Inner Child

Can you look in the mirror and say “I love myself” without flinching?

WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 29, 2012
“I Hate Myself”

Dear lord, I heard this very recently from an accomplished, brilliant colleague who has achieved more success than most writers dream of. But despite having health, success, and a loving family..the internal feeling of self-disgust has crippled critical aspects of his life.

And I guess I want to deal with this. I’ve had students speak of this in so many ways. Today, I’ll just touch on the physical, but I want to go more deeply into the way this cripples our lives.
Self-hatred dealing with body image, rape and abuse, and other issues can result in obesity, self-destructive drug or alcohol use, and pushing the physical body until it collapses. Storing negative emotions in the body so that you don’t have to feel them. Engaging in risky, demeaning sexual activity and simply not holding yourself as precious.

The discipline necessary to eat well, exercise regularly, and rest thoroughly come directly from a sense of loving yourself–that you are WORTH the discipline.

A good basic measure is: if you were your own most beloved child, would you engage in this behavior? What would you tell your own son or daughter to do in regard to smoking, drinking, drugging, eating, exercise, sex, rest, and so many other questions. Do YOU live according to your own values? How much more would you have to love yourself to have the discipline, the joy, the sheer bliss in living? The commitment to dance through life rather than slog?

How much difference would loving yourself, deeply, truly and without reservation make to you?
From whom, or where, in life did you get the impression that you were less worthy of love than any other human being?

You are an adult now. It is up to YOU to give yourself the love you need to thrive. Start today with the simple commitment: I will love myself. I will learn to heal the wounds, and heal them. To embrace my true self, and live every day as if I have a contribution of beauty and joy to give the world.

Until, in other words, you can look at yourself in the mirror and say: “I love myself!” and mean it. And know that that self-love raises the value of the gift of love you give to others.

The first step is love. We’re going to walk that path for a while.

Steve

(p.s.–and yes. I love myself. And like myself. For all my flaws and failings, all the ways I know I still have to grow…the little kid inside me is THRILLED with the adult I have become. I tickle the hell out of me. If I wasn’t me, I’d want to be my friend. But I do not, and never have, thought I was any better than anyone else. The trick is that that gives me permission to believe that there is no one any better than me. So there!)

Coaching and the “Ancient Child”

Recently, one of my coaching clients came to me with a set of interwoven complaints:

Overweight
Stress
Fear manifesting in (occassional) suicidal thoughts
Lack of love
Family stress–a son in law bit his head off in a recent phone conversation, vomiting up so much anger that my client was shaking for DAYS.
A feeling of total rejection by his parents–nothing was ever good enough.

A few years ago I wouldn’t have known how to help him, but since that time my Sufi friend Mushtaq helped me identify elements of my internal world I hadn’t consciously realized were in play (that’s what happens: good teachers will draw your conscious attention to certain things while they are slipping in other stuff behind your back! Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain…)

And what I saw was that all of these things, ALL of them could be connected in the “Ancient Child” pattern.

Overweight. A matter of balancing nutrition and movement. Unless there are serious health issues, The “Child” self naturally plays and moves: a motionless baby will be identified as pathological by any pediatrician. By the time we’re teenaged or adult, sitting passively for work or entertainment is “normal”. Connecting with our basic animal drives demands a body that can hunt or gather and avoid or fight off predators. The modern world is unnatural. But how to discipline yourself to deliberately deny yourself tasty treats, or deliberately seek out exercise? This is like getting Jason to do his homework: I have to love him so much I don’t give a @#$$ if he likes me or not. I don’t need his approval. I’m the god damned daddy.
Stress isn’t the real problem. STRAIN is the problem–the degree to which stress “warps you out of true.” Another name for stress is fear. Love is the antidote for fear. Feeling connected to the source of love in your life makes it possible to face unbelievable challenge…and laugh at it. Because your sense of divine identity isn’t connected to the result, or what people think about the result. That “look Ma! No hands!” sense that results from KNOWING you are adored.

Fear. See #2

Lack of romantic love. See #3. When we love ourselves, deeply, and accept where we are in life knowing that we’ve done the very best we can, we will love and accept someone at our own level–we see their essence, don’t covet those at higher levels of integration, and won’t accept those at lower. This is the essence of the “Soulmate Process”–we are attracted to people at our level and above. We attract those at our level and below. It isn’t really complicated, but it is painful if we lie to ourselves.

Family stress. Learning that “stress versus strain” thing, and the “love versus fear” thing will open the door to understanding outbursts far better. “Anger is a mask over fear” makes it specific. When people vomit up anger at us, you just ask yourself “what are they afraid of?” In order to do this, you have to be honest with yourself about the fact that this is why YOU react this way. The ability to do THAT depends upon loving yourself enough to admit to negative behaviors without falling into guilt, blame, and shame.

Now…anger feeds anger. When you don’t react to anger with anger, you can see truth more clearly (why a warrior wants to remain emotionally neutral) and the “opponents” anger has nothing to feed on. The spiral of emotional or physical violence is disrupted in the same way that fire dies down if you deny it oxygen or fuel.

And if you are not merely neutral, but actually LOVING? The anger can stop dead, as your centered heart-felt adult responses calms their frightened child responses.
It’s like a raging child. If the adult gets angry (frightened) the child is in danger, leading to more fear and anger. Watching children and parents get locked into this pattern is tragic. I’m not pointing the finger: I notice myself getting into it with Jason when I’m tired or off-balance.

But the point is that if you BEGIN by loving yourself, without question, you don’t need the approval of others. When they withhold it, it’s just information, not some condemnation of your essence. You can just observe. It will drive them crazy at first (they expect to be able to control you, as they are controlled by others)…but then it is calming. Calm is infectious, just like violence)

In this case, after a single Ancient Child session, my Client spoke to his in-law with calm and love…and recieved it in return. Now, that wasn’t the certain outcome, but even if more emotional bile had splashed, it could have been taken as impassively as watching a sick, hallucinating person vomit on your shoes. You don’t take that as a measure of your self-worth. It is a symptom of their illness, not your worth. Disgust perhaps (fear for your shoes!) but not anger, if you are balanced.

If you get the information, you can release the emotion.

Rejection by parents? See #3! Once you are an adult, you become your own mother, your own father. You either learn how to give yourself the love you need, or remain in a web of co-dependency forever. The easiest way to escape the sense of inferiority is to give up the need to feel superior. You are no less than the stars, and no more than an ant. You just…are. And in being so are as divine as anything or anyone who has ever walked the earth or existed in the universe. But no more so than anything else. If you can handle that, you are free.
The “Ancient Child” is sophisticated simplicity. Hugely powerful if you will apply it regularly. The external world you see is an expression of your inner world. Once you stop trying to beat the world, and just work to align inner and outer existence, you step into a different realm. And that world is a world of magic.

Namaste,
Steve

Using the “Ancient Child” technique

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I’ve been working and testing the “Ancient Child” technique for about five years now, and what people asked for was a fuller explanation, as well as a “plug and play” approach to using it. I’ve done that, and it will be available very soon, on the new blog I’ve been creating with WordPress guru Lorelle VanFossen.

Let’s discuss one application of the technique: emotional abuse. Especially if the abuse originated in childhood, this can be devastating. A parent who damages heart and body, or fails to provide protection for same, changes the profoundly important relationship with your core self, affecting:

Ambition
Self-love
Ability to find honest healthy relationships
Self-discipline (why bother if you aren’t worth it?)
Co-dependency
Creativity
Artistic success (which is a balance between “creative child” and “marketing/agenting adult)
Body composition issues (obesity and anorexia)
Self-damaging (cutting, etc.)
Drug and alcohol abuse
Sexual issues

And much much more. The “Ancient Child” technique can have a powerful effect here, because the “child” image you create is, specifically, a representation of the child you were BEFORE the abuse began. (Note: if you have serious abuse issues, please seek therapeutic assistance. Your therapist should be aware of what you intend to do here)

What you have to do is:

1) Enter a state of deep relaxation. Meditation or self-hypnosis.

2) Connect with your own heartbeat and “source of love.”

3) Visualize the child self.

4) Connect with the child self: visualize holding, hugging, playing with.

5) Remember the first time you held your own child, or held a baby sister, brother, or cousin. Find the “protective” door in your mind, even if it was only for a puppy or kitten. It’s there. You have the wiring. Or: remember/imagine being held and nurtured in infancy. EVERYONE was, whether you can remember it or not. Human beings who are not nurtured in infancy DO NOT SURVIVE. You may have blanked it out…but it happened. Find it. Meditate and search within yourself until you can find this strand of love, unbroken through the generations, back to the beginning of our species.

6) Commit to being your own mother/father. To DIE before you let anyone else hurt that child again. To protecting her dreams and hopes. To spending every day loving and nurturing.
Tell her/him. Say the words. Speak them aloud: “You are the most precious thing in all the world. Daddy is here, and I will never leave you alone again.”

7) Listen to what that “child” self has to say in return. See if there is a conversation to be conducted.

8) After you have emerged from your relaxed state, use your non-dominant hand (your left, if you are right-handed) to write a letter FROM your “child” to your current, adult self. Read it aloud.

This process can be of stupendous benefit. Please, please–even if you are “healthy” you will find it useful to connect to your creativity and aliveness. But if, like most of us, you’ve been banged up by life or have issues with parents, it is close to miraculous.

The process was given to me by a succession of phenomenally wise men and women. And now…it is yours.

Namaste
Steve

Think and Grow Rich #1–Passion

TUESDAY, DECEMBER 20, 2011
TAGR #1–Desire

“TRULY, “thoughts are things,” and powerful things at that, when they
are mixed with definiteness of purpose, persistence, and a BURNING
DESIRE for their translation into riches, or other material objects.”–Napoleon Hill

When I was a kid, my mother used to play self-improvement records all the time: “The Golden Key”, “The Power of Positive Thinking”, “Psycho-Cybernetics”, “As A Man Thinketh” and the king of them all, “Think And Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill. I hated that stuff. But it sank in for a lifetime. TAGR was quite possibly the first instance in which a writer interviewed successful people by the dozens, and attempted to extract the syntax of their success such that it could be applied to ANYONE, with any quantifiable goals. Especially money. I suggest that anyone who desires money should re-read it once a year (or…there are excellent audio versions. Get one of about an hour’s length and listen to it once a month).

In 2011 I did a series on it over at Dar Kush, and as I’m plundering my past, encountered these thoughts, and decided to bring them back…

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The bizarre thing about Think And Grow Rich is how almost every paragraph has been cannibalized by lesser writers, who have based entire lectures, courses, books and careers out on some single aspect of this insanely condensed and idea-rich book. You can open it at random on a given day, put your finger on almost any part of the page, and find life-changing concepts.

Every one of the thirteen principles, used deeply and mastered, would change your life. Any three of them would probably make you a rousing success. But say, seven of them? Any seven? If you re-read one of those seven chapters daily and implemented what it said? In a year or two, people would think you walked on water.

Let’s get our feet wet, shall we?

The first principle is DESIRE. A burning, unquenchable DESIRE for your goals. Again, set goals in four arenas: physical health and fitness, love and relationship, mental performance/career/education, and monetary wealth.

These four interact, cross-reference, provide support and motivation for each other, and guarantee balance. You can have MORE goals, but be very certain that you cover at least these four. No one says it will be easy. It won’t be. But I’d say 99.9% of people want all four of these things, while about 30% of people claim they don’t. Someone is lying. I suggest you ask yourself if it is you.

It is comforting to pretend we don’t really want things. that we have no desire to sing our song to the world as loudly and sweetly as we can in the trivial few days we have to live in this world. It is easy to lie to ourselves that we don’t want the physical aliveness we had as children. We don’t want the passion and love we desire. Don’t want the financial success to create safe harbor for ourselves and our families. I’ve lost count of the people who’ve said: “I don’t care about money”…and then gone on to describe ruined hopes and dreams that could be easily fulfilled with sufficient financial resources. Or causes they hold dear that will dwindle and die for lack of monetary support. Dreams of travel, education, or family comfort that could easily be assuaged with…money.

When we don’t believe we can have something, or SHOULD have something, it is easier to simply pretend we don’t want it. And those lies kill our dreams.

I would rather aim too high and be disappointed, than aim too low and fail to fulfill my potential.
I want the physical power, grace, and aliveness of a panther. I crave love, passion, and intimacy with a family and soulmate. I want to write stories that change the world and live for centuries beyond me. And I want such a surplus of money that I can be a benefactor to my family and the causes I believe in.

And I want them with a burning, driving, consuming passion…but also a slight sense of humor. I know it is a game. I’m prepared to lose. But I’m not going to sit on the bench in my own life, watching others play and wondering what I might have done if I’d just dared to get on the field.
I won’t do it. THIS IS MY LIFE. The only one I get. The little boy inside me dreamed of being a writer, a martial artist, and having love.

By God, I went out and got him all those things. No matter the cost. No matter how many times I got knocked down. I was fighting for that little boy.

And he loves me for it. He is absolutely tickled at the man I am today…still standing, still singing my song. And the old man I will be on my deathbed is smiling at me as well: he knows that the money, the external success, even the external relationships are nothing more than an expression of what is happening inside me. Success is the result of CONSUMING DESIRE, sufficient to overcome obstacles, to be knocked down a million times and get up a million and one. To move through fear, and disappointment, and guilt, and shame. To be willing to overcome everything, no matter what.

I love that little boy inside me that much, dammit. My mother and father are gone. Have joined, in John D. MacDonald’s great words, “the long, long line of the dead ones.”

I am all he has. And I will fight to the last drop of blood for his dreams. Until the last breath. And I know that when my eyes close for the last time, he will be smiling at me. Loving me. Saying “you did good, Daddy.”

And frankly? If that’s all I get in life, that’s all I need.

Steve

Rage as a Mask over Fear

(From MONDAY, JANUARY 31, 2011)
Healing Rage

I love the 101. This feels like my gift to the world.

Why? Read the following, posted today by one of my students. This is good, solid, meaningful work.

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This is turning into a very different round. Last round I kept myself off of any supplementary self-help books in order to really focus on the program (I have a history of self-sabotage by exposing myself to more wisdom than I can absorb.)

This round, it’s like my slate’s been cleared for some serious supplemental work.

So, late in last round, I started getting a real clear look at my own worst side. It was like I’d at last discovered my inner child, and she was “a fat, sulky, spoiled fat year old who felt totally entitled to take from the world to make up for her pain.” You should have seen my therapist dress me down for saying that– I recall her words ending that conversation as “the age was the only part you got right in that description.”

So in the meantime, the first of the self-help books I picked up, put back down, and put on hold until 2011 came in. Ruth King’s _Healing Rage_. (For all you writers out there, _Healing Rage_ started as a self-published book that was supposed to come and go like a shooting star… until a copy fell into Alice Walker’s hands and she declared it one of the most important books she’d ever read.)

So I ate up the first chapter and the second and totally delighted in the whole book right up until the little quiz where Ruth King gets the reader to identify the particular major disguise that the reader uses to cover her Rage: Dominance (active Fight), Defiance (reactive Fight), Devotion (active Flight), Distraction (reactive Flight), Dependence (active Freeze) and Depression (reactive Freeze).

I tested Dependence. I don’t want to write that here, I don’t want to share that with y’all, I don’t want to listen to it myself, and if I had read the book two weeks– just two weeks before I did… I absolutely would not have believed it.

But I could not ignore the results in the book exactly matching the journal notes I’d been making on what I see as I become able to see myself at my worst.

So, meanwhile, my therapist sends me home with a new sheet she’d entitled “Core Beliefs”. I’m calling them “Fear Languages”. You heard of the idea that we have primary “Love Languages”– that if a Touch person isn’t getting Touch all the good Words in the world won’t get through, etc.? Well, this was a sheet of primal-level personal Fears– that particular Fear that if it gets twanged, you’re not hearing anything else, you’re not thinking any longer, you are in the maelstrom.

Took us about ten seconds to figure out my Core Fear is Helplessness.

So– the persona with which I face the world, the way I structure social situations around my Rage… is Dependence.

And the trigger condition which will totally unhinge me, is Helplessness.

Let’s think about how those two constructs work in tandem.

I think I’m due an honorary engineering degree for this one.

So, that was the background. This week’s breakthrough, I took a long hard look at what went well and what didn’t on my first chaplaincy shifts, and nailed the tail of what didn’t go well as it tried to shrink away. I didn’t introduce myself to the chief nurse of my unit because the nurses were too busy to disturb. Uh-uh. That’s not an observation, that there is an excuse: nurses are always busy. If I stay “nice” and “quiet” and “out of the way”, my unit’s chief nurse is never going to know me the way he or she needs to; I have to come out behind the mask to do this job right.

I have just reached the point where what I have consciously chosen to do with my life has locked horns with what I have unconsciously chosen to do with my life.

Plus, there’s been a metric ton of schoolwork that I can barely keep up with.

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Steve here again. Whoa. If this student takes action, she will experience genuine growth. Information that does not affect behavior has little value. I suspect there’s gold in them thar words.