrong) perspective of life. This self perpetuating, self destructive type of obsessive thinking feeds not only on fear, but on shaming ourselves for feeling the fear.

The disease of codependency is a dysfunctional emotional defense system adapted by our egos to help us survive. The polarized perspective of life we were programmed with in early childhood, causes us to be afraid of making a mistake, of doing life “wrong.” At the core of our being, we feel unlovable and unworthy – because our parents felt unlovable and unworthy – and we spend great amounts of energy trying to keep our shameful defectiveness a secret. We feel that, if we were perfect like we “should” be, we would not feel fear and confusion, and would have reached “happily ever after” by now. So, we shame ourselves for feeling fear, which adds gasoline to the inferno of fear that is driving us. The shame and fear that drive obsession becomes so painful and ‘crazy making’ that at some point we have to find some way to shut down our minds for a little while – drugs or alcohol or food or sleep or television, etc.

It is a very dysfunctional, and sad, way to relate to life. The fear we are empowering is about the future – the shame is about the past. We are not capable of being in the now and enjoying life because we are caught up in trauma melodramas about things which have not yet happened – or wallowing in orgies of self recrimination about the past, which can not be changed. Codependents do not really live life – we endure, we survive, we persevere.” – Obsession / Obsessive Thinking Part 1

I am not writing the script, am not in control of this human experience, so I need to do what I am led to do when I am led to do it – with faith that a Loving plan is unfolding. Worry is negative fantasy. Fear of the future does not serve me on my path today – takes away my ability to be here now. The fear will come up certainly – just as it did when I wrote the paragraph above – but that is normal and human. I can use my recovery tools to let go of that fear of the unknown – and have boundaries with the critical parent voice in my head which wants me to project a fantasy of impending doom, a horror movie in my mind, that will cause me to create artificial fear in my life today. As I talked about in my article on Acceptance (Serenity – Accepting the things we cannot change), I learned that 90% of the stress in my life before codependency recovery was my responsibility, something I had some control over – and I do not have to create that kind of stress in my life any more, thanks to recovery and my faith in the Great Spirit.” – Joy2MeU Update Newsletter November 2002

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

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

There is a level of fear that is unavoidable in being human – that is fear of the unknown.

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

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

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

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

“Learning to apply the Serenity Prayer has helped me to stop creating so much artificial stress in my life because I wasn’t accepting reality as it was being presented to me.  About 90% of the stress I used to experience in my life was artificially created – was created by my attitudes and expectations.  As I say in that journal entry:

“So, I accept whatever it is that I perceive as deprivation today – and make the best of today.  That doesn’t mean that it doesn’t generate stress for me.  But the stress is like the 3. earthquake as compared to the 8. earthquake that my perspective of life used to generate for me.”” – Serenity – Accepting the things we cannot change

1/19/17 – I added this last quote while publishing this on my blog today.  I have been neglecting this blog – apologies to all my followers.  The main reason is that I have been posting quotes and links on Facebook almost every day – and that is much easier than publishing these blog entries.  I will try to post more of these in the coming weeks but if you want to get an almost daily dose of my writing, sent me a Friend request on Facebook.

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. It is learning to set internal boundaries that can help us stop living in fear of the future or regret about the past – and be more present to experience today.

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 somespecial combination offers.

The Dance

Reading my book Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls (links to all of my books in both hard copy, ebook, and audiobook format are on that page – or you can get Books, eBooks, and Audiobooks through Amazon) really help people take their 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.

DancingIn 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.Coversm-Arena 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.

Serenity and Expectations – intimately interrelated

Book cover

Codependence The Dance of Wounded Souls

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

Self-honesty is the foundation of the Twelve Step Recovery program – the principle underling the first step. There are many different levels of honesty, including “cash register” honesty, emotional honesty, being honest in interactions with others, etc. All levels of honesty are important in various ways but early in my recovery process I learned a great deal about being honest with myself from Dr. Paul’s chapter in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous – “Doctor, Alcoholic, Addict.” That level of honesty had to do with being honest with myself about my expectations.

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.

When I first started realizing how much my expectations were dictating my emotional reactions to life, I tried not to have any expectations. I soon came to realize that it was impossible to live in society and not have expectations. If I have electricity in my home I am going to expect the lights to come on – and if they don’t, I am going to have feelings about it. If I own that having electricity is a choice I make, then I realize that I am not being the victim of the electric company I am just experiencing a life event. And life events occur for me to learn from – not to punish me.

The more I owned that I was making choices that caused me to give away some power over my feelings and that those feelings were ultimately my responsibility – the less I reacted out of a victim place – the more serenity I had about events that occurred. To believe that unpleasant stuff should never happen to me was a truly insane, dysfunctional notion. The reality of life is that ‘stuff’ happens.

Of course, getting to the place where I could accept life on life’s terms was only possible because I was working on letting go of the belief that it was happening to me because I was unworthy and bad – which I learned growing up in a shame-based society. It was essential for me to stop blaming myself and feeling ashamed of being human so that I could stop blaming others and always feeling like a victim. In other words, it was necessary to start seeing life as a Spiritual growth process that I couldn’t control in order to get out of the blame them or blame me cycle.

I found that there were layers of expectations I had to look at. I wanted to feel that I could be a righteous victim if someone told me they were going to do something and didn’t. But then I had to own that I was the one who chose to believe them. I had to also realize that falling in love was a choice and not a trap that I accidentally stepped into. Loving is a choice that I make and the consequences of that choice are my responsibility not the other persons. As long as I kept buying into the belief that I was being victimized by the person I loved there was no chance of having a healthy relationship.

The most insidious level of expectations for me had to do with my expectations of myself. The “critical parent” voice in my head has always berated me for not being perfect, for being human. My expectations, the “shoulds,” my disease piled on me were a way in which I victimized myself. I was always judging, shaming and beating myself up because as a little child I got the message that something was wrong with me.

There is nothing wrong with me – or you. It is our relationship with ourselves and life that is dysfunctional. We are Spiritual beings who came into body in an emotionally dishonest, Spiritually hostile environment where everyone was trying to do human according to false belief systems. We were taught to expect life to be something that it isn’t. It isn’t our fault that things are so screwed up – it is however our responsibility to change the things we can within our self.

God/Goddess/Great Spirit, help me to access:

the serenity to accept the things I cannot change (life, other people),

The courage and willingness to change the things I can (me, my own attitudes and behaviors),

And the wisdom and clarity to know the difference.
(adapted version of Serenity Prayer)

Serenity is not Freedom from the Storm – it is Peace Amidst the Storm. (unknown)”

I have a series of articles about the Serenity Prayer on my website – the first one is Discernment – The Wisdom to Know the Difference in Serenity Prayer

There are ways that I say things when doing my workshop or talking to a phone counseling client that are not exactly the way I have written things.  This joke about the neurotic and psychotic is one of them.  What I say when speaking to someone is this.

There is a joke that someone told me at a perfect point in my recovery that really helped me.  The joke is “What is the difference between a neurotic and a psychotic.”  When I tell the joke, what I say is, “What is the difference between most of us codependents and the really crazy people?

The really crazy people – people who are schizophrenic or psychotic – will tell you that 2 plus 2 is 5 and truly believe it.  Codependents know it is 4 and can’t stand it.

What this helped me to see is that I could see how life is and I can’t stand it.  lt is not fair.  It is not just.  People aren’t nice.  We are destroying the planet and have all this violence and wars and it shouldn’t be that way!

Well, that was just making me a victim.  I was a victim of reality because I couldn’t stand how it was.  Being a victim wasn’t serving me because when I am buying into the belief that I am a victim then I am not owning that I have choices.

What I learned is that I need to accept reality as it is – which doesn’t mean I have to like it, acceptance doesn’t require me to like whatever it is.  But by accepting reality as it is, then I can see it more clearly and I can make the best choices for myself instead of being the victim of it not being what I want it to be – of another person not being who I want them to be.  I often didn’t want to accept that the reality was that someone I loved was not available to me, was not trustworthy or whatever – because if I accept reality then I need to own that I have a choice to let go of the relationship instead of focusing on trying to change the other person and being a victim of them not changing.  As the quote from my book above states, trying to have “some control is not a bad thing; trying to control something or somebody over which I have no control is what is dysfunctional.”

Here is another quote from one of my articles about how important acceptance is to – not only learning to have some serenity in our lives – but to owning our choices so we can become empowered to change our relationship with our selves into a more loving one.

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

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

The principle behind the first step, and the foundation of the twelve step, or any Spiritual program, is self-honesty.  If we are not being honest with ourselves, then we are not capable of being honest with anyone.  It is vital to start stripping away the layers of denial, self-delusion, disassociation, magical thinking, victim thinking, blame, resentment, and dishonesty that we learned to protect ourselves with in childhood.  Again, it is not shameful or bad that we have used these behavioral and emotional defenses to protect our self – it is because we were wounded in a variety of ways in childhood.  Some of those ways include being: abandoned, betrayed, rejected, invalidated, shamed, discounted, deprived, degraded, abused, violated, damaged, put down, spiritually broken, emotionally raped, intellectually dishonored, hurt, humiliated, diminished, heart broken, molested, etc.

It is only by stripping away the defenses and false definitions of self that we had to adapt to survive that we can start getting in touch with our True Self.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with who we are – it is our relationship with ourselves that got so screwed up in childhood.  By learning how to be honest with ourselves we can change our relationship with our selves – and with our Self.” –  The Miracle of The Twelve Step Recovery Process: The first three steps

Sacred SpiralReading my book Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls (links to all of my books in both hard copy, ebook, and audiobook format are on that page) 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 / that we learned to do life backwards.

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.

Emotional Discernment – taking power away from the fear

“We are all carrying around repressed pain, terror, shame, and rage energy from our childhoods, whether it was twenty years ago or fifty years ago.  We have this grief energy within us even if we came from a relatively healthy family, because this society is emotionally dishonest and dysfunctional.

    When someone “pushes your buttons,” he/she is activating that stored, pressurized grief energy.  She/he is gouging the old wounds, and all of the newer wounds that are piled on top of those original wounds by our repeating behavior patterns.

    We are terrified of this pressurized pain, terror, shame, and rage energy – of “having our buttons pushed” – because we have experienced it in the past as instances where we have explosively overreacted in ways that caused us to later feel ashamed and crazy, or as implosive reactions that have thrown us into that deep dark pit of emotional despair within.

    We are walking around with this set of buttons available to be pushed by any person, place, thing, or combination thereof that recreates the dynamics of the situation wherein we were originally wounded.  (For example: a certain smell, the texture of a fabric, a tone of voice, a gesture, etc., can be emotional triggers that throw us back to an age of our inner child.)

    We carry this set of buttons, this baggage, with us until we release that stored, pressurized grief energy in a healthy grieving process.  This society’s answer to behavior caused by unresolved grief is to shame you, label you, lock you up, and/or give you drugs.  We do not have to play that game anymore.  We have new tools now, and we have rediscovered the healing power of the natural grieving process.” – quotes in this color are from Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls by Robert Burney

As long as we are unconsciously reacting to our emotional wounds from childhood, we are doomed to keep repeating our dysfunctional behavior patterns.  It is vital to start becoming more conscious of our childhood emotional wounds so we can stop allowing them to dictate our behavior and define our experience of life.

We all have reactive emotional “buttons” – an internal emotional mine field – that cause us to have intense emotional reactions when a button is pushed, when one of the unhealed wounds in our psyche gets activated.  Other people, life events, an old song, etc., can trigger these emotional wounds.

Having these strong emotional reactions is not a sign that we are crazy, it is just a symptom of codependency.  It is important to stop judging and shaming ourselves – or blaming others – for these reactions.  It is vital to start learning how to disarm those buttons – how to heal our emotional wounds.

Consciousness is the key.  We need to become more conscious of our reactions so that we can stop reacting to our reactions.

In recovery it is important to start realizing that any time that we have an intense emotional reaction with a lot of energy behind it, a lot of power – whether it is terror and panic, despair and helplessness, rage, or whatever – that is a sign that an old wound has been triggered.  It is an indication that unresolved grief is involved in our reaction.

One of the first clues to start paying attention to in recovery, clear evidence that inner child wounds are involved, is when our reaction to a situation, person, job interview, whatever, feels life threatening.  That is, the situation is not actually, factually, life threatening but it feels like a life or death situation – it feels like our survival depends upon the outcome, the other persons reaction, etc.

In childhood our survival was dependent upon our parents.  They were wounded – had their own internal emotional mine fields – so they wounded us.  It felt like there was something wrong with our being that was threatening their love for us – and therefore our survival.  We learned to focus externally to try to manipulate and control life and other people to try to ensure our survival.

This survival fear is the codependent fear that I spoke of in my article Obsession / Obsessive Thinking Part 1: “a distorted, magnified, virulent, mutated species of fear caused by the poisonous combination of a false belief that being human is shameful with a polarized (black and white, right and wrong) perspective of life.”

This gut wrenching survival fear has been running our lives – whether we were charging through life in denial of it, or allowing it to totally dominate our reality.  It is vital to learn how to start taking power away from this survival fear.

Emotional discernment starts when we can detach from the feeling enough to take an honest look at reality.  It may feel terrifying, may feel life threatening – but is that the truth?

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

I am afraid _______
If that happens, then what?
If that happens, then what?
If that happens, then what?
If that happens, then what?

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

You may feel like you want to die, but that feeling is a result of codependency.  It is very normal to feel sad about being alone on Valentine’s Day, but the reason we end up feeling like we want to die is not just because of the sadness.  The reason we end up feeling like we want to die is that we are allowing our reality – and our relationship with our self – to be dictated by a combination of inner child wounds and false intellectual beliefs.  We react emotionally out of a desperately lonely, love starved, inner child place within us – at the same time we judge ourselves for being alone, and for our feelings.  The critical parent voice in our head beats us up unmercifully for being a “loser” and a “failure” in romantic relationships.

By starting to use some emotional discernment to recognize that the feeling of life and death urgency is not reality – it is just a feeling – we can start to take some power away from the fear.  As we start taking power away from this mutant variety of fear, we can start to see ourselves and the situation with more clarity so that we can begin to disarm the emotional minefield within.  We can start taking power away from those “buttons.”” – Emotional Discernment – taking power away from the fear

This is the fourth of a 9 article series on The Serenity Prayer.  The first article is
Discernment – The Wisdom to Know the Difference in Serenity Prayer

Making Healthy Choices During the Holidays

Love Your Self First
Love Your Self First

Happy Holidays is a greeting many people say even if they are feeling lonely or blue. We often hear people say that Christmas is about LOVE! So many of us respond to the Holiday Season by running around shopping for gifts, volunteering, making donations, preparing meals and planning our annual family traditions. We may act like one of Santa’s Elves in out in the workshop making toys for everyone we love all day and night.  We love this time of year but there can be times when it gets to be overwhelming and we tend to neglect the most important and only person we are responsible for our self!

I am reminded that the Holidays are not only about LOVE but are also celebration of birth and rebirth. The Winter Solstice is the time of the longest darkness and marks the point of  increasing light, the new beginning.  Hanukkah is a time for re-dedication.  Kwanzaa is a time of re-commitment.  These are all times of both celebration and  introspection.  A quiet time given to us so we can reflect on the past and consider what we want to create in our future for the New Year.

There is just one catch! With any new beginning, any birth or rebirth is a also an ending.  With every  ending there is sadness, feelings of loss and grief.  We may have lost someone close to us who will not be available to celebrate. We may have ended a relationship and feel the sadness during this time of year. We may have grief over the emotional unavailability of those family members we are celebrating with.  These are just a few examples of the ways that the Holiday Blues can creep in and make our lives unmanageable during the Holiday Season.

What I have to share with you today is a realization I had about my expectations of my self and how I recovered from the Holiday Blues using the Twelve Days of  Christmas to illustrate the recovery principles I teach the best because I need to learn to practice them all year long!

On the first day of Christmas my TRUE LOVE gave to me….Acceptance and Emotional Honesty

My version of  Happy  Holidays  includes completely is allowing myself to accept the reality of my life (looking at both the half of the glass that is full as well as the empty part) emotionally – that is, allowing myself to be emotionally honest with myself.

On the second day of Christmas my TRUE LOVE gave to me… Grief processing
Acceptance and Emotional Honesty!

If I am feeling grief because I am alone during the Holidays it does not serve me to share that with someone who is not being  emotionally honest – someone who will shame me for not being cheerful.  If I am feeling hurt or scared or angry I will only share that with someone who is a safe person to share with emotionally – that is, they won’t discount and invalidate my feelings or try to fix me.

On the third day of Christmas my TRUE LOVE gave to me…Honoring my Feelings
Grief Processing, Acceptance and Emotional Honesty!

I don’t have to live up to some false expectations about how I “should” be feeling today.  It was my own self defeating behavior of trying to deny the pain and sadness, the anger and fear, while judging myself as shameful for not feeling what I “should” feel or being who I “should” be, that caused me to get depressed and suicidal.  When I am in my feeling process I actually am a lot happier and feel more Joy than I ever did before I learned how to be emotionally honest.

On the fourth day of Christmas my TRUE LOVE gave to me…Friends in Recovery
Honoring my Feelings, Grief Processing and Acceptance and Emotional Honesty!

It was on Christmas about 10 years ago that I got clear that I was capable of feeling more than one feeling at once. I was sad that it was Christmas and I was alone. I had feelings of grief for all of those past Christmases that I was sad but never acknowledged it. and alone – which were very valid and legitimate feelings. But as I went around to various clubhouses and friend’s homes that were having open houses, I could feel happy to see people I cared about.  I could feel Joy and gratitude that I was in recovery and feeling my feelings at the same time I was owning the sadness of that day and the grief of all the lonely holidays that I had experienced.

On the fifth day of Christmas my TRUE LOVE gave to me.. A Higher Power of my OWN understanding
Friends in Recovery, Honoring my Feelings, Grief Processing, Acceptance and Emotional Honesty!

It is so very important to stop judging ourselves against someone elses standards and shaming ourselves due to a fantasy of where we “should be.”  We are exactly where we are supposed to be. We are Spiritual Beings having a human experience. We are perfect in our Spiritual Essence, we are perfectly where we are supposed to be on our Spiritual path and from a human perspective we will never do human perfectly.

On the sixth day of Christmas my TRUE LOVE gave to me..Inner Child Healing
A Higher Power of my OWN understanding, Friends in Recovery, Honoring my Feelings, Grief Processing, Acceptance and Emotional Honesty!

A natural normal part of our human experience is feeling the  feelings – we need to accept that.  No one who is being  emotionally honest with themselves can go through the holidays  without feeling sadness and hurt, anger and fear. The good news is that the more we are able to own those emotions the more moments of peace, Joy, and happiness we can have.

On the seventh day of Christmas my TRUE LOVE gave to me..Awareness of my Fears
Inner Child Healing, A Higher Power of my OWN understanding, Friends in Recovery, Honoring my Feelings, Grief Processing and Acceptance and Emotional Honesty!

I am aware of my feelings and my fears whether I am happy, merry, sad, Joyous, painful, peaceful, scared or cheerful in the moment. I am experiencing what it feels like to be alive in human body.

On the eighth day of Christmas my TRUE LOVE gave to me…Time to Practice Self Care
Awareness of my Fears, Inner Child Healing, A Higher Power of my OWN understanding, Friends in Recovery, Honoring my Feelings, Grief Processing and Acceptance and Emotional Honesty!

Practicing self care includes exercising, relaxing, taking care of yourself physically but it also includes learning to set boundaries and is vital part of learning to communicate in  a direct and honest manner. It is impossible to have a healthy  relationship with someone who has no boundaries, with someone who cannot  communicate directly and honestly.

On the ninth day of Christmas my TRUE LOVE gave to me…Internal Boundaries 
(I may have preferred the Nine Ladies Dancing) Time to Practice Self Care, Awareness of my Fears, Inner Child Healing, A Higher Power of my OWN understanding, Friends in Recovery, Honoring my Feelings, Grief Processing and Acceptance and Emotional Honesty!

Learning how to set internal boundaries is a necessary step in learning to be a friend to yourself. It is your responsibility to take care of yourself –  to protect yourself when it is necessary. It is impossible to learn to  be loving to yourself without owning yourself – owning your rights and responsibilities as co-creator of your life.

On the tenth day of Christmas my TRUE LOVE gave to me..Positive Affirmations
Internal Boundaries,Time to Practice Self Care, Awareness of my Fears, Inner Child Healing, A Higher Power of my OWN understanding, Friends in Recovery, Honoring my Feelings, Grief Processing, Acceptance and Emotional Honesty!

Positive Affirmations are the single most powerful and vital tool in the Recovery process.  Codependency is a condition caused by growing up in a shame-based, emotionally dishonest society which teaches us false beliefs about the nature and purpose of life.  We are Spiritual Beings having a human experience, not shameful, sinful human creatures who have to earn Spiritual salvation.We are magnificent Spiritual Beings full of light and LOVE!

On the eleventh day of Christmas my TRUE LOVE gave to me..Speaking my Own Truth
Positive Affirmations, Internal Boundaries, Time to Practice Self Care, Awareness of my Fears, Inner Child Healing, A Higher Power of my OWN understanding, Friends in Recovery, Honoring my Feelings, Grief Processing, Acceptance and Emotional Honesty!

Owning our own voice is important for us to do for ourselves. Many of us have been crippled by the shame we experienced in our childhoods. By stating what we are feeling out loud without placing blame on the other person, we can begin to take responsibility for our personal truth. It is not important whether or not the other person hears us. It is important for us to do for ourselves. We can develop ourselves in being able to recognize that we are capable of asking for what we need as a request or invitation for others to participate or not. We will begin to attract those who are trustworthy and in the process we are recognized as our authentic selves not the masks that we have been wearing.

On the twelfth day of Christmas my TRUE LOVE gave to me..Prayer and Meditation
Positive Affirmations, Internal Boundaries, Time to Practice Self Care, Awareness of my Fears, Inner Child Healing, A Higher Power of my OWN  understanding, Friends in Recovery, Honoring my Feelings, Grief  Processing, Acceptance and Emotional Honesty!

God Grant me the Serenity to Accept the Things I can not Change, The Willingness
to Change the Things I can and The Wisdom to know the Difference. AMEN.

Sending you Wishes of Joy and Peace,
Robert Burney
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Robert Burney Give yourself the gift of Recovery