The Tower

Alone I sit, amidst the ruin,
Pierced by Truth’s steely glare.
All aspirations, toil and accolades
Lie broken, beauty removed, decayed
Stripped and bare.

What would have been never shall be
Only tokens of what was remain.
Accusing voices whisper in the cold
Of what should have been, what wasn’t
Done and secrets stabbing in their refrain.

What’s past is past, what’s done is done,
The story finally told.
All that was noble, all that was grand,
Now just something old.

No reason to linger, pondering is done.
Death has closed the door.
Time to return to what is Real,
To that unseen,
To that which was before.

Before the dream, before the quest,
Before the fall from grace.
Back to where it all began,
Where time cannot deface.

~Rick George

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The Reason You Procrastinate

Procrastination isn’t always a bad thing! That’s right, you can let yourself off the hook and relax a little. There is a good reason why some people procrastinate and it has to do with personality types. Sometimes, what people label procrastination is actually “avoidance”. Avoidance is negative and is an attempt to postpone or get out of something unpleasant. Not all procrastination is motivated by avoidance, however, and you need to be able to recognize the difference. “P” type personalities, for example, procrastinate because they do not like restrictions and prefer to delay making decisions in order to keep their options open.

Perceptive type personalities prefer spontaneity to routine or structure. They can become easily bored by the mundane and they like to think outside the box. For these types of individuals they do not like to become “boxed in” by being forced to make a decision regarding an event or activity in advance. When you think about it, restrictions come in many forms. When one begins a project that is time consuming, this becomes a restriction. Often, Perceptive types will postpone a project simply because they do not wish to have their time occupied at the present moment.

These personality types relish their freedom and creativity and do not like to be told when and how to do things. Bosses and administrators would benefit from recognizing this personality trait and leaving the artist to do his work his way. While they may need to be gently reminded on occasion regarding a project, they do not like to be micromanaged and will become passive/aggressive if that attempt is made.

Another reason for procrastination has to do with energy consumption. Introverts, and especially ADHD types, are selective as to how they spend their energy. ADD/Hyperactive individuals are motivated by activities which can hold their interest. Activities which will become boring and/or tedious will be avoided simply because the individual knows that he or she will not have the necessary endurance to complete the task. Sometimes, these personality types need motivation or inspiration in order to complete a task and wait for the deadline in order to provide them with the necessary “kick” to get the job done.

Unfortunately, because the corporate world operates on schedules and structure, Perceptive types are often made to feel bad or wrong for wanting to have options. They may internalize these feelings and believe that something is wrong with them and that they can’t hold a job or succeed in academics. Self doubt and low self esteem can contribute to avoidance due to the fear of failure and rejection caused by inappropriate expectations. At this point, positive, personality driven, procrastination becomes confused with avoidance.

Intuitive/Perceptive types are especially prone to procrastination and are more likely to suffer from Attention Deficit Disorder as well. Intuitives are imaginative and conceptual which renders them less tactile and pragmatic than their Sensor counterparts. They are more prone to overthinking and daydreaming, which when combined with the Perceptive trait, increases the risk of boredom and procrastination. While this may prove frustrating to managerial types, added pressure is not likely to produce the desired results. The best course of action is to tap into the employee’s self interest and internal motivation either with a challenge or reward.

For personality types who are prone to procrastination, it is important that you distinguish between that which is motivated by the desire for personal freedom and independence and that which is motivated by the fear of failure or self doubt. Feeler type personalities are more sensitive to the opinions of others and are more prone to the fear of failure. However, those with ADD will also be sensitive to doubt and possible failure due to past struggles. As a manager, it would be helpful to discern the motivation behind delays in productivity. If you know the employee is capable of performing the task, it may be helpful to determine if s/he is bored, feels restricted in some way or is afraid of failure. Identification will enable the appropriate blockages to be removed.

Jail Lesson: Don’t Look For Your Soul Mate In Jail

After having finished up clearing out the suicide watches one afternoon, I was making my way back to the office. As I was passing through Book In, I saw a slip of paper sliding across the floor. I bent over and intercepted it and looked at the young lady who had launched it toward the holding cell. Curious as to why someone would be passing notes in jail, I opened the note to see a name and telephone number. I looked over at the holding cell to see the male recipient looking back with a sheepish, angelic grin. I tore the note in half and told the female “you don’t want to be picking up guys in jail.” I thought to myself that I would hate to be doing couples’ counseling  years later and find out that they had first met in jail.

All of us are attracted to subconscious cues when it comes to finding a mate. If we happen to have been raised in a dysfunctional family we will invariably seek out the cues with which we are familiar. This explains the reason why we continue to pick partners who abuse, take advantage, or enable self defeating patterns no matter how bad previous relationships have been. We may think that we are attracted to the color of their eyes, or the cute way they smile, but in reality, if we don’t find something “familiar” about our love interest, chances are we won’t pursue the relationship. Often, it is this familiar element that perpetuates the pattern. You may think that you’re attracted to “strong” men when in reality the attraction is to immaturity. You may feel that you prefer independent women when the truth is you pick those who are emotionally unavailable.

We have an incredible capacity to deceive ourselves, and our Egos will go to extraordinary lengths to remain in control, even though its beliefs and actions are not in our own best interests. In fact, Negative Energy such as Addiction, Depression, Anxiety, Paranoia, Fear of Failure, and the Fear of Rejection become so entangled with our Ego that they almost become personality traits. This is why the road to recovery is often long and difficult because we are fighting against our own Ego which has long been deceived and finds it difficult to let go of what it believes and fears. Add to this the total destruction of basic trust, as in the case of abandonment or physical or sexual abuse, and the journey becomes even more challenging.

There is only one Source of Truth, and that is Positive Energy. Authenticity is tied to Truth; therefore, in order to be our true, authentic Self we must function, at least mostly, in Positive Energy. Until that happens, we are living an “alternate” reality. We are not functioning as we were designed to function, neither are we fulfilling our purpose or utilizing our talents in a way that brings personal fulfillment. While it could be argued that the Narcissist is always fulfilled and seeks nothing other than self contentment, the wake of destruction, heartache and injustice caused by their actions is testimony to their Negative Energy. Narcissists do not operate in Love, Truth or Freedom. While they may experience happiness, they do not know true Joy which exists only  in the Positive realm.

Due to the deceptive nature of the Ego, Surrender is the only viable pathway to Positive Energy. One cannot simply decide to pick the opposite type of person with whom they have always been in relationship in order to defeat their negative pattern. The dynamic will simply “flip” and you will find yourself being the controller instead of the enabler or vice-versa. In order for true change to take place, the deception must be uncovered in the Light of Truth and Wisdom must be allowed to set new patterns in alignment with Love, Life and Freedom. Not only must one surrender the old way of thinking and doing, but he must surrender to Wisdom and Truth with a new set of behaviors. This will obviously require developing a new support structure in the form of new friends, advisers and most likely, professional help.  At any rate, Acceptance and Resolve will be needed to make the change. But then, after all, what better things do you have to do?

Jail Lesson: No More Bail Outs

One of my main duties while working as a mental health clinician in a regional jail was monitoring suicide watch. This was back in the day when all the inmate was given to wear was a paper, hospital gown in order to prevent hanging. This was particularly unpleasant since the material was flimsy and the inmate would invariably end up naked in a short time. I would have to check suicide watch daily in order to ensure that inmates who were not suicidal would be released quickly. Although they were constantly monitored by jail personnel, the experience could be brutal, especially over the weekend.

On one particular occasion, I received a request to see an inmate who had scratched his wrist in order to be seen by the clinician. When I arrived, he assured me that he was not suicidal but that he was in need of assistance. “I need you to call my father,” he said. The request took me aback at first and I asked him why he was not able to do this himself. He related that he had lied to, cheated, stolen from and betrayed his father’s trust and that now, he would not take his collect calls from jail.  Thinking that the inmate was remorseful and wanting to make amends, I asked him what he wanted me to say to his father. “I need him to bail me out,” he stated without emotion or hesitation.

Appalled at his brashness and manipulative behavior, I decided to let his actions have their intended effect. I assured him that I would take care of his problem and I knew just what he needed. It was Friday and I simply walked off without taking any further action. On Monday when I returned, the inmate had spent the entire weekend on suicide watch and was not at all happy to see me. I told him that part of his problem was that someone had always bailed him out. I admonished him to remember this weekend, naked in a jail cell, and to promise himself that he would never allow his addiction to put him in that position again. Bail outs prevent one from experiencing the consequences of diseased thinking and behavior, and delay the necessary pain that motivates one to change.

No doubt, his father had bailed him out many times, probably in more ways than one. While his father may have felt that he was showing love in protecting his son from the consequences of his actions, he was actually giving his progeny a free pass to over indulge and become further entangled in addiction. An addict needs a co-dependent in order to continue feeding his addiction. Co-dependents need the addict to feel needed, to rescue, to care for and to get  validation. Although their actions are destined to fail, co-dependents believe they are showing love by being martyrs and sacrificing for the addict. This is a pattern that was established early in childhood and it is tied to a belief system which presupposes that one’s worth and value comes from performance and service to others.

Addiction and Co-dependency go hand in hand. The solution is not simply to take responsibility for their actions or just be more firm. They both need to address irrational belief systems of the Ego and deal with underlying trauma. Their Egos have become entangled with addiction which has infected them to their core. In order to be released, much Acceptance and Surrender work needs to be done. Both will have to come to the conclusion that they are worthy apart from their behavior and learn to love themselves without the need for substitutes and coping mechanisms. It isn’t so much an issue of being “responsible” as it is becoming liberated to truly be one’s Self.

Jail Lesson: Stop Hanging Out With Death

In response to a medical slip requesting counseling services, an inmate assured me that he was not trying to receive psychotropic medication as many do to help pass their time in jail. He stated that he was just passing through on a court appearance while serving time in prison and would not benefit from a referral to the psychiatrist. “I really do need to talk to somebody,” he stated. As he was talking, I was busy assessing his body language looking for cues of dishonesty, nervousness and overall disposition. The inmate stated that he had recently been diagnosed as HIV positive and was struggling with depression. He stated, “I’ve done a lot of bad things, but I don’t deserve to die!”

While observing the inmate’s mannerisms, I noticed a couple of the many tattoos that covered his arms. “What is that tattoo right there,” I inquired. “A skull,” he replied. “What does that represent,” I asked. “Death,” was his response. “And the skull with fire coming out of his eyes?”; “Death,” was his response again. “Guess who just showed up,” I said before I could even think. “If you want Life, you’re going to have to switch sides,” I told him.

At some point, “Death” and our Ego join forces simply because our Ego is so susceptible to Negative Energy. Negative Energy is forceful, manipulative, deceptive, and controlling by its very nature. The Ego is prone to fear and anxiety simply because it cannot understand spiritual principles and often arrives at erroneous conclusions. Positive Energy is spiritually based and intrinsically valuable and operates in Harmony with other positive principles. You cannot “force” Peace, Love or Freedom on to someone no matter how much you may desire it for them. Yes, boundaries must be maintained; in fact, boundaries are necessary for self-respect and personal intention. However, this “force” has more to do with self preservation and personal investment rather than the coercion of another.

In order to make the switch from “Death” to “Life”, one must first realize that a change needs to occur. As in the epiphany demonstrated above, when the consequences of Death finally arrive, a greater portion of the Truth is revealed. Often, this revelation opens the door to even more Truth that there is Hope and Healing available.  This is the “rock bottom” effect mentioned so often by recovering addicts. It comes when one has finally exhausted all attempts to save himself and he is ready to take advantage of the help and support he so desperately needs.

It is not our goal to try to avoid Negative Energy altogether. In fact, we should not view Negative Energy as “bad” or even “evil”, although evil would certainly exist in the negative realm. Our goal is to enjoy all the benefits Life has to offer and in order to do so, we must first see the value of Life and its principles. Having seen their value we must then be willing to invest in them in order to reap their benefits. It is not our objective  to try to be “good” or to “follow the rules” in order to receive a reward from God or the Universe; rather, our objective is to “invest” in ourselves by surrendering to the laws and principles of Positive Energy such as Health, Success, Peace, Love and Freedom. In doing so, we allow our unique gifts, talents and characteristics to flourish and live a Life of abundance and personal fulfillment.

Jail Lesson: Don’t Trade Your Serenity

What follows is a series of encounters I had while working as a mental health clinician at a regional jail, the location of which I shall leave undisclosed. I was teaching a class on Serenity and explaining how that, since it was a spiritual concept, it was not relegated to physical circumstances. I stated that one could experience Serenity no matter in what situation he found himself, if he simply meditated on Truth and allowed the Truth to override his limited understanding.

The following week, one student stated that he had, in fact, found Serenity while in jail. He related how he had been reading his Bible and had arrived at the conclusion that God was in control of his situation and could release him at any time should He see fit to do so. “So what happened” I asked. He stated that he had awakened early one morning in order to get a hot shower. He related that showering alone is a luxury in jail and is something which he relished. He went on to explain that when he entered the shower, he discovered that someone had “taken a dump” in the middle of the room. “Of all the things,” he moaned, “We are all in the same boat in here, just trying to get by the best we can and someone is so inconsiderate…” He said; “I just lost it”. I asked, “what happened to the Serenity?” “Did it leave?”; “Did it change?”. “No” he replied. “So what you’re telling me…”, I stated, “is that you traded your Serenity for a pile of shit.” “I guess”, he said, “but I really didn’t look at it that way”.

When it comes down to it, anything for which we trade our Serenity amounts to a pile of shit. Serenity focuses on that which is truly valuable. Spiritual matters, relationships, our sense of self worth, purpose and value, the every-day provision of the Universe for our peace, joy and happiness are all high priority items which deserve our attention. We often allow lesser concerns such as bills, material possessions and what others think to occupy our thoughts and attention. Often what is needed is to simply lift our eyes off of our current circumstances and allow our Spirit to change our focus to the bigger picture of the Universe and our place within it.

Granted, some situations are more difficult than others, and there are some conditions where it may be impossible not to worry such as the illness of a loved one, job loss or possibly an accident. However, some of these situations may actually have been sent by the Universe to help us get things in proper perspective. Not to say that all circumstances are orchestrated to guide us or that “everything happens for a reason”. It’s like Buddha once said, “shit happens” (or maybe it was Confucius). At any rate, it is easy to lose sight of what is truly important and lose our Joy over small, insignificant, trivial matters which may seem big at the time but in light of the bigger picture are actually worthless.

 

Ego

The Ego is that part of Self that we recognize as our “identity”. It is not our True Self because it does not encompass our Spirit, or that part of us which originates from the Creator, or the Universe itself. The Ego is the earthy, primal, basic part of us that is responsible for our survival, advancement and proliferation. In some sense, parts of our Ego are “involuntary”, much like our heartbeat or breathing. In religious terms, the Ego may represent the “carnal” nature or “the flesh”. It is directly tied to the physical body, the mind and the ethereal part of the Soul such as the conscience and the paranormal. The Ego translates the information it receives through the mind, which is then filtered through the unique temperament of the individual. Someone who is more disposed to “Thinking” will analyze the data carefully. Someone who is more of a “Feeler” will assess the emotional content and engage or disengage with others as deemed appropriate.

Any basic understanding of psychology will include the work of Dr. Abraham Maslow. Maslow is credited with the development of the Hierarchy of Needs, which identifies and categorizes human needs from the basic necessities such as food and water to more sophisticated needs such as altruistic service to mankind. Maslow’s theory suggested that certain needs are so primal and necessary that they must be met before higher, more sophisticated needs can be addressed. In fact, basic needs are so important that the Ego will go to extraordinary lengths to see that they are met. This is obvious when it comes to physical needs, as in the case of starvation or extreme thirst. However, in regard to psychological needs, the picture is not so clear. The need for Trust, Security and Validation are powerful and failure to meet these needs constitutes major trauma. The Ego will attempt to maintain congruence and eliminate cognitive dissonance whenever possible. In other words, it wants things to make sense.

Although the Ego is extremely powerful and capable of superhuman feats, it is limited to the material, physical world and vulnerable to Negative Energy. Ignorance, Deception, Anxiety and Doubt are just some of the principles of Negative Energy. As the Ego attempts to make sense of circumstances and incoming data, Negative Energy creates erroneous conclusions, unrealistic fears, and self doubt, especially when one is growing up in a negative, dysfunctional environment. The less one’s basic needs are met, the more Negative Energy is generated and the Ego must compensate for mental, emotional and psychological trauma. Irrational beliefs such as “something is wrong with me”, “I am not worthy of love or affection” become entrenched. Coping mechanisms such as lying, addictions, fantasizing and other obsessions are developed. In extreme cases, survival techniques may be employed which could include: disassociation (multiple personality); hyper-vigilance; extreme defensiveness; hoarding and violence. Add failed relationships, job loss and addiction to the mix and Positive Energy becomes a distant place.

In many cases, it takes a precipitating event to weaken the Ego enough to allow Positive Energy to shine Hope, send in Love and awaken the Spirit to new Life. Recovering addicts call it “Rock Bottom”. However, as the individual begins to recover, the Ego renews its strength and begins wrestling for control once again. It is at this point that Acceptance and Surrender become vital as a daily practice. The Spirit must be allowed to have access to Positive Energy and Surrender to the Principles of Life and the Ego must  continuously be denied control of the Will and Intention. This is not so much a “choice” as it is Intention. The recovering individual must set his or her Intention to Surrender to Wisdom, Health, Truth, Serenity and the other Principles of Life by relinquishing control to his or her Spirit rather than the Ego. This will require disavowing old irrational beliefs, coping mechanisms, substitutions and self preservation techniques and adopting new practices of meditation, acceptance, study and application.

One must begin a new journey, relinquishing the old, embracing the new. The objective is to fully become the True Self which includes a healthy, renewed Ego as well as a connected and surrendered Spirit. This will include a healthy heart with clear and firm boundaries of Self which regularly invests in and gives of its gifts, talents and resources. Age and time are not factors as one must learn to adapt to change and be present in today’s energy.

The Ego is not our enemy; rather, it is the part of our self that must learn from the Spirit and Universe to appreciate the value of Life and its Principles and Surrender to the vitality that comes as a result.