Life, and recovery, are multi-leveled dynamics. There
are multiple levels within the horizontal level. There are multiple layers
to our wounding. Part of the reason it is so important to start to learn
how to have internal boundaries is so that we can start seeing the different
levels - start sifting through the layers. As long as we are reacting
to old wounds and old tapes then we have no choices - and our perspective
is all messed up.
"Our "self" is made up of a myriad of relationships.
We have a relationship with our own mind, our body, our emotions, our soul,
our gender, our sexuality, our concept of a Higher Power. We learned
to relate to ourselves according to how our father, our mother, our siblings,
our classmates, our teachers, our relatives, etc. related to us.
The events of our life added dimensions and flavors to our relationship
with our self. . . . . The ways in which we experienced our self in those
early years were through what we felt and the reflections we saw in the
eyes of the people around us - in the ways in which people reacted to/behaved
toward us. We had to learn to define and defend ourselves in the
best ways we could because the reflections we saw, the behaviors we experienced,
were coming from people who were wounded and reactive, angry and scared,
hurt and ashamed. We learned to relate to ourselves, to other people,
and to the life process, in early childhood - and then had more experiences
growing up (and as adults) that reinforced in different ways the original
We have layer upon layer of attitudes, definitions,
and beliefs that are a factor in how we relate to ourselves. Until
we become aware of how those events, traumas, experiences, etc., have effected
us we cannot change how we react in the situations that stimulate memories
of those incidents - cannot defuse and disempower the reactive buttons
that have been running our lives."
Wounded Souls Dancing in The Light
It is vitally important to start sifting through
the layers in order to see life as it really is - and to learn how to be
honest with ourselves. We have lived our adult lives in reactions to our
childhood wounds and programming. Our patterns in relationships (all
relationships - with other people, with money, with work, with our own
bodies, etc.) are symptoms of our childhood wounding. As long as
we are focusing on the experiences of our adult life without looking for
how it is connected to our childhood, we are not seeing reality clearly.
As long as you are looking at your last relationship from the perspective
of blaming your self or the other person for your problems, you are not
being honest with your self - you are reacting from old black and white
In order to change our experience of life we need
to heal the causes - not keep focusing on the symptoms. In order
to do that it is vital to start practicing discernment - start practicing
picking the baby out of the bath water instead of swinging between reactive
"Learning discernment is vital - not just in terms
of the choices we make about who to trust, but also in terms of our perspective,
We learned about life as children and it is necessary
to change the way we intellectually view life in order to stop being the
victim of the old tapes. By looking at, becoming conscious of, our
attitudes, definitions, and perspectives, we can start discerning what
works for us and what does not work. We can then start making choices
about whether our intellectual view of life is serving us - or if it is
setting us up to be victims because we are expecting life to be something
which it is not.
One of the core characteristics of this disease
of Codependence is intellectual polarization - black and white thinking.
Rigid extremes - good or bad, right or wrong, love it or leave it, one
or ten. Codependence does not allow any gray area - only black and
Life is not black and white. Life involves
the interplay of black and white. In other words, the gray area is
where life takes place. A big part of the healing process is learning
the numbers two through nine - recognizing that life is not black and white."
Fear of the unknown is a natural, normal part of being human.
It has a purpose - and deserves to be honored as something which serves
us. But, like our relationship with all the aspects of our being,
our relationship with that fear is dysfunctional.
The damaged ego responds to it's programming by generating fear of the
things we learned to fear as a child: making mistakes; doing it wrong;
being emotional; speaking our Truth; taking risks; being alone; not being
alone; whatever. We then empower the fear by focusing on it, magnifying
it, and generally giving it the power to define us and our life - or by
denying it, which also gives it power because in denying our fear we are
denying our self and reality. Going to either extreme results in
the inability to see the situation clearly.
Because our ego was programmed to react to life from fear, negativity,
scarcity, and lack (again due to emotional trauma we experienced, and the
messages and role modeling of the adults around us) the disease focuses
on and magnifies fear - and then it scrambles around trying to find something
to cover up and repress the very fear it is generating. The disease
blows the fear way out of proportion and then leads us to addictive and/or
compulsive behavior as a way of stuffing the fear.
This is the essence of the dysfunction. We live our life reacting
to fear, and the shame, that the disease empowers and then "helps" us avoid
by causing us to focus on something outside of ourselves as the cause and/or
the cure for the core place within us where we feel empty - where we feel
unlovable and unworthy.
We are afraid of our own emotions - of all the repressed feelings and
unresolved grief that we are carrying. We learned to be afraid of
our own anger and pain and fear. We feel afraid of our fear of our
own emotions. It is this fear once (or twice) removed that is paralyzing.
That is, the fear of our own fear is our greatest block to healing.
We are afraid of our own pain and anger - and then we are afraid
of our fear of our own pain and anger.
In order to start finding some balance in recovery, it is important
to learn how to take power away from the fear. In order to do that,
it is very important to clear up our relationship with fear. And
to look at all the different levels involved in our reaction.
The first step is to stop judging ourselves for our fear (or anger,
or pain, or lonliness, etc.) - or denying to ourselves that we even have
"So the resistance to growth and to feeling my
feelings, which I feel, is not just some kind of a 'character defect'.
It consists of ages old adaptations of behaviors and attitudes which the
human species found necessary for survival. It was important for
me to start understanding this so that I could stop judging myself for
my fear and resistance. I had to learn to accept, and honor, my fears
and my resistance - in order to stop fighting the growth process so much.
Then I could start to align myself with the growth process and make my
experience of life easier and more enjoyable. Then I could start
to understand that faith is not the absence of fear - faith is having the
courage to face my fears and walk through them so that I can reach the
next level of growth."
The Dance of the Wounded Souls Trilogy
Book 1, Chapter 4
We need to take the shame and judgment out of our internal process.
That is why a spiritual belief system is so important - so that we can
start seeing ourselves more clearly, start seeing realistically instead
of through the shame filter of the disease.
Once we have started integrating a Spiritual belief into our process
- or a spiritual philosophy that allows us to start looking clearly at
cause and effect - then we can start to be detached enough from our own
process to see it more clearly.
Taking power away from the fear
In order to start finding some balance in recovery, it is important to
learn how to take power away from the fear. In order to do that,
it is very important to look at all the different levels involved in our
reaction so that we can start to clear up our relationship with own fear.
Anytime we have a strong reaction to someone or something, it means
there is old stuff involved - old wounds, unresolved grief. One of
the first steps to taking the power away from the fear is to detach from
the feeling a little and take an honest look at reality. It may feel
terrifying, may feel life threatening - but is that the truth?
There is a tool that comes out of Transactional Analysis that can be
very helpful in taking some power away from fear. It is called a
fear slide. The way it works is that you write down what your fear
is - say, I am afraid I will be alone on Valentine's Day, or I am afraid
he won't be my friend any more, or I am afraid I won't get the job, etc.
Then on the next line you write the answer to this question: "If that happens,
then what?" Then I will feel hurt, or whatever. On the next
line you write the answer to that same question, "then what?" And
you keep doing this down the page. Eventually, you will come to:
"I will die." or "I will cease to exist."
I am afraid _______
Then you go back to the original fear, and ask yourself, "Will I die if
I am alone on Valentine's Day? The answer is, of course, no you won't
If that happens, then what?
If that happens, then what?
If that happens, then what?
If that happens, then what?
As mentioned the ego is focused on survival. That translates into
avoidance of pain. In order to help us avoid what it perceives as survival
threatening pain the ego generates fear and then magnifies it - turning
it into a huge monster. It is very helpful to force ourselves to
take a realistic look at the monster in order to stop giving our emotional
reactions all the power.
In our disease, the fear of being alone on Valentine's Day feels life
threatening. It feels like a big monster. If we give power to that
fear, what happens is we get so uncomfortable living with the fear that
we try to find some way to repress it. The ways we find are usually
self destructive - alcohol, drugs, food, whatever.
If we can take a realistic and honest look at the monster, and say to
ourselves, "No, I won't die if I am alone on Valentines. But I will
be sad." Bingo! The reason we are afraid is because we have
a lot of unresolved grief over lonely holidays, pain over failed relationships,
etc., - all going back to the core wound of the little child who felt alone
If we can start to be emotionally honest with ourselves, by owning our
grief, it will help us to take power away from the fear.
Learning to be emotionally honest with ourselves, is a whole other aspect
of the processing dynamic that I am not going to talk about in this article
- I will get into that in another article in this series and there are
other articles on my web site about that. What I will say about it,
is that it is very important to do some of our processing verbally or through
writing. We do not get in touch with our feelings through thinking.
It is when we start talking about or writing about what is going on internally
that we start actually feeling and releasing the emotional energy.
There are certain other things that can help us to get in touch with
emotional energy - including through various types of art, drawing, painting,
collage, etc.; movement and music; body work; etc. - but the primary
processing tools are writing or talking.
Writing about fear
In the update announcement that sparked this article, I was processing
through some levels of fear in order to become clearer on where the fear
was coming from. I was having resistance to finishing an article,
and since I knew that resistance comes primarily from fear, I was processing.
First I looked at the reason that my head was telling me I was procrastinating.
Fear about stating a controversial Truth in public. Almost as soon
as I wrote that, I knew that was not the main level. I have been
speaking and writing my controversial take on Truth for many years now
and that one does not have any real power anymore.
I then went on to a different level, that of fear of saying things in
a way that a reader could use to beat themselves up with. Ultimately
I am powerless over how someone reacts, but it is something that I give
some power to because I want to communicate as clearly and cleanly as possible.
By touching on that level of fear, I could put some effort into clear communication
and then let go of the outcome. By focusing on a level and then surrendering
to my ultimate powerlessness over others, I can take a little of the fear
that is out of balance out of the equation.
The next level I touched on was that of the "out-of-control" feeling
that I get with my writing. This is jumping off the diving board
kind of fear that is just inherent in the process for me. That there
is a basis to feeling not in control of my writing process is proven by
the reality that writing about my fear in that update has lead to at least
five other articles so far. I was afraid of where the writing was
going because I had a picture of what was supposed to be written next -
of what my priorities were for my writing time and energy. By acknowledging
that certain things cause me to feel afraid because they feel out-of-control,
I can take a little more fear out of the process.
Through writing about that fear, I could get in touch with what attitudes
of mine were magnifying the fear. That is, how my picture of where
I needed to focus my time and energy was causing me to resist going where
the writing was taking me. I am responsible for how my perspective,
my attitudes, set me up to have emotional responses. When I am not
open to events unfolding in way different than I had planned, then I am
setting myself up for feelings.
When I think that things have to go a certain way for me to be OK, then
I am setting myself up to be a victim when they do not unfold the way I
think they need to unfold. I am making a choice to see life in a
certain way. That choice, that attitude, then sets me up to
be afraid if things go differently than I want them to go.
I am responsible for that fear. I am creating that fear out of the
intellectual paradigm, the expectations, that I am choosing to empower.
If I have a picture, an expectation, of how I want life to look today
and you do something that messes up that picture, my codependent reaction
is to get angry at you and blame you for messing up my day. This is doubly
dishonest. First of all, I am getting angry in response to my fear
that I will not be OK if things do not work out as I had planned.
That is emotionally dishonest. Secondly, I am blaming you for the
feelings that are being caused by my attitudes, my expectations.
That is codependency.
In regard to the situation I have been talking about, there was no other
person involved - so I was getting angry at, and blaming, my self.
I was having a hard time finishing the article I was writing. I had
a self imposed deadline for finishing that article that was part of my
agenda for how I saw the immediate future unfolding. I felt that
I needed to finish that article so that I could send out my update announcement
so that I could get on to whatever the next important thing I thought I
needed to get done. I was trying to control my life by forcing an
I was trying to control my life because I was afraid that I wouldn't
get the things done that I thought I needed to get done to take care of
myself, to meet my needs. I was afraid of the unknown future, so
I had designed my own agenda, and then was getting angry and frustrated
that I could not meet my own agenda.
Because I was judging myself and impatient with myself, the rebel within
me was rebelling through procrastinating. I was then judging myself
for my procrastination - and then turning around and shaming myself for
judging myself for my procrastination. (I stopped judging and shaming
myself in gross ways years ago - i.e. I don't call myself names like stupid
or loser or whatever - but the disease dynamic still kicks in on much subtler
levels. As we make progress in treating ourselves better in recovery,
the disease gets more subtle and cunning. This recent judgment/shame
upheaval would be like a 3.0 earthquake vs what used to be a 9.0 earthquake.)
This is the disease of codependence working in it's most insidious,
malevolent, treacherous, and powerful expression.
"If I am feeling like a "failure" and giving power
to the "critical parent" voice within that is telling me that I am a failure
- then I can get stuck in a very painful place where I am shaming myself
for being me. In this dynamic I am being the victim of myself and
also being my own perpetrator - and the next step is to rescue myself by
using one of the old tools to go unconscious (food, alcohol, sex, etc.)
Thus the disease has me running around in a squirrel cage of suffering
and shame, a dance of pain, blame, and self-abuse."
An innocent little child
And it all goes back to being afraid that if I do it wrong I will not survive
the shame and pain of being imperfect. It all goes back to a little
child who was terrified of his own father and could not count on his mother
to defend him from his father. The little child whose higher powers
were wounded and were reacting to life out of their fear and shame.
That fear is not rational. It is not logical. It is not
conscious. It is an emotional reaction caused by early childhood
If I am alone on Valentine's Day I will die. If I do not get this
article finished on time I will not survive.
These fears are not stupid, they are not ridiculous. They are
the result of the emotional experience of a little child. That child
deserves, and needs, compassion - not judgment and shame. When we
judge ourselves we are abusing that little child inside of us. When
we are impatient with ourselves, we are dragging that child behind us as
we run to get "there" - to the outcome, the destination that will
make us OK.
I heard Claudia Black in a workshop many years ago, talking about going
for a walk on the beach with a 4 year old child. She asked something
to the effect of, "What pace do you walk at, the child's pace - or do you
drag the child along behind you at your pace?"
We have spent our lives either dragging the child along, or running
away from the child within us. Working real hard on getting "there"
- and/or doing whatever we could to go unconscious to our own feelings.
We locked the child up in a dark place within us, at the same time we let
the child's emotional wounds run our life. We were powerless to do
life any differently until we got into recovery. Just as our parents
were powerless to do life any differently because of the wounded children
In early recovery I learned to catch myself every time I heard myself
calling myself stupid. I would change it to silly. I couldn't go
from calling myself stupid to calling myself a blessed child of the Goddess
in one step. So, I substituted silly in order to be less abusive
to myself. In order to start decreasing the shame and judgment I
was laying on myself and the innocent child within me.
It was not stupid, or wrong, that I fell into the judging-resisting-shaming
running around the hamster cage cycle of the disease dynamic. It
was a little silly - and entirely human. It was a natural, normal
part of being a recovering codependent. It was a perfect part of
the process of learning/teaching, remembering/reminding.
I was afraid. Fear is part of this human adventure we are experiencing.
It is through changing our relationship with our own fear that we transform
being human from an ordeal to an adventure.
Fear is Primal
Fear is an innate, genetically ingrained, emotional impulse in human beings.
It is a programmed response to survival instincts. Fear is an emotion
that can serve us. It is a necessary tool for survival in a hostile
I get really angry when I hear some old timer in an AA meeting say,
"Fear is the absence of faith." That is bull. If we did not
have fear, we would not need faith. Faith is what gives us the courage
to walk through our fears.
It is important to accept fear as part of our reality. It is important
to clear up our relationship with our fear. The disease of codependence,
our damaged ego, is programmed to react to life out of fear of what caused
us pain in our childhood. Our ego is fighting for survival based
on programming from early childhood - that is what is dysfunctional.
It is important to learn new tools to counteract the powerful programming
of the disease / condition of codependency. It is important
to change our relationship with our own fear by changing our perspective
of our fear.
Denying our fear is dysfunctional. Relating to our fear as if
it only comes from one place - is only about one thing - is dishonest.
There are multiple levels to our fears. A few of those levels may
be right on - most of them are dysfunctional. There are some levels
that are about False Evidence Appearing Real - to use a 12 step acronym
- based on assumptions, mind reading, and fortune telling, our fantasies/nightmares
that we project onto others and life. Some of the levels are reactions
to our childhood wounds: 'if I am alone I will die;' 'if I take the
risk of loving someone and they don't love me back, I will die;'
'if I don't have security, I will die;' etc.
Not looking at our fears keeps us in the dark and gives them power.
It is only by bringing them out of the darkness into the light that we
can take the power away from them.
Once we bring them into the light of consciousness, then we can filter,
sift through, get clearer on what is causing them. We can discern what
part of the fears are being caused by our own attitudes - so that we can
own the responsibility, and make choices to change our intellectual paradigm
into something that will work better. We can get in touch with the
inner child wounds that are being triggered so that we can have some compassion
for those wounds and set whatever Loving boundaries we need to set.
We can get conscious of the outcome we are trying to control so that we
can take some action to let go of that outcome.
By taking the action of processing through our reaction, we can get
in touch with what other actions we can take to lessen and let go of our
Clarity through processing
So, by writing about my procrastination, I was able to see the causes of
that procrastination more clearly. In processing through the
resistance I was having, I could get clear that what I thought was the
reason for the procrastination (controversial Truth) really was not the
reason at all. I could see that there were several layers of reasons
- and that the bottom line was that I was creating much of the resistance
because I did not want to let go of my preconceived idea of the outcome.
I diminished some of the fear by speaking it out loud (in this case,
writing it.) And I got in touch with how my attitudes were adding
to the fear. Then I could take some action to let go of the attitudes
that were amplifying the resistance. I could do some work to surrender
my way of doing things so that I could stop creating emotional resistance
by trying to control the outcome.
Acknowledging fear, actually speaking my fears out loud or writing about
them, often diminishes them. I can own the fear and then accept it
and move through it.
And the ironic thing, the silly part of it, was that the real - right
on - reason for my resistance was not even in the areas I was looking at
directly. The real reason for my resistance was that the article
I was writing was not working in the structure I was trying to force it
into. What would have been the best thing to do, would have been
to walk away from that article completely for a period of days so I could
come back to it with a fresh perspective.
It turned out that I surrendered the "wrong" thing. I surrendered
to just publishing the article to meet my deadline, instead of shifting
my paradigm to a completely new perspective - such as going ahead with
that update without that article. But it wasn't the wrong thing at
all, because the way the whole thing unfolded was perfect to set me up
to write this series of articles about the inner child healing process.
Thus the Universe has forced me to write about emotional honesty and balance,
about internal boundaries and clarity, in a little bit different way than
I had previously. It is different because I am growing and learning,
my perspective is shifting and changing.
The adventure of recovery keeps getting different. The dance of
balance is continuously changing, shifting, expanding. One of the
most important things we can do for ourselves, is to not take it all so
seriously, not take ourselves so seriously. Don't worry be silly,
is a motto my Higher Self communicated to me many years ago. Instead
of worrying about doing it right, instead of empowering our fear of consequences,
instead of trying to force outcomes - it is much better to lighten up (dark
to Light, heavy to light) because that helps us see with more clarity.
The inner child healing process is a journey from dark to Light, from
serious to silly.
As long as we are denying our fear, it has power to drive us to compulsive
or addictive behavior. If we are not seeing the multiple levels of
our fear clearly, then we are not being honest with ourselves. The
only way to take power away from the fear is to own it, honor it, and take
action to dissolve the levels of it that are codependent. When we
are seeing our fear more clearly, we can see that a lot of it is pretty
Fear is not bad or wrong. It is not the absence of love, as some
spiritual teachers and authors would tell you. (Except in the metaphysical
sense that the illusion is caused by an absence of/separation from LOVE.)
It is integral part of being human. It is because we are afraid that
we need to learn to Love ourselves. The more we learn to Love our
self the less power the fear will have to define our reality. The
more recovery tools we have, the sooner we will catch ourselves when we
get caught up in the disease dynamics. The less we are reacting to
life out of black and white, right and wrong; the less we are judging and
shaming ourself; the less fear we experience. We can learn to feel
Love and compassion for our inner child wounds - instead of fear, instead
of shame and judgment.
Your fears are the places within you that await your Love. Your
fears are the teachers that will help you uncover your wounds. Uncover,
discover, recover. Progress, not perfection. It is through
the fear that we find our way home to Love.