Does the Pain of Deep Trauma Ever Go Away?

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Author’s Note: This is a very personal article and before you get to it I want to share a few thoughts and disclaimers.

First, this is based on my experience at a workshop this past weekend so it’s still fresh and a bit raw and probably not my best writing.

Second, if you have never experienced emotional release work, please don’t let my experience scare you away. Not everyone has such intense experiences – although many do – and the potential benefits are huge!

Third, while the work I did this weekend addresses the deep emotional wounds I carry, neither this article nor the work itself is meant to encourage what Caroline Myss calls “Woundology.” I believe the vast majority of us carry wounds from early childhood traumas. Woundology is a victim-based place where you seek – usually not consciously – to hold onto your wounds and to blame the circumstances of your life on past traumas and the people involved in them. Emotional release work, on the other hand, addresses those wounds in a positive manner that acknowledges their presence, seeks to diminish the “charge” they hold and minimize the influence they have on your thoughts and actions.

So with that in mind, here is the article.

This weekend I participated in a very powerful workshop called Naka Ima. My first Naka Ima experience was ten years ago and after that one I wasn’t in a big rush to do it again! But a few weeks ago when a good friend mentioned that there was another one coming up and that she would be participating, my inner guidance system started going off and it was clear that I was supposed to be there.

With my birthday journey to the Grand Canyon beginning tomorrow, my time felt a bit compressed but I could sense that a big shift was possible at Naka Ima. Just as I sense that there is something waiting for me at the bottom of the canyon, some letting go or opening up or insight or … I don’t know. But whatever happens down there, the Naka Ima work has been great preparation for the trip.

Letting Go!

Naka Ima is about letting go of core attachments and the work can be quite intense. On both Friday and Saturday, in the “Triad” work, I had deeply cathartic emotional/somatic releases.

Now before I share my experience I must admit that I have been avoiding any kind of emotional release work for quite a while. I’ve done a LOT of it over the past 10-years and I’ve been feeling frustrated that, even after doing so much deep – and I mean DEEP – personal work there always seems to be more. I was questioning whether emotional release – ritual or breathwork or this Naka Ima work – was the answer.

How many times do I need to go into that abyss of grief and anger, despair and rage before I reach the bottom? Does the pain ever end? And if it doesn’t what is the point of re-experiencing that trauma?

Those were some of the questions I had going into the weekend and I voiced my doubts to Deborah Riverbend – the facilitator. She assured me that in all the years she has been practicing and teaching this work that she has NEVER seen a case of “never ending grief!” According to Deborah, the pain does end. You do reach the bottom of that abyss.

That was extremely wonderful to hear and I’ll keep you posted as I continue to explore this work about whether or not I’m the one exception! 😉

We all have wounds

Most of us carry wounds. Some are extremely deep, some not so much. There may or may not have been a specific traumatic event or incident. But whether you were abandoned, betrayed or abused, neglected, rejected or smothered you most likely have some inner wound that influences your thoughts, feelings and actions.

Like me, I’m sure you’re pleased to know that there is an end to the impact that wound has on your life. You CAN release the charge and start living free from the unconscious impulses of that wounded place within you.

On the first day of the workshop I dove right in and worked with the grief I carry from my adoption once again. My story, that my mother “didn’t want me,” that I was abandoned and betrayed, unwanted and unloved, has deeply influenced the way I create my life. The story seems to weave its way into just about every aspect of my life even after more than 15-years of intensive personal work. So on Friday afternoon, when we moved into our “triads” I was feeling very ready to drop in and let go.

By now, I’m quite skilled at going into emotional release. I can tap into the vein of grief very quickly, perhaps because it is still so close to the surface. So moving into the grief was not a problem. But I was encouraged by one of my triad partners to “find my edge.” She wondered what would allow me to discover a new, deeper place of release and healing.

Are you willing to be seen in your woundedness?

I quickly found the edge: Was I willing to be seen, really seen, in my grief?

Closing my eyes, curling up in a ball and letting the pain come out is pretty easy for me. There is a sense of comfort in that space, a familiarity that feels welcoming.

Staying connected to my partners, looking into their eyes as I was deep in the pain and anguish of the adoption experience was terrifying. To see and feel their love for me as I was expressing my woundedness was almost unbearable. I felt an overwhelming urge to close my eyes, to curl up into that protective ball and run from their love.

But I stayed there with them. I allowed their eyes to anchor me to the present even as the cellular memories in my body were fully immersed in and releasing the pre-verbal trauma from my adoption.

newborn-babyAt some point the process moved into a spontaneous “rebirthing” experience. As my body began experiencing and expressing the trauma of my birth it became difficult to know where the emotional pain ended and the physical pain began.

At times it seemed like I was experiencing the birth from my mother’s perspective. The involuntary movements of my body and the ripples of pain moving through my belly seemed to reflect a mother’s experience during labor and birth.

It actually makes sense that I would have “encoded” my mother’s experience in my cellular memory. After all, in that moment, we were still connected, still “one” being. Our experiences were merged and so, too, perhaps did our cellular memories become merged. So releasing her pain from my body was a welcomed blessing.

Welcome to a world of love

As the intensity of the experience began to decrease an image flashed into my mind of the “welcome” I received into this world. In that image I saw myself looking into the eyes of my mother for the few minutes she held me before I was taken from her arms. As I looked, I saw and felt her fear and pain, anger and anguish.

There was love there also: hidden, dampened, muted and merged into the other emotions. And as that image flashed into my mind I knew that it was time to experience being born into a world of love. I wanted to “come out” to welcoming, loving eyes and arms.

So I asked for that experience, I asked to be rebirthed into a world surrounded by love and acceptance rather than fear and anguish. And my partners made it so. They bundled me up in blankets and laid on top of me, creating pressure as if I was still compressed inside the birth canal. Slowly I pushed my way out and into the light and into their welcoming arms and eyes and hearts.

Because my body was so “in the experience” of the birth, that reenactment, even though it was not very “realistic,” had a major impact on my psyche. I obviously cannot change the actual events of my birth, but I can reprogram my memories of that moment.

You can re-create your memories

In essence I was “tricking” my mind into re-membering my birth experience. Brain researchers have discovered that memories are extremely elastic. Contrary to what researchers believed until quite recently, memories are not fixed. They are fluid and mutable: The very act of remembering something actually recreates the memory.

So why not take advantage of that mutability and consciously recreate the memories from a traumatic event? If I can insert an experience of being welcomed with love and joy into my birth memories, maybe I can shift the way those memories influence my present day thoughts and actions.

It’s certainly worth a shot!

One thing I do know is that after this weekend I feel much lighter, more open and receptive to the love and blessings in my life. I can still feel the remnants of the grief swirling around inside of me and my body feels like I took it out for an Iron Man Triathalon (well maybe only a Tin Man)! But my psyche feels so much more present, awake and engaged in this moment.

I’m looking forward to deepening that presence while I’m down in the “womb” of the Earth – the Grand Canyon later this week. And I’m looking forward to celebrating my Re-Birth-Day while connected to her nurturing, loving energy.

So does the pain ever go away? Does the grief ever end?

Deborah Riverbend believes it does. I’m hopeful and open to trusting her. And I’m very willing to experiment with my life. I’ve made a commitment to follow this rabbit hole down, down, down and see just how deep it goes. I’ve made a commitment to participate in as many Naka Ima triads and other emotional release processes as I possibly can over the next few weeks and months to see if I can find the bottom of this hole.

I’ll let you know!

Leave a comment below and let me know your experience with Emotional Release: Have you found the bottom? Have you discovered a place where your trauma no longer holds an emotion charge?

I won’t be able to join the conversation until I return from the Grand Canyon next week. But I look forward to hearing your thoughts when I get back!

Inside the Reptilian Brain of Adoption

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birthday-present-headerMy mother is coming in today to celebrate Ella’s 6th birthday. She has been here for most of Ella’s birthdays. And every time she comes in I find myself in a chaotic swirl of emotions. You see this is my “first mommy,” as Ella calls her. She is my biological mother, the mother that, after being held by her for an hour on the day of my birth, I did not meet again until I was 23.

And her presence tends to awaken all sorts of old wounds. And when she is here for Ella’s birthday, that awakening is even more acute.

It was just this morning that I put some of the missing pieces into place. I woke up filled with a deep sadness. And, when I’m sad, my super sensitive little Ella tends to mirror that sadness back to me. So when she woke up this morning, on her birthday, crying and saying that she didn’t want to be six, I knew that it was time to get a grip on my stuff.

But how do you get a grip on stuff that is coming up from deep below the conscious level? How do you transform emotional content that is coming from a pre-verbal cellular memory? How do you turn off the infantile –literally in this case – fight or flight response to a 45 year old event?

Well, I’m still working on figuring that out.

And the piece that fell into place this morning seems to have helped. It’s a piece that comes from not quite so deep in my subconscious mind, probably not all the way down in my reptilian limbic system. It feels like about a 6 year old part of me. And I just now put that together with Ella turning six. Interesting how writing can help pull these pieces together.

It’s as if the six year old part of me is sad because Joan was never at any of my birthdays. And that part of me is angry and confused and, yes, even a bit jealous, that she is now showing up for all of Ella’s birthdays.

And even though this emotional content is coming from well below my conscious awareness, it is bubbling up into my consciousness in a way that I can connect with it. And once I can connect with it, I can begin to play with it.

So, without denying the truth of the sadness and anger and jealousy, all of which have their source in an old wounded place within me, I can begin shifting my focus to the present time. I can begin focusing on my joy that Joan has become such a constant presence in my life. I can focus on gratitude for the love that she shares with Ella. I can focus on Ella’s excitement and joy at turning six.

The shift doesn’t make the sadness go away. One of the insights I had on my recent Vision Quest is that the sadness will always be a part of me. It will always be present within me. But I am able to choose how much of my attention I devote to that sadness.

This morning, when I woke up, the vast majority of my attention was locked onto the sadness. And like a person with a toothache, who can’t stop focusing on the pain and poking and prodding at the tooth, amplifying the pain, I found myself unable to move out of that emotional stew.

But, slowly, step by step, I have begun to shift my focus, and move more of my attention to the present, to the joy that is here now. And as I do that the sadness becomes a softer presence within my awareness of the present.

It’s odd to notice that, as my awareness expands to include more of the world around me and within me, the sadness takes on a comforting tone. It’s like a “blankie” within me, something familiar and known and safe.

But just like a blanket this sadness can smother me, shroud me in darkness, block out everything else, and make it hard to breathe if I hold it too close and wrap it too tightly around me. But if I hold it as a part of my world, without having it become my entire world, it can be a positive, comforting presence.

So today I celebrate the birth of my daughter and all the joy she has brought into this world.

And today I also celebrate my birth and the knowledge that my mother was there with me, she was present for the most important Birth Day of my life!

Of Fear, Black Widow Spiders and Personal Growth

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I admit it, I like spiders. They get a bad rap. Undeserved, I might add. Not only do they eat a lot of those pesky flies and other bugs, but they often provide great personal growth lessons.

At least they have for me. I’ve already written about the little jumping spider who taught me a lesson about gratitude. And then there was the little guy who sacrificed his beautiful web in order to teach me about where to build my creations.

And now there’s this spider lesson about fear. And while the event that catalyzed this post and the original article happened two years ago, the lesson is still important.

It all began one Saturday morning. My wife came out of the bathroom and said, quite calmly, “Ed, there’s a big black spider in the bathtub.” Since I was watching my daughter, Ella, at the time, I carried her in there to investigate.

I was a bit surprised that my wife did not call it a Brown Recluse. That’s our running joke. She grew up in Brown Recluse territory, and whenever she sees a brownish spider she says “Ed, I just saw a Brown Recluse. Go get it.” And every time she says it, I gently remind her that the Brown Recluse does not live in Northern California as I go to gather up the culprit and take it outside.

But this morning, when Ella and I went to look in the tub, I could understand why Melissa had not called it a Brown Recluse. This spider was a deep shiny black. Now, while most spiders can bite, the only truly dangerous spider in our area is the black widow, a very distinctive, shiny black spider that I had never actually seen. So I’m usually pretty casual about spiders. But the color of this one caused me to act with a bit more caution. And it was good that I did. When I gathered up the critter in a Tupperware bowl, I could see, through the translucent plastic, the distinctive red hourglass on its belly.

Here was my first Black Widow Spider.

This was an exciting day for me. Unfortunately, Melissa did not share in my enthusiasm at this discovery. She promptly took Ella from my arms and commanded me to take the spider far away from the house. I must admit that I was pleased and a bit surprised that she did not insist that I immediately squash it.

Spiders Get A Bad Rap

Now I want to stop and put in a bit of a plug for spiders. They get a bad rap. They take the blame for a lot of stuff they don’t do: flea bites, tick bites, bed bug bites, even mosquito bites. You name it; spiders take the blame for it. Most spiders don’t bite humans, others only bite when confronted, and of those that do bite, there are only a handful that are truly dangerous to humans. (At least here in the US. There are a few countries that have some seriously dangerous spiders!) Even the bite of the supposedly deadly Black Widow is fatal in less than 1% of all instances.

And then there are the legends that have grown up around the infamous Brown Recluse. Over 60% of the medically diagnosed Brown Recluse bites occur in regions in which the spider does not live! How a spider that lives only in the South Central portion of the USA can be responsible for so many unexplained ailments here in California and elsewhere is beyond me.

Here’s a brief excerpt from a spider info site at the University of California to give you some perspective:

This website presents evidence for the lack of brown recluse spiders as part of the Californian spider fauna. Unfortunately, this contradicts what most Californians believe; beliefs that are born out of media-driven hyperbole and erroneous, anxiety-filled public hearsay which is further compounded by medical misdiagnoses.

This DOES Relate To Personal Growth!

At this point, you may be wondering what this has to do with personal growth. Fear not, I do have a point. And as the good Dr. Seuss would say, “This may not seem important I know. But it is, and that’s why I’m bothering telling you so.”

How do you feel about spiders? Do you cringe when you see one walking on your wall? Do you quiver at the thought of one crawling up your leg?

Where do those feelings come from? When you were a youngster, did someone in your family go into paroxysms of fear whenever a spider was spotted? Did you inherit that fear? And does that fear continue to control your relationship with these critters?

Ok, lets face it, a fear of spiders is not going to prevent you from living a successful, abundant, joyous life. But here’s the catch: What fears do you harbor that DO prevent you from living that life? What other fears have you inherited from your family and friends and the culture around you? And how do those fears hold you back from becoming the person you have the potential to be?

Fears Always Appear Larger

Your fear, because it is rooted in the past, always appears much larger than it really are. When we feel fear, we’re almost always reacting to the projection of something that was planted inside us long ago. Just as the shadow of a spider walking in front of a light appears huge and frightening, so too do our fears become magnified many times when we look at the projection. The reality of the spider, when viewed from a place of present-time awareness, is much less scary. So too do your fears become manageable when you shift your perception from the shadow to the source.

Fears thrive on the lies and exaggerations that are possible only in the dark, hidden places. As soon as you bring those fears out into the light you can begin to see them for what they really are. The trick, of course, is knowing how to pull those fears out into the light.

So here’s your assignment:

When you see a spider (or a snake or a mouse or you look down from a balcony or get onto a plane or fill in the blank) and you notice the dread that lives in the pit of your stomach, know that you have a great opportunity to practice shifting your perception.

So the next time you find yourself face to face with a spider (or whatever your fear is) rather than running away or calling for reinforcements, try to stop and breathe for a moment and become an explorer of your inner world. If you need to catch the spider and place it in a hermetically sealed container in order to breathe, that’s ok! And then see if you can observe that spider with the objectivity of a scientist.

This practice will serve you well the next time you find yourself confronted by a fear that really does hold you back from the life you want to live. When you feel yourself quaking as you prepare to give a presentation, when you watch your arms quivering as you walk into a job interview, when your mouth becomes drier than the Sahara desert as you share your portfolio with a gallery owner, whenever you notice yourself entering a place of fear, become a scientist, objectively exploring the phenomenon. Become a neutral observer of your own life. When you discover the source of your fear, you may be surprised to find that the reality is much less scary than the perception.

And just so that you don’t think I’m asking you do something that I’m not, I have a confession to make. Before Ella was born, I would not voluntarily pick up a spider in my hand. While I “logically” knew that it could not hurt me, the ferocious look (and some of them do look quite fearsome if you get up close) and the spider fears I inherited from both of my parents caused me to exercise caution.

But after Ella was born I made a conscious decision to do whatever I could to keep my fears out of her. So now, when I see a spider, and Ella is with me, I’ll just reach over and grab it with my hand. (I do grab a container to relocate those Wolf Spiders: Their bites aren’t that dangerous, but apparently can be quite painful).

I feel the fear as I’m doing it. It’s alive within me as I reach out. But my desire to give Ella the option to choose her path without the weight of my fears is enough to help me push through that fear and grab that little creature.

Remember, courage is not the absence of fear, it is feeling the fear and doing it anyway!

The Vision Board 2008 Invitational

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Are you up for a challenge? Do you want to get 2008 off to an intentional start? If so, I want to invite you to participate in the 2008 Vision Board Invitational. Last year’s Vision Board meeting at the January drop in Law of Attraction group – a group I host on the first Saturday of each month – was such a success that we’re doing it again.

But this year, I want you to join us, even if you can’t get to Santa Rosa on Saturday. If you do join us, not only will you start 2008 with a powerful burst of inspired action, but you also get a chance to share you vision with the world and you could win a fantastic prize! Read on to find out more. Whatever you think about the Law of Attraction and the ideas in the movie The Secret, there is one point that you just can’t argue with: Setting intentions works!

You can’t get what you want if you don’t know what you want. But intention setting, on its own, is not enough. You need continuous focus on your intentions as well as inspired, focused action. And one of the best ways to stay focused on your intentions is to create visual reminders. Secrets of the Millionaire Mind author, T. Harv Ecker, frequently tells his students that, “Visual is memorable.” And Vision Boards are one of the most powerful tools I know of for creating continuous, visual focus on your positive intentions. And there’s even a dash of inspired action thrown into the process of creating a vision board.

Now if you’ve never created one, a Vision Board is a collage or other collection of images, words and phrases created and used to facilitate the manifestation of desires. But don’t let the simplicity fool you. Vision Boards are one of the most powerful tools in the deliberate creator’s toolbox.

When you create a vision board you are doing three things that immediately put you ahead of 95% of the people who set resolutions:

  • When you create a Vision Board you are taking Inspired Action.
  • When you create a Vision Board you clarify and focus your desires.
  • When you create a Vision Board (and place it where you see it often) you have an on-going, visual reminder of your intentions.

The process of creating a Vision Board is straightforward:

  • Gather the supplies – board, glue, scissors, magazines, catalogs, markers, etc.
  • Clarify your desires.
  • Cut out images that represent those desires..
  • Glue them onto your board.
  • Place the board somewhere you will see it on a daily basis.

But while the process is simple, taking the action to do it is not always easy! I’ve seen far too many people say they were going to create a New Year’s Vision Board only to find that weeks and months into the New Year they still had not done so. If you’ve ever struggled to complete an “optional” project on your own, you know just what I’m talking about.

This year, I want to help to stack the deck in your favor and hopefully make it a bit easier for you to complete your New Year’s Vision Board Monday, January 14th and get 2008 off to a deliberate, positive start! So I’ve come up with a few incentives and some tips. First the incentives:

  • Share your vision with the world: Sure it’s great to create a vision board and hang it on your wall. But there is something empowering about sharing your vision. By sharing your vision you declare your intention to the world. You put your flag in the sand. So to help you share your vision with the world, on Tuesday, January 15th, I will post an entry here with a link every vision board that is completed by January 14th. (You’ll have to send me the link of course). You can post the photo of your Vision Board on your blog or website, or put it up at a photo sharing site such as Flickr.com. I’ll also feature images of a few of my favorite boards along with the link.
  • Win some great prizes: Everyone who submits a completed Vision Board by January 14th will receive access to the online version of my CD, An Introduction to Brainwave Entrainment Technology for Personal Growth and Success. If you haven’t experienced Brainwave Entrainment, you are missing out on a powerful personal growth tool.In addition, three winners will receive a $40 prize package that includes the physical CD listed above as well as the inspiring, award winning anthology, Healing the Heart of the World, which includes my essay, The Evolutionary Warrior, along with essays from Caroline Myss, Neale Donald Walsch, Bruce Lipton and many others.

I’m also working on a grand prize that I can’t announce quite yet. But if it comes through, it will provide the winner with an amazing tool for following up on their intentions. Now here are some tips to help you create your Vision Board:

  • Set a date and invite some friends and family members to join you. One of the reasons that last year’s Vision Board event at the drop in Law of Attraction group was so successful is because 35 Deliberate Creators came together to co-create their reality for 2007. When a group comes together, and focuses their collective energy on a single goal energy of the entire group is raised. So even just two people coming together can significantly raise the energy.And with a group you can also pool your resources – glue sticks, scissors, magazines, etc. And finally, when you commit to a date with others, you’re much more likely to “show up” and complete your Vision Board.
  • If you are going to create your Vision Board on your own, set a firm date and time. Go do it right now: Get out your calendar and block out 3-hours. That should be plenty of time to create your New Year’s Vision Board. And once you put that time into your calendar make it non-negotiable!
  • Keep your focus narrow. Don’t try to do too much with your Vision Board. Focus on just your top 3-5 intentions. Or create a board for just one area of your life – work, money, relationship, etc. If you try to do too much on one board, you’ll dilute the effectiveness. You can always do another board when you have attracted the intentions in this one or create another board for another area of your life.
  • Set a definite ending time. Creating a Vision Board is one of those projects with the potential to move into the continual “work in progress” category. And, in truth, a vision board is always a work in progress because you vision is always evolving. However, you definitely do want to complete your Vision Board. So set a firm deadline and make a commitment to yourself to finish your board by that time.
  • Let your board be “Not Perfect.” Start with the knowledge that your Vision Board will never be perfect. That way you’ll be more likely to sit down and finish it. And finishing it is far more important than making it “perfect.” whatever that means. This is also a good exercise in getting over any perfectionist tendencies you might have!

Participation Details: To participate in the 2008 Vision Board Invitational, all you have to do is complete your 2008 Vision Board by Monday, January 14th and use the contact form above to send me the link to your Vision Board. If you have a blog or website, you can post your Vision Board there and I’ll link to it from Evolving Times.

If you don’t have a website, you can use an online photo-sharing site such as Flickr, Photobucket. I’m looking forward to seeing all of your grand visions! If you have questions, you can leave a comment below and I’ll answer them as fast as I can.

And if you think this is a good idea, you can help me get the word out by sharing this entry using one of the social bookmarking links below. If you’re new to social bookmarking a good place to start is with a Thumb’s Up on Stumbleupon.

ANGER: Awakening New Growth Encountering Resistance

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It sure seems like there’s a lot more anger around lately. The cover story of the most recent Utne Reader asked “Why are we all so angry?

Wikipedia has entries for, among others, Anger, Anger Management, Rage, Road Rage, Air Rage, Computer Rage, and even Wrap Rage, which is defined as “heightened levels of anger, frustration and violence resulting from the inability to open hard-to-remove packaging.”

Come on; raise your hand if you’ve ever wanted to take a bazooka to the 12 inches of bulletproof plastic wrap surrounding a tiny flash drive!

The topic of anger has also come up at the last two drop-in Law of Attraction groups, so I’ve been pondering it a bit lately.

Anger often gets labeled bad or lower or negative. Even the Law of Attraction emotional scale has labeled the lower half of the emotional scale “negative.” But as I explored earlier in a post about Redefining the Law of Attraction Emotional Scale, I don’t believe there are any bad or negative emotions. Those “lower” emotions serve a valuable purpose: They point out our resistance.

And anger is one of the most powerful expressions of resistance which is actually a good thing!

Anger is filled with energy and movement. Harnessing that energy can help propel you to the next level. But first you must acknowledge the anger, recognize it for what it is and accept the opportunity that comes with it.

So recently, when I have felt anger bubbling up from the depths I have begun to think of anger as:

Awakening
New
Growth
Encountering
Resistance.

When I approach anger with that attitude, it immediately softens my perspective and allows me to open up to the opportunities that the anger is bringing.

Instead of saying, “This is bad. I need to get out of this anger.” I can ask powerful, forward focused questions such as, “What is the new growth that is awakening in me?” or “How am I resisting that growth.” and “What can I do right now to release my resistance and allow this growth to blossom?”

These questions lead the way through the anger to personal growth and movement.

Anytime we label something as “bad” we immediately give it more power and cause it to become more entrenched and secure.

So the next time you feel anger starting to bubble up to the surface, don’t push it back down.

Instead, remind yourself that it is Awakening New Growth Encountering Resistance and see what you can do to open up and allow that new growth to come through.

I’d love to hear your thoughts, stories or insights about anger. Use the comment form below to join the conversation.

Curb Your Enthusiasm…NOT!

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[Authors’ Note. I wrote the first draft of this article almost 1-year ago. But while the event that triggered this article might be old-news, the lesson is timeless. Enjoy!]

One of my daughter’s, favorite activities recently is the wild and exuberant release of a sound that is a cross between a Tarzan yodel and a Native American war whoop. She starts out softly and increases the volume as she pats her hand on and off her mouth. It’s an expression of pure enthusiasm and joy for life.

There is no pattern that I can discern, no rhyme or reason to her whooping. It happens spontaneously and rises up from the depth of her being at unexpected and completely random moments. It’s as if the beauty, excitement and joy of this life become too much for her to hold inside any longer and she lets them out!

When we’re at the park or on the beach it’s great. When we’re home it’s usually fine. When we’re in the car it’s all right, although it certainly does echo quite a bit in that small space.

But when we’re in the grocery store, or a restaurant, or the video store, I feel compelled to moderate the volume a bit.

And when we’re on a plane, or at a funeral well…

On our trip to my father-in-law’s funeral, I had the opportunity to experience both of those.

During the 5-hour flight to Nashville, there were numerous repetitions of:

“Stop kicking the seat, Ella.”
“Why?”
“The person in front of you doesn’t like it.”
“Why?”
“It’s uncomfortable.”
“Why.”

And then there were the multiple refrains of:

“No we can’t walk up and down the aisle again.”
“Why?”
“The fasten seat belt sign is on.”
“Why?”
“Because the captain thinks it could be bumpy?”
“Why?”

And then there were those moments when I heard her winding up into one of those whoops. And I knew that wasn’t going to go over very well on the plane! A couple of times I actually had to put my hand over her mouth to muffle her whoops. Which, of course, made her think it was a game and caused her to do it with even more intensity.

You get the general idea.

When we arrived in Nashville, and connected with Melissa, Ella was able to let out some big whoops. And I encouraged her to get as much of it out of her system as she could before we got to the family’s house.

And then came the funeral. It was hard enough keeping tabs on Ella while we all waited to go into the sanctuary. (Thank goodness the funeral home had a kid’s room with books and puzzles and games!)

Finally the staff came and let us know it was time. They ushered us into the sanctuary and wheeled “Pop-pop” in. And the moment the preacher stepped up to the podium, Ella suddenly had the inspiration to start singing. And so she did!

Now, personally, I can’t think of anything more appropriate for a funeral than singing! Especially when it’s coming from the cutest three-year-old girl ever!

But apparently not everyone shared my opinion, and Ella’s. So we went outside where Ella could sing and dance and whoop it up as much as she wanted.

The whole experience, from plane flight to funeral, made me painfully aware of how often I was asking Ella to curb her enthusiasm. I became acutely aware of how enthusiasm un-friendly our culture really is. I mean how many places are there where a kid, or an adult for that matter, can really let loose and whoop it up?

How often do our children hear “shh,” or “stop that,” or “use your inside voice,” or “calm down or you’ll get a time-out?”

How often did you hear those things when you were a child?

Is it any wonder that the vast majority of us mature grown-up types have a hard time connecting with our passion and enthusiasm? Most of us had our passion “shushed” out of us by the time we were three!

Now I know I can’t always give Ella free-reign to let loose with her whoops, but helping her to grow up with her enthusiasm intact is more important to me than being socially acceptable. I want her to grow up with that zest for life still bubbling up from within her. So I occasionally find myself walking the fine line between what is culturally acceptable and what feels best for Ella.

Fortunately, we have found pre-schools that encourage that enthusiasm rather than attempting to stifle it, and Ella has wonderful “friends” (babysitters) that encourage and even join in her passionate expressions of joy.

And even I’ve gotten into the habit of joining her whenever possible, showing her that, yes, there’s even hope for the old-fogeys in her life!

If you haven’t tried it lately, I assure you, there is something truly thrilling and awakening in the pure uninhibited expression of joy and enthusiasm.

What about you? Where does your pure, uninhibited enthusiasm for life come out? Anywhere?

Well, if not, where do you begin to touch the edge of your enthusiasm? Where do you feel your excitement beginning to bubble up to the surface?

Sill not happening?

Well then, where do you begin to feel the ice of inhibition and constriction breaking? What activities, places, people, begin to awaken your joie de vivre, that innate joy for life that you carry deep inside you?

As you discover these activities, people and places, start making space for them. Allow your enthusiasm to awaken. And when you hear that voice in your head saying, “shh,” or “calm down,” or “Use your inside voice,” I encourage you to stick your tongue out in its general direction and get even louder!

And here’s a tip: There’s nothing like a good Tarzan yodel to break the inhibition and awaken that passion that’s waiting to come out. Come on; give it a try right now.

I double dare you!

Negative Thoughts Are Not ONLY In Your Head

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As I pulled up in front of the office this morning I caught a line from the Counting Crows’ song, Round Here, “She says ‘Shhh I know it’s only in my head'”

I wanted to shout into the radio, “IT’S NOT ONLY IN YOUR HEAD!”

And of course the intensity of my reaction made me realize that I needed to hear that! But I also thought I would share it with you.

So often we get caught up in the futile act of chasing self-defeating thoughts around our head. If you’ve ever tried to turn off a “negative” thought you know how difficult it can be.

A slightly better approach is to replace that negative thought. But even then, a deeply embedded thought may take days or weeks or possibly even years to completely replace.

That’s because it’s not only in your head!

You heard me right. Thoughts do not live just in your head or your brain or your mind. Thoughts are alive and they live in your emotions. They live in your body. They live in the very essence of your life force.

The thoughts that you are aware of are just the tip of the iceburg. They are the little bit that you can see. The rest of the thought, for most people, lies hidden from view.

And that’s why understanding that a negative thought is not only in your head can be extremely helpful. When you understand that, then you can begin transforming those thoughts on many different levels.

Adam Kayce wrote a post yesterday that got me thinking more about how we solve our personal development “problems.”

He brilliantly connected these two quotes:

The greatest and most important problems of life are all fundamentally insoluble. They can never be solved but only outgrown. — Carl Jung

The significant problems we face today cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them. — Albert Einstein

When you attempt to “turn off” a negative thought or even replace it with a more empowering thought, you are doing exactly what Einstein tells us can’t be done.

Do you want to change a thought? Then change your feeling. Change the state of your physical body. Change your energy.

Look at those quotes and feel the power they give you to change yourself:

First, let go of this idea that negative thoughts are “problems.” They are not problems. They are opportunities to transform your life! You can’t solve them. And you don’t want to solve them. But you can outgrow them.

You can evolve through them to the next level of your personal growth!

And once you understand that your negative thoughts are not problems, it becomes much easier to follow Einstein’s advice and move to a different level.

So the next time you hear the Counting Crows, or anyone, telling you “It’s only in your head,” you can just smile and calmly say, “No it’s not.”

Law Of Attraction Carnival #15 – Emotions And Success

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Aaron Potts of Today Is That Day has just posted the latest edition of the Law of Attraction Carnival.

The topic of this edition is how your emotions control your success with the Law of Attraction. Aaron has done an amazing job of picking out the best entries to feature on this topic. And there are quite a few additional entries that cover other topics related to the Law of Attraction.

So for some great reading on the Law of Attraction, go check it out.

When you’re done reading this edition, you can view all of the archived carnivals (back to August 2006) at the Law of Attraction Homepage.

If you are interested in hosting a future edition of the Law of Attraction Carnival, please let me know what topic you would like to focus on.

Thanks again to Aaron and to all the bloggers who contributed to this edition of the Law of Attraction Carnival!

Why You Will Never See A Rant Category At Evolving Times

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Rants are popular these days. You see them on many blogs. In fact some blogs are devoted entirely to the eloquent expression of irksome events, people, and things.

I understand the appeal of rants, both from the ranter’s perspective as well as that of the reader. There certainly is much to rant about in this modern world. And there have definitely been moments when the temptation to rant here on Evolving Times has been quite strong.

But as a student of the Law of Attraction and one who chooses to be the Deliberate Creator of my life, I recognize the power of thoughts and especially words. Because I accept the basic premise of the Law of Attraction – that what you focus on expands in your life – I am, understandably very careful about what I focus on, and even more selective about which topics I choose to address here.

Now please don’t hear this as judgment or advice. I am not suggesting that rants are bad and that everyone should stop their ranting. There have most definitely been times in my life when a good rant was the only thing that allowed me to maintain my sanity!

Sometimes you really do just need to get it out of your system.

In the mid 1980s, my family found itself in a bit of a crisis and we were presented with the choice of exploding into our separate and disconnected directions or to enter family therapy. Amazingly enough, we all agreed to go into therapy and spent the next 10-months having weekly sessions together.

One of the most important discoveries we made was that we all had mastered the art of “stewing and fretting” as we named it. Instead of expressing and communicating what was bothering us, those things were stuffed back inside where they proceeded to ferment. Not the healthiest way to live, I can assure you!

Our therapy sessions gave us the opportunity to communicate and occasionally rant in a safe space. And this was, literally, a family-saving experience.

It seems to me that the blogosphere is providing this opportunity, which otherwise might be unavailable, for people to express what would otherwise get stuffed back inside to ferment.

So I absolutely do recognize the importance of rants. And, at the same time, I choose to deliberately focus on and share positive, uplifting material.

Another way of expressing the basic concept of the Law of Attraction is “where attention goes, energy flows.” I want my energy and time flowing in the direction of continuous, positive change in my life and in the world. So I choose to focus my attention on those aspects of my life that are already positive and on my vision of an even more positive future.

And when I notice contrast in my life – some situation or condition that I would choose to change – I focus on the change I want to bring into my life and how to achieve it, rather than focusing on the existing condition that I want to change.

And if, on occasion, I feel the need to rant – which most definitely still do – I’ll go to the ocean or the mountains or the redwoods and share my rant with the vast, healing presence of the Earth so that I can release it from my space and shift my focus onto the change I want to bring into my life.

So if you’re looking for rants, you’re in the wrong place. But I have a feeling you won’t have to look very far to find some darn good ones out there on the blogosphere.

Is Darren Rowse Going Personal Developmenty On Us?

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Darren Rowse has this entry over at Problogger, What A Buddhist Monk Taught Me About Blogging.

Sounds like something I would write.

One of the things I like about Darren and why I read almost all of his entries is his (usually reading between the lines) holistic approach to blogging. It’s nice to see that out in the open with this entry.

Thanks Darren for being a great resource!

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