Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Cause and Effect

The letter below was written in response to my blogpost “Our Human Commonality.” The writer has several questions and points she wishes to have clarified. Though I have not had time to address each point, I have attempted to elucidate my thoughts, somewhat. I hope that this offers some relief to the writer, at least, in having her ideas profiled. It is always my sincerest wish to make a positive difference to any concerns directed my way. Please bear with my pace in responding.

... in reply to your blogpost “Our Human Commonality”, I have a few things to say/ask/comment on.

1. "Whatever another’s behavior is, it is relevant to you only in how you interpret it and pertinent, only in how you allow it to affect you."

Here I'm reminded of how my grade school teachers would tell me not to be bothered by or complain about the boys that were pulling my hair and insulting me (and eventually, when older, sexually abusing me and my fellow female-classmates) because they were doing so to get my attention because they liked me. My negative mind says, "Feelings of anger, sadness, feelings of being mistreated are not okay, because they are feelings that YOU yourself choose to have. You choose how you let others affect you, therefore, if you're hurt, it's you own fault."

2. "If you are treated unkindly or hurtfully or if another’s action leaves you troubled or confused, try to check your anger, frustration or impatience. Perhaps it is beneficial to understand the behavior by the motive – not with judgment, but with compassion. It is possible that anyone who feels it necessary to be unkind may be fearful, in pain himself, or, at least, momentarily misdirected in his understanding of his interaction with the universe."

Aha, so feelings of anger, feelings of being hurt are okay! They must be. But ah, of course, if treated badly, I must try to understand the one who I interpret as having treated me badly through compassion. It is true, many of the people who have hurt me, I can see that they did it because they were in pain themselves, because they were misguided, and so on. But, being the person that I am, and as I feel I was (again) taught to do at an early age in school, I take on responsibility for the whole situation. "______, be the mature one and walk away when the boys are spitting on you. They will grow out of it, but you're such a mature little girl, you know how silly their behavior is. Just walk away."

I don't allow myself to be hurt, because I know that I must be understanding with the one who hurt me. And I do understand them, they are very misguided and in pain, anger, frustration. But I still don't stand up for myself, because I feel that I should be mature, responsible, understanding. I take on responsibility and guilt for the whole situation, because the ones that hurt me “are not able to take responsibility, they are treating me badly because they don't know better.” I don't allow myself to be a victim. EVER. That's the last thing I'd do. My mind says: “Never be a victim. You choose to be a victim, so don't victimize yourself, that is pathetic and selfish. If you choose to be a victim then you are creating a reason for being a victim, thus, you are creating the problem, you are the cause of the problem because you interpret it as there being a problem.” When instead, I know the message (a good one btw) that you want to tell me is simply, “be understanding, compassionate, and forgiving with those that hurt you.”

I very much feel that this is one of my biggest problems, and a huge obstacle for me in conquering my own mind and finding a peaceful, compassionate, healthy state of mind. I think the fact is that people who are sensitive and responsible from an early age, learn to be responsible for everything so much that we are never allowed to be victims, when in fact, sometimes you really are a victim. We let others mistreat us, because we take on ALL the responsibility of the situation instead of putting some of the responsibility on other people. Because others DO affect you, and you affect others. Just like you say later on, we are one, hurting others is to hurt yourself. And I believe, so very strongly, that we are affected by others, we can't choose not to be.

Many self-help books, and in my opinion much of Buddhist thinking, AND your philosophy as I've interpreted it, promote this idea that one is only affected by others in the way one chooses to be affected. Basically, I think the philosophy holds much truth and wisdom. But I also disagree, because I think you're missing one point, one very important point. For people with CNC especially, I think there's a key ingredient missing. People with CNC (at least those who are like me) need to learn to STAND UP FOR THEMSELVES and to demand responsibility of others. That is the best kind of love, the kind of love that doesn't let you get away with doing hurtful things. It's not just about learning not to let others have a negative affect on you, it's about learning not to have negative events take you over, accept them, be hurt by them, forgive, move on, but also, because we are all connected, and because our actions DO affect others, what we must learn is also to encourage and ask others to treat us nicely. We have to expect good behavior not just from ourselves, but from others too! Unfortunately, I feel that the advice that is often given about “choosing how others affect you”, “choosing how you interpret things”, “learning to interpret things objectively”, accidently becomes yet another imperative to sensitive, responsible individuals to take on yet MORE responsibility. ....of course, this has to do with how one interprets this advice...(*sighs*...oh, the complicated twisting and turning of it all.)

It is so easy for the negative mind to turn this philosophy into another torturing voice of, “see, you're responsible for this, the guilt is all yours.” That's why I think it is so important to mention in there somewhere, that, others CAN hurt you, and then, you must try to understand through compassion why, but you must also not accept people doing mean things. You must ask more of them. Because, as you say in the end:

3. "If we hurt others, we hurt ourselves. If we hurt ourselves, we hurt others. When we demean ourselves, it extends to all of us."

So we can't let others hurt us either, because then they are hurting themselves too! Do you see what I mean? I feel, as always, that I haven't had the time to formulate myself very well... but I'm hoping that you will understand, that my thought will somehow get across even if I can't express it that well...

What I liked so much about your book “The Secret Language of Eating Disorders” was that it removes guilt. Not only from the victim of the negative mind, but from everyone (since family members and friends also become victims) surrounding the victim. And yes, I say victim, because I feel that at times, we are victims, and when it comes to the negative mind, one is certainly a victim. Even though I know that the idea of removing “victimization” is to empower people and make them feel that they have the power to take control of their lives. For me, the idea of never being a victim rather encourages the idea that I am responsible for everything in the world. I don't need to be empowered, I know that I have the power to control my life, I need to learn that I don't have the power or responsibility to control the universe.

But yeah, as I was saying, I liked how you encourage the removal of guilt in your book. I think, if one doesn't get rid of the idea of guilt, one gets stuck, and can never learn to truly be responsible. One can never be empowered until one realizes that being in control of your life doesn't mean being guilty when things go wrong.

The second thing I liked about your book, was that it made me feel that it was okay to feel like a victim. Sadly, I do see a lot of what-to-call-it...”over-victimizing” oneself, putting guilt on others, and so on, among sufferers of CNC and eating disorders. And this one must learn not to do.... It's definitely important. But still, what I'm missing in all these wise words that try to teach me about how to be objective and so on.... I miss something that deals with the idea of standing up for yourself, of telling others who hurt you that what they do hurts. I miss the idea that all feelings are allowed, the idea that we don't choose our feelings to ALL extent, even if we can in some respect. Please, all feelings must be allowed. Otherwise, they get stuck, fixated and I can't let go of them... (not including the feelings that the negative mind tricks me into ofc... but feelings of anger and sadness must be allowed and accepted as part of human nature! Then, of course, one has a choice what to do with those feelings. Let it out in art, deal with it so that you can let it go, or go punch someone are all ways, some better than others I'd say...)

... I hope you will understand and consider what I've tried to say ... I still admire you for the wise and loving philosophy that you promote.


I apologize if I was unclear about your right to the validation of your emotions. Certainly, your pain, your trouble, your experience should be voiced – but – I reiterate, to someone who can intervene effectively with your violators. For your best interest, as well as theirs, had your grade school classmates been appropriately taken to task at the time – for “spitting and hair pulling,” they would perhaps not have gone on to hurt you and your friends more seriously later.

Logically, what does “standing up” for yourself mean? By understanding someone’s behavior, how does it follow that you would assume their guilt or take responsibility for them? Each of us is an inadvertent victim of circumstance at some point in our lives. Many crises are the result of misunderstandings. Negative assumptions are contrary to solutions.

Imagine you as a small child, having been stung by a wasp. It is momentarily painful physically – emotionally, as well, if you subjectively think that the wasp did it to you.

‘Why did the wasp pick me to sting’? ‘Was I a bad girl, mommy’?

Understanding actions by understanding motives can take away some of the pain you feel. It ceases to be personal. In this case, looking to the nature of wasps will reduce and, perhaps, alleviate emotional involvement. There are several possible realities at work here. The first step to wellness is to be aware of the problem. The second step is to be aware of your intended result and the steps needed to attain it.

Being sensitive does not mean being powerless. Having power does not mean being confrontational.
Even though we cannot always choose our interactions, our individual power allows us to choose our responses.

To demand responsibility of others may not have the effect you are seeking. Nicely, encouraging  and asking others to treat us nicely, is always an option. But, again, their response is a product of their individual reality and their interpretation of events. Truth is only truth in the context of its speaker. Borrowed truth – out of context – can become a lie.

I agree that the Negative Mind would rather construe and translate anything said to mean something detrimental to, or about you. The Negative Mind has no mandate and no ability to offer you anything but criticism about yourself. It is merely programmed to ‘search and destroy.’ Your ‘status quo’ needs to be re-informed.

If (single quotes from my blog Our Human Commonality) “… the advice that is often given about ‘choosing how others affect you’, ‘choosing how you interpret things’, ‘learning to interpret things objectively’, accidently becomes yet another imperative to sensitive, responsible individuals to take on yet MORE responsibility…” as you indicate, it is not the advice given, but rather, the inaccurate thinking that needs to be corrected, gently, lovingly.

In an ideal world, with proper parental regulation early in life, the small child will develop an emotional realization so that life does not necessarily present subjectively. The reality is that your bullies’ actions were more about their limited empathy than anything to do with you. Bullies and abusers generally feel powerless. Your reaction, if in anger or frustration, gives them a ‘power fix,’ and in turn, does exactly what you would wish to avoid. Reactions will condone the negative worthiness of their actions and perhaps, as a consequence, compel them to continue in their offensive manner. Possibly, if their negative actions have been responded to with clear boundaries set by appropriate authorities, it may have given them a sense of security and an indication that someone cared enough to teach them right from wrong.
Consider a small child, needing attention but being ignored. She may turn to deviant behaviors because, albeit negatively, at least, she is now being noticed.

Every action or lack thereof, is a lesson. Each has a consequence. Feelings of anger and sadness are indeed, very human emotions that we all feel from time to time. However, negative emotions are, effectively, a neurotoxin. For better brain health and better health generally, allow your emotions to air, certainly, but in a way that is conducive to positive change.

Respect in communication is emotional ecology.

The universe wins.

Peace and Love.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

You Cannot Fail

You cannot "fail" unless someone is measuring. Are you measuring yourself? If so, why? It is logical to self-assess in order to proceed, but attempt to do so with objectivity and kindness.

You are unique, in so many ways – appreciate your differences. 'Relapse' may mean that you were never better in the first place. When you are well, your attitude about people and yourself is not about competition or ‘measuring up' – it becomes about helping to create understanding wherever possible. There are no walls, nor defenses needed – only understanding and compassion, only love and kindness.

“When you genuinely want everyone to be ok,” there is so much room for ‘self’ because, though we are all individuals, we are also all part of the whole. Therefore, giving to others is automatically giving to ourselves. It is important to gently taking the time to allow yourself into the equation of caring, just as you so willingly nurture others. If you honor yourself respectfully, you are giving happiness to others.

It is in the giving that we receive – it is in the receiving that we give.

Enjoy your day.

Peace and hugs.

Our Human Commonality

Dear People - this post is, in part, answering recent comments to my posts, "Top of the Mountain." (Anonymous said..."So if I always have to be objective when do I just get to cry? ..."), and "Time and Healing" (Anonymous said... "... the in between place ...").

Of course, your ‘feelings’ are important and should be validated. But for the best results, check that you motive is to enhance and clarify your understanding – to improve a situation for yourself and others. Respectful communication, though not always possible, is a viable place to begin.

Life can never be 'equal' when measured in competition with others. 
Our only contest is to realize our own potential - in loving consciousness of our human commonality.

Whatever another’s behavior is, it is relevant to you only in how you interpret it and pertinent, only in how you allow it to affect you. Not one of us is able to be objective in every situation. Allow for this fact in yourself, as well as in the people you interact with. To ‘perfect’, is a work in progress – a learning, a gleaning of wisdom throughout our lives. Therefore, think of each of us as a work in progress.

If you are treated unkindly or hurtfully or if another’s action leaves you troubled or confused, try to check your anger, frustration or impatience. Perhaps it is beneficial to understand the behavior by the motive – not with judgment, but with compassion. It is possible that anyone who feels it necessary to be unkind may be fearful, in pain himself, or, at least, momentarily misdirected in his understanding of his interaction with the universe. Anger can mean several things: fear, insecurity, defensiveness, lack of conviction of one’s own validity, etc. We are all capable of reacting. Though to a certain extent, how you behave is your prerogative, be certain that you will be comfortable with the consequences.

In becoming well, the ‘in between place’ is indeed a difficult space to contend with. You will often be misunderstood as you take your first independent steps. Perhaps, people in your circumstance may find your behavior unpredictable or unusual, for you, and are concerned for your wellbeing. Work with them to indicate that you are beginning to feel safe and have patience as they change gears.

In an ideal world, despite myriad differences, everyone would operate from a base of self-respect. As I comprehend its meaning, inherent in one’s respect for ‘self’ is a respect for others. Living from an ethical premise, automatically, naturally, includes the wellbeing of others. If we hurt others, we hurt ourselves. If we hurt ourselves, we hurt others. When we demean ourselves, it extends to all of us.

Without respect for ‘self,’ it is difficult to gauge appropriate behavior. Without the full realization of ‘self’, it is difficult to appropriately gauge behavior – ours, or that of others.

Whether locally or globally, each of us struggles to understand our environment from the moment we are born, and perhaps before. Each of us struggles to understand ourselves, and our interaction with others within that environment. Ultimately, we all strive for a balanced mind-state, a peace of being that embodies: positivity, acceptance, optimism, understanding, kindness, compassion, love and forgiveness – of ourselves, and others. Ideally, our individual journey proceeds toward the objective of understanding our universe and working in communion with it.

Whatever the experience, each one of us is simultaneously both a student and a teacher. Are you at peace with your interaction with humanity today?

Peace and love you.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Which One Do You Feed?

I am writing this in response to a Comment that I have received to a previous Post I wrote entitled “Accolades”.

looking around every bit of my body screams wicked loud like the voice in my head which right now is oddly only a murmur. a white board on the wall that matches the cast on my leg says Sunday and i wonder for an instant and then it hits, a hospital room. foggy, foggy, memory, final inning, i've snapped the ball high and straight and i'm running hard, always running toward another something. screams serve to drown the beast in my mind as i dig in harder. the catcher reaches up and in a split second i decide to slide in under rather than eat the dirt. all i hear are cheers but i'm engulfed suddenly by the crack of something else and pain, so much pain and then the dark. voices in the hall now, my brother and another man. "Osteopenia, but she's only 13! What's WRONG with her?" the machine marking out my heartbeats picks up the pace, Mum wakes & the hate i feel toward myself returns. trying to just be normal i search my drugged mind for something to say while the tube interferes with my voice. "did we win, Mum?" "What?" "the game, did we win?" i croak back. tears brim high up to her pupils and she says "of course honey, you're my little winner." and i have to look away, try not to feel her hand in mine because all i can hear is the abrupt laughter of the voice repeating SOME WINNER over and over. and i know NOTHING will be good enough again because now they all know. nothing i can dream to say will be normal so i just get quiet for another twenty some years. and i dare not pray for him to leave me just in case like an ugly virus he would go on to infect someone better than i will ever be.

Yes, and were I to tell you that your writing is extremely moving, my sentiment would, undoubtedly, join the ranks of other compliments you have received, as the negativity in your mind continues to twist a plus into a minus.

Understand clearly that you are not at fault for how your thinking developed. You were unaware of its process. However, once you come to understand its inception, with help and encouragement, you can make yourself available to arrest and alter its negative course.

You do “dare to pray” for the negative mind to leave you because, though it is definitely ugly, it is not a “virus”. It is a mental construct, a misinformed mindset, which requires re-informing to reform correctly. To say “someone better than i will ever be” confirms the negative pathway in your brain. It is essential to learn to practice positivity and kindness about yourself.

One evening when I was giving a lecture, a therapist in the audience asked me if I had heard the story of a boy in a Native American village, who was walking back and forth talking to himself. When asked by a visitor the reason for this curious behavior, the Shaman answered:
“Inside the mind of the youth, there is a struggle – between the red dog and the blue dog.”
With some concern, the perturbed visitor questioned “But which one will win?”
The Shaman wisely responded: “Whichever one he feeds.”

Make every day that passes count in your favor. With comprehension, caring, compassion and courage, this transition – from negativity to positivity, can be made. Be tolerant with yourself, the process, and with the possible unawareness of others. Patience is a special gift of this experience.

p.s. you are loved.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Time and Healing

In history, there are many individual examples of the human spirit rising above the norm for the betterment of the universal good.

They are my guides.

Currently, there are those of you whose selfless consideration of others, excludes your “self” in the recipe.

You are my inspiration – my work.

Your extraordinary potential needs to be brought to a place of balance, wholeness, understanding, self-respect, serenity, peace and love.

Time, in itself, is irrelevant. It is an allotted space where we conduct life – where our journey continues, resolved or semi-resolved, realized or not, to the end of our days. Each journey is a collection of jours, each day a page for you, the writer, to dictate your own story. It is a blessed opportunity to learn from and appreciate, even though you may not feel or realize it at the time. Be open to change if you wish it. Try not to be fearful. Each moment is a gift to learn more about yourselves, your actions, your reactions and then, to evaluate your further course.

The time it takes to heal is as easy, or as difficult, as it is to learn a new language. This learning depends upon the dedication to your direction, acceptance of yourself – at whatever stage you find yourself on your unique voyage – focus, understanding, and the willingness to step outside of what you know of yourself at that moment. It depends, as well, on the vision, consistency and compassion of your chosen teacher(s).

Time, then, and healing, can be measured only in relation to self-acceptance, not to be compared with others. We are always growing in our capacity for compassion and human understanding. When the pain lessens, as it will, you will still grow, you will become one with your “self”, easily – in this lifetime

Remember, each one of us is a necessary and precious piece of the conundrum and wisdom of the universe.

Peace and love.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

The unCivil War

Dear Jennifer – in answer to your question:

The negative mind exists in memory, from what it has gleaned about you, inadvertently, from you, as a result of your perceptions about yourself, initially derived from feelings you have had in your particular circumstance.

Sometimes, sensitive children are negatively affected when families experience personal tragedy, illness or loss. These children have not yet a reference for strength against adversity and become mired in helplessness without available respite or positive resolution. Sometimes, parents themselves have not had the benefit of a positive environment and, as a result, are incapable of managing their own direction or knowing how to show love, or how to be a healthy parent.

Unfortunately, a young child does not have the ability to choose, to regulate, to defend against, to discount or approve – what he is subjected to emotionally by tone, by circumstance, by body language, word or action. The infant or young child looks to his primary caregiver to serve as a guide for direction and comfort – for indication that the world is a safe place to be in. Initially, anxiety states occur when there is a deficit or an inadequacy in reassurance or, in the nurturing of the developing brain. Parental regulation and approval is basic and mandatory for a child’s emotional growth and, ultimately, for the acceptance of his developing self.

If the potentially positive direction of a child’s world has been compromised, the child is at serious risk of assuming a negative self-regard and identity. As the child continues to grow, he can unconsciously seek evidence to support or verify his detrimental self-belief, even while simultaneously hoping desperately for someone to contradict his bleak negative supposition. This thinking becomes the status quo – the way of being.

Fortunately, though it is initially resistant, the brain can change.

The thinking is resistant because its existing way of being has, most likely, taken a lifetime to develop.

It is resistant because the sufferer doesn’t think he deserves better.

It is resistant because the sufferer is convinced that, “if people really knew him”, they would realize how terrible he is deep down.

The thinking is resistant because the sufferer has felt this way for so long, it is all he knows of himself, despite how demeaning it is.

It is resistant – to change because it is a thinking pattern that has become established and familiar. He can’t imagine who he would be without it.

Though it is terrifying to live in this negative place, the unknown is often also terrifying. In order to maintain its status, the negative mind will threaten, insult and demean in its attempt to weaken one’s resolve. When the existing negative mind feels threatened, it doubles its efforts to maintain control. The consequence to the sufferer can be a temporary loss of courage. To stay ahead of the negative mind takes patience, persistence, practice, vision, understanding and resolve. Eventually, with unconditional support and compassion from those in your world, the brain will retrain itself and the negative will simply cease to exist. It is harder than anything you will ever do, but it is possible and the results mean freedom and peace.

Know that you are understood and loved. You are special.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The Invitation

Dear Friends:
I was recently contacted by the author of The Invitation, Oriah Mountain Dreamer, who kindly pointed out that the version of her poem that I have had posted here is an alteration of the original. Rather than post the corrected version in its place, as she graciously suggested, I would like to do Oriah the favor of sending you to her site to experience more of her work and vision.

Please visit Oriah Mountain Dreamer at:

Much love and have a wonderful day.