Confronting Terrorism

Last week’s terror attack on Muslim worshipers in Christchurch, New Zealand struck a cord with many and no doubt resulted in quite a mixture of feelings all around the world. There are many who would quote the adage, “Live by the sword, Die by the sword” in reference to the numerous terror attacks perpetrated by Jihadists. The problem with that judgement is that these were not Jihadists who were killed, but peaceful worshipers. There are those who would claim that Islam is not a religion of peace, but of war, allowing its adherents to mistreat, or even kill infidels at will. Of course those who make these claims are usually members of a different religion and have an axe of their own to grind. The bottom line is that Terror is exploitation, and it will work through anyone who avails themselves to it. It is destructive, malicious, vicious, debilitating to society and Death to the individual.

I grew up in Southern West Virginia as a highly sensitive, intuitive male in a rugged, hands-on, survival-of-the-fittest environment. Church was the way I coped and “fit in” while keeping my sensitivity intact and maintaining a certain modicum of manliness. I learned to become a chameleon at a very young age and to avoid conflict by keeping my true thoughts and feelings carefully tucked away. I drank the Kool-Aid of my conservative religion and set out to master its principles and values. My Intuitive, Feeling, Perceptive, Introverted personality made me more conscious of the thoughts and opinions of others than my own. Also, my religion had a strict code which demanded adherence and total obedience. Fortunately (or rather, unfortunately) as an Intuitive I had a very powerful imagination which could keep me occupied for days on end. All of this combined together into a geeky, reclusive misfit who was the perfect target for anyone wishing to gain bully points with his peers. “Fitting in” wasn’t going to happen for me.

I’m sure that everyone experiences bullying to some degree or another in their lifetime. Highly Sensitive People (HSP’s) are more likely to become traumatized, or at least deeply disturbed from episodes of bullying. I, for one, am tired. I’m not just tired of the exploitation that comes from the actual bullying itself, but I am tired of the exploitation that comes afterward: the people who want you to join them and jump on their bandwagon; The sympathizers; the crusaders; the victims; the opportunists; the actual bullies themselves. I am fighting my way out of my own victim conditioning and I am damn sure not going to go and jump on someone else’s victim wagon. I surrender to the Principles of Truth, Love, Peace and Justice, not to some moral code of a vigilante or butthurt-prevention club.

I believe in Positive Energy, not manipulation or guilt in order to effect change. White Supremacists, Black Panthers and Crusaders all attempt to use force to promote their agenda. Positive Energy does not use force to achieve its purpose. Peace does not pursue and overcome its adherents. Peace is discovered, like a precious gem, then its principles are applied because they are desirable and invaluable. For Terrorism to end, the benefits of Love and Peace must be seen; people must become enlightened beyond a religious understanding for motivation to become internal. Kumbaya meetings won’t get it done. Humanitarian campaigns and educational programs will not succeed. Mimicry by the Ego is not change. A spiritual awakening is required. Courage to stand up and speak Truth, confront bullies and exploitation, expose hypocrisy and deception; this is what will bring enlightenment and defeat ignorance.

A number of YouTube videos now show former liberals stating that they are “walking away” from their political affiliation because it has gone too far in controlling and restricting the language and thought of others. Many African Americans are realizing that they have been victims of propaganda and personal agendas rather than part of a fight for true equality and liberation. Many are becoming enlightened and walking away from restrictive dogma and religious beliefs, tired of fighting the futile battles of the Ego. Ironically, at the heart of this awakening is a renewed respect and discovery of the Self. Not the Ego self, but the true, authentic Self. The more the Truth is spoken, lies confronted, Love and Peace modeled and Egos surrendered, the more Light will shine through Darkness. Haters will continue to hate, but the more their hatred is contrasted by Love and Truth the more it will diminish.

Freedom must recognize the rights of others to self expression and volition. However, Freedom also works in Harmony with Love, Peace and Wisdom. While one may enjoy tremendous liberty in the privacy of their home, boundaries must be recognized in a social environment. Love demands that every individual’s boundaries be respected. This does not necessarily extend to the point of personal sacrifice in order to accommodate someone else but it does mean that the worth of the individual is recognized and their freedom of will is respected. The Highly Sensitive has as much right to the pursuit of happiness as the Narcissist. The Narcissist will use force and intimidation to achieve their ends while the Sensitive one will have to employ courage and resolve to maintain their boundaries and self respect. In the end, it is the adherence to Positive Energy that will result in Peace and Harmony and allow everyone to enjoy a Life of personal fulfillment.

Those who would violate the Freedom and personal sovereignty of others must be confronted and resisted. Justice demands that the dignity and freedom of each individual be supported. Actions taken by extremists or people claiming to belong to a particular group should not be attributed to an entire culture or to other individuals within that group. The Ego must not be allowed to react in hatred or in the desire for retaliation or revenge. The Principles of Love, Justice and Peace extend to everyone but those who surrender themselves to violence and abuse must be met with Truth and Justice as well as consequences for their actions.

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What does it mean to “Love Yourself”?

When embarking on a journey of healing and self-discovery, one of the first orders of business is to learn to love oneself. However, for some, especially those working their way out of the throes of addiction or dealing with the ravages of past trauma, loving themselves seems as illogical as actually living the life of their dreams. “How can one love himself when he is guilty of such horrific behavior against those who love him and whom he loves the most?” Yet, loving oneself is paramount to enjoying Life and obtaining personal fulfillment.

Loving oneself is not the same as “egomania”, or narcissism. While Narcissists may appear to love themselves to the exclusion of all others, this cannot be labeled as “Love”. Love is a Positive Principle of the Universe and the Negative, destructive energy of the Narcissist does not exist in the same realm. Love, by its nature, engages with others, gives to others, shares with others and helps others. However, when someone suffers from a lack of validation, he or she may attempt to get that validation through acts of service, appeasement or even self gratification.

Love must go beyond the self-focused behavior of the Ego. In order to love ourselves, we must engage our Spirit, align with Positive Energy and dethrone our Ego with all of its defense mechanisms, substitutions and irrational beliefs. No matter what horrific crimes we may have committed from our twisted, wounded Ego, our spiritual being is innocent and connected to the Positive Principles of the Universe. This does not mean that we are free from the actions and consequences of our Ego. However, it does mean that we have access to the Positive Principles of Justice, Healing, Redemption and Serenity.

Dethroning the Ego and dismantling the tangle of irrational beliefs, social conditioning, substitutions for unmet needs and self defense mechanisms can be a long, grueling process. It is easy to become blinded to the forest when one is surrounded by trees. When we have maintained a belief system for so long, no matter how irrational, simply walking away is not possible. One will need to find a source of objective Truth as well as loving and caring support in order to successfully complete the journey. This can even take the form of online support through social media over long distances. Whatever the case, the seeker will have to be completely honest, at least with him or herself, and be willing to surrender completely to the healing process.

The journey will require Trust, which for some is in itself extremely difficult. It is trusting that there is a Higher Power, and that this Higher Power is Love. It is trusting that this same Energy is the One that insures all living things receive what they need to survive. It is trusting that you are as deserving as any other creation of a life of abundance, purpose and fulfillment and that no matter what has happened in the past, your future is full of Hope, promise and potential. Things will have to change. You will have to step out of your Ego and into your Spirit. Your Ego will fiercely resist at times. But really, what choice do you have? In the end, it isn’t about choice, it’s all about Surrender. And Surrender is about Enlightenment! You either get it or you don’t. The good thing is, the only thing required to “get it” is desire.

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, revealed 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 move on, time to get Real,
From Fantasy to what was Before.

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

The Sacred Fool

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.