authenticity

The Homecoming: Why it's Never too Late to Live Authentically

“So you can doubt. And you can hate. But I know no matter what it takes:I’m coming home.” - Skyler Grey


 

“What about anacondas?” I asked. “Isn’t the Amazon Scary?”

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He paused for a moment and smiled at me before he answered. ‘It’s the safest place I’ve ever been,” he said while pulling out his phone to show me a picture he took of a Jaguar swimming away from his boat.”

After a  2 & ½ hour shuttle ride to the Liberia airport in Costa Rica, listening and learning from this man about his thoughts on Shamanism, the Mayan ruins in Guatemala, the Pachamama Alliance, the Amazon, and of his former work life involving unsavory business deals that effected the global economy, this man assured me that visiting the Amazon was a must.

 “Don’t worry” he said, as we exited the car and grabbed our luggage, “ the Amazon IS safe.”  He looked at me one last time before we parted for good and said “but love... now that’s scary”.

“Did he just do a little door knob therapy with me? ” I wondered as I walked into the airport and searched for the Jetblue Terminal. Tracing the threads of our conversation over and over in my mind, I finally remembered that I did tell him that I was a therapist. Perhaps that’s why he said what he said when he said it, just as many of my clients do at the end of session? They reveal  their deeper truths as they are literally walking out my office door- which allows them to say what they need to say, while avoiding any real exploration of it.  This man shared with me a deep vulnerability and then left.    

As I stood in line waiting to pick up my boarding pass for my flight home to Boston, unable to shake my curiosity, I decided to buy and read his book.  After perusing the chapter about his childhood,  I understood what he meant.

Like many clients I see, he grew up having to do what others wanted him to do- which became a part of his adult relational reality.  His own wants, needs, ideas and desires, if they deviated from what his family approved of,- were not permitted.  He developed what therapists call “a false self” -one that organizes around pleasing others and their realites- denying the authentic yearnings within. Yet, he always acted out his deeper wishes- just in destructive ways; dropping out of the school his family wanted him to go to, having affairs, ending his marriage, etc.  It made perfect sense to me why love felt so scary to him.

When people fall in love, they are often falling in love with parts of themself that they see in the other person.  Sometimes, they can only experience those parts of themself through that other person - at least initially. In a way, lovers become each other’s muses, inspiring their true nature and deep creative passions. If these parts are lost parts - exiled because they were never permitted and deemed unacceptable by those close to them, then the euphoria of being “in love with another” can quickly turn to panic - as the primitive implicit memories associated with the negative consequences of being authentic begin to surface.  For many, like this man, Love WAS scary.  And for those whom it still is, until healed, it will remain so.  When this is the case, people then chose relationships that reenact the model of love they are most familiar with- and sometimes find partners with whom they feel safe with but empty.   The lyric from O.A.R..’s song shattered “all I can feel is the realness I’m faking” speaks to that reality.

Yet the lie (false self) can not become the truth no matter how hard one tries to make it so and the call to authenticity will always be there as long as we are alive and have air to breathe. Some have the courage to take a deep breath and answer it and some do not - but the “phone” will never stop ringing -even when silenced.  

It will not quit.

Rather it will wait patiently for you to surrender to the sound of the song your soul sings.

The man I shared the shuttle ride with did answer his call-at least professionally - as he changed careers and is now dedicated to helping people all over the world live in economic fairness and in alignment with the earth’s natural resources. The draw to the amazon was his therapy and his experiences with nature and people who live connected to nature and her rhythms, helped him connect to his own.

He writes about how Shamans literally saved his life. “Shamans”,  which means medicine men or women are healers of the mind, body and spirit.  

Therapists are too.

But if you are not quite ready to answer the phone call home to yourself, here’s a pre therapy tip that will prepare you to feel safe for the “some day” trip to your inner amazon.  Find a quiet place to sit or lie down and close your eyes. Bring one hand to your heart and another to your stomach. Scan your body for tension and see if all the aches, pains, tensions and knots would be willing to soften just a tiny bit- more if they’d like. Relax your jaw and allow yourself to breath in through your mouth without even trying to.  Just wait and yield to the breath when the body needs air and inhale. Then allow the exhale.

Repeat.

Repeat again.

And again and again.

That’s it.

It’s a simple surrender to the rhythm of your breath - and the rhythm of your soul, where all the answers to your questions live- patiently waiting to share their wisdom with you.

As the breath slows down, so will the mind. When that happens, you will soon begin to hear the sounds of the rich biodiversity of all the inner voices  and parts inside of you - which at first will feel scary. If that’s the case, just return to the breath and see if you can  trust that all the frightened, shamed, scared, angry, lonely, sad, should, no don’t, but I have to and any and all  parts  of you that constantly contradict each other -have valuable data for you to listen to. They all matter and they can all live in harmony inside of you when and only when you listen to them all and deny nothing of what they have to say. They will then guide you on your journey home to authenticity and your true self.  

That’s when love shifts from scary to rich, alive and exciting.

It doesn’t get much better than that.

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Finding Hope After Heartbreak Hacks

Not only can you survive heartbreak, you can learn to thrive in your life because of it!

Are You Feeling Stuck? Tips on how to clear up your inner traffic jam.



"With one breath, with one flow

you will know

Synchronicity" 

-"Synchronicity"- The Police

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Swiss psychiatrist, Carl Jung (1875-1961) shared a story about a patient who once had a dream about an expensive piece of jewelry which she referred to as a golden scarab. Clinically, he was trying to help her get more connected to her heart, which her rational, logical, defensive mind protected her from, with good reason I am sure of. He struggled with her for quite some time and asked for a little help from the universe which he got on the day she talked about her dream.  As he listened to what she was describing, he heard a light tapping on his window.  He turned around and saw that it was a golden scarab beetle - which were widely revered in ancient Egypt. He pointed this out to his patient who quickly made the connection between her inner world being mirrored by the outerworld.  This synchronistic moment reportedly worked and the therapy began to help her.

 

“John” was a client I had been working on and off with for several years.  Normally on time for session, he arrived twenty minutes late, seemingly aggravated.  ‘Sorry” he said as he plopped himself on my couch, “I’ve been stuck in traffic for over an hour”. “John” had been feeling frustrated with many things in his life, one of which was an out of state job that he desperately wanted and had been in the works for over a year now. It seemed that each time the company got close to making him an offer, they would tell him that they didn’t have to go ahead yet, but encouraged him to hang in there with them.  Trying to ignore his immediate experience of frustration, he dove into reporting on all the recent developments or lack thereof in his life.

 

“Being stuck in traffic really sucks” I said, to which he paused, nodded his head and looked at me.  “Can you feel the frustration in your body? “ I asked.  

 

“Yes, but I really just want to forget about it”, he responded.

 

“Of course you do” I said, “but why not take a moment to just acknowledge it and see what happens?”.  

 

He agreed.  He closed his eyes and focussed on the tension in his neck and shoulders. As he followed his breath, his frustration turned to anger and then softened to a profound sadness.  He acknowledged how helpless he felt regarding his current life circumstances and wished things could change.  We spent the rest of the session holding that as he grieved his sense of helplessness.  By the end of the appointment, there was an alchemical shift in the room. Though the therapy in and of itself couldn’t do much to change the external issues in his outer life, his inner life dramatically shifted when he discovered self compassion.  

 We joked as he left that evening hoping the traffic jam would be cleared up by now so that he could have an easy ride home.  “It will be what it will be” he said, smiling as he walked out the door.

Two weeks later, John arrived early for his appointment.  I opened my office door to see him seated in the waiting room grinning from ear to ear.  “Guess what happened?” he asked as he entered my office?

  “You tell me” I responded as I waited to hear his news.

“They made me an offer last week.  I will be moving out of town and starting my new job in two months”.

He had his golden scarab moment and his inner traffic jam cleared.


Whether or not one buys into Jung’s theory of synchronicity doesn’t matter.  Taking the time to sit compassionately with all of one’s parts and unburdening the pain inside does.  

Why?

Because it help us to better manage the inevitable traffic jams we all experience and then find new routes to travel on in our lives.


 







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FInding Hope after heartbreak hacks

Not only can you survive heartbreak, you can learn to thrive in your life because of it!

Lessons on Letting Go from a Frog Trapped in a Sewer.


Free Yourself to Be Yourself

U2 Iris

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Ahimsa means non -violence.

In relationship terms, it’s comparable to self compassion, but it’s actually an eastern term signifying more.

In Vedic and Buddhist philosophies, there’s a belief in the equality of all sentient beings. The practice of ahimsa which can also be thought of as compassion and self compassion, extends towards all of them all.

One summer, there was a frog that appeared to be trapped in a sewer on the street where I reside.  Night after night, for the entire month, I would hear it croak loudly from my home office window. As I would walk my dogs by it, the frog seemed to croak even louder, almost as if were pleading for help to escape.  I spoke to several neighbors to get their thoughts on the frog and they too worried that it might be stuck in their with no viable way out. I found myself wondering if there was anything I could do to set it free and it pained me to know that there wasn’t.

As a psychotherapist, I work with many people who, possibly like the frog, feel utterly trapped in their current life circumstances.  

They see no immediate way out and often begin to feel resigned to being stuck in their own personal sewer. Being stuck feels lousy. Getting unstuck feels scary, sometimes even terrifying.  More often than not, many prefer feeling the dysthymic sense of stuckness over the terrifying possibility of becoming free. They then  waffle between the two polarities, sometimes for a very long time. This waffling however, is a necessary part of the process should one truly desire the risk, reward and responsibility of becoming a free and individuated self.

One night, after a month of listening to the frog and my own agonizing feelings that I was projecting onto it (who knows, it may have been enjoying its’ time down there) I walked over to the sewer where it lived.  I spent some time sending compassionate energy towards it and waited until its’ croaks and my angst quieted. Then I walked back into the house, knowing there was nothing more I could do.

I let go.

The next night, I didn’t hear the frog.  I walked the dogs a couple of times by the sewer to check on it.  I feared it may have died.  Then, as I walked the dogs back home and entered my garage, I saw something move out of the corner of my eye.  Lo and behold it was a frog hopping it’s way through an obstacle course of randomly stored and  over stacked stuff.

Seeing it gave me such joy as I imagined the frog found the courage to free itself so that it could be itself.

Six weeks after I “terminated therapy with the frog” (kidding) but what a case study it was, I was struck by the power of possibility when we practice and surrender to ahimsa, compassion and self compassion with ourselves and others.

I was struck by what can happen when we just let go.

It also made me wonder to myself what would happen if we all dare ask the question: what if I just let this burden go?  

 

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Finding Hope after heartbreak hacks

Not only can you survive heartbreak, you can learn how to thrive in your life because of it.