The Age of Reason – Darien and the Tooth Fairy

My step grandson / godson Darien turned 7 in November 2011 – and I wrote this in early 2012. 

The age of 7 is a vital milestone in the child developmental process.  Recognizing the significance of this milestone many years ago was a key to me understanding the disease of codependence.

The “age of reason” is actually a phrase that I have heard since childhood – because growing up Catholic it was at the age of reason that one could first take communion.  Basically it means that the part of a child’s brain that understands cause and effect, and logic – and abstract concepts – doesn’t fully develop until around 7.

“The part of a child’s brain that is logical and rational, that understands abstract concepts (like time or death), that can have any kind of an objective perspective on self or life, does not develop until about the age of 7 (the age of reason.)  As little children we were completely ego-centric and magical thinking.” – Reprogramming our dysfunctional ego defenses

In my telephone counseling and my Intensive Training workshops, I have evolved a way of explaining the importance of this that I don’t think I have ever written in quite the way I explain it these days – so I think I will write about this a bit.  It was for me of utmost importance to recognize the significance of how we were affected by our environments in early childhood to not only understand codependence, but even more importantly to be able to start forgiving ourselves for something that wasn’t our fault, for something we had no control over.  And I also want to acknowledge how perfect it is to have had Darien in my life for the last almost 7 years, because I got to watch his developmental process in action in ways that confirmed what I had intuitively come to understand years before.  This story I am going to share has to do with Darien coming into the age of reason.

Prior to 7, we are primarily ego-centric and magical thinking.  Our parents were our Higher Powers – the God and Goddess in our lives – and we had no realistic perspective of them whatsoever.  As we are starting to grow up, we start to understand basic cause and effect – like, when you turn on the light switch the light comes on, the kinds of things I watched Darien discover with delight.  But we can’t understand more abstract concepts.  We are not capable of process thought.  For instance, when we are 3 or 4 or 5, we are not capable of thinking to ourselves, “Wow, Mom must be having a really bad day – that’s why she is yelling at me.”  We just know that Mom is yelling at us.  We do not have the ability to have a perspective that helps us understand that our parents have stress in their lives, or that the ways they are acting may have nothing to do with us.

As I said, we are ego-centric – we are the center of the Universe as far as we know.  We took their behavior, the ways they treated us and the messages we got from them – both direct messages and indirect ones through their role modeling – personally.  We thought what was happening had to do with us – because we weren’t capable of seeing it any other way.

So anything that felt abusive, any kind of deprivation, anything in the environment that was uncomfortable – fighting, anxiety, depression, alcoholism, etc. – we took personally and internalized.  We were the center of our Universe and it felt like the things that were painful and uncomfortable were our fault somehow.  In my inner child work, I got in touch with the reality that by the time I was about 5 I felt ashamed that I wasn’t able to protect my mother from my father – I felt like a failure somehow.  Children are magical thinking.  They feel like they have the power to cause fights, to cause drinking, to cause death even for some of us.

This is where the core of codependence comes from – what I call toxic shame.  The difference between guilt and shame in my definition, is that guilt is about behavior (I did something wrong, I made a mistake) – while shame is about our being (something is wrong with me, I am a mistake.)  It is the place deep inside of us where we feel somehow defective, somehow unlovable and unworthy because our parents were wounded.  They didn’t know how to love themselves or be emotionally healthy – so they could not love us in a healthy way.  They were our Higher Powers so we couldn’t conceive that they weren’t perfect.  We learned how to relate to our self, to life, and to other people in early childhood from people that were wounded in their childhoods.

“”The Family Systems Dynamics research shows that within the family system, children adopt certain roles according to their family dynamics.  Some of these roles are more passive, some are more aggressive, because in the competition for attention and validation within a family system the children must adopt different types of behaviors in order to feel like an individual.” . . .

. . . . It is important to note that we adapt the roles that are best suited to our personalities.  We are, of course, born with a certain personality.  What happens with the roles we adapt in our family dynamic is that we get a twisted, distorted view of who we are as a result of our personality melding with the roles. This is dysfunctional because it causes us to not be able to see ourselves clearly.  As long as we are still reacting to our childhood wounding and old tapes then we cannot get in touch clearly with who we really are.” – Roles In Dysfunctional Families

The feeling that there is something wrong with me – toxic shame – is the foundation that we built our relationship with self on.  It is the foundation of codependence.

Then what happens, is that our ego – which is the part of our being whose job is to help us survive – adapts an emotional and behavioral defense system to help us fit into the rules of our dysfunctional family so that we can survive.  One of a child’s jobs is to manipulate it’s environment in order to survive – so a child will adapt whatever works.  If throwing temper tantrums works;  if crying works;  if being the good child works;  if trying to be invisible is what works;  if being the family clown is what works;  that is what a child will adapt.  Neurological researchers now state that the neural pathways in our brain that relate to relating to other human beings are pretty well set by the time we are four or five years old.

“One of the new links I recently added to my recommend links page is to a great movie: What the Bleep Do We Know!?  It is a movie about quantum physics – and I didn’t just like it because they sounded like they were quoting from my book at times.  It is really quite fascinating stuff.  One of the things that was especially gratifying to me had to do with the neural pathways in the brain.  I have been telling people for quite a few years that it was possible to reprogram the neural pathways in our brains by doing the inner child healing work – but that was an intuitive Knowing on my part.  It was something that I Knew to be Truth – even though I wasn’t real clear on exactly what neural pathways were.  In the movie they have some wonderful animation – that among other things shows how the neural pathways can be programmed either negatively or positively depending upon what attitudes and perspectives a person chooses to empower.” – Update Newsletter December 2004

In childhood we had attitudes and perspectives imposed upon us.  We learned to relate to life out of fear, shame, and scarcity because that was how our parents were programed to relate to life.

Codependence is an ego defense system adapted in early childhood – and after early childhood what we do is add more layers to what is already a dysfunctional system.  It is a dysfunctional defense system because it is based on a lie – the lie being that there is something wrong with who we are, with our being.  There is nothing wrong with who we are – it is our relationship with self (and life and other people) that is all messed up because we did not have the mental capacity to understand that what was happening in our families was not personal.  We did not have the ability to see that our parents were wounded and reacting to their own wounds – they were our Higher Powers.

When we get to be 8 or 9, we start to see the hypocrisy and the lies – but by then our relationship with our self is being dictated by the feeling that we had in early childhood that there was something wrong with who we are as a being.  We are already programmed to feel like it is shameful to be imperfect and to look outside for validation in competition with others.

Darien and The Tooth Fairy

The dilemma Susan and I had recently was – “what should we tell him when something happens to cause him to question if there is a tooth fairy?”  Do we tell him the truth or let him continue with the magical thinking?

It was about a week before Christmas when Darien lost another tooth.  It was his fourth baby tooth that he has lost.  And it happened the same way that the last tooth was lost, in the kid’s klub at the gym.  On the way to the gym that day, I got a foreshadowing of what was to come in a way.  In a reminder that he was at the age of reason, he said on the way to the gym, “How can Santa Claus take toys to every house in the world all in one night?”

I didn’t really answer his question – even though he asked it several more times, because I didn’t want to hurry the process along.  I want to let him reach his own conclusions in his own time, and not lay the truth on him when he wasn’t ready for it.

That night he put his tooth in a box under his pillow for the tooth fairy to take and leave him some money.  But the tooth fairy (that would be me – his grandpa) forgot about the tooth in the box.  So did he.  The next morning as he was getting ready for school, he was brushing his teeth and that reminded me that he had lost the tooth the night before and his grandma didn’t know about it.  Without thinking I said, “Darien lost another tooth yesterday” – and then realized I hadn’t taken care of the tooth.  I headed for his bed while Susan delayed him – and I quickly put a dollar in the box and put it back under the pillow.

But I forgot to take out the tooth!

He was glad to see the dollar but then noticed the tooth.  And then he got mad at me and said something like, “Why did you do that grandpa?”  Then, I think the thought occurred to him that I was the tooth fairy – and it made him angry.  He went into the bathroom and locked the door.  I asked him if he didn’t need help brushing his hair – and he said “I will do it myself.”  We could hear that he was really mad about it.

On the way to school he start asking about it – if I had put the dollar in the box the other times.  I avoided answering the first few times, and then admitted it.  He started crying at the thought that there was no tooth fairy.  Then another thought occurred to him, and he asked, “Do you have my other teeth, because I don’t remember what they looked like?”  I admitted that I did have the other teeth – and he was kind of intrigued by the thought of seeing all of his lost teeth.  Then he started singing jingle bells and was happy for a few moments.

Then another thought occurred to him, and he asked, “Did Grandma tell you to do it?”  I think that he was trying to figure out a way that it wasn’t my fault because he trusts me more than anyone (I have been his primary caretaker for a lot of years now – the one he goes to for nurturing) and he wanted to blame it on grandma.  (His grandma Susan will sometimes accidentally use his tooth brush or eat a snack he was saving – at this very moment Darien is hiding his favorite tooth brushes to make sure Susan doesn’t use them.)  But I didn’t buy into that.  I told him that it was just something that parents did for their kids.  That my mom and dad did it for me.  That I had believed in the tooth fairy too.

He said in a real sad voice, “I believed in the tooth fairy too.”

Then as we were walking from the car to his classroom, he stopped me.  He told me to take the money back – and to tell grandma never to do that again.  And that he would prove there was a tooth fairy.

That afternoon when he got home from school he found the box (which I had taken the tooth out of, and put in 2 dollars) – and exclaimed, “See, I told you there was a tooth fairy.”  But then later on he asked for his teeth – which I did give to him.

So, now he is in kind of an in between place.  He has been confronted with evidence that the tooth fairy didn’t take his teeth, but he is still choosing to believe there is a tooth fairy.

The same thing has kind of happened with Santa Claus.  He had spotted some presents in the top of the closet that he later realized showed up under the tree on Christmas Day.  On Christmas, Susan said something about wanting to take a nap because she hadn’t gotten much sleep the night before – and he says, “Oh I get it.  Santa didn’t bring presents, you guys did it.”

Later in the day, he said something to Susan about it – and she replied something like, “Did you really believe Santa went to all the houses in the world with presents?”  And he went into a defense of Santa that included the compelling evidence, “That he has elves to help him, remember!”

So, he is in between now – seeing things more logically but choosing to keep his magical thinking for now.  It will be interesting to see what happens the next time he loses a tooth.

In the midst of the tooth fairy trauma, Susan said to me, “What do we tell him.  If we keep lying to him he won’t trust us.”  An interesting question that I still am not quite sure about.  I think we have reached kind of a balance right now.  He is still mostly choosing to believe – but he has started to wake up to the fact we – and society – have not been honest with him.  It makes me wonder about a society – a civilization – that is dishonest with us when we are children, which sets us up to live life in a dysfunctional way.

When I am telling people about the dynamics of codependency, I always mention that the ego is not a bad or negative thing in and of itself – it just got programmed really badly.  And the original dysfunctional programming came from fairy tales.

“I will be talking about some different aspects of both intellectual and emotional discernment in coming articles. For this article I want to make a point about how important this process is by using the example of some basic dysfunctional beliefs that are at the foundation of our relationship with life.  These are the beliefs that we learned from the fairy tales we heard in early childhood.

We learned that when we meet our Prince or Princess we will live happily-ever-after.  We got the message that there was a destination to reach in life where we would find a state of being that is happily-ever-after.

That is not true.  It is not the way life works.  You know that now.  As an adult, you consciously and intellectually know that there is no happily-ever-after – if you have ever stopped to think about it.

Unfortunately however, that belief is programmed into our subconscious intellectual paradigm and as such, it determines our perspective of life, of romance, of our self – and thus dictates our emotional relationship with those aspects of our human experience.

We are set up to feel like failures in life, and in romantic relationships, because we do not get to reach happily-ever-after.  We judge and shame ourselves because we haven’t lived up to the fairy tale.  We blame ourselves – or we blame others for this feeling of failure.

This feeling of failure is an illusion based upon a fairy tale.  It is based upon beliefs about life that are not true – that have never been true.  It is part of our subconscious programming and the only way to change it is to change that subconscious programming – and heal the emotional wounds that we have experienced because our dysfunctional relationships with life and romance set us up to feel like failures.

We cannot do that without looking within.  We need to become willing to start shining the light of consciousness into the darkness of our subconscious in order to take power away from that which is in the dark.  Looking outside to find the answers does not work.  It is only by looking within that we can start healing and recovering from the false beliefs that we learned in childhood.” – Intellectual Discernment – focused within

We are set up to expect life to be something it is not in childhood.  To expect romance to be something it is not.

I don’t really have someplace I am going with this.  I just started out to tell the story about Darien and the tooth fairy.  But it really is food for thought how society sets us up to live life in a dysfunctional way by being dishonest with us from the very beginning.   Are we doing children a service when we tell them about the tooth fairy and Santa Claus?  I don’t know.  Just some thoughts that are rattling around here on the first day of January 2012.  I wonder if the Mayan’s told their children fairy tales.  From what I know Native Americans – who I believe had much more functional cultures then we do – told stories that taught values and principles, and I don’t think any of them ended in happily-ever-after.  I wonder where all that dishonesty came from.  Oh well.

Sacred Spiral

In September of 2017, I am in the midst of updating the page that I created years ago to honer my step grandson Darien – to bring people up to date on the latest happenings in my life.  I had forgotten about this passage that I wrote about the Age of Reason and the dysfunctional programming of early childhood – so I decided to turn it into a blog. (Since I haven’t done one here for quite awhile.)  I think it is some really valuable information – and it can help us to forgive our selves when we really look at how we were set up to expect life to be something it is not.  We were just innocent little kids, it wasn’t our fault.

It is Saturday evening September 9th and I hope to have that page updated by tomorrow evening.  I was working on most of the day today in an attempt to make it more Mobile Friendly.  I did a lot of crying today as I went over that page.  Most of it was crying from Joy and Gratitude.  My D-man has brought so much Joy into my life – and I am so Grateful that I got involved with Susan so that I could be there to help raise him.  There was also some grief about how hard things were much of the time – but most of the crying I did today was remembering all the incredible Joy that this blessed Spirit inhabiting Darien’s body has brought into my life. He will be 13 on his next birthday, so there will be some interesting years ahead. 🙂

Here are a couple of quotes from that page.

“Of course, part of the Divine Plan that is unfolding perfectly, was the Soul contract between his Soul and my Soul that we would meet in this lifetime at the time and place that we did in order to learn about Love together.  He is a precious and wonderful blessing in my life and I thank the Goddess for the opportunity to be intimately involved with this beautiful spirit that is Darien.  ~ Robert 8/20/09”

“One of the things that touched me the most, was one day when we were laying on the couch as I was trying to get him to take a nap. He started digging in my back pockets and trying to take out some flyers for my workshop that I keep there in case I meet someone who might be interested. After telling him to cut it out a few times – because he does like to stall going to sleep – and him persisting, I finally let him take some of my folded up flyers and he looks at it and says, “It’s you!” (Since my picture is on it.) And then out of nowhere he gushes – gushes is the only accurate word for his tone of voice and emotional content. “I Love you! You do this for the whole world.” It felt as if his Spirit was speaking to me. I don’t know where a little 4 year old kid could come up with that kind of idea, but it didn’t feel like a little kid talking to me – I got emotional then, and I am getting emotional now as I write about it. It was one of the most touching and beautiful positive affirmations anyone has ever given me.”

” Just reminded me of something that happened a few months ago with my step grandson Darien. He will be 6 in November – and he and I have this powerful connection to each other (even look alike though there is not blood relationship.) One day he was asking questions about various things like he does (wants to know everything) and talking about when he was a baby because of a picture of him on the wall. I told him that the first time I met him (he was about 3 or 4 months old) that he cried (Susan thought it was because my deep voice scared him) – and he says, “From Joy?” It was a mind blower to me that a 5 year old understood that it was possible to cry from Joy – and that that was his assumption about what he would have felt the first time we met. :-)” – from A page dedicated to – and for – Darien

*BookCoverLightsm

It is Darien’s picture on the cover of my second book:  Codependency Recovery: Wounded Souls Dancing in The Light Book 1 Empowerment, Freedom, and Inner Peace through Inner Child Healing

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

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Bringing Codependency Recovery Pioneer to the UK in 2017

Robert Burney’s Trip to UK canceled

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

Robert Burney Trip to UK 2017

Book cover

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

Codependency Recovery / Inner Child Healing Formula

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

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

Creating the Possibility of bringing Robert Burney to the UK

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Robert Burney

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

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

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

Location

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

Formats

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Email us to let us know if you are interested.

Sacred Spiral

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

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

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

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

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

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.

Discernment in relationship to emotional honesty and responsibility 2

Honesty like any other arena in recovery is not a black and white issue.  There are a multitude of levels to honesty, of perspectives in which to view the concept of honesty.  Emotional honesty is the one we are focusing on in this article, but intellectual honesty with ourselves is necessary in order to start becoming emotionally honest.

It is necessary to start seeing ourselves with more clarity in order to recognize the attitudes, beliefs, and definitions that are dictating our emotional reactions.  Once we start achieving more honesty in our perspectives of ourselves, then we can get more clarity in our emotional process.

For instance, until I started to recognize how I had been programmed to have a dysfunctional relationship with my own emotions because I am male, I could not start giving myself permission to get in touch with feelings which I had been programmed to believe were unacceptable for a man in this society.

There are numerous levels, relationships, that I had to start seeing with more clarity – getting more intellectually honest with myself about – before I could start changing my relationship in those arenas.

“Attitudes, definitions, and beliefs determine perspective and expectation – which in turn dictates our relationships.  Our relationships to our self, to life, to other people, to The God-Force / Goddess Energy / Great Spirit.  Our relationships to our own emotions, bodies, gender, etc., are dictated by the attitudes, definitions, and beliefs that we are holding mentally / intellectually.  And we acquired those mental constructs / ideas / concepts in early childhood from the emotional experiences, intellectual teachings, and role modeling of the beings around us.” – The True Nature of Love-part 4, Energetic Clarity 

The key in this regard for me, was expectations.  I had to start realizing how my expectations were dictating my emotional reactions in order to start changing my relationships with my own emotions.

“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.” – Serenity and Expectations

The process of recovery is a journey of continual growth to larger perspectives, higher contexts in which to view everything.  Consciousness raising / enLightenment is a process of peeling away layers of denial to get to a Higher Consciousness / expanded perspective / deeper level of honesty.  The focus of this article is discernment in relationship to emotional honesty and I just realized that I need to say a few words about why it is so important – about why emotions are important.

Emotions = energy in motion

Feelings, emotions, are energy.

The Dance

“Emotions are energy:  E-motion = energy in motion.  It is supposed to be in motion, it was meant to flow.

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

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.

“Emotional energy is not only supposed to be in motion, to flow, it is also the energy that gets us in motion.  It is what drives us, what propels us forward through life.  When emotional flow is blocked and suppressed it does not go away.  Energy cannot simply disappear.  It can transform but it cannot disappear.  That is a law of physics.

Emotional energy that is suppressed still drives us.  It is what causes obsessive-compulsive behavior, it is what drives addictions.  Repressed emotional energy builds up pressure that has to be released. . . . . .

Human beings are not damned with an n.  We are emotionally dammed.  Dammed up, blocked up – which is what causes us to feel damned with an n.”

“The emotional energy generated by the circumstances of our childhood and early life does not go away just because we were forced to deny it.  It is still trapped in our body – in a pressurized, explosive state, as a result of being suppressed. . . . . As long as we have pockets of pressurized emotional energy that we have to avoid dealing with – those emotional wounds will run our lives.” – Feeling the Feelings

The reason that it is so important to clear up our relationship with our own emotions, to learn to be emotionally honest with ourselves is because emotions are such a powerful part of our being, such a vital and controlling influence in how we live our lives.  The key to learning how to clear up that relationship and start to get some emotional clarity is learning how to have internal boundaries.

“Then we can start setting internal boundaries within the mental, between the mental and emotional, and within the emotional levels of our being. . . . . . .Within the mental we can start discerning and separating the shaming messages that are coming from the disease / critical parent voice from our own wisdom, knowledge and intelligence. . . . . .By learning to set a boundary between emotional and mental, we can stop reacting to life based on the false belief that what we feel is who we are – that what we feel defines our reality. . . . . . Once we start having boundaries within the mental, and between the mental and emotional, then we can also start having boundaries within the emotional level of our being. . . . . . .start discerning between the emotional truth that is coming from our old wounds and the emotional energy that is Truth.” – Inner child healing – the process of processing

It is necessary to learn to have a boundary within the emotional component of our being because 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.

“The key to healing our wounded souls is to get clear and honest in our emotional process.  Until we can get clear and honest with our human emotional responses – until we change the twisted, distorted, negative perspectives and reactions to our human emotions that are a result of having been born into, and grown up in, a dysfunctional, emotionally repressive, Spiritually hostile environment – we cannot get clearly in touch with the level of emotional energy that is Truth.  We cannot get clearly in touch with and reconnected to our Spiritual Self.”

Our Spiritual Self is the True Self, the Higher Self that is an extension downward vibrationally from the ONENESS of the Source Energy.  Recovery is a process of reprogramming the ego defenses so that we can bring the ego self into alignment with Spiritual Self.  Spiritual Self is our guide through the Spiritual evolutionary process.  Our Spiritual Self communicates with us through our intuition.  Our intuition is emotional energy – an emotional energy communication from our Spirit.

“Truth, in my understanding, is not an intellectual concept.  I believe that Truth is an emotional-energy, vibrational communication to my consciousness, to my soul/spirit – my being, from my Soul.  Truth is an emotion, something that I feel within. . . . . It’s that gut feeling, the feeling in my heart.  It is the feeling of something resonating within me.”

It is very important to start developing internal boundaries so that we can start discerning between the emotional messages that are being generated by the disease, by our wounded self, and the messages that are coming from our Higher Self.

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

Healthy Guilt and Unhealthy Guilt

A good example of this discernment process is guilt.  Guilt is a feeling – an emotional energy whose purpose is to communicate with our consciousness about our behavior.  It is important to make a distinction between healthy guilt and unhealthy guilt in relationship to discernment and emotional honesty.

In my definition shame is a term that relates to being (feeling that something is wrong with who we are, that our being is defective) – while guilt refers to behavior.

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

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

Guilt is “I made a mistake, I did something wrong.”

Shame is “I’m a mistake, something is wrong with me.””

Guilt is something we feel to help us be aware of our behavior.

Healthy guilt is what we feel when we violate our own value system.  It is an important intuitive component in maintaining a healthy, honest relationship with ourselves.  Guilt helps us to be aware of areas that needs some more healing – behavior that is a reaction to old wounds and old tapes.  It is generated by our Spirit when we have acted in ways which we need to make amends for, when our humanness has caused us to act in a way that does not respect and honor that we are ONE with everyone and everything.

Unhealthy guilt is when we feel guilty for violating someone else’s value system.  We were programmed to react to life based on value systems that were dysfunctional, codependent, and unhealthy.  We had imposed upon us, and programmed into our intellectual perspective and emotional reactions, value systems we learned from the emotional experiences, intellectual teachings, and role modeling of the beings around us in childhood.  In order to survive, we adapted the value systems imposed upon us – even though they often did not make sense to us even then.

The critical parent voice developed in order to try to control our behavior and feelings using the same tools that were used on us – guilt, shame, and fear.  As a result of that programming, it is normal for us to feel guilty about violating those value system.  Thus in recovery when we start setting boundaries, saying no, speaking our truth, being emotionally honest, etc., feelings of guilt and shame are generated.

In recovery as we awaken to our power to make choices about our beliefs, we can start sorting out which values that we are holding resonate with Truth as we feel it intuitively – and which ones are a result of the old programming.  We can start practicing discernment in picking out the nuggets of Truth in the values we learned in childhood, from the twisted, dysfunctional, shame based beliefs.  Some of the values our parents held will also be our intuitive values.  Many will not because they were programmed in their childhoods.  Often we were taught values in theory that are Truth – but which in practice were not followed.  This was part of the crazy making inconsistency that caused us to think something was wrong with us.

“The teachings of all the Master Teachers, of all the world’s religions, contain some Truth along with a lot of distortions and lies.  Discerning Truth is often like recovering treasure from shipwrecks that have been sitting on the ocean floor for hundreds of years – the grains of Truth, the nuggets of gold, have become encrusted with garbage over the years.”

As we heal and awaken we get clearer on what our True values, the intuitive messages from our Spiritual Self, are – and can discern more often when we are experiencing unhealthy guilt so that we do not give it power.  As with any part of the process, our intuition is our guide.  Our minds have a great tendency to slip back into the polarized ruts of trying to figure out what is right and what is wrong – whereas our gut feelings will most often be coming from our intuition.

The more we are able to develop our observer self, the witness who is viewing our life and internal process from a recovery perspective, the easier it becomes for us to discern between guilt feelings that are healthy – and an important tool in helping us maintain some emotional balance and responsibility – and the unhealthy guilt of our old programming that we can let go of.

In her wonderful daily meditation book, Melody Beattie calls the unhealthy guilt and shame generated when we start to change to new healthier behavior “afterburn,” and talks about just letting it burn off without giving it power.  This is what I refer to as having a boundary between emotional and mental.  We can feel the guilt and recognize it as unhealthy so that we do not give the critical parent voice the power to get us into a frenzy of mental activity worrying if we have done something “wrong.”  We can talk to the child within us that is feeling guilty for setting a boundary and tell that child that it is good to set boundaries – that it is the Loving thing to do for ourselves.  (Melody Beattie’s The Language of Letting Go is an absolutely phenomenal book that I think everyone in recovery should have.  The Loving Spiritual belief system that is the foundation for her practical recovery advice is one that aligns with what I believe better than anything else I have ever read.)

Worry is negative fantasy

When I catch myself worrying about right and wrong, it is a sure sign that my disease is up and running – that I have slipped back into that rut.  When I become aware that my mind has gone into a right and wrong type feeding frenzy, it is usually because I have some feelings going on that are making me uncomfortable.  Very often, I am afraid of what the consequences of my choice will be – the outcome of the actions I have set in motion.  Sometimes, I am sad that I had to set a boundary.  Whatever I am feeling, it is better for me to get in touch with the feeling than to be in my head in a frenzy of worry.

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.  We create negative feeling emotional states because we are empowering negative perspectives of life.

“We are talking about balance between the emotional and mental here again.  Blame has to do with attitudes, with buying into the false beliefs – it does not really have anything to do with the process of releasing the emotional energy.”

Worry, like blame (and such things as resentment, despair, and self pity), is a negative emotional state that is created by the intellectual paradigm that we are filtering our life experience through, that we are allowing to interpret and translate life for us.  The more we try to avoid the discomfort of feeling fear or sadness or anger, the more emotional energy we generate in relationship to whatever situation we are reacting to.  It is a really dysfunctional, viscous cycle if our goal is to be happy and at peace.  For the disease it is a functional cycle because it creates justification for rescuing ourselves by going unconscious using some self abusive behavior – which then creates more shame, which creates more judgment, which creates more fear, which creates more worry, etc., etc.

“As long as we are judging and shaming ourselves we are giving power to the disease.  We are feeding the monster that is devouring us.”

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.

The key is to be aware of when we slip back into those ruts of right and wrong thinking so that we can use our recovery tools to pull us out of the rut and get back into balance.  We need to let go of the perspectives or expectation that are causing us more fear.  We need to own the feelings instead of trying to avoid them – because trying to avoid them just generates more of them.

When I catch myself worrying it is very important not to judge myself for it.  What I need to do is be patient and kind and compassionate towards myself.  I can catch myself, take a couple of deep breaths and say something to myself like:

Oh here I am worrying.  I must be afraid.  I am feeling fear about of the outcome of this situation.  I have bought into the belief that if this does not come out the way I want it to, I am not going to be OK.   It is time to stop and remember that I have a Loving Higher Power who is in charge of outcomes.  That everything will work out in the way which is best for my growth process.  I need to remember to be willing to surrender to the Divine Plan of my Loving Higher Power.  I need to let go of those old beliefs in lack and scarcity.  I need to remind myself that I don’t have the power to screw up the Goddess’s plan.  That whatever happens will be an opportunity for growth – not a mistake.

Then I may need to specifically deal with some inner child wounds – “How old am I feeling right now.” – letting the detective / observer part of me track down why this situation in particular is carrying a lot of charge for me.  There may be some grief work to do.  I may also need to own that I am angry at my Higher Power because I am in a situation again that causes fear – or sadness, or hurt.  A situation that resonates with the energy of one of my core issues – abandonment, betrayal, deprivation, abuse, isolation, etc.

Any time I am worrying, I am back into right and wrong thinking.  That tells me that I am not being emotionally honest with myself and that I have gotten out of balance, that my vision is being clouded by reactions from the past.  Balance is the key.  We are striving for a balance between mental and emotional, between intuitive and rational.  It is feeling clear that will show us our path, not deciding what is right or wrong.

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

Through that energetic clarity we will be able to access Love from the Source – and we will learn to Love and trust our Self to guide our self through this boarding school that is life as a human.” – The True Nature of Love-part 4, Energetic Clarity  

Honesty with others

We need to strive for emotional honesty with our self and for our self – because being honest with ourselves is what works best to help us see our self and life most clearly.  It is the most Loving thing to do for ourselves.

It is also important for us to learn to practice discernment in relationship to how honest we are with other people.  It is almost always the best policy, the strategy that works best in the long run, to be direct and honest with others.  That does not necessarily mean emotionally honest.  And it does not necessarily mean we need to tell them the whole truth, be honest on all levels.

While I was writing this article I took a break to go for a walk by the ocean.  On that walk, my Higher Power presented me with a perfect example of the point I am making here.

I ran into someone I know from AA and had not seen for a couple of months.  This is a person that I like and I am happy to see when I run into her.  She has around thirty years of sobriety.  But she is not involved in the emotional healing, in codependence recovery.  She knows I have a book out, and asks me about it when we see each other – but I would never expect her to read it.

The AA community in the small town that I live in has a very high percentage of people with long term sobriety.   Many of them are people who retired here from Los Angeles or Fresno and other places.  They are old time AA people who are so black and white in their thinking that they get upset if someone mentions drugs in an Alcoholics Anonymous meetings.  Needless to say, they do not think that codependence has any place in their lives or their meetings.  I can share in these meetings using AA language and people will tell me how much they get from my sharing – but if I use the C word (codependence) I can almost hear the snap of the minds closing around the room.

As a result I do not go to a lot of AA meetings here.  Inevitably, I walk away from a meeting here feeling sad about the level of emotional dishonesty I observe – or sometimes angry about rigid, judgmental statements or behavior.  My main meeting here in town – besides a CoDA meeting that I started and am secretary for – is a Narcotics Anonymous meeting in which it is OK to talk about anything and the people laugh a lot.

So, I ran into this woman from AA on my walk, and she said to me, “I haven’t seen you around for awhile.”  This is AA language for “Why haven’t I seen you at any meetings?”  And coming from many people in Alcoholics Anonymous carries more than a hint of accusation in it.

I told her that I was doing a lot of phone counseling and the appointments were often in the evenings.  I mentioned that the NA meeting was the one I made it to most often.  I said that I had been meaning to make it to the Friday night meeting – and I have, and will, one of these days.

I answered her honestly without telling the whole truth or being emotionally honest.  There was no reason to share my feelings about the meetings that she attends – because she had not asked for my opinion.  People in AA have the same uncanny ability that my family members and many other people out there in the world have – they have a way of avoiding asking direct questions whose answers might make them uncomfortable.   I have learned that part of having good boundaries for me includes not offering opinions to, or being emotionally honest with, people who do not want to hear it.

That AA person falls into the category of what I call a “friendly acquaintance.”  Someone who I am glad to see, feel some affection for, feel a bond to as a fellow recovering alcoholic – but someone who will probably never be a real friend.  If she were ever to come to me and ask for my advice or opinion – I would happily share with her.  The chances are that will never happen.

I have found it important to have boundaries in terms of how I view other people.  If I have one or two people in my life that I feel that I can truly communicate with and be emotionally honest with on all levels, that is an incredible abundance.  For much of my recovery I have not had anyone who fell into that category.  That is sad, but it is a reality that I have needed to accept.  As I have said elsewhere, an important part of empowerment is seeing reality as it is and making the best of it – rather than putting energy into wishing it was different.  If I get caught up in wishing it were different, in the “what if”s and “if only”s, then I am empowering a victim perspective which can lead to self pity.  (Grieving, owning the sadness, is very different from self pity which – as I mention above -is an emotional state based upon limiting victim beliefs.)

It has been very helpful to me, to accept that people are where they are at – and that it is OK.  I have learned to let go of my old pattern of sacrificing myself in the now for the potential of the future.  Often I can see who a person really is, and understand their potential – which on my deepest level of honesty usually means their potential to be an asset in my life – but need to accept that they are perfectly where they are supposed to be in their process.  I need to accept that, in order not to buy into the illusion that they are doing something to me – that I am the victim of the pace of their process, of their inability to be who I want them to be now.

This was especially important in terms of letting go of expecting my family of origin to change.  They are not who I want them to be, they don’t understand me and can’t see me.  It isn’t personal – they are just dancing with their wounds and following their path.  It is not for me to judge someone else’s path.  Letting go – especially in terms of doing the inner child grieving about letting go of the myth of family – and accepting, was a necessary component in being able to have a friendly, superficial relationship with my family today.  Superficial is what they are capable of – I needed to accept that and make the best of the situation.

In terms of friends, there are going to be people in my life, who I can share certain things with – but not other things.  Some people that I can relate to on certain levels, or about certain issues.  To expect that I can be emotionally honest with everyone in my life in a way that works (is safe, is heard, is understood) is an insane expectation in such a dysfunctional society with relatively so few people actually doing the healing work.

(I want to make a point here also, that when I say “safe” in terms of being emotionally honest, I am talking about what will work best.  In earlier recovery, when I was still giving a lot of power to the old wounds and old tapes, it could feel devastating to me to have someone judge and shame me.  Then safe referred to danger, to people who would judge and shame me.  It also meant people who would try to fix me.  Trying to fix someone else is not support, it is codependence.  When someone starts trying to rescue me it imparts a judgment on where I am at – it means they are not comfortable so they are going to try to change me to make themselves comfortable.  This is tied into the what I was speaking of above about offering advice or opinions to someone who hasn’t asked.  It can be a form of abuse.

As I have gotten healthier in recovery, with more capacity to be balanced and see life with some clarity – other people and life events have less power to effect me.  The more I am grounded in the Spiritual belief system I have integrated into my internal process, and have done my inner child healing – the less power any of my old buttons hold. The better I have become at letting go, the shorter the periods of time have become that I am giving others the power to rock my emotional boat.  The term safe for me transformed into meaning something more like: safe from wasting time and energy trying to communicate with someone who can not hear.  To get into an argument, a power struggle over right and wrong, with someone who doesn’t speak my language is dysfunctional – is actually, pretty silly.

Pay Attention

The primary purpose and most important reason for me to share my feelings with anyone is because I need to do it for me – to take care of me.  In order to be emotionally healthy I need to express and release my feelings – but that does not mean that I have to necessarily express those feelings to the person involved.  The farther along I get in recovery, the more I have the tools and resources I need to do my healing internally where it really matters, the less need I have to share my feelings with people who can’t hear me.

The secondary purpose of being emotionally honest with another person is to develop emotional intimacy with that person.  If the other person is not capable of emotional honesty, then I am setting myself up – empowering expectations that are not realistic.

Of course, when we first meet someone we do not have any data to base a discerning decision upon.  We gather data by paying attention.  The more we heal, the more ability we have to be in the moment and pay attention.  People give us signs and signals about themselves right from our first contact with them.  The most Loving thing we can do for ourselves, the most functional behavior, is to be present and pay attention.

So, we observe.  We pay attention not just to what they are saying, but also to their body language, their eye contact, the feelings we get in our gut while interacting with them.

As I state in the quote above, we are never going to meet someone who doesn’t have some red flags.  Everyone we meet is going to be someone who is a teacher of some kind.  By paying attention, it is possible to choose rather we want to explore our connection to them further or rather this is a opportunity to set a boundary with ourselves about where to expend our time and energy.

If we discern that we do not feel comfortable with seeing this person again, we can be direct and honest with them – without necessarily being emotionally honest.

We do not have to say, for example:  You scare me because it appears that you are not really hearing what I am saying to you, that you are unable to be conscious and present.  (This would almost certainly engender a defensive reaction from the other person and lead to more time and energy expended)

We do not have to lie to them either:  I am so busy this week.  Maybe later in the month. (This sets us up to keep putting them off.)

We can say something like:  Sorry, but I am very busy these days and just do not have time to hang out.

So, we tell a little fib by saying we are sorry when we probably aren’t – and we do not tell the whole truth which is:  I choose not to hang out with someone unless I see the possibility of a healthy relationship with them, or sense a strong connection that I feel a need to explore.

And then we do not have to explain.  We do not have to explain ourselves to anyone unless we choose to.  We have a right to make choices without having to justify them or defend ourselves.

This is, of course, one of those places where it is important to be able to recognize that any guilt feelings that might arise, and cause us to feel we have to explain, are most likely unhealthy guilt – codependent reactions to being programmed to feel responsible for other people’s feelings.

There are many people out there whose codependent defense system falls into what I describe in my book as bulldozers.  The will push and push and push.  They will demand explanations.

You do not owe them an explanation.  With bulldozers it is often necessary to get down right rude with them before they will hear us.  Anyone who pushes against a boundary we set is obviously someone that we may want to choose not to be around.  If someone gets pushy, then we can say something like: “I don’t want to see you again because you don’t respect the boundary that I just set.”

Confrontations

Many of us, of course, have a real terror of conflict – either because we have inner children who are terrified of someone else’s anger, and/or because we are programmed to feel responsible for other people’s feelings and have great fear of hurting others.

What is important is to start being honest with ourselves.  To say you didn’t want to tell the other person the truth because it would hurt their feelings is codependent.  The truth is we didn’t want to tell them because we wanted to protect ourselves from feeling codependently responsible for hurting their feelings.  It is not about them – it is about us.

To avoid setting boundaries because we are afraid of the other persons anger, is a set up to be a doormat and a victim.  It is deadly to our own self respect.  It usually means we are reacting out of an inner child wound.  As children we had to learn to not have boundaries in order to survive.  As adults, it is our responsibility to our self and to our inner children to start setting boundaries in order to become empowered in our life.

As I stated in my article on setting personal boundaries, we not only need to set them, we need to be willing to defend them.  Defending our right to set boundaries means knowing we do not have to justify or explain.  The chances are the other person will react defensively, take our boundary personally, and push for an explanation.  We do not owe them an explanation.  One of the reasons we learned to fear confrontations, was because of how unpleasant power struggles over who is right and who is wrong can be.  Defending our right to set boundaries, means learning (a gradual, stumbling process) to stand up for ourselves and say: “No!  I do not have to explain myself to you.” (This of course, also applies to our feelings.  We do not have to justify how we feel to anyone.)

People come into our lives to help us learn about ourselves.  The people who will feel hurt when we say no to them, are people who are helping us get in touch with dysfunctional beliefs about being responsible for other people’s feelings.  They are helping us get in touch with some inner child wounds, and practice letting go of unhealthy guilt.

People who are bulldozers, whose anger we are afraid of, are teachers that force us to learn to stand up for ourselves.  Without them we would never have to learn how to set and defend boundaries.

These types of confrontations are opportunities for growth.  The more we grow the more we have a choice to avoid these confrontations by being honest with ourselves so that we can employ the strategy that works best.  What works best – to help us keep from expending our time and energy on people that we choose not to invest our self in – is to set a boundary and be direct up front.

It takes a great deal of courage in recovery to start standing up for ourselves.  To start saying no straight out instead of making excuses and vague promises that we do not intend to keep.  Learning to be more honest in our interactions is a process that we evolve through – not something to judge ourselves about.

Sometimes we go through stages where we need to come from a pretty black and white extreme.  As I said, we go through stages in the growth process.

I had very powerful patterns of avoiding conflict.  Those arose out of the traumatic effect my fathers raging had on me, and the emotional incest from my mother that caused me to feel responsible for the feelings of others.

I had a great ability to intellectually rationalize away the need to stand up for myself.  There were always multiple reasons I could come up with to rationalize why the other person was acting that way – or why it wouldn’t do any good to stand up for myself.  The first instance was masked as unhealthy codependent “compassion” – which wasn’t really about them at all, but was about protecting me.  And the second was about manipulation – about what strategy would best protect me, get me what I wanted.

There was a stage in my process where I had to let go of trying to figure it out intellectually, let go of strategy, let go of trying to be discerning – and just make the first priority stopping the emotional and verbal abuse.  I needed to make protecting myself the first priority.  That meant that I shared my feelings anytime someone said something to me that felt abusive.  That meant that I reacted out of unresolved grief and anger from the past in my reactions to people.  That often meant I had to go back and make amends later.

It was an important phase in my process.  I went from having no honest boundaries – to throwing up boundaries and spewing my feelings everywhere with everyone – and then was able to move through that stage to a point where I had more choices.

It may be dysfunctional to share your feelings with your boss or a parent – but it might be a necessary part of owning yourself to do just that.  The more we heal the more discernment we can practice in where, when, and to whom we are emotionally honest.

As I have stated elsewhere, we need to own our feelings and set boundaries as a way of Loving ourselves, being a friend to our self – not to obtain a certain outcome.  When we set boundaries, we let go of the outcome.

Which doesn’t mean that we do not want the outcome – it means that we choose to take care of ourselves and take a risk that the outcome will not be what we want.  It is very important to take risks in recovery.  The purpose of getting emotionally honest with ourselves and owning our responsibilities is so that we can make better choices about the risks we choose to take.

Discerning strategy and letting go

As I said in part 1 of this discussion, we are learning how to live in balance, in the gray area of life.  We are learning that there are numbers 2 through 9 instead of just 1 and 10.

We need to learn to be emotionally honest with ourselves – and direct and honest with others – in a way that works for us.  Having a healthy relationship with our self involves living according to value system that we resonate with – living with integrity.

We want to own our feelings and release them in a healthy way that works to help us have some balance in our life.  We are learning how to stop giving power to the old wounds so that we do not behave in a manner which is harmful to us – the “I’ll show you, I’ll get me!” patterns of codependence.

That involves seeing ourselves and our lives as clearly and honestly as possible – and responding to other people and life events by making the best choices possible.

To be angry at your boss and be emotionally honest about that anger – could be dysfunctional to your well being.  Could get you fired.

It is important to own that anger and release it in a healthy way – through talking a friend or in a twelve step meeting, through doing anger release work, etc.  We also need to look at how we are setting ourselves up to generate that anger – take responsibility for our part in the situation.   We do that by getting in touch with any victim perspective we are empowering (the “I have to go to work” victimization we are taught in our society – Empowerment and Victimization – the power of choice) and observing any childhood wounds that are involved so that we can focus on the real cause instead of just the presenting symptom.

We also want to own all of our choices, rather than just the 1 or 10 of being the poor self righteous victim or exploding in profanity and quitting.  We can look at our choices 2 through 9, and decide upon the strategy that will work best for us.  If we decide that we need to quit the job, we can choose to have another one lined up when we quit – choose the time that works best for self instead of reacting in a way that hurts our self.

We can learn to respond to situations with discernment that allows us to make choices about what is in our best interests.  We can choose a strategy that is most likely to have an outcome that will work for us.

We need to let go of thinking we can control the outcome.  We need to not allow our fear of the outcome to cause us to be emotionally dishonest with ourselves.  But letting go of the outcome does not mean abrogating our responsibility as co-creators of our life.  We have responsibility for the actions we choose to put in motion – and we want to be discerning and choose the best strategy possible to get us what we want – but ultimately we need to have faith that taking care of ourselves will lead us to someplace better.  We need to surrender to whatever outcome the Universal Plan has next for us in our lesson plan of Spiritual growth and emotional healing.

Recovery keeps getting different

While we are in the process of learning how to be emotionally honest and emotionally responsible we will go through different stages of growth.  And we will be in process for the rest of our lives – on progressively more advanced and usually subtler levels.  This process is why we are here, it is not something we do and then get on with our lives.  Growing, learning, healing, awakening to our True Spiritual nature so that we can integrate that Truth into our relationship with our selves and life – is what this adventure in body is all about.

When I first got into recovery I was told that “it keeps getting better.”  That has not been my emotional experience of recovery.  As I talk about in my article about Loving and Nurturing self,  the process of life involves falling apart, losing it, etc. – as we reach new levels of growth and have to surrender some of our old ego definitions.  So, from a higher perspective, a Spiritual growth perspective – yes, it does keep progressing and getting better once we start making the shift of seeing life as a growth process.  It sure doesn’t feel that way however.

A couple of other things that I was told in early recovery have more closely matched my experience of the process.  “More Will Be Revealed” and “it will keep getting different” are two expressions that have always been true for me.  Every time a new layer of the onion gets peeled, a new octave gets reached – more is revealed on a deeper emotional level with a higher degree of honesty.  That higher level changes my perspective of my self, of life, of the past, of other people -which changes my relationship to my issues. Surrendering my old ideas and old tapes does not just mean letting go of the programming from childhood – sometimes it means letting go of what I thought was truth 2 weeks ago.

We are a work in progress.  There is no destination.  We have different chapters to our story, different stages of our journey – but our relationships with everything keep evolving and changing.

That includes our relationship to our own emotions.  In early recovery, when I was trying to get in touch with and own my feelings, I would often say “That makes me angry,” or “That hurts,” – not because I was actually feeling the feelings, but rather because I knew that it was appropriate to feel a feeling in that situation.

Later, as I got in touch with the emotional energy that was in my body, it would often explode out of me.  So that I would say, “I feel angry” when I was really feeling, and expressing, rage.

It was progress for me to express that I was angry and actually feel the anger at the same time.  Because of that, I often expressed that anger in ways that were out of balance and inappropriate.  That was a stage of my growth process.

Getting in touch with the feelings eventually caused me to get in touch with my grief and rage.  It was impossible for me to start owning my feelings without eventually owning the repressed feelings from my past.  So there were times when my expression of feelings would be very out of proportion to the stimulus that was triggering those emotional releases.  That is an inevitable part of the path.

One of my ways of trying to control the feelings was to be in my head trying to figure out what was happening and how to express it in a healthy way.  In the process of pushing myself beyond the mental defenses of rationalizing, intellectualizing, analyzing, etc., it was impossible to be in balance and healthy in all of my expressions of emotion.

The more I did my grief and rage work, and changed the dysfunctional perspectives that were setting me up for emotional responses, the more emotionally balanced and responsible I could become.   But it is a process that evolves over time.

It was progress in early recovery for me to start vocalizing feelings even though I wasn’t actually feeling them.  To say, “I am angry,” to own my right to be angry – was a breakthrough.

It was progress to vocalize the feelings at the same time I was owning and feeling them – even though that caused me to overreact and explode at times.  To say, “I am angry” while sounding angry and really feeling angry was a breakthrough.

It was progress to take responsibility for my feelings so that I could use the tools I had learned to feel and release the feelings in my own way, at my own time – so that at times, I wouldn’t have to actually be angry when I was expressing those feelings to someone else.  To say, “That caused me to feel angry” without actually being angry while I said it – was a breakthrough.

See how things spiral around?  Vocalizing a feeling without feeling it – was in early recovery a symptom of my level of emotional dishonesty.  While as my recovery advanced, vocalizing a feeling without feeling it at that moment – could be a symptom of emotional balance.

The energy of those two examples, was however, very different.  Prior to having owned my rage, saying I was angry without feeling it did not carry much power.  After having done grief and rage work, and having owned the power that comes from owning my feelings, when I told someone that some behavior of theirs had made me angry, they heard me much more clearly.  By owning my feelings, I was owning and respecting myself.  The more I own and respect myself, the more clearly I can communicate.  Now when I set a boundary, I can usually do it firmly from a place of power and strength that lets the other person know that I will defend that boundary.  I can communicate strength without ever sounding angry.

Once we start to become grounded in the powerful energy of our True Self, once we start respecting ourselves and Knowing that we have rights, then we start to be capable of communicating from a place of power that does not require raising our voice to be heard.  The more we are centered and balanced in Truth, the more we are able to perceive the gray area where we can own our side of the street and hold other people responsible for theirs, the more we can communicate in a manner which maximizes the possibility of being seen and heard.  (Of course, we are powerless over others and need to be willing to let go of the outcome, so there is no guarantee about how the other will react/respond. Accept the things we cannot change – change the things we can, take responsibility for ourselves and our side of the street.)

Progress not Perfection

It is important to look at our process from the perspective of the progress we have made rather than trying to do it perfectly.  In making progress we have to breakthrough to new ways of doing things.  We need to explore new territory and give ourselves permission to take care of ourselves in whatever way is necessary.  That sometimes involves swinging to the other extreme so that we end up having to make amends for how we expressed ourselves.  It is important to celebrate our progress and not shame and judge ourselves for any mess that the way we breakthrough may entail.

An example of the point I am trying to make here, is the story of a client I worked with some years ago.  This person was a social worker who was very good at doing her job.  In the role she was playing at work she could be fierce and have strong boundaries.  In her personal life however, she had no permission to have any boundaries at all because of her childhood wounds.  My homework assignment for her was to tell someone to F___ off.  I chose something so harsh because it was so out of character for her.  She was appalled and horrified at the thought of saying something like that to someone.  It was not even conceivable to her because it was so contrary to the self definition she had adapted in childhood.

One of the reasons that I give people assignments is to expand their consciousness, to give them permission to act in ways they would never consider.   It took her about 3 months before she completed the assignment – and when she did, she said it to the biggest cop in town at a professional gathering.  She was horrified that she had done it.  I was very excited for her and heaped congratulations on her.  The point was, she had stood up for herself spontaneously.  I told her that she could go back and make amends for how she expressed herself – but that it was a wonderful breakthrough that she had defended herself.

That particular expression may be one that she will never in her life use again – and it certainly is not an example of the way in which we are learning to communicate.  The breakthrough was that she had started to respect herself enough to be willing to go to any length to defend herself.  She spontaneously set a boundary and communicated that another persons behavior was not acceptable to her.

The more we heal our core relationship with ourselves, the more we start to respect and Love ourselves, the more we start automatically and spontaneously owning our right to speak up and set boundaries.  Often when we are breaking out of the old patterns, jumping out of the old ruts, we will swing to the other extreme.  That doesn’t mean we are going to stay there.  It means we are doing a paradigm shift in our relationship with self and others.  It means we have broken through to a different way of doing things.

In recovery, our experience of life keeps getting different.

“When I talk about ways that we use to go unconscious – like workaholism, or exercise, or food, or whatever – I am not saying that you should be ashamed if you are doing some of these things.

We cannot go from unconscious to conscious overnight!  This healing is a long gradual process.  We all still need to go unconscious sometimes.  Recovery is a dance that celebrates progress, not one that achieves perfection.

A significant breakthrough in my personal process came when I was able to recognize, and give myself credit for, the progress that I had made – when I realized that a pint of Haagen-daz was lasting me three days instead of being gone within twenty minutes of when I bought it.

That was a very big breakthrough for me, to be able to give myself credit for the progress instead of judging and shaming myself for not being perfect, for still feeling like I needed the nurturing of ice cream.

We had to learn to go unconscious in order to survive!  Thank God for alcohol or television or romance novels.  Thank God for ice cream!

We need to stop judging ourselves – that means allowing ourselves to do whatever it takes, whatever works.  There are times when we need to go unconscious.  There are times when we need to stuff our feelings in the moment.  There are times when it is not safe to be vulnerable and emotionally honest.

This Recovery process is a gradual transition from using our old tool box to using the new tools.  The old tools – the ways we used to go unconscious so we could survive – are not  “bad” or “wrong.”  They were life savers – without them we would be either dead or mass murderers, or dead mass murderers.

We adopted the old tools because they were the best choices that were available to us at the time.  We adopted them in response to intuitive impulses that were right on.   Those impulses were “protect myself, nurture myself.”  It is the nature of the defense system that is Codependence that the ways we learned to protect and nurture ourselves are self-abusive in the long run.

So we need to stop shaming ourselves for the behaviors that we adopted to protect and nurture ourselves, at the same time that we are transitioning to behaviors that are less self-abusive.

Notice that I say less self-abusive.  We are talking progress, not perfection here.

If you have an image of what completely healthy behavior is, and you will not allow yourself to accept and Love yourself until you get there, then you are setting conditions under which you decide when you will become Lovable.  You are still buying into a concept of conditional love and by extension, the concept of a Higher Power that is conditionally loving.  You are still trying to earn, and become worthy of not only self-Love, but also God’s Love.  That small child inside of you is still trying to earn your parents’ Love and validation.

That is a natural, normal thing for humans beings on this Codependent planet.  Try not to judge and beat yourself up for it.  Try to observe it and say, “Oh, isn’t it sad that I am still doing that?  I think I will try to learn some ways that I can change it.”” – Emotional Honesty and Emotional Responsibility part 5 Discernment in relationship to emotional honesty and responsibility 2

Sacred Spiral

This is the fifth in a series of articles on Emotional Honesty and Emotional Responsibility that I wrote in 2001 – 15 years ago, Wow. The first was Emotional Honesty and Emotional Responsibility  The next three I have already published on this Blog: Emotional Honesty and Emotional Responsibility Part 2 – Uncover, Discover, Recover by learning boundaries,  Emotional Honesty and Emotional Responsibility Part 3 ~ Setting Personal Boundaries -protecting self, and Emotional Honesty and Emotional Responsibility part 4 Discernment in relationship to emotional honesty and responsibility 1.

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 both hard copy, ebook, and audiobook format are on that page) 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.

Wounded Souls Dancing in The Light ~ Chapter 1 Introduction to Inner Child Healing

Cover of Inner Child Healing Book

Codependency Recovery: Wounded Souls Dancing in The Light

Codependency Recovery: Wounded Souls Dancing in The Light Book 1: Empowerment, Freedom, and Inner Peace through Inner Child Healing (aka A Formula for Spiritual Integration and Emotional Balance)

“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.

The Dance

Codependence The Dance of Wounded Souls

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, quotes in this color from Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls

This book is about healing.  It contains tools, techniques, and insights into the healing process that work in a powerful, effective way to change the quality of the individuals life experience for the better.  They work because they help the individual to align with the way life really works instead of expecting it to be something which it is not.

The approach to healing detailed on these pages is one which has evolved in my personal recovery since January 3, 1984 and in my counseling practice since 1990.  I have been guided to discover and develop an approach to inner child healing 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.

My work is firmly grounded on twelve step recovery principles and emotional energy release / grief process therapy.   I specialize in teaching individuals how to become empowered to have internal boundaries so they can learn to relax and enjoy life in the moment while healing.  It is the unique approach and application of the concept of internal boundaries, coupled with a Loving Spiritual belief system, that makes the work so innovative and effective.

My belief is that we are Spiritual Beings having a human experience and that the key to healing (and integrating Spiritual Truth into our emotional experience of life) is fully awakening to our Spiritual connection through intellectual reprogramming, emotional honesty, grief processing, and inner child work.   It is not necessary to agree with my Spiritual beliefs to apply the approach I share on these pages to help you transform your experience of life into an easier, more Loving and enjoyable journey.  I consider Spirituality to be a word that describes one’s relationship with life – and anyone, regardless of religious belief or lack of it (who is not completely closed minded), can benefit from doing this work.

The wounding that needs to be healed is the result of being raised in a shame-based, emotionally dishonest, Spiritually hostile (based upon belief in separation rather than connection) environment by parents who were raised in a shame-based, emotionally dishonest, Spiritually hostile environments.  The disease which afflicts us is a generational disease that is the human condition as we have inherited it.  Our parents did not know how to be emotionally healthy or how to truly Love themselves.  So there is no way that we could have learned those things from them.

We formed our core relationship with ourselves in early childhood and then built our relationship with ourselves on that foundation.  We have lived life reacting to the wounds that we suffered – and the programming we integrated – in early childhood.  Living life in reaction to old wounds and old tapes is dysfunctional – it does not work to help us find some happiness and fulfillment in life.

The approach that is detailed on these pages does work.  It works to help the individual being learn to relax and enjoy life in the moment.  It works because it entails healing the wounds from the inside out – it is focused on changing our core relationship with ourselves.  Once an individual starts loving, honoring, and respecting her/him self more on a core level, everything on the outside changes.  External manifestation such as setting boundaries, seeing life and other people more clearly, letting go of trying to control and the worrying that accompanies those attempts, stopping the victimization, etc., start becoming more automatic and intuitive.

“It is necessary to own and honor the child who we were in order to Love the person we are. And the only way to do that is to own that child’s experiences, honor that child’s feelings, and release the emotional grief energy that we are still carrying around.”

There are a multitude of teachers, books, churches, etc., these days that are telling us that we need to learn to love themselves – but no one really tells us how to do that.  Learn to Love your self.  Easy to say, hard to do.  Love is like faith, in that both are pretty meaningless as intellectual concepts.  Love is a verb.  Verbs are about action.  Learning how to be more Loving in how we treat our self is the challenge.

The approach to healing detailed in this book is a formula that can help people learn to be more Loving to them self.  We learned how to relate to self, to life, and to other people in early childhood from people who were wounded in their childhoods.  We have been reacting to the intellectual programming and emotional wounds of our childhood ever since then.  In order to change our relationship with self and life, it is necessary to change the subconscious and conscious programming that is causing our relationship with self and life to be dysfunctional.  In order to start having some peace within us, it is necessary to be healing our emotional wounds and to stop our minds from being our own worst enemy.

The approach to inner child / emotional healing shared herein is the missing piece – the missing perspective – of the puzzle of life that so many people have been seeking.  It is a formula for integrating intellectual knowledge and spiritual Truth into one’s emotional relationship with life.   It is the key to learning how to be more Loving to your self – and to turning life into an adventure to be experienced instead of an ordeal of suffering to be endured.

It is possible to feel the feelings without being the victim of them or victimizing other’s with them.  It is possible to change the way you think so that your mind is no longer your worst enemy.  It is possible to become empowered to have choices in life at the same time you are letting go of trying to be in control.  Life can be an exciting, enjoyable adventure if you stop reacting to it out of your childhood emotional wounds and attitudes.

The tools and techniques, insights and beliefs, set out in this book work.  They work to support the idea that each and every one of us is Lovable and worthy.  They work to help change life from an unbearable ordeal to a often enjoyable adventure.  Try it – you might find it works for you also.” – Chapter 1 Introduction to Inner Child Healing from Codependency Recovery: Wounded Souls Dancing in The Light Book 1: Empowerment, Freedom, and Inner Peace through Inner Child Healing (aka A Formula for Spiritual Integration and Emotional Balance) by Robert Burney

When you purchase Codependency Recovery: Wounded Souls Dancing in The Light   Book 1 Empowerment, Freedom, and Inner Peace through Inner Child Healing through Joy2MeU you get a personally autographed copy;-) but you can also purchase through Amazon.com or  Amazon UK or Barnes & Noble.

Available as eBook from Amazon or Amazon UK or Barnes & Noble or Kobo ereaders

Special offers available for Dancing in The Light plus Telephone / Skype Counseling.

An audio book version of Codependency Recovery: Wounded Souls Dancing in The Light Book 1: Empowerment, Freedom, and Inner Peace through Inner Child Healing (aka A Formula for Spiritual Integration and Emotional Balance) is available on  Audible, Amazon, and iTunes.

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Chapter 10 of The Greatest Arena – Communication is Key “What did you just hear me say?”

The Dance

Codependence The Dance of Wounded Souls

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

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

When we are reacting out of our childhood emotional wounds, then what we are feeling may have very little to do with the situation we are in or with the people with whom we are dealing in the moment.” – quotes in this color are from Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls

The single most important component in a healthy relationship is the ability to communicate.  If two people have the capacity to communicate with each other, then any issue can be worked through to some kind of clarity.

For the purpose of this discussion I am going to divide communication into two levels: surface communication having to do with ideas, facts, details, concepts, etc. – and emotional communication.  In reality, of course, all communication contains aspects of both levels – and in relationship, the emotional level is by far the most important and most difficult.

In terms of surface communication, it is very important to establish a common language.  And I am not talking here about one person speaking English and one speaking French.  I am talking about two people who speak the same language linguistically but have different interpretations of various words due to a variety of factors – i.e. raised in different geographic, religious, or cultural environments, different educational or economic levels, different life experiences, etc.  Two people who are on Spiritual paths might speak a different language because one has been involved in Twelve Step Recovery while another has been pursuing a Shamanistic path or Buddhist or whatever.

It is very important, right from the beginning of the relationship to strive for clarity in communication.  The single most useful tool is simply to ask.  “How do you define that word?” or “What did you just hear me say?”  Very often, you will find that what the other person heard was not what you were attempting to convey.  Attempting to clarify and develop a common language lays a good foundation for further communication.

It is also vital to recognize that certain words are emotional trigger words.

“One of the greatest blocks to communication is that some words are emotionally charged.  They are words that trigger an automatic emotional reaction within us.  To use a trigger word in an argument – a word such as “controlling” or “manipulative” – can turn a discussion into a battle instantly.  When someone flings a trigger word at us, or we at them, it is like we have just shot an arrow into them.  It usually causes them to go on the defensive and start flinging some arrows back at us – or perhaps go into some other defensive mode, such as crying or walking out.

Using trigger words blocks communication.  And we usually use them consciously (although we certainly may not be honest enough to admit it at the time – or even later, depending on the level of our recovery.)  We use them in reaction – because we have been hurt or are scared, because we are trying manipulate and control the other person.  (Using a word like “manipulate” or “control” to describe someone else’s behavior to them, is almost always an attempt to control and manipulate the person we are accusing of that behavior.)

For the purposes of this discussion, what is important is to realize that trigger words fall into realm of cause and effect.  We are born with a certain personality – we are not born with certain words programmed as emotional triggers.  Emotional triggers fall entirely in the province of experience.  We have an emotional charge attached to certain words because of our life experience.  In other words, we have a relationship to that word that is a result of emotional experiences in our life.” – Spirituality for Agnostics and Atheists 

It is really important to identify what each person’s emotional trigger words are in order to be able to communicate – in order to avoid automatic reactions based upon the past.  Old wounds and old tapes cause us to have emotional trigger words and it is vitally important to get conscious of what our own personal ones are so that we can learn to be less reactive – and to get in touch with what our partner’s trigger words are so that we can avoid them when possible.  (i.e. In my early recovery I worked to stop calling myself “stupid” so much and changed it to “silly” because that felt gentler to me.  For my wife however “silly” is a trigger word that feels worse to her than being called stupid.)

In terms of the emotional level of communication, there are many aspects to consider.  I will touch on a symptomatic one here in this article and then expand on the challenges of emotional intimacy in the next Chapter (Chapter 11 – Emotional Honesty Necessary.)

The symptomatic one is something that may seem simple but is actually one that relatively few people in our dysfunctional culture have mastered – the ability to listen.  In order to Truly listen it is necessary to be present – and the difficulty with being present is caused by unhealed emotional wounds.  If we are not able to be emotionally honest with ourselves then it is impossible to be present and comfortable in our own skins in the moment.  Obviously then, we are also incapable of being present with, and emotionally honest with, others.

Listening is far more than just the absence of talking or the appearance of paying attention.  Listening involves more than just hearing the words that another person is saying.  In order to Truly hear what another person is attempting to communicate, it is necessary to be tuned in to what is going on underneath the words.  Communication is only partly about content – just as important in communication are things like body language, eye contact, underlying emotional currents.

When we are present in our bodies in the moment and paying attention it is easy to discern if the other person is really talking to us – as opposed to talking at us, or telling a story.  In the beginning of any relationship, people tell each other stories about their past – it is part of getting to know each other.  What is important is to be able to be present while telling the story.  That involves not just  listening to the other person but also listening to ourselves.

Being present starts with being conscious of ourselves – it involves listening and paying attention to ourselves and our end of the communication.   If I am listening to myself while telling someone a story about my past, I can catch myself when I get to a part of the story that I have creatively embellished over the years.  As we learn and grow, our perspective of our past changes and it is very important to be able to listen to ourselves so that we can catch ourselves in places where we have exaggerated or rationalized something from our past.  One of the important parts of the healing process is telling our story – and if we just regurgitate an old tape by rote we are not being present and paying attention.

If we have the capacity to be present with ourselves while telling our story, that means we also have the capacity to be present with the other person.  I can be in the middle of telling a story and see in the other person’s eyes that they aren’t listening – which gives me the space to stop and ask what is going on.  If I am not present enough to see the other person isn’t listening then I am just talking at that person.  And conversely, if I am conscious I will be able to recognize when that person is talking at me.

Communication involves being able to talk to and listen to – the ability to be present in our bodies in the moment.” –  Romantic Relationships ~ The Greatest Arena for Spiritual & Emotional Growth Chapter 10 – Communication is Key

If you live in Southern California and want to learn how to do relationships in a healthier way it would be really helpful for you to come to my Intensive Training Day workshop.   If you are alone this Valentine’s Day, this workshop can help you understand your patterns and fear of intimacy so that you can make better choices the next time you venture into the Romantic Arena. If you are in a relationship and find your self having problems with communicating and reactions – then it would be very helpful for you to come to my workshop together.  I have posted a page withspecial offers for my February 15th workshop.

If you don’t live in this area, there is a MP3 recording of my workshop that you can download.

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 and Amazon.UK.

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  and on Amazon UK.

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.

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.

Happy Holidays, Sad Holidays

Book cover

Codependence The Dance of Wounded Souls

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

    The holidays were always a very hard time for me emotionally.  Being alone on Christmas and New Years Eve was very painful.  So painful that sometimes I would arrange to be with someone or with a group of people just so I wouldn’t be alone.  That often was more painful than being alone.  And on those occasions when I was in a relationship during the holidays it was also painful because there was something missing, somehow I was failing the other person or she was failing me because even though there were moments of Joy and Love, it never felt quite like it “should” feel.

    After I had been in recovery a few years – in the course of trying to figure out how I set myself up to be a victim with my expectations – I had a very important insight about holidays.  I realized that holidays – not just Christmas and New Years Eve but Thanksgiving, Valentines Day, etc. – along with days like anniversaries and my birthday were the times which I judged myself the most.  My expectations of what a holiday “should” be, of where I “should” be at a certain age, of how my life “should” look at this particular time, were causing me to unmercifully beat myself up.  I was buying into the disease voice which was telling me that I was a loser and a failure (or going to the other extreme and blaming someone else for my feelings.)  I was giving power to the toxic shame that told me that I was unworthy and unlovable.

    I realized that I was judging myself against standards that weren’t real, against expectations that were a fantasy, a fairy tale.  The fairy tale that everyone should be happy and cheerful during the Christmas holidays is ridiculous just like the myth of happily-ever-after is a false belief that doesn’t apply to this level of existence.  The holidays are just like every other day of the year only magnified.  That means there will be moments of happiness and Joy but there will also be moments of sadness and hurt.

    Christmas is about Love and birth – rebirth.  The Winter Solstice is the time of the longest darkness and marks the point of increasing light, the new beginning.  Hanukkah is a celebration of, and time of, rededication.  Kwanzaa is a time of recommitment.  These are all times of both celebration and introspection.  Of assessing the past and focusing on what we want to create in the future (New Years resolutions.)  Any new beginning, any birth or rebirth is a also an ending.  With every ending there is sadness, feelings of loss and grief.  Loss because of Loved ones who are no longer in our life, grief because Loved ones who are still in our life cannot see us or understand us, sadness because of things that ended and people we have had to let go of during the past year.

    What is so important, what has changed my experience of these Holidays 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) and be wherever I need to be emotionally – that is, allowing myself to be emotionally honest with myself.  That does not mean that I have to be emotionally honest with other people.  If I am feeling grief because I am alone on the Holiday 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.

    I don’t have to live up to some false expectations about how I “should” be feeling today.  It was 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.  It was on Christmas about 25 years ago that I got real clear that I could feel more than one feeling at once.  I was sad that it was Christmas and I was alone, and I was grieving for all of the Christmases that I had been sad 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.

    It is so very important to stop judging ourselves against someone else’s 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.

    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.

    So, have a happy, merry, sad, Joyous, painful, peaceful, scary, cheerful in the moment Holiday season experiencing what it feels like to be alive in human body.  Whatever your celebration: Christmas, Hanukkah, Winter Solstice, Kwanzaa, New Years, etc. let it be about the new beginning; the rededication to: the recommitment to: the rebirth of; life.  But most of all, let it be about Love by first of all Loving yourself enough to tell the critical parent voice in your head to shut up with all the comparisons and shame and judgment.”

Sacred Spiral

Special Holiday Offers – Give the gift of recovery this year by giving some people you care about a personally autographed copy of Robert’s Joyously Inspirational Book.  3 copies of Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls for the bargain price of $12 each plus shipping – save almost $18.00 off of retail price.  There are also links to special offers for phone counseling, subscriptions, MP3 downloads, and Robert Burney’s Intensive Training Day Workshop on that page.