Sunday, August 9, 2020

The invitation of disappointment


In any close relationship, we will inevitably disappoint the other and let them down. This can be incredibly activating, especially if privileging another’s wellbeing over our own was the primary way we received mirroring, love, and attention.

In a field of narcissistic organization, we are not seen as a subject in our own right, but as an object in the perceptual field of another. Our sense of worth is derived by how well we can regulate and care for the emotional needs of that other. Especially at a young age, this is a very tenuous situation to be placed in.

Deep in our cell tissue, this early template has a way of leaking into our adult relationships. We will do anything to not disappoint, for to do so opens the doorway to unbearable shame, anxiety, and unfelt rage.

What is it like for you to disappoint someone? To let them down? To fail at living up to their expectations, no matter how hard you try?

What feeling state will you do just about anything to avoid? What are the core beliefs that arise in response to this feeling? What are the behaviors you engage to either repress or urgently seek to purge this feeling from your experience?

What do you imagine the consequences will be if you are not able to “make them happy,” or remove their anxiety, emptiness, and the pain of their unlived life?

Will you be abandoned if you disappoint them? The target of rage and attack? Will you be shamed? Unsafe? Loaded up with guilt? Should you just go ahead and try to make them feel better at all costs, even if detrimental to your own integrity?

To what degree have you come to organize your life around the unconscious belief that your role is to urgently heal, fix, and cure the other when they are upset, struggling, and suffering?

And for those who identify as healers of any kind, what does it mean about us if we are not healing, but disappointing?

It’s some very rich territory that we can explore, as archeologists of soul; a whole fountain of sacred data we can mine and fill with light. It is an act of mercy and compassion to take some time and explore this, for both ourselves and others.




My new book - A Healing Space: Befriending Ourselves in Difficult Times - is now available for pre-order at Amazon and will be published by Sounds True in November. Learn more about the book (including a full list of online retailers) and early editorial reviews and endorsements here


We've decided to leave our monthly online community, Befriending Yourself, open for enrollment during these uncertain and challenging times. For more information, please visit the course page here

Sunday, August 2, 2020

Relational yoga


In close personal relationships, it is important to emphasize a secure attachment bond and the co-regulation of challenging emotional states. To practice kindness toward our lovers and friends, listen to the way they are making sense of their experience, attune to what they are feeling, and hold them during difficult times.

It is also essential to be on the lookout for unhealthy fusion, honoring the reality that we are not only connected, but also separate. Any secure attachment must include healthy differentiation, where at times the most skillful activity will be to establish firm boundaries, assert our independence, privilege our own personal integrity, and allow the other to struggle with feelings of aloneness, uncertainty, and confusion.

At times we will disappoint those we love, and this will activate our historic core vulnerabilities… and theirs. For many of us, disappointing another is just not safe, and we will do whatever possible to ensure they do not come face to face with the surging material of their unlived life. But allowing them to meet the reality of their own heart is an act of profound mercy and compassion.

While transpersonally we can speak about unity and oneness, within the relative we are also distinct, with our own histories and ways of organizing our experience. Each with our own fate and relationship with the divine, our own paths to travel; our own unique ways entering the mystery. To dissolve these differences into some homogenized spiritual middle does not honor the sacredness of form.

If we do not consciously explore the reality of our separateness, it will inevitably manifest in less than conscious ways, unleashing unmetabolized shadow into the relational field. Like all work of depth, this art form evolves slowly, as it marinates in the alchemical vessel of the body.

May we be kind to our partners as we navigate this territory – especially during these challenging times – honoring the vehicle of intimacy as one of the most provocative, sacred, and holy that we have in our modern world.




Art by Krista Marleena – the archetypal couple, sol and luna, owl friends and fellow travelers into the other worlds



My new book - A Healing Space: Befriending Ourselves in Difficult Times - is now available for pre-order at Amazon and will be published by Sounds True in November. Learn more about the book (including a full list of online retailers) and early editorial reviews and endorsements here


We've decided to leave our monthly online community, Befriending Yourself, open for enrollment during these uncertain and challenging times. For more information, please visit the course page here

Sunday, July 26, 2020

In times of transition


During times of uncertainty and transition, we will inevitably be asked to companion a friend, family member, client, or patient who is in the process of falling apart, unraveling, hopeless, and scared.

While it is natural to want to do whatever you can to help them feel better, listen carefully to what it is they are truly asking for. Extend to them a calm, soothed nervous system where their experience can be validated and held, exactly as it is. Ensure them that they need not "get over it," "accept everything as it is," "stay in the present," shift, transform, or heal in order for you to stay close.

To provide such an environment, you must first offer safe passage for the unmetabolized in yourself: the unmet sadness, unacknowledged fear, discarded grief, disavowed hopelessness, and disembodied aloneness. Otherwise, you may rush to talk them out of their experience prematurely, urgently spinning to relieve them of their feelings as a way to cut into your own anxiety and discomfort. All the while subtly and unconsciously turning from the raging intelligence buried within the dark.

Together with them, make the commitment to not pathologize their experience. Fear is not pathology. Hopelessness is not pathology. Grief is not pathology. They are path.

Collect the pieces of the broken world and create a container of empathy and love for the crumbled hopes and dreams to be held and tended to with the pieces of light. Honor the holy truth that the forms that love take will always fall apart – for this is their nature – in order that they may come back together in more integrated and cohesive ways.

Please do whatever you can to help others in whatever way you are able: attune to their emotional experience such that they feel felt, listen carefully to what they are saying, and how they are attempting to make sense of this time.

Slow way down, bracket your favorite psychological and spiritual jargon and theories, and sink into the space between you, for it is filled with sacred data. Hold them in your heart, speak kind words, and provide safe passage for soul to disclose its mysteries. And remind them that love is here and is alive.



Photo by Marquise Kamanke



My new book - A Healing Space: Befriending Ourselves in Difficult Times - is now available for pre-order at Amazon and will be published by Sounds True in November. Learn more about the book (including a full list of online retailers) and early editorial reviews and endorsements here

We've decided to leave our monthly online community, Befriending Yourself, open for enrollment during these uncertain and challenging times. For more information, please visit the course page here