What is “Religious Trauma Syndrome?”

religious trauma syndrome

Most therapists promote spirituality as a coping mechanism. Life is holistic. We need to connect to Spirit in order to feel whole. It helps expand our experience of life. However, even the best things can be corrupted. Religious trauma syndrome is one example. So what it is?

Defining Religious Trauma Syndrome

You won’t find “religious trauma syndrome” in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. However, the symptoms are similar to the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. Sufferers may experience

  • Confusion, difficulty with decision-making and critical thinking, dissociation, identity confusion
  • Anxiety, panic attacks, depression, suicidal ideation, anger, grief, guilt, loneliness, lack of meaning
  • Sleep and eating disorders, nightmares, sexual dysfunction, substance abuse, somatization
  • Rupture of family and social network, employment issues, financial stress, problems acculturating into society, interpersonal dysfunction

The symptoms occur because of guilt for leaving the faith, questioning the beliefs, or not being devout enough in their beliefs or practices.

How It Happens

Churches with these characteristics are more likely to result in religious trauma syndrome.

  1. Authoritarian. These churches have a hierarchy with God at the top. The rules are inflexible. Members are not to question the rules or the hierarchy. Usually, men have more power than women. Women have more power than children. Abusive practices can trickle down to the people who are lower on the totem pole. This leaves a lot of people vulnerable and helpless because there is nowhere to turn for help.
  2. Isolationism. Members are discouraged from socializing with outsiders to keep themselves “pure.” This may start from childhood so that kids don’t have a basis of comparison to know the difference between their way of life and how others live. Families may go to school, live, and work only with people from their church.
  3. Fear. Fear is often the weapon of choice for any abusive person or organization. It can be fear of physical punishment, ostracism, eternal damnation or anything in between.

How To Deal With It

“Just leave” isn’t really enough to deal with the problems. Sometimes the symptoms don’t emerge until after the person has left the church. If the church is a mainstream religion, triggers can be all around us. Also since many people belong to these religions, it’s sometimes not easy to find a sympathetic ear. Even when people are not of the same religion, are atheist or agnostic, they may not understand because we still don’t do a good job of talking about trauma in our society. So what do you do?

Talk about it. There are online forums for just about everything nowadays. Finding someone who can understand the fear in situations that don’t sound scary is very validating. When others are further along in the healing process, this can help you find your way out and give you hope.

Get therapy. Many therapists still don’t know about religious trauma syndrome, so you may have to educate them. However, a trauma therapist will understand how trauma happens and how to heal it. Ask for trauma treatment, not just help with the symptoms listed above.

Get educated. The more you know, the better you will be able to advocate for yourself. Do you really need medication? Do you have the right diagnosis? If you know what is going on, you can get the right treatment the first time.

The American Religious Identification Survey reported that 12.7 million people went from religious to “no affiliation” from 1990 to 2008. This is a drastic decline in church membership. Not all of those people suffer from trauma, of course, and most churches are places of refuge and comfort. However, if you are suffering from religious trauma, reach out and ask for help.

 

Past Life Regression Trends

past life regression trends

Do you want to know the past life regression trends that I am seeing? Trends? Yes! Things change as people change. When Raymond Moody started talking about near death experiences, the stories were about going though a tunnel and being greeted by “angels.” Now some people are reporting shared death experiences where a living person experiences a loved one’s death with them. So, as our consciousness changes, so do our experiences. This is resulting in changes in how people experience their past lives, too. Let’s take a look at what’s new.

Incomplete Transitions

An increasing number of people are not fully crossing over when they die. Their past life selves are still with them. How can that be? Can a person reincarnate if their soul has not crossed over?

Many traditions believe that our souls have three parts. One of these parts can leave during times of trauma. In fact, some people believe that that is exactly what post traumatic stress disorder is, soul loss. The body can sustain the loss of this soul part, but not the other two. When this soul part is gone, we experience a loss of vitality, physical illness, mental illness, confusion, and other symptoms.

Some say a soul requires all three soul parts to exist in the physical plane. One one that can separate from the body while it’s still alive is the part of us that can manifest as a ghost. So when we don’t transition completely, the two other parts move on. If we reincarnate, we get three new parts to form a new soul. However, this lost soul part is still stuck in limbo, unhealed. Death doesn’t give us a “get out of jail free” card. All unfinished business must be completed.

Past Life Personality Attachments

I saw my first case of past life personality attachment about 8 – 10 years ago. They are fairly common now. This appears to be a case where your past life self didn’t make a complete transition after death and now you’re you with a side kick. Since this other guy hasn’t crossed over, he’s got a lot of baggage. Sometimes it can feel as if the past life personality is dominating the living person with their heaviness and their desires so that the living person no longer has the ability to make other choices. Sometimes it’s not a true attachment, but more of a heavy shadow.

Fortunately or unfortunately, this means that the helper has two clients – the past life personality and the current self. They may have two completely different needs. Unless the past life self can heal and move on, no real progress can be made with the current self. There just isn’t enough energy to make it happen. It’s like trying to hold water in a leaky bucket.

Dissociation

I am not sure if people are more dissociated or if more people have past life selves that experienced life in a dissociated state. Perhaps it’s both. Dissociation happens when emotions are too painful to experience in the body. It’s like watching life instead of living it. So you can report that someone put a cigarette out on you without having an emotional response to it.

In order to release emotional charges in this life or any other, you have to be embodied. Emotions live in the body. No body = no feeling and no release. It’s not intellectual. Knowing about an emotion doesn’t heal it. It has to be fully felt. The client and practitioners are partners in healing. I know of no way to wave a magic wand and make an energy or pattern disappear. It requires participation. If you’re not embodied, you can’t participate.

The bad news is that people who have attachments and/or incomplete transitions are often dissociated. This means that a traditional past life regression alone is probably NOT going to give this person the relief that they need. They need some type of other therapy first to get back in their bodies.

If you’re wondering, “Is this for real?” All I can say is, “I don’t know.” I am still on this side of the veil. Until I die, I won’t know what the other side looks like. This looks like a reasonable way to explain what is taking place based upon what clients report, what I see, and what is in the literature. I don’t know if the story matters as much as the results however. The results are that if the client with this problem works on the dissociation, then treats the past life personality, the current life self may then greatly improve or the problem may totally resolve. If not, usually it’s because the current life self also has separate issues that still need to be worked on. Tackling the client’s issues without doing this other work first is generally futile.

What Ever Happened to Sacrifice?

sacrifice

Christianity tells us “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” (Matthew 7:7). The Law of Attraction says that reality is manifested from our thoughts. These things can lead us to believe that there is a universal fairy godmother that bestows gifts out like candy. We are all worthy and all we have to do is ask and say yes. All that is true, yet whatever happened to sacrifice?

While the universe IS abundant and everything IS yours for the taking, there are also two other laws at work: the Law of Cause and Effect and the Law of Gender. Cause and Effect means that everything that is currently in your life was created by what came before. The Law of Gender says that everything has a masculine and feminine side. This creates balance. So what does that have to do with sacrifice?

You can’t receive if you are not willing to make space for what you’re calling in. That’s what the Law of Gender is about – balance. You have to give something up to get something. If you want to be a nonsmoker, you have to give up smoking. If you want to be someone with a lot of money, you’ve got to give up spending all you have. To have someone in your life who respects, honors, and cherishes you, you have to give up the habits that push people away. To lose weight, you have to give up the lifestyle that is creating the weight. If you want healthy relationships, you have give up your unhealthy habits like defensiveness, suspicion, criticism, or negativity. There is no free lunch.

Sometimes the universe does give you things that you aren’t prepared to have. That’s when the Law of Cause and Effect kicks in. If you look at lottery winners, they tend to blow through their money in a couple of years and go right back to their money set point. They aren’t lower income because they aren’t lucky or hard working. They are lower income because of their thinking and habits. If you aren’t willing to sacrifice that thinking and those habits, you won’t sustain whatever you gain.

Lots of us want something for nothing. We go to a professional and say, “Fix this” or “Fix me.” Our medical system promotes this. We surrender our power to a doctor. Our education system supports this. We turn our kids over to the school and say, “Teach my kid.” There are many ways that this shows up in our society. If you aren’t invested in your own health, education, spirituality, growth, and lifestyle, are you really living?

Every day I facilitate past life regression for people. Every day I see a life where someone phoned it in. We repeat the same patterns, dramas, and hurts lifetime after lifetime. It just keeps on hurting. If you want it to stop hurting, you have to sacrifice the suffering. Get in the game. Stop outsourcing your life. Feel the hurt, forgive, release, and keep on living. Otherwise what is the point?

Don’t give your kids everything. Teach them the art of sacrifice. Teach them that Law of Gender, that element of give and take, so that they grow up with an awareness that everything is energy. To get something, energy must be exchanged. When it’s not exchanged or hoarded, it dies. Wishing doesn’t change energy. Involvement does. So, if you want that new job, new car, degree, or just to feel good in the morning, get out there and sacrifice. Show yourself and the world that you mean business. What do you have to give up to have what you want? Are you willing to do that?

Potential Ideas for Sacrifice

Here are some ideas that may illuminate what is in shadow.

  • sweets, gluten, processed foods, fat foods, foodlike substances, late night eating, alcohol or other foods that are not healthy for you
  • self medicating with substances (drugs, alcohol)
  • toxic relationships
  • a toxic workplace
  • screen time
  • outdated ideas about romance, gender roles, money, life, religion, success, self image, family, etc.
  • negativity: blaming, complaining, powerlessness, victimhood, criticism
  • emotions like fear, guilt, and shame
  • a story that is not working- “My mom didn’t love me, I can’t catch a break, I’m not good enough, The system is against me,” etc.
  • feeling that you deserve to be unhappy, not successful, poor, etc.
  • the idea that success or money is bad, ugly, or harmful
  • the idea that you will live forever
  • believing that you can only love someone who is not here
  • addiction to conflict
  • defensiveness
  • the idea that you have to be “saved” rather than saving yourself
  • thinking that you can only be happy if or when something happens
  • believing that you are alone in the universe
  • needing to know everything or thinking you do know everything
  • finding a reason why things aren’t possible
  • giving up

It’s not always easy. Sometimes we don’t see ourselves clearly. Sometimes we know exactly what needs to change, but can’t seem to make it happen. If you are ready to participate in your transformation and need some help, call me. I am glad to help.

Practicing Sovereignty

sovereignty

In the “home of the free and the brave,” sovereignty isn’t something we often think about. It’s something we take for granted. We go about our day knowing that it’s okay for us to wear what we want to wear, work for whomever wants to hire us, and marry whomever we want.

But sovereignty is a great deal more than that. It’s about exercising the right to self determination, self containment, and respecting the same in others. This requires a sense of responsibility and healthy boundaries. When sovereignty is exercised and respected, a lot of the problems we encounter in day to day life simply disappears.

Respect Privacy

Your belongings, energetic space, possessions, and physical space belong to you. Other people have this same right. Intruding upon it without permission is an invasion of sovereignty. There are many justifications for why it’s okay to violate someone’s privacy, but they are all still violations. Here are some examples:

  • reading someone else’s mail, texts, or journal entries
  • occupying someone’s living space or property without their knowledge
  • gossiping
  • asking other people who know someone you know about what that person is up to
  • pushing or manipulating people to open up to you when they aren’t ready or willing
  • reading tabloid publications that make a business of spying on celebrities

Respect Free Will

Unless we’re talking about a minor or someone who is legally mentally incapacitated, everyone has free will. This free will can be exercised in ways that are self harming or self nurturing. While you may know that injurious or unwise behavior can have awful consequences, it’s not up to you to forbid it.

People have the right to make their own mistakes. They have the right to have their own experiences. It’s okay for you, and others, to believe and do things that aren’t popular. When you’re forced into the status quo, you lose yourself.

Take Responsibility

Free will always comes with consequences. Sovereignty is not a “Wild Out” card where you just get to run amok. No. There are consequences. You grow when you take responsibility for your choices and allow others to take responsibility for theirs.

If you have plenty of resources, it may be tempting to bail people out because it’s the nice thing to do. Before you do that, ask yourself if it will be genuinely helpful or hurtful to do so. Whichever you choose, commit to the choice.

Responsibility also means that there is no entitlement. You don’t get respect, resources, love, or anything just for showing up as everyone has the same sovereignty as you do. No one owes you anything. They have free will about whether to share, give, or hoard. So, it pays to practice reciprocity so that what you send out keeps circulating around. Sovereignty is not about becoming an island, but becoming a self aware, self determined member of society.

Assuming Your Sovereignty

This may seem like a very self indulgent path, but it’s really not. It’s one of mindfulness. If you really walk the path of sovereignty, you have to consciously choose your life path. You give up doing what seems to be the logical next step or doing what others have done.

It’s one of integrity. When you choose based upon your values and desires, your light shines. If your false self shows up, you will know that sooner or later and can self correct until your true self emerges. So, this really honors your path.

This path honors others. So much of what is wrong with the world is that we’re all projecting stuff onto other people. When you’re simply concerned with yourself, that ends.

This may seem like a lonely path, but it doesn’t have to be that either. Practicing healthy boundaries, waiting to be asked in before coming into someone space, and refraining from gossiping makes your relationships better. It forces you to have intimacy and truth rather than superficial, forced interactions. Not to mention that it completely reduces expectations that your friends or loved ones have to be anything other than themselves. How freeing is that?

Some suggestions on How to Start Practicing Your Sovereignty:

  • If you’re a yes, say yes. If you’re a no, say no.
  • Speak your truth politely.
  • Clearly ask for what you want. Respect the answer.
  • Don’t give advice unless it’s asked for.
  • Don’t judge.
  • Don’t engage in gossip either as a speaker or a listener.
  • Mind your own business.
  • Protect your privacy.
  • Think about what you are committing to. Once you commit, surrender and see it through.
  • If you break it, fix it.
  • Give others the same rights you take for yourself.

Living a Spiritually Debt Free Life

debt free

As a facilitator of past life regression, I can tell you that the number one thing that comes up in any session is spiritual debt or unfinished business. When you leave this world in debt, you don’t get a “get out of debt free” card. You accumulate debt. So when you come back again, you have to deal with the old stuff again. Only this time the burden is heavier. What do I mean?

Examples of Past Life Debt

Ineffective Emotional Patterns

Things like resentment, guilt, shame, low self esteem, feelings of unworthiness, superiority, and being stubborn come back with you. That might seem silly because why not just get a fresh start? Well, we might get a fresh start, then something kicks off that old pattern and we fall right back into old ways of being. It could be that a relationship breaks up that you never get over. Or maybe you get tired of being passed over for promotion and just give up. Or it could be an illness or birthday is a turning point. If you have made a sincere effort to shake an emotional pattern and nothing seems to work, it could be because it didn’t originate in this lifetime. Taking it out at the root is always more effective.

Sacred Vows

Be careful what you say! Words have amazing power that last beyond this lifetime. When you make an oath or vow to someone or something, it can tie you to something that you no longer want. If you lived in a monastery and took a vow of chastity, this could show up as a fear of sex or inability to find a romantic partner. If money is an issue, you may have taken a vow of poverty in a past life. This could have been due to church service or because you lived a life where money ruined your life. Some people who have trouble speaking their truth, singing in public, or have actual problems with their voice could have a past life vow of silence. Again this could have been made in service to the church or maybe something you said got you or someone else in hot water. Maybe you were a traitor who sold secrets. You could have said something in anger that you regret. More common sacred vows are informal things like “I will never leave you,” “I deserve to be punished,” or “I’m going to get you.”

Unrealized Dreams

Mark Twain said, ““Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do.” This is true. We can carry these regrets with us beyond the grave. When we return, they can feel like passions or a ball and chain. If you have a drive to do something, live somewhere, or a fascination with a time period, it could be the old you trying to revisit that old passion. So live your dreams now while it still matters to you. Don’t pass it off to someone else.

The point of most past life regression is to reveal and resolve this past life debt. Our old selves will pressure us with sleeplessness, dreams, or other attempts to get our attention until we do what we have to do to set them free. Those old soul fragments can’t rest in peace until their unfinished business is complete.

Fortunately it’s pretty easy. Once the vow is known, you don’t have to actually hold yourself to it. You can simply release yourself from it and move on.  It might be something as easy as doing a little forgiveness or it could take some effort like practicing other behaviors. The biggest part of this healing work is desiring the change and believing that you deserve it. If you want to punish yourself for a past life crime, you can do that until you’re ready to let go of it. Or perhaps it’s resentment against someone else for something they did to you. Either way you’re in control over your sacred vows.

This means you’re also in control of your spiritual debt from this life. If you want to live well and die well, meaning dying debt free, do a daily assessment. Where are you today? What are you holding on to? Who do you need to forgive? What do you need to let go of? What dreams do you need to pursue now? How is your heart? Release all that you need to release today. Don’t wait until tomorrow or for retirement to do that cruise. Write that gratitude letter today. Call that counselor or coach now. Exhale.

None of us are promised tomorrow. Dying doesn’t relieve us of our soul debt. When you live a spiritually debt free life, every day is a good day to die. And we all want to live and die well, don’t we? So take inventory and start paying down that debt now.

Exploring the Masculine Archetypes

masculine archetypes

There is a disturbing amount of unhealthy information out there about what it means to be a man. I recently saw an article that essentially described American males as emotionless, lonely, tough, disposable robots. I took it as a wake up call to recognize the humanity inside and release some of the pressure put upon men. It struck me as being pretty brutal.

Perhaps this stereotype exists is because we live in an age where we don’t cultivate healthy males. Many households are fatherless due to death or absence. The absence is most often due to incarceration, abandonment, working long hours, or emotional estrangement. So fathers are not rearing healthy males. Mothers may either encourage unhealthy male stereotypes or make our boys into pseudo women. Or worse yet, our young males are molded by pop culture.

Consequently many males are in a state of arrested development. They live as perpetual boys who celebrate youth, vitality, and beauty. They lust for power, fame, sex, and money and become slaves to the ego. Or perhaps they are just adrift and directionless. This leaves deep insecurity, loneliness, and separation from themselves, other men, women, and the rest of creation.

There is a healthier model out there. Let’s take a look at the masculine archetypes.

The Green Man

The ultimate natural man is the Green Man. This archetype goes back thousands of years and existed in many cultures. He is Nature personified. The leaves and vines about his face, depict birth and rebirth. This form of masculinity is balanced. While he has strength, he also lives in relationship with man, land, and beast. He also embodies caring, husbandry, and stewardship.

As we will see in a moment, he’s the perfect blend of Lover, Magician, Warrior, and King. He cares, creates, protects, provides, relates, expresses, dies and is reborn. He cooperates instead of dominates. He’s wild, uncultivated, and authentic. He’s never been domesticated or lived in the prison of shoulds. His compass is his soul. The Green Man is the complete man. So let’s take a look at his components.

The Lover Archetype

The Lover is the energy that experiences through the senses. He is the creator and feeler. Exploring anything and everything, he has no limits. It is this energy that brings joy to existence and makes life worth living. The Lover brings beauty, meaning, balance, and purpose to all other energy.

All archetypes have a shadow side. The Lover’s *low side expresses himself as cut off from love, beauty, sex, creativity and excitement. He’s depressed and withdrawn. There is no connection or energy for life. The Lover’s high side is the hedonist. There is an abundance of energy and a drive to experience and do everything to the extreme. He’s addicted to the high and searches endlessly for more and more sensory satisfaction.

The Warrior Archetype

You can think of the warrior like a ninja or Navy SEAL. He’s trained to do battle against anything or anyone that is harmful or negative to the world. He doesn’t think of his own discomfort. He doesn’t think at all. Thinking is the enemy of action. The warrior is a doer who acts on instinct. Death is is constant companion. He has no others as he’s not a relational creature. His purpose is to destroy.

The low side of Warrior energy is passive and impotent. He may allow others to abuse and manipulate him. He sees fighting as “bad.” The high side despises weakness and vulnerability and delights in exploiting it in others. He’s often cruel. Although he doesn’t project this outwardly, he has low self worth and may self-destruct.

The Magician Archetype

The Magician is thinker, creator, weaver of sacred space, visionary, and intuitive. He uses his detached, rational thought to navigate the inner and outer worlds. His energy is associated with mystery, alchemy, and transformation. He is the bridge between potential and reality, the inner and outer worlds.

The low side is a wanna be. He wants to be all that the Magician is without the doing the work of acquiring wisdom or using it to help others. He may sabotage others’ success because he doesn’t have his own. The high side uses his knowledge to keep others down or put them in a position of worshiping him for his expertise. He likes the illusion of power and position.

The King Archetype

Lots of people think that we men go through stair steps. We grow from one archetype to another until we grow into kings. In actuality, all of these energies reside in males. One archetype dominates. This means that all males are not meant to be kings. “Heavy is the head that wears the crown,” so this is a good thing.

King energy is combines all the healthy best energy of the Lover, Warrior and Magician to serve the land and people. He provides order, harmony, and acts as a mediator for opposites to coexist. Under his influence, life flourishes.

The low side of king energy is weakness. He is governed by fear of betrayal and disloyalty. This suspicion uncenters him and keeps him paranoid. The high side of king energy shows up as tyranny. He wants to be responsible for all that is good and beautiful and can’t stand for anything or anyone else to be lovely. This can show up as proclaiming himself as God, going into rages if anything threatens his ego, or degrading or rejecting what’s good in people or things.

So, you can see that a healthy man is a good man. He’s moral, connected, loving, protective, creative, peaceful, a doer, and adheres to the natural order. He is free to be himself, yet allows other the same freedom. If you want a template for what it means to be a healthy man, you can use these masculine archetypes to help you know where you are and where you want to be. Don’t settle for life in the shadows.

Note: “low” refers to a deficit of energy while “high” means a surplus. This doesn’t mean bad and good.

Who Are You?

who am I

A lot of people spend a lot of time musing about what they want to do. They think that if they know their purpose, their life will have meaning. I propose that, “What is my purpose?” is the wrong question. We’re not human doings. We’re human beings. So perhaps the better question is, “Who am I?” When you know the answer to that, all you have to do is be an authentic reflection of yourself everything else falls into place.

So Who Are You?

There are four parts to you: your past, present, your future, and your reflection in the eyes of others. Your past is the story you tell yourself about what you did. You probably feel good about some of it. There are parts that you don’t like. This includes things like family, education, friends, whether you did the things you thought you should be doing, and how well you fit in. Essentially the past is about judgments. Comparison is how we make sense of reality, so if you think you are ahead of others, your self-concept is probably positive. If you have a lot of secrets you’d rather people didn’t know, this could sabotage you even if your story looks shiny on the outside.

The present is what you see about you today. It’s how you work, live, look, and feel. It’s your judgments about your social standing, how well you do your job, the importance of that job, and how worthy you are. It can contain any judgment about yourself including how free you feel, how much you produce, what your kids look like, and so on. It’s limitless. Think of anything you could judge yourself on and throw that into the mix.

Your future story is the plans you have for who you will be, what you want to do, and how you will fit into the world around you.

On a subconscious level, we were, are, and will be always aware (because we are part of a whole) of what others think of us. They are always reacting to us. We are always reacting to them. These interactions can be affirming or destructive depending upon if we like the reaction or not. When someone doesn’t like what we project, we feel disharmony with them and tend to avoid them and vice versa. So, we have a sense of ourselves that is reflected in the eyes of others.

All of these past, present, and future reflections combine to form our False Self. Most of us will live here our whole lives always reacting to other people, trying to live up to some ideal, and chasing a feeling of emptiness that can never be filled. It is this way because there is always someone opposing us, something we don’t have, and something we can’t be. So there is always something disaffirming us. But there is an alternative.

Since you are the one who is creating yourself, you can create from a place of the False Self or the True Self. The True Self sees all this happening, but doesn’t join with it. It’s a nonjudgmental presence that allows what happens to happen without judgment or taking ownership. You don’t judge others. You don’t allow outside actions to place judgments on you.

Things just register in your brain and flow through. When things just flow through, you are always in a place of choice rather than reaction. If someone doesn’t resonate with you, it’s not about you. If you don’t get the job, you’re open to other possibilities. When you’re given the choice of X or Y, you choose from your authentic self, not some ideal of what you think you should do.

This is a radically different idea for most people. It essentially sums up the idea of “What would you do if you were limitless?” Well, be limitless. All real limitations are manmade. Yes, we all need food, shelter, water, clothing, and transportation, but the needs of the body don’t define you. Your work, family, experiences, and possessions don’t define you either. You can decide your own real boundaries and definitions. Since you are in control, why not be limitless?

So the next time someone asks you who are you, you can reply, “I am limitless.”

If You Want More, Create Space

create space

The universe is mostly made up of what we see as empty space. Atoms and cells are also mostly empty space. This is part of the universal design. Universal law says “As above, so below.” So, why do we humans go against the grain and do everything we can to fill up that space? If you want more, create space.

Why Create Space

In order for energy to flow, it needs space. When energy isn’t flowing, things get stagnant and unhealthy. Our physical health declines. Creativity gets bogged down. Our ability to receive is compromised. Ideas languish. We get so busy maintaining the things within the space that we don’t get to enjoy them or live life. We lose the ability to connect. If that’s the cost of mental, physical, and energetic clutter, why do we cultivate it?

Ready to let it go? Want some strategies for creating space? Here you go!

Be Silent

We fill silence with music, noise, and talking. If that is not socially appropriate, we fill it with mental chatter. What would happen if you just enjoyed the silence? Perhaps you could hear what your heart is saying inside you. Maybe your clear seeing unconscious, or your guardian angels, could guide you. Perhaps you’d tap into your blocked creativity. If there is no space, ideas can’t get in. Trash can’t get out. Enjoy the silence.

Downsize Your Stuff

Some people are so afraid of space that they fill it with stuff. Maybe this is bigger, better stuff like electronic gadgets or toys. It could be things we love like books or animals. We might say it’s about quality and living the good life. Or sometimes it’s about quantity, as with acquiring or hoarding things we really don’t need. All this takes up space. And while there is nothing wrong with having nice stuff, it’s still stuff that takes up space that bogs down your energy.

Remove Your Mental Clutter

Endless mental chatter is not who you are. It’s what you do. It’s a habit. Any habit can be released. This is why meditation is recommended by so many and for so long. It gives you space to hear yourself think! It gives you space to be one with what is going on around you. People are mind, body, and spirit. In order to be fully present, all aspects of you must be here. When your mind is running in circles, in the past, or far ahead, you’re not here.

So breathe. Meditate. Slow down. Let those ideas flow out of your head periodically. It doesn’t mean you can’t think. When you spend time not thinking, the things you think will be clearer and more meaningful. Try it.

Drop the Drama

Engaging in drama is allowing people to live rent free in your head. I get it. You care. Caring doesn’t mean that you whip things up, spread it to other people, and make it bigger than it is. If you just give it some space, whatever it is will keep on flowing. That’s what energy does. Everything ebbs and flows. If you want to “do” something about it, send it love so that that love vibration impacts its flow in positive ways. That’s all you need to do. I promise.

Be Still

What happens to kids who go to school all day, a sport two nights a week, and another activity on weekends? They grow up to be over-scheduled adults! Yes, sports teach us how to work as a team. They are great for our health. They look good on college applications. Academics help us to get ahead. Other activities can stimulate our spiritual, emotional, physical, and mental well-being. All good things! And life needs balance. I am not suggesting we be sedentary couch potatoes. Just saying that there is some middle ground.

Without space to rest and relax, the body, mind, and spirit don’t get a chance to reset. There needs to be time for rest. The natural world follows the wheel of life. That wheel has cycles of birth, maturity, decline, and gestation. When we don’t rest, it’s like we’re trying to live in perpetual summer. There is no such thing as perpetual summer. Accepting and living within the natural law keeps you in harmony with nature. Both your own nature and Nature itself.

If you want to make one positive change in your life today, make space. See what really doesn’t need to be there and let it go. It’s really that easy. When you see the value of empty space, it ceases to be nothing and becomes something very valuable indeed.

The Quick and Dirty Method to Learning Self Love

self love

Humans are programmed from birth to look outside themselves for validation and conform to expectations. This leads to separation from our true selves (because we learn early on to play a role) and not knowing or loving ourselves. Once we become aware of this, many of us spend the rest of our lives trying to remove the past programming and search for who we are.

This is a process that lasts a lifetime. There are things you can do in the meantime to get closer. It’s a fake-it-until-you-make-it approach, but so is all skill building. We do something over and over. We do it clumsily at first, then well, then we get to the point where we can do it automatically. So, here is the quick and dirty method to learning self love.

Treat Your Body Like a Temple

  • feed yourself healthy, humanely raised, fresh food
  • stay hydrated so that your body can detox and your brain can function optimally
  • when you are tired, rest. This includes, but is not limited to, getting a good night sleep.
  • move! Engage in mild exercise, or some sort of movement, each day. Dance, sports, and yoga are ways to honor your physical being and use your body to connect to yourself and the world.
  • dress appropriately for the weather. Also wear things that make you look and feel good.

Treat Yourself Like Someone Who is Worthy of Love

  • set limits. Don’t let people take advantage of you. Give only what you want to give. Give only when it doesn’t hurt to give.
  • take care of yourself first. You serve best when you serve from a space of fullness. Making yourself a martyr ultimately serves no one.
  • forgive yourself. Everyone is human. You’d give your best friend a break, wouldn’t you? You are worthy of one too.
  • indulge in play. Life is not meant to be an outcomes based game. It’s not all about checking boxes of getting schooling, getting married, having kids, getting stuff, retiring, and dying. It’s a “choose your own adventure” game where the adventure is the purpose. There will be hard times. You’ll have work phases and struggles. Life guarantees that. Loving yourself means that you allow time for play too.
  • choose your battles. Some challenges help you grow. You don’t want to walk away from all of them or else you will limit your growth. However, you can decide which ones you want to tackle now and which ones are best saved for later. Your outer world is a reflection of your inner world. If you have the support and resources to tackle a problem, deal with it now. If you don’t, it may be best to put it on the back burner.
  • choose your experiences. Life is a buffet! You can choose to experience drug addiction, learning to fly planes, foreign travel, having your heart broke, and so many other things. All of these will help you learn and grow. When you say yes to what you want, your life will be a true reflection of yourself. Be brave. Say yes to your dreams!

Nurture Your Mind

  • talk with people who inspire you. You can learn a lot from people who have done great things. It may not be where you want to go, but you will know that great things are possible from some ordinary people. This may give you the courage to let your light shine too.
  • be mindful. Although this is buried in the middle here, it’s probably the most important suggestion because without it, the rest won’t sink in too well. I’ve led many people to water. They can see how the lessons apply to other people, but not themselves. Why? Because they are not being mindful. Practicing mindfulness is not only a path to self love, it is a path to union with everything and everyone.
  • meditate. Meditation quiets the mind so that that clutter can drain away. Life bombards us with such nonsense. If you don’t open the release valve regularly, how can you see yourself? Silence is such a fantastic and underrated healer.
  • read. Guterberg revolutionized the world when he invented the printing press. The internet was the second explosion of information. Use it! We make sense of everything through comparison to everything else. Love only exists because there is hate. We know black because there is white. Exposing yourself to ideas can help you to form a container of who you are and who you are not.

Take a Chance

  • what would happen if you were truthful with yourself? You might find that a lot of things shift: less drama, fewer regrets, less uncertainty, more people in your life who like you for you, etc.
  • what would happen if you surrendered control of the outcome? It could be that you enjoy the now much more. You could be more relaxed and flexible. Control is about not trusting. When we only control that which we can control and surrender the rest, life tends to flow a lot more easily.
  • what would happen if you embraced your dark side? Everyone has a dark side. We live in a dimension of duality. Light can only exist in the presence of darkness. Denying the darkness doesn’t make it go away. It just separates us from our oneness. How cool would it be if you were fully yourself?
  • take a chance. Loving yourself requires daring. You have to be willing to see what’s inside – good and bad. It requires honesty, integrity, courage, and the willingness to be surprised. You won’t die from being wrong, embarrassed, or making a mistake. And what you find underneath it all will be wonderful. I can say this with 100% certainty because all humans are wonderful at the center.

Get Connected

  • share yourself with people. It might seem that self-love is something that you do alone, but people need people. Connection helps us to grow. It gives us a way to be appreciated by others. It gives us a way to show our own gratitude. One human drive is to contribute. We can’t do this either without others. It is all meaningless without connection. No man is an island. If you are a talker, talk. Are you a helper? Then help. If you make the world more beautiful, do that. We all have such lovely light inside that is meant to be shared. While it is something you give to others, it’s also a way to give to yourself.
  • connect with nature. Everything in creation has a reciprocal relationship. Being in nature helps humans to resonate in their natural, healthy way. Nature needs humans to protect and preserve it. As you deepen in love, you start to feel this interconnectedness with all things. Love isn’t something that is reserved for family or lovers. It is everywhere. As you get rooted in your loveliness, you will naturally start to feel that loveliness within the universe. Until then, make a conscious effort to just Be in nature.
  • engage in spirituality. Spirituality is the road to connection, truth, and meaning. You are part of that. Trust me. When you engage in a heartfelt spiritual practice, you will see your real self. It’s always a lovable reflection. The more you see it, the more you may believe it.

So there you have it! Five steps to self love. There are lots of ways that these five steps can show up in your life, lots of ways to practice them. I hope you have enough suggestions to get started.

Remember that it’s a process. If you only change one thing, make it mindfulness. After that, they’re all important. It’s a package deal. If you only take care of your body, you probably won’t change much. If you just got really good at connecting, you’re probably still going to feel like a bit of a stranger to yourself. And you can’t love yourself if you don’t know yourself.

So, do what you can. Enjoy the experience. Every day in every way, you will get better and better. And if this prove too difficult, remember that you can always ask for help! Especially if you have a trauma or abuse history. Self-discovery doesn’t have to be a solo venture.

So You Think You’re The Least Likely to Succeed…

succeed

Do you think you’re not worthy? That you’re among the least likely to succeed? Be honest. If so, check out this list of people who were deemed to be least likely to succeed:

  • Dr. Seuss, author of “The Cat in the Hat” and “How the Grinch Stole Christmas”
  • Tom Cruise, actor with 80 film award nominations and 29 wins
  • Robin Williams, actor with 40 film award nominations and 18 wins
  • Gene Hackman, award winning actor
  • Dustin Hoffman, award winning actor
  • Jack Clifford, founder of the Food Network
  • Erin Brockovich – environmental activist who won the largest medical settlement in US history

Not what you expected, is it? I don’t know how the people above got beyond their label, but here are some ideas that may help you get past yours so that you can get on with your life and do what you love.

Natural talent is a trap! We say that someone is “talented” when they grasp something quickly and easily. It’s a huge mistake to think that this quality means that this person can “succeed” in this endeavor. Studies have shown that people who continue studying and growing can be as good or better than those who aren’t quick learners. So just because you don’t look like a winner doesn’t mean you can’t be one.

Secretariat, the greatest race horse in history, was called a “big, fat sucker who wasn’t in a hurry to do anything” by his exerciser. He had a tendency to run towards the rails while racing and had to wear a hood to help him run straight. In his early days, no one would have said he had talent. He was fat and slow. Yet that didn’t stop him from being the first horse in thirty-five years to win the Triple Crown.

Don’t struggle. Do what you love. We have all these sayings about struggle like, “There is no success without struggle.” (~Frederick Douglas) and “Where there is no struggle, there is no strength.” (~Oprah Winfrey). Who doesn’t grow up believing that you have to suffer for success? Well, I am about to contradict Oprah Winfrey and Frederick Douglas!

When you do what you love, there is no struggle. It almost certainly requires effort. It will probably feel like work, but it’s definitely not a struggle. And you do what you do because you enjoy it. You’d do it if no one paid you. The joy you get from doing it is its own reward. So you keep going. You keep learning. This will take you much further than someone who is motivated by money, fame, titles, or some other external reward.

Don’t listen to others – unless they are cheering you on. You know what they say about opinions? Everyone has one. It doesn’t make them right. There are times when you have to do a gut check. This is one of them. Even experts can be wrong.  Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen, authors of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series, received 140 rejections before going on to sell 125 million books.

Either something is right for you or its not. Listen to your gut. If it says “yes,” spend some time developing it. Learn it. Do it. Love it.

Redefine success. For a lot of people, “success” means making X amount of money, being at least somewhat well-known, and being happy. If this is you, I am going to ask you to redefine your vision of success. Why? Because nobody gets to the middle of the ladder and says, “Okay, I am good here.” Once you get into that mindset of hitting peaks, it becomes a hamster wheel that you can’t get off of. This just leads to chronic stress, unattainable goals, and a lifetime of unhappiness.

So be happy first and let money and fame by a byproduct – if it comes at all. Maybe you will have tons of awards, fans, and sales along the way. And maybe you will just get to the end of your life perfecting a fly fishing technique that no one ever sees except your son and grandson. If you get there with a smile on your face, I’d say your life was a huge success.

Chasing an outcome always leaves you empty. You don’t have to do something that leaves a positive mark on the world to be successful. Success isn’t about how much money you make. To be successful you just have to live your life in a way that is authentic, meaningful, and pleasing to you. Even the least likely to succeed can do that – sometimes with the most spectacular success.