Driving from the USA to Costa Rica V

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Jump back to Chapter IV – El Salvador & Honduras

Chapter V – Nicaragua

As we journeyed towards Leon, a city steeped in history, renowned for its vibrant cultural scene, colonial architecture, and revolutionary past, we encountered no less than five police checkpoints along the way. The sheer number of police was unlike anything I had ever seen in a country before. As darkness settled, we approached the last checkpoint, and I made sure to make the proper turn after a hard stop. My Texan license plate was like an open invitation for the police to try and extort cash from unsuspecting tourists like us. They would find any pretext to demand fines or bribes.One of the officers flagged us down, claiming I had made a wrong turn and deserved a fine. Tired and annoyed after a long day, I calmly told him to go ahead and issue the fine, but I had no cash with me at the moment, flashing a big smile. He looked dumbfounded, probably realizing that writing a piece of paper offered him no personal benefit, and decided to let us go with a simple warning.

We arrived in Leon at night, involuntarily breaking our rule of not driving at night. Surprisingly, we encountered no threats other than the police during the drive. To unwind and recover from the long day, we walked to a charming restaurant downtown called Beers & Pellets, where we indulged in an excellent meal at a fraction of the cost compared to Costa Rica. For only $26, we had a gorgeous meal with beers for two. Nicaragua’s cities gave me a feel of Cuba, with their colorful buildings, limited modernity, and the genuine kindness and spontaneity of the people. Both countries had been significantly influenced by the Soviet Union and had suffered the consequences of the Cold War, with the two superpowers financing criminal organizations on both sides to exploit the country’s resources.

The country carries a weighty energy, epitomized by a pervasive sense of resignation and apathy that lingers after enduring years of civil war and economic depression. Nevertheless, despite these challenges, we discovered the roads to be excellent throughout the country, actually surpassing the ones we encountered in Costa Rica for the places we visited. Based on recommendations, we signed up for a guided tour of Cerro Negro, which turned out to be a must-do experience. It is a very new volcano, the youngest in Central America, and the second youngest in the world, having first appeared in April 1850. It consists of a gravelly basaltic cinder cone, which contrasts greatly with the surrounding verdant hillsides, and gives rise to its name, which means Black Hill. For just $40, we had a two-hour round-trip transportation, a T-shirt, a bandana, an amazing hike to an active volcano, a thrilling sliding experience down the volcano, unlimited coke and rum, fun traveling companions and a satisfying lunch. The sliding down the volcano was undeniably one of my peak experiences, thrilling yet feeling quite safe with the appropriate gear provided by the tour agency.

Our next destination was Granada, a picturesque city known for its well-preserved colonial architecture. We ventured into the local markets and explored the charming, colorful streets with various activities for onlookers. Great food awaited us at very affordable prices.

The following day, we set out to visit the Masaya volcano, renowned for its impressive crater emitting sulfurous gases and occasional lava flows. Unfortunately, rain in the morning prevented us from using the path with a direct view of the lava. Nevertheless, the gigantic crater with its vertical chimney left us in awe, providing a sense of the immense forces of nature. The museum about the history of the volcano offered intriguing insights, including the dark past of child sacrifices by the indigenous people and the attempts by colonizers to fight the perceived forces of hell by sending large wooden statues of Christ into the volcano burning mouth.

We then booked Rivas as our final city, which provided easy access to the immense Lake Cocibolca, also known as Lake Nicaragua, the largest freshwater lake in Central America. From there, we could conveniently explore the island of Ometepe and the popular beach town of San Juan del Sur.

During our trip, Niek came to a realization about his readiness for a long-term relationship and decided to open his Bumble dating account. Almost instantaneously, he found a perfect match, Jenny, a tall, articulate, spiritual, European woman who seemed to complement him in every way. They hit it off instantly online, and he arranged a date with her the same night. The promise of love inspired him to bravely drive at night without hesitation. I couldn’t help but feel genuinely happy for him and excited to see this new love potential unfold.

As I witnessed Niek’s excitement and happiness exploring this new potential for love, I couldn’t help but see a reflection of myself in that moment. It genuinely warmed my heart to see him so enthused. However, our joy was short-lived as shortly after leaving for his date, he called me sounding frustrated. He had been stopped by the police, and to his dismay, he had forgotten the car paperwork. I quickly sent him pictures of the required documents, but the Nicaraguan policeman saw an opportunity for an easy bribe and insisted that physical paperwork was necessary. Niek, eager not to keep his date waiting, paid the officer $20 for his indulgence and promptly returned to the hotel to retrieve the papers.

As I settled in for what I hoped would be a restful night at the hotel, fate had other plans. The Gran Hotel Victoria, where we were staying, had rented the terrace next to our bedroom for a birthday party. The noise level was akin to having a live band playing inside our room. I was informed that the party would end at 11 pm, but it continued boisterously until 1 am, disrupting any hope of rest. Meanwhile, Niek returned around midnight from his date, beaming with happiness.

Our day began early at 5:30 am as we had to catch the ferry to the enchanting island of Ometepe, located in Lake Nicaragua. What makes Ometepe truly special are its twin volcanoes, Concepción and Maderas, creating a captivating and picturesque backdrop. Unfortunately, upon our arrival at Ometepe, we were met with the disappointing news that the later ferries were fully booked. Despite being told that reservations were unnecessary, I learned the hard way that it’s better to be safe than sorry, especially if you have a car. So, a piece of advice: make sure to reserve the ferry in advance to avoid any last-minute hassles.

As a result of the ferry schedule, we had to settle for the 1 pm return ferry. Surprisingly, this worked in Niek’s favor, as it meant he could spend more time with his date, Jenny, at 3 pm on the same day. It was clear to me that the allure of a beautiful woman outweighed even the most breathtaking sceneries. With limited time on the island, we opted to explore it by car and decided to visit El Ojo de Agua, a hidden oasis with crystal-clear waters, featuring a thrilling Tarzan swing and magical pools teeming with life. Despite our brief visit, the serenity of Ometepe left an unforgettable impression on us.

Later in the day, I dropped Niek off to spend more time with Jenny, and I treated myself to a relaxing swim in tranquil waters. As I leisurely strolled through the vibrant beach city of San Juan del Sur, temptation led me to Gaby’s Spa and Laundry—a peculiar name, but don’t be fooled; there is an actual spa on the second floor. I indulged in an excellent deep tissue massage, which, like everything else in Nicaragua, was surprisingly affordable.

In the midst of my evening, Niek messaged me, expressing his desire to spend as much time as possible with Jenny, as he had developed strong desire to get to know her. We had previously agreed on a 10 pm curfew, so his message was a confirmation for me to pick him up at that later time. I wondered how to occupy myself for the rest of the evening and settled on the popular restaurant with great reviews, Dale Pues.

In the midst of my dinner, I was taken aback as I saw Niek approaching my table. It dawned on me that Jenny had chosen the same restaurant for her evening with him. She looked stunning in her dress, catching my eye from afar. Observing them together, I couldn’t help but feel genuinely happy for Niek; these two giants (Niek is 1m94 and Jenny 1m88) seemed like a perfect match. However, just as I was lost in these thoughts, the atmosphere shifted drastically. Five minutes later, Niek returned to my table, visibly devastated. Jenny had left, and her departure was laced with deep insecurity and suspicion, mostly due to my presence.

My rugged traveling beard and wild, uncombed blond hair seemed to have unintentionally created a false impression. In Jenny’s eyes, I appeared like someone from an unsavory world, perhaps capable of being involved in a prostitution ring that could send her quickly to the Middle East. The coincidence of me being present was too much for her to overcome, and Niek’s attempts to reassure her fell short.

Ever the gentleman, Niek inquired about the best way to support Jenny, and she expressed a need for time alone. Despite his willingness to stay longer in Nicaragua and get to know her better, it became evident that their paths were not meant to intertwine further. Though Niek held onto hope, waiting for a message that might change the course of events, it never came to pass. In the morning, my companion prepared to leave Rivas with me as we headed back to Costa Rica, accepting that fate had different plans for him.

As mentioned in the previous blog, the Honduras/Nicaragua border was the most stressful, but the Nicaragua/Costa Rica border turned out to be the longest. Driving to the entrance was relatively easy, with only a short line of trucks, and we found the overall organization at this border to be good. Still on the Nicaraguan side, we first got our passport stamps, and a young man asked a $1 toll per person to cross the door. Strange as it seemed, we paid the toll, but he had no change, so he asked us to come back later to give him another $1. Surprisingly, he never reminded us of the missing $1 when we passed him later. I still don’t understand his purpose there. Then we paid $3 per person to get our passports stamped. After that, we were instructed to bring all seven pieces of our luggage through the scanning machine. Only one of our bags was flagged because of Niek’s new slow juicer from the USA. I had to explain that I carry my personal juicer everywhere due to health reasons, and thankfully, they understood and didn’t impose any additional fees. However, they still insisted on scanning our entire car, which proved to be a confusing process to get to the giant truck scan machine.

It was an awe-inspiring piece of technology. The authorities instructed us to step out of the car and find a safe spot away from radiation. Then, I waited for almost an hour to receive the results from the police. Next, I had to return to the Nicaragua customs to obtain an additional stamp, which took another 45 minutes due to the long lines. Finally, we could proceed to the Costa Rican side. As we joined the queue to stamp our passports, a “helper” approached me, offering to speed up the process for a fee. Curious, I asked how much, and he responded with “10 mil” (about $20) so I gave it a try.

First, he advised me to take one of my small luggage pieces and pretend that was all we had, a suggestion that suited me well after our costly experience at the Guatemala border. Secondly, he maneuvered us to cut the line and enter the office ahead of honest people who had been patiently waiting outside. While this may have saved us 20 minutes, we still had to respect the line inside the building. Feeling guilty about the helper’s tactics, we tried to redeem ourselves by offering a chair to an 88-year-old lady while her daughter waited in front of us to get her passport stamped.

After successfully getting our passports stamped and sole luggage into the scanner, the hustler directed me to another office to pay $20 for the car entry. Then came the moment for him to collect his due. As agreed, I handed him 10,000 colones, but to my surprise, he complained that this money was only the bribe for government employees, and that he expected additional payment. Annoyed by his lack of transparency, a frustratingly common trait in Costa Rica, I gave him another 8,000 colones to avoid further hassle. In conclusion, using helpers when crossing Costa Rica is not worth it. Their assistance proved to be a scam and left us feeling unsatisfied.

I was then told to complete the process at another customs office, 200 meters down the road. I complied, obtained the car insurance papers for $51 for three months in Costa Rica (yes, cars get a three-month tourist visa just like people). However, as we attempted to cross the border, we encountered a familiar issue – missing paperwork. I had to return to the same office, only to find out that I had another stop at a different station. Unfortunately, the lady was on her lunch break, forcing us to wait another 30 minutes to complete the process. Although it wasn’t overly stressful, this inefficiency made it our longest border crossing, taking well over four hours.

Of course, just as we entered Costa Rica, Niek received a message from Jenny asking him to come back to spend more time together!

Despite my proficiency in criticizing my country of residence now that I am well aware of some of its deficiencies, it felt wonderful to be back home again. Niek and I experienced a tremendous sense of accomplishment as we concluded our epic journey. We spent the night in Liberia at my good friend Dominique’s home with his family. The next day, we savored the last lunch of our journey at Cinco20, the Texas grill in Grecia, my hometown. In essence, we ended where we started, 5,000 kilometers and three weeks later. It brought us pure joy to reconnect with our community members and our farm animals. During our trip, our two female goats had given birth to two adorable baby girls. All is well that ends well.

Niek’s ponderings

Love Blossoms in Nicaragua

The last country and the final chapter of our remarkable journey. What story would be complete without a touch of love and adventure?

After surviving the ordeal of crossing the border from Honduras to Nicaragua, we encountered a surprising number of police checkpoints—five in total—where we were pulled over each time.

At the last checkpoint, one of the officers tried to extort a bribe from my companion, Vaillant. However, my blonde travel mate, aware of his rights, firmly insisted on receiving a ticket instead of giving a bribe. Despite the officer’s attempts at intimidation, he eventually let us go.

As we drove towards our last hotel, I confessed to Vaillant that I longed for the company of more people than just him. Coincidentally, he mentioned that Joselyn and Maripaz came to visit us in Guatemala.

I playfully corrected him, teasing that they were coming to visit him, not me. So, I ended up with a room without air conditioning and the blissful absence of Vaillant’s snoring.

Observing him with his new lover reminded me of my own love life. It had been a while since my last date, so I took the plunge like any new-age millennial would and installed a dating app. In record time, I matched with a stunning woman from the UK who seemed to meet all my requirements.

While Vaillant chatted with Joselyn on his daily video call, I engaged in conversation with my potential match. After his call, he asked about our dinner plans. “I have a date!” I exclaimed excitedly.

The catch? My date was 25 kilometers away, and the road was dark with no lights, testing my comfort zone. One of our rules was not to drive at night, especially alone.

When I asked Vaillant if he was okay with me using his car, he surprisingly agreed. Being a sucker for love just like me, he just wanted me to be happy.

In my first attempt to reach my date, I got stopped by the police. The car documents were back at the hotel. I showed them a screenshot from Vaillant, but they insisted on physical proof.

In Latin America, everything comes at a price. For $10, they would let me go, as Vaillant translated through the phone. I handed over $20, and instead of change, I received a firm handshake. Asshole, I thought, but I smiled at his audacity.

I could have pressed on, but I decided to return to the hotel for the documents. On my way back, the same checkpoint stopped me again. This time, they questioned why I was driving away from my hotel so late. Frustrated, I showed them my Bumble account and the woman I was about to meet, explaining that I was late for my date. These thieves dressed as cops burst into laughter, finally convinced of my story. They let me pass without another bribe.

After a wonderful date, I drove back, proud of how composed I had been during the challenging situation with the police. The experience taught me that I was growing and expanding my horizons.

The second date the following day didn’t go as well. As a beautiful woman traveling alone, she was cautious, given the sexual and aggressive nature of the Latin culture. The locals’ relentless attention praying on tourists naivety for financial gain, or objectifying women’s body for sexual gratification, became overwhelming for her.

Despite my romantic proposition for her to travel together, she felt overwhelmed by the idea. Her ego stepped in, feeling weary about the real intentions of this new enterprising Belgium guy she just met. The romantic energy stops flowing for a little while. I managed to distract her enough to help restore the magic, and we enjoyed a lovely time at a restaurant.

As we dined at a charming restaurant, I noticed the last two couples departing from my left. Soon, only one person with a distinct French accent remained, engrossed in a conversation on his phone. Wait a minute… Could it be? Is that Vaillant? Out of the 50 restaurants in that town, he had chosen the one where my date was taking place. Sitting there with just the three of us, Jenny began to feel uneasy, fearing that something bad might happen to her.

“Is there anything I can do to make you feel safer?” I asked. “Yes, I want to go home,” she told me. “Okay, no worries. I will pay the bill,” I reassured her.

Feeling defeated and foolish, I returned to my travel companion’s table. As the waiter brought both of our bills, I suddenly realized that I didn’t have enough cash in my wallet to cover the expenses of my date.

Ironically, one of the questions she had asked me earlier that day was whether I was seeking a “sugar mommy” to pay my bills.

While Vaillant paid for my date, he couldn’t help but laugh. “Poor Niek!” he exclaimed. “It’s a good thing I am here to save you again.” It almost felt as if he had sabotaged my date rather than rescuing it. But I reminded myself that everything happens for a reason, even the things we don’t necessarily like.

The next day, we faced our last and most challenging border crossing: Costa Rica.

Vaillant tried to cheer me up by likening our dating lives to sales transactions, using fancy words like “love is a numbers game; just keep her in the pipeline.” His humorous perspective helped me detach from my inner drama queen.

As we approached the Costa Rican border, I saw how a cycle was ending when I noticed a beautiful woman wearing Crocs. It wasn’t the same woman as in San Jose airport, but it brought a smile, remembering how it all began.

It took us only three hours to fly to Texas, but nearly three weeks to drive back to Costa Rica.

When we arrived in Grecia, our journey ended where it began – sharing a nice BBQ dinner.

While driving up the mountain to Vaillant’s community, I felt deep gratitude for the insights and experiences this journey provided. Embracing life’s challenges is the only way to truly grow as a human being. The ego may try to deceive us, but true growth comes from embracing the full experience of life.

Looking back at how long I waited to live the life I truly wanted, full of excuses and hesitations, I realized I could have remained in that state indefinitely.

Take the leap, because in the end, there’s nothing to lose and so much to gain.

And Jenny? She texted me as I predicted once we crossed to Costa Rica. The adventure continues.

Version en Français: chapitre V – Nicaragua

Alors que nous nous dirigions vers León, une ville imprégnée d’histoire, renommée pour sa scène culturelle vibrante, son architecture coloniale et son passé révolutionnaire, nous avons rencontré pas moins de cinq postes de contrôle de police en chemin. Le nombre de policiers sur notre route était impressionnant. À la tombée de la nuit, alors que nous atteignons un autre poste de contrôle, j’ai veillé à prendre un bon virage après avoir bien marquer l’arrêt. Notre plaque d’immatriculation du Texas était comme une invitation ouverte pour la police, afin de les inciter à nous extorquer de l’argent. Ils trouveraient n’importe quel prétexte pour réclamer le paiement d’amendes en liquide ou plus justement des pots-de-vin.

L’un des officiers nous a arrêtés, affirmant que j’avais pris un mauvais virage et méritais une amende. Fatigué et agacé après une longue journée, je lui ai calmement dit d’émettre l’amende, mais que je n’avais pas d’argent liquide sur moi pour le moment, en affichant un grand sourire. Il semblait stupéfait, réalisant probablement qu’écrire une contravention ne lui offrait aucun avantage personnel, et il a décidé de nous laisser partir avec un simple avertissement.

Nous sommes arrivés à León de nuit, enfreignant involontairement notre règle de ne pas conduire pendant l’obscurité. Étonnamment, mis à part les contrôles de police, nous n’avons rencontré aucune menace au cours du trajet. Pour nous détendre et nous remettre de cette longue journée, nous nous sommes rendus dans un charmant restaurant du centre-ville appelé Beers & Pellets, où nous avons savouré un excellent repas à une fraction du coût comparé au Costa Rica. Pour seulement 26 $, nous avons eu un magnifique repas accompagné de bières pour deux. Les villes du Nicaragua me donnaient l’impression de Cuba, avec leurs bâtiments colorés, leur modernité limitée, et la gentillesse et la spontanéité authentiques de la population. Les deux pays avaient été considérablement influencés par l’Union soviétique et avaient subi les conséquences de la guerre froide, les deux superpuissances finançant des organisations criminelles des deux côtés pour exploiter les ressources du pays.

Le pays porte une énergie lourde, illustrée par un sentiment général de résignation et d’apathie persistant après des années de guerre civile et de dépression économique. Néanmoins, malgré ces défis, nous avons découvert que les routes étaient excellentes dans tout le pays, surpassant même celles du Costa Rica pour les endroits que nous avons visités. Suivant les recommandations, nous avons choisi une visite guidée du Cerro Negro, une expérience incontournable. C’est un volcan très récent, le plus jeune d’Amérique centrale et le deuxième plus jeune du monde, apparu pour la première fois en avril 1850. Il se compose d’un cône de cendres basaltiques graveleux, qui contraste fortement avec les collines verdoyantes environnantes, d’où son nom, qui signifie colline noire. Pour seulement 40 $, nous avons eu un transport aller-retour de deux heures, un t-shirt, un bandana, une incroyable randonnée avec des points de vue imprenables, une descente palpitante du volcan en luge, du coca et du rhum à volonté, des compagnons de voyage amusants et un déjeuner satisfaisant. La descente du volcan a été sans aucun doute l’une de mes expériences phares, excitante et pourtant nous nous sommes sentis en sécurité grâce à l’équipement approprié fourni par l’agence touristique.

Notre prochaine destination était Granada, une ville pittoresque réputée pour son architecture coloniale bien préservée. Nous avons exploré les marchés locaux et déambulé dans les rues charmantes et colorées où de nombreuses activités étaient proposées aux passants. De délicieux plats nous attendaient à des prix très abordables.

Le lendemain, nous avons visité le volcan Masaya, réputé pour son impressionnant cratère émettant des gaz sulfureux et des coulées de lave occasionnelles. Malheureusement, la pluie du matin nous a empêchés d’utiliser le chemin avec vue directe sur la lave. Néanmoins, le gigantesque cratère avec sa cheminée verticale nous a laissé bouche bée, nous donnant une idée des immenses forces de la nature. Le musée sur l’histoire du volcan nous a offert des perspectives intrigantes, notamment sur le sombre passé des sacrifices d’enfants lancés vivant dans la lave incandescente par les peuples autochtones et les tentatives des colons pour combattre les forces perçues de l’enfer en envoyant de grandes statues en bois du Christ dans la bouche brûlante du volcan.

Nous avons ensuite réservé la ville de Rivas comme dernière étape du Nicaragua, ce qui nous a permis d’accéder facilement à l’immense lac Cocibolca, également connu sous le nom de lac Nicaragua, le plus grand lac d’eau douce d’Amérique centrale. De là, nous avons pu explorer aisément l’île d’Ometepe et la célèbre ville balnéaire de San Juan del Sur.

Pendant notre voyage, Niek a pris conscience de sa disposition à s’engager dans une relation à long terme et a décidé d’ouvrir son compte de rencontre sur Bumble. Presque instantanément, il a trouvé une parfaite compatibilité avec Jenny, une femme européenne très grande, articulée et spirituelle, qui semblait le compléter à tous points de vue. Ils ont immédiatement cliqué en ligne, et il a organisé un rendez-vous avec elle le même soir. La promesse de l’amour l’a incité à conduire bravement la nuit, sans aucune hésitation. Je ne pouvais m’empêcher d’être sincèrement heureux pour lui et excité de voir cette nouvelle possibilité amoureuse se développer.

Alors que je témoignais de l’enthousiasme et du bonheur de Niek à explorer ce nouveau potentiel amoureux, je ne pouvais m’empêcher de me voir en lui à ce moment-là. Cela m’a sincèrement réjoui de le voir si enthousiaste. Cependant, sa joie fut de courte durée, car peu de temps après son départ pour son rendez-vous, il m’a appelé en état de panique. Il avait été arrêté par la police, et à sa grande consternation, il avait oublié les papiers de la voiture. J’ai rapidement envoyé des photos des documents requis, mais le policier nicaraguayen a vu une occasion de facilement monnayer cela et a insisté pour que les documents physiques soient nécessaires. Niek, soucieux de ne pas faire attendre son rendez-vous, a payé 20 $ à l’officier pour son indulgence et est immédiatement retourné à l’hôtel récupérer les papiers et s’envoler vers sa muse.

Alors que je m’installais pour ce que j’espérais être une nuit de repos à l’hôtel, le destin en avait décidé autrement. Le Gran Hotel Victoria, où nous séjournions, avait loué la terrasse à côté de notre chambre pour une fête d’anniversaire. Le niveau de bruit était semblable à celui d’un groupe de musique en live à l’intérieur de notre chambre. On m’a informé que la fête se terminerait à 23 heures, mais elle a continué bruyamment jusqu’à 1 heure du matin, perturbant tout espoir de repos. Pendant ce temps, Niek est rentré vers minuit de son rendez-vous amoureux, rayonnant de bonheur.

Notre journée a commencé tôt à 5h30 du matin, car nous devions prendre le ferry pour l’île enchanteresse d’Ometepe, située dans le lac Nicaragua. Ce qui rend Ometepe vraiment spécial, ce sont ses deux volcans, Concepción et Maderas, qui créent un cadre captivant et pittoresque. Malheureusement, à notre arrivée à Ometepe, nous avons eu la déception d’apprendre que les ferries de retour le soir étaient complets. Bien qu’on nous ait dit que les réservations n’étaient pas nécessaires, j’ai compris à mes dépens qu’il vaut mieux réserver en avance, surtout si vous avez une voiture.

Nous avons dû nous contenter du ferry de retour à 13h. Étonnamment, cela convenait à Niek, car cela signifiait qu’il pourrait passer plus de temps avec Jenny à 15h le même jour. Il est clair pour tous que l’attrait d’une belle femme surpasse même les paysages les plus époustouflants. Avec le temps limité sur l’île, nous avons opté pour l’explorer en voiture et décidé de visiter El Ojo de Agua, une oasis cachée aux eaux cristallines, avec une corde de Tarzan et des piscines magiques regorgeant de vie. Malgré notre courte visite, la sérénité d’Ometepe a laissé une impression inoubliable sur nous.

Plus tard dans la journée, j’ai déposé Niek pour qu’il passe plus de temps avec Jenny, et je me suis offert une baignade relaxante dans les eaux tranquilles de San Juan del Sur. En me promenant paisiblement dans la vibrante ville balnéaire de San Juan del Sur, la tentation m’a conduit chez Gaby’s Spa and Laundry – un nom particulier, mais ne vous y trompez pas : il y a effectivement un salon de relaxation à l’étage. J’ai donc profité d’un excellent massage en profondeur, qui, comme tout le reste au Nicaragua, était étonnamment abordable.

En cours de soirée, Niek m’a envoyé un message exprimant son désir de passer autant de temps que possible avec Jenny, car il avait déjà développé de forts sentiments pour elle. Nous avions convenu précédemment d’un couvre-feu à 22 heures, donc son message était une confirmation que je devais venir le chercher plus tard. Je me demandais comment occuper le reste de ma soirée et ai fini par choisir le restaurant populaire aux excellentes revues, Dale Pues.

Au cours de mon dîner, j’ai été surpris de voir Niek s’approcher de ma table. Il est apparu que Jenny avait choisi le même restaurant pour sa soirée avec lui. Elle était magnifique dans sa robe, et elle a attiré mon attention de loin. Les observant ensemble, je ne pouvais m’empêcher d’être sincèrement heureux pour Niek ; ces deux géants (Niek mesure 1m94 et Jenny 1m88) semblaient être faits l’un pour l’autre. Cependant, juste au moment où je me perdais dans mes pensées, l’ambiance a rapidement changé. Cinq minutes plus tard, Niek est revenu à ma table, visiblement bouleversé. Jenny était partie, et son départ était teinté d’une profonde insécurité et suspicion, principalement en raison de ma présence.

Ma barbe de voyageur négligée et mes cheveux blonds ébouriffés semblaient avoir involontairement créé une fausse impression. Aux yeux de Jenny, je ressemblais à quelqu’un issu d’un monde peu recommandable, peut-être impliqué dans un réseau de prostitution qui aurait pu l’envoyer rapidement au Moyen-Orient. La coïncidence de ma présence était trop difficile à surmonter pour elle, et les tentatives de Niek pour la rassurer se sont avérées insuffisantes.

Toujours gentleman, Niek lui a demandé comment il pourrait le mieux la soutenir, et elle a exprimé le besoin de prendre du temps seule. Malgré sa volonté de rester plus longtemps au Nicaragua et de mieux la connaître, il est devenu évident que leurs chemins n’étaient pas destinés à se croiser davantage. Bien que Niek ait conservé l’espoir, attendant un message qui pourrait changer le cours des événements, cela ne s’est pas produit. Le matin venu, mon compagnon s’est préparé à quitter Rivas avec moi alors que nous repartions vers le Costa Rica, acceptant que le destin ait prévu autre chose pour lui.

Comme mentionné dans le blog précédent, la frontière Honduras/Nicaragua était la plus stressante, mais la frontière Nicaragua/Costa Rica s’est révélée la plus longue. Conduire jusqu’à l’entrée était relativement facile, avec seulement une courte file de camions, et nous avons trouvé que l’organisation globale de cette frontière était bonne. Du côté nicaraguayen, nous avons d’abord fait tamponner nos passeports, et un jeune homme a demandé un péage de 1 $ par personne pour passer la porte. Aussi étrange que cela puisse paraître, nous avons payé le péage, mais il n’avait pas de monnaie, alors il nous a demandé de revenir plus tard pour lui donner à nouveau 1 $. Étonnamment, il ne nous a jamais rappelé pour le dollar manquant lorsque nous l’avons croisé plus tard. Je ne comprends toujours pas quel était son objectif. Ensuite, nous avons payé 3 $ par personne pour faire tamponner nos passeports. Après cela, on nous a demandé de passer toutes les sept pièces de nos bagages dans le scanner. Un seul de nos sacs a été signalé à cause de la nouvelle machine à faire des jus de Niek en provenance des États-Unis. J’ai dû expliquer que j’emporte cette machine partout pour des raisons de santé, et heureusement, ils m’ont cru et n’ont imposé aucun frais supplémentaire. Cependant, ils ont quand même insisté pour scanner toute notre voiture, ce qui s’est avéré être un processus compliqué pour accéder à l’énorme machine de scan.

Cette machine était une pièce de technologie impressionnante. Les autorités nous ont demandé de sortir de la voiture et de trouver un endroit sûr à l’écart des rayonnements. J’ai ensuite attendu pendant près d’une heure pour recevoir les résultats de la police. Ensuite, j’ai dû retourner aux douanes du Nicaragua pour obtenir un tampon supplémentaire, ce qui a pris encore 45 minutes en raison des longues files d’attente. Enfin, nous avons pu passer du côté costaricien. Alors que nous rejoignions la file pour faire tamponner nos passeports, un “assistant” s’est approché de moi, proposant d’accélérer le processus moyennant des frais. Curieux, j’ai demandé combien, et il a répondu “10 mil” (environ 20 $), alors j’ai accepté l’offre.

Tout d’abord, il m’a conseillé de prendre l’un de mes petits bagages et de faire semblant que c’était tout ce que nous avions, une suggestion qui me convenait bien après notre coûteuse expérience à la frontière du Guatemala. Deuxièmement, il nous a aidés à doubler la file d’attente et à entrer dans la salle d’attente devant les honnêtes gens qui attendaient patiemment à l’extérieur. Bien que cela nous ait peut-être fait gagner 20 minutes, nous avons quand même dû respecter la file à l’intérieur du bâtiment. Se sentant coupable des méthodes de cet énergumène, une caractéristique frustrante mais malheureusement courante au Costa Rica, nous avons essayé de nous racheter en offrant une chaise à une dame de 88 ans pendant que sa fille attendait devant nous pour faire tamponner son passeport.

Après avoir réussi à faire tamponner nos passeports et avoir scanné notre seul bagage, notre énergumène m’a dirigé vers un autre bureau pour payer 20 $ pour l’entrée de la voiture. Le moment est venu pour lui de réclamer son dû. Comme convenu, je lui ai remis 10 000 colones, mais à ma surprise, il a protesté en disant que cet argent était uniquement destiné aux employés du gouvernement et qu’il attendait un paiement supplémentaire pour ses efforts. Agacé par son manque de transparence, une caractéristique frustrante mais malheureusement courante au Costa Rica, je lui ai donné 8 000 colones supplémentaires pour éviter d’autres complications. En conclusion, faire appel à ces “assistants” lors du passage de la frontière du Costa Rica ne vaut pas la peine. Leur aide s’est avérée être une arnaque et nous a laissé frustrés.

On m’a alors dit de finaliser le processus dans un autre bureau des douanes, à 200 mètres de là. J’ai obtempéré, obtenu les documents d’assurance voiture pour 51 $ pour trois mois au Costa Rica (oui, les voitures obtiennent un visa touristique de trois mois, tout comme les personnes). Cependant, alors que nous essayions de passer la frontière, nous avons rencontré un problème familier – des papiers manquants. J’ai dû retourner au même bureau, seulement pour découvrir que j’avais un autre arrêt à un autre poste. Malheureusement, la dame était en pause déjeuner, nous obligeant à attendre encore 30 minutes pour terminer le processus. Bien que ce ne fut pas excessivement stressant, cette inefficacité en a fait notre passage de frontière le plus long, prenant bien plus de quatre heures. Et bien sûr, juste alors que nous passions finalement la frontière, Jenny envoyait un message à Niek lui demandant de revenir pour passer ensemble!

Malgré ma tendance à critiquer mon pays de résidence maintenant que je suis bien conscient de certaines de ses lacunes, il était merveilleux de rentrer chez moi. Niek et moi avons ressenti un immense sentiment d’accomplissement alors que nous mettions fin à notre voyage épique. Nous avons passé la nuit à Liberia chez mon bon ami Dominique, avec sa famille. Le lendemain, nous avons savouré le dernier déjeuner de notre voyage au Cinco20, le grill texan à Grecia, ma ville de résidence au Costa Rica. En somme, nous avons fini là où nous avons commencé, à 5 000 kilomètres et trois semaines plus tard. Cela nous a apporté une pure joie de renouer avec les membres de notre communauté et nos animaux de ferme. Pendant notre voyage, nos deux chèvres femelles avaient donné naissance à deux adorables petites filles. Tout est bien qui finit bien.

Versión en español a continuación

Mientras nos dirigíamos hacia León, una ciudad impregnada de historia, famosa por su vibrante escena cultural, su arquitectura colonial y su pasado revolucionario, nos encontramos con no menos de cinco puestos de control de policía en el camino. El número de policías en nuestra ruta era impresionante. Al anochecer, cuando llegamos a otro puesto de control, me aseguré de hacer un buen giro después de detenerme completamente. Nuestra matrícula de Texas parecía ser una invitación abierta para la policía, incitándolos a extorsionarnos por dinero. Encontrarían cualquier pretexto para exigir el pago de multas en efectivo o, más sobornos.

Uno de los oficiales nos detuvo, afirmando que había hecho un giro incorrecto y merecía una multa. Cansado y molesto después de un largo día, le dije tranquilamente que emitiera la multa, pero que no tenía dinero en efectivo en ese momento, mostrando una gran sonrisa. Parecía estar sorprendido, probablemente dándose cuenta de que escribir una multa no le ofrecía ninguna ventaja personal, y decidió dejarnos ir con una simple advertencia.

Llegamos a León de noche, rompiendo involuntariamente nuestra regla de no conducir durante la oscuridad. Sorprendentemente, aparte de los controles policiales, no encontramos ninguna amenaza durante el viaje. Para relajarnos y recuperarnos después de este largo día, fuimos a un encantador restaurante en el centro llamado “Beers & Pellets”, donde disfrutamos de una excelente comida a una fracción del costo en comparación con Costa Rica. Por solo 26 dólares, tuvimos una maravillosa comida acompañada de cervezas para dos. Las ciudades de Nicaragua me dieron la impresión de Cuba, con sus edificios coloridos, su limitada modernidad y la auténtica amabilidad y espontaneidad de la población. Ambos países habían sido fuertemente influenciados por la Unión Soviética y habían experimentado las consecuencias de la Guerra Fría, con ambas superpotencias financiando organizaciones criminales en ambos lados para explotar los recursos del país.

El país tiene una energía pesada, ilustrada por un sentimiento general de resignación y apatía persistente después de años de guerra civil y depresión económica. Sin embargo, a pesar de estos desafíos, descubrimos que las carreteras eran excelentes en todo el país, superando incluso las del Costa Rica para los lugares que visitamos. Siguiendo las recomendaciones, optamos por hacer una visita guiada al Cerro Negro, una experiencia imperdible. Es un volcán muy reciente, el más joven de América Central y el segundo más joven del mundo, que apareció por primera vez en abril de 1850. Consiste en un cono de ceniza basáltica y grava, que contrasta fuertemente con las verdes colinas circundantes, de ahí su nombre, que significa “colina negra”. Por solo 40 dólares, tuvimos transporte de ida y vuelta de dos horas, una caminata increíble con vistas impresionantes, un emocionante descenso en trineo por el volcán, refrescos y ron ilimitados, compañeros de viaje divertidos y un almuerzo satisfactorio. El descenso del volcán fue sin duda una de mis experiencias destacadas, emocionante y aún así nos sentimos seguros gracias al equipo adecuado proporcionado por la agencia turística.

Nuestro próximo destino fue Granada, una pintoresca ciudad conocida por su conservada arquitectura colonial. Exploramos los mercados locales y paseamos por las encantadoras y coloridas calles donde se ofrecían muchas actividades a los transeúntes. Deliciosos platos nos esperaban a precios muy accesibles.

Al día siguiente, visitamos el volcán Masaya, famoso por su impresionante cráter que emite gases sulfurosos y ocasionalmente flujos de lava. Desafortunadamente, la lluvia de la mañana nos impidió usar el camino con vista directa a la lava. Sin embargo, el gigantesco cráter con su chimenea vertical nos dejó asombrados, dándonos una idea de las inmensas fuerzas de la naturaleza. El museo sobre la historia del volcán nos ofreció perspectivas intrigantes, incluido el oscuro pasado de sacrificios de tantos niños que fuerón arrojados vivos a la lava incandescente por los pueblos indígenas y los intentos de los colonos de combatir las fuerzas percibidas del infierno al arrojar grandes estatuas de madera de Cristo en la boca ardiente del volcán.

Luego reservamos la ciudad de Rivas como última etapa de Nicaragua, lo que nos permitió acceder fácilmente al inmenso Lago Cocibolca, también conocido como Lago de Nicaragua, el lago de agua dulce más grande de América Central. Desde allí, pudimos explorar fácilmente la isla de Ometepe y la famosa ciudad costera de San Juan del Sur.

Durante nuestro viaje, Niek se dio cuenta de su disposición a comprometerse en una relación a largo plazo y decidió abrir su cuenta en la aplicación de citas Bumble. Casi instantáneamente, encontró una perfecta compatibilidad con Jenny, una mujer europea muy alta, articulada y espiritual, que parecía complementarlo en todos los aspectos. Inmediatamente conectaron en línea, y él organizó una cita con ella esa misma noche. La promesa del amor lo llevó a conducir valientemente durante la noche, sin dudarlo. No pude evitar sentirme sinceramente feliz por él y emocionado de que podría ver esta nueva posibilidad amorosa desarrollarse.

Mientras presenciaba el entusiasmo y la felicidad de Niek al explorar este nuevo potencial amoroso, no pude evitar verme a mí mismo en él en ese momento. Sinceramente me alegró verlo tan emocionado. Sin embargo, su alegría fue de corta duración, ya que poco después de irse para su cita, me llamó en estado de pánico. Lo habían detenido la policía, y para su gran consternación, se había olvidado los papeles del automóvil. Rápidamente, envié fotos de los documentos requeridos, pero el policía nicaragüense vió una oportunidad para sacar provecho fácilmente y insistió en que los documentos físicos eran necesarios. Niek, preocupado por no hacer esperar a su cita, pagó 20 dólares al oficial por su indulgencia y regresó de inmediato al hotel para recuperar los papeles y reunirse con su musa.

Mientras me preparaba para lo que esperaba que fuera una noche de descanso en el hotel, el destino tenía otros planes. El Gran Hotel Victoria, donde nos hospedábamos, había alquilado la terraza junto a nuestra habitación para una fiesta de cumpleaños. El nivel de ruido era similar al de un concierto en vivo dentro de nuestra habitación. Me informaron que la fiesta terminaría a las 11 de la noche, pero continuó ruidosamente hasta la 1 de la madrugada, perturbando cualquier esperanza de descanso. Mientras tanto, Niek regresó alrededor de la medianoche de su cita amorosa, radiante de felicidad.

Nuestro día comenzó temprano a las 5:30 de la mañana, ya que debíamos tomar el ferry hacia la encantadora isla de Ometepe, ubicada en el lago de Nicaragua. Lo que hace que Ometepe sea realmente especial son sus dos volcanes, Concepción y Maderas, que crean un entorno cautivador y pintoresco. Desafortunadamente, al llegar a Ometepe, nos decepcionamos al enterarnos de que los ferries de regreso por la tarde estaban completos. Aunque nos dijeron que las reservas no eran necesarias, aprendí a mis expensas que es mejor reservar con anticipación, especialmente si tienes un automóvil.

Tuvimos que conformarnos con el ferry de regreso a la 1 de la tarde. Sorprendentemente, esto le vino bien a Niek, ya que significaba que podría pasar más tiempo con Jenny a las 3 de la tarde del mismo día. Estaba claro para todos que el atractivo de una hermosa mujer superaba incluso los paisajes más impresionantes. Con tiempo limitado en la isla, optamos por explorarla en coche y decidimos visitar El Ojo de Agua, un oasis escondido con aguas cristalinas, una cuerda de Tarzán y piscinas mágicas llenas de vida. A pesar de nuestra corta visita, la serenidad de Ometepe dejó una impresión inolvidable en nosotros.

Más tarde ese día, dejé a Niek para que pasara más tiempo con Jenny, y yo me di el lujo de un relajante baño en las tranquilas aguas de San Juan del Sur. Mientras paseaba pacíficamente por la vibrante ciudad costera de San Juan del Sur, la tentación me llevó a Gaby’s Spa and Laundry, un nombre peculiar, pero no te equivoques: hay realmente un salón de relajación arriba. Así que disfruté de un excelente masaje profundo, que, como todo lo demás en Nicaragua, fue sorprendentemente asequible.

Durante la tarde, Niek me envió un mensaje expresando su deseo de pasar el mayor tiempo posible con Jenny, ya que ya había desarrollado fuertes sentimientos por ella. Habíamos acordado anteriormente un toque de queda a las 10 de la noche, así que su mensaje fue una confirmación de que debía recogerlo más tarde. Me preguntaba cómo ocupar el resto de mi noche y terminé eligiendo el popular restaurante con excelentes puntajes en sus comidas, “Dale Pues”.

Mientras cenaba, me sorprendió ver a Niek acercarse a mi mesa. Resultó que Jenny había elegido el mismo restaurante para su cita con él. Ella lucía hermosa en su vestido, y atrajo mi atención desde lejos. Observándolos juntos, no pude evitar sentirme sinceramente feliz por Niek; parecían estar hechos el uno para el otro. Sin embargo, justo cuando me perdía en mis pensamientos, el ambiente cambió rápidamente. Cinco minutos después, Niek regresó a mi mesa, visiblemente angustiado. Jenny se había ido, y su partida estaba teñida de una profunda inseguridad y sospecha, principalmente debido a mi presencia.

Mi barba de viajero descuidada y mi cabello rubio despeinado parecían haber creado involuntariamente una impresión equivocada. A los ojos de Jenny, parecía alguien proveniente de un mundo poco recomendable, tal vez involucrado en una red de prostitución que podría haberla enviado rápidamente al Medio Oriente. La coincidencia de mi presencia era demasiado difícil de superar para ella, y los intentos de Niek por tranquilizarla resultaron insuficientes.

Siempre un caballero, Niek le preguntó cómo podía apoyarla mejor, y ella expresó la necesidad de tomar tiempo a solas. A pesar de su voluntad de quedarse más tiempo en Nicaragua y conocerla mejor, quedó claro que sus caminos no estaban destinados a cruzarse más. Aunque Niek mantuvo la esperanza, esperando un mensaje que pudiera cambiar el curso de los acontecimientos, eso no sucedió. A la mañana siguiente, mi compañero se preparó para dejar Rivas conmigo mientras nos dirigíamos de regreso a Costa Rica, aceptando que el destino tenía algo diferente planeado para él.

Como mencioné en el blog anterior, la frontera entre Honduras y Nicaragua fue la más estresante, pero la frontera entre Nicaragua y Costa Rica resultó ser la más larga. Conducir hasta la entrada fue relativamente fácil, con solo una breve fila de camiones, y encontramos que la organización general de esta frontera era buena. Desde el lado de Nicaragua, primero sellamos nuestros pasaportes, y un joven solicitó un peaje de 1 dólar por persona para pasar la puerta. Tan extraño como suena, pagamos el peaje, pero él no tenía cambio, así que nos pidió que volviéramos más tarde para darle nuevamente 1 dólar. Sorprendentemente, nunca nos volvió a llamar por el dólar que faltaba cuando lo cruzamos nuevamente. Todavía no entiendo cuál era su objetivo. Luego pagamos 3 dólares por persona para sellar nuestros pasaportes. Después de eso, nos pidieron que pasáramos todas las siete piezas de nuestro equipaje a través del escáner. Solo una de nuestras maletas fue señalada debido a la nueva máquina de hacer jugos de Niek que venía de Estados Unidos. Tuve que explicar que llevaba esa máquina a todas partes por razones de salud, y afortunadamente, me creyeron y no impusieron ningún cargo adicional. Sin embargo, aún insistieron en escanear todo nuestro automóvil, lo que resultó ser un proceso complicado para acceder a la enorme máquina de escaneo.

Esa máquina era una pieza impresionante de tecnología. Las autoridades nos pidieron que saliéramos del automóvil y encontráramos un lugar seguro lejos de las radiaciones. Luego esperé durante casi una hora para recibir los resultados de la inspección policial. Luego tuve que regresar a la aduana de Nicaragua para obtener otro sello, lo que llevó otros 45 minutos debido a las largas filas. Finalmente, pudimos pasar al lado costarricense. Mientras nos uníamos a la fila para sellar nuestros pasaportes, un “asistente” se acercó a mí, ofreciéndose a acelerar el proceso por una tarifa. Curioso, le pregunté cuánto, y él respondió “10 mil” (aproximadamente 20 dólares), así que acepté la oferta.

En primer lugar, me aconsejó que tomara una de mis maletas pequeñas y fingiera que eso era todo lo que teníamos, una sugerencia con la que estaba de acuerdo después de nuestra costosa experiencia en la frontera de Guatemala. En segundo lugar, nos ayudó a saltar la fila y entrar en la sala de espera frente a las personas honestas que esperaban pacientemente afuera. Aunque esto podría habernos ahorrado unos 20 minutos, todavía tuvimos que hacer cola dentro del edificio. Sintiéndome culpable por las tácticas del asistente, una característica frustrante pero lamentablemente común en Costa Rica, intentamos redimirnos ofreciendo una silla a una señora de 88 años mientras su hija esperaba en la fila delante de nosotros para sellar su pasaporte.

Después de lograr sellar nuestros pasaportes y escanear nuestra única maleta, el asistente y yo nos dirigimos a otra oficina de aduanas, a unos 200 metros de distancia. Accedí, obtuve los documentos de seguro del automóvil por 51 dólares por tres meses en Costa Rica (sí, los automóviles obtienen una visa de turista de tres meses, al igual que las personas). Sin embargo, cuando intentamos pasar la frontera, nos encontramos con un problema conocido: documentos faltantes. Tuve que volver a la misma oficina, solo para descubrir que tenía otra parada en otra estación. Desafortunadamente, la señora estaba en su pausa para el almuerzo, lo que nos obligó a esperar otros 30 minutos para completar el proceso. Aunque no fue extremadamente estresante, esta ineficiencia hizo que nuestro paso fronterizo fuera el más largo, tomando más de cuatro horas. Y, por supuesto, justo cuando finalmente cruzamos la frontera, ¡Jenny le envió un mensaje a Niek pidiéndole que regresara para pasar más tiempo juntos!

A pesar de mi tendencia a criticar mi país de residencia ahora que soy muy consciente de algunas de sus deficiencias, fue maravilloso volver a casa. Niek y yo sentimos un inmenso sentido de logro al terminar nuestro épico viaje. Pasamos la noche en Liberia con mi buen amigo Dominique y su familia. Al día siguiente, disfrutamos del último almuerzo de nuestro viaje en el Cinco20, el asador texano en Grecia, mi ciudad de residencia en Costa Rica. En resumen, terminamos donde comenzamos, a 5,000 kilómetros y tres semanas después. Nos llenó de pura alegría reunirnos con los miembros de nuestra comunidad y nuestros animales de granja. Durante nuestro viaje, nuestras dos cabras hembras habían dado a luz a dos adorables cabritas. Todo está bien cuando termina bien.

Driving from the USA to Costa Rica IV

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Jump back to Chapter III – Guatemala

Chapter IV – El Salvador & Honduras

As we enter El Salvador, we embark on a drive with good roads, a stark contrast to our experiences entering Guatemala and Mexico. Along our way to Santa Ana, we decide to make a stop at the magnificent Santa Teresa Hot Springs. To our delight, we are greeted with a sprawling oasis of about 20 thermal pools, all for a mere $10 per person. The site also boasts a few on-site restaurants, and for an additional $10, we can indulge in a mud bath, unwind in saunas scented with eucalyptus branches or walk on hot stones for memorable natural foot massage. The entire experience is both enjoyable and incredibly rejuvenating.

After a restful night in Santa Ana, we set out to spend a leisurely day at Coatepeque Lake. In Salvadorian dialect, “tepeque” is synonymous with “place of” in a similar way to “tenango” in Guatemala. Situated just 20 minutes away from Santa Ana, the lake offers perfect swimming conditions with its pleasant temperature. We treat ourselves to a boat tour for a mere $50 for the entire group, and in the afternoon, after a delicious lunch, we indulge in the exhilarating experience of jet skiing for only $30 for the three of us. Coatepeque Lake is truly a sight to behold, nestled within the crater of a volcano, with the picturesque Teopan Island adorning its tranquil waters. The surrounding area is dotted with stunning private properties, one of which is said to belong to a wealthy local family known for hosting secretive satanic rituals, as our guide informs us.

As we make our way back to our airbnb, a light indicator in the car alerts us to a weak battery. Throughout our journey, we had noticed the car struggling to start at times, but I had mistakenly attributed it to issues with the spark plugs, believing we could address them upon our return to Costa Rica. I failed to connect the dots when our friend Linda mentioned that the battery had died during a test drive before our arrival. Niek quickly located a place nearby to replace the battery. However, as we drive, the air conditioning fails, and the ABS system malfunctions, making it challenging to steer. Thankfully, we manage to reach the car battery shop parking spot before the battery dies completely. We feel incredibly fortunate and protected, as we couldn’t have gone another meter. The technicians at the shop prove to be incredibly helpful, swiftly replacing the battery within 30 minutes while we enjoy a cup of coffee and dessert, observing the repairs. The battery, an old one from 2019, turns out to be the source of our issues. However, as I start the car once again, I notice that the battery indicator remains illuminated, leading the technician to suspect an issue with the alternator as well. I make an appointment with a mechanic recommended by the technician to address the problem early the next morning. In an unexpected turn of events, this mechanical issue leads the mechanic to discover that we are also dangerously low on oil and anti-freeze after our long drive. For less than $400, all the issues are resolved. I highly recommend to anyone embarking on a similar long drive to make a mid-way stop for a thorough car check-up and even an oil change. I cannot imagine facing the same problems in Mexico’s stifling heat. We feel blessed that our mechanical troubles were swiftly resolved in El Salvador, having minimal impact on our trip schedule.

Our journey now takes us to the capital, San Salvador. En route, we make a stop to experience the thrilling Rainbow Slide, offering breathtaking views of the city. The slide is located at the picnic steak house, where we savor quality meals and I seize the opportunity to forge a bond with the friendly dogs eagerly awaiting their share of bones. Next on our itinerary is the San Salvador volcano, nestled within the Boqueron National Park. The drive proves to be well worth it, as a short 20-minute hike leads us to the summit, where we are treated to awe-inspiring vistas. The volcano’s crater is steep and unique, featuring a smaller crater within its larger expanse. We then make our way to the city center, paying a visit to the National Craft Market. It is an excellent place to purchase affordable souvenirs. It’s worth noting that El Salvador no longer has its own currency and instead utilizes the United States dollar. Bitcoin is also gaining acceptance in various places, including gas stations, where they have a local Salvadoran app to facilitate easy bitcoin payments. I find myself longing for other countries to adopt similar measures as a means to break free from the stronghold of central banks.

In summary, El Salvador exceeds our expectations and proves to be one of the delightful surprises of our trip. Despite being a relatively small country, about half the size of Costa Rica, it boasts good infrastructure, safety, and slightly lower prices. The locals are friendly, making it an ideal destination for a short vacation. Gone are the days of a menacing military dictatorship; the new president, Nayib Bukele, has played a pivotal role in driving positive changes. It serves as a testament to the significant impact strong political leadership can have on a nation. As the saying goes, we often get the political leaders we collectively deserve.

The following morning, we rise at 5 am to drop off Joselyn and Maripaz to the San Salvador airport, located 45 minutes from the capital. Opting to have them join us solely for this section of the trip proves to be a wise decision, as both Guatemala and El Salvador offer a safe and relaxing environment, whereas the drive through Mexico had been arduous. And, little did we know that the upcoming border crossings would present even greater challenges, making it one of the most demanding days of our journey comforting me in my initial choice.

After bidding farewell to Joselyn and Maripaz, we reach the Salvador/Honduras border within three hours. Exiting El Salvador proves to be the same straightforward process as entering it, but getting into Honduras presents more obstacles. We find ourselves in a long queue under the scorching heat, waiting for our passports to be stamped. Fortunately, the lines move relatively quickly. We arrive around 10 am, which seems to be the busiest time for border crossings. Honduras becomes the first country, after the USA, to take our digital fingerprints. The entry fee, payable in cash, amounts to $3 per person. This highlights the importance of having dollar bills on hand, as change is often scarce. Once our passports are stamped, a person dressed in what appears to be an official uniform approaches, offering assistance with the required paperwork for our vehicle. Within 20 minutes, everything is taken care of. I intended to express my gratitude by giving him an $8 tip, but to my surprise, he insists on receiving $65 instead. Checking the required fees, I realize he had essentially given himself a $20 tip. Although I wish he had been more transparent about it, I decide against arguing and peacefully comply with his request.

We have a mere two and a half hour drive remaining to traverse the narrow band of Honduras between El Salvador and Nicaragua, reaching the next border. Initially, I had planned to spend a day in Honduras, but upon realizing that there was little to do along our route, given the intense heat and lack of development, we decide to cross both borders on the same day. This decision is further motivated by the fact that Honduras has the highest crime rate in Central America.

As we draw closer to the border, about 12 kilometers away, we encounter a familiar sight reminiscent of the Mexico/Guatemala border—a long line of immobilized trucks. In response, we navigate the opposite lane, veering onto the emergency lane whenever oncoming traffic approaches, maneuvering as if we were English drivers on the wrong side of the road. At El Empalme, we notice that all traffic seems to be turning left onto N117 instead of following the line of immobilized trucks. Drawing on our experience from the Mexico/Guatemala border, I decide to follow the flow of traffic. However, I soon realize my mistake and understand that I must return to CA3. In an attempt to find a shortcut, I spot V445 on the map, yet this proves to be another error, as we are forced to traverse a treacherous 4-kilometer dirt road. Eventually, we manage to return to the line of trucks, arriving at the Honduras/Nicaragua border at 2:30 pm. There is an extensive queue for the exit stamp, so we opt to pay $10 to a helper who promises to save us 45 minutes by allowing us to bypass the line. The paperwork related to our vehicle proceeds smoothly as well. However, our worst border experience awaits us in Nicaragua. Trucks occupy every available space, resulting in complete chaos. At the first checkpoint, where we are required to present our passports and vehicle documents, a sandstorm suddenly engulfs the area, followed by heavy rain. Nicaragua is one of the few remaining countries in the world that still requires proof of Covid vaccination or a negative PCR test for entry. Adding to the chaos, Niek realizes that he cannot locate his vaccine pass and frantically rummages through all our luggage in a desperate search. Sensing an opportunity for easy money, a police officer approaches and directs us to the side of the car, demanding $20 to facilitate our passage, while instructing us to be discreet and avoid security cameras when handing over the cash. In need of change, Niek offers $50, but the officer insists he has none. Ultimately, Niek and I pool our smaller bills to provide the necessary $20, and we retrieve our $50 bill. Resuming our journey, we find our path blocked by trucks, forcing us to navigate this labyrinth by breaking every conceivable rule, including driving on pedestrian pavements. Eventually, we arrive at the customs office, drenched from the pouring rain. Our passports are checked, and we are required to fill out an entry form. Then, to my surprise, I am informed that I must locate a police officer to inspect our vehicle. I must travel to the other side of the building to eventually find one. He insists that we bring all our luggage to be inspected by a scanning machine. Having learned from our experience at the Mexico/Guatemala border, Niek and I have taken great care to wrap all our belongings, including goods from the US and gifts we acquired along the way, in clothes. Concerned about exorbitant import taxes, we conveniently decide to take only three pieces of luggage from the car, leaving the two larger ones behind. Unfortunately, after scanning the selected luggage, the female officer requests a thorough inspection of the car. Hoping that the heavy rain will dissuade her from conducting a meticulous search, I sense a moment of hesitation. However, she ultimately decides to brave the rain. I open the car door, conveniently forgetting to open the trunk, but she insists that I do so. Anxious that we will be caught with luggage we were specifically instructed to bring, I am surprised when she remains unperturbed and simply instructs me to bring the two larger suitcases inside the building for additional scanning. It appears that their focus is primarily on firearms and food, and our luggage passes the inspection without issue. We are spared the ordeal of unpacking the suitcases, as we were required to do at some other borders. Reassembling our belongings, we are relieved to finally proceed, or so we thought. As we reach the first checkpoint that we initially bypassed, we are forcefully informed that we did not receive the entry stamp from Nicaragua. Consequently, we are sent back to rectify the oversight, resulting in an additional 30 minutes and $24. Finally, around 5 pm, roughly 12 hours after waking up, we are permitted to enter Nicaragua. Although we are utterly exhausted, we know that we must continue our journey to Leon, the nearest city to the border. As dusk descends upon us, my companion and I prepare ourselves for the extra effort required to reach Leon in Nicaragua…

Niek’s ponderings

El Salvador welcomed us with its slightly hotter climate compared to Guatemala, owing to its lower altitude. We discovered that the souvenir markets offered similar items as in Guatemala, albeit at higher prices.

El Salvador, having adopted the U.S. dollar, no longer has its own currency. Countries that fall victim to the financial schemes of powerful entities often find themselves saved by those same entities. They create both the problem and the solution, a perfect recipe for dependency which is exactly where they want you to be.

While browsing one of the markets, I spotted a beautiful bag that caught my eye. Vaillant, eager to practice his Spanish, engaged in negotiations with the saleswoman. He insisted on purchasing it for no more than $50, making his intentions clear.

Overhearing the conversation, Joselyn interjected, revealing that she was selling the same bag for only $20. Vaillant burst into laughter, admitting his honest mistake. It made me ponder on how the rich stay rich, further impoverishing the poor.

Even without a million dollars, I felt a sense of wealth. The game of life is not evenly distributed. If you are born in a country like this, without the resources we possess in the USA or in Europe, it’s difficult to break free from the matrix.

Reprogramming oneself and becoming aware of the illusions perpetuated by society can be challenging. What lies behind the façade of the actors and stages of our system of domination ?

When you comprehend that our justice system is unjust, and those in power got there not by playing by the book, but by writing the book itself, you begin to navigate through life differently.

Interestingly, I recently received a comment from someone warning us about becoming smugglers. After paying a tax fine at the Guatemala border and realizing we had five more borders to cross, we jokingly embraced the role of smugglers.

Those who still believe in the matrix may argue that people who don’t adhere to the law are the reason for its failure. However, those who truly understand the system know that it was designed to benefit only a privileged few to the detriment of the masses.

Those who question and challenge the system are the pioneers of a better future. Throughout history, certain individuals had to go against mainstream, awakening people’s consciousness and creating a better world.

They knew the sacrifices they had to make and understood they would be despised by the many. Yet, they pressed on because they believed in doing what was right, becoming selfless in the process.

Being two white guys with a Texas license plate drew attention in these economically disadvantaged countries. On one hand, it granted us the privilege of faster border crossings, bypassing the long queues that locals had to endure.

One thing I’ve learned on this journey is that everything in this society has a price. With a few dollars, we could find someone at the borders who knew someone, helping us navigate through the chaotic infrastructure at record speed.

While driving through the chaotic traffic from one border to another, we gradually learned how to blend in with the locals. Just open your window, offer a warm smile, and wave, and they let you pass. If not, a few honks and a little acceleration would do the trick. It made me realize that I would need to adjust my driving style if I were to return to Belgium next year.

Of course, having a Texas license plate attracted the attention of numerous police officers at the road checkpoints, looking for opportunities to solicit bribes. My blond companion, well-versed in evading such situations, always knew how to navigate us out of those encounters.

“I want to learn that too,” I told Vaillant. “What do you mean?” he asked. I explained that I wanted to navigate through life the way he did, feeling fearless and abundant. “Well, you’re doing a great job,” he reassured me. “The only way to learn is through the experiences we’re having.”

I accepted his compliment but couldn’t help feeling disappointed in myself for losing my composure so quickly in stressful situations.

During our second border crossing, from Honduras to Nicaragua, I lost my vaccination card. While a massive storm approached, two security guards observed me anxiously searching my bags for that pesky card.

I had to pay $120 to get that pass in order to avoid the unsafe jab that never got through proper safety testing. I know what it feels like to have your rights taken away, having been restrained to a bed in a mental hospital not long ago so it felt important for me to decide what would get inside my body. Memories of that traumatic period resurfaced, increasing my stress levels.

Once again, my blond companion came to the rescue. A $20 bribe was all it took to get us across the border. Yes, even freedom comes at a price.

However, the goal isn’t to accumulate wealth for the sake of it. The true goal is to understand how to make money and utilize it to help others. We don’t assist each other by succumbing to fear and surrendering our free will. True assistance comes from following what feels right from within.

Jump to Chapter V – Nicaragua

Version en Français: chapitre IV – El Salvador et Honduras

Alors que nous arrivons au Salvador, nous roulons sur une route dotée de bonnes infrastructures, un contraste frappant avec notre expérience à la frontière entre le Guatemala et le Mexique. En route vers Santa Ana, nous décidons de faire un arrêt aux magnifiques sources thermales de Santa Teresa. À notre grand plaisir, nous découvrons un oasis composé d’environ 20 piscines thermales, le tout pour seulement 10 dollars par personne. Le site propose également plusieurs restaurants sur place et moyennant 10 dollars supplémentaires, nous pouvons profiter d’un bain de boue, nous détendre dans des saunas parfumés aux branches d’eucalyptus ou marcher sur des pierres chaudes pour un mémorable massage naturel des pieds. L’expérience est à la fois agréable et incroyablement revitalisante.

Après une nuit reposante à Santa Ana, nous nous apprêtons à passer une journée paisible au lac Coatepeque. Dans le dialecte salvadorien, “tepeque” est synonyme de “lieu de” de la même manière que “tenango” au Guatemala. Situé à seulement 20 minutes de Santa Ana, le lac offre des conditions de baignade parfaites avec une température agréable. Nous nous offrons une visite en bateau pour seulement 50 dollars pour l’ensemble du groupe et, l’après-midi, après un délicieux déjeuner, nous nous adonnons à une expérience exaltante de jet-ski pour seulement 30 dollars pour nous trois. Le lac Coatepeque est véritablement un spectacle à voir, niché dans le cratère d’un volcan, avec l’île pittoresque de Teopan qui orne ses eaux tranquilles. La région environnante est parsemée de superbes propriétés privées, dont l’une est réputée appartenir à une riche famille locale connue pour ses rituels sataniques secrets, comme nous en informe notre guide.

Alors que nous retournons vers notre Airbnb, un témoin lumineux dans la voiture nous alerte d’une batterie faible. Tout au long de notre voyage, nous avions remarqué que la voiture avait parfois du mal à démarrer, mais j’avais attribué cela à des problèmes de bougies d’allumage, pensant que nous pourrions régler ce problème à notre retour au Costa Rica. Je n’avais pas fait le lien lorsque notre amie Linda a mentionné que la batterie s’était déchargée alors qu’elle vérifiait que la voiture était en bon état de marche avant notre arrivée. Niek a rapidement localisé un endroit à proximité pour remplacer la batterie. Cependant, pendant que nous conduisons, la climatisation tombe en panne et le système ABS dysfonctionne, rendant la l’opération du véhicule de plus en plus difficile. Heureusement, nous parvenons à atteindre l’aire de stationnement de la boutique de batteries avant que la batterie ne se décharge complètement. Nous nous sentons incroyablement chanceux et protégés, car nous n’aurions pas pu aller plus loin. Les techniciens de la boutique se révèlent extrêmement serviables, remplaçant rapidement la batterie en 30 minutes pendant que nous savourons une tasse de café et un dessert, observant les réparations. La batterie, qui datait de 2019, s’avère être à l’origine de nos problèmes. Cependant, lorsque je redémarre la voiture, je remarque que le témoin de batterie reste allumé, ce qui amène le technicien à soupçonner un problème avec l’alternateur également. Je prends rendez-vous avec un mécanicien recommandé par le technicien pour résoudre le problème tôt le lendemain matin. Dans un revirement de situation inattendu, ce problème mécanique conduit le mécanicien à découvrir que nous manquons également dangereusement d’huile et de liquide antigel après notre long trajet. Pour moins de 400 dollars, tous les problèmes sont résolus. Je recommande vivement à quiconque qui entreprend un long trajet similaire de faire une halte en milieu de parcours pour une vérification complète de la voiture, voire même une vidange d’huile. Je n’ose pas imaginer faire face aux mêmes problèmes sous la chaleur étouffante du Mexique. Nous nous sentons chanceux que nos ennuis mécaniques aient été résolus rapidement au Salvador, avec un impact minimal sur notre programme de voyage.

Notre voyage nous mène maintenant à la capitale, San Salvador. En route, nous faisons un arrêt pour vivre l’expérience palpitante du Rainbow Slide, offrant des vues à couper le souffle sur la ville. Le toboggan se trouve au picnic steakhouse, où nous dégustons un excellent repas et je saisis l’occasion de créer un lien avec les chiens amicaux attendant avec impatience leur part d’os. Ensuite, nous nous rendons au volcan de San Salvador, niché dans le parc national de Boqueron. Le trajet en vaut la peine, car une courte randonnée de 20 minutes nous mène au sommet, où nous sommes récompensés par des panoramas impressionnants. Le cratère du volcan est abrupt et unique, avec un cratère plus petit à l’intérieur de son vaste ensemble. Nous nous dirigeons ensuite vers le centre-ville, en visitant le marché national de l’artisanat. C’est un excellent endroit pour acheter des souvenirs abordables. Il est intéressant de noter que le Salvador n’a plus sa propre monnaie et utilise désormais le dollar américain. Le Bitcoin est également en train de gagner en acceptation dans divers endroits, notamment dans les stations-service, où une application salvadorienne facilite les paiements en Bitcoin. Je souhaite ardemment que d’autres pays adoptent des mesures similaires pour se libérer de l’emprise des banques centrales.

En résumé, le Salvador dépasse nos attentes et se révèle l’une des agréables surprises de notre voyage. Malgré sa relative petite taille, environ la moitié de celle du Costa Rica, le pays dispose d’une bonne infrastructure, d’une sécurité accrue et de prix légèrement inférieurs. Les habitants sont amicaux, ce qui en fait une destination idéale pour des vacances courtes. Les jours de sinistre dictature militaire sont révolus ; le nouveau président, Nayib Bukele, a joué un rôle essentiel dans les changements positifs. Cela témoigne de l’impact significatif qu’un leadership politique fort peut avoir sur un pays. Comme le dit le dicton, nous obtenons souvent les dirigeants politiques que nous méritons collectivement.

Le lendemain matin, nous nous levons à 5 heures du matin pour déposer Joselyn et Maripaz à l’aéroport de San Salvador, situé à 45 minutes de la capitale. Le fait de les avoir fait venir uniquement pour cette partie du voyage s’avère être une sage décision, car le Guatemala et le Salvador offrent un environnement sûr et reposant, contrairement à notre trajet à travers le Mexique qui a été ardu. Et nous ne savions pas encore que les prochaines traversées de frontières nous réservaient des défis encore plus importants, faisant de cette journée l’une des plus exigeantes de notre périple, me confortant dans mon choix initial.

Après avoir fait nos adieux à Joselyn et Maripaz, nous atteignons la frontière Salvador/Honduras en trois heures. La sortie du Salvador se révèle être un processus aussi simple que son entrée, mais entrer au Honduras présente plus d’obstacles. Nous nous retrouvons dans une longue file d’attente sous la chaleur écrasante, en attendant que nos passeports soient tamponnés. Heureusement, les files avancent relativement rapidement. Nous arrivons vers 10 heures du matin, qui semble être le moment le plus chargé pour les traversées de frontières. Le Honduras devient le premier pays dans ce voyage, après les États-Unis, à prendre nos empreintes digitales numériques. Les frais d’entrée, payables en espèces, s’élèvent à 3 dollars par personne. Cela souligne l’importance d’avoir de la petite coupure de dollars sur soi, car la monnaie est souvent difficile à obtenir. Une fois nos passeports tamponnés, une personne vêtue d’un uniforme officiel s’approche et propose son aide pour les formalités nécessaires à notre véhicule. En 20 minutes, tout est réglé. Je comptais exprimer ma gratitude en lui donnant un pourboire de 8 dollars, mais à ma grande surprise, il insiste pour recevoir 65 dollars à la place. Vérifiant les frais requis, je réalise qu’il s’est essentiellement accordé un pourboire de 20 dollars. Bien que j’aurais aimé qu’il soit plus transparent à ce sujet, je décide de ne pas discuter et de me conformer paisiblement à sa demande.

Il ne nous reste plus que deux heures et demie de route pour traverser la bande étroite du Honduras entre le Salvador et le Nicaragua, afin d’atteindre la prochaine frontière. À l’origine, j’avais prévu de passer une journée au Honduras, mais en réalisant qu’il y avait peu à faire le long de notre itinéraire, compte tenu de la chaleur intense et du manque de développement touristique, nous décidons de franchir les deux frontières le même jour. Cette décision est motivée par le fait que le Honduras a le taux de criminalité le plus élevé en Amérique centrale.

À mesure que nous nous approchons de la frontière, à environ 12 kilomètres de là, nous rencontrons une vue familière rappelant la frontière entre le Mexique et le Guatemala : une longue file de camions immobilisés. Nous devons donc emprunter la file de gauche, nous décalant sur la voie d’urgence chaque fois que la circulation en sens inverse se rapproche, manœuvrant comme si nous étions des conducteurs anglais du “mauvais” côté de la route. À El Empalme, nous constatons que tout le trafic semble tourner à gauche sur la N117 au lieu de suivre la file de camions immobilisés. Puisant dans notre expérience de la frontière entre le Mexique et le Guatemala, je décide de suivre le flux de la circulation. Cependant, je réalise rapidement mon erreur et comprends que je dois revenir à la CA3. Dans une tentative de trouver un raccourci, je repère V445 sur la carte, mais cela s’avère être une autre erreur, car nous sommes contraints de traverser une route en terre cabossée de 4 kilomètres. Finalement, nous parvenons à revenir à la file de camions, arrivant à la frontière entre le Honduras et le Nicaragua à 14h30. Il y a une longue file d’attente pour le tampon de sortie, nous décidons donc de payer 10 dollars à un assistant qui nous promet de nous faire gagner 45 minutes en nous permettant de contourner la file. Les formalités liées à notre véhicule se déroulent également sans problème. Cependant, notre pire expérience aux frontières nous attend au Nicaragua. Les camions occupent chaque espace disponible, créant un chaos complet. Au premier poste de contrôle, où nous devons présenter nos passeports et les documents du véhicule, une tempête de sable survient soudainement, suivie d’une forte pluie. Le Nicaragua est l’un des rares pays au monde à exiger encore une preuve de vaccination Covid ou d’un test PCR négatif pour entrer. Ajoutant au chaos, Niek réalise qu’il ne peut pas trouver son passeport vaccinal et fouille frénétiquement nos bagages dans une recherche désespérée. Sentant une opportunité de gagner facilement de l’argent, un policier s’approche et nous dirige sur le côté de la voiture, demandant 20 dollars pour faciliter notre passage, tout en nous recommandant d’être discrets afin d’éviter les caméras de sécurité lors de la remise de l’argent. Niek offre 50 dollars, mais l’officier insiste sur le fait qu’il n’a pas la monnaie. Finalement, Niek et moi regroupons nos plus petits billets pour fournir les 20 dollars nécessaires, et nous récupérons notre billet de 50 dollars. Reprenant notre voyage, nous trouvons notre chemin bloqué par les camions, ce qui nous oblige à naviguer dans ce labyrinthe en enfreignant toutes les règles imaginables, y compris en conduisant sur les trottoirs réservés aux piétons. Finalement, nous arrivons au bureau des douanes, trempés par la pluie battante. Nos passeports sont vérifiés et nous devons remplir un formulaire d’entrée. Puis, à ma grande surprise, on me dit que je dois trouver un policier pour inspecter notre véhicule. Je dois me rendre de l’autre côté du bâtiment pour finalement en trouver un. Il insiste pour que nous apportions tous nos bagages pour qu’ils soient inspectés par une machine à scanner. Ayant appris de notre expérience de $120 à la frontière entre le Mexique et le Guatemala, Niek et moi avons pris grand soin d’envelopper toutes les nouveaux achats, y compris les produits des États-Unis et les cadeaux que nous avons acquis en cours de route, dans des vêtements. Craignant des taxes d’importation exorbitantes, nous décidons commodément de ne prendre que trois bagages de la voiture, en laissant les deux plus grands derrière nous. Malheureusement, après avoir scanné les bagages sélectionnés, l’agent des douanes demande une inspection approfondie de la voiture. Espérant que la forte pluie la dissuade de mener une fouille minutieuse, je sens un moment d’hésitation. Cependant, elle décide finalement de braver la pluie. J’ouvre la porte de la voiture, oubliant commodément d’ouvrir le coffre, mais elle insiste pour que je le fasse. Inquiet de sa réaction alors qu’elle remarque de gros bagages qu’elle nous a expressément demandé d’apporter, je suis surpris lorsqu’elle reste imperturbable et se contente de me demander d’apporter les deux plus grandes valises à l’intérieur du bâtiment pour un scanner supplémentaire. Il semble que leur attention soit principalement axée sur les armes à feu et la nourriture, et nos bagages passent l’inspection sans problème. Nous sommes épargnés de l’épreuve de déballer les valises, comme nous avons dû le faire à certaines autres frontières. En rassemblant nos affaires, nous sommes soulagés de pouvoir enfin continuer, du moins le pensons-nous. Lorsque nous atteignons le premier poste de contrôle que nous avons initialement contourné, on nous informe de manière catégorique que nous n’avons pas reçu le tampon d’entrée du Nicaragua. En conséquence, nous sommes renvoyés pour rectifier cet oubli, ce qui nous prend 30 minutes supplémentaires et 24 dollars. Finalement, vers 17 heures, environ 12 heures après nous être réveillés, nous sommes autorisés à entrer au Nicaragua. Bien que nous soyons épuisés, nous savons que nous devons continuer notre voyage jusqu’à Leon, la ville la plus proche de la frontière à environ 2 heures de route. Alors que la nuit tombe sur nous, mon compagnon et moi nous préparons à l’effort supplémentaire nécessaire pour atteindre notre premier lieu de repos au Nicaragua…

Versión en español a continuación

Mientras llegamos a El Salvador, conducimos por una carretera con buena infraestructura, el marcado contraste con nuestra experiencia en la frontera entre Guatemala y México. En nuestro camino hacia Santa Ana, decidimos hacer una parada en las magníficas aguas termales de Santa Teresa. Para nuestra gran alegría, descubrimos un oasis compuesto por alrededor de 20 piscinas termales, todo por solo 10 dólares por persona. El lugar también ofrece varios restaurantes y, por 10 dólares adicionales, podemos disfrutar de un baño de barro, relajarnos en saunas perfumadas con ramas de eucalipto o caminar sobre piedras calientes para un memorable masaje natural de pies. La experiencia es agradable e increíblemente revitalizante.

Después de una noche de descanso en Santa Ana, nos preparamos para pasar un día tranquilo en el lago Coatepeque. En el dialecto salvadoreño, “tepeque” es sinónimo de “lugar de”, de la misma manera que “tenango” en Guatemala. Ubicado a solo 20 minutos de Santa Ana, el lago ofrece condiciones perfectas para nadar con una temperatura agradable. Tomamos un paseo en bote por solo 50 dólares para todo el grupo y por la tarde, después de un delicioso almuerzo, disfrutamos de una emocionante experiencia de jet ski por solo 30 dólares para los tres. El lago Coatepeque es verdaderamente un espectáculo para ver, ubicado en el cráter de un volcán, con la pintoresca isla de Teopan adornando sus tranquilas aguas. La región circundante está salpicada de impresionantes propiedades privadas, una de las cuales se dice que pertenece a una familia local adinerada conocida por sus rituales satánicos secretos, según nos informa nuestro guía.

Mientras regresamos a nuestro Airbnb, una luz en el automóvil nos alerta sobre una batería baja. Durante todo nuestro viaje, habíamos notado que el automóvil a veces tenía dificultades para arrancar, pero lo había atribuido a problemas con las bujías, pensando que podríamos resolverlo cuando regresemos a Costa Rica. No me di cuenta cuando nuestra amiga Linda mencionó que la batería se descargó mientras verificaba que el automóvil estuviera en buenas condiciones antes de nuestra llegada. Niek ubicó rápidamente un lugar cercano para reemplazar la batería. Sin embargo, mientras conducimos, el aire acondicionado se estropea y el sistema ABS comienza a fallar, lo que dificulta cada vez más la conducción del vehículo. Afortunadamente, logramos llegar al estacionamiento de la tienda de baterías antes de que la batería se descargue por completo. Nos sentimos increíblemente afortunados y protegidos, ya que no podríamos haber llegado más lejos. Los técnicos de la tienda resultan ser extremadamente serviciales, reemplazando rápidamente la batería en 30 minutos mientras disfrutamos de una taza de café y un postre, observando las reparaciones. La batería, que data de 2019, resulta ser la causa de nuestros problemas. Sin embargo, cuando vuelvo a encender el automóvil, noto que la luz de la batería permanece encendida, lo que lleva al técnico a sospechar que también hay un problema con el alternador. Concierto una cita con un mecánico recomendado por el técnico para resolver el problema temprano al día siguiente. En un giro inesperado, este problema mecánico lleva al mecánico a descubrir que también estamos peligrosamente bajos de aceite y líquido refrigerante después de nuestro largo viaje. Por menos de 400 dólares, todos los problemas se resuelven. Recomiendo encarecidamente a cualquiera que emprenda un viaje similar que haga una parada a mitad de camino para una revisión completa del automóvil, e incluso un cambio de aceite. No me atrevo a imaginar enfrentar los mismos problemas bajo el calor sofocante de México. Nos sentimos afortunados de que nuestros problemas mecánicos se hayan resuelto rápidamente en El Salvador, con un impacto mínimo en nuestro itinerario de viaje.

Nuestro viaje nos lleva ahora a la capital, San Salvador. En el camino, hacemos una parada para experimentar la emocionante diapositiva Rainbow, que ofrece vistas impresionantes de la ciudad. El tobogán se encuentra en el picnic steakhouse, donde disfrutamos de una excelente comida y aprovecho la oportunidad para relacionarme con los amistosos perros esperando ansiosamente su porción de hueso. Luego, nos dirigimos al volcán de San Salvador, ubicado en el Parque Nacional de Boquerón. El viaje vale la pena, ya que una corta caminata de 20 minutos nos lleva a la cima, donde somos recompensados con impresionantes panoramas. El cráter del volcán es abrupto y único, con un cráter más pequeño en su interior. Luego nos dirigimos al centro de la ciudad, visitando el Mercado Nacional de Artesanías. Es un excelente lugar para comprar souvenirs a precios accesibles. Es interesante notar que El Salvador ya no tiene su propia moneda y ahora utiliza el dólar estadounidense. Bitcoin también está ganando aceptación en varios lugares, incluidas las gasolineras, donde una aplicación salvadoreña facilita los pagos con Bitcoin. Espero sinceramente que otros países adopten medidas similares para liberarse del control de los bancos centrales.

En resumen, El Salvador supera nuestras expectativas y resulta ser una de las agradables sorpresas de nuestro viaje. A pesar de su relativamente pequeño tamaño, aproximadamente la mitad del tamaño de Costa Rica, el país cuenta con una buena infraestructura, mayor seguridad y precios ligeramente más bajos. Los habitantes son amigables, lo que lo convierte en un destino ideal para unas vacaciones cortas. Los días de la siniestra dictadura militar han quedado atrás; el nuevo presidente, Nayib Bukele, ha desempeñado un papel crucial en los cambios positivos. Esto demuestra el impacto significativo que un liderazgo político fuerte puede tener en un país. Como dice el refrán, a menudo obtenemos los líderes políticos que merecemos colectivamente.

A la mañana siguiente, nos levantamos a las 5 de la mañana para llevar a Joselyn y Maripaz al aeropuerto de San Salvador, que está a 45 minutos de la capital. El haberlas hecho venir exclusivamente para esta parte del viaje resultó ser una sabia decisión, ya que Guatemala y El Salvador ofrecen un ambiente seguro y relajante, a diferencia de nuestro viaje a través de México que fue arduo. Y aún no sabíamos que los próximos cruces de fronteras nos traerían desafíos aún mayores, lo que hizo que este día fuera uno de los más exigentes de nuestro viaje, reafirmando mi elección inicial.

Después de despedirnos de Joselyn y Maripaz, llegamos a la frontera entre El Salvador y Honduras en tres horas. La salida de El Salvador resulta ser un proceso tan sencillo como su entrada, pero entrar en Honduras presenta más obstáculos. Nos encontramos en una larga fila bajo el calor aplastante, esperando que sellen nuestros pasaportes. Afortunadamente, las filas avanzan relativamente rápido. Llegamos alrededor de las 10 de la mañana, que parece ser el momento más concurrido para cruzar las fronteras. Honduras se convierte en el primer país en este viaje, después de los Estados Unidos, en tomar nuestras huellas dactilares digitales. La tarifa de entrada, que debe pagarse en efectivo, es de 3 dólares por persona. Esto destaca la importancia de llevar billetes pequeños de dólares, ya que a menudo es difícil obtener cambio. Una vez que sellan nuestros pasaportes, un oficial con uniforme oficial se acerca y ofrece ayuda con los trámites para nuestro vehículo. En 20 minutos, todo está resuelto. Tenía la intención de expresar mi gratitud dándole una propina de 8 dólares, pero para mi gran sorpresa, él insiste en recibir 65 dólares en su lugar. Revisando las tarifas requeridas, me doy cuenta de que básicamente se otorgó una propina de 20 dólares. Aunque hubiera preferido que fuera más transparente al respecto, decido no discutir y cumplir pacíficamente con su solicitud.

Solo nos quedan dos horas y media de camino para cruzar la estrecha franja de Honduras entre El Salvador y Nicaragua, para llegar a la siguiente frontera. Originalmente, había planeado pasar un día en Honduras, pero al darme cuenta de que había poco que hacer a lo largo de nuestra ruta, dada la intensa calor y la falta de desarrollo turístico, decidimos cruzar ambas fronteras el mismo día. Esta decisión se debe a que Honduras tiene la tasa de criminalidad más alta en Centroamérica.

A medida que nos acercamos a la frontera, a unos 12 kilómetros de distancia, nos encontramos con una vista familiar que nos recuerda la frontera entre México y Guatemala: una larga fila de camiones inmovilizados. Por lo tanto, debemos tomar la fila de la izquierda, moviéndonos al carril de emergencia cada vez que se acerca el tráfico en sentido contrario, maniobrando como si fuéramos conductores ingleses en el “lado equivocado” de la carretera. En El Empalme, notamos que todo el tráfico parece girar a la izquierda hacia la N117 en lugar de seguir la fila de camiones inmovilizados. Aprovechando nuestra experiencia en la frontera entre México y Guatemala, decido seguir el flujo del tráfico. Sin embargo, rápidamente me doy cuenta de mi error y entiendo que debo regresar a la CA3. En un intento de encontrar un atajo, localizo V445 en el mapa, pero resulta ser otro error, ya que nos vemos obligados a cruzar una carretera de tierra accidentada de 4 kilómetros. Finalmente, volvemos a la fila de camiones, llegando a la frontera entre Honduras y Nicaragua a las 2:30 p.m. Hay una larga fila para el sello de salida, así que decidimos pagar 10 dólares a un asistente que promete ahorrarnos 45 minutos permitiéndonos saltar la fila. Los trámites relacionados con nuestro vehículo también se realizan sin problemas. Sin embargo, nuestra peor experiencia en las fronteras nos espera en Nicaragua. Los camiones ocupan cada espacio disponible, creando un caos completo. En el primer puesto de control, donde debemos presentar nuestros pasaportes y los documentos del vehículo, una tormenta de arena aparece de repente, seguida de una fuerte lluvia. Nicaragua es uno de los pocos países en el mundo que todavía requiere una prueba de vacunación Covid o una prueba PCR negativa para ingresar. Añadiendo al caos, Niek se da cuenta de que no puede encontrar su pasaporte de vacunación y busca frenéticamente en nuestro equipaje desesperadamente. Al notar una oportunidad para ganar dinero fácilmente, un policía se acerca y nos dirige hacia el lado del automóvil, pidiendo 20 dólares para facilitar nuestro paso, mientras nos recomienda ser discretos para evitar las cámaras de seguridad al entregar el dinero. Niek ofrece 50 dólares, pero el oficial insiste en que no tiene cambio. Finalmente, Niek y yo reunimos nuestros billetes más pequeños para proporcionar los 20 dólares necesarios, y recuperamos nuestro billete de 50 dólares. Continuando nuestro viaje, encontramos nuestro camino bloqueado por los camiones, lo que nos obliga a navegar por este laberinto infringiendo todas las reglas imaginables, incluido conducir en las aceras reservadas para peatones. Finalmente, llegamos a la oficina de aduanas, empapados por la lluvia torrencial. Verifican nuestros pasaportes y se nos pide que completemos un formulario de entrada. Luego, para mi gran sorpresa, se me informa que debo encontrar a un policía para inspeccionar nuestro vehículo. Debo ir al otro lado del edificio para finalmente encontrar uno. Él insiste en que llevemos todas nuestras maletas para que sean escaneadas por una máquina. Después de aprender de nuestra experiencia de $120 en la frontera entre México y Guatemala, Niek y yo nos hemos asegurado de envolver todas las nuevas compras, incluidos los productos de Estados Unidos y los regalos que adquirimos en el camino, en ropa. Temiendo altos impuestos de importación, convenientemente decidimos llevar solo tres maletas del automóvil, dejando las dos más grandes atrás. Desafortunadamente, después de escanear las maletas seleccionadas, el agente de aduanas solicita una inspección exhaustiva del automóvil. Con la esperanza de que la fuerte lluvia la desaliente de realizar una búsqueda minuciosa, siento un momento de vacilación. Sin embargo, finalmente decide enfrentar la lluvia. Abro la puerta del automóvil, olvidando convenientemente abrir el maletero, pero ella insiste en que lo haga. Preocupado por su reacción cuando note las grandes maletas que nos pidió expresamente que lleváramos, me sorprende que permanezca imperturbable y simplemente me pida que lleve las dos maletas más grandes dentro del edificio para un escaneo adicional. Parece que su atención se centra principalmente en armas de fuego y alimentos, y nuestras maletas pasan la inspección sin problemas. Nos ahorramos el trabajo de desempacar las maletas, como tuvimos que hacer en algunas otras fronteras. Mientras recogemos nuestras cosas, nos sentimos aliviados de poder continuar, al menos eso pensamos. Cuando llegamos al primer puesto de control que inicialmente evitamos, nos informan categóricamente que no hemos recibido el sello de entrada a Nicaragua. Como resultado, nos envían de vuelta para corregir esta omisión, lo que nos lleva 30 minutos adicionales y 24 dólares. Finalmente, alrededor de las 5 de la tarde, aproximadamente 12 horas después de haber despertado, nos permiten ingresar a Nicaragua. Aunque estamos exhaustos, sabemos que debemos continuar nuestro viaje hasta León, la ciudad más cercana a la frontera a unas 2 horas de distancia. A medida que cae la noche, mi compañero y yo nos preparamos para el esfuerzo adicional necesario para llegar a nuestro primer lugar de descanso en Nicaragua…

Driving from the USA to Costa Rica III

Chapter III – Guatemala

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It is already dark as we enter the Guatemalan border town of Tec Uman. It feels like a typical third-world country town, and to add to the ambiance, we are greeted by torrential rains. Concerned about driving at night for safety reasons, I had reserved a nearby hotel with excellent reviews, called Santa Fe Pajapita, just a 20-minute drive away. As we arrive, we are welcomed by a security guard armed with a machine gun. The hotel provides a comfortable room with various amenities, including a swimming pool. Niek and I take this opportunity to indulge our inner children and relax after our fast-paced journey through Mexico.

Leaving behind the fast highways of southern Mexico, we are back on slow-moving, single-lane roads as we head towards Quetzaltenango. The name “Tenango” in Quetzaltenango means “place of,” and the city name reflects the significance of the Quetzal, Guatemala’s national bird. The Guatemalan culture immediately captivates us, as we feel welcomed by the land and its people. The vibrant outfits worn by women, bursting with colors, add to the rich cultural tapestry. The preserved culture of Guatemala stands out in contrast to Mexico, which has been more influenced by the dark side of capitalism and the associated rat race.

After checking into our hotel, we venture out to explore Quetzaltenango. We have a delightful lunch at the popular and highly recommended Albamar Las Americas restaurant, where local music welcomes us. We then visit the hot springs of Los Vahos near the city center, but unfortunately, we do not recommend them due to a rough road and the lack of thermal baths as they only offer sauna. We continue our exploration by visiting the vibrant Mercado Central, where we immerse ourselves in the bustling atmosphere and find affordable goods. The city’s numerous beautiful Catholic churches showcase the radiant faith of the people. Regardless of religious beliefs, we find that religious individuals are often more grounded and connected to human values. The local markets offer a wide range of goods at affordable prices, but it’s important to note that most store owners only accept cash.

The next day, we wake up early at 5 AM to embark on a hike up the San Pedro volcano on our way to Guatemala. During breakfast, I come across online stories of hikers being victims of robberies at the summit (story 1, story 2, story 3). Bandits armed with machine guns and machetes target tourists as they approach the summit, climbing from the village on the other side. Despite the risks, we decide to proceed with the hike because we’ve heard so much about Lake Atitlan. We take a mountain road with a steep incline, but thankfully it is in good condition. After a two-hour drive to the San Pedro volcano trailhead in San Juan La Laguna from Quetzaltenango, we encounter two improvised tolls, paying a total of 25 quetzales. The parking lot at the trailhead can only accommodate two cars, and we are the first to park that day. I inquire with the ranger about recent robberies, and he informs us that the last one occurred in May. Feeling cautiously optimistic, we begin our hike at 9.30 am, passing a disappointed group of hikers coming down from the summit. They inform us that the top of the volcano is clouded, with no visibility. We ask their police escorts if it is safe to proceed, and they assure us that it should be fine as long as we don’t linger too long at the summit. Considering our options, we decide to continue the hike, guided by our intuition and a sense of peace. Niek and I make steady progress, and I’m grateful that he carries our backpack. Despite his handicap, my giant friend still manages to walk faster than me. As we reach an altitude of 2800 meters, I secure my phone in a safe place and give Niek a “bait” wallet containing expired IDs, credit cards, and spare change, just in case we encounter potential robbers. Miraculously, the sky clears completely, and we can’t believe our luck! The first group of hikers took all the necessary precautions without success, while our spontaneous approach turns in our favor. Finally, around noon, we reach the summit and are rewarded with a breathtaking view of Lake Atitlan and the surrounding volcanoes. This becomes the highlight of our trip so far, as the challenges we faced make the experience even more rewarding. As we begin our descent, exhausted from the five-hour hike, the rain starts to pour. It seems like another stroke of luck that we made it back before the rain intensifies. Driving through the crowded streets of San Juan la Laguna, with its tuk-tuks filling every corner, we find a nice restaurant with a view of the lake. We then make our way back to Guatemala City, feeling completely drained. I navigate the challenging uphill road to reach Highway CA1, while Niek falls asleep in the car. Gradually, the road conditions improve to the level we expect in Europe. We notice a recurring pattern of poor road conditions near the borders and improving while driving inland, similar to our experience in Mexico.

Guatemala City, with its population of over 3 million people, impresses us with its modernity and well-developed infrastructure. To be close to the airport to pick-up my girlfriend Joselyn and her daughter Maripaz’s arrival scheduled on this same night, I have booked an Airbnb within a large shopping mall. Surprisingly, we need to park our car in the shopping center’s underground garage on the second level to get to our condo. After confirming with my host that overnight parking is allowed, I leave Niek in the condo and head to the La Aurora international airport to pick up Joselyn and Maripaz. I reunite with Joselyn and Maripaz, exhausted but thrilled to be together again. I drive back to the condo however, upon arrival, I realize that I have gone to the wrong parking area, as there are multiple Pradera shopping malls. After 30 minutes of driving, I finally arrive at the correct one, only to find that the parking is closed. I call my host, who informs me that there is another entrance on the other side. Despite following her instructions, we encounter another closed entrance. Frustrated, I express my dissatisfaction, and eventually, they send a motorcycle escort to guide us. However, we still face obstacles, as the magnetic card provided by my host doesn’t work. After 20 minutes of waiting and with the help of my host, we finally gain authorization to enter. By this time, a power outage affects the entire shopping center due to scheduled construction work. This unexpected turn of events creates a disappointing welcome for Joselyn, who manages to maintain a positive attitude despite her tired daughter, Maripaz. Our predicament is shared by three other cars stuck in the same situation, and it takes over 30 minutes until they manually open the barrier to let us into the parking area. Finally, at 12:30 am, we finally made it through the shopping mall parking. We collapse onto the bed, drained from the day’s ordeals. What a fascinating paradox we encountered. We embarked on a hike rumored to be perilous, yet it unfolded as a truly enchanting experience. However, upon returning to the realm of men artificial constructs, we found ourselves confronted with worse unexpected trials and tribulations.

After a restful night, we decide to explore Guatemala City. It is a modern city with excellent infrastructure, reminiscent of Panama City. We visit some historical buildings before immersing ourselves in the lively Mercado Central. The market offers a wonderful array of goods, and we manage to find quality souvenirs at reasonable prices, including colorful local clothing. Our next stop is the Casa de la Memoria museum, where we delve into the history of the Guatemalan genocide. The Spanish conquest drastically reduced the native population of Mayans and Aztecs from 70 million to only 3 million. The extraordinary brutality of the colonizers is vividly described in the museum. Subsequently, American corporations established a Banana republic in Guatemala, leading to a military dictatorship and a civil war characterized by horrifying violence. The Guatemalan genocide occurred during this civil war from 1960 to 1996, with the military regime targeting and killing indigenous Mayans. Massacres, forced disappearances, and widespread violence aimed to eliminate perceived threats from indigenous communities supporting leftist rebels. The estimated number of victims ranges from tens of thousands to over 200,000, with indigenous peoples comprising a significant portion of the casualties.

Getting back to our condo takes longer than expected due to heavy traffic. The next day, Niek decides to take a rest. We have been constantly on the move, with long drives since the beginning of our trip. I take Joselyn to visit the city of Antigua. Our first stop is the magical Hobbitenango, a hobbit village located at an altitude of 2500 meters. The breathtaking views of Volcán de Agua, Volcán Acatenango, and the erupting Volcán de Fuego exceed our expectations. Hobbitenango surprises us with its charming hobbit houses, Tarzan swing, and delightful shops and restaurants. We then explore the cobblestone streets of the historic city of Antigua, visiting the ruins of 17th-century cathedrals. Our day concludes with a delightful meal at the excellent French restaurant Tartines, where we engage in an insightful conversation with the owner, a Frenchman who has lived in Guatemala for over 40 years. As a perfect finale, we make a stop at the Santa Teresita hot springs on our way back to Guatemala City. The thermal pools offer various temperature options and spa packages, although advance reservations are required for massages. Less than an hour later, we return to our condo, feeling rejuvenated by this final stop.

The next morning, we depart for the San Salvador border, completing the journey in less than three hours. The exit from Guatemala is swift, and the entry into El Salvador requires the submission of various documents for our vehicle: a copy of my stamped passport, registration, title, driver license, Guatemala car sticker and the vehicle paperwork that was delivered to me upon entry. The personnel at the border are friendly and helpful, dispelling any preconceived notions about Salvadoran bureaucracy. The total time to cross the border is less than 90 minutes. Excitement fills the air as our group embarks on a new adventure, leaving Guatemala behind and setting our sights on the next destination: El Salvador…

Niek’s Ponderings

The Enchanting Land of Joyful Souls

After a challenging three-hour border cross, we bid farewell to Mexico, a country that left us with mixed impressions. As I mentioned before, our visit was brief, only four days, which hardly provides a comprehensive review of such a vast nation.

Regrettably, we were unaware of the taxes we needed to pay for the items we purchased in the States. Through some charm, we managed to sway the lady conducting our inspection, leaving us with a modest tax of $120. We’ll be better prepared for the next border crossing. It was nothing more than a gangster party.

Upon entering Guatemala, it felt as though we were opening the door to Narnia or some other magical realm. I sensed a significant shift in energy as I beheld their beautifully colored vehicles and buildings.

While the border city was chaotic, the people displayed humility in traffic, willingly making way for others to change lanes. It seemed as though the city possessed a soul.

During a pit stop for gas, I encountered a guard holding a shotgun who greeted me. These people were incredibly endearing, even when armed. It made me wonder.

Strangely enough, I felt safer here than I did in Mexico. The people were helpful, offering assistance from start to finish. Their long-term perspective, ensuring that customers would return by providing excellent service, was admirable.

Such experiences are hard to come by in Costa Rica. Most of my recent encounters there involved receiving half-hearted service at double the price, all accompanied by the comforting phrase… pura vida.

But hey, nothing can surpass their stunning climate and the incredible people I’ve met. I don’t believe a perfect country exists. So why confine ourselves to just one?

Guatemala is much more affordable than Costa Rica. Slowly, I began envisioning different possibilities for navigating my life if we were to survive this journey.

While enjoying breakfast in a superb yet inexpensive hotel, Vaillant was reading an article about our upcoming volcano hike. San Pedro was known to be a trail where one might encounter machete and machine gun-wielding thieves.

No worries, we had pocket knives, and Vaillant held his phone so tightly in his own underwear that even the thieves wouldn’t find anything worth taking, except our pocket knives. I was grateful I convinced him not to bring my phone. It’s difficult to say no to Vaillant, but sometimes I’m glad I can.

The only escort we could find had already been paid for by another group of tourists. As we ascended to the summit at an altitude of 3,000 meters, I reflected on all the people who are physically unable to undertake this journey. I felt a deep sense of gratitude that I could.

I noticed that Vaillant struggled more with the climb than I did. I admired this about him—his determination and resilience during difficult times. I know that if I were in his shoes, I would likely give up.

One thing is certain: we will all lose our bodies someday. Yes, we can take steps to improve our health and perhaps lead safer lives. But ultimately, we will lose them.

There’s no benefit in waiting for the perfect moment to begin pursuing our dreams. Everything happens in this very moment. Embracing some level of risk is not a bad thing; it expands our comfort zone.

In the news, we often see the worst of other countries. But, as many travelers told me before I began my own journey, once you experience things firsthand, you’ll wonder what you were so afraid of in the first place.

There’s no advantage in waiting. Just take action with what you have in this very moment. No matter what your goals or dreams may be, venture out there, make a fool of yourself, and live an extraordinary life without regrets.

Like Frodo, who had to leave the Shire to realize his full potential, I felt more like a giant in this land of tiny people. Or perhaps even like a statue-sized Jesus.

Upon arriving in Guatemala City, we witnessed how America had corrupted this country. The deep state cannot be hidden. They are omnipresent, one multinational after another. And those aggressive drivers we encountered in Mexico? They were even worse here, with colossal traffic jams and the incessant honking of cars.

In the evening, Joselyn and Maripaz joined us, having just arrived at the airport. They would stay with us for a week. As I spent time with them, becoming part of this unique family, I started contemplating my own dating life. I had never been alone for such an extended period and had never felt as connected to myself as I did today.

Vaillant booked us a hotel inside a massive mall. I’m glad he did, as it exposed me to another facet of the country, revealing two distinct sides of the culture. On one hand, the peaceful and contented people living amidst nature, despite being considered materially poor.

On the other hand, a vast, luxurious city exuding an entirely different energy. Are we destined to become unhappy when we have too much luxury? Or is there a way to strike a balance? I wondered.

As I write this in a bar near our hotel, I feel an overwhelming sense of gratitude for this opportunity. I realize how privileged I am to navigate through life in this manner, not enslaved by a meaningless job or part of a soulless machine. Instead, I find freedom within this material world because I chose to do so.

I now understand why I no longer feel the same fear I once did. If my time were to come, I would have no regrets about the life I’ve lived. To truly live, we must be ready to face death. These were the words of Eckhart Tolle in his book, ‘The Power of Now.’

We didn’t perish on that hike. Instead, we were reborn.

Jump to Chapter IV – El Salvador & Honduras

Version en Français: chapitre III – Guatemala

Il fait déjà sombre lorsque nous pénétrons dans la ville frontalière guatémaltèque de Tec Uman. Elle donne l’impression d’être une typique petite ville du tiers-monde, et pour ajouter à l’ambiance, nous sommes accueillis par des pluies torrentielles. Inquiets de conduire de nuit pour des raisons de sécurité, j’avais réservé un hôtel à proximité avec d’excellents avis, appelé Santa Fe Pajapita, à seulement 20 minutes en voiture. À notre arrivée, nous sommes accueillis par un garde de sécurité armé d’une mitraillette. L’hôtel propose une chambre confortable avec diverses commodités, dont une piscine. Niek et moi profitons de cette occasion pour laisser libre cours à notre enfant intérieur dans la piscine et nous détendre après notre voyage effréné à travers le Mexique.

Nous laissons derrière nous les autoroutes rapides du sud du Mexique et retrouvons des routes à une seule voie qui avancent lentement alors que nous nous dirigeons vers Quetzaltenango. Le nom “Tenango” dans Quetzaltenango signifie “lieu de”, et le nom de la ville reflète l’importance du Quetzal, l’oiseau national du Guatemala. La culture guatémaltèque nous captive immédiatement, nous nous sentons accueillis par la terre et ses habitants. Les tenues vibrantes portées par les femmes, débordantes de couleurs, viennent s’ajouter à la riche toile culturelle. La culture préservée du Guatemala se démarque en contraste avec le Mexique, qui a été davantage influencé par le sombre côté du capitalisme et la course au profit.

Après nous être enregistrés dans notre hôtel, nous nous aventurons à explorer Quetzaltenango. Nous déjeunons avec délice au populaire et hautement recommandé restaurant Albamar Las Americas, où la musique locale nous accueille. Nous visitons ensuite les sources chaudes de Los Vahos, près du centre-ville, mais malheureusement, nous ne les recommandons pas en raison d’une route cahoteuse et de l’absence de bains thermaux, car ils proposent seulement un sauna. Nous poursuivons notre exploration en visitant le vibrant Mercado Central, où nous nous immergeons dans une atmosphère animée et trouvons des produits abordables. Les nombreuses et magnifiques églises catholiques de la ville reflètent la foi rayonnante de la population. Quelles que soient les croyances religieuses, nous constatons que les personnes religieuses sont souvent plus ancrées et connectées aux valeurs humaines. Les marchés locaux proposent une large gamme de produits à des prix abordables, mais il est important de noter que la plupart des commerçants n’acceptent que les espèces.

Le lendemain, nous nous réveillons tôt à 5 heures du matin pour entamer une randonnée jusqu’au volcan San Pedro en direction du Guatemala. Pendant le petit-déjeuner, je tombe sur des récits en ligne de randonneurs victimes de vols au sommet. Des bandits armés de mitraillettes et de machettes ciblent les touristes alors qu’ils approchent du sommet, en escaladant depuis le village de l’autre côté. Malgré les risques, nous décidons de poursuivre la randonnée car nous avons tellement entendu parler en bien du lac Atitlan. Nous empruntons une route de montagne avec une pente raide, mais heureusement, elle est en bon état. Après deux heures de route jusqu’au point de départ de la randonnée du volcan San Pedro à San Juan La Laguna depuis Quetzaltenango, nous rencontrons deux péages improvisés, payant un total de 25 quetzals. Le parking au point de départ de la randonnée ne peut accueillir que deux voitures, et nous sommes les premiers à nous garer ce jour-là. Je m’enquiers auprès du garde forestier des vols récents, et il nous informe que le dernier a eu lieu en mai. Nous nous sentons prudemment optimistes et entamons notre randonnée à 9h30, en croisant un groupe déçu de randonneurs redescendant du sommet. Ils nous informent que le sommet du volcan est couvert de nuages, sans visibilité. Nous demandons à leurs accompagnateurs de police s’il est sûr de continuer, et ils nous assurent que ça devrait aller tant que nous ne restons pas trop longtemps au sommet. En tenant compte de nos options, nous décidons de poursuivre la randonnée, guidés par notre intuition et un sentiment de paix. Niek et moi progressons régulièrement, et je suis reconnaissant qu’il porte notre sac à dos. Malgré son handicap, mon ami géant parvient toujours à marcher plus vite que moi. Lorsque nous atteignons une altitude de 2800 mètres, je sécurise mon téléphone à un endroit sûr et donne à Niek un portefeuille “appât” contenant des cartes d’identité périmées, des cartes de crédit et de la monnaie en cas de rencontre avec d’éventuels voleurs. Miraculeusement, le ciel se dégage complètement et nous n’en croyons pas notre chance ! Le premier groupe de randonneurs a pris toutes les précautions nécessaires sans succès, tandis que notre approche spontanée tourne en notre faveur. Enfin, vers midi, nous atteignons le sommet et sommes récompensés par une vue à couper le souffle sur le lac Atitlan et les volcans environnants. Cela devient le point culminant de notre voyage jusqu’à présent, car les défis que nous avons affrontés rendent l’expérience encore plus gratifiante. Alors que nous entamons notre descente, épuisés par les cinq heures de randonnée, la pluie commence à tomber. Il semble être un autre coup de chance que nous soyons de retour avant que la pluie ne s’intensifie. En conduisant à travers les rues bondées de San Juan la Laguna, avec ses tuk-tuks remplissant chaque coin, nous trouvons un bon restaurant avec vue sur le lac. Nous retournons ensuite à Guatemala City, complètement épuisés. Je me fraye un chemin sur la route en pente difficile pour rejoindre l’autoroute CA1, tandis que Niek s’endort dans la voiture. Progressivement, les conditions routières s’améliorent au niveau auquel nous nous attendons en Europe. Nous remarquons un schéma récurrent de mauvaises conditions routières près des frontières et d’amélioration en conduisant à l’intérieur des terres, similaire à notre expérience au Mexique.

Guatemala City, avec sa population de plus de 3 millions de personnes, nous impressionne par sa modernité et son infrastructure bien développée. Afin d’être proche de l’aéroport pour accueillir ma petite amie Joselyn et sa fille Maripaz prévue pour cette même nuit, j’ai réservé un Airbnb situé dans un grand centre commercial. Étonnamment, nous devons garer notre voiture dans le garage souterrain du centre commercial au deuxième niveau pour accéder à notre condo. Après avoir confirmé avec mon hôte que l’accès au stationnement est autorisé la nuit, je laisse Niek dans le condo et me dirige vers l’aéroport international La Aurora pour récupérer Joselyn et Maripaz. Je retrouve Joselyn et Maripaz fatigué mais ravi d’être à nouveau réunis. Je conduis ensuite de retour au condo cependant, à mon arrivée, je réalise que je me suis rendu au mauvais endroit, car il y a plusieurs centres commerciaux Pradera. Après 30 minutes de conduite, j’arrive enfin au bon endroit, pour constater que le parking est fermé. J’appelle mon hôte, qui m’informe qu’il y a une autre entrée de l’autre côté. Malgré le suivi de ses instructions, nous rencontrons une autre entrée fermée. Frustré, j’exprime mon mécontentement et finalement, ils envoient une escorte à moto pour nous guider. Cependant, nous rencontrons encore des obstacles, car la carte magnétique fournie par mon hôte ne fonctionne pas. Après 20 minutes d’attente et avec l’aide de mon hôte, nous obtenons enfin l’autorisation d’entrer. Mais à ce moment-là, une panne de courant affecte l’ensemble du centre commercial en raison de travaux de construction prévus. Ce retournement de situation inattendu crée un accueil décevant pour Joselyn, qui parvient à garder une attitude positive malgré sa fille fatiguée, Maripaz. Notre situation est partagée par trois autres voitures coincées dans la même situation, et il faut plus de 30 minutes avant qu’ils n’ouvrent manuellement la barrière pour nous laisser entrer dans le parking. Enfin, à 00h30, nous réussissons enfin à nous garer au parking du centre commercial afin d’accéder à notre appartement. Nous nous effondrons sur le lit, épuisés par les épreuves de la journée. Quel paradoxe fascinant! Nous nous sommes lancés dans une randonnée réputée dangereuse, mais elle s’est révélée être une expérience véritablement enchantée. Cependant, en revenant au royaume des constructions artificielles des hommes, nous nous sommes retrouvés confrontés à des épreuves et des tribulations encore plus éprouvantes.

Après une nuit de repos, nous décidons d’explorer Guatemala City. C’est une ville moderne avec une excellente infrastructure, rappelant Panama City. Nous visitons quelques bâtiments historiques avant de nous plonger dans l’animation du Mercado Central. Le marché offre un merveilleux éventail de produits, et nous parvenons à trouver des souvenirs de qualité à des prix raisonnables, y compris des vêtements colorés locaux. Notre prochain arrêt est le musée Casa de la Memoria, où nous plongeons dans l’histoire du génocide guatémaltèque. La conquête espagnole a réduit drastiquement la population autochtone des Mayas et des Aztèques de 70 millions à seulement 3 millions. La brutalité extraordinaire des colonisateurs est décrite de manière vivante dans le musée. Par la suite, des corporations américaines ont établi une république bananière au Guatemala, entraînant une dictature militaire et une guerre civile caractérisée par une violence horrifiante. Le génocide guatémaltèque a eu lieu pendant cette guerre civile de 1960 à 1996, le régime militaire ciblant et tuant les Mayas autochtones. Massacres, disparitions forcées et violence généralisée visaient à éliminer les menaces perçues des communautés autochtones soutenant les rebelles de gauche. Le nombre estimé de victimes varie de plusieurs dizaines de milliers à plus de 200 000, les peuples autochtones représentant une part importante des pertes.

Le retour à notre condo prend plus de temps que prévu en raison de la circulation dense. Le lendemain, Niek décide de se reposer. Nous avons été constamment en mouvement, avec de longs trajets depuis le début de notre voyage. J’emmène Joselyn visiter la ville d’Antigua. Notre première étape est le magique Hobbitenango, un village hobbit situé à une altitude de 2500 mètres. Les vues à couper le souffle du Volcán de Agua, du Volcán Acatenango et du Volcán de Fuego dépassent nos attentes. Hobbitenango nous surprend avec ses charmantes maisons de hobbit, sa balançoire Tarzan et ses charmantes boutiques et restaurants. Nous explorons ensuite les rues pavées de la ville historique d’Antigua, visitant les ruines des cathédrales du XVIIe siècle. Notre journée se termine par un délicieux repas à l’excellent restaurant français Tartines, où nous engageons une conversation enrichissante avec le propriétaire, un Français qui vit au Guatemala depuis plus de 40 ans. Pour une fin parfaite, nous faisons un arrêt aux sources chaudes de Santa Teresita sur le chemin du retour à Guatemala City. Les piscines thermales offrent différentes températures et des forfaits spa, bien que une réservation préalable soit nécessaire pour les massages. Moins d’une heure plus tard, nous retournons à notre condo, nous sentant revigorés par cet arrêt final.

Le lendemain matin, nous partons pour la frontière de San Salvador, terminant le trajet en moins de trois heures. La sortie du Guatemala se fait rapidement. L’entrée au Salvador nécessite la soumission de divers documents pour notre véhicule : une copie de mon passeport tamponné, l’enregistrement et le titre de propriété du véhicule, le permis de conduire, la vignette du Guatemala et les documents du véhicule qui m’ont été remis à l’entrée du Guatémala. Le personnel à la frontière est amical et serviable, dissipant les idées préconçues sur la bureaucratie salvadorienne. Le temps total pour traverser la frontière est inférieur à 90 minutes. L’excitation est palpable alors que notre groupe se lance dans une nouvelle aventure, laissant le Guatemala derrière nous et fixant notre attention sur la prochaine destination : El Salvador…

Versión en español a continuación

Ya es de noche cuando entramos a la ciudad fronteriza guatemalteca de Tec Uman. Da la impresión de ser un típico pueblo del tercer mundo, y para nuestra sorpresa el ambiente cambia y nos reciben fuertes lluvias. Preocupados por conducir de noche por razones de seguridad, había reservado un hotel cercano con excelentes reseñas llamado Santa Fe Pajapita, a solo 20 minutos en coche. A nuestra llegada, somos recibidos por un guardia de seguridad armado con una ametralladora. El hotel ofrece una cómoda habitación con varias comodidades, incluida una piscina. Niek y yo aprovechamos esta oportunidad para dejar fluir nuestro niño interior en la piscina y relajarnos después de nuestro ajetreado viaje a través de México.

Dejamos atrás las autopistas rápidas del sur de México y encontramos carreteras de un solo carril que avanzan lentamente mientras nos dirigimos a Quetzaltenango. El nombre “Tenango” en Quetzaltenango significa “lugar de”, y el nombre de la ciudad refleja la importancia del Quetzal, el ave nacional de Guatemala. La cultura guatemalteca nos cautiva de inmediato, nos sentimos bienvenidos por la tierra y sus habitantes. Los vibrantes trajes que usan las mujeres, multicolores, se suman a la rica tela cultural. La cultura preservada de Guatemala destaca en contraste con México, que ha sido más influenciado por el lado oscuro del capitalismo y la carrera hacia el beneficio.

Después de registrarnos en nuestro hotel, nos aventuramos a explorar Quetzaltenango. Disfrutamos de un delicioso almuerzo en el popular y altamente recomendado restaurante Albamar Las Americas, donde la música local nos da la bienvenida. Luego visitamos las aguas termales de Los Vahos, cerca del centro de la ciudad, pero desafortunadamente no las recomendamos debido a una carretera accidentada y la falta de baños o piscinas termales, ya que solo ofrecen una sauna. Continuamos nuestra exploración visitando el animado Mercado Central, donde nos sumergimos en un ambiente animado y encontramos productos asequibles. Las numerosas y hermosas iglesias católicas de la ciudad reflejan la fe radiante de la población. Independientemente de las creencias religiosas, observamos que las personas religiosas a menudo están más arraigadas y conectadas con los valores humanos. Los mercados locales ofrecen una amplia gama de productos a precios asequibles, pero es importante tener en cuenta que la mayoría de los comerciantes solo aceptan efectivo.

Al día siguiente, nos levantamos temprano a las 5 de la mañana para comenzar una caminata hasta el volcán San Pedro en dirección a Guatemala. Durante el desayuno, encuentro en en camino relatos de excursionistas que fueron víctimas de robos en la cima. Bandidos armados con ametralladoras y machetes atacan a los turistas mientras se acercan a la cima, ascendiendo desde el pueblo al otro lado. A pesar de los riesgos, decidimos continuar la caminata ya que hemos escuchado tanto sobre el lago Atitlán. Tomamos una carretera de montaña con una pendiente pronunciada, pero afortunadamente, está en buen estado. Después de dos horas de viaje hasta el punto de partida de la caminata al volcán San Pedro desde San Juan La Laguna hasta Quetzaltenango, nos encontramos con dos peajes improvisados, pagando un total de 25 quetzales. El estacionamiento en el punto de partida de la caminata solo tiene capacidad para dos autos, y somos los primeros en estacionarnos ese día. Pregunto al guardabosques acerca de los robos recientes, y nos informa que el último ocurrió en mayo. Nos sentimos optimistas pero prudentes y comenzamos nuestra caminata a las 9:30 a.m., encontrándonos con un grupo desilusionado de excursionistas bajando de la cima. Nos informan que la cima del volcán está cubierta de nubes, sin visibilidad. Le preguntamos a sus acompañantes policías si es seguro continuar, y nos aseguran que estaremos bien siempre y cuando no pasemos mucho tiempo en la cima. Tomando en cuenta nuestras opciones, decidimos seguir adelante con la caminata, guiados por nuestra intuición y un sentimiento de paz. Niek y yo avanzamos constantemente, y estoy agradecido de que él lleve nuestra mochila. A pesar de su discapacidad, mi amigo gigante siempre logra caminar más rápido que yo. Cuando alcanzamos una altitud de 2800 metros, aseguro mi teléfono en un lugar seguro y le doy a Niek una cartera “señuelo” que contiene identificaciones vencidas, tarjetas de crédito y dinero en efectivo en caso de un encuentro con posibles ladrones. Milagrosamente, el cielo se despeja por completo y no podemos creer nuestra suerte. El primer grupo de excursionistas tomó todas las precauciones necesarias sin éxito, mientras que nuestro enfoque espontáneo resultó a nuestro favor. Finalmente, alrededor del mediodía, alcanzamos la cima y somos recompensados con una vista impresionante del lago Atitlán y los volcanes circundantes. Esto se convierte en el punto culminante de nuestro viaje hasta ahora, ya que los desafíos que hemos enfrentado hacen que la experiencia sea aún más gratificante. Mientras comenzamos a descender, agotados por las cinco horas de caminata, comienza a llover. Parece ser otra cuestión de suerte que estemos de regreso antes de que la lluvia se intensifique. Conduciendo por las concurridas calles de San Juan La Laguna, con sus tuk-tuks llenando cada esquina, encontramos un buen restaurante con vista al lago. Luego, regresamos a la Ciudad de Guatemala, completamente exhaustos. Me abro paso por la empinada carretera para unirme a la autopista CA1, mientras Niek se queda dormido en el coche. Las condiciones de la carretera mejoran gradualmente al nivel que esperamos en Europa. Notamos un patrón recurrente de malas condiciones de carretera cerca de las fronteras y una mejora al conducir hacia el interior del país, similar a nuestra experiencia en México.

La Ciudad de Guatemala, con una población de más de 3 millones de personas, nos impresiona con su modernidad y su bien desarrollada infraestructura. Para estar cerca del aeropuerto y recibir a mi novia Joselyn y su hija Maripaz esa misma noche, reservé un Airbnb ubicado en un gran centro comercial. Sorprendentemente, debemos estacionar nuestro coche en el garaje subterráneo del centro comercial en el segundo nivel para acceder a nuestro condominio. Después de confirmar con mi anfitrión que se permite el acceso al estacionamiento durante la noche, dejo a Niek en el condominio y me dirijo al Aeropuerto Internacional La Aurora para recoger a Joselyn y Maripaz. Encuentro a Joselyn y Maripaz cansadas pero encantadas de estar juntos nuevamente. Luego conduzco de regreso al condominio, pero al llegar, me doy cuenta de que me dirigí al lugar equivocado, ya que hay varios centros comerciales Pradera. Después de 30 minutos de conducción, finalmente llego al lugar correcto, solo para descubrir que el estacionamiento está cerrado. Llamo a mi anfitrión, quien me informa que hay otra entrada al otro lado. A pesar de seguir sus instrucciones, nos encontramos con otra entrada cerrada. Frustrado, expreso mi descontento y finalmente envían una escolta en moto para guiarnos. Sin embargo, todavía encontramos obstáculos, ya que la tarjeta magnética proporcionada por mi anfitrión no funciona. Después de esperar 20 minutos y con la ayuda de mi anfitrión, finalmente obtenemos permiso para ingresar. Pero para ese momento, un corte de energía afecta todo el centro comercial debido a trabajos de construcción programados. Este giro inesperado de los acontecimientos crea una recepción decepcionante para Joselyn, quien logra mantener una actitud positiva a pesar de la fatiga de su hija, Maripaz. Nuestra situación es compartida por otros tres autos atrapados en la misma situación, y pasan más de 30 minutos antes de que abran manualmente la barrera para permitirnos ingresar al estacionamiento. Finalmente, a las 12:30 a.m., finalmente logramos estacionar en el estacionamiento del centro comercial para acceder a nuestro apartamento. Nos desplomamos en la cama, exhaustos por las pruebas del día. ¡Qué fascinante paradoja! Nos embarcamos en una caminata considerada peligrosa, pero resultó ser una experiencia verdaderamente encantada. Sin embargo, al regresar al reino de las construcciones artificiales de los hombres, nos enfrentamos a pruebas y tribulaciones aún más agotadoras.

Después de una noche de descanso, decidimos explorar la Ciudad de Guatemala. Es una ciudad moderna con una excelente infraestructura, recordando a la Ciudad de Panamá. Visitamos algunos edificios históricos antes de sumergirnos en la animación del Mercado Central. El mercado ofrece una maravillosa variedad de productos, y logramos encontrar souvenirs de calidad a precios razonables, incluyendo colorida ropa local. Nuestra próxima parada es el museo Casa de la Memoria, donde nos sumergimos en la historia del genocidio guatemalteco. La conquista española redujo drásticamente la población indígena de mayas y aztecas de 70 millones a solo 3 millones. La brutalidad extraordinaria de los colonizadores se describe vívidamente en el museo. Posteriormente, corporaciones estadounidenses establecieron una república bananera en Guatemala, lo que llevó a una dictadura militar y una guerra civil caracterizada por una violencia horrible. El genocidio guatemalteco ocurrió durante esta guerra civil de 1960 a 1996, con el régimen militar apuntando y asesinando a los mayas indígenas. Masacres, desapariciones forzadas y violencia generalizada tenían como objetivo eliminar las amenazas percibidas de las comunidades indígenas que apoyaban a los rebeldes de izquierda. El número estimado de víctimas varía de decenas de miles a más de 200,000, siendo los pueblos indígenas una parte importante de las pérdidas.

El regreso a nuestro condominio toma más tiempo de lo previsto debido al tráfico denso. Al día siguiente, Niek decide descansar. Hemos estado en movimiento constante, con largos viajes desde el comienzo de nuestro viaje. Llevo a Joselyn a visitar la ciudad de Antigua Guatemala. Nuestra primera parada es el mágico Hobbitenango, un pueblo hobbit ubicado a una altitud de 2500 metros. Las impresionantes vistas del Volcán de Agua, el Volcán Acatenango y el Volcán de Fuego superan nuestras expectativas. Hobbitenango nos sorprende con sus encantadoras casas hobbit, su columpio Tarzán y sus encantadoras tiendas y restaurantes. Luego exploramos las calles empedradas de la ciudad histórica de Antigua, visitando las ruinas de catedrales del siglo XVII. Nuestro día termina con una deliciosa comida en el excelente restaurante francés Tartines, donde entablamos una enriquecedora conversación con el propietario, un francés que ha vivido en Guatemala durante más de 40 años. Para un final perfecto, hacemos una parada en las aguas termales de Santa Teresita en el camino de regreso a la Ciudad de Guatemala. Las piscinas termales ofrecen diferentes temperaturas y paquetes de spa, aunque se necesita una reserva previa para los masajes. Menos de una hora después, regresamos a nuestro condominio, sintiéndonos renovados por esta última parada.

A la mañana siguiente, partimos hacia la frontera de El Salvador, completando el trayecto en menos de tres horas. La salida de Guatemala se realiza rápidamente. La entrada a El Salvador requiere la presentación de varios documentos para nuestro vehículo: una copia de mi pasaporte sellado, el registro y el título de propiedad del vehículo, la licencia de conducir, la calcomanía de Guatemala y los documentos del vehículo que me dieron en la entrada de Guatemala. El personal en la frontera es amable y servicial, disipando las ideas preconcebidas sobre la burocracia salvadoreña. El tiempo total para cruzar la frontera es inferior a 90 minutos. La emoción es palpable mientras nuestro grupo se embarca en una nueva aventura, dejando atrás Guatemala y enfocándonos en el próximo destino: El Salvador…

Driving from the USA to Costa Rica II

Chapter II – Mexico

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We crossed the Mexico border at around 4 pm on July 3rd. Opting for safety, we decided to spend the night in Matamoros since driving at night was not advisable as the next big city Tampico was over 6 hours away. Matamoros didn’t leave a good impression; it seemed odd that border cities in Mexico, like Tijuana, often lacked development and proper infrastructure. Our Airbnb experience in Matamoros started on a rough note with the wrong directions and a detour into a less desirable part of town. However, after finally finding the right place, we took shelter in our car with the air conditioning on, battling the scorching heat outside as we waited for our host to open the gate. Booking accommodations with air conditioning is a critical necessity in the sweltering Mexican summer. Luckily, our Airbnb provided gated parking to ensure the safety of our vehicle. During the move from the car to the apartment, I discovered an unfamiliar iPhone in our possession. Niek had mistakenly picked it up at customs, assuming it was mine, but thankfully, the owner hadn’t locked her phone, enabling us to contact her and arrange its return. It was a paradoxical situation; had she secured her phone with a passcode, returning it to her might have been considerably more challenging.

As was the norm during our journey, we rose early to reach our next destination, the coastal city of Tampico, a 6.5-hour drive southward. Driving in Mexico initially took some getting used to, with drivers utilizing emergency lanes to allow faster cars to pass them. We found the overall driving style to be aggressive, with unnecessary risks and poor visibility taken to save a few minutes that could cost them their lives. We checked into a delightful and affordable hotel, treating ourselves to a massive fish feast. The sweltering heat outside was relentless. After some time by the pool, we headed to Tampico’s famous Miramar beach around 6 pm when the temperature became slightly more bearable. Miramar was an incredibly expansive beach, with a significant portion utilized as parking space. The sea’s temperature in the Gulf of Mexico was divine, hovering around 25 degrees Celsius (77 degrees Fahrenheit). The waves were gentle, the water shallow, and it was perfect for swimming. We marveled at the beauty of the beach, even engaging in our yoga practice. To cap off the day, we visited Tampico’s renowned shopping mall, Altama City Center. It felt like stepping back into the United States, but the prices were on par, if not higher than those in northern America.

The following morning, we set off for our next coastal city, Veracruz, a 7-hour drive away. We made a pit stop halfway to explore the famous El Tajin ruins. El Tajin, a renowned archaeological site, captivated us with its magnificent structures. Once the capital of the Totonac civilization, the site thrived from the 9th to the 13th centuries. Notably, the Pyramid of the Niches stood out among the ruins, adorned with ornate windows. As we parked our vehicle, we found ourselves approached by two women eager to sell us lunch. The afternoon had already slipped away, and our hunger reminded us of the skipped meal. It quickly became apparent that these women were competitors vying for our patronage. The one with an air of confidence managed to persuade us to dine at her restaurant, just a five-minute stroll away, despite the other woman’s efforts. Stepping into the archaeological site, we were greeted by a spectacle known as “The Dance of the Flyers.” It filled me with joy to share this experience with Niek, as I had witnessed it fifteen years prior in Acapulco. “The Dance of the Fliers,” or “Danza de los Voladores” in Spanish, is a mesmerizing traditional ritual deeply rooted in Mexican culture. This ancient Mesoamerican ceremony is brought to life by a group of skilled performers known as “voladores” or “fliers.” Adorned in vibrant, colorful traditional attire, they ascend a towering pole with grace and precision. Four of them descend in a captivating spiral, tethered to ropes that symbolize the flight of birds, while the fifth remains at the pinnacle, playing flute and drum, lending a rhythmic accompaniment to the enchanting spectacle. Beyond its visual grandeur, the Dance of the Flyers holds profound cultural and spiritual significance, representing the profound connection between humanity and the natural world. I am awe-inspired by the fliers’ serene state of relaxation as they whirl around the pole in a trance-like dance. Among the ruins, the Pyramid of the Niches stands as a true marvel. Its name, derived from the myriad decorative windows that adorn its structure, adds to its magnificence.

After immersing ourselves in this cultural experience, we continued our journey to Veracruz. Exhausted from the drive, we treated ourselves to a rejuvenating massage at the hotel. Later, we indulged in the hotel’s pool, enjoying the evening heat before settling in for a restful night. When we woke up, the weather took a turn for the worse, with constant rain and no signs of improvement. We made the tough decision to cancel our plans to visit Cancuncito and Boca del Rio beaches, opting to push forward with our trip.

This day marked our transition from the Gulf of Mexico to the Pacific side. Paradoxically, as we traveled further south, the roads improved dramatically, reminiscent of what one would expect in Europe. Halfway through, we stopped for lunch at a hotel restaurant near Lake Nezahualcoyotl. The lake’s water level surprised us, appearing remarkably low due to the severe drought affecting Mexico. As we approached Arriaga, near the Pacific Coast, we found ourselves on a mountainous road shrouded in mystical fog. Ultimately, we chose a hotel in Tonala, venturing into the nearby city square called Esperanza Plaza to find a place to eat. Once seated, we were approached by three different restaurant owners vying for our business—an amusing trend we noticed in Mexico. Ultimately, we ended up ordering from two different establishments. As I settled the bill at one place, they inquired whether I had also paid the other. At least in this situation, it seemed the women restaurateurs were more supportive of each other. After a restful night, we embarked on a short drive to Puerto Arista on the Pacific side, a mere 25 minutes away. The waves were breathtaking, but unfortunately, swimming was unsafe. After our yoga session, we savored a beachside breakfast before continuing our journey towards the Guatemala border.

The lack of reliable information about crossing the border led us to rely on our GPS, directing us to Guatemala City without specifying which border to cross. Passing Tapachula, we encountered a massive line of trucks en route to Central America, seemingly stuck there for an extended period. At a fork in the road, I decided to ask a motorcyclist for advice on the best border crossing. This turned out to be a fortunate move, as my GPS was suggesting we follow the endless truck line on the left, while he recommended heading towards Ciudad Hidalgo. However, even in Ciudad Hidalgo, Google Maps seemed confused, and we had to ask locals for directions to find the customs office. If you reading this blog with the hope of easily finding the customs office, please put this location. By around 3 pm, we reached the Mexican customs checkpoint. The entire process of crossing and receiving a refund of the $468 Mexican car deposit from Banjercito took less than 45 minutes. We did not have to pay for an exit fee as we had spent less than a week in Mexico.

After covering 1,200 miles of driving, or nearly 2,000 kilometers, over 23 hours, we finally arrived at the Guatemala border. Crossing Mexico via this route proved to be the most efficient option, as traveling along the Pacific Coast from San Diego would have taken 44 hours and covered over 2,600 miles, or 4,000 kilometers. Mexico turned out to be more extensive than anticipated.

We were greeted by a sign reading “Welcome to Guatemala, the country of eternal spring.” The climate already resembled that of Costa Rica, with tropical afternoon rain beginning to fall. The customs officer in Guatemala was friendly and helpful. As part of the procedure, she requested that we open our suitcases. Unfortunately, we had made the critical mistake of leaving some items in their original packaging from our USA purchases, resulting in a 23% tax being levied on them. With four more borders to cross, this unexpected cost could become significant, prompting us to devise a new strategy for future border crossings. I was handed a tax bill of $150! In jest, I thought to myself that my friend Petar owed me a massage for all the taxes on his packages. Regrettably, they only accepted cash in the local currency, quetzales. I attempted to avoid a local individual eager to exchange my cash to avoid this legal form of extortion, venturing into the small Guatemalan city of Tecun Uman to find an ATM amid pouring tropical rain. Thankful for my trusty Crocs as the streets were already flooded with 10 inches of water, I withdrew cash to complete the vehicle release process and free Niek, who had spent 30 minutes enduring a headache-inducing ordeal with a screaming child in the customs office. This four-year-old child happens to be the offspring of a Swiss couple who found themselves trapped in the Guatemala customs office for over 24 hours due to a minor paperwork issue. As I approached the scene, this little rascal couldn’t resist capturing a funny video of me on his phone. On my end, I faced the following border requirements: presenting the original car title, car registration, US driver’s license, passport, and the Banjercito paperwork from Mexico. Surprisingly, they didn’t ask for any copies and promptly returned all my documents. Crossing this border took us a total of 2 hours and 40 minutes, with nearly 2 hours spent on the Guatemalan side alone. We considered ourselves fortunate when comparing our experience to that of the stranded Swiss couple.

Niek’s ponderings

Once we departed from the American roads, the stark contrast in the aggressive driving style of the Mexicans became evident. The highways lacked a center strip, allowing for daring maneuvers at speeds of 110 mph against oncoming traffic. In these moments, one’s safety rested entirely in the hands of others, reminding me of similar experiences in Belgium where I faced traumatic accidents beyond my control. Over time, I conquered my fear of driving, but never could I have imagined navigating the roads we were traversing that day.

It was a realization that the illusion of control is just that—an illusion. When our time comes, it will come, regardless of our efforts to safeguard our lives and cling to the belief that someday we will have it all figured out.

But here we are, in this moment, living and experiencing this human existence. If there is anything to control, it lies within ourselves. Learning to manage our inner world, observing our thoughts when faced with life’s events, for they happen not to us but for us. Life happens for us.

As we continued our journey, we encountered numerous soldiers armed with heavy machine guns, one convoy after another. The sight was frightening, reminding me of how swiftly life can be extinguished by a single bullet.

While Vaillant took more risks than I did when overtaking slower vehicles, he seemed to feel less secure than I did in such situations. Surrendering control can sometimes be more daunting than taking the risk ourselves. I excelled in the former, while Vaillant thrived in embracing risk. This dynamic made us a compatible duo, and this trip taught us to trust one another.

During the long hours of driving, profound insights about myself and how I wished to shape my life upon returning to Costa Rica surfaced. The people we initially resist can often become our greatest teachers. Initially harboring resistance toward my fair-haired companion, as I began to dismantle those barriers and listen to the lessons I needed to learn, a profound sense of gratitude for this connection arose within me.

I knew this journey would confront me with inner resistance and deeper fears. However, I also knew it would facilitate personal growth—if we managed to survive, of course.

Vaillant’s aim was to expedite our passage through Mexico and savor the delights of the smaller countries that lay ahead. One of our stops included the ancient ruins of El Tajin—an extinct civilization. I couldn’t help but wonder what would have transpired had my European ancestors never discovered this land. Would the Mayas and Incas have also succumbed to the allure of smartphones and fallen prey to addiction to technology and luxury, as we have? We’ve never had access to such vast amounts of luxury and technology until now.

Seeking to disconnect from my mind, I allowed myself to immerse in the energy of the place. I sensed an inexplicable pull to be there, if only for a fleeting moment, to experience its essence.

During our drive, there were moments when our hearts raced as massive trucks made unexpected maneuvers and came dangerously close. In just four days, we covered the distance from the Texas border to the Guatemalan border. Yet, I don’t believe four days suffice to truly grasp the vastness of a country like Mexico. Nevertheless, the impressions thus far were etched in my mind.

The locals seemed smaller and chubbier, struggling to exhibit friendliness until they realized we intended to spend money. This was a stark contrast to the hospitality we experienced in Texas. Many people still wore masks, and Vaillant mentioned that some individuals preferred to suppress themselves—an expression of their fear and the traumas they had endured, yet to be healed.

Hotels and meals proved more affordable than in the United States. Despite my prior concerns about sleeping in different beds each night exacerbating my mild insomnia, the opposite proved true. I had never slept so soundly before.

When you spend time with someone like Vaillant, you witness how youthfulness can be retained in later years through the right mindset and nurturing routines. After our morning practice on the beach, I felt my body and mind relax. A teacher once told me that sometimes we only need to step into a place once to learn a specific lesson. This trip felt like a profound lesson—one that shatters the familiar environment where we dwell, encountering the same people and following the same routines year after year. Eventually, these patterns blind us, as we continue running the same software on repeat.

Traveling, on the other hand, exposes us to ever-changing environments—a beautiful aspect of exploration that fosters growth.

As we made our final stop before reaching the border, a soldier with a machine gun looked at me and asked, “Banos?” I replied softly, “Si!” While I relieved myself, I couldn’t help but think, “Wow, that soldier was unexpectedly friendly.”

Mexico, what a country. What lies ahead?

Version en Français: chapitre II – Mexico

Nous avons traversé la frontière mexicaine vers 16 heures le 3 juillet. Par souci de sécurité, nous avons décidé de passer la nuit à Matamoros, car la prochaine grande ville, Tampico, se trouvait à plus de 6 heures de route. Matamoros ne nous a pas laissé une bonne impression ; il était étrange de constater que les villes frontalières au Mexique, comme Tijuana, manquaient souvent de développement et d’infrastructures adéquates. Notre expérience Airbnb à Matamoros a commencé sur une mauvaise note avec les mauvaises indications routières de notre hôte Airbnb et un détour vers une partie moins désirable de la ville. Cependant, après avoir finalement trouvé le bon endroit, nous nous sommes réfugiés dans notre voiture avec la climatisation allumée, luttant contre la chaleur étouffante à l’extérieur en attendant que notre hôte ouvre le portail. Il est essentiel de réserver des hébergements avec climatisation lors de l’été mexicain étouffant ! Heureusement, notre Airbnb disposait d’un parking fermé pour assurer la sécurité de notre véhicule. Pendant que nous transférions nos affaires de la voiture à l’appartement, j’ai découvert un iPhone inconnu en notre possession. Niek l’avait pris accidentellement à une femme attendant aux douanes, pensant qu’il était à moi, mais heureusement, la propriétaire n’avait pas verrouillé son téléphone, ce qui nous a permis de la contacter et de le lui rendre. C’était une situation paradoxale ; si elle avait protégé son téléphone avec un code d’accès, il aurait été beaucoup plus difficile de le lui restituer.

Comme à notre habitude lors de ce voyage, nous nous sommes levés tôt pour atteindre notre prochaine destination, la ville côtière de Tampico, à 6,5 heures au sud. Conduire au Mexique a nécessité une certaine adaptation, avec des conducteurs conduisant sur les voies de secours pour laisser passer les voitures plus rapides. Nous avons trouvé le style de conduite en général agressif, avec des prises de risques inutiles et une visibilité réduite pour gagner quelques minutes qui pourraient leur coûter la vie. Nous avons fait notre enregistrement tôt dans un hôtel charmant et abordable, et nous nous après offert un énorme festin de poisson en ville. La chaleur étouffante à l’extérieur était implacable. Après un moment au bord de la piscine, nous nous sommes rendus à la célèbre plage de Miramar à Tampico vers 18 heures, lorsque la température était légèrement plus supportable. Miramar était une plage incroyablement vaste, avec une partie importante utilisée comme parking. La température de la mer dans cette partie du golfe du Mexique était divine, avoisinant les 25 degrés Celsius (77 degrés Fahrenheit). Les vagues étaient douces, l’eau peu profonde, idéale pour la baignade. Nous avons admiré la beauté de la plage, et nous avons même pratiqué le yoga. Pour terminer la journée, nous avons visité le célèbre centre commercial d’Altama City Center à Tampico. On aurait dit que nous étions de retour aux États-Unis, mais les prix étaient équivalents, voire plus élevés qu’au Nord de l’Amérique.

Le lendemain matin, nous avons repris notre route vers notre prochaine ville côtière, Veracruz, à 7 heures de route. Nous avons fait une halte à mi-chemin pour explorer les célèbres ruines d’El Tajin. El Tajin, un site archéologique renommé, nous a captivés par ses structures magnifiques. Ancienne capitale de la civilisation totonaque, le site a prospéré du 9e au 13e siècle. La pyramide des Niches se démarquait particulièrement parmi les ruines, ornée de nombreuses fenêtres décoratives. En nous garant, nous avons été accostés par deux femmes désireuses de nous vendre un déjeuner. L’après-midi était déjà avancé, et notre faim se faisait sentir. Il est vite devenu évident que ces femmes étaient des concurrentes cherchant à attirer notre clientèle. Celle qui affichait le plus d’assurance a réussi à nous convaincre de déjeuner dans son restaurant, à seulement cinq minutes à pied, malgré les efforts de l’autre femme. En pénétrant dans le site archéologique, nous avons été accueillis par un spectacle appelé “La danse des volants”. Cela m’a rempli de joie de partager cette expérience avec Niek, car je l’avais déjà vue il y a quinze ans à Acapulco. “La danse des volants”, ou “Danza de los Voladores” en espagnol, est un rituel traditionnel captivant ancré dans la culture mexicaine. Ce rituel ancien mésoaméricain est interprété par un groupe de talentueux artistes connus sous le nom de “voladores” ou “voltigeurs”. Vêtus de costumes traditionnels colorés, ils s’élèvent avec grâce et précision sur un mât imposant. Quatre d’entre eux descendent en spirale captivante, attachés à des cordes symbolisant le vol des oiseaux, tandis que le cinquième reste au sommet, jouant de la flûte et du tambour pour accompagner ce spectacle envoûtant. Au-delà de sa grandeur visuelle, la danse des volants revêt une signification culturelle et spirituelle profonde, représentant le lien profond entre l’humanité et la nature. Je restais émerveillé par l’état de relaxation et de transe des voltigeurs alors qu’ils tournoient autour du mât dans une danse étourdissante. Parmi les ruines, la pyramide des Niches est une véritable merveille. Son nom, issu des nombreuses fenêtres décoratives qui ornent sa structure, ajoute à sa magnificence.

Après nous être imprégnés de cette expérience culturelle, nous avons poursuivi notre voyage vers Veracruz. Épuisés par la route, nous nous sommes offert un massage revigorant à l’hôtel. Plus tard, nous avons profité de la piscine de l’hôtel, appréciant la chaleur de la soirée avant de passer une nuit reposante. Au réveil, le temps a pris une tournure désagréable, avec une pluie constante sans signe de répit. Nous avons pris la difficile décision d’annuler nos projets de visiter les plages de Cancuncito et de Boca del Rio, préférant poursuivre notre voyage.

Ce jour-là marquait notre transition de la côte du golfe du Mexique vers la côte Pacifique. Paradoxalement, à mesure que nous nous dirigions vers le sud, les routes s’amélioraient considérablement, rappelant ce à quoi on pourrait s’attendre en Europe. À mi-chemin, nous nous sommes arrêtés pour déjeuner dans un hôtel restaurant près du lac Nezahualcoyotl. Le niveau d’eau du lac nous a surpris, il semblait étonnamment bas en raison de la grave sécheresse qui touche le Mexique. En approchant d’Arriaga, près de la côte Pacifique, nous nous sommes retrouvés sur une route montagneuse enveloppée d’un brouillard mystique. Finalement, nous avons choisi un hôtel à Tonala, nous aventurant sur la place de la ville voisine appelée Esperanza Plaza pour trouver un endroit où manger. Une fois installés, nous avons été abordés par trois propriétaires de restaurants différents cherchant à attirer notre clientèle, une tendance amusante que nous avons remarquée au Mexique. Finalement, nous avons commandé dans deux établissements différents. En réglant l’addition dans un endroit, on m’a demandé si j’avais également payé l’autre. Au moins, dans cette situation, il semblait que les femmes restauratrices se soutenaient mutuellement. Après une nuit de repos, nous avons entrepris un court trajet jusqu’à Puerto Arista sur la côte Pacifique, à seulement 25 minutes de route. Les vagues étaient époustouflantes, mais malheureusement, la baignade était dangereuse. Après notre séance de yoga, nous avons savouré un petit-déjeuner en bord de plage avant de poursuivre notre voyage en direction de la frontière du Guatemala.

Le manque d’informations fiables sur le passage de la frontière nous a obligés à nous fier à notre GPS, qui nous indiquait de nous diriger vers Guatemala City sans préciser quelle frontière traverser. En passant par Tapachula, nous avons rencontré une longue file de camions se dirigeant vers l’Amérique centrale, apparemment bloqués là depuis un certain temps. À un embranchement, j’ai décidé de demander conseil à un motocycliste sur le meilleur passage frontalier. Cela s’est avéré être une bonne décision, car mon GPS suggérait de suivre la longue file de camions à gauche, tandis qu’il recommandait de se diriger vers Ciudad Hidalgo. Cependant, même à Ciudad Hidalgo, Google Maps semblait perdu, et nous avons dû demander des indications aux habitants pour trouver le bureau des douanes. Si vous lisez ce blog dans l’espoir de trouver facilement le bureau des douanes, veuillez noter cette adresse. Vers 15 heures, nous avons atteint le poste de douane mexicain. Tout le processus de passage de la frontière et de remboursement de la caution de 468 dollars pour la voiture par Banjercito a pris moins de 45 minutes. Nous n’avons pas eu à payer de frais de sortie car nous avions passé moins d’une semaine au Mexique.

Après avoir parcouru 1 200 miles en voiture, soit près de 2 000 kilomètres, en 23 heures, nous sommes enfin arrivés à la frontière du Guatemala. Traverser le Mexique par cet itinéraire s’est avéré être l’option la plus efficace, car voyager le long de la côte Pacifique depuis San Diego aurait pris 44 heures et aurait couvert plus de 2 600 miles, soit 4 000 kilomètres. Le Mexique s’est révélé plus vaste que prévu.

Nous avons été accueillis par un panneau indiquant “Bienvenue au Guatemala, le pays du printemps éternel”. Le climat ressemblait déjà à celui du Costa Rica, avec des averses tropicales commençant à tomber l’après-midi. L’agent des douanes au Guatemala était amicale et serviable. Dans le cadre de la procédure, elle nous a demandé d’ouvrir nos valises. Malheureusement, nous avions commis l’erreur de laisser certains articles dans leur emballage d’origine après nos achats aux États-Unis, ce qui a entraîné une taxe de 23 % sur ces articles. Avec quatre autres frontières à traverser, ce coût imprévu pourrait devenir important, ce qui nous a poussés à élaborer une nouvelle stratégie pour les futurs passages frontaliers. On m’a remis une facture fiscale de 150 dollars ! Pour plaisanter, je me suis dit que mon ami Petar me devait un massage pour toutes les taxes sur ses colis. Malheureusement, ils n’acceptaient que les espèces dans la monnaie locale, le quetzal. J’ai essayé d’éviter un individu local désireux d’échanger mon argent pour éviter cette forme légale d’extorsion, me dirigeant vers la petite ville guatémaltèque de Tecun Uman pour trouver un distributeur automatique de billets sous une pluie tropicale battante. Reconnaissant de mes fidèles Crocs, les rues étaient déjà inondées avec 10 pouces d’eau, j’ai retiré de l’argent pour terminer le processus de régularisation du véhicule et libérer Niek, qui avait passé 30 minutes à supporter un enfant qui hurlait dans le bureau des douanes. Cet enfant de quatre ans est le fils d’un couple suisse qui s’est retrouvé coincé dans le bureau des douanes du Guatemala pendant plus de 24 heures en raison d’un problème mineur de papier. En m’approchant de la scène, ce petit diablotin n’a pas pu résister à l’envie de me filmer avec son téléphone. De mon côté, j’ai dû présenter les documents suivants à la frontière : le titre de propriété original du véhicule, l’immatriculation du véhicule, le permis de conduire américain, le passeport et les documents de Banjercito provenant du Mexique. Étonnamment, ils n’ont pas demandé de copies et nous ont rapidement rendu tous nos documents. Le passage de cette frontière nous a pris un total de 2 heures et 40 minutes, dont près de 2 heures passées du côté guatémaltèque uniquement. Nous nous considérons chanceux en comparant notre expérience à celle du couple suisse coincé.

Versión en español a continuación

Crucemos la frontera de México alrededor de las 4 de la tarde del 3 de julio. Optando por la seguridad, decidimos pasar la noche en Matamoros, ya que no era aconsejable conducir de noche y nuestra siguiente gran ciudad, Tampico, estaba a más de 6 horas de distancia. Matamoros no nos dejó una buena impresión; parecía extraño que las ciudades fronterizas en México, como Tijuana, a menudo carecieran de desarrollo e infraestructura adecuada. Nuestra experiencia en Airbnb en Matamoros comenzó con problemas, ya que recibimos indicaciones equivocadas y terminamos en una parte menos deseable de la ciudad. Sin embargo, después de finalmente encontrar el lugar correcto, nos refugiamos en nuestro coche con el aire acondicionado encendido, luchando contra el intenso calor exterior mientras esperábamos a que nuestro anfitrión abriera la puerta. Reservar alojamientos con aire acondicionado es una necesidad crítica en el caluroso verano mexicano. Afortunadamente, nuestro Airbnb proporcionaba estacionamiento cerrado para garantizar la seguridad de nuestro vehículo. Durante el traslado del coche al apartamento, descubrí un iPhone desconocido en nuestro poder. Niek lo había recogido por error en la aduana, pensando que era mío, pero afortunadamente la propietaria no había bloqueado su teléfono, lo que nos permitió contactarla y coordinar su devolución. Fue una situación paradójica; si hubiera protegido su teléfono con un código, devolvérselo habría sido considerablemente más complicado.

Como era la norma durante nuestro viaje, nos levantamos temprano para llegar a nuestro próximo destino, la ciudad costera de Tampico, a 6.5 horas hacia el sur. Conducir en México al principio requería acostumbrarse, ya que los conductores utilizaban los carriles de emergencia para permitir que los autos más rápidos los adelantaran. Encontramos que el estilo de conducción en general era agresivo, con riesgos innecesarios y poca visibilidad tomados para ahorrar unos minutos que podrían costarles la vida. Nos registramos en un hotel encantador y asequible, dándonos un festín de pescado. El calor sofocante en el exterior era implacable. Después de un tiempo junto a la piscina, nos dirigimos a la famosa playa de Miramar en Tampico alrededor de las 6 de la tarde, cuando la temperatura se volvió un poco más soportable. Miramar era una playa increíblemente extensa, con una gran parte utilizada como espacio de estacionamiento. La temperatura del mar en el Golfo de México era divina, rondando los 25 grados Celsius (77 grados Fahrenheit). Las olas eran suaves, el agua poco profunda y perfecta para nadar. Nos maravillamos con la belleza de la playa, incluso practicamos yoga. Para terminar el día, visitamos el famoso centro comercial de Tampico, Altama City Center. Se sentía como volver a Estados Unidos, pero los precios no eran similares, si no más altos, que en el norte de América.

A la mañana siguiente, partimos hacia nuestra siguiente ciudad costera, Veracruz, a 7 horas de distancia. Hicimos una parada a mitad de camino para explorar las famosas ruinas de El Tajín. El Tajín, un renombrado sitio arqueológico, nos cautivó con sus magníficas estructuras. Antigua capital de la civilización totonaca, el sitio floreció desde el siglo IX hasta el XIII. Destacaba especialmente la Pirámide de los Nichos entre las ruinas, adornada con ventanas ornamentadas. Mientras estacionábamos nuestro vehículo, dos mujeres se acercaron ansiosas por vendernos el almuerzo. La tarde ya se había ido y el hambre nos recordaba la comida que nos habíamos saltado. Rápidamente quedó claro que estas mujeres eran competidoras que buscaban atraer nuestra preferencia. La que mostraba más confianza logró persuadirnos para que comiéramos en su restaurante, a solo cinco minutos de distancia, a pesar de los esfuerzos de la otra mujer. Al entrar en el sitio arqueológico, fuimos recibidos por un espectáculo conocido como “La Danza de los Voladores”. Me llenó de alegría compartir esta experiencia con Niek, ya que lo había presenciado quince años antes en Acapulco. “La Danza de los Voladores” es un cautivador ritual tradicional profundamente arraigado en la cultura mexicana. Este antiguo ceremonial mesoamericano es llevado a cabo por un grupo de hábiles intérpretes conocidos como “voladores”. Vestidos con trajes tradicionales coloridos y vibrantes, ascienden a un alto poste con gracia y precisión. Cuatro de ellos descienden en una espiral cautivadora, sujetos a cuerdas que simbolizan el vuelo de los pájaros, mientras que el quinto permanece en la cima, tocando flauta y tambor, acompañando con ritmo el espectáculo encantador. Más allá de su grandeza visual, la Danza de los Voladores tiene un profundo significado cultural y espiritual, representando la conexión profunda entre la humanidad y la naturaleza. Me impresiona la serenidad y relajación de los voladores mientras giran alrededor del poste en un baile en trance. Entre las ruinas, la Pirámide de los Nichos destaca como una verdadera maravilla. Su nombre, derivado de las numerosas ventanas decorativas que adornan su estructura, añade a su magnificencia.

Después de sumergirnos en esta experiencia cultural, continuamos nuestro viaje hacia Veracruz. Agotados del viaje, nos dimos el gusto de un rejuvenecedor masaje en el hotel. Luego, disfrutamos de la piscina del hotel, aprovechando el calor de la tarde antes de descansar. Al despertar, el clima empeoró, con lluvia constante y sin signos de mejora. Tomamos la difícil decisión de cancelar nuestros planes de visitar las playas de Cancuncito y Boca del Río, optando por seguir adelante con nuestro viaje.

Este día marcó nuestra transición de la costa del golfo de México hacia el lado del Pacífico. Paradójicamente, a medida que viajábamos hacia el sur, las carreteras mejoraban drásticamente, recordando lo que uno esperaría en Europa. A mitad de camino, hicimos una parada para almorzar en un restaurante de un hotel cerca del Lago Nezahualcóyotl. El nivel del agua en el lago nos sorprendió, parecía notablemente bajo debido a la grave sequía que afecta a México. Al acercarnos a Arriaga, cerca de la costa del Pacífico, nos encontramos en una carretera montañosa envuelta en una niebla mística. En última instancia, elegimos un hotel en Tonala, adentrándonos en la cercana plaza de la ciudad llamada Plaza Esperanza para encontrar un lugar para comer. Una vez sentados, tres propietarios de restaurantes diferentes se acercaron tratando de ganar nuestro negocio, una tendencia divertida que notamos en México. Al final, terminamos pidiendo comida de dos establecimientos diferentes. Mientras pagaba la cuenta en un lugar, me preguntaron si también había pagado en el otro. Al menos en esta situación, parecía que las mujeres dueñas de los restaurantes se apoyaban mutuamente. Después de una noche de descanso, emprendimos un corto trayecto hacia Puerto Arista en el lado del Pacífico, a tan solo 25 minutos de distancia. Las olas eran impresionantes, pero lastimosamente nadar no era seguro. Después de nuestra sesión de yoga, disfrutamos de un desayuno junto a la playa antes de continuar nuestro viaje hacia la frontera de Guatemala.

La falta de información confiable sobre el cruce de la frontera nos hizo depender de nuestro GPS, que nos dirigía hacia la Ciudad de Guatemala sin especificar qué frontera cruzar. Al pasar por Tapachula, nos encontramos con una larga fila de camiones en ruta hacia Centroamérica, aparentemente atascados allí durante un largo período de tiempo. En un cruce de caminos, decidí preguntarle a un motociclista qué frontera era la mejor para cruzar. Resultó ser una decisión afortunada, ya que mi GPS sugería seguir la interminable fila de camiones a la izquierda, mientras que él recomendaba dirigirnos hacia Ciudad Hidalgo. Sin embargo, incluso en Ciudad Hidalgo, Google Maps parecía confundido y tuvimos que pedir indicaciones a los lugareños para encontrar la oficina de aduanas. Si estás leyendo este blog con la esperanza de encontrar fácilmente la oficina de aduanas, por favor anota esta ubicación. Alrededor de las 3 de la tarde, llegamos al puesto de aduanas mexicano. Todo el proceso de cruzar y recibir el reembolso de los $468 del depósito del coche mexicano de Banjercito tomó menos de 45 minutos. No tuvimos que pagar una tarifa de salida ya que habíamos pasado menos de una semana en México.

Después de recorrer 1,200 millas en coche, o aproximadamente 2,000 kilómetros, durante 23 horas, finalmente llegamos a la frontera de Guatemala. Cruzar México por esta ruta resultó ser la opción más eficiente, ya que viajar por la costa del Pacífico desde San Diego habría tomado 44 horas y habría cubierto más de 2,600 millas, o 4,000 kilómetros. México resultó ser más extenso de lo anticipado.

Fuimos recibidos por un letrero que decía “Bienvenidos a Guatemala, el país de la primavera eterna”. El clima ya era muy similar al de Costa Rica, con lluvias tropicales por la tarde. El oficial de aduanas en Guatemala fue amigable y servicial. Como parte del procedimiento, solicitó que abriéramos nuestras maletas. Desafortunadamente, habíamos cometido el grave error de dejar algunos artículos en su embalaje original de nuestras compras en Estados Unidos, lo que resultó en un impuesto del 23% sobre ellos. Con otras cuatro fronteras por cruzar, este costo inesperado podría volverse significativo, lo que nos llevó a idear una nueva estrategia para los futuros cruces de frontera. Me entregaron una factura fiscal de $150. En broma, pensé que mi amigo Petar me debía un masaje por todos los impuestos sobre sus paquetes. Lamentablemente, solo aceptaban efectivo en la moneda local, quetzales. Intenté evitar a una persona local ansiosa por cambiarme dinero para evitar esta forma legal de extorsión, adentrándome en la pequeña ciudad guatemalteca de Tecún Umán para encontrar un cajero automático en medio de una lluvia tropical torrencial. Agradecido por mis confiables Crocs, ya que las calles ya estaban inundadas con 10 pulgadas de agua, retiré dinero en efectivo para completar el proceso de liberación del vehículo y liberar a Niek, quien había pasado 30 minutos soportando una experiencia dolor de cabeza con un niño que gritaba en la oficina de aduanas. Este niño de cuatro años resulta ser el hijo de una pareja suiza que se encontraba atrapada en la oficina de aduanas de Guatemala durante más de 24 horas debido a un problema menor con los documentos. Cuando me acerqué, este pequeño pillo no pudo resistirse a capturar un video divertido de mí con su teléfono. Por mi parte, tuve que cumplir con los siguientes requisitos fronterizos: presentar el título original del coche, el registro del coche, la licencia de conducir de Estados Unidos, el pasaporte y los documentos de Banjercito de México. Sorprendentemente, no pidieron ninguna copia y devolvieron rápidamente todos mis documentos. Cruzar esta frontera nos llevó un total de 2 horas y 40 minutos, con casi 2 horas pasadas del lado guatemalteco únicamente. Nos consideramos afortunados al comparar nuestra experiencia con la del atrapado pareja suiza.

Driving from the USA to Costa Rica

Chapter I – Texas, USA

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This journey from the USA to Costa Rica was first inspired by my friend Brad, who had already completed it with his whole family just before the Covid “plandemic” hit. The second reason was the need for a second vehicle within the Thélème community. Currently, Costa Rica faces a scarcity of cars, with monthly rentals costing more than breathtaking properties. Acquiring a used car in Costa Rica demands nearly double the price one would pay in the USA. Two years ago, I had imported our current car by driving it from Salt Lake City, UT to Houston, TX, and then shipping it by boat from the port of Houston to Limon, Costa Rica. At that time, the cost of a container was approximately $1,600. Shipping overseas was the only option due to the closure of borders during Covid times.

Drawing inspiration from friends like Brad and Pierre, who had already driven their cars from the USA to Costa Rica, I became convinced that this endeavor was feasible and not as daunting or perilous as it initially appeared. By adhering to simple safety guidelines, we could navigate this adventure smoothly. Given the escalating container prices and the current openness of borders, purchasing a car in the USA and driving it back to Costa Rica emerged as the most cost-effective approach. Additionally, it provided an exciting pretext for a cross-country odyssey spanning seven countries. Moreover, this journey presented an opportunity for me to explore Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, and Nicaragua—countries I had not yet experienced, thereby increasing the total number of countries I had visited in my life to 65.

Returning to Costa Rica on May 10th, 2023, after a long layover in Houston, TX, I seized the chance to purchase a used car. Opting for AutoNation USA, one of the largest dealerships for pre-owned cars near Houston International Airport, I selected a 2012 Honda CRV. This model offered ease of repair in Costa Rica. Without hesitation, I finalized the purchase and swiftly returned to the airport via Uber, ensuring I wouldn’t miss my flight. Originating from Houston, my friend Joseph connected me with his good friend Linda, who graciously agreed to receive packages and goods for us and our friends. Meanwhile, my friend Niek, who had spent seven months at Thélème the previous year, expressed his eagerness to join me on this remarkable journey.

Six weeks later, Linda received the DMV car title, along with car plates and registration two weeks before our arrival on July 2nd. Throughout this period, the dealership stored the car at their lot. Linda picked it up just five days prior to our arrival to ensure it was in proper working condition. There was only a minor battery issue, which was anticipated after the car had been idle at the lot for a few months. With all the necessary preparations in place, we were ready to embark on our adventure.

Our flight was scheduled to depart from San Jose, Costa Rica to Houston, TX at 5:30 AM on July 2nd. Rising at 1 AM, two community members, Laurie and Christofer, volunteered to drop us off at the airport. Luckily, there was no traffic, and the drive took only an hour. However, our journey to Houston, perhaps influenced by the full moon, presented a few unexpected challenges. Initially, our community truck began to make strange noises, possibly due to a loose bar in the frame. While driving, Niek mentioned to Laurie that this was his first trip to the USA. She inquired if he had filled out an ESTA application, to which he looked perplexed. Niek had relied on a simple Google search, assuming he did not require a visa to visit the USA as a Belgian citizen, instead of consulting reliable information from the embassy website. Panic set in as he frantically began applying for his ESTA from the passenger side. The website warned that the application process could take up to 72 hours for approval, far from reassuring. We arrived at the airport around 3 AM, with the car making increasingly concerning noises. We found ourselves waiting anxiously for acceptance of his application. Finally, at 4 AM, after speaking with the helpful personnel from United Airlines, I made the decision to proceed to Houston with my original flight, while Niek would catch the next flight once he obtained his ESTA. At 4:30 AM, I received a text from him confirming he had finally received his ESTA, prompting him to rush through security and sprint across the small SJO airport to catch his flight at the last minute. We were united once again.

Following a pleasant flight, we arrived in Houston. At the customs entry lines, I approached an airport employee to inquire whether I could accompany Niek to assist him through the customs process. Gracefully, she allowed us to proceed together through the US citizens lane. After waiting 20 minutes in the queue, we passed through customs seamlessly after Niek gave his fingerprints. We then took an Uber to Linda’s place, where she warmly welcomed us. Over the past month, Linda had accumulated around 20 packages for us, and as a token of appreciation, I had brought some delectable chocolates from my friend Cedric at Casa del Cacao in San Jose. Knowing Niek’s love for meat, we decided to treat Linda to Truth BBQ, renowned for its mouthwatering Texan barbecued meats, including perfectly marinated brisket, pulled pork, and ribs. Although we had to wait for an hour, the culinary experience was well worth it.

Later that day, Linda invited us to a Blues fund-raising event, providing us with a quintessentially Texan cultural experience. Seated beside a vibrant and colorful 75-year-old lady named Lee, who defied her age, we engaged in conversation. Upon learning about our origins, she shared a picture of her younger self with a tall, muscular Belgian man, recounting fond memories of a sensual weekend they spent together at a Blues festival. Lee went on to express her political views, characterizing Biden as a senile puppet and Trump as an egocentric clown. She expressed her preference for Texas to separate from Washington DC and revealed herself as one of the many Texans who refused the Covid vaccination. I felt a sense of familiarity with her rebellious spirit. Despite her advanced age, Lee maintained her free-spirited nature, sharing an amusing anecdote about going dancing recently and discovering phone numbers from men finding her attractive, tucked into the back of her pants upon returning home a bit drunk. Texans possess a remarkable level of comfort with themselves, often exhibiting joy and cheerfulness independently of societal stereotypes and external appearances. Couples took to the floor, enchanting us with their dancing skills. To complete our day, we visited the sprawling Walmart Supercenter, the largest supermarket Niek had ever encountered, to make some last-minute purchases such as a first aid kit, snacks, and yoga mats for the road. Exhausted from the day’s adventures, we retired for the night, eagerly anticipating the journey ahead.

The Big Easy Social and Pleasure Club – Life Celebration for Eugene Moody

The next day, we woke up early to head to Mexico, with Niek taking charge of the driving. The journey took us around five hours to cover over 500 kilometers (350 miles). Before crossing into Mexico, Niek insisted on another BBQ experience, this time at Reyna’s Bar-B-Q in Harlingen, near the border. Interestingly, he couldn’t finish the meal, which signaled a positive shift towards a healthier diet as we prepared to explore Mexico. Equipped with online research and advice from friends, I felt well-prepared for the border crossing. While in Brownsville, TX, we made color copies of the vehicle title, insurance, registration, driver licenses, and passports. It was Niek’s first time in the United States, and he couldn’t help but feel a tinge of sadness leaving so quickly, promising himself a return to explore the country more extensively.

Around 2 PM, we entered Mexico via the B & M International Bridge. As we approached the bridge, a sense of awe enveloped us, realizing we were about to venture into unexplored territory. While traffic was heavy on the Mexican side heading towards the USA, it flowed smoothly on our side. Thanks to designated border zones established by the Mexican government, driving freely in the Mexico border close to the USA is possible. These zones, often referred to as “free zones” or “border zones,” allow for relaxed travel regulations and simplified customs procedures within a certain distance from the border. However, it’s important to note that while travel within the border zone is relatively unrestricted, crossing deeper into Mexico or the USA requires proper documentation, such as passports, visas, or other travel permits. Additionally, security measures and customs inspections may still be in place at checkpoints located further inland.

To ensure compliance, we stopped at the B & M International Bridge customs office. It became apparent that we had left the efficiency of the Anglo-Saxon world behind and returned to the bureaucracy and inefficiencies of Latin America, which we had grown accustomed to in Costa Rica. Fortunately, this particular border crossing was not too arduous, as few people were entering at that time due to July 4th US celebrations. Once we had our passports stamped, we proceeded to obtain a permit for our vehicle. Surprisingly, only copies of the car registration, the passport of the car owner, and the entry papers we had just filled out were required. Car insurance, the vehicle title, and bill of sale did not seem to be necessary. The customs office had a small area where copies could be made at $1 per page. This stood in stark contrast to our previous experience at the FedEx office, where we could handle everything ourselves with minimal human interaction. Here, we found ourselves in front of a person whose sole purpose was making paper copies for people. It exemplified the two extremes, and somewhere, a balance must exist. The entire process of obtaining the vehicle permit, known as “Permiso de Importación Temporal de Vehículos,” took just over an hour. As we prepared to exit the customs area, we encountered a traffic cone blocking our passage. We waited there for a few minutes, but with no one attending to us, I decided to leave the car and seek assistance. Eventually, I encountered armed personnel, and one of them returned with me. After inspecting the contents of our luggage and verifying our paperwork, they finally allowed us into Mexico. The real adventure was about to begin.

Niek’s ponderings

When Vaillant called me to accompany him on a car trip from Texas back to Costa Rica, it took me only 5 minutes to decide to go. If there is one person I would feel safe with on this journey, it would be Vaillant.

During his 2-month trip to Europe last year, Vaillant left the community with his car, which lacked number plates and had expired insurance. On top of that, my visa had expired 5 months prior. Remarkably, nothing happened during those 2 months, until we needed to pick up Vaillant from the airport in San Jose.

After 4 minutes of waiting, Thomas and I were pulled over by a cop. Discovering the numerous violations we had, the cop looked at me with a disapproving frown and remarked, “You know, I could throw you in jail for this.” As I began to lose my composure, I saw a blond, angry angel approaching with a red suitcase. I asked Thomas, “Is that… Is that Vaillant?” Vaillant began shouting at the cop, who quickly grew smaller and left us with a fine that I have no intention of paying since I am not a resident. By the time that ticket reaches Belgium, I’ll likely be long gone due to old age. That’s how beautifully inefficient a country like Costa Rica can be.

So yes, I feel safe with Vaillant. But more importantly, I feel safe within myself. Finding security in the unknown is what this experience will bring us. Before I left, many people asked if I was nervous or excited. All I could say was that I was living in the present moment, without any expectations. I didn’t even expect to catch my plane when I encountered trouble with my registration. But from the moment I accepted my fate and the possibility of taking a different plane than Vaillant, the universe seemed to conspire in my favor.

As I sat in the bathroom at the San Jose airport, I received an email notifying me that my ESTA was approved which interrupted important business 🙂 With just a few minutes remaining before our plane would depart, I spotted a stunning woman wearing rainbow crocs. Could this be Vaillant’s soulmate, I pondered while trying to release tension from my body? One day, I will write a book titled “Why Do Millionaires Wear Crocs?”

After an anxious sprint, I managed to board the same plane as my blonde companion. Upon landing in Texas, Vaillant decided to assist me, as I am a nonresident while he is an American. The Asian woman performing the checkups asked us if we were related. Vaillant replied, “We are best friends!” I knew it! I exclaimed as we walked out of the airport.

One thing I noticed in Texas is how efficiently everything operates. There is an abundance of everything: larger roads, bigger cars, and larger-than-life people. Everything is super-sized. So, being in America, the first thing I wanted to do was indulge in supersized food and have a brief American experience. However, I realized that I would become supersized myself if I stayed too long. Their food is delicious but incredibly unhealthy.

From Vaillant, I have learned that I don’t need to resist such desires. Instead, I should fully experience them, allowing myself to detach from them. Because what we suppress only grows stronger.

While Vaillant conducted a business deal, I sorted through the packages we received from Linda. When my best friend returned, I presented him with his birthday gift—a chessboard. We have always had a friendly competition between us. Our chess matches follow a certain pattern where I initially gain the upper hand, only to have him defeat me in the end. It means I am an amazing chess player, and he doesn’t have enough self-confidence to lose 🙂

Life doesn’t distinguish between good and bad; it simply gives us what we believe we deserve. The more I observe this, the more I see how our thoughts shape our reality.

When Linda invited us to a jazz bar, I was probably the youngest person there. I witnessed these individuals reliving their youth through the music of talented artists. A thrilling chill ran down my spine—I am in America, and I have made it.

After savoring a few Belgian beers, we decided to do some final shopping before calling it a night. I had never seen such a massive store in my life, and I began to wonder what they didn’t sell. I felt a deep desire to explore more of this fascinating culture.

However, it was time to move on to our next country. As I am more of a morning person, we agreed that I would take the wheel. Cruising along the smooth, spacious roads of America, with old music playing in the background, I felt euphoric about my trip. It was at that moment that the realization of what I was undertaking truly sank in.

As we crossed the Mexican border, Vaillant explained how Americans had mastered the material world. Simultaneously, it also felt like an artificial world. Nevertheless, I found myself attracted to America, knowing that I was shaped by its shows and music through the years. While the French dub their movies, they never had the opportunity to learn English as well as countries that didn’t. Sometimes, I can’t help but laugh at Vaillant’s accent, but people often assume we are from the same country and struggle to understand us. The joke is on me—I don’t speak French.

Once we entered Mexico, we quickly realized that our first border crossing had been inefficient. After spending over an hour there, it became evident that we would encounter many more crossings. Being in a Latin American country like Costa Rica has taught me to detach from my expectations. The more I embrace this mindset, the better I can ground myself in moments where certain outcomes are anticipated.

I strive to have a mind that remains open to everything and attached to nothing. Mexico, here we come.

Jump to Chapter II – Mexico

Version en Français: voyage en voiture du Texas au Costa Rica

Ce voyage des États-Unis au Costa Rica a d’abord été inspiré par mon ami Brad, qui l’avait déjà réalisé avec toute sa famille juste avant que la “plandémie” de Covid ne frappe. Le second prétexte était le besoin d’un deuxième véhicule au sein de la communauté Thélème. Actuellement, le Costa Rica souffre d’une pénurie de voitures, avec des locations mensuelles qui coûtent plus cher que des propriétés magnifiques. Acquérir une voiture d’occasion au Costa Rica demande près du double du prix que l’on paierait aux États-Unis. Il y a deux ans, j’avais importé notre voiture actuelle en la conduisant de Salt Lake City, UT à Houston, TX, puis en la faisant expédier par bateau depuis le port de Houston jusqu’à Limon, au Costa Rica. À l’époque, le coût d’un conteneur était d’environ 1600 $. L’expédition à l’étranger était la seule option en raison de la fermeture des frontières pendant la pandémie de Covid.
En m’inspirant d’amis comme Brad et Pierre, qui avaient déjà conduit leurs voitures des États-Unis au Costa Rica, j’ai été convaincu que cette entreprise était réalisable et pas aussi intimidante ou périlleuse qu’elle n’y paraissait au départ. En respectant simplement des consignes de sécurité élémentaires, nous pourrions mener cette aventure sans encombre. Étant donné l’augmentation des prix des conteneurs et l’ouverture actuelle des frontières, l’achat d’une voiture aux États-Unis et son retour au Costa Rica est apparu comme l’approche la plus rentable. De plus, cela offrait une belle occasion pour une odyssée à travers sept pays et ce voyage me donne l’occasion d’explorer le Guatemala, le Salvador, l’Honduras et le Nicaragua – des pays que je n’avais pas encore explorés, ce qui portait le nombre total de pays visités dans ma vie à 65.
De retour au Costa Rica le 10 mai 2023, avec une longue escale à Houston, TX, j’ai saisi l’opportunité d’acheter une voiture d’occasion. Optant pour AutoNation USA, l’un des plus grands concessionnaires de voitures d’occasion près de l’aéroport international de Houston, j’ai choisi une Honda CRV 2012. Ce modèle offre une facilité de réparation au Costa Rica. Sans hésitation, j’ai finalisé l’achat et je suis rapidement retourné à l’aéroport en Uber, veillant à ne pas manquer mon vol. Originaire de Houston, mon ami Joseph m’a mis en contact avec son amie Linda, qui a gentiment accepté de recevoir des colis et des marchandises pour nous et nos amis. Pendant ce temps, mon ami Niek, qui avait passé sept mois à Thélème l’année précédente, a exprimé son enthousiasme à me rejoindre pour ce voyage extraordinaire.
Six semaines plus tard, Linda a reçu le titre de propriété du véhicule du DMV, ainsi que les plaques d’immatriculation deux semaines avant notre arrivée. Pendant cette période, le concessionnaire a stocké la voiture sur leur parking. Linda l’a récupérée juste cinq jours avant notre arrivée pour s’assurer qu’elle était en bon état de fonctionnement. Il n’y avait qu’un léger problème de batterie, ce qui était prévisible après que la voiture ait été immobilisée sur le parking pendant quelques mois. Avec toutes les préparations nécessaires en place, nous étions prêts à nous embarquer dans notre aventure.
Notre vol était prévu pour partir de San José, au Costa Rica, à destination de Houston, TX à 5h30 du matin le 2 juillet. Nous nous sommes levés à 1 heure du matin, et deux membres de la communauté, Laurie et Christofer, se sont proposés pour nous conduire à l’aéroport. Heureusement, il n’y avait pas de trafic et le trajet n’a pris qu’une heure. Cependant, notre voyage vers Houston, peut-être influencé par la pleine lune, a présenté quelques défis inattendus. Au départ, notre pick-up communautaire a commencé à faire des bruits étranges, probablement à cause d’une barre lâche dans le châssis. Pendant que nous conduisions, Niek a mentionné à Laurie que c’était son premier voyage aux États-Unis. Elle lui a demandé s’il avait rempli une demande ESTA, ce à quoi il semblait perplexe. Niek s’était fié à une simple recherche Google, pensant qu’il n’avait pas besoin de visa pour visiter les États-Unis en tant que citoyen belge, au lieu de consulter des informations fiables sur le site de l’ambassade. La panique s’est installée alors qu’il a commencé frénétiquement à faire sa demande d’ESTA depuis le siège passager. Le site web indique que le processus de demande pouvait prendre jusqu’à 72 heures pour être approuvé, ce qui était loin d’être rassurant. Nous sommes arrivés à l’aéroport vers 3 heures du matin, avec la voiture qui faisait des bruits de plus en plus inquiétants. Nous nous sommes retrouvés à attendre anxieusement l’approbation de sa demande. Enfin, à 4 heures du matin, après avoir parlé au personnel serviable d’United Airlines, j’ai pris la décision de continuer vers Houston avec mon vol original, pendant que Niek prendrait le prochain vol une fois qu’il aurait obtenu son ESTA. À 4h30 du matin, j’ai reçu un message de sa part confirmant qu’il avait finalement reçu son ESTA, le poussant à se précipiter à travers le contrôle de sécurité et à courir à travers le petit aéroport de SJO pour attraper son vol à la dernière minute. Nous étions à nouveau réunis.
Après un vol agréable, nous sommes arrivés à Houston. Aux files d’attente de la douane, j’ai abordé un employé de l’aéroport pour demander s’il était possible de l’accompagner afin de l’aider dans les formalités douanières. Gracieusement, elle nous a permis de passer ensemble par la file réservée aux citoyens américains. Après une attente de 20 minutes dans la file, nous avons passé les douanes sans encombre après que Niek ait donné ses empreintes digitales. Nous avons ensuite pris un Uber pour nous rendre chez Linda, où elle nous a chaleureusement accueillis. Au cours du dernier mois, Linda avait accumulé une vingtaine de colis pour nous, et en guise de remerciement, j’avais apporté de délicieux chocolats de mon ami Cédric de la Casa del Cacao à San José. Sachant que Niek aime la viande, nous avons décidé de faire plaisir à Linda en l’invitant au Truth BBQ, réputé pour ses viandes barbecue texanes savoureuses, notamment le brisket parfaitement mariné, le porc effiloché et les côtes de porc. Bien que nous ayons dû attendre une heure, l’expérience culinaire en valait la peine. Plus tard dans la journée, Linda nous a invités à une soirée de blues, nous offrant une expérience culturelle typiquement texane. Assis à côté d’une dame vive et colorée de 75 ans du nom de Lee, qui défiait son âge, nous avons engagé la conversation. Après avoir appris nos origines, elle a partagé une photo d’elle-même plus jeune avec un Belge grand et musclé, racontant de tendres souvenirs d’un week-end qu’ils avaient passé ensemble lors d’un festival de blues. Lee a ensuite exprimé ses opinions politiques, qualifiant Biden de marionnette sénile et Trump de clown égocentrique. Elle a exprimé sa préférence pour que le Texas se sépare de Washington DC et s’est révélée être l’une des nombreux Texans qui refusaient la vaccination contre le Covid. J’ai ressenti une certaine admiration pour son esprit rebelle. Malgré son âge avancé, Lee conservait sa nature libre, partageant une anecdote amusante sur sa récente sortie en boîte de nuit et la découverte de numéros de téléphone d’hommes qui la trouvaient attirante, glissés dans l’arrière de son pantalon en rentrant chez elle un peu ivre. Les Texans possèdent un niveau de confort remarquable avec eux-mêmes, faisant souvent preuve de joie et de gaieté malgré les stéréotypes sociaux. Des couples se sont dirigés vers la piste de danse, nous enchantant par leurs talents de danseurs. Pour terminer notre journée, nous avons visité le gigantesque supermarché Walmart Supercenter, le plus grand supermarché que Niek ait jamais vu, pour faire quelques achats de dernière minute tels qu’une trousse de premiers soins, des snacks et des tapis de yoga pour la route. Épuisés par les aventures de la journée, nous nous sommes retirés pour la nuit, en attendant avec impatience le voyage à venir.
Le lendemain, nous nous sommes réveillés tôt pour nous rendre au Mexique, avec Niek prenant le volant. Le trajet nous a pris environ cinq heures pour parcourir plus de 500 kilomètres (350 miles). Avant de traverser la frontière mexicaine, Niek a insisté pour vivre une autre expérience barbecue, cette fois chez Reyna’s Bar-B-Q à Harlingen, près de la frontière. Curieusement, il n’a pas pu finir son repas, ce qui annonçait un changement positif vers une alimentation plus saine alors que nous nous apprêtions à explorer le Mexique. Grâce à des recherches Internet ainsi que des conseils d’amis, je me sentais bien préparé pour le passage à la frontière. Nous avons fait des copies en couleur du titre de la voiture, de l’assurance, de l’immatriculation, des permis de conduire et des passeports. C’était la première fois que Niek venait aux États-Unis, et il ne pouvait s’empêcher de ressentir une pointe de tristesse à partir si rapidement, se promettant de revenir pour explorer plus en profondeur ce pays.
Vers 14 heures, nous sommes entrés au Mexique par le pont international B & M. Alors que nous approchions du pont, un sentiment de fascination nous enveloppait, réalisant que nous nous apprêtions à nous aventurer en territoire inexploré. Tandis que la circulation était dense du côté mexicain en direction des États-Unis, elle était fluide de notre côté probablement du fait que la fête nationale des USA était le lendemain. Grâce aux zones frontalières désignées établies par le gouvernement mexicain, il est possible de circuler librement dans la zone frontalière du Mexique près des États-Unis. Ces zones, souvent appelées “zones franches” ou “zones frontalières”, permettent des réglementations de voyage détendues et des procédures douanières simplifiées dans une certaine distance de la frontière. Cependant, il est important de noter que bien que les déplacements à l’intérieur de la zone frontalière soient relativement sans restriction, traverser plus profondément au Mexique ou aux États-Unis nécessite une documentation adéquate, tels que des passeports, des visas ou d’autres permis de voyage. De plus, des mesures de sécurité et des contrôles douaniers peuvent toujours être en place aux points de contrôle situés plus à l’intérieur des terres.
Pour assurer notre conformité, nous nous sommes arrêtés au bureau des douanes du pont international B & M (Brownsville & Matamoros). Il est rapidement devenu évident que nous avions quitté l’efficacité du monde anglo-saxon pour retourner à la bureaucratie et à l’inefficacité de l’Amérique latine, à laquelle nous nous étions habitués au Costa Rica. Heureusement, ce passage frontalier en particulier n’était pas trop ardu, car peu de personnes entraient à ce moment-là. Une fois nos passeports tamponnés, nous avons procédé à l’obtention d’un permis pour notre véhicule. Les frais étant de $41/personne et de $468 pour la voiture mais ce montant est remboursable en sortant du territoire. Étonnamment, seules des copies de l’immatriculation de la voiture, du passeport du propriétaire de la voiture et des papiers d’entrée que nous venions de remplir étaient nécessaires. L’assurance automobile, le titre du véhicule et le contrat de vente ne semblaient pas être nécessaires. Le bureau des douanes disposait d’un petit espace où des copies pouvaient être réalisées pour 1 dollar par page. Cela contrastait fortement avec notre expérience précédente au bureau de FedEx, où nous pouvions tout gérer nous-mêmes avec un minimum d’interaction humaine. Ici, nous nous sommes retrouvés devant une personne dont le seul but était de faire des copies de documents pour les gens. Cela illustrait les deux extrêmes, et quelque part entre les deux, un équilibre doit exister. Tout le processus d’obtention du permis de véhicule, appelé “Permiso de Importación Temporal de Vehículos”, a duré un peu plus d’une heure. Alors que nous nous apprêtions à sortir de la zone des douanes, nous avons rencontré un cône de signalisation bloquant notre passage. Nous avons attendu quelques minutes, mais personne ne s’est occupé de nous, alors j’ai décidé de laisser la voiture et de chercher de l’aide. Finalement, j’ai rencontré du personnel armé, et l’un d’entre eux est revenu avec moi. Après avoir inspecté le contenu de nos bagages et vérifié nos documents, ils nous ont enfin autorisés à entrer au Mexique. La véritable aventure allait commencer.

Versión en español a continuación

Nuestro viaje desde Estados Unidos a Costa Rica fue inspirado inicialmente por mi amigo Brad, quien ya lo había completado con toda su familia justo antes de que golpeara la pandemia de Covid en 2020. Esto despertó la necesidad de un segundo vehículo dentro de la comunidad Thélème. Actualmente, Costa Rica enfrenta una escasez de automóviles, con alquileres mensuales que cuestan más que grandes propiedades. Adquirir un automóvil usado en Costa Rica demanda casi el doble del precio que se pagaría en Estados Unidos. Hace dos años, importé nuestro automóvil actual conduciéndolo desde Salt Lake City, UT, hasta Houston, TX, y luego enviándolo en barco desde el puerto de Houston a Limón, Costa Rica. En ese momento, el costo de un contenedor era de aproximadamente $1600. El envío por mar era la única opción debido al cierre de fronteras durante la pandemia de Covid.

Tomando inspiración de amigos como Brad y Pierre, quienes ya habían conducido sus autos desde Estados Unidos hasta Costa Rica, me convencí de que esta idea era factible y no tan desalentadora o peligrosa como parecía al principio. Siguiendo sencillas pautas de seguridad, podríamos navegar esta aventura sin contratiempos. Dado el aumento en los precios de los contenedores y la actual apertura de las fronteras, la compra de un automóvil en Estados Unidos y conducirlo de regreso a Costa Rica surgió como el enfoque más rentable. Además, proporcionó un pretexto emocionante para una odisea transcontinental que abarcaba siete países. Además, este viaje me brindó la oportunidad de explorar Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras y Nicaragua, países que aún no había visitado, lo que aumentó el número total de países que había visitado en mi vida a 65.

Regresando a Costa Rica el 10 de mayo de 2023, después de una larga escala en Houston, TX, aproveché la oportunidad para comprar un automóvil usado. Opté por AutoNation USA, uno de los concesionarios más grandes de automóviles de segunda mano cerca del Aeropuerto Internacional de Houston, y seleccioné un Honda CRV 2012. Este modelo ofrecía facilidad de reparación en Costa Rica. Sin dudarlo, finalicé la compra y regresé rápidamente al aeropuerto en Uber, asegurándome de no perder mi vuelo. Originario de Houston, mi amigo Joseph me puso en contacto con su buena amiga Linda, quien amablemente aceptó recibir paquetes y mercancías para nosotros y nuestros amigos. Mientras tanto, mi amigo Niek, quien había pasado siete meses en Thélème el año anterior, expresó su entusiasmo por unirse a mí en este viaje excepcional.

Seis semanas después, Linda recibió el título del automóvil del DMV, junto con las placas del automóvil, dos semanas antes de nuestra llegada. Durante este período, el concesionario almacenó el automóvil en su lote. Linda lo recogió solo cinco días antes de nuestra llegada para asegurarse de que estuviera en condiciones de funcionamiento adecuadas. Solo hubo un pequeño problema de batería, como era de esperar después de que el automóvil estuvo inactivo en el cochera durante unos meses. Con todas las preparaciones necesarias en su lugar, estábamos listos para embarcarnos en nuestra aventura.

Nuestro vuelo estaba programado para salir de San José, Costa Rica, hacia Houston, TX, a las 5:30 AM del 2 de julio. Levantándonos a la 1 AM, dos miembros de la comunidad, Laurie y Christofer, se ofrecieron como voluntarios para llevarnos al aeropuerto. Afortunadamente, no había tráfico y el trayecto duró solo una hora. Sin embargo, nuestro viaje a Houston, tal vez influenciado por la luna llena, presentó algunos desafíos inesperados. Inicialmente, nuestro camión comunitario comenzó a hacer ruidos extraños, posiblemente debido a una barra suelta en el chasis. Mientras conducíamos, Niek mencionó a Laurie que este era su primer viaje a Estados Unidos. Ella preguntó si había completado una solicitud ESTA, a lo que él pareció perplejo. Niek se había basado en una simple búsqueda en Google, asumiendo que no necesitaba una visa para visitar Estados Unidos como ciudadano belga, en lugar de consultar información confiable del sitio web de la embajada. El pánico se apoderó de él mientras comenzaba frenéticamente a solicitar su ESTA desde el asiento del pasajero. El sitio web advirtió que el proceso de solicitud podría tardar hasta 72 horas en ser aprobado, muy lejos de ser tranquilizador fue más preocupante. Llegamos al aeropuerto alrededor de las 3 AM, con el automóvil haciendo ruidos cada vez más preocupantes. Nos encontramos esperando ansiosamente la aprobación de su solicitud. Finalmente, a las 4 AM, después de hablar con el personal servicial de United Airlines, tomé la decisión de continuar hacia Houston con mi vuelo original, mientras Niek tomaría el próximo vuelo una vez que obtuviera su ESTA. A las 4:30 AM, recibí un mensaje de texto suyo confirmando que finalmente había recibido su ESTA, lo que lo instó a apresurarse a través de la seguridad y correr por el pequeño aeropuerto de SJO para alcanzar su vuelo en el último minuto. Nos reunimos nuevamente.

Después de un agradable vuelo, llegamos a Houston. En las filas de entrada de aduanas, me acerqué a un empleado del aeropuerto para preguntar si podía acompañar a Niek para ayudarlo en el proceso de aduanas. Amablemente, nos permitió avanzar juntos por el carril de ciudadanos estadounidenses. Después de esperar 20 minutos en la fila, pasamos por aduanas sin problemas después de que Niek diera sus huellas dactilares. Luego tomamos un Uber hasta el lugar de Linda, donde nos dio una cálida bienvenida. Durante el último mes, Linda había acumulado alrededor de 20 paquetes para nosotros, y como muestra de agradecimiento, había traído unos deliciosos chocolates de mi amigo Cedric en Casa del Cacao en San José. Sabiendo del amor de Niek por la carne, decidimos agasajar a Linda con Truth BBQ, famoso por su suculenta carne a la barbacoa texana, que incluye un braseado de beefsteak, cerdo desmenuzado y costillas perfectamente marinadas. Aunque tuvimos que esperar una hora, la experiencia culinaria valió la pena. Más tarde ese día, Linda nos invitó a un evento benéfico de blues, brindándonos una experiencia cultural típicamente texana. Sentados junto a una animada y colorida mujer de 75 años llamada Lee, quien desafiaba su edad, entablamos una conversación. Al enterarse de nuestras procedencias, compartió una foto de sí misma cuando era más joven junto a un alto y musculoso hombre Belga, recordando con cariño un fin de semana que pasaron juntos en un festival de blues. Lee continuó expresando sus puntos de vista políticos, caracterizando a Biden como una marioneta senil y a Trump como un payaso egocéntrico. Expresó su preferencia por que Texas se separe de Washington DC y reveló que era una de las muchas texanas que se negaban a vacunarse contra el Covid. Sentí una sensación de familiaridad con su espíritu rebelde. A pesar de su avanzada edad, Lee mantenía su naturaleza libre y compartió una anécdota divertida sobre salir a bailar recientemente y descubrir números de teléfono de hombres que la encontraban atractiva, escondidos en la parte trasera de sus pantalones cuando regresaba a casa un poco borracha. Los texanos poseen un nivel notable de comodidad consigo mismos, mostrando alegría y jovialidad a pesar de los estereotipos sociales. Parejas se levantaron y nos deleitaron con sus habilidades de baile. Para completar nuestro día, visitamos el enorme Walmart Supercenter, el supermercado más grande que Niek había visto en su vida, para hacer algunas compras de último minuto, como un botiquín de primeros auxilios, refrigerios y tapetes de yoga para el viaje. Exhaustos por las aventuras del día, nos retiramos a descansar, anticipando con entusiasmo la jornada que nos esperaba.

Al día siguiente, nos levantamos temprano para dirigirnos a México, con Niek a cargo de la conducción. El viaje nos llevó alrededor de cinco horas para recorrer más de 500 kilómetros (350 millas). Antes de cruzar a México, Niek insistió en tener otra experiencia de barbacoa, esta vez en Reyna’s Bar-B-Q en Harlingen, cerca de la frontera. Curiosamente, no pudo terminar la comida, lo que señalaba un cambio positivo hacia una dieta más saludable mientras nos preparábamos para explorar México. Equipados con investigaciones en línea y consejos de amigos, me sentía bastante preparado para el cruce de fronteras. Hicimos copias a color del título del vehículo, el seguro, el registro, las licencias de conducir y los pasaportes. Era la primera vez de Niek en Estados Unidos, y no pudo evitar sentir una pizca de tristeza por tener que partir tan rápidamente, prometiéndose a sí mismo regresar para explorar el país de manera más extensa.

Alrededor de las 2 PM, ingresamos a México a través del Puente Internacional B & M. A medida que nos acercábamos al puente, una sensación de asombro nos envolvió al darnos cuenta de que nos adentrábamos en territorio inexplorado. Mientras el tráfico era intenso en el lado mexicano que se dirigía hacia Estados Unidos, fluía sin problemas en nuestro lado. Gracias a las zonas fronterizas designadas establecidas por el gobierno mexicano, es posible conducir libremente en la zona fronteriza de México cerca de Estados Unidos. Estas zonas, a menudo conocidas como “zonas libres” o “zonas fronterizas”, permiten regulaciones de viaje relajadas y procedimientos aduaneros simplificados dentro de una cierta distancia de la frontera. Sin embargo, es importante tener en cuenta que si se desea cruzar más profundamente en México o en Estados Unidos, se requiere la documentación adecuada, como pasaportes, visas u otros permisos de viaje. Además, es posible que se apliquen medidas de seguridad e inspecciones aduaneras en los puntos de control ubicados más tierra adentro.

Para asegurarnos de cumplir con los requisitos, nos detuvimos en la oficina de aduanas del Puente Internacional B & M. Quedó claro que habíamos dejado atrás la eficiencia del mundo anglosajón y habíamos vuelto a la burocracia e ineficiencias de América Latina, a las que nos habíamos acostumbrado en Costa Rica. Afortunadamente, este cruce de frontera en particular no fue demasiado arduo, ya que pocas personas estaban ingresando en ese momento. Una vez que tuvimos nuestros pasaportes sellados, procedimos a obtener un permiso para nuestro vehículo. Sorprendentemente, solo se requerían copias del registro del automóvil, el pasaporte del propietario del automóvil y los papeles de entrada que acabábamos de llenar. El seguro del automóvil, el título del vehículo y el contrato de venta parecían no ser necesarios. La oficina de aduanas tenía un pequeño espacio donde se podían hacer copias a $1 por página. Esto contrastaba fuertemente con nuestra experiencia anterior en la oficina de FedEx, donde podíamos manejar todo nosotros mismos con una interacción humana mínima. Aquí, nos encontramos frente a una persona cuyo único propósito era hacer copias de papel para la gente. Ejemplificaba los dos extremos y en algún lugar, debe existir un equilibrio. Todo el proceso de obtener el permiso del vehículo, conocido como “Permiso de Importación Temporal de Vehículos”, llevó un poco más de una hora. Mientras nos preparábamos para salir del área de aduanas, encontramos un cono de tráfico bloqueando nuestro paso. Esperamos allí durante unos minutos, pero al no recibir atención, decidí dejar el auto y buscar ayuda. Finalmente, me encontré con personal armado, y uno de ellos regresó conmigo. Después de inspeccionar el contenido de nuestro equipaje y verificar nuestra documentación, finalmente nos permitieron ingresar a México. La verdadera aventura estaba a punto de comenzar.

Re-parenting Your Inner Child: Transforming Narcissism into Self-Love

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Narcissism, rooted in the Greek myth of Narcissus, refers to a psychological trait characterized by excessive self-admiration, a grandiose sense of self-importance, and a constant craving for attention and admiration from others. It involves a preoccupation with one’s own achievements, talents, and appearance, often accompanied by a lack of empathy for others. Narcissism can have a profound negative impact on both personal and interpersonal levels. Individuals with pronounced narcissistic traits tend to prioritize their own needs and desires above those of others, leading to difficulties in forming and maintaining meaningful relationships. Their inflated sense of self-importance can create a sense of entitlement, making it challenging for them to truly connect with others or consider their perspectives. This self-centered focus can also result in a lack of empathy, causing emotional and relational distance, and hindering the development of healthy and fulfilling connections. Ultimately, narcissism can impede personal growth, hinder authentic connections, and generate a cycle of discontentment and dissatisfaction.

This definition encompasses the most apparent form of narcissism, known as Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD). However, if we broaden our understanding of narcissism as an inherent inability to genuinely connect with others due to being excessively absorbed in our own self-centered bubble, we can identify various other groups of individuals who exhibit narcissistic traits.

For example, in a codependent relationship, one person tends to prioritize the needs and desires of the other to an excessive and unhealthy degree, often at the expense of their own well-being. This can lead to an imbalance in the relationship dynamics, with one person assuming a more caretaking or enabling role. In some cases, the person who exhibits codependent behaviors may also display narcissistic traits. This can manifest as a need for control, manipulation, or an inflated sense of self-importance within the context of the codependent relationship. This form of codependency with narcissistic tendencies can create a dynamic where one person seeks validation and attention from the other while maintaining a sense of control over the relationship.

Actually, most of us display some forms of narcissistic traits when we are triggered by specific individuals or events. These triggers often stem from unresolved past traumas that continue to impact us. While individuals diagnosed with NPD or codependency represent the extreme end of the spectrum, it is important to acknowledge that all of us can display some of these behaviors when we are experiencing emotional distress or unwell. It is a sincere recognition that our behaviors may temporarily align with narcissistic tendencies during such periods.

In the early stages of child development, particularly during the formative years, it is important for a child to experience a sense of being the center of the world to develop a healthy ego. This process is essential for their overall psychological and emotional growth. Here are a few reasons why this is important:

  • Building Self-Identity: During early childhood, children are in the process of forming their sense of self. By experiencing themselves as the center of their world, they develop a foundation for their self-identity. This allows them to understand and differentiate themselves from others, fostering a healthy sense of individuality.
  • Autonomy and Independence: Feeling self-important and focused on oneself enables children to develop a sense of autonomy and independence. It encourages them to explore their environment, express their needs and desires, and develop a sense of agency. This fosters their emotional and cognitive development, as they learn to navigate the world around them.
  • Emotional Security: When young children feel that they are the center of attention and receive nurturing and responsive care, they develop a sense of emotional security. This lays the groundwork for healthy emotional development, trust, and the ability to form secure attachments with others.
  • Healthy Boundaries and Self-Care: By initially focusing on themselves, children learn about their own needs and preferences. This understanding helps them establish healthy boundaries and develop self-care practices. As they grow, they gradually learn to balance their own needs with the needs of others, fostering healthy relationships and empathy.
  • Developing Confidence: Feeling self-important and valued helps children develop confidence and a positive self-image. It provides a sense of worthiness, encouraging them to explore their abilities and take on new challenges with resilience and determination.

Healthy narcissism is crucial for a child’s development. For instance, a one-year-old baby’s healthy narcissism is evident when they vocalize their needs by crying to have their parents attend to their physical requirements, such as feeding. Similarly, during the stage commonly known as the “terrible twos,” toddlers exhibit a healthy narcissism through behaviors like tantrums, defiance, and newfound assertiveness, as they explore their growing sense of autonomy and independence.

Regrettably, during this critical developmental period, children are often hindered from expressing this necessary narcissism in a healthy manner. Many of us experienced neglect, absence, disconnection, conditional love, abuse, anger, unsafety, manipulation, or lack of care due to our parents’ own limitations and traumas. It is not about blaming parents; they did their best given their own level of development and understanding. It is a reality that reaching adulthood without some form of trauma is near impossible. If we embrace the concept of the soul’s journey, we may even consider that we intentionally chose our parents, specifically for the challenges they presented (the blueprint of the soul), as an opportunity to work on our karma and evolve as incarnated souls.

As we experience childhood traumas, our inner child can become stuck and cease to develop. Consequently, while our physical body may mature into adulthood, certain aspects of our being may remain akin to a needy Cry-Baby or an angry two-year-old toddler. When triggered, this part of us may manifest through rants and temper tantrums, causing disruption to our environment. We have all witnessed such inappropriate behaviors that appear irrational, crazy, or immature. However, if we observe the same behavior in a young child, it becomes amusing and inconsequential. The person exhibiting these behaviors is not inherently bad; rather, a young aspect of their self momentarily takes over their personality. Unfortunately, this can lead to significant damage and negatively impact their life or career, such as Will Smith smacking Chris Rock at the Oscars. In healthy childhood development, children gradually learn to consider others’ perspectives, develop empathy, and navigate social interactions. However, due to trauma, certain aspects of ourselves remain stuck in earlier developmental stages characterized by narcissistic tendencies. Consequently, an adult displaying narcissistic traits often reflects someone who was not allowed to express healthy narcissism during childhood. A friend once advised me to care for my children during their early years to prevent significant issues during their teenage years. This advice proved to be remarkably accurate. Investing in our children’s well-being during infancy is crucial for fostering responsible and compassionate young adults. It is vital not to dismiss our children, attentively observe their emotions, aid them in regulating those emotions, and derive appropriate meaning from their experiences. Adults must create a safe environment for young children to exhibit self-centered behaviors appropriate for their age. Therefore, one of the worst things a parent can do is to make a child feel guilty for being selfish. This dynamic can lead to the child being prematurely burdened with parental responsibilities and subsequently displaying narcissistic behaviors later in life. This scenario often occurs in large families where older siblings are expected to assume parental roles while still children themselves. Because embracing their children’s self-centeredness may be challenging for parents, nature has made babies, toddlers, and young kids “cute”. Our brains are wired to exhibit greater patience and tolerance towards individuals with a high degree of “cuteness” so as to help us support this most difficult part of our children’s development.

Now, the crucial question arises: What should we do with the aspects of ourselves that have halted development due to trauma and are currently trapped in immature stages?

Healing involves providing our trapped inner children with the opposite experiences they lacked. To resume their growth, they require care, a sense of being valued, dedicated attention, tenderness, and kindness—experiences that may have been absent in their early lives. It is common for many of us to seek intimate relationships for this reason, which often leads to disastrous outcomes. Instead of seeking a life partner to grow and share joyful moments with, and to contribute to each other’s happiness, we unconsciously seek a partner who resembles one of our parents. We hope this partner will provide the emotional nurturing that our original parent may have failed to give us. However, this pattern tends to perpetuate the same cycle of trauma and pain over and over again. Since love is instinctively associated with survival for a child, it explains why we can exhibit destructive or hateful behaviors towards someone we once considered our life partner as the relationship ends, rather than moving peacefully into conscious uncoupling.

Indeed, our blocked inner child requires an experience of healthy narcissism to resume its growth. However, instead of unconsciously demanding it from a romantic partner, a more effective approach involves working with a skilled therapist or coach who can guide us in the process of re-parenting our frozen inner child. This journey involves acknowledging our feelings, identifying our needs, and prioritizing ourselves without guilt or shame when appropriate. It can be as simple as indulging in our favorite food, getting a pet to experience unconditional love, treating ourselves to a spa day or retreat, purchasing a desired piece of jewelry, or exploring a new country solo. However, it often boils down to simpler acts: choosing to rest when tired, seeking solace in nature, meditating in silence with benevolence, understanding, and non-judgment, or journaling to explore our inner world. There are infinite ways to fulfill the needs of our undeveloped inner children, once we tap into our creativity. As we engage in this process, our inner child begins to grow again, thereby transforming all aspects of our lives, particularly our personal relationships. The inner child serves as the seat of the soul, holding the key to our joy and personal happiness.

Allow me to share a recent experience with one of my clients who had consumed hallucinogenic mushrooms as part of a shamanic healing journey. During a distressing trip, he found himself stuck in a vulnerable part of his inner child and decided to call me on WhatsApp. Recognizing the danger of the situation, I sought a quiet space at a friend’s house, even though it interrupted our plans. I settled into the dry bathtub to isolate myself, dedicating the following three hours to validating his feelings, creating safety and security, engaging in deep conversations, and making him feel truly special. Because of the drug and the fear he experienced from his bad trip, his inner child’s narcissism was stronger than his adult’s guilt of taking up my time on a Sunday. As a result, he could enjoy the process of me fully attending his inner child’s needs, which, at that moment, required feeling like the center of the world. I understood the importance of only ending the call when he was ready, regardless of how long it took. In hindsight, this experience brought him extraordinary healing, resulting in increased empathy and reduced self-centeredness. By addressing the genuine needs of our inner children, we enable their growth, leading to the development of more altruistic needs. To conclude the story, when I eventually emerged from the bathroom, my friend had patiently waited for me, and we shared a wonderful afternoon together. He reciprocated the unconditional support I had just offered. This illustrates the workings of the universal law of attraction.

Hence, here lies the paradox: To transcend narcissism, we must relearn how to be “narcissistic” in a healthy manner to heal our inner child. And what precisely is the appropriate narcissism for a fully functioning adult? Self-love. True self-love aligns with spiritual awakening, emanating from the heart and unity consciousness. Therefore, loving oneself in this state is nothing other than loving the entirety of creation, as we feel connected to all beings and everything around us.

French translation below – Article en Français ci-dessous

Rééduquer votre enfant intérieur : transformer le narcissisme en amour-propre

Le narcissisme, ancré dans le mythe grec de Narcisse, fait référence à un trait psychologique caractérisé par une admiration excessive de soi, un sentiment grandiose d’importance personnelle et un besoin constant d’attention et d’admiration des autres. Il implique une préoccupation excessive pour ses propres réalisations, talents et apparence, souvent accompagnée d’un manque d’empathie envers autrui. Le narcissisme peut avoir un impact négatif profond à la fois sur le plan personnel et interpersonnel. Les personnes présentant des traits narcissiques prononcés ont tendance à privilégier leurs propres besoins et désirs au détriment de ceux des autres, ce qui rend difficile la formation et le maintien de relations profondes. Leur sentiment exagéré d’importance personnelle peut rendre difficile une véritable connexion avec les autres ou la prise en compte de leurs points de vue. Cette focalisation sur soi peut également entraîner un manque d’empathie, créant une distance émotionnelle et relationnelle qui entrave le développement de relations saines et épanouissantes. En fin de compte, le narcissisme peut entraver la croissance personnelle ainsi que les relations authentiques et générer un cycle de mécontentement et d’insatisfaction.
Cette définition englobe la forme la plus évidente du narcissisme, connue sous le nom de trouble de la personnalité narcissique (TPN). Cependant, si nous élargissons notre compréhension du narcissisme comme une incapacité inhérente à se connecter véritablement avec les autres en raison d’un emprisonnement inconscient dans notre propre bulle égocentrique, nous pouvons identifier divers autres groupes de personnes qui présentent des traits narcissiques.
Par exemple, dans une relation co-dépendante, une personne a tendance à privilégier de manière excessive et malsaine les besoins et désirs de l’autre, souvent au détriment de son propre bien-être. Cela peut entraîner un déséquilibre dans la dynamique relationnelle, avec une personne assumant le rôle de soignant ou de sauveur. Dans certains cas, la personne qui présente des comportements co-dépendants peut également présenter des traits narcissiques. Cela peut se manifester par un besoin de contrôle, de manipulation ou un sentiment exagéré d’importance personnelle dans le contexte de la relation co-dépendante. Cette forme de co-dépendance avec des tendances narcissiques peut créer une dynamique où une personne recherche validation et attention de l’autre tout en maintenant un certain contrôle sur la relation.

En réalité, la plupart d’entre nous présentent certains traits narcissiques lorsque nous sommes déclenchés émotionnellement par une personne ou un événement. Nous sommes déclenchés parce que nous ne sommes pas complètement guéris émotionnellement, car la plupart d’entre nous sommes encore hantés par des traumatismes du passé. Les personnes diagnostiquées avec un TPN ou une co-dépendance se situent à l’extrême de l’échelle, mais il est honnête d’accepter le fait que nous présentons tous certains de ces comportements lorsque nous ne sentions pas bien.
Dans les premières étapes du développement de l’enfant, en particulier pendant les années formatrices, il est important qu’un enfant ait le sentiment d’être au centre du monde pour développer un ego sain. Ce processus est essentiel pour sa croissance psychologique et émotionnelle globale. Voici quelques raisons pour lesquelles cela est important :

  • Construction de l’identité : Pendant la petite enfance, les enfants sont en train de former leur sens de soi. En se percevant comme le centre de leur monde, ils développent une base pour leur identité personnelle. Cela leur permet de se comprendre et de se différencier des autres, favorisant un sentiment sain d’individualité.
  • Autonomie et indépendance : Se sentir important et se concentrer sur soi permet aux enfants de développer un sens de l’autonomie et de l’indépendance. Cela les encourage à explorer leur environnement, à exprimer leurs besoins et désirs. Cela favorise leur développement émotionnel et cognitif, car ils apprennent à naviguer dans le monde qui les entoure.
  • Sécurité émotionnelle : Lorsque les jeunes enfants ont l’impression d’être au centre de l’attention et de recevoir des soins attentionnés et responsifs, ils développent un sentiment de sécurité émotionnelle. Cela pose les bases d’un développement émotionnel sain, de la confiance et de la capacité à former des attachements sécurisés avec autrui.
  • Limites saines et auto-soins : En se concentrant initialement sur eux-mêmes, les enfants apprennent à connaître leurs propres besoins et préférences. Cette compréhension les aide à établir des limites saines et à développer des pratiques d’auto-soins. En grandissant, ils apprennent progressivement à équilibrer leurs propres besoins avec ceux des autres, favorisant des relations saines et l’empathie.
  • Développement de la confiance : Se sentir important et valorisé aide les enfants à développer la confiance et une image positive d’eux-mêmes. Cela leur donne un sentiment de valeur, les encourageant à explorer leurs capacités et à relever de nouveaux défis avec résilience et détermination.

Le narcissisme sain est crucial pour le développement d’un enfant. Par exemple, chez un bébé d’un an, un narcissisme sain se manifeste lorsque l’enfant exprime ses besoins en pleurant pour attirer l’attention de ses parents afin de satisfaire ses besoins physiques, comme se nourrir. De même, pendant la période souvent appelée les “terribles deux ans”, les tout-petits font preuve d’un narcissisme sain à travers des comportements tels que les crises de colère, la défiance et une affirmation de soi nouvelle, alors qu’ils explorent leur croissante autonomie et indépendance.
Malheureusement, pendant cette période cruciale du développement, les enfants sont souvent empêchés d’exprimer ce narcissisme nécessaire de manière saine. Beaucoup d’entre nous avons vécu des négligences, des absences, des déconnexions, des abus, de la colère, de l’insécurité, de la manipulation ou un manque de soins en raison des limites et des traumatismes de nos parents. Il ne s’agit pas de blâmer les parents ; ils ont fait de leur mieux compte tenu de leur propre niveau de développement et de compréhension. Il est en réalité presque impossible d’atteindre l’âge adulte sans avoir vécu une forme de traumatisme. Si nous adhérons à l’idée du parcours de l’âme, nous pourrions même considérer que nous avons intentionnellement choisi nos parents, spécialement pour les défis qu’ils présentaient (la trame de l’âme), comme une opportunité de travailler sur notre karma et d’évoluer en tant qu’âmes incarnées.

Alors que nous vivons des traumatismes pendant notre enfance, notre enfant intérieur peut se figer et cesser de grandir. Par conséquent, bien que notre corps physique puisse mûrir jusqu’à l’âge adulte, certaines parties de notre être peuvent demeurer comme un bébé en manque d’attention ou un tout-petit colérique de deux ans. Lorsqu’ils sont déclenchés, cette partie de nous peut se manifester par des emportements et des crises, causant des perturbations dans notre environnement. Nous avons tous été témoins de tels comportements inappropriés qui peuvent sembler irrationnels, fous ou immatures. Cependant, si nous observons le même comportement chez un jeune enfant, cela devient amusant et sans importance. La personne exhibant ces comportements n’est pas fondamentalement mauvaise ; plutôt, un aspect jeune de son être prend momentanément le contrôle de sa personnalité. Malheureusement, cela peut entraîner des dommages considérables et avoir un impact négatif sur sa vie ou sa carrière comme Will Smith quand il a gliflé Chris Rock aux Oscars. Dans un développement sain de l’enfance, les enfants apprennent progressivement à prendre en compte les perspectives des autres, à développer de l’empathie et à naviguer dans les interactions sociales. Cependant, en raison des traumatismes, certains aspects de nous-mêmes restent figés dans des stades de développement antérieurs caractérisés par des tendances narcissiques. En conséquence, un adulte présentant des traits narcissiques reflète souvent quelqu’un qui n’a pas été autorisé à exprimer un narcissisme sain pendant l’enfance, lorsque cela était approprié à cette étape du développement. Un ami m’a un jour conseillé de prendre soin de mes enfants lorsqu’ils sont jeunes pour éviter de gros problèmes plus tard, à l’adolescence. Ce conseil s’est avéré particulièrement pertinent. Investir dans le bien-être de nos enfants pendant la petite enfance est essentiel pour favoriser le développement de jeunes adultes responsables et bienveillants. Il est important de ne pas négliger nos enfants, d’observer attentivement leurs émotions, de les aider à les réguler et de leur donner un sens approprié à partir de leurs expériences. Les adultes doivent créer un environnement sûr pour que les jeunes enfants puissent manifester des comportements centrés sur eux-mêmes adaptés à leur âge. Par conséquent, l’une des pires choses qu’un parent puisse faire est de faire culpabiliser un enfant d’être égoïste. Cela peut entraîner le fait que l’enfant soit précocement chargé de responsabilités parentales et affiche ensuite des comportements narcissiques à l’âge adulte. Cette situation se produit souvent dans les grandes familles où les frères et sœurs plus âgés sont amenés à assumer des rôles parentaux tout en étant encore des enfants. Bien que l’égocentrisme de leurs enfants puisse être difficile pour les parents, les bébés, les tout-petits et les jeunes enfants sont conçus pour paraître mignons. Notre cerveau est programmé pour faire preuve de plus de patience et de tolérance envers les individus qui possèdent cette qualité d’être mignon afin de nous aider à soutenir cette partie la plus difficile du développement de nos enfants.

Maintenant, la question cruciale se pose : que faisons-nous des aspects de nous-mêmes qui ont cessé de se développer en raison des traumatismes et qui sont maintenant figés dans des stades immatures de développement ?

La guérison implique de fournir à notre enfant intérieur bloqué des expériences opposées à celles qu’il a connues. Pour reprendre sa croissance, il a besoin de soins, de se sentir spécial, d’attention, de douceur et de gentillesse, des expériences qu’il n’a peut-être jamais reçues auparavant. Il est courant que beaucoup d’entre nous cherchent des relations intimes pour cette raison, ce qui se termine souvent par des désastres. Au lieu de chercher un partenaire de vie avec qui grandir, partager les beaux moments de la vie et contribuer à son bonheur, nous cherchons inconsciemment un partenaire qui ressemble à l’un de nos parents et qui nous apportera l’épanouissement émotionnel que notre parent d’origine n’a peut-être pas su nous offrir. Cependant, ce schéma tend à perpétuer le même cycle de traumatismes et de souffrances encore et encore. Étant donné que l’amour est instinctivement associé à la survie pour un enfant, cela explique pourquoi nous pouvons manifester des comportements destructeurs ou haineux envers quelqu’un que nous avons autrefois considéré comme notre partenaire de vie, plutôt que de passer pacifiquement à la séparation consciente.

En effet, notre enfant intérieur bloqué a besoin d’une expérience de narcissisme sain pour reprendre sa croissance. Cependant, au lieu de le demander inconsciemment à un partenaire romantique, une approche plus efficace consiste à travailler avec un thérapeute ou un coach compétent qui peut nous guider dans le processus de re-parentage de notre enfant intérieur figé. Ce cheminement implique de reconnaître nos émotions, de découvrir nos besoins et de nous mettre en premier sans culpabilité ni honte lorsque cela est approprié. Cela peut être aussi simple que de se préparer notre plat préféré rien que pour nous, d’adopter un chien pour vivre l’expérience de l’amour inconditionnel que nous n’avons peut-être jamais reçu de nos parents, de se faire chouchouter avec un soin thalasso ou une retraite spirituelle, d’acheter un bijou que nous avons tant désiré sans attendre qu’un partenaire comble ce besoin, de partir dans un pays que nous avons toujours voulu explorer sans compagnon de voyage. Mais le plus souvent, cela est plus simple que cela. Choisir de se reposer lorsque nous nous sentons fatigués ou surmenés, même si notre esprit nous pousse à travailler plus fort pour respecter une deadline. Aller dans un endroit agréable en pleine nature pour se détendre et trouver la paix. Méditer et s’asseoir en silence en écoutant toutes les parties de nous-mêmes de manière neutre, sans jugement, avec bienveillance, gentillesse et compréhension. Tenir un journal pour en apprendre davantage sur nous-mêmes. Il existe une infinité de façons de répondre aux besoins de nos enfants intérieurs non développés une fois que nous apprenons à faire preuve de créativité à cet égard. En le faisant, notre enfant intérieur recommencera à grandir et, par conséquent, toute notre vie sera transformée, surtout dans le domaine des relations personnelles. L’enfant intérieur est le siège de l’âme et détient ainsi la clé de notre joie et de notre bonheur personnel.

Permettez-moi de partager une expérience récente avec l’un de mes clients qui avait consommé des champignons hallucinogènes dans le cadre d’un voyage chamanique de guérison. Il s’est retrouvé bloqué terrifié dans une partie vulnérable de son enfant intérieur. Reconnaissant l’importance de la situation, j’ai cherché un espace calme chez un ami, même si cela interrompait nos projets. Je me suis installé dans la baignoire sans eau pour m’isoler, consacrant les trois heures suivantes à valider ses sentiments, à lui créer un sentiment de sécurité, à engager des conversations profondes et à le faire se sentir réellement spécial. Grâce à l’influence de la drogue, il a réussi à surmonter la culpabilité de me prendre mon temps un dimanche et à répondre pleinement aux besoins de son enfant intérieur, qui consistaient à se sentir au centre du monde à ce moment-là. J’ai compris l’importance de ne mettre fin à l’appel que lorsqu’il était prêt, peu importe le temps que cela prendrait. Avec le recul, cette expérience lui a apporté une guérison extraordinaire, le rendant plus empathique et moins centré sur lui-même. En répondant aux besoins authentiques de nos enfants intérieurs, nous leur permettons de grandir, ce qui conduit au développement de besoins plus altruistes. Pour conclure l’histoire, lorsque j’ai finalement quitté la salle de bain, mon ami m’avait patiemment attendu et nous avons passé un merveilleux après-midi ensemble. Il m’a rendu le même soutien inconditionnel que je venais de lui offrir. C’est ainsi que fonctionne la loi universelle de l’attraction.

Voici donc le paradoxe : pour transcender le narcissisme, nous devons réapprendre à être “narcissiques” de manière saine et consciente. Et qu’est-ce que le narcissisme approprié pour un adulte pleinement fonctionnel ? L’amour de soi. Le véritable amour de soi est en réalité la même chose qu’un éveil spirituel, car il est basé sur le cœur et la conscience de l’unité. Ainsi, s’aimer soi-même dans cet état revient à aimer l’ensemble de la création, car nous nous sentons connectés à tous les êtres et à tout ce qui nous entoure.

Artículo en español a continuación

Replantear a tu niño interior: Transformando el narcisismo en amor propio

El narcisismo, enraizado en el mito griego de Narciso, se refiere a un rasgo psicológico caracterizado por un exceso de autoadmiración, un sentido grandioso de importancia personal y un constante deseo de atención y admiración por parte de los demás. Implica una obsesión por los propios logros, talentos y apariencia, a menudo acompañada de una falta de empatía hacia los demás. El narcisismo puede tener un profundo impacto negativo tanto a nivel personal como interpersonal. Las personas con rasgos narcisistas pronunciados tienden a priorizar sus propias necesidades y deseos por encima de los de los demás, lo que dificulta la formación y el mantenimiento de relaciones significativas. Su exagerado sentido de importancia personal puede generar un sentimiento de derecho, lo que les dificulta conectar verdaderamente con los demás o considerar sus perspectivas. Este enfoque centrado en sí mismo también puede resultar en una falta de empatía, creando distancia emocional y relacional, y obstaculizando el desarrollo de conexiones saludables y satisfactorias. En última instancia, el narcisismo puede obstaculizar el crecimiento personal, dificultar las conexiones auténticas y generar un ciclo de insatisfacción y descontento.

Esta definición abarca la forma más evidente de narcisismo, conocida como Trastorno Narcisista de la Personalidad (TNP). Sin embargo, si ampliamos nuestra comprensión del narcisismo como una incapacidad inherente para conectar genuinamente con los demás debido a estar excesivamente absorto en nuestra propia burbuja egocéntrica, podemos identificar varios otros grupos de personas que exhiben rasgos narcisistas.

Por ejemplo, en una relación codependiente, una persona tiende a priorizar las necesidades y deseos del otro en grado excesivo y poco saludable, a menudo a expensas de su propio bienestar. Esto puede llevar a un desequilibrio en la dinámica de la relación, con una persona asumiendo un papel de cuidador o facilitador. En algunos casos, la persona que exhibe comportamientos codependientes también puede mostrar rasgos narcisistas. Esto puede manifestarse como una necesidad de control, manipulación o un sentido exagerado de importancia personal dentro del contexto de la relación codependiente. Esta forma de codependencia con tendencias narcisistas puede crear una dinámica en la que una persona busca validación y atención del otro mientras mantiene un sentido de control sobre la relación.

De hecho, la mayoría de nosotros mostramos algunas formas de rasgos narcisistas cuando somos desencadenados por una persona o un evento. Nos desenfocamos porque no hemos sanado completamente, ya que muchos de nosotros todavía estamos acosados por traumas del pasado. Las personas que son diagnosticadas con TNP o codependencia se encuentran en el extremo más grave del espectro, pero es honesto aceptar el hecho de que todos nosotros mostramos algunos de estos comportamientos cuando no estamos bien.

En realidad, muchos de nosotros exhibimos ciertos rasgos narcisistas que aparecen de repente por personas o eventos específicos. Estos desencadenantes a menudo se originan en traumas pasados no resueltos que continúan afectándonos. Si bien las personas diagnosticadas con TNP o codependencia representan el extremo del espectro, es importante reconocer que todos podemos mostrar algunos de estos comportamientos cuando experimentamos angustia emocional o no estamos bien. Es un reconocimiento sincero de que nuestros comportamientos pueden alinearse temporalmente con tendencias narcisistas durante esos períodos.

En las primeras etapas del desarrollo infantil, especialmente durante los años formativos, es importante que un niño experimente una sensación de ser el centro del mundo para desarrollar un ego saludable. Este proceso es esencial para su crecimiento psicológico, emocional, y en general. A continuación, se presentan algunas razones por las cuales esto es importante:

Construcción de la identidad propia: Durante la primera infancia, los niños están en proceso de formar su sentido de sí mismos. Al experimentarse como el centro de su mundo, desarrollan una base para empezar a crear su identidad. Esto les permite comprender y diferenciarse de los demás, fomentando un sentido saludable de individualidad.
Autonomía e independencia: Sentirse importante y centrado en uno mismo, permite a los niños desarrollar un sentido de autonomía e independencia. Los anima a explorar su entorno, expresar sus necesidades ó deseos, y a desarrollar un sentido de agencia. Esto fomenta su desarrollo emocional y cognitivo, ya que aprenden a navegar en el mundo que les rodea.
Seguridad emocional: Cuando los niños pequeños sienten que son el centro de atención y reciben cuidado y atención receptiva, desarrollan un sentido de seguridad emocional. Esto sienta las bases para un desarrollo emocional saludable, la confianza y la capacidad de formar vínculos seguros con los demás.
Límites saludables y autocuidado: Al enfocarse inicialmente en sí mismos, los niños aprenden acerca de sus propias necesidades y preferencias. Esta comprensión les ayuda a establecer límites saludables y desarrollar prácticas de autocuidado. A medida que crecen, aprenden gradualmente a equilibrar sus propias necesidades con las de los demás, fomentando relaciones saludables y empatía.
Desarrollo de la confianza: Sentirse importante y valorado ayuda a los niños a desarrollar confianza y una imagen positiva de sí mismos. Les proporciona un sentido de valía, fomentando su disposición a explorar sus habilidades y asumir nuevos desafíos con resiliencia y determinación.

El narcisismo saludable es crucial para el desarrollo de un niño. Por ejemplo, el narcisismo saludable de un bebé de un año se evidencia cuando vocaliza sus necesidades llorando para que sus padres atiendan sus requerimientos físicos, como alimentarse. De manera similar, durante la etapa comúnmente conocida como “terrible dos”, los niños pequeños exhiben un narcisismo saludable a través de comportamientos como rabietas, desafío y una nueva afirmación de su autonomía, mientras exploran su creciente sentido de identidad e independencia.

Lamentablemente, durante este período crítico de desarrollo, a menudo se impide a los niños expresar este narcisismo necesario de manera saludable. Muchos de nosotros experimentamos negligencia, ausencia, desconexión, abuso, ira, inseguridad, manipulación o falta de cuidado debido a las limitaciones y traumas de nuestros padres. No se trata de culpar a los padres; hicieron lo mejor que pudieron con su propio nivel de desarrollo y comprensión. Es una realidad que alcanzar la edad adulta sin algún tipo de trauma es casi imposible. Si abrazamos la idea del viaje del alma, incluso podríamos considerar que elegimos intencionalmente a nuestros padres, específicamente por los desafíos que presentaban (el plan del alma), como una oportunidad para trabajar en nuestro karma y evolucionar como almas encarnadas.

A medida que experimentamos traumas en la infancia, nuestro niño interior puede quedar estancado y dejar de desarrollarse. En consecuencia, aunque nuestro cuerpo físico pueda madurar hacia la edad adulta, ciertos aspectos de nuestros pueden siguen siendo similares a un niño necesitado de atención o un niño pequeño enojado de dos años. Cuando se nos desencadena, esta parte de nosotros puede manifestarse a través de arrebatos y rabietas, causando disturbios en nuestro entorno. Todos hemos sido testigos de tales comportamientos inapropiados que parecen irracionales, locos o inmaduros. Sin embargo, si observamos el mismo comportamiento en un niño pequeño, resulta divertido e insignificante. La persona que muestra estos comportamientos no es inherentemente mala; más bien, una joven parte de su ser toma momentáneamente el control de su personalidad. Desafortunadamente, esto puede generar daños significativos e impactar negativamente su vida o carrera.

En el desarrollo saludable de la infancia, los niños aprenden gradualmente a considerar las perspectivas de los demás, desarrollar empatía y navegar las interacciones sociales. Sin embargo, debido a los traumas, ciertos aspectos de nosotros mismos quedan atrapados en etapas tempranas de desarrollo caracterizadas por tendencias narcisistas. Como resultado, un adulto que muestra rasgos narcisistas a menudo refleja a alguien que no se le permitió expresar un narcisismo saludable durante la infancia. Un amigo una vez me aconsejó que cuidara de mis hijos durante sus primeros años para evitar problemas significativos durante su adolescencia. Este consejo resultó ser notablemente preciso. Invertir en el bienestar de nuestros hijos durante la infancia es crucial para fomentar jóvenes adultos responsables y compasivos. Es vital no menospreciar a nuestros hijos, observar atentamente sus emociones, ayudarlos a regular esas emociones y darles significado apropiado a sus experiencias. Los adultos deben crear un entorno seguro para que los niños pequeños puedan exhibir comportamientos egocéntricos apropiados para su edad. Por lo tanto, una de las peores cosas que un padre puede hacer es hacer que un niño se sienta culpable por ser egoísta. Esta dinámica puede llevar a que el niño asuma prematuramente responsabilidades parentales y, posteriormente, muestre comportamientos narcisistas en la vida adulta. Esto ocurre a menudo en familias numerosas donde se espera que los hermanos mayores asuman roles parentales mientras todavía son niños. Aunque aceptar el egocentrismo de los niños puede ser desafiante para los padres, los bebés, los niños pequeños, están diseñados para parecer lindos. Nuestros cerebros están cableados para mostrar una mayor paciencia y tolerancia hacia las personas que poseen estas cualidades, para ayudarnos a apoyar esta parte tan difícil del desarrollo de nuestros hijos.

Ahora, la pregunta crucial surge: ¿Qué debemos hacer con los aspectos de nosotros mismos que han dejado de desarrollarse debido a los traumas y que actualmente están atrapados en etapas inmaduras?

La sanación implica proporcionar a nuestro niño interior atrapado las experiencias opuestas que les faltaron. Para reanudar su crecimiento, necesitan cuidado, una sensación de ser valorados, atención dedicada, ternura y amabilidad, experiencias que pueden haber sido ausentes en sus primeros años. Es común que muchos de nosotros busquemos relaciones íntimas por esta razón, lo que a menudo conduce a resultados desastrosos. En lugar de buscar una pareja de vida para crecer y compartir momentos felices, y contribuir a la felicidad mutua, buscamos inconscientemente una pareja que se asemeje a uno de nuestros padres. Esperamos que esta pareja proporcione el cuidado emocional que nuestro padre original pudo no haber brindado. Sin embargo, este patrón tiende a perpetuar el mismo ciclo de trauma y dolor una y otra vez. Dado que el amor está instintivamente asociado con la supervivencia para un niño, explica por qué podemos mostrar comportamientos destructivos o llenos de odio hacia alguien que alguna vez consideramos nuestra pareja en la vida en lugar de pasar pacíficamente a una separación consciente.

De hecho, nuestro niño interior bloqueado requiere una experiencia de narcisismo saludable para reanudar su crecimiento. Sin embargo, en lugar de exigirlo inconscientemente a una pareja romántica, un enfoque más efectivo implica trabajar con un terapeuta o coach especializado que pueda guiarnos en el proceso de ser padres de nuestro niño interior congelado. Este viaje implica reconocer nuestras emociones, identificar nuestras necesidades y priorizarnos sin culpa ni vergüenza cuando sea apropiado. Puede ser tan simple como disfrutar de nuestra comida favorita, tener una mascota para experimentar el amor incondicional, darnos un día de spa o retiro, comprar una joya deseada o explorar un nuevo país por nuestra cuenta. Sin embargo, a menudo se reduce a actos más simples: elegir descansar cuando estamos cansados, buscar consuelo en la naturaleza, meditar en silencio con benevolencia, comprensión sin juzgar, o escribir en un diario para descubrir más sobre nosotros mismos. Hay infinitas formas de satisfacer las necesidades de nuestro niño interior no desarrollado una vez que desarrollemos nuestra creatividad. A medida que nos involucramos en este proceso, nuestro niño interior comienza a crecer, transformando así todos los aspectos de nuestra vida, especialmente en el área de las relaciones personales. El niño interior es el asiento del alma y tiene la clave de nuestra alegría y felicidad personal.

Permíteme compartir una experiencia reciente con uno de mis clientes que había consumido hongos alucinógenos como parte de un viaje chamánico de sanación. Durante un viaje angustiante, se encontró atrapado en una parte vulnerable de su niño interior. Reconociendo la importancia de la situación, busqué un espacio tranquilo en casa de un amigo, aunque interrumpiera nuestros planes. Me acomodé en la bañera seca para aislarme, dedicando las siguientes tres horas a validar sus sentimientos, crear seguridad y confianza, entablar conversaciones profundas y hacerlo sentir realmente especial. Gracias a la influencia de la droga, logró superar la culpa de ocupar mi tiempo un domingo y atender plenamente las necesidades de su niño interior, que en ese momento requería sentirse como el centro del mundo. Entendí la importancia de finalizar la llamada solo cuando estuviera listo, sin importar cuánto tiempo llevara. En retrospectiva, esta experiencia le brindó una sanación extraordinaria, lo que resultó en un aumento de la empatía y una disminución del egocentrismo. Al abordar las necesidades genuinas de nuestro niño interior, permitimos su crecimiento, lo que conduce al desarrollo de necesidades más altruistas. Para concluir la historia, cuando finalmente salí del baño, mi amigo había esperado pacientemente y disfrutamos de una maravillosa tarde juntos. Él me devolvió el mismo apoyo incondicional que acababa de brindarle. Esto ilustra cómo funciona la ley universal de la ley de atracción.

The healing power of negative emotions

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turning gold into lead

We live in a world where we have made an enemy of negative emotions. We do everything to run away from them. We turn to drugs, addictions, dysfunctional relationships, distractions or compulsive behaviors to avoid feeling negative emotions. What if they are the lead that we can turn into gold if only we knew the alchemical process?

First, there is no mystery why we are behaving this way because we were programmed by our environment to dread negative emotions. As a child, there were some emotions that were not welcomed into our family environment. The type of emotions allowed or punished depends of the family. For example, in my family, anger was not tolerated however sadness was allowed. Then, we go through the process of socialization through school, our workplace and the community we are a part of. Each one has their own set of rules regarding emotions that are acceptable or frown upon. If this was not enough, we act towards ourselves as the most severe judge regarding the emotions we allow ourselves to feel and not feel. Many negative emotions come with stigma and we carry too much shame about ourselves to admit we are feeling them. We make depression mean lost and weak, loneliness mean unlovable, anger mean dangerous so of course, our ego will do anything not to feel them in order protect our imaginary sense of self.

repressed emotions

As a result, we have become experts in not feeling negative emotions. Because of the powerless state we live in, we thrive for solutions outside of ourselves while all answers are always from within. The global opioid market is $23 billions while the market of illegal mind altering substances is much higher. All addictions come from the fact we are avoiding to feel difficult emotions. This is well explained by Gabor Mate. According to him “Addiction is not a choice anybody makes, it’s a response to emotional pain”. Many dysfunctional relationship patterns are born because we are irresistibly attracted to partners that can express the emotions we have repressed. I would like to invite you to reflect on your own obsessive behaviors or coping mechanisms you have adopted not to feel. The list is endless for everyone of us.

At the same time, there are valid reasons why the society, and everyone of us have been programmed to be afraid of negative emotions. To be fair, the unconscious expression of negative emotions may be threatening not only to others but also to ourselves. The news are full of reports of homicides that happened in an excess of rage. We hear of people committing suicide when they get too depressed. There are more and more teenagers resolving to cutting when faced with overwhelming emotional pain. For this reason, we are afraid to open the pandora’s box as we get closer to our negative emotions. Actually, the opposite is true. By allowing to feeling our difficult emotions, we release the pressure and therefore reduce their uncontrolled expression.

pandora's box

Feeling emotions is an aspect of being human. A healthy integrated human being reacts to life events with emotions. He experiences anger when his boundaries or sense of values is violated. He experiences sadness when faced with loss. He experiences disappointment when he does not attain his objectives. He feels stressed or anxious when he is under too much pressure and feels overwhelmed. He feels depressed when he has lost meaning and purpose. Negative emotions are like messengers. They act as feedback mechanisms as we go through life. They are guides who help us keep our life in the right direction. They constitute our inner guidance system. There are two prerequisites to be able to use emotions as a life compass: awareness and complete self-honesty. We need to learn to recognize the types of emotions that circulate through our body, and have enough self-confidence to see our flaws without collapsing emotionally.

As the person matures, he understands which environment may be conducive to the free expression of his genuine emotions. Controlled anger may be effective to deal with your teenager that lied to you however anger is unwelcome almost every time in a court of law. So, as a first step, we need to develop awareness in the type of emotions that is arising within our consciousness, and secondly see how much we can safely express them within our current environment. We may feel sad, and if we are in the company of good friends, we know we can cry without feeling judged. Or we may be in a different setting where shedding tears could be interpreted as a sign of weakness or feel threatening to people around us. In this situation, we learn to postpone the conscious expression of negative emotions when we are in a safe place.

conscious expression of emotions

I am going to share with you my personal technique of dealing with negative emotions:
1. Recognition
I need to feel I have a heavy emotion that require my attention as it is a call for healing and understanding. It should be painful enough that I cannot easily push it aside through positive focus or immersing myself into an activity. On the opposite, it needs to feel that ignoring this feeling will be damaging to our holistic self. This type of emotions should not happen more than a few times in a month unlike I am going through a particularly difficult time in my life. I see some people doing shadow work so often that they forget to enjoy their lives, and develop a new ego centered around their traumas. This is another extreme to avoid. We have to find the right balance between avoidance and complacency. In case of doubt, trust your body sensations in the present moment to make the determination if you need shadow work or not.
2. Setting a time
If you are finding yourself in a safe place where you can isolate yourself, start your shadow work session right away. However, life is busy and we may not be able to deal with these negative emotions right away. Take care of your key priorities first to put your mind to rest and reduce your stress. Find a safe place where you may not be interrupted. Set-up a time in the near future to work on these emotions. Resist the urge to handle your negative emotions with any external quick-fix in the meantime.
3. Shadow work meditation
If I notice that my mind is restless, I will start first with a physical practice to quiet my mind which is a form of stretching and yoga. This helps me to reconnect with the present moment, my breath, my body in order to ground and raise my frequency. Clearing the mind chatter is critical to be able to listen to our higher intuition. Then I take the position of my favorite asana. From my perspective, the most important is to have a straight back while being comfortable to connect more deeply to our emotions, feelings and thought patterns. This works for me because I have been practicing meditation for many years. However, other centering modalities may be more adequate for you. Journaling makes thoughts more visible and tangible so that you may visualize them to facilitate an inner dialog. Some people prefer a walking meditation in nature. The natural harmony of trees, birds, insects, vegetation is helping them finding this inner center.

4. Be your own therapist
The inner work that now takes place will depend upon your own experience as a healer, coach or simply as an introspective person. However there are a few constants I want to share with you that apply to all shadow work. First, you need to sit with the emotions no matter how painful they are. It involves tearing down the protective walls, allowing to feel the negative emotions without judgment, to eventually accepting them as they are. Raw and uncomfortable as they may be, they act as a rope to bring us back to an aspect of your fragmented self that requires healing. There are many techniques available whether you connect with your body sensations, use creative visualization or validate your raw emotions but the overall goal is to go deeper until you have an emotional release such as tears. If you do not get an emotional release, your process has stayed mental and the healing will be very superficial.

emotional release

Once the emotional release takes place, the healing process shifted from the mind to the body and therefore becomes therefore far more effective. Use breath, body and psychic awareness to help circulate the energy. Show compassion, detachment, loving kindness towards yourself as you experience energy shifting within your body. At that stage, observe without analysis in full presence and deep compassion. The goal is to feel as much as possible. It is about letting go and facilitating the process just like if you were delivering a baby. You are not making things happen, you are watching things happen.
After this stage is done, it is appropriate for mind and intuition to come back and make sense about what happened. What did you learn? What do you need? Did you recover an old trauma? What aspects of you require nurturing? Why were you feeling this way? What actions do you need to take in your life to shift this pattern? What new perspective do you need to adopt to stop suffering?
For example, you may have felt deep loneliness. It may be reminiscent to your childhood being raised by emotionally unavailable parents. You then realize you need to make connection with friends or an intimate partner a priority in your life and not give all your energy to your work. You are deciding to go out to meet new people.
Alternatively, you may be feeling angry towards someone. It reminds you to a situation as a child where you felt trapped. You are deciding to stop the perceived abuse from this person, and hold your personal boundaries. You are not going to acquiesce any more to actions towards you that you see as harmful and unfair.
Sometimes, it takes time to come a new understanding or a new course of action. This is completely fine. It is critical to sit with the feeling as long as necessary and any conclusion cannot be rushed. They should come effortlessly.

Being your own therapist takes practice. Initially, you may want to solicit the help of an outside therapist, facilitator or coach you resonate with as you go through these difficult cycles. Unfortunately, most people are disconnected from their body, feelings and emotions so they may feel overwhelmed at first to lead this healing process on their own. Do not have any shame in requiring compassionate help from a third party. Whether you use a guide or not for this process, you are still the one doing the work. Even the most advanced and compassionate healers cannot do the required healing work without your participation, trust and courage. As you get more experienced, it feels easier and easier to do shadow work on your own. You develop autonomy and the understanding that everything is within you.

Once you master the process of working with your own negative emotions, there are many benefits that will be added into your life.
1. Improved health
The majority of physical illnesses start with an emotional component. By being more in touch with your emotions, you will be able to do the necessary healing before it affects your physical body. You take notice of the early signs of unbalance and misalignment before they make you sick. You stop catching the seasonal flu and your immune system runs as a much higher level. You recover more quickly from life’s inevitable hardships and upheavals.
2. More clarity and sense of purpose
You are never stuck or feeling down for too long. 90% of your life is about creating, connecting and sharing, enjoying and having fun, taking care of yourself and others in a beneficial way. You get more done. You stop resorting to addiction or distractions to fill your inner void. You bring meaning to everything you do.
3. Magical manifestation
As you connect to your heart’s desire through shadow work, the universe hears your silent cry and may start manifesting what you truly desire above your expectations. The woman of your dreams may come into your life or your dream career may materialize. Your business may start developing at rapid speed. Your life mission becomes effortless. A very deep friendship may emerge. Sky is the limit in terms of manifestations. The key is to be truthful, authentic and connect deeply to what you really really while raising above the selfish needs and desires of the ego.
4. Wisdom
You develop self-knowledge and discernment. You become someone people come to for advice and guidance. You read people easily. You avert danger and perilous situations. You are taking better decisions and actions for everyday life. Every difficulty you face in life brings you more wisdom to live better. You win anyway, whether you were dealt good or bad cards from life.
5. Saving time and money
You find solutions from within, fast and without the need to external paid help. You prevent bad financial deals before they happen. Your inner guidance system is wide awake to make you avoid costly life turns you may regret later on. You feel the potential of opportunities coming your way.
6. Enhanced quality of life
You live life at a much higher level. It is not about getting by or surviving but thriving. You have stopped all life energy leaks such as addictions, dysfunctional relationships or compulsive to live a life that is worth living, full of new adventures and dreams to manifest. You awaken to your true self as you heal yourself through the transmutation of negative emotions.

Work on negative emotions is just as important as being present and disciplining our attention in our journey of awakening and achieving our full potential. While we dread them for they bring us misery, they hold the key to our liberation because of their healing power.

Guilt: the Master Manipulator


We underestimate how guilt is controlling so many aspects of our lives. Before diving deeper into guilt, it is important to understand how it differs from shame. Shame reflects how we feel about ourselves while guilt involves an awareness how our actions may impact someone else. In other words, shame relates to self; guilt to others.

I was once in an intimate relationship where I felt it was time to move on but could not get myself to communicate it to my partner. She was the same person that I used to adore earlier in the relationship and was actually making steps in the right directions. There were things that bothered me in the relationship but I kept going when she was at her worst, but now that she was making drastic positive changes in her life, showed affection and a commitment to turn her life around, I felt that it was time to part ways. Matters of the heart are not rational and we either feel the love or we don’t. Attraction is more based on suppressed feelings, unresolved traumas from childhood with our primary caregivers than compatibility, comfort or the perks that come from the relationship. Love chemistry is more based on repressed and subconscious feelings rather than what is conscious. In this particular instance, I did not feel it was the right time to communicate my intention to break-up. She was going through an intense personal journey to heal destructive patterns that had significantly limited her life for many years, and I did not want to disrupt her process by breaking up with her. Paradoxically, our relationship had acted as a catalyst for her to commit to this new path. So when I visited her, I pretended that everything was normal while still making plans together for the future. When I came back from the visit, I felt terrible. I felt depressed, disconnected, low-energy, deeply triggered and confused. It took me actually two days to figure out what was really going on. I was overwhelmed with guilt. I felt bad about wanting to pull away from the relationship while she was both fragile and finally working on the aspects that I told her were so important to me. I felt I would hurt her badly by triggering her abandonment traumas, and possibly discourage her to continue on her path of recovery. I was experiencing an intense conflict about how I felt romantically about her and what was the right thing to do according my personal code of ethics and value system.

confused and depressed

As we have a tendency to attract partners that reflect the unhealthy dynamics we had with our parents as a child, I went on exploring how this trigger was related to the relationship between my mother and my inner child. I saw my desperate and futile attempts as a child to save my mother, to alleviate her pain and to make her happy. This is how roles get reversed and the child becomes parentified. The child has no choice. The child is too young for individuation. He cannot differentiate his feelings from his parents’ feelings. Unfortunately, this parentification is also amplified by the immature parent that derives their sense of self from the control they exercise on the child. Guilt is the most common way to subject the child: «You are being so ungrateful after everything I have done for you», «How do you dare acting this way to hurt your poor mother after all the sacrifices I have made for you», «You are so selfish, only thinking about yourself» or «This is how good boys behave». We can dive even deeper and darker into the subconscious contract between the dysfunctional mother (or father) and their child «I gave you life so you owe me everything», «I gave you life so that I would stop feeling lonely and miserable», «Be a good boy so that I appear like an excellent mum but not to the extent where you may start to make me feel insecure about myself», «You are flawed. I am the only one who is able to love you. Just do what I say and you will be all right and I may not abandon you. And don’t get too close to other people as they will hurt you».

parentified child

The child cannot afford the loss of connection with his parents because he depends on them for survival. So he complies and abandons himself to guaranty the security of the connection with his parents. Wires have been crossed, and later in life, his path of awareness, healing and maturation will include attracting partners reflecting the same dysfunctional patterns that he was made to believe were loving. The insecure little girl with an absent father will attract partners that are emotionally unavailable. The little boy with an emotional unstable mother will attract borderline girlfriends and so on so forth. Most people believe they are learning unconditional love by having children not realizing how conditional their relationship actually is. They don’t give without expecting anything in return. We are not saints so it is natural to have expectations and even a sense of reciprocity with our children, however what is not OK is to manipulate, pretend we are sacrificers while we just look for our personal interest and gaslight our kids.

Typically, our intimate relationships follow the same patterns of survival, enmeshment and conditionality that we experienced as a child with our own parents. Break-ups are so painful because we project in them the loss of a parent that we simply cannot afford to lose when, as a child, we depend upon them for survival. These relationships are codependent with a high level of entanglement. While there is love, affection and caring, there is also frustration, control, projection, fear and identification. Passion and romance quickly subside to the routine of the new arrangement and life necessities. For the minority of people (probably not more than 2%) that achieved personal autonomy, I would like to suggest a new model for romantic relationships. These individuals are able to rise from mainstream morality to conscience, they are happy alone and in a relationship, they know who they are, they don’t impose their views on others, and they are able to sustain themselves financially through their own efforts. Everything they do is an act of personal preference and freedom. These persons only get involved and stay in intimate relationships that 1. feel good 2. promote their personal growth 3. are reciprocal; or a combination of these 3 factors. The success of these romances is not defined by the duration of these relationship but rather by the shared good times, and the growth that came out of it. They may not be aware intellectually of why they choose to merge or break-up with an individual but they always do it with it with respect, empathy and truthfulness. They choose to live from the heart and as Blaise Pascal used to say «The heart has its reasons which reason knows nothing of…». They understand that the beauty of their union comes partly from the total freedom and complete unpredictability of the relationship. They have enough self-love that they are not tempted to control their beloved. They let them fly freely because they desire the same freedom for themselves. In such relationships, guilt simply does not exist.

you must love in such a way that the person you love feels free

I used to underestimate how much guilt was controlling my life. I left my parents’ home at a young age and made decisions in relationships, career, places to live and circles of friends and acquaintance independently of other people’s decisions. I felt I was immune to being controlled through guilt until my personal life journey brought me to experience the abomination of parental alienation, when your ow children, the flesh of your flesh, are used as weapons of war against you. The amount of guilt I experienced as a result was excruciating. My full body had become toxic from guilt, and I believe I would have gotten very sick as a result if mother Ayahuasca did not cross my path and help me heal. As a child, I suffered deeply from the separation of my parents and the way they handled it, so I made it a point that my children will never experience the same misfortune. Unfortunately, at the end, it may have been worse for them. I felt so utterly powerless to avoid what I was fearing the most. It took many hours of purging and sobbing with loving guidance of mother Ayahuasca to start feeling better again. When, years later, I was finally graced to reconnect with my son after years of absolutely useless court custody battle, a huge weight was lifted off my heart. It was such a liberation.

mean judge

On a related topic, this is why judges in family court can be so easily manipulated by guilt. They have a difficult job as their decisions impact in critical and often tragic ways other human lives. They make their judgment with few and often erroneous or even manipulated information. Their intuition is often poor because they had to shut off emotionally to deal with the stress of their profession. As a result, they feel terrible about themselves despite the mask of authority they are trying to project. For 4 years, I kept losing court battle after court battle. While a good dad, I was treated like a criminal and my request to visit my own children was dismissed with prejudice. On top of it, I got a judgment against me for a large sum of money to pay to my ex wife’s parents to take care of my children while being prevented to see them! How did my ex wife achieve this? She was able to trigger the guilt of the judge by playing the victim while dropping that tear at the perfect moment in order to make me look like a monster. Family courts are typically pro women because women are generally more apt at manipulating and feigning victim control drama (men perform the same form of psychological manipulation though less frequently and effectively). Historically, men took power away from women and women had fewer opportunities, often related to marriage and child bearing. Women were left with only indirect ways to exercise control so had to develop more covert manipulative techniques to achieve their goals. So, to an extent, men are collectively paying karma for their own collective abuse of power.

While I mostly talk about the toxic form of guilt, guilt can also be healthy when we become aware of the harm we have caused others so that we may remedy it. In this sense, it is a form of empathy. While I made a distinction between guilt and shame, the unhealthy form of guilt is using personal shame as its foundation. We can be easily controlled through guilt because we believe there is something bad, dangerous or inadequate about us. This is often deep subconscious programming that originated from childhood trauma. Shame acts often as the necessary hook for toxic guilt to take control of us.

shame on you

I exposed the Covid-19 plandemic early April 2020 as a political and not a sanitary crisis. The criminals that have orchestrated this scamdemic are successfully depriving ordinary citizens of their freedom through the power of toxic guilt. While there is no scientific evidence for the use of masks to prevent the spread of coronavirus as they are often compared to putting up a chain-link fence to stop mosquitoes. The coronavirus is 0.1 micrometer in diameter while the holes in woven cloth are visible to the naked eye and may be five to 200 micrometers in diameter. Still the whole world is now wearing masks. Why? Because of toxic guilty used at a massive scale by politicians and mainstream media. If you refuse to wear a mask, you are simply a selfish a**hole that only thinks about himself, you don’t care about the vulnerable and the elderly, and you are a murdered that does not deserve to live. If you dare to even question the usefulness of masks, you are just a bad person. At this time, people don’t even know why they are wearing a mask. They are just doing it because everyone else is doing it and they want to appear as a good person that cares about others while they are just actually facilitating the spread of fascist regimes all over the world. The mask farce was just a rehearsal for the upcoming vaccine that is meant to microchip (or rather nanochip) the whole population for total mind control while 5G networks allow for massive data transfer between citizens and big brother governments. In order to illustrate how people are attempting to control us through toxic guilt, I have gathered some responses from some of my Facebook postings challenging the mainstream narratives.

collection of guilt trips

It always follows the same pattern «If you don’t do what I believe is right, you are a bad person that doesn’t care about others, you are selfish and inconsiderate». These guilt trips are just attempts for control. On my side, I respect the freewill of people that decide to wear a mask, stay in house arrest or get vaccinated for Covid-19 (i.e nanochipped). I have no interest in making them change their mind as I respect their ability to think and make decisions for themselves unlike the government that is treating us as irresponsible children and leaving us no choice. If their masks or vaccines were that effective, why are they are trying to impose them on us? Let me decide what is best for my health. I am choosing a good diet, plenty of exercises, a stress free life, contact with nature, sufficient rest and good relationships. They are choosing masks, vaccines, pharma drugs, lockdowns and plenty of mainstream news. Let’s actually see who will be healthier down the road. They act no differently than religious fanatics ready to impose their views and way of living by force. Similar than WWII, the collective suffering will have to get much worse before a majority of people will start waking up to the reality of what is really going on.

big brother zuckerberg

The mainstream media in the western world has never been so controlled since WWII in order to promote the dark agenda of the 1%, and guilt once again is their most effective weapon of control. Let me give you some examples with recent headlines and you will find that all media are now saturated with guilt inducing news to get people to comply. You may google each headline to access the original article. This is not journalism but fascist propaganda based on guilt.

Translation: it is wrong to satisfy your basic human need to celebrate and mingle with your loved ones. Just stay home, watch CNN, be afraid and comply without questioning

Translation: wearing a mask, a symbol of the loss of our freedom of speech and joy (we stop seeing each other smiles), makes you a good citizen that care about the life of others and your country. After all, we have called patriotic the systematic killing of our brothers and sisters since the beginning of times

Translation: forcing foreign (and probably toxic) agents into our body makes us good citizens. After all, our body is just government property

Translation: we are completely powerless as Covid strikes also on the young, healthy and successful. Forget about a healthy lifestyle to strengthen our immune system. Just follow government regulations

Translation: those who are preventing my access to power will be responsible for the death of many people

Translation: challenging government policies is synonymous of child abuse

Translation: partying is now a criminal activity

Translation: stay away from anyone challenging government narratives because they will destroy your life

mum with grown-up child

One of my French relatives wanted to visit me in Central America. I warned him to hurry-up because the second European lockdown was imminent as it was obvious they will disguise our regular flu season into the second wave of Covid-19. He did not take me seriously until the government announced it. Still, he had 48 hours to escape France and I wrote to him specific instructions to make it happen. However he received a guilt trip from his mother that it was not responsible, safe and kind to leave on such short notice. As a result, while a grown-up man, he is now in house arrest with his mother for an undetermined amount of time. His personal vibration made him a match to this experience. What we are living at a collective level is simply mirroring our subconscious powerless and immature inner child. Our governments are behaving towards us like an overbearing, narcissistic, punishing and controlling mother. As long as we keep playing the role of scared, ignorant, insecure children ready to do anything to deserve mummy’s (i.e the state) love, we will continue to enable the instauration of fascist regimes all over the world. As I wrote previously, the narcissist cannot exist without its codependent counterpart so at the end, we get the leadership that we deserve.


Guilt can only thrive in the shadow of personal shame, ignorance and fear. Fortunately, they are based in illusion in the same way that light exposes darkness as immaterial. Combatting darkness will just make it stronger. The best attitude is to simply continue to live your life according your own values and stay our authentic self no matter what. Shadow can do its little dance however it will pass like everything else in our temporal world while our invincible human spirit remains. We are living through the great awakening but before we can shift to higher awareness, the human shadow has to come out and be expelled. The solution for powerlessness is autonomy, the remedy for fear is love, and the antidote for guilt is authentic self-love. This is what we are meant to learn collectively in the next 5 years.

Using the Covid19 crisis to move from powerlessness to autonomy

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While the whole world was in panic about the coronavirus, I wrote an article to show how the current Covid19 pandemic was used for global mind control, and that many of the measures implemented to fight the pandemic such as strict confinement and lock down were mostly counterproductive. We can be so easily manipulated when we act out of fear. It is just a matter of time that the truth will eventually come out. I am glad that many people are starting to see through the mass of disinformation and propaganda and that some of my views are becoming more mainstream.

As people wake-up, they are first in shock and feel powerless. However, many have asked me what they could do. This is a hopeful phase as we are now looking for solutions to wake-up from the nightmare of our reality. I would like to inspire people to take back their power into their own hands and stop relying on outside forces to take them away from our misery. There is so much we can actually do. It takes work, dedication and intelligence but it can be done. We are so much more powerful than we could ever imagine. It is just a matter of remembering who we truly are. This process of personal liberation is similar to emancipating ourselves from our own family structure. We actually elect governments that are the most similar to the collective experience of our primary caregivers. Generally speaking, the French have very caring, protective but controlling mothers so this is why we have a government with many social benefits but also that dictates every aspect of our lives. Confinement in France has been one of the strictest with the majority of the stores closed and requiring written authorization for leaving the house. In the USA, children are made to be independent and fend for themselves at an early age. It is a country of pioneers and self-made men & women. Despite the fact that the USA has the most fatality in the world, they will reopen business way before France. People in the USA want to be back to business and find again their independence, similar to their childhood experience. In order to leave our birth family to develop as a fully functional autonomous adult, we need to be able to see and accept the flaws of our parents, develop healthy boundaries with them and then dedicate tremendous energy towards creating a life that match our personal aspirations. We may continue to give back and engage or not with the birth family structure depending on how we feel about them. When we are a child, we are completely powerless to our parents. We need to rely on them for about everything. However, once we become adults, we have the power and the ability to change some of the negative programming that came from our upbringing. The same logic can be applied to society as a whole. It is not easy but definitely possible. We do not have to stay the victim of a dysfunctional society. We do not have to engage with its aspects that feel toxic, harmful and counterproductive. There is always a choice. Here is a roadmap for our emancipation.

Disillusionment, the first step towards autonomy

While there is so much to be appreciative in our society, there is also so much to be profoundly disappointed with. Over 70% of people understand the political system is rigged. This is just a puppet show to give people the illusion of democracy while real decisions are made behind closed doors by a few unknown to the public. While healthcare has considerably advanced and is doing miracles every day especially as regards life accidents, it is mostly ineffective or even harmful in the treatment of chronic, psychosomatic and mental health diseases. For a large part, the media should be really renamed propaganda as it is used for mind control rather than encouraging people to think for themselves by sharing actual facts. Our educational system makes our children learn many concepts and knowledge that will be mostly irrelevant to their future life, and some of the most important topics such as financial intelligence, parenting, the development of empathy, intimate relationships, personal development, the protection of the environment are simply not covered at all. From my own personal experience, the justice system should be renamed the injustice system as money and political connections are far more important than truth and justice in the court system. The mission of the police is to enforce the will of the state before protecting its citizens. The world’s richest 20 people have the same wealth as the bottom half 4 billion people on the planet. Two billion people live on less than $1 a day while we have spent over 2.4 trillion dollars on the useless Iraq war that was started on the false pretense of weapons of mass destruction. I am stopping here because I could go on forever. At the end, we have the institutions we deserve as a collective. As an ordinary human being, it is easy to feel powerless when confronted with society problems as a whole. We feel too small to make any impact so we comply and become enablers of the dysfunctions that revolted us in the first place.

What not to do!

There are other reasons other than a virus to force people into strict confinement. Before we can get people into abandoning their fundamental freedoms, accepting to be vaccinated, believing blindly the mainstream narratives, reporting on neighbors for not following the most ludicrous rules, we need to lower their vibration. The consumption of alcohol has skyrocketed since the lock down, people are watching TV significantly more, eating more unhealthy food, exercising less, and are limited to virtual social contact. They are losing their contact with nature which is so critical to bring them back to balance. The most toxic influence is however by far the news that people watch many hours every day. It amplifies people’s fears and paranoia so that people would accept any solution later proposed by the media such as a high-tech vaccine. Human psychology has proven that if the same lies are repeated over and over again, people will accept them as truth through the power of repetition. Actually, the bigger the lie, the better it works! Humanity is currently at a crossroad. We either get deeper into the matrix or we awaken. There will be nothing in the middle. While the first option of dependency takes no effort, significant effort and awareness are required to succeed our escape. We need to become like the salmon swimming upstream the rivers to develop autonomy. “You should wear a mask” is a metaphor to abandoning willingly the first amendment, basically our freedom of speech as our voice is now made inaudible by a mask. All leisure activities (beach, mountains, sports) have come brutally to a stop as there are the privilege of the free. Look no further, you are under house arrest.

There is hope however because we live in quantic universe!

“As above, so below” is an aphorism from advanced spiritual teachings. It tells us that we are all connected, that the drop in the ocean can affect the whole ocean. In chaos theory, the Butterfly Effect teaches us that a butterfly flapping its wings in New Mexico can cause a hurricane in China. It may take a very long time, but the connection is real. The reality is that we do not need to change the world, we just need to change ourselves and strive for happiness. And paradoxically, this is in essence the fastest way to change the world. Epictetus, the philosopher that founded stoicism, realized that there are things we control, and things we don’t control. In order to become happy, we should focus on the things we control, and accept the rest as it happens. We cannot change what already is, but we can choose what to do with the given circumstances. There were times in my life where the whole world was mostly doing good, but I faced personal hardships such as divorce, parental alienation or health issues. There were other times when the whole world was depressed such as now however everything in my life would feel great with a beautiful intimate relationship, a fulfilling career and business success. Which experience do you think I preferred? We have the power of creating our own reality independently of the collective reality of the world. I would like to inspire all of us to focus on the aspects in our life where we feel we have some level of control. This may be very little at first, but the more we educate ourselves, train our will and learn from our life experiences, the more positive impact we will have in our life and with the people around us. I have walked this path and it works! Everything I am about to share with you comes from my own life experience. One of my meditation teachers used to tell me “you cannot win the game but you can exit the game”. In the same way, we cannot fix the matrix but we can escape it. I am now going to give you simple (but not necessarily easy) steps to get there. The key is to develop autonomy within ourselves as all forms of control are built upon dependency.

Body-related autonomy

Health is the foundation of our existence. If we don’t have our health, we don’t have anything so it is critical we invest time and energy every day to take care of our physical body, which is the temple of our soul. The easiest way to take control back of our life is by training our body. What we do with our body is tangible and it is harder to make up stories. You either work out or you don’t. You eat healthy or you don’t. You take time to rest or you don’t. There is limited space for ambiguity or subjective interpretation for anything related to our physical body. 

Physical strength exercises

Physical exercises not only reinforce our immune system but they improve our emotional state, boost our self-esteem and personal motivation. We don’t need to go to the gym, pay any membership, get a personal trainer, take any food supplements, drive anywhere to practice an easy-to-follow and powerful exercise program. We can become incredibly strong by following exercises that only use the weight of our own body. This is the principle of calisthenics. I recommend to any beginner on the topic to read “Convict Conditioning” by Paul Wade who developed a program to achieve superhuman strength. If Paul was able to do it within the confines of most guarded penitentiaries in the USA then we can do it too from the confines of our home. This exercise program is completely free. You just pay with your own efforts. Chris Heria is a calisthenics YouTube star who offers many valuable exercises too. An intense 20 minutes a day, 5 days a week program is all you need.

Breathing exercises and cold training

The Wim Hof method is known to boost our immune system, increase our energy level and help us reach peak states of performance.


A plant based diet decreases inflammation in the body. Limiting food intake to one meal a day will save you time, money while increasing your energy level and helping you reach your ideal weight. Performing your physical exercises at the end of your daily fast will increase your internal production of growth hormones tenfold, making you feel younger with more vitality. Fasting can do you more good than any medication treatment as this is the natural way to detoxify the body. Drink water that you purify using an advanced filter and natural juices. Eat a large variety food that is alive, and lots of fruits and vegetables. You will also save money this way.


Thousands of people are able to live on this planet without any intake of solid food. We call them breatharians. The best documentary on the topic is “In the beginning, there was light”. While it sounds impossible, I have changed my opinion on the subject after doing 22 days drinking only water under the supervision of a breatharian who had not eaten for 7 years. 

As extraordinary as it may seem, it appears that the human body has the capability to increase its frequency to perform at very high level with only air, water and a dedicated spiritual practice. This is one of the highest levels of autonomy to achieve. I will soon write a blog about it as this is a fascinating topic.

Change your mind, change your life

The self-improvement and personal development fields have millions of books to help you upgrade your thinking to improve your life. Here are some examples of the current mainstream powerless thoughts that keep people to lower levels of existence and what could be the empowered form of these thoughts

“There is a dangerous virus out there that strikes randomly and could kill me and my family. We are at war against an invisible enemy.” to “Viruses are our friends. They create conditions to boost my immune system to catalyze my healing. As long as I have a strong immune system, no virus can affect my health negatively”

“I rely on my doctor and my medication when I get sick” to “I am responsible for my own health. Unless there is an emergency, I avoid all medication as I understand that good healthy food is the best medicine. I commit to body awareness to become my own personal doctor”

“I feel empty and worthless without my job” to “I don’t need a job. I can create my own job by creating a business that best leverages my talents, ability and creativity”

“The state, my government and the experts know better what is good for me. I just need to follow their instructions and everything will be all right” to “No one cares more about my personal well-being than myself. I make my own decisions after carefully listening to many viewpoints because I understand I will be the one bearing the consequences for my actions not the people with their good opinions”

“I know there is something wrong but it is better I shut up as I could get hurt by the people in power, or at the very least criticized and judged by my family and friends.” to “I need to speak out and act when something is wrong otherwise I am an enabler and a passive participant to society’s dysfunctions”

Taking control of our mind includes taking full responsibility for our life and dismiss all narratives that support powerlessness. What we believe have enormous impact on our life. We have everything within ourselves and we are powerful creators. Similar to the body, the mind is a good servant but a poor master. Let’s use it to our advantage.

The quality of my life is first the quality of my relationships

I have a Russian friend who was born in Argentina. After the military coup in Argentina, the authorities started looking for him as he voiced his opposition to this brutal regime. He managed to stay alive as some of his friends risked their lives by hiding him until he was able to emigrate to the United States. Through that experience, he learned that relationships and the kindness of others were much more important than money. Actually, considering our current national debt and 12 years of quantitative easing, hyperinflation seems more and more likely. In this situation, similar to what happened to Germany in the 1930s, paper money would become worthless, and relationships & communities would become the only way to meet our basic needs. Helping others is critical for self-love. The most people we help, the more goodwill we get even if the acts of kindness may not come from the same people we have helped. It builds positive karma. The reverse is also true, as we are all connected in this quantic universe. We are the drops of the ocean which are the ocean too. What goes around comes around.

When I enter a relationship, I start by giving hoping to inspire the other person for some reciprocity. If it is not there, I do not insist and keep searching for more fulfilling and reciprocal relationships. We want to create relationships that are heart-centered rather than transactional. We do not create expectations that put the other person in a box. Once we have autonomy, we would rather be alone than being with toxic people. Actually, from this space, we can attract many amazing relationships as we are not dependent upon relationship for our core happiness. External loving relationships are simply the effortless reflection of our own self-love. 

Emotional alignment is critical to our physical well-being. From my experience, most diseases have an emotional component. This is why it is so critical to embrace and express consciously all of our emotions, especially the negative ones. Free flowing emotions are critical to a strong immune system. This is why children generally don’t have chronic diseases.

The politics of confinement and social distancing have been extremely damaging to people’s mental health. It has increased even further the isolation that was already so rampant in our disconnected society. I am convinced that social distancing is creating more damage than benefits. I predict a massive climb in depressions, suicides, PTSD and stress-related diseases. As we face together this difficult crisis, we need more social closeness, not social distancing! Of course, the more disconnected we are from one another, the easier it is to control us. So the policy of social distancing may have a political agenda. Touch is important to us. We need to shake hands, to hug and kiss to show our affection to each other. This is an important part of being human. And I will continue to show these external signs of warmth and tenderness to anyone who is comfortable with it. 

Autonomy with money

Lower your spending

When I lived in Silicon Valley, I used to make a lot of money but spent even more! I was fully in the rat race working 6 days a week, on average 11 hours a day, never having enough time for my family, friends and personal hobbies. Actually, there is a lot of places in the world where we can live on very little money. The key in developing financial autonomy is first to reduce our spending. A lot of fun and fulfilling activities do not require any money. We can cut the expenses on many things that are not good for us (expensive meat dishes, liquors, cigarettes, video games, gambling, porn, …). Some of the best things in life are mostly free: being in nature, quality time with friends or a lover (hopefully!), physical exercises, listening to music, meditation and introspection, or watching interesting videos. If you have the financial means, it is fine to spend money on the things that you love but make sure they are good for you too. If you are able to lower your spending, you will have less financial stress in your life and it will be easier to survive the most difficult financial crises. 

Financial dependency doesn’t feel good

Many leaders such as Pope Francis are now talking to implement a universal basic wage. While this is a lovely idea to help people through hard times, it has some important negative repercussions. Personal freedom comes from autonomy, but control comes with dependency. If you rely on the state for survival whether it is through a universal basic wage or disability, then you are not going to take the risk to challenge the mainstream narrative. The state owns you as it gives you money to survive. Additionally, it feels horrible for our self-esteem to rely on the state. It makes us feel incompetent, useless and a burden to society. Being an employee is better. However an employee will feel restricted in his freedom of speech. An employee will be too afraid to be judged by colleagues and management so employees will follow the mainstream narratives to ensure  job security. Instead, we need to learn to make our own money through entrepreneurship if we are truly committed to autonomy. Except for some rare professions, the working class has gotten poorer and poorer over the last 30 years. The median salary in France which is considered a rich and developed country is 1800 euros/month or less than $2,000/month. Considering the cost of living in France, it means the average French household needs to keep a very tight budget to make ends meet. Over the last 30 years, salaries for the most part have increased marginally in developed countries while the cost of living has increased drastically. Being an employee is becoming less and less attractive every year. 


Becoming an entrepreneur is difficult. It requires creativity, hard-work, perseverance and excellent interpersonal skills. However, it is well worth it. It is a great feeling to own a business, we grow tremendously through this process and there is a great sense of accomplishment that comes with it. This is one of the best way to unleash our full potential and to do something really satisfying. As an entrepreneur, we focus on creating value on the market instead of pleasing a subjective boss. When we own a business, there is no more need to compartment our personal and professional lives. Both can now be integrated so that we can stay the same authentic person whether we are at home or at the office. There are so many ways of becoming an entrepreneur and I believe in taking a step-by-step low-risk approach. Using my personal experience of building 5 companies from the ground up, I have helped many entrepreneurs over the years to succeed and avoid the most common pitfalls. Once the shutdown is over, it is going to be very important to help all the small businesses that are now on the verge of bankruptcy because of the imposed confinement. Rather than buying through mega corporations, it is critical we buy from local businesses even if it is going to be a bit more expensive. The local restaurants, hotels, AirBnBs, the farmers’ markets, coffee shops, local banks and credit unions, retail shops, therapists or anyone offering personal service are going to need our help. We need to make the commitment to help small businesses. By doing so, we are helping the 99% to strive. This financial autonomy will help people reclaim their power and not give up on their freedom of speech. Let’s spend money on the people we know when possible or at the very least on our extended community. It is time to go small and buy from people we can have a personal relationship with. We need to make every effort that our money goes back to hard-working families instead of pension funds that own large corporations that in turn control politicians who control us.

Only invest in things you can control!

I stopped investing in the stock market many years ago. It is nothing else than a gigantic casino where our hard earned money can disappear overnight without any control. In 2000, I started playing with stocks. I used about $20,000 of savings to speculate during the dot.com euphoria. I got my portfolio to over $100,000 until it all crashed and I was left with only $1,000 or 1% of my peak value! In the USA, we need to set-up our own retirement fund called a 401(k) or an IRA. They automatically make you invest in the stock market. There are ways to avoid investing in the stock market. You can request to keep your 401(k) contributions to a money market account, and then roll it out into a self-directed IRA. You can then buy real estate, gold, land, company shares or make promissory notes with your self-directed account. All of this is tax free. When there is a will, there is a way. Real estate offers a much higher level of control than an investment in the stock market will ever give us. We can live in our real estate, choose the location, remodel it to our taste, rent it long-term or short-term with AirBnB, adjust prices to increase occupancy, hire or fire property managers and cleaning personnel. It also offers protection against inflation, many tax benefits and potentially some cash-flow for retirement. We may also invest in a small business where we have an operational role, or make a loan that has some guaranteed collateral. From my perspective, jewelry or art are a better investment than stocks because you can at least enjoy them even if you may not make a profit. Also, when you invest in the stock market, you are likely to benefit the 1% not the 99%.

Monetary strategy

The dollar is king as it is used for most trading exchanges in the world, and its value is based on the subjective belief in the US government’s promises, in the stability of the US government, monetary supply and its military power. This is why a dollar collapse is not out of the question. The euro is the second most common currency far behind the dollar. Nations have been printing an enormous quantity of money since 2008 and the current crisis is making things worse. Most nations carry vast unsustainable debt. This combination is making hyper-inflation more and more likely in the years to come.  Over the century, gold has been used as a collateral for currencies. Actually, the USA followed the Gold Standard until 1971. As a rule of thumb, gold is a good protection against inflation. Over the past several years, many cryptocurrencies have emerged. They offer advantage over traditional currencies such as privacy and limited inventory like gold. They are however highly speculative and the powers in place could easily shut them down if they feel threatened by them. The most famous cryptocurrency is bitcoin. Considering the current global instability, I would recommend a diversification strategy of holding US dollars, euros, gold and some cryptocurrencies for those who can afford it. A low locked interest rate for your real estate loans is also a good protection against hyperinflation in the long-run.

Start influencing politics rather than being controlled by politics

I don’t do politics, because it gives the false illusion of control. From my perspective, believing in politics is indicative to the utter powerlessness of the collective consciousness. Most countries have a two party system and at the end, it is typically the same politics whether you vote right or left. Politicians are however driven to get elected so will follow what the majority wants. Unfortunately, the majority is controlled by the media or Hollywood which controls the information. This means the elections are rigged unless people take back control of the flow of information and this is possible through social media. Trump got elected because he had a team that follows all the trends happening on social media and he kept appealing to them with a language that resonates with them. I called on civil disobedience to break strict confinement on April 7th before anyone at a time it was highly unpopular. Two weeks later, civil protests to break strict confinement have now become a trend that is even endorsed by POTUS. You can be an influencer without belonging to any political party. Many people have labelled me far right for this reason. I keep myself independent of any political party and I vote on a topic by topic basis rather than through a party line.  Politicians are supposed to be civil servants and this is why we elect them. Let’s reclaim our power and let’s express our opinions openly and clearly so that they may have more incentives to listen to us rather than the lobbies financing their political campaigns. Let’s keep our politicians accountable for their actions. From my perspective, it is a scandal that Dick Cheney and George W. Bush were never put on trial for their invasion of Iraq under false pretense. Let’s not hesitate to apply non violent civil disobedience when our governments take measures against our fundamental rights. It is high time we brought a new generation of politicians that will serve the 99% rather than the 1%.


Meditation is the act of inner listening, reconnecting to our core and centering into our heart. Meditation allows us to connect to higher truth through intuition, and perceive manipulation when it occurs. It is completely free. This is why meditation is a key to personal autonomy. It helps us raise above fear and control. It connects us back to our eternal and invincible spirit. It shields us from the mainstream media as it allows us to live from within rather than becoming a robot programmed from outside influences. Through meditation, we acquire self-knowledge and we cease to be so easily controlled. Meditation allows us to know the truth at an intuitive level without imposing it onto others. Only insecure people try to impose their subjective truth on others. Many of the GANP (“Good and Normal People”) try to impose their views on others to validate their limited beliefs because they are so disconnected from their core. As a result, they cannot feel what is actually true and good for them. They need to rely on external influences to guide their lives.

Choose a country that is in alignment with your values

The world is a big place and it offers many cultures and different ways of being. For example, Nicaragua has refused any lock-down because of the coronavirus. So if we wished to continue living normally, we had the option to move to Nicaragua before strict confinement was put in place. Practically speaking, an expatriation takes a long time and all the preparations have to be done far in advance of any crisis. For those who can afford it, it is best to have citizenship or residency in several very different countries and know the language in each one to have options in case of a global crisis like the one we are facing today. This takes a lot of efforts but it can be well worth it especially in case of a global conflict. The Jews who anticipated the rise of the Nazi state and emigrated early to the United States got their lives saved. Unfortunately, a war is not out of the question. Over the past century, the elites have been using wars to boost the economy as a way to get even richer, often financing both sides of the conflict. A war brings a vast amount of destruction which creates the need for reconstruction, and the people or organizations that are able to finance it can make enormous profit. Wars create extreme situations that allow to push political agendas that would not be possible otherwise. When people are afraid for their survival and their safety, they are ready to accept many conditions that would be otherwise unacceptable. This is why our politicians keep using these terms: war on drugs, war on terror or war on the invisible enemy. However, people want peace not war as it destroys everything they cherish the most in their lives. Why do you think the first consequence of this crisis was border closure? This measure prevents us from moving to a country with more freedom if we are dissatisfied with our government.

Stop looking for a guru or savior. Become your own master

Many of us do not love ourselves enough to see the light from within so we have a tendency to put other people on a pedestal whether it is a singer, a politician or a spiritual teacher. This is natural and there are some positive aspects in doing this. Admiring someone will help us to learn from them, and bring focus on the inner qualities that we have projected outside. Actually, when we are really fond of someone, it is an indication that we need to manifest within ourselves the qualities that we see in them. However, if we content ourselves from the external projection, we dis-empower ourselves, and we just create even more dependency. My last wife is a YouTube star. I got to meet so many people obsessed with her. Some would tattoo their bodies with her name, many would despair from months even stop eating waiting from a message from her, others would max out their credit cards to attend one of her private workshops, and many people from her own community would cut themselves from any personal relationship or activity to have a chance to keep living with her. This is not healthy. We are all made of light and shadow so when we get obsessed with someone, we bring focus not only on their qualities but also on their flaws. This is why discrimination is so important. Some influencers may be exceptional in some areas of their lives but be a complete mess in other areas. 

The new civil disobedience is about keeping living your life freely!

Mahatma Gandhi led his country into freedom through nonviolent resistance. Through his actions, he changed the face of political protest and freed his country from colonialism. However, the world has changed and we need to bring a new form of non violent resistance that takes into consideration that the majority of people are very much influenced by mainstream media and are very fearful in challenging any form of authority. The yellow vest movement in France failed because it was infiltrated by looters and marginalized as a threat to public safety. The best form of civil disobedience is to keep living our lives fully according our values and the fire that are within our heart. Let’s ignore social distancing and keep hugging and kissing the friends with the people that are comfortable with it (we will never impose our beliefs on others). Touch is such a big part of being human. Let’s not wear masks but have empathy for people that believe they need to wear them. Let’s keep going to beautiful places of nature, and avoid getting caught. Let’s support any initiative that support people’s recovery of their fundamental freedom without being politicized. Let’s find ways to keep practicing our favorite sports. And if we are caught and get a fine, let’s use the law to contest these fines. Let’s continue to connect with each other in person. If restaurants are closed, let’s cook for one another. Let’s continue to make love and live life to the fullest. Let’s continue to strive to become the best version of ourselves independently of the powers in place that want to make us small. Let’s keep being creative, learning and growing. Let’s live fearlessly and humbly at the same time. Let’s keep expressing what we know to be our truth without imposing it on others.

The ultimate goal is true and genuine self-love, which is synonymous with awakening. Let’s learn to love consciously and see the love that we project outside as the beautiful reflection of the love that lies within your heart. Bill Gates is not going to save you with his vaccines. Donald Trump is not going to save you from the NWO. Joe Biden is not going to save you from Trump. Christ is not going to come back to save you. BUT YOU WILL. It is all in your hands once you remember your true nature and how powerful you actually are.

Mind Control and the Current Times

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This blog was inspired by some harsh comments I received on Facebook. Though I understand that people are afraid of the exponential growth of the pandemic, I made a point that the mortality rate of Covid-19 was still way under the flu, cancer, car accidents, suicides, addictions, cancer or hunger mortality rates. This data can be easily verified.

An individual who is a competent professional, a family man and highly regarded in his community called my post stupid and reckless. When I disagree with someone, either I ignore them because I see there is no point in convincing someone who has already made up his mind or I attempt to have a rational dialog with them but I do not belittle them. Amendment 1 of the US constitution is freedom of speech. So why are the so-called “good and normal people” (GANP) becoming so hysterical and zealously trying to get everyone to conform to their opinion? Another GANP was calling murderers a couple that simply went hiking to the mountains while everyone knows that nature and physical exercise are excellent for the immune system. While I commented “Live and let live”, she started insulting me, removed my comment, and unfriended me on facebook. Will people who do not blindly follow the current mass hysteria be soon judged for voluntary homicide? What is fascinating is that the worst enforcement is not done by corrupt governments but by the GANP, all these hard-working people with “good reputation”, families and jobs. The GANP are actually enablers of most of the society’s dysfunctions as they carry mindlessly instructions that often come from a corrupt elite. To be able to understand this apparent contradiction, let’s dive deeper into mind control.

First, we have seen this before. After the shock of 9/11, the media were brainwashing us all day long that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and we had to invade Iraq and remove him from power to guarantee the safety of good Americans. To frighten us even more, they added all the Anthrax attacks. Incidentally, anthrax was a biological weapon created by Russians in a lab back in the 1970s. In 2003, people who did not fall for the official narrative were called anti-patriotic. France opposed the USA at the United Nations to invade Irak so the Bush administration decided to rename French fries Freedom fries as retaliation 🙂 I had some French friends who lived in Texas who got their house covered with graffiti by patriotic GANP. Since, it has been well documented that the Bush administration lied to the American public to invade Irak in order to control their oil resources. However in 2015, still half of Republicans believed that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. Politicians understand that perception is reality rather than truth, and this is why most media are controlled in order to disseminate propaganda to serve their agenda. In the run-up to the Iraq War, Halliburton was awarded a $7 billion contract for which only Halliburton was allowed to bid, the company that Dick Cheney received a $36 million severance package from when he became George W Bush Jr Vice President in 2000. Countless lives and 2.4 trillions dollars of taxpayers’ money were lost on this war, but the people responsible for this disaster continue to be covered with distinctions and honors instead of being put on trial for crimes against humanity.

My own life experience makes me qualified to speak about the subject of mind control. My parents had severe attachment traumas. My father was basically an orphan for the first 10 years of his life and my mother was raised in the foster child system. As a result, I lacked belonging. This made me a match to joining a cult when I was 20-year-old for 3 years. When I was 26, I became involved with a woman with a tight family structure that functioned in many ways like a small cult. I was too busy at work to pay attention to what was really happening as I was compensating my lack of self-love by providing them with the status they needed to compensate for their own self-hatred. But when the separation occurred after 15 years together, they alienated me against my own children, which was by far the most difficult hardship I had to integrate in my life. Parental alienation is one of the worst forms of mind control as it puts hatred where there should be unconditional love. When I turned 42, I lived a passionate love story and got married with a very popular New Age guru who was raised in some of the most malevolent, sophisticated and powerful cults of the world. Many people are viewing her as a dangerous cult leader too however the reality is far more complex. All of this made me a mind control survivor.

Through these experiences, I got to understand that people’s truth is quite subjective. While objective truths exist, they are mostly not accessible to the common man. The fact is that men and women will just consider truth what the people they love or respect consider truthful. Truth is therefore based on the social link so, by essence, it is completely subjective. I got to observe this when I was in the Fellowship of Friends (FOF) in my early twenties. Actually, many people who were in the cult were remarkably intelligent and had high IQ. There were many entrepreneurs, business owners, artists or professionals. Despite the fact that many of us were quite intelligent, we would blindly follow and believe the absurdities of the guru Robert Earl Burton (REB) whose sexual, financial and emotional abuse have now been fully exposed. So what type of idiocies would we believe? That he was more conscious than Jesus Christ, that he was best buddy with Leonardo Da Vinci (this is why we often left an empty seat next to REB), that he would have sex with members to awaken them, that we were the chosen ones to survive humanity downfall and repopulate the earth, etc… Actually, and this is a fact well-known among mind control experts, intelligent people are often easier to manipulate because they have a bigger ego, are more disconnected and less grounded. They are head-centered rather than heart-centered, and can easily let go of common sense when confronted with dogma.

I got to observe that effective mind control always happens with the same several steps:

  • Create the bond
  • Repetition
  • Isolation
  • Punition & Reward

Let me show you how this 4 step process works with examples extracted from my life experience.

In FOF, the bond was created by making connections with people who felt initially remarkably open-minded, warm, supportive and intelligent. At first, it felt like the family I never had so it fulfilled my deep desire for belonging. Then the same dogma, beliefs would be constantly spread by the members. Isolation was then created by boosting our ego (we are better than other people as we are the chosen ones) or by adopting a language or a set of beliefs that is not compatible with regular people. Once we were committed to the cult and more disconnected to the outside world, then more pressure could be applied. Good zealous members following mindlessly the corrupt leadership would be rewarded while anyone challenging the current power structure would receive fines or face ostracization. As most cults, FOF strictly forbad contact with former members so leaving the cult meant starting a life from scratch and losing all your friends and connections overnight. This is how most cults retain their members as belonging is such a strong need for all of us, and when the connection with the birth family is weak, it means facing complete loneliness. 

With the mother of my children, the bond was created by a romantic relationship and the unhealthy love dynamic between codependent and narcissistic people. The repetition and brainwashing was mostly done by my mother-in-law who kept repeating how great and loving her family was, how they were the only good grandparents, the only ones who cared about us and our children, how their daughter was the best and how I was lost before I found her and her family, etc… Of course, at the same time, she would not mention all the family skeletons that hid in the closet. My parents were first alienated as deemed unworthy as she wanted to be the only grandmother by eliminating competing grandparents. She praised narcissistic love as the only true love. If I were to challenge the narrative, I would subject myself to endless arguments and wrath. Though I took care financially of them for many years and improved their lives in so many ways, when their daughter and I mutually decided to split, I was shun by the whole family. Their daughter then rewrote the narrative that I had abandoned her to play the victim and win the children over that would be used as weapons of war against me.

For my children, the bond was created naturally by birth. They were subjected by the same constant brainwashing of my mother-in-law. They were groomed to relate to only specific people from the community however this can only go so far as children who go to school will meet people from all walks of life. The consequence of deviating from the family line was shown clearly to them by making an example with their own father: complete abandonment, constant criticism, relentless attacks and harassment. It was made clear to them that they would not want to follow my footsteps.

My last wife’s cult abuser pretended to be her real father to create this bond and it took her years of therapy before realizing he had been lying to her all along. She was made to attend some of the most horrendous rituals where the cult’s dogma would be reinforced. If she started to attach to anyone outside the cult like a boyfriend, there would face unbearable consequences such as the killing of her dog. Her cult trainer would also ensure that she felt disconnected from her brother and parents. Also, disobeying the satanic cult was out of the question as she was frequently exposed to torture, gore or even death that resulted from deviating cult orders.

While she had done amazing considering her horrific background, she was not completely healed and fell at times for the same manipulative techniques that she suffered as a child. It is a principle that the suffering that is not integrated gets passed on. The bond was naturally created by a powerful passionate love story between both of us. As a prolific writer and a very intelligent woman who had to be always right, she would need to control the narrative. Her community composed of codependent people with limited life experience and cut off from their own family would also mindlessly repeat everything that she was saying. People with different ideas would be cut off and pushed away. They would lose connection with her and her followers while she kept repeating in her teaching that connection was the most important thing in the world. After we divorced, when I came back to the Costa Rica retreat center that I had founded to pick-up my belongings, I had a zealous community member treat me like a criminal. And this was the very same member I had invited to our wedding two years prior and gave personally an opportunity to join our community.

What we are witnessing now with Covid-19 is mind-control at a massive, global scale. The bond is created by the fact that we are a social species, the respect we have for authority, experts, science and our dependence on the media. I was in France when I witnessed the transition from normal everyday life to total confinement in just 3 weeks. First, the media started speaking about the coronavirus non-stop to instill fear and prepare public opinion for compliance on the orders to come. All people with a different opinion from mainstream media would then be isolated, ridiculed, or marginalized as conspiracy theorists or even criminals endangering public health. Social contact became prohibited on the basis of safety. People disobeying the confinement would be fined 135 euros ($150) while repeated offenders could go to jail. The worst punishment is however the aggressive judgment aggressively from the GANP.

Most people are educated and rewarded to become good executants, soldiers and workers but not to think for themselves. Independent thinking is more and more scarce in a society where we are constantly flooded with new information. We are made to believe that we are free from dogma and live in a democracy as we have supposedly left behind religion and dictatorship to the benefit of science and reason, however in many ways, science has become the new cult. People blindly  believe what is coming supposedly from science without verifying with a critical mind the hypotheses, mental processes and conclusions. Science has many interesting theories, but these theories need to be challenged. This is the principle of taking a scientific approach to a problem. If we just trust science blindly just because it comes from scientific experts with impressive degrees, then we are following the same pattern of a cult. I had 2 master degrees by age 22 and I have one of the best engineering diplomas from France so people cannot dismiss me on the basis of poor scientific education. Instead, the GANP are expressing their disappointment with me for not following mainstream beliefs considering my respected scientific background.

Actually, it is very hard to know the truth when we are just fed information that we cannot verify and this is why we are so easily manipulated. As you can see, I had to survive extreme mind control environments in my life. As a result, I created my own methods to assess the truth or more accurately my truth as unlike the GANP, I have no plan to impose my limited beliefs on others. The thoughts I express here are mine and I just hope this sharing will encourage others to think for themselves, and look for their own truth. Self-reliance, inner strength and resilience have come to me as part of this process. I will now apply the same principles of independent thinking to the current pandemic and share with you my personal insights.

First, I want to trust that I have directly experienced with my senses that include sight, feeling, intuition, hearing, touch, personal wisdom, cognitive abilities rather than information from a third party. Of course, it can be argued that we are subjective and this is why I will never impose my views on others. However, I know this direct experience is always the highest truth I have access to.

I am a social person and I know a huge number of people at a personal level. To this day, I do not have a single first degree connection affected by Covid-19. I had a friend who had a bad flu for a couple of weeks after a break-up. Things continued to get worse and she ended up in the hospital. She was tested for Covid-19 and the result came back negative but she was diagnosed with pneumonia. My 78-year-old French father has been sick for several weeks too. He asked to be tested and he was denied the test because they had a limited number of tests and would rather use them on younger people. One of my close friends in Utah had a bad flu for a couple of days but did not have the money to be tested or see a doctor and he recovered within a few days. But, so far, none of the people I know personally have been tested positive for Covid-19. However I have met a few people who knew personally some people who have been tested positive. A friend’s family member that was over 80 year old supposedly died from coronavirus in Louisiana with 2 other people in a nursing home. So in truth, I know very little at a personal level about this disease and it has had no direct impact on me and my loved ones. However, it has already had dramatic indirect impact: loss of social contact, loss of revenue, diminished assets, confinement, inability to travel, cancelled events, removal of civil liberties, etc… So from my own little world, Covid-19 is mostly simply an abstract concept that dramatically affected my life due to the decisions people made about it or more precisely the fear of it. In truth, I cannot disprove it is a hoax in complete certainty and I cannot disprove the opposite as well. I have no direct experience with it, only what I have read about it. So I am keeping an open-mind about it until I have direct experience such as contracting the disease myself. I have taken no additional precautions over the past months besides keeping a healthy lifestyle while I have continued to be in contact with a large variety of people.

If I cannot have a direct experience with the subject, I do facts checking and try to rely on my cognitive abilities. To me, it is far as reliable but this is the best I can do given the circumstances. However, with the absence of direct experience, I take everything with a grain of salt and in terms of probabilities. In a nutshell, here is what I can assert so far with a 80% probability:

  • There is an infectious respiratory disease called Covid-19 and it was reported that it has killed over 60,000 people worldwide. It is more contagious and more fatal than the flu. People are concerned about the exponential growth of the disease. So far, Covid19 shows a mortality rate about 10 times higher than the flu
  • Covid-19 severe cases are concentrated with people who have a compromised immune system. 99% of healthy people that get the coronavirus heal relatively quickly from it. The mortality rate of people infected with Covid19 with no pre-existing conditions is less than 1%
  • A number of personalities have died of the coronavirus. Almost all of them were old and suffering with other serious diseases
  • There is confusion in the numbers as it appears people are included in Covid19 mortality number even if they die from something else as long as they tested positive for the virus. The amount of flu or pneumonia related death dropped significantly during the same period of time which would indicate some bias
  • There are a number of different theories about the origin of the virus. Some argue it came from animals and others from a biological weapon lab in Wuhan (whether intentionally or accidentally)
  • It was reported that the healthcare system of most countries affected is saturated due to the rapid growth of the disease. It can be noted however that many countries’ hospitals were already overwhelmed and under-resourced before the pandemic. Citizen reporters are sharing with us on the opposite movie clips of empty hospitals. Unless I visit one of these hospitals myself, I have to acknowledge that I really do not know how this pandemic has affected healthcare systems across the globe
  • Chloroquine has been portrayed as a viable effective treatment when combined with antibiotics in the early stage of the development of the disease. The mayor of Nice Christian Estrosi and other public figures who underwent the treatment had a rapid recovery.

There are however a number of decisions that authorities have taken very rapidly that I am taking the liberty to challenge.

Is the extreme confinement that has been ordered in Italy, Spain and France really effective?

The facts would actually show the opposite.

  • Countries such as Italy, Spain and France with the most confinement continue to have the highest mortality rates. I understand that people would argue anyway that things would be much worse without confinement. In any case, I would like to see better and not worse outcomes in this case. Sweden and Japan are not enforcing confinement and are doing much better than the countries above
  • One of the most highly respected experts in respiratory disease Dr Raoult is arguing for another method. He is advocating to perform testing at a massive scale and only isolating the people who are vulnerable and the ones who are tested positive. He is also recommending reducing the time these people are contagious through a medical treatment. South Korea which has taken this approach shows mortality rates 100 times lower than the countries mentioned above
  • Confinement leads to social isolation, depression, idleness, financial stress, lack of physical exercise and contact with nature which we know weaken the immune system and actually make people more vulnerable to the virus. Dr Bruce Lipton speaks brilliantly about this
  • Social distancing and masks are not that effective against the propagation of the virus
  • Social distancing is creating a society where we are even more disconnected from each other which negatively impacts our immune system. People are now unable to attend spiritual service, entertainment or social events. While I understand the logic behind social distancing, it comes with a high cost to our emotional health
  • Professor Knut Wittkowski, a respected epidemiologist with 35 years experience, feels strongly that confinement is counter productive, and goes against what mainstream media and our politicians have been advocating. As he says, he is not paid by the government and believes in science rather than propaganda. By keeping our children home, we are preventing herd immunity so we are exposing ourselves to a second wave of the coronovirus in the fall. He states that this pandemic is not that very different that flu pandemics we get on a yearly basis

We have had much worse pandemics in the past.

The Black Death was the first major European outbreak of plague and the second plague pandemic. The Black Death is estimated to have killed 30% to 60% of Europe’s population. In total, the plague may have reduced the world’s population from an estimated 475 million to 350–375 million in the 14th century. The influenza pandemic of 1918-1919 killed more people than the Great War, known today as World War I (WWI), at somewhere between 20 and 40 million people while the population at that time was estimated at 1.8 billion. If Covid19 creates as much damage as the Spanish flu with our current world population, it means that the coronavirus should kill about 150 million people. We have got over 60,000 deaths (about 0.03% of the corresponding deaths of the Spanish flu) so far with Covid19 and even if the disease continues to spread exponentially, it is hard to believe we will even come close to the 1918 influenza pandemic numbers fortunately!

Let’s now examine some so-called conspiracy theories that are circulating over the Internet. I recommend taking a closer look at David Icke’s materials for the people who are interested in diving deeper into the topic as he has done some very extensive research in the last 30 years.

Is 5G linked in any way with Covid19?

Many people have suggested that there are higher concentrations of Covid19 cases in areas where 5G has been deployed. While this could very well be a coincidence, I am well aware of the fact that governments’ secret programs have developed very sophisticated mind control technology through electromagnetic waves over the past 50 years, one of them being HAARP. Most of the results of this research have been kept hidden from the public. I researched this topic while I was married to an individual who had been subjected to the most brutal mind control technologies as a child. A human being is nothing else than a complex electromagnetic field. We all know how much our environment can affect us. We feel very differently in an impoverished polluted environment than when we are surrounded with beautiful nature. The fact that a corrupt elite could use this existing mind control wave technology to fulfill their agenda is more than likely. Secret government programs such as Operation Paperclip or Project MKUltra have been well-documented and are not conspiracy theories anymore. There is ample information on the Internet about the correlation of 5G with the coronavirus. Some experts are linking the adoption of new wave technology with past pandemics such as the 1918 influenza or the Hong Kong flu. They are also stating that viruses are reactions of the poisoned cell that, in defense against the poison itself, secretes the viruses to allow the cell to survive. If this is the case, confinement and social distance is completely useless so we would have brought an economic collapse for no reason. We live in a digital soup and the radio-frequencies coming from all of our devices is clearly affecting us. It is a fact that there are many more cases in countries that have deployed 5G technologies. Fortunately, the human body is amazingly adaptive and most of us will be able to develop immunity to this type of radiation as we continue to raise our vibration. The technologies we have developed have improved our life dramatically but they can also lead us to enslavement. Rudolf Steiner the founder of the Waldorf education, biodynamics and anthroposophy stated as early as 1917 that man needed to increase his spiritual power to adapt to the increased electrification of the earth. I understand this type of knowledge is not for everyone. People need to study it and make up their own mind.

Child trafficking

Through my 3 year relationship with a woman who was raised in a satanic cult, I got to understand the sophisticated mind control technology currently available to these secret societies. From my perspective, the best books on the topic have been written by Svali, a former trainer of the Illuminati as it matched almost perfectly with the personal experiences of my former spouse. Through her direct account, I got to understand that one percent of the population is mind-controlled from birth, and placed in key places of society. Many politicians, pop stars, judges, top athletes, celebrities, journalists, TV and media presenters, actors, business and financial moguls are mind-controlled slaves. They may have everything on the outside: wealth, fame, beauty, talent but be the most miserable person behind the curtains as they struggle with severe PTSD coming from the traumatic programming of their childhood. According to my ex-wife, but also whistleblowers such Los Angeles FBI chief Ted Gunderson or Robert David Steele, hundreds of thousands of children are exploited every year in the US alone for the benefit of these secret societies. Children are tested for special abilities through brutal training and testing. The ones that succeed become mind-controlled slaves who will be inserted in key places of society while the others will be used in pedophile rings or sacrificed in satanic rituals. For these shadow organizations, children are treated with even less humanity than pigs in a slaughterhouse. People stay mostly unaware of this terrible truth as most children come from “breeders” (cult members programmed to give birth to children to be used by the cult), orphanages or the foster care system. The whole world is shutting down because we have supposedly over 60,000 coronavirus deaths of people with an already compromised immune system, while we are oblivious to the vicious extermination and exploitation of millions of children across the globe every year. This truth is so disturbing that most people will dismiss it as a conspiracy theory. I was no different until I started a personal relationship with one of these satanic cult survivors.

Martial law, house arrest and group gathering prohibition

The pandemic has created conditions that any warmongers would have dreamed of. Curfew is imposed, and people are forbidden to meet. By extension, demonstrations are not allowed any more and fearful citizens are rallying behind their corrupt leadership. People in many countries are limited to one visit per week outside their home for basic necessities. Citizens are required to carry certificates if they go outside their home at the risk of getting important fines and even of getting arrested in case of repeated offense. Most people are happily complying with the sudden disappearance of personal freedom because they are made to believe that they are saving lives this way. All this is done without much data. Actually the countries with the strictest confinement rules are showing the most deaths at this point. Japan and Sweden are doing much better than Italy, France or Spain. We are now at war against an invisible enemy that justifies the removal of our civil liberties. This reminds me of the US government war on drugs by Richard Nixon whose aim was really to remove the competition and give a monopoly for the US shadow government to smuggle drugs into the USA to finance its black budget. This war on drugs achieved very little and on the contrary boosted the jail population to about 10 million people in the US by 2008 helping many unscrupulous individuals to get rich and profiting from the misery of others.

Destruction of small businesses

Employees are far more controllable than entrepreneurs. They need to comply with a top down hierarchical structure to keep their means of subsistence. While this is not always the case, strict compliance to a role is favored over creativity in large corporations or institutions. People lose their individuality to fulfill a corporate role. Most employees experience the fear of losing their job or the frustration of feeling controlled by a supervisor. Entrepreneurs feel more fulfilled and creative though their personal freedom comes with the price of hard-work and accountability. By shutting down all restaurants, lodges, stores, or any business dependent upon human interaction, the small businesses are the most impacted while the large corporations are here to profit. Amazon hired 100,000 more employees to meet with the increased demand due to the pandemic while small businesses are forced to shut down with almost no compensation. By enforcing strict confinement, our governments are destroying millions of small businesses while providing nothing in return. This can be equated to a forest fire that eventually will profit to the big trees, i.e. the large corporations. The large corporations are controlled by these same 1% or secret societies so it provides considerable advantage for the corrupt elite to enslave the masses by making them dependent financially. Dependent people are less likely to contest authority.

The stimulus package will impoverish the middle class even more

People naively think that the government stimulus package will save them. What would you think of a household that is already $230,000 in debt but only making $30,000 a year? Would you lend them another $20,000? Surely not if you were a bank. Well, this is the state of the US government. The US already has a $23 trillion dollar deficit but total tax revenue in any given year hardly exceeds $3 trillion dollars. It means that any US taxpayer owes the government $200,000 so the taxes that US citizens pay are really just paying interest on the money borrowed by the US government to the federal reserve, which is actually a private institution owned by invisible financial moguls. When the US government creates a stimulus package of $2.2 trillion dollars, it actually takes $20,000 from the pocket of every US tax payer. While Trump is insisting that the stimulus checks should have his name on them, this money is not coming from him but from all of us! This is not free money. All of this money printing will weaken the value of the dollar and will eventually decrease the purchasing power of all Americans. Unless small businesses are allowed to reopen soon, most of this money printing will end up in the pockets of large corporations and financial institutions. This will contribute even more to the disappearance of the middle class and we will be only be left with a privileged but controlled 1% and 99% of working poor and destitute people. The same logic can be applied to most European countries.

Vaccines and RFID

The media has already instilled a lot of fear in people to prepare them to accept any solution that will be presented to them. Along the lines of the movie Contagion starring Matt Damon, Jude Law, Kate Winslet, Gwyneth Paltrow and Marion Cotillard, all the people become desperate for a vaccine that they see as their only means for survival as per the propaganda. The media is already brainwashing the people into viewing vaccination as the holy grail. The concept of vaccination is a big debate in our society and I encourage people to make up their own mind about it. Mandatory vaccination is however a significant infringement on our most fundamental freedom. On a personal level, I do not trust the science behind vaccination and I will do everything in my power to avoid the future coronavirus vaccine. We now have the technology to insert RFID chips during vaccination and I simply do not trust the people in power to do anything without a hidden agenda. The governing powers are arguing that people without the vaccine are dangers to society as they could contaminate others. This reasoning is flawed as if their vaccine was that effective, vaccinated people would be immune to the disease so could not be contaminated. Starting with Bill Gates and Anthony Faucy, the elite that is promoting vaccination should be vaccinated first to put their money where their mouth is. Chip implant will make us no different than the pets or livestock that are already RFID’d. 

Bill Gates

In one of Silicon Valley I founded, I had a CTO for 7 years that worked closely with Bill Gates. His boss reported directly to Bill Gates and my CTO used to have frequent interactions with Bill Gates. According to him, Bill Gates would often get into rages and use foul language with his employees. However, the public image of Bill Gates is very different. The media is portraying him as a stable and cool-headed individual, an innovator and a philanthropist. However things do not add up. Why would someone put so much energy to project an image of himself that he is not? Steve Jobs may have been a jerk but never tried to be someone that he is not. Microsoft had a poor reputation in the industry before, stealing ideas from others and practicing unethical business practices to crush the competition. After retiring from Microsoft, Bill Gates created a group of billionaires dedicated to spend their fortune to better humanity. However, his fortune (now over $100B) keeps increasing instead of decreasing while he vaccines the world away! How is that possible? He was close to Jeffrey Epstein who was conveniently suicided after being indicted for leading a prostitution and pedophile ring. He came from a wealthy family and his father had important ties with some of the most powerful American families. He warned the public years before about the pandemic to come in very exact terms. Is he simply a visionary or did he contribute to the problem in the first place? Now, he is omnipresent on the news as the media try to portray him as our new savior. He is pushing an agenda of mass vaccination and very strict confinement. It feels like he has groomed for a new and important role in the NWO for a long-time. 

Cashless society

Conveniently, central banks and big tech companies are trying to push the agenda of a cashless society by stating that physical bank notes can be a carrier of the coronavirus. While there are benefits to a cashless society, there is too much at risk considering the level of depravity and corruption of the people in power. Using artificial intelligence, they could then instantaneously freeze the assets of anyone opposing their views on the basis of national security. Money is power, and there is already too much power into the wrong hands.

The New World Order (NWO)

Technology has reached a level of sophistication that it is now possible to create an Orwellian state. Artificial Intelligence and social media can be used to precisely identify the political views and interests of any citizen. Most of us are astonished at the accuracy of the online ads we receive on a daily basis. 5G networks make it possible to transmit a much larger amount of data for analysis and citizen tracking. More and more money circulation is electronic and can be easily followed. Is the coronavirus pandemic used to implement the last stages of a new technocracy? Will all people refusing to accept the NWO become marginalized in this new society?

The topics above are quite controversial and I have mentioned them to provoke people’s critical thinking. I will now address issues that cannot be contested from my perspective

When the remedy of the problem becomes far worse than the problem itself!

Economic collapse

With over 1 billion people confined in their own home, we are creating an economic collapse that will be the worst one of our lifetime. This is nothing else than a planned demolition of economies all over the world. Confinement is a luxury of the rich. When confinement is applied in developing countries such as India, Philippines or many African countries, it condemns to starvation large sections of the population that are incapacitated to earn any income. Desperate people take desperate actions. Civil unrest follows which can then justify brutal actions from authoritarian regimes. We may even create the conditions for a global conflict. I do not think I am taking any risk in saying that the controlled demolition of the worldwide economy will create more death than the pandemic itself.

Fear compromises the immune system

Most countries’ media are now instilling fear in people about the threat of the coronavirus 24/7. Because of this propaganda, most people are getting obsessed with being infected with the virus. As soon as they do not feel well, they immediately imagine the worst and dying a horrible death from Covid19. Dr Bruce Lipton is speaking eloquently on how the fear of the coronavirus has created much more damage than the disease itself. In the medical field, we need to account for the placebo effect when testing for drug efficacy because we understand that health starts with the mind. At least 5% of all diseases are estimated to be psychosomatic. People are not only getting worried for their health but they are now getting overly stressed financially because of the economic collapse triggered by strict confinement. House arrest combined very limited physical and social activities is creating conditions that considerably weakens the immune system of the population. 

How the current pandemics reflects the complete powerlessness of the human collective consciousness

People have forgotten their true nature and how powerful they actually are. They see life as random and tragedies happening for no reason. They have forgotten that we live in a divinely orchestrated universe. After over 30 years of exploration and personal experiences, I can say without a doubt that the body cannot become sick unless there is dysfunction in our mental or emotional bodies. Our immune system is our best ally and not external drugs or vaccines. Prevention is always better than cure. I do recommend taking a promising treatment such as Dr Raoult’s chloroquine in severe cases but you will see adverse effects with any drug treatment. It is about assessing if the benefits of the treatment are higher than the risk. We increase our immune system vitality through physical exercises, good sleep, healthy diet, being in nature, exposure to sunlight, meditation, shadow work when difficult emotions emerge, being creative and social contact. As long as we keep a high vibrational state, we cannot be a match to any virus. Paul Micheal Glaser was the famous cop Starsky in the 70’s household TV series Starky & Hutch. He continued to have sexual intercourse with his wife Elizabeth even after he knew she was diagnosed with AIDS. He never contracted the disease. He had so much love for his wife that he never believed that she could give him anything that could harm him. Social distancing with loved ones is actually damaging to our immune system because we are a social species. We need to connect, to touch and to love. To love and to be loved will continue to be our most fundamental need even before food. We have much more power over our health and vitality than we could ever imagine. Many cancer survivors say that cancer is the best thing that happened to them because it forced them to re-evaluate their life and switch to a healthy lifestyle. Life is not random, and if we catch the coronavirus, let it be our teacher like any other hardship that has affected our life. Whether the coronavirus was man-made or an act of nature to reflect our harmful actions, it is at the end the same. We have become a match to that experience for a reason. By taking a holistic and introspective approach, we can gain from this global tragedy. In anything negative, there is always a positive intent and it is up to us to create meaning from this experience to grow in wisdom and self-awareness. Respiratory diseases are connected to the dysfunction of the heart chakra and I invite all of you to meditate upon this. I would just add that a society based on the exploitation of earth resources, animals and people goes fundamentally against unity consciousness.

There are worse things than death

We can see people’s true character when they are under pressure. I have always liked Wayne Dyer’s analogy that you know what a fruit is made of when it is squeezed. So when we are squeezed and pushed to our limits, what comes out of us? Love or selfishness? Anger or kindness? Depression or fighting spirit? During my spiritual explorations over the last 30 years, I got to realize that self-love and spiritual enlightenment is one and the same. For this reason, I have committed not to take any actions that will impede my ability to love myself, such as profiting from other people’s distress, lying to myself, lacking personal integrity or intentionally hurting another human being. Dying an honorable man is more important to me than surviving as a scelerat. We are on earth for a very short time anyway. Let’s make it worthwhile. The rush towards buying toilet paper, foods and weapons are indicative that most people are willing to lose their soul out of the fear of survival. Once we connect to our true nature, this type of short-cuts cease to be appealing.

Our hyper reactivity of the coronavirus pandemic is indicative of our selfishness.

We freak out about catching the coronavirus and we show no concern for the millions of children dying of starvation, for the raging wars in Syria, the flooding in Bangladesh or the earthquake in Haiti while they have caused so much more human casualty. But, when we are made to believe that anyone of us can get Covid19 and die a horrible death, only then so we start paying attention. This shows the lack of empathy of our society towards each other, and how self-centered we actually are.

Some GANP did not hesitate to say I should die or get severely sick from Covid-19 to dare contesting the mainstream media narrative. Death is the great mystery. This personality and this body eventually dies and if it is my time, I will accept it but not without a fight as I love life. I am not willing to stay alive at all costs however. I believe in the aspect of me that is immortal, life itself that is everywhere, eternal, always mutating and changing. Life always finds balance and unity. I have had spiritual experiences that have convinced me that love is the greatest force of the universe. Hardship and life challenges make us more humble, trusting and stronger. I simply refuse to live life from fear and control. There is always a choice. We can wake up to our true nature or alternatively become a piece of machinery in the gigantic matrix based on profiteering and the illusion of separateness. We can believe in unity consciousness or exploitation. The choice is ours. No one can take away your freedom unless you allow them to do so. Even if your external freedom is seriously infringed, there is always a way to keep your internal freedom and to stay true to your core values. 

Fear of engulfment in an intimate relationship

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Differentiating fear of engulfment with codependency and trauma bonding

Codependency is different from fear of engulfment. Codependent people have no sense of self, and have an extreme focus on others as a result. They are needy, terrified of being alone, and cannot function on their own. They have no autonomy. They want people in their lives not because they love them but because they cannot exist as an independent being. They can have anxious attachment though it is not always the case.

Trauma bonding came from bonding with an abusive parent or caretaker. The child had to face constant invalidation of their feelings. Borderline personality disorder and disorganized attachment develop as a result. It is different from fear of engulfment because the person wants to stay attached to their abuser though they may be terrified and resentful. It follows the “I hate you, don’t leave me” pattern. They may have been the scapegoat in a family dynamic.

So what is fear of engulfment?

Fear of engulfment is the fear of getting controlled by the romantic partner or losing yourself in the relationship. It is a very strong fear of being swallowed by the partner. Fear of engulfment comes from enmeshment trauma and acts as a major obstacle in intimate relationships. Their attachment style is the avoidant. They are often over independent or self-reliant as they are so afraid on relying on others to get their needs met. It is difficult for them to receive from other people as they do not want to owe anything in return. They are terrified of trapped-indebtedness. They are suspicious of other people initially as they are perceived as dangerous. They live their intimate relationship in their head instead of their heart. They compare and have often impossible high standards for their partner who can never be enough. They see their partner as someone restricting their freedom. They are overwhelmed by being responsible for someone else’s feelings as they were taught it was their job to fix if their loved one was unhappy, even if it means we are losing ourselves in the process. They are confused between self-love and selfishness so carry a lot of shame about taking care of themselves in a nurturing way. As a result, they often do what they do not want to do in a relationship and resent it later. These people have often a compulsive need to succeed to compensate for the lack of love and connection in their life. They desperately need to prove to themselves that they are lovable and worthy and external success is a way they reassure themselves. They experience a form of social isolation and spend less time than others in social settings. As a result, they get less feedback than others about social clues and develop personality quirks that are often socially inappropriate. Because they were the Golden Child, they experience emotions as an adult that are polar opposites: talented and worthless, blessed and cursed, favored and picked on. As soon as someone wants something from him, his terror of losing himself is activated, and he automatically resists his partner. He does not even think of asking himself if he wants to do whatever the other person wants from him or if it is in his highest good. He just resists. He resists because not being controlled is more important to him than anything. Not being controlled is more important than being loved. The irony is that he is being controlled by his obsession of not being controlled.

The fear of engulfment hides a fear of rejection and abandonment

In truth, the avoidant avoids himself before he avoids others. When the avoidant shuts down to others, it is just a reflection of his inner walls because he is so afraid of being hurt again. He doesn’t want to attach to someone special because he is so afraid of the pain of separation. However, if he doesn’t attach, the relationship is doomed so he keeps experiencing abandonment which comforts him in his conviction that attaching is dangerous. This becomes a vicious cycle. It seems counter intuitive that the Golden (Chosen) Child would feel unlovable however being enmeshed with one parent often provokes the resentment of the other parent and siblings. The avoidant is so afraid of being rejected that he would rather take care of all his needs himself. He makes it impossible for others to provide for him and cater for his needs. He feels threatened by intimacy because of his fear of rejection and getting badly hurt in the process. This connects to childhood trauma. Like everyone, he wants to be loved but he has decided that love is too dangerous. When someone gets too close to him, he gives up on his desire to be loved because he sees it as the only possibility not to get hurt. He shuts down the part of himself that is starving for intimacy. He doesn’t believe his heart is resilient enough to recover and learn from a break-up.

Resulting relationship issues

The adult Golden Child who defended against the invasive parent by
building a wall will not let in their spouse. The love avoidant is typically attracted to the love anxious because she represents his disowned self: the insecure child that had to disconnect not to face the pain of rejection. The partner feels unloved, rejected and uncared for. When they become too starved emotionally, they just leave the relationship. They are often attracted to self-centered partners as well. This is their way of re-creating unconsciously the dynamics of the parent-child relationship. These partners will reflect that other people’s needs are more important than their own, another trauma from their childhood. Or they may attract someone who is just as inattentive and emotionally unavailable as they are so that they may experience what it feels to be with someone who is guarded. It may be very difficult for anyone of their partners to match with their enmeshed parent who is idolized. No one is good enough compared to mum or dad. The favored parent replays the same dynamic in return to show that no partner will ever have a closer relationship than they have. The avoidant is prone to have affairs as it fulfills his desire for physical intimacy and ego rubbing without any emotional commitment. He is very critical of his mates as this allows him not to become too close to them. He always believes there is another better option, someone more beautiful, younger, smarter or wealthier.

What are the childhood traumas that created the fear of engulfment?

Girl Hiding in Corner

I was deeply enmeshed with my mother as a child. She had deep abandonment traumas because she was raised in the foster care system. I was parentified to meet all of her emotional needs. I was the Golden Child. Then, when I was 9, she left me behind to start a new life and I was left with my absent father for 18 months. Considering this background, this is no surprise that I have had such a hard time with the fear of engulfment in my romantic life. We become intimacy phobic when intimacy and closeness were associated with pain in the past. As the Golden Child, we learn to deny our own needs to the benefit of our parent. We understand that our parent’s life is better when we ask for nothing and our parent feels better because they believe they have risen a model child. Here are some of the signs that you were enmeshed:

  • The child is a source of emotional support for the parent, and is the parent’s best friend
  • The parent shares age inappropriate information with the child
  • The parent says in confidence that he is the favorite, most talented of lovable child
  • The child connection with other children is discouraged
  • The child feels guilty when he spends too much time away from the parent
  • The child unique and positive qualities are not reinforced
  • The child independence is discouraged
  • They are very porous boundaries between the child and the adult
  • One parent was chronically lonely, angry or depressed
  • The parents live an isolated life with few friends
  • The child feels responsible for the parent
  • The child is parentified
  • The parent is over-involved in the child’s life
  • The parent pretends to be self-sacrificing
  • The child is not provided with a structure and limits that guaranties his safety
  • The parent is incapable of taking care of his adult needs
  • One or both parents had substance abuse problems
  • The boyfriend of girlfriend is never good enough for the parent
  • The parents were divorced, widowed or did not get along
  • There was a lack of money that caused parents and children to stay home with each other more than it is healthy

In summary, the parent is ignoring the needs of the child. The parent uses the child to satisfy needs that should be met instead by other adults – romance, companionship, intimacy, advice, problem solving and ego fulfillment. Children cannot handle that much psychological pressure as they are not equipped to fulfill adults’ intimacy needs. When the parent says “You are such an easy child”, it is meant “Don’t feel any negative emotions”. When the parent says “You are so special”, it is meant “Be what I need you to be. I have needs you have to satisfy”. Their future love life will suffer immensely as a result. The child is not given the attention he needs to grow-up as a healthy emotional being. There is simply not enough adequate protection, guidance, structure, affection, nurturing and discipline. Their development stops and they get stuck in a narcissist stage of development. The cycle of disconnection continues as we treat our loved ones as we were once treated. Because the enmeshed relationship is all-encompassing, we recreate the need for this intense fusion at the beginning of the relationship that quickly erodes to meet with resistance.

Solutions to break away from enmeshment

Because the enmeshment started with the parent-child relationship, we need to realign our relationship with our parents. The relationship with our parents is very important because it influences the rest of our relationships. We need to relate to our parents from our adult part rather than the child in us that feels controlled. We set clear boundaries with our parents when it is necessary without feeling overly disappointed if they fail to honor them. We become objective about who they are, their qualities but also their shortcomings. We accept them as they are without compromising ourselves in the process. We are supportive but not to our detriment. We stop blaming them for our difficulties as we empower ourselves to make the necessary changes in our lives. We understand that the aspects in them that trigger us the most, are the ones that caused the most psychological damage in us. They also trigger us the most because they mirror unsavory aspects of us that we are too ashamed to see.

If we have children, we can deprogram the enmeshment by raising our children differently. We keep reassuring our child of our unconditional love. We refuse all forms of emotional manipulation through guilt or coercion. We may use the Love and Logic educational method instead to encourage them to take good and positive actions. We do not hesitate to apologize and explain why when we make mistakes as parents. We practice what we preach. We only share with them information that they can handle given their age and maturity. We encourage their independence without making them feel pushed away. We respect their free will without giving up on our important responsibilities as a parent.

The most important work we can do is however with our romantic partner. We commit to an authentic relationship where we overcome our shame to express our true feelings in a constructive way. We transcend our fear of rejection to be truthful. We face the guilt of hurting our partner by sharing our authentic truth. We are attuned and compassionate in the process, not cold and disconnected. We express our boundaries with clarity and in the most gentle way. We refuse any form of manipulation and calculation for our own little benefit. We make space for the aspects of us that are afraid of intimacy and we explore the traumas and the hurt that are behind. This will catalyze our healing. We treat the other person as we would like to be treated. We commit to listen to our own feelings, and to listen to this inner compass no matter what the consequences may be.

Your ideal partner is the one that represents your repressed inner child. Instead of shutting them down as we have done in our early life to survive emotionally, we reverse the process to celebrate them. We give them everything our inner child did not receive. By loving them this way, this immature part that is the seat of our soul can grow again. Then we can become whole and wake up to a life that feels good.

French translation below – Article en Français ci-dessous

Qu’est-ce que la peur de l’envahissement au sein d’une relation intime? Et comment la dépasser?

Il est important de commencer par différencier cette peur affective de la co-dépendance et de l’attachement pervers. La co-dépendance est différente de la peur de l’envahissement. Les gens co-dépendants n’ont pas d’identité propre. Par conséquent, tous leurs comportements tournent autour d’autres personnes qui sont en général narcissiques. Ils n’ont aucune idée de leurs propres besoins ou identité, ils sont terrifiés d’être seuls, et ne peuvent pas fonctionner par eux-mêmes. Ils ne disposent d’aucune autonomie. Ils veulent des gens dans leur vie non pas parce qu’ils les aiment, mais parce qu’ils ne peuvent pas exister en tant qu’être indépendant. Ils peuvent avoir un attachement anxieux/ambivalent même si ce n’est pas toujours le cas.

L’attachement désorganisé/désorienté vient de la relation avec un parent maltraitant. L’enfant a dû constamment faire face à l’invalidation de ses émotions. C’est ainsi que se développe le trouble de la personnalité limite (borderline). Ceci est bien différent de la peur de l’envahissement car la personne souhaite rester attachée au parent maltraitant. Cette relation suit le modèle « Je te hais, ne me quitte pas ». Ils ont souvent été le bouc-émissaire dans une dynamique familiale narcissique.

Qu’est-ce donc que cette peur de l’envahissement?

La peur de l’envahissement est la peur d’être contrôlé par son partenaire ou de se perdre dans la relation. C’est la peur d’être envahi par le partenaire. La peur de l’envahissement vient d’anciens traumatismes et est un obstacle majeur dans les relations amoureuses. Leur style d’attachement est “évitant” selon la célèbre théorie de l’attachement de John Bowlby. Ils sont souvent très indépendants car ils ont très peur de compter sur les autres pour satisfaire leurs besoins. Il leur est difficile de recevoir car ils ne veulent pas devoir quoi que ce soit en retour. Ils se méfient des autres personnes qu’ils ne considèrent pas comme dignes de confiance. Ils vivent la relation intime dans leur tête et non pas dans leur cœur. Ils comparent et ont souvent des exigences impossibles pour leur partenaire qui n’est jamais assez bien. Ils voient leur partenaire comme une personne qui restreint leur liberté. Ils se sentent envahis à l’idée d’être responsable de quelqu’un d’autre. Ils sont ont du mal à discerner l’amour de soi de l’égoïsme. Ils ont honte de prendre soin d’eux-mêmes. Ils font souvent ce qu’ils ne veulent pas faire dans une relation par peur du rejet et en éprouvent du ressentiment plus tard. Ces personnes ont souvent un besoin compulsif de réussir professionnellement afin de compenser le manque affectif de leur vie. Ils ont désespérément besoin de se prouver qu’ils sont dignes d’amour et respectables donc le succès extérieur est un moyen de les rassurer. Ils sont isolés socialement et passent moins de temps que les autres en groupe. Par conséquent, ils reçoivent moins de retour que les autres sur les normes sociales et développent fréquemment des personnalités excentriques voir anti-sociales. Parce qu’ils ont souvent joué le rôle de “l’enfant parfait” au sein d’une famille narcissique, ils ressentent beaucoup d’émotions contradictoires une fois adultes: talentueux ou nul, béni ou maudit, avantagé ou persécuté. Dès qu’un partenaire leur demande quelque chose, leur terreur de se perdre dans l’autre est activée, et ils s’opposent automatiquement à ce dernier quelque soit le bien-fondé de la requête. Ne pas se sentir contrôlés devient pour eux la chose la plus importante, bien plus que de se sentir aimé. L’ironie est qu’ils sont en fait contrôlés par leur obsession de ne pas être contrôlés.

La crainte de l’envahissement cache une peur du rejet et d’abandon

En vérité, la personne “évitante” s’évite avant d’éviter les autres. Lorsque les personnes “évitantes” se ferment aux autres, elles le font essentiellement par peur de rejet. Elles ne veulent pas s’attacher à un nouvel amour parce qu’elles ont en fait peur de la douleur de la séparation qu’elles ressentent comme inéluctable. Cependant, à moins qu’elles ne s’engagent dans la relation, le couple est voué à l’échec et elles se retrouvent donc dans un cercle vicieux. Les cycles de rupture amoureuse dus à ses propres blocages émotionnels les isolent chaque fois un peu plus.

Le fait que “l’enfant parfait” ne se sente pas digne d’amour semble contradictoire. Cependant la préférence d’un parent provoque souvent le rejet de l’autre conjoint et aussi celui des frères et des sœurs. La personne “évitante” a tellement peur d’être rejetée qu’elle préfère être la seule en charge de tous ses besoins. C’est donc très difficile de lui venir en aide et de lui apporter un réconfort car elle garde tous ses proches à distance. Elle se sent menacée par toute relation intime à cause de traumatismes passés qui viennent en général de l’enfance. Comme tout le monde, cette personne veut être aimée, mais elle a décidé que l’amour et l’intimité sont trop dangereux. Quand quelqu’un devient trop proche d’elle, elle renonce à son désir d’être aimée parce qu’elle considère que c’est la seule possibilité pour ne pas avoir le coeur brisé. Elle ne croit pas que son cœur soit assez fort pour guérir et apprendre d’une rupture amoureuse. 

Des problèmes relationnels récurrents

L’adulte qui était auparavant un “enfant parfait” et qui a mis en place des mécanismes de défense contre le parent envahissant et narcissique aura beaucoup de difficultés à s’ouvrir à son conjoint. Selon la théorie de l’attachement, la personne “évitante” est en générale attirée par un partenaire “anxieux/ambivalent” car il représente un aspect en elle qu’elle a réprimé: cet enfant intérieur rempli d’insécurité qui a dû se déconnecter de ses proches pour se protéger émotionnellement. Et par effet miroir, son partenaire se sent aussi mal aimé, rejeté et laissé pour compte. Et quand la relation devient insupportable, ils rompent. Ils sont aussi souvent attirés par des partenaires égocentriques. C’est leur façon de recréer inconsciemment l’ancienne dynamique de la relation parent-enfant. Ces partenaires narcissiques leur renvoient que les besoins des autres sont plus importants que les leurs, un autre traumatisme de leur enfance. Ils peuvent aussi attirer quelqu’un qui est tout aussi inattentif et émotionnellement indisponible qu’eux-même afin de ressentir leur froideur affective. Ils continuent à idolâtrer leurs parents même à l’âge adulte et leur partenaire n’arrive jamais à la hauteur du parent, qui en retour n’hésite pas à critiquer le conjoint pour renforcer l’idée qu’aucun partenaire ne pourra jamais rivaliser avec la relation parent-enfant. Tout cela est aussi un moyen pour garder leurs partenaires intimes à distance et de trop s’attacher à eux. La personne “évitante” est susceptible d’avoir des aventures extra-conjugales car cela satisfait son besoin d’intimité et d’amour physique sans le risque d’engagement émotionnel. Elle croit toujours qu’il y a une autre meilleure option, quelqu’un de plus beau, de plus jeune, de plus intelligent ou de plus riche. 

Quels sont les traumatismes de l’enfance qui créent la peur de l’envahissement?

J’étais en fusion avec ma mère quand j’étais enfant. Ayant été élevée à l’assistance publique, elle avait des traumatismes profonds d’abandon. Je devins donc parentifié pour répondre à tous ses besoins émotionnels ce qui était amplifié par le fait que mon père ne remplissait pas émotionnellement son rôle de mari. J’étais dans ce contexte “l’enfant parfait” selon la terminologie de la théorie de l’enfant parentifié. Puis, quand j’ai eu 9 ans, elle a quitté le domicile familial pour commencer une nouvelle vie et je suis resté alors seul avec un père qui ne me manifestait guère d’affection pendant 18 mois avant qu’elle ne me récupère. Compte tenu de ce contexte d’abandon, il n’est guère surprenant que j’ai eu des difficultés dans mes relations de couple. Nous avons peur de la proximité amoureuse quand cette même intimité nous a apporté tant de souffrances par le passé. En tant qu’“enfant parfait”, nous apprenons à nier nos propres besoins au profit de ceux de nos parents. Nous avons appris que nos parents sont de meilleure humeur quand nous ne demandons rien et qu’ils croient ainsi avoir fait un enfant modèle. Nous étions impuissants et ne faisions que subir ces traumatismes lors de l’enfance, cependant nous avons désormais le pouvoir de guérir ces troubles affectifs par le travail intérieur.

Voici quelques-uns des signes que vous avez eu une relation trop fusionnelle avec un parent qui peut être source de cet envahissement:

  • L’enfant est une source de soutien affectif pour les parents, et est le meilleur ami du parent
  • Les parents partagent des informations qui sont inappropriées au vu de l’âge de l’enfant
  • Le parent dit à l’enfant en toute confidence qu’il est le favori et le plus talentueux de ses frères et soeurs
  • Les relations proches avec d’autres enfants sont découragées
  • L’enfant se sent coupable dès qu’il passe trop de temps loin de la mère
  • Les dons et qualités uniques de l’enfant ne sont pas renforcés si cela n’est pas utile au parent
  • L’indépendance de l’enfant est découragé
  • L’un des parents souffrait de solitude, d’alcoolisme, de dépression ou de rages incontrôlées
  • Les parents vivaient une vie isolée avec peu d’amis
  • L’enfant se sent responsable du bien-être du parent
  • L’enfant est parentifié
  • Le parent est trop impliqué dans la vie de l’enfant
  • Les parents se plaignent souvent de se sacrifier pour leurs enfants
  • L’enfant n’a pas un cadre qui lui permet de se sentir en sécurité
  • Le parent est incapable de subvenir par lui-même à ses besoins d’adulte
  • Un ou les deux parents avaient des problèmes de toxicomanie
  • Le petit ami de la petite amie (ou vice et versa) n’est jamais assez bon pour le parent
  • Les parents ont divorcé ou ne s’entendaient pas. Un des parents est mort jeune
  • Il y avait un manque d’argent dans la famille ce qui incitait à rester tout le temps à la maison

Dans ce contexte, le parent ne tenait pas compte des besoins propres de l’enfant. Au contraire, le parent utilise l’enfant pour satisfaire des besoins qui devraient être satisfaits par d’autres adultes – l’intimité, l’amitié, la résolution de problèmes d’adultes ou se donner un sens dans l’existence. Les enfants n’ont pas la capacité émotionnelle à faire face à autant de pression psychique. Lorsque ce genre de parent dit: « Tu es un enfant si facile », il sous-entend «N’exprime pas d’émotions négatives». Lorsque le parent dit: « Tu es si mignon », il sous-entend « Sois ce que je veux que tu sois car j’ai des besoins à satisfaire ». La vie affective future de l’enfant souffrira énormément de ce conditionnement car l’enfant n’a pas reçu l’attention et l’amour inconditionnel dont il avait besoin pour grandir de manière saine et harmonieuse. Leur développement émotionnel s’arrête et comme leurs parents, ils restent bloqués dans une phase narcissique. C’est un cercle vicieux qui se répète de génération en génération jusqu’à ce que l’enfant devenu adulte fasse le travail intérieur nécessaire. Sinon, nous sautons d’une relation passionnelle à une autre afin de recréer le sentiment de fusion avec le parent avant de revivre le même envahissement. Mais une relation amoureuse ne peut supporter autant de projections et de pression et ce n’est qu’une question de temps avant que les disputes et les reproches ne remplacent l’infatuation première.

Solutions pour dépasser l’envahissement affectif et psychique

Parce que cet envahissement a commencé avec la relation parent-enfant, nous avons besoin de remettre en question les relations avec nos parents. La relation avec les parents est très importante car elle influe sur le reste de nos relations. Nous devons apprendre à communiquer avec nos parents en tant qu’adulte plutôt que de rester figer dans le rôle de l’enfant qui se sentaient contrôlé. Nous fixons un cadre claire avec nos parents quand cela est nécessaire mais nous ne sommes pas trop déçus s’ils sont incapables de le suivre. Nous devenons objectifs sur qui ils sont, leurs qualités mais aussi leurs défauts. Nous les acceptons comme ils sont sans pour autant tolérer tout comportement toxique. Nous les soutenons comme nous le pouvons, mais pas à notre détriment. Nous arrêtons de les blâmer pour nos propres difficultés et nous nous faisons confiance pour créer la vie que nous souhaitons.

Nous comprenons que les situations qui nous blessent le plus sont reliées à des traumatismes passés non résolus. Nous souffrons émotionnellement car nous résistons à voir ces aspect en nous qui font ressortir la honte ou la peur. Une manière efficace de travailler sur l‘envahissement parental est d’élever nos enfants différemment, en les rassurant souvent sur notre amour inconditionnel, en refusant toute forme de manipulation émotionnelle par la culpabilité ou la contrainte, ou en suivant des méthodes éducatives d’autorité positive et bienveillante afin de développer leur autonomie dans la responsabilité. Nous n’hésitons pas aussi à demander pardon à nos enfants lorsque nous faisons des erreurs tout en leur expliquant pourquoi. Cela évitera qu’ils nous idolâtrent et cela va les aider à s’aimer eux-mêmes en tant qu’êtres imparfaits. L’important est d’être un exemple car nos enfants apprennent avant tout de notre comportement plutôt que de nos préceptes. Nous prenons en compte leur âge et leur maturité avant de partager avec eux des informations sensibles. Nous encourageons leur indépendance sans qu’ils sentent abandonnés. Nous respectons leur libre arbitre, sans renoncer à nos responsabilités importantes en tant que parent.

Le plus important travail est cependant à faire avec notre partenaire afin de sortir de nos troubles affectifs. Nous nous engageons dans une relation authentique où nous nous efforçons de surmonter notre honte et notre culpabilité afin d’exprimer nos sentiments de manière constructive. Nous dépassons notre peur du rejet afin de dire la vérité de notre ressenti tout en restant dans l’écoute et la compassion. Nous exprimons nos limites et nos besoins personnels avec clarté et bienveillance. Nous refusons toute forme de manipulation et de calcul pour notre avantage personnel. Nous laissons s’exprimer ces aspects en nous qui ont peur de l’intimité avec présence et compassion. Nous n’avons pas peur de revivre consciemment les traumatismes qui se cachent derrière afin de catalyser notre guérison émotionnelle. Nous traitons l’autre avec le même respect et gentillesse que nous souhaiterions recevoir. 

Nous attirons en général des partenaires amoureux qui expriment naturellement notre enfant intérieur réprimé. Au lieu de les brimer comme nous en avons souffert par le passé, nous inversons le processus et nous les célébrons afin de libérer ces aspects en nous également. Nous leur donnons tout ce que notre enfant intérieur n’a pas reçu. En les aimant de cette façon, les aspects immatures en nous peuvent se développer à nouveau. Nous sommes ainsi en route vers une destinée heureuse.

Love & Compatibility – Part II

Read Love & Compatibility – Part I

Love is like war

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A lasting and fulfilling love relationship may be one of the rarest things to experience in this life as mere mortals. Couple issues are common and the divorce rate has been exploding all over the world over the past decades. When people needs are moving up the Maslow pyramid, from pure survival to creating a life that feels good, they have higher expectations and they aspire to an emotionally fulfilling intimate relationship. Many people are expert at projecting how good they are doing as a couple to the outside world but as soon as they are home alone, difficult arguments may start. Actually, very few couples are experiencing the following attributes that would characterize a successful intimate relationship:

  • Feeling loved, seen, understood and cared for
  • Enjoying spending time together
  • Heartfelt intimate connection that translates in feeling the other in oneself such as giving to our beloved feels better than giving to oneself
  • Physical affection including great sex
  • Lots of laugh together
  • Mutual trust

Such relationships are a very rare gift, and nothing can come even close to bring us intense happiness. Keeping it for the long run is even rarer.


The lure of passion

There is a common belief that love stories always end up badly. This is why we say falling in love instead of waking up to love. Romantic love is this intense and all-consuming feeling to merge with another. It is not rational, explainable or conscious. It feels more like a mystical state than anything else. It stems from the depth of our subconscious. It yields incredible power to change the course of any life, and its primary purpose is to break the walls required to promote our inner growth.

Romantic love is a way for nature to urge us into forcing us to solve our unresolved fragments, to bring our shadows into light and to work out our Karma. It is one of the ways for spirit to orchestrate our growth as a spiritual being having a human experience.

First, intense love attractions are about our traumatic past so that we may re-experience them in a different form to bring them back to our conscious mind, and complete healing. Girls with an absent father will automatically look for an emotionally unavailable man. They try hopelessly and futilely to be loved by them. It is their subconscious attempt to get loved by dad again. A man who was abandoned as a child will repeat over and over this pattern of abandonment with his partners. We replay the trauma of the past tragically and we get hurt badly. Some of us are able to reflect upon these difficult experiences to heal our painful past to create a life that feels good. But many of us sink even deeper into addiction, or develop mental and physical health issues.

blind love

There is nothing like love to transform us to our very core. Love relationships also act as a strong indicator of the qualities we need to develop within to become whole. We fell in love with someone because they have attributes that we want to possess. They are guiding us through our journey of self-development. We are not even conscious of this process. Attraction is based on how much a person is able to reflect our disowned self. This is why shrewd businessmen lacking empathy are often attracted to highly sensitive women. They represent the heart they have lost along the way of their financial success. Unfortunately, we quickly start doing to the object of our love what we have done to the aspect of us this person is mirroring, the aspect of us that we have disowned. We shut it down, we judge it as weak and incompetent with the repercussions we know to the detriment of the relationship. This is largely the reason why many love stories end up badly.

The first beautiful phase of a romantic relationship shows us what we can become as we achieve our full potential. These states of consciousness include feeling incredibly alive, ego dissolution, feeling one with all, sharing and feeling love with an open heart. So why don’t we go directly towards this magical potential that we all possess instead of getting lured by the reflection of this love in another human being? Why don’t we go directly for the fire of self-love and trust that a beautiful intimate relationship will manifest in this physical dimension to mirror that love?

dog love

On an amusing and anecdotal note, many people give up on human love and just buy a dog. They know that no one would ever be able to provide this level of unconditional love exhibited by their pet. Some others just turn towards God, Jesus or Buddha because an imaginary being that they project as perfect could never do them wrong. They just project the pure love potential that exists within all of our hearts to an external projection. And some others again look for self-realization. At the end, it is all the same search for love, to realize that it lays within our own heart.


love as manipulation

There are many wrong reasons to be in an intimate relationship with someone. We may be afraid of feeling lonely. We may feel incapable of taking care of ourselves financially, emotionally or physically. We may want to look good (or avoid looking bad) to our family, friends or community. We are ashamed of all these reasons so we manipulate to get our needs met. Seduction takes the form of manipulation. We show the other person the aspect of us that will appeal to their own insecurity and lack: we want partners with a sexy body to boost one’s self-esteem, another one with a muscular one to feel safe next to him, a wealthy partner for financial security, a witty boyfriend for fun, an intelligent girlfriend for stimulation or someone empathic for warmth and support. We all intuitively do this as part of the seduction game. So we start the relationship on the promise of what the other person is looking for, but this is a small aspect of us. Quickly, we cannot help showing who we truly are, especially if we live with our lover. All our flaws and all the dark reasons why we wanted to be in a relationship go on the open. This is the moment of shock where the beloved becomes ugly and scary. Unfortunately, we are already hooked and it is too painful to leave. It will remind us possibly of how unlovable or unattractive we are, or of the traumatic childhood event where we were abandoned. We prefer not to say anything, not to rock the boat. Tension builds in the relationship. More distance or activities outside the relationship are required to soothe this terrifying intimate mirror.

mel gibson dating young woman

However, a relationship that was based initially on something we are not or very partially is doomed. It is simply not sustainable to keep pretending. Less and less of our energy gets invested in the relationship. We start looking at other options, project our own limitations into our lover, and build resentment. We enter the relationship on the basis of manipulation and we get surprised when we get manipulated in return. This is the story of the 65-year-old dating a 25-year-old who gets shocked at the price tag that comes with it. This is a business transaction, not a relationship. One of the most common and unconscious forms of manipulation is the game between the love avoider (typically played by the man but not always) and the love anxious. As long as the woman is not attached, the man showers the woman with attention, gifts, fun outings and compliments. But as long as the woman opens her heart to the man, he gets scared, feels suffocated and the fear of commitment takes over. The woman hurts deeply as a result so she starts detaching. He panics about the lost love and with the extra distance, the man is comfortable again to pour love again into the woman and does everything he can to win her over again. But he becomes commitment-phobic as soon as he wins her back. This game can continue indefinitely.

At worst, romantic love may also become a mirage, a coping mechanism not to face our inner void or even an addiction. At best, it opens the gates of our heart and to the divine.

I have a long-time friend now in his 70s who has a long history of relationships. He has done it all. In the 90s, I knew him in a polyamorous setting with 3 beautiful women. While this could have appeared like a dream for many men reading this article, he told me recently that being alone is better than being with multiple partners. And being with a special person is better than being alone. This was his wisdom after over 50 years of relationships and it was genuine. It is so easy for us to play games, lie to ourselves, get lost in distractions rather than opening our heart to true intimacy.


love as friendship

After being burned out so many times with the lure of passion, we may decide to take a different approach. We go online and answer the hundreds of questions of match.com and eHarmony to find a perfectly compatible partner. Enough of the drama, of the crazy step kids and the misunderstandings. We finally find someone with the same interests in life, the same culture, the same sex drive, the same diet, the same vision for life, the same social status and with kids of the same age. The relationship feels good and drama free. We feel we have finally transcended our past traumas to experience a relationship that feels good. We realize we can be friends in addition to lovers.

But after a while, we feel something is missing. We are missing the butterflies in the stomach. We crave for that intense passion that made us lose our mind. We are missing this feeling of fusion where our ego dissolves. We start wondering about the opportunity cost of compatibility. We cannot deal with the grief of missing real love, especially when we have experienced it before and we know how it feels. We may have a great loving friend but we start thinking this may prevent us from meeting our soulmate. A compatible relationship may feel more like a friendship than love. While a strong friendship between lovers makes life much easier to live, there is still the part of us that likes to be out of control and even obsessed about the object of love. This intensity is making us feel alive. When routine takes over, our lover may feel more like a roommate who shares now with us all the stress and burden of our life. At the same time, just meeting for the good times and doing fun things together feels empty after a while. We want something more, a fusion where we are able to share all of who we are, not only the bright side. We starve to be seen fully in all of our light and shadow, and to be loved with all our idiosyncrasies. But we are terrified that our partner would run away if they see our dark side. After all, the personality tests we took were all about our conscious aspects and not the defects we are ashamed of.

couple texting

In my practice, I see people with high conflict relationships that have been together for a long time, and some that never had an argument who just decide to separate. Conflict is not what ends a relationship. To some extent, we fight for things we care about. To stop caring is what ends a relationship. Some people see relationship just as a way to get one’s needs met. This is so prevalent in this time of consumerism and social media. However, a love relationship is more defined by what we are able to give than by what we are able to get. Love is not rational. It is not about convenience. It is more an art than a science. It is all about feeling, and it is hard to make sense of all these feelings. We like stability and peace, but too much of it makes us feel uneasy. The moments of doubt and uncertainty in the relationship make us remember not to take anything for granted, that we are together by choice and not because we have to. We marvel at that irrational love we cannot explain because it is unconditional. Great sex is based on duality, on the opposites that challenge each other. When we are too similar, the polarity decreases as well as the sex appeal. Sometimes, a lover may even create some futile arguments to spark some flames because she/he becomes afraid that the relationship may become dull.


spiritual love

Relationships are difficult because we are a multiplicity instead of being a unified whole. There is an aspect of us that is looking for fusion. However, there is another aspect that is looking for individuality and freedom. As a person, we are the composite of many layers of our past development that encapsulate with each other. The baby part wants to find fusion again with mum, and the toddler in us wants to explore away from mum. And we possess many other aspects that contradict each other. To be a human being is complex and it gets worse as we age. This is why it is so important to be introspective to know oneself and become more attuned. This way, we can compensate this inner complexity with good communication to accommodate the needs of both our internal parts and the ones of our partner. Of course, it is easier said than done.

Love starts with getting infatuated with the partner’s qualities that we desire subconsciously, the aspects of us that we have disowned. This is a form of narcissistic love, where we are in awe of our own potential through the mirror of the beloved. I believe however that true love is based on embracing and even loving the other person’s shadows or quirks. This is what is going to make a relationship last.

The reality is that we do not want to work on a relationship. We want to be in the flow. Of course, when children, material and status considerations, fear of abandonment are in play, there are very big incentives to make the relationship work. So we start problem-solving the relationship like a problem at work. We read relationship books looking for the magical recipe to fix the relationship. Love becomes a project. We become roommates or business partners with our mate and the intimacy fades away. We calculate, monitor closely what we do or say to reach an outcome. However, the flow of love requires free expression and spontaneity. It is about creating a container large enough for the person to express themselves fully so that they may be seen in their totality. It is about living in the present without any parachute. It is about reminding ourselves that love is a gift and not a due and it may vanish or come back at any time. It is about letting go off control. This is where self-love is so important. If we do not possess enough self-love, the idea of losing the object of our love is unbearable. Jealousy sets in. Otherwise, we understand that our lovers just reflect the love that is within us.

It is a wonderful feeling to be in a relationship because we want to and not because we have to. This is only possible if we have enough autonomy. Two hearts that love each other in total freedom is magical and it can be so terrifying at the same time. And it is even better when we cannot even explain why we love someone. It is an act of grace. I have learned to enjoy missing a lover and it is a such good indicator of the love I feel for her.

love at first sight

A relationship needs space to grow and this amount of space is dependent on the people in the relationship. Creating space helps to counter the tendency we have to take people for granted, to remember the qualities instead getting stuck on the deficiencies. The time when we miss each other genuinely takes away the natural erosion of life and routine on the relationship.

I go back to the words of intimacy expert Peter Sandhill. According to him, it takes 3 main ingredients for a fulfilling intimate relationship. First, we need love or the powerful subconscious pull that brings two beings together. Every relationship goes through ups and downs, and without this powerful attraction, we simply will not have the perseverance and the commitment to face the challenges coming our way. Secondly, we need compatibility so that we may experience more beautiful memories, enjoyable shared moments and connection time instead of conflicts. This will keep the relationship fresh and limit the natural erosion of everyday life on the relationship. Third, we need the tools which are the combination of our inner work, effective communication and relationship knowledge. We need to stay students of life and commit to become the best version of ourselves because a relationship is nothing else that the closest mirror to the totality of who we are.

love exploration

What makes love so unique is that there are no rules. It is a continuous exploration. As we evolve and reflect, we have the ability to co-create a relationship that feels good for both partners or part ways. There is no magic formula but we have much power than we can imagine to heal and experience gratifying relationships. We may learn from the experience of others but, at the end of the day, it is really up to us. Authenticity, communication, creativity, commitment, openness are the constants. And let’s remember that love is more about an art than a business where flow, inspiration, courage will always mean more than willpower, problem-solving and planning.

The black widow

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Version de l’article en Français (video in French below)

The black widow is a spider that is well-known for sexual cannibalism. She would sometimes eat her male counterpart after being impregnated. While the idea of devouring your mate may seem terrifying, the idea of eating your own offspring may sound unthinkable, but it has been observed with a number of animal species. Female wolf spiders frequently practice filial cannibalism. Zoologists are assuming they get an energy benefit from this unnatural practice and they might be using it as a source of food when other sources are scarce. This same behavior is unfortunately much more common than we may think on a psychological level with human beings.

Many of us enter parenthood more for unconscious reasons than conscious ones. For example, our parents had children so we feel it is the right thing to do. At a subconscious level, we may want to heal our own childhood by having children of our own. We may be afraid of being alone or need to make our existence meaningful by having offspring that will survive us. In some culture, there is some expectation that children will take care of us during our old age. On a more positive note, we may aspire to have children to experience unconditional love. While it is painful to separate from a romantic partner, time heals everything and we move on with our life. The same cannot be said with children. Children are the flesh of our flesh, and we are never able to move on completely from the loss of children. Conflict with our children torments our soul. On a psychological level, our children reflect our light and shadow even more than romantic relationships. This is why parental relationships suffer a high level of projection. As such, our children are ultimately our most challenging teachers, and often choose to fulfill many of our unrealized dreams.

The ideal parent is able to see the uniqueness of his children, does not project his own unfilled desires and aspirations into them and encourage his children’s development according to their own abilities and desires. The ideal parent brings unconditional love, presence and support to the child so that he may eventually become autonomous and create a life that feels good on his own terms. Parental love should be about what is best for the child independently of what could be best for the parent. This is why we call unconditional love and the hidden purpose of parenthood is to bring us closer to this state of being.

Unfortunately, many of us have experienced trauma and we are far from being an ideal parent. As a result, we suffer a number of psychological ailments such as fear of loneliness or abandonment, depression, disconnection, low self-esteem, scarcity consciousness and many other insecurities. As long as we are not whole and we have not experienced the fire of self-love into our heart to become a sun of our own, the reality is that we are likely to vampirize our children. When children come to this world, they are pure and radiate unconditional love. They are still connected to Source so they easily fall prey to parents that are not whole and will pass on their own traumas to their children. I have a number of coaching clients that had neglectful or abusive parents. They may be scared to revisit the painful memories but they had no choice but to accept the shadow of their unfit primary caretakers. As such, they can move rapidly through emotional healing as they are not trying to protect the ghosts of their painful past. However, I commonly have clients with parents that exhibit narcissistic love. These are actually harder to work with, as it is so difficult for everyone to let go of the idea that they were not really loved when they were the center of attention of their parents. Wires are crossed in these children. The child (or the grown-up adult) is still convinced that he was loved whereas he was actually used and manipulated for the parent selfish motives. It may be difficult to observe and accept as the parents apparent actions only seem to indicate love & care.

This type of narcissistic parental love may be expressed in many ways. Parental narcissism is actually so prevalent that many people may become angry while reading my examples below as these may be the only times where they felt actually loved and cared for. Narcissism is just a mental state that limits us to see only our own reflection and not the child’s uniqueness when we relate to them. Unconditional love is rare and precious, but once we experience it, it is easier to let go of this form of conditional love.

Too much emphasis on school grades

So-called “good” parents are very identified with their offspring school grades. They make sure homework is done perfectly. They get offended if their child gets less than a perfect grade and do not hesitate to schedule a meeting with the teacher in such case. They punish the child emotionally when they get an unsatisfactory grade. Actually, this parental behavior is unhealthy for many reasons. First, it teaches the children that they are loved only upon achieving specific results, therefore they are not worthy as they are. This is conditional love. Additionally, this attitude does not nurture autonomy in children. They work to get good grades to please their parents and not get in trouble with them rather than for their own good. This is programming them to choose a career in the future to please mum and dad instead of choosing a path that is truly fulfilling. Over focusing on school results is a way for parents to avoid their true role as educators. The smarter parents understand the limits of the school system, and coach their children in other areas that is not covered by standard education. They develop their children emotional intelligence, character, compassion, expand their horizons, teach by example, promote their interest in sports and hobbies. While it is important to coach our children to have good results at school, it is far from being a necessary condition for living a successful and happy life. Many parents with low-esteem will use a child with good grades to compensate for their own insecurities and personal sense of failure. If they have one child with good grades and another one struggling at school, such parents will cause deep psychological damage to the child that is challenged academically. This child will feel even more unlovable, unworthy and is likely to resent his sibling. This is setting up the unhealthy dynamic of the Golden Child and the Scapegoat that is well known by therapists.

When extra curriculum activities are used as projective identification

While it is natural for a parent to initiate their children to activities they are familiar with for their mutual enjoyment, there is a healthy balance to reach. I knew a woman who dropped off musical school when she was 16 as her parents had prepared her to become a concert pianist. She refused to play at home for her family and friends as the memories of the pressure of having to play 6 hours a day had been traumatizing. However, when she had a son, she made a point that he would take piano. She would teach him piano from time to time but every session ended with her son’s tears. She was repeating her own trauma through him by giving him the same harsh treatment that she was once the victim. There are some professional athletes that had to endure a high level of projection from their coach parent. The 8 times grand slam tennis champion Andre Agassi went public about his father who put him through a brutal training as a young child. When young Agassi rebelled, his father just shouted at the top of his lungs “You’re a tennis player! You’re going to be number one in the world! You’re going to make lots of money. That’s the plan and that’s the end of it”. Mary Pierce is one of the best French female tennis players of all times. Jim Pierce, her father, once reportedly screamed “Mary, kill the bitch!” at a tennis tournament his daughter Mary Pierce played in. He verbally and physically abused his daughter. His outbursts at events were so bad that the World Tennis Association banned him from attending all tournaments. Many parents use their children to raise their social status vicariously. They use their children to look good to their family & friends. Sometimes, they have something to do with their children achievements but more often than we think, the children’s accomplishment are reached despite the parents’ unhealthy projections. These children feel excruciating pressure from their parents to perform and this is hindering their ability to truly enjoy their sport or activity. They tend to exhibit a lot of stress and anxiety. Failing in the activity would just reinforce the subconscious belief that they are not lovable.

Using children as weapons of war

Unfortunately, children are often caught in loyalty conflicts. In case of high divorce conflict, the narcissistic parent would turn his own children against the other parent. The children are brain-washed to take the alienating parent’s hatred towards the former spouse as their own. These parents are extremely toxic they are putting the child in a position to hate half of themselves. The psychological damage that these children suffer has been well-documented. Even outside of parental alienation, it is quite common for a parent to project their own resentment toward a friend or family member with their own children. One of my clients used to have a very close relationship with her stepdad. However, when the relationship ended the mother manipulated her daughter to behave very harshly towards the stepdad to get back at him. As a result, this young woman has had very unsatisfactory intimate relationships with men as she is very tormented subconsciously with the guilt of hurting someone she loved. The same process of alienation is not limited to the narcissistic parent’s former partner. Loving connections from uncles, aunts, grandparents, cousins and friends can be severed the same way.

My daughter as a Barbie doll

If the girl is good-looking, she may be used as an object of self-glorification and unhealthy pride for the parent, typically the mother. She is made to wear pretty little dresses and apparel to become a way to boost the self-esteem of the parent. The daughter is therefore compensating for the mother’s fear of getting old and losing her attractiveness. There is nothing wrong in the action of making our children look good when we can afford it. It is all about the intent behind the action. We need to examine if we have selfless or on the contrary self-centered motives. Because there are so many parents who think their children are so incredibly pretty, many photography agencies are exploiting this parents’ weakness by promising to submit the photo-shoot to modeling agencies. They charge an outrageous price for the photo-shoot but never submit anything. In such instance, the mother is grooming her daughter with the sole intent of getting attention and this is not coming from a nurturing instinct. In another example, a mother felt some jealousy towards her sister. She went over the top to make her daughter look gorgeous before visiting her aunt. The purpose was not a friendly and caring family visit. Her real agenda was to show that she was better than her sister because she had such a lovely, well-behaved and pretty daughter. Good behavior in this mother’s book is synonymous to anything that her daughter does to make her look good, and bad behavior is the opposite. The child’s best interest is never considered. She is just seen as an extension of the mother and any attempt to escape from her control is severely punished.

Children used as retirement and financial support

This is more prominent in cultures that do not offer a satisfactory retirement plan to their citizens. Parents have children so that they may support them financially and even physically during their old age. Parents see children as an investment, and if the child deviates from the plan that the parents have set-up, they are condemned as ungrateful, selfish and unworthy. This is the opposite of unconditional love. Children are geared towards careers that bring more money such as doctors or lawyers instead of following their passion. This way, they will not be a financial burden on the parent but on contrary could contribute to the parents’ materiel well-being in their old age. A friend of mine got a law degree just for his father. When he graduated, he told his father “This diploma is yours, now I am going to do what I like” What a waste of time! A caring parent is preoccupied first and foremost with his child’s happiness, not with the benefits he will draw from his children’s material success. While transactional relationship are required in the field of business, the world of family and friendship is there first to teach us about unconditionality. Real love is about giving without any expectation in return. I have a friend who used to help a lot financially his wife’s parents when they were married. When they decided to separate, she kept the expectation that her ex-husband should keep paying for her parents’ lifestyle. She has been suing her ex husband for the last 5 years for exorbitant child care fees charged by her parents for spending time for their own grandchildren! The irony is that she is also preventing her children to spend any time with their father.

Self-sacrificing behaviors

These self-centered parents are distorting reality to manipulate their children to feel a sense of indebtedness so as to better control them. One of my friends had a mother who had an affair with a young man during their marriage. She told her daughters that he was the love of her life but she decided not to leave their father as a sacrifice to them. In reality, she never had any intention to divorce as she enjoyed the financial stability of her emotionally unavailable husband. The daughters felt terrible as they felt responsible for their mother’s “sacrifice”. Many of these children, once they become adult, become very concerned when they receive anything in a relationship. They are afraid this may be used against them in the future. Some mothers may say they sacrifice having a fulfilling career because they had to raise their children while in fact they were afraid to face the workplace. People should never give out of sacrifice. Either they give from their heart or they should not give at all. I have heard from many grown-up children that they would have preferred not getting anything than feeling guilty because of their parent self-sacrificing behavior. They understand this is just plain manipulation. These parents have the habit of convincing their children that their own selfish behaviors were in fact self-sacrificing. They are just teaching their children that it is wrong to have needs of your own, and the only way to fulfill desires is through manipulation.

The helicopter parent

An helicopter parent pays extreme close attention to a child’s or children’s experiences and problems. This a coping mechanism not to experience their own inner void, self-worth issues and dissatisfaction about their own lives. They oscillate between being over-loving, over-protective or over critical to their children. With their actions, they are depriving their children of their own experiences and are severely limiting the child ability for autonomy. Children raised with helicopter parenting show poor emotional regulation as they are never given the space to handle, process and reflect on their own emotions. Whether they are feeling sad, angry, disappointed or distressed, the parent immediately takes over in solving the situation for them. Hence, they are disabled to handle real-life situations without their parent. The parent is enabling the child’s over-dependency of the parent. If the child is on school trip, the child will insist for example to talk with her mother at night before she is able to fall asleep. This child will continue to call her parent every day even far into adulthood. The child never cuts the umbilical cord with the parent which severely impacts his/her ability to experience life. The parent stays omnipresent and this leaves no space for other intimate relationships in the grown-up child.

The “gift” as a control mechanism

Such parents may give very generous gifts to their children however they may take the desired object just as quickly if the child deviates from their line of conduct. One of my friends had a boyfriend she was madly in love with. He was receiving financial support from his parents, and the parents found that she did not have the appropriate social status for their son. They threatened to cut financial support if he were to stay with her. He broke off with her shortly after. Another one of my friends got a dog when she was a teenager. She adored the dog as she received unconditional love from the animal in sharp contrast with her parents. The mother did not like the fact that her daughter could pour so much love outside of her. She got her husband to tell their daughter that they could only keep one dog because of the size of their house, but because her mother was very attached to her own dog, they would then give away the daughter’s dog. The daughter became so enraged with this decision that she actually became cruel with her mother’s dog. As a result, the dog started to exhibit some dangerous behaviors and they had to part with that dog too. The daughter developed some toxic guilt traumatizing this animal, and had to eventually work through it in therapy. This type of parent shows his or her omnipotence by making clear to the child that he has the ability to give but also to take away. In the most extreme form of this pattern, it is common for satanic cults to make little children attached to kitties before sacrificing the young cat in horrific ways in front of the child months later. This is imprinting the child with a deep sense of powerlessness so that they may be more easily controllable to follow the cult’s agenda. When the child becomes aware that anything they care for may be taken away at any time, they refuse to connect intimately with anyone or anything outside the toxic organization.

Preventing competing child’s intimate relationships

There are some parents that cannot stand if their children may start showing more affection towards someone else than themselves. They have a strategy of “divide and conquer” to stay #1 in their children’s heart or mind. Such parent would criticize the child’s boyfriend or spouse behind their back to ensure the child shows loyalty first to the parent and not to the romantic partner. One of my clients’ mother had left “inadvertently” an open bottle of pain medicine at her house and my client’s dog ate dozens of pills. The dog barely died as a result. Toxic mothers may even get jealous of their daughter’s attachment towards their newborn. In another situation, one mother took away her pregnant daughter’s chair as the latter was going to sit down. As she didn’t notice that the chair has been removed, she fell abruptly and almost got a miscarriage. These parents are very proficient at slandering anyone that may become too close to their child. These could be children, romantic partners, other grandparents, friends, animals or even competing activities that could prevent the narcissistic parent to feel his/her dominance. These parents only know possessiveness because they know no real love in their heart. There is a common pattern in families when the mother becomes jealous of the daughter as she becomes an attractive teenager. This mother would then use her husband to punish the daughter on futile ground. This achieves multiple goals at once. First, it reassures the insecure mother about the loyalty of her husband. Secondly, it antagonizes the daughter towards the father to ensure that the mother-daughter bond stays primary. Another mother would make sure to exhibit all his son’s pictures with his past girlfriends every time a new girlfriend of his would visit. This would make the new girlfriend feel insignificant and create strife in the relationship. The hidden purpose is to ensure that she stays the dominant female figure in her son’s life.

Before we can experience real love, we need to recognize what is not love. Narcissistic love can exhibit many of the attributes of real love: deep care and concern, commitment, gifts, affection and positive compliments. To differentiate conditional and unconditional love, we need to consider if the parent is able to see the child as separate to him, that he possesses his own desires, aspirations and dreams that may be different from the parent. While we come to this world in a state of fusion with our mother, the process of maturation is about recognizing our own individuality separate from our parents as we grow-up. It is also natural to be egocentric and think we are the center of the world as a small child. Problems start arising when we do not develop past this stage because of childhood traumas. Real love stems in complete freedom when we choose to spend time and affection with people we care for. Not because we have to, but because we want to.

French translation below – Article en Français ci-dessous

La Veuve Noire

La veuve noire est une araignée qui est bien connue pour son cannibalisme sexuel. Elle mange parfois son homologue masculin après avoir été fécondée. Si l’idée de dévorer son compagnon peut sembler terrifiante, l’idée de manger sa propre progéniture devient alors impensable. Toutefois, cela a été observé chez un certain nombre d’espèces animales. Les araignées loup pratiquent fréquemment le cannibalisme filial. Les zoologistes supposent qu’elles obtiennent un bienfait énergétique de ce repas contre nature et elles le font d’autant plus que d’autres sources de nourriture deviennent rares. Ce comportement est malheureusement beaucoup plus fréquent que l’on ne pourrait le penser à un niveau psychologique chez les êtres humains.

La plupart du temps, nous devenons parents plus pour des raisons inconscientes que conscientes. Nous pouvons le faire par simple mimétisme de nos propres parents. À un niveau inconscient, nous pouvons vouloir guérir les traumatismes de notre propre enfance en ayant nous-mêmes des enfants, voire même pour combler notre propre vide affectif. Nous pouvons avoir peur d’être seul ou nous voulons donner un sens à notre existence, c’est pourquoi nous voulons une descendance qui nous survivra. Dans certaines cultures, nous comptons sur nos enfants pour prendre soin de nous pendant nos vieux jours et ce également sur un plan financier. Dans l’ideal, nous pouvons souhaiter avoir des enfants afin de leur donner un amour inconditionnel et qu’ils puissent se développer afin d’améliorer le monde dans lequel nous vivons. Bien qu’il soit très douloureux de se séparer d’un partenaire romantique, le temps finit par apaiser un coeur blessé. Cependant, nous ne pouvons pas en dire de même en ce qui concerne nos enfants. Nos enfants sont la chair de notre chair, et nous ne sommes jamais en mesure de guérir complètement de la perte de nos enfants. La blessure persiste et tout conflit avec nos enfants nous perturbe profondément. Sur le plan psychologique, nos enfants amplifient nos aspects de lumière mais aussi notre part d’ombre, encore plus que ne le font nos relations amoureuses. Voilà pourquoi les relations parentales souffrent d’un fort niveau de projection. À ce titre, nos enfants sont en fin de compte nos enseignants de vie les plus difficiles. Ils choisissent aussi souvent de réaliser les rêves que nous n’avons pu réaliser.

Cependant le parent idéal est capable de voir le caractère unique de ses enfants, et ne projète pas ses propres désirs et vocations manquées sur eux. Ils encouragent le développement de leurs enfants en fonction de leurs talents et de leurs propres désirs. Le parent idéal apporte l’amour inconditionnel, la présence et le soutien à l’enfant afin qu’il puisse devenir autonome. Il les aide à se créer une vie heureuse. L’amour parentale devrait se focaliser sur ce qui est le mieux pour l’enfant indépendamment de ce qui peut être le mieux pour le parent. C’est ce que nous appelons l’amour inconditionnel et c’est ce vers quoi nous devons tendre en tant que parents.

Malheureusement, nous sommes loin d’être des parents idéaux du fait des traumatismes que nous avons vécu lors de notre enfance. Par conséquent, nous souffrons d’un certain nombre de maux psychologiques comme la peur de la solitude ou de l’abandon, la dépression, l’indisponibilité émotionnelle, une faible estime de nous-même, la peur du lendemain et bien d’autres angoisses. Tant que nous n’avons pas intégré et purgé tous ces aspects en nous et que nous ne sommes pas capables de nous donner de l’amour, nous sommes très susceptibles de vampiriser nos propres enfants. Lorsque les enfants viennent au monde, ils sont purs et rayonnent d’un amour inconditionnel. Du fait de leur innocence et pureté, ils deviennent les victimes de parents qui leur transmettent leurs propres traumatismes. Un certain nombre de mes patients qui ont eu des parents négligents ou abusifs, ont souvent peur de revisiter les souvenirs douloureux du passé alors que la guérison émotionnelle peut aller d’autant plus vite lorsqu’ils ne cherchent pas à protéger les illusions d’un passé cruel. Beaucoup de mes patients n’ont connu qu’un amour parental narcissique. Il est très difficile pour l’enfant une fois adulte d’accepter qu’il n’était pas vraiment aimé alors qu’il se croyait le centre de l’attention de ses parents. C’est une situation très confuse. L’enfant maintenant adulte veut se convaincre qu’il était aimé alors qu’il était en fait utilisé et manipulé a des fins égocentriques par ses parents. Cela est d’autant plus difficile à accepter que les apparences sont trompeuses, et que les gens extérieurs renforcent cette même image du parent parfait.

Ce type d’amour venant d’un parent narcissique peut être exprimé de plusieurs façons. Le narcissisme parental est en fait si répandue que beaucoup de gens pourraient sentir la colère monter en eux en lisant les exemples ci-dessous car ceux-ci peuvent être les seuls moments où ils se sont sentis vraiment chéris et aimés. Le narcissisme est juste un état de conscience qui nous empêche de voir à l’extérieur de notre bulle et donc de voir le caractere unique de l’enfant en face de nous. L’amour inconditionnel est rare et précieux, mais une fois que nous en faisons l’expérience, il est alors plus facile de cesser de s’accrocher à l’amour conditionnel.

Trop d’emphase sur les résultats scolaires

Ces soi-disant parents parfaits accordent une importance démesurée aux résultats scolaires de leur progéniture. Il faut que les devoirs soient faits parfaitement quite à ce qu’ils les fassent pour eux. Ils s’offensent si leur enfant n’obtient qu’une note moyenne et ils n’hésitent pas à exiger une rencontre avec l’enseignant dans ce cas. Ils punissent aussi l’enfant quand il obtient une note médiocre. Ce genre de comportement parental est malsain pour de nombreuses raisons. Tout d’abord, il montre aux enfants qu’ils ne sont dignes d’amour que par leur performance, ce qui veut dire qu’ils ne peuvent être aimés en tant que tel sans une action qui leur donne une valeur. C’est l’amour conditionnel. De plus, cette attitude ne développe pas l’autonomie chez les enfants. Ils travaillent pour obtenir de bonnes notes afin de plaire à leurs parents et ne pas avoir des ennuis avec eux plutôt que de réussir académiquement pour leur propre futur. Ils vont souvent choisir une carrière qui vont plaire à maman et papa plutôt que d’opter pour une vocation qui leur convient. La pression sur les résultats scolaires est aussi un moyen détourné pour les parents d’éviter leur véritable rôle d’éducateurs. Les parents plus expérimentés comprennent les limites du système scolaire, et aident leurs enfants à s’épanouir dans d’autres domaines qui développent leur intelligence émotionnelle, leur caractère, la compassion et l’empathie, l’élargissement de leurs horizons, et leur intérêt pour les sports et les loisirs. Alors qu’il est important de suivre nos enfants dans leur scolarité, les bons résultats sont loin de leur garantir une vie réussie et heureuse. Beaucoup de parents avec une faible estime d’eux-mêmes utiliseront un enfant qui a de bonnes notes pour compenser leurs propres insécurités et leur sentiment personnel d’échec. S’ils ont un enfant avec de bonnes notes et un autre en difficulté à l’école, ces parents causent des dommages psychologiques profonds en reproduisant la dynamique malsaine et bien connue de “l’enfant parfait” et de “l’enfant bouc-émissaire”. Cela montre non seulement que l’enfant est aimé de façon conditionnelle, mais cela engendre aussi une rivalité destructrice entre frères et soeurs ce qui permet au parent narcissique de renforcer sa toute puissance.

Lorsque les activités extra-curriculaires sont utilisées comme identification projective

Bien qu’il soit naturel pour un parent d’initier ses enfants à des activités qu’ils aiment personnellement, il y a un équilibre à atteindre. Une de mes connaissances avait abandonné le conservatoire quand elle avait 16 ans alors que ses parents l’avaient préparé à devenir une grande pianiste. Elle refusait de jouer à la maison pour sa famille et les amis car elle avait des souvenirs traumatisants à devoir jouer 6 heures par jour et regrettait de n’avoir pas eu d’enfance. Cependant, quand elle eut un fils, elle mit un point d’honneur à ce qu’il apprenne le piano. Elle commença à lui enseigner le piano, mais chaque leçon finissait par les larmes de son fils. Elle ne put s’empêcher de répéter le même traitement dont elle avait été plus jeune la victime. De nombreux athlètes professionnels doivent subir la pression et les projections de leur parent entraîneur. Dans le monde du tennis professionnel, le grand champion André Agassi a rendu public dans son livre autobiographique “Open” les entraînements terribles qu’il devait subir. Lorsque le jeune Agassi se révoltait, son père se contentait d’hurler à pleins poumons « Tu es un joueur de tennis! Tu vas être le numéro un mondial! Et tu vas aussi gagner beaucoup d’argent. Il n’y a aucune discussion possible! ». Mary Pierce est l’une des meilleures joueuses du tennis féminin français de tous les temps. Jim Pierce, son père, avait une fois crié pendant un match en parlant de son adversaire lors d’un tournoi professionnel « Mary, allez, tue-la cette salope! » Il abusait aussi verbalement et physiquement sa fille. Ses explosions de colère lors de matchs professionnels étaient si menaçantes que l’association mondiale de tennis lui a interdit d’assister à tous les tournois. De nombreux parents exploitent leurs enfants afin d’élever leur propre niveau social. Ils utilisent leurs enfants pour se faire valoir auprès de leur famille et de leurs amis. Alors que ces parents s’attribuent le succès de leurs enfants, bien plus souvent que nous le pensons, leurs accomplissements sont souvent atteints en dépit des projections malsaines des parents. Ces enfants ressentent trop de pression venant de leurs parents et cela les empêche de profiter pleinement de leur sport ou de leur activité. Au contraire, ils montrent souvent beaucoup de stress et d’anxiété. Ce genre de comportement parental renforce simplement la croyance subconsciente qu’ils ne sont pas dignes d’amour.

L’utilisation des enfants comme des armes de guerre

Malheureusement, les enfants se retrouvent souvent pris dans des conflits de loyauté. En cas de divorce très conflictuel, le parent narcissique n’hésite pas à retourner ses enfants contre l’autre parent. Les enfants sont manipulés pour prendre en eux la haine du parent aliénant envers l’ex-conjoint comme si c’était leur propre haine. Ces parents sont extrêmement toxiques car ils mettent l’enfant dans une position où il doit haïr la moitié de lui-même. Les troubles psychologiques que ces enfants vont alors développer ont été bien mis en avant par les experts. Il est aussi fréquent que les enfants s’approprient les ressentiments des parents envers un ami ou membre de la famille. Une de mes patientes avait une relation très proche avec son beau-père. Cependant, lorsque la relation a pris fin, la mère a manipulé sa fille afin qu’elle se comporte très durement envers le beau-père pour le punir d’avoir rompu avec sa mère. Par conséquent, cette jeune femme a eu de nombreuses difficultés en couple avec les hommes car elle est restée très tourmentée inconsciemment par la culpabilité envers son beau-père. Ce processus d’aliénation ne se limite pas à l’ancien partenaire amoureux du parent narcissique mais inclut souvent toutes les relations avec les oncles, tantes, grands-parents, cousins, cousines et amis.

Ma fille comme ma poupée Barbie

Si la jeune fille est belle, elle peut être utilisée comme un objet d’auto-glorification pour nourrir une fierté malsaine chez le parent, généralement la mère. On lui fait porter de jolies robes et vêtements afin de rehausser l’estime de soi des parents. La fille est simplement là afin d’atténuer la peur de sa mère à vieillir et de se sentir moins attirante. Il n’y a rien de mal à ce que nous voulons que nos enfants aient le meilleur quand nous pouvons nous le permettre financièrement cependant il faut regarder quelle est la véritable intention derrière nos actions. Nous devons nous poser la question si nous agissons de manière désintéressée ou égocentrique. Beaucoup de parents ont la conviction que leurs enfants sont d’une beauté extraordinaire. Beaucoup de photographes exploitent cette faiblesse en leur promettant de soumettre les photos de leurs enfants à des agences de mannequins. Ils facturent un prix exorbitant pour la séance photo sans jamais rien soumettre à l’agence. Dans d’autres cas, la mère habille sa fille dans le seul but d’attirer l’attention et de se faire valoir. Par exemple, une mère était jalousie de sa sœur. Elle s’assura que sa fille soit absolument superbe avant que cette derniere aille rendre visite à sa tante. Il ne s’agissait pas là d’une simple visite familiale amicale et chaleureuse pour la mère. Sa véritable intention était de montrer qu’elle était mieux que sa sœur parce qu’elle avait une fille si sage et si belle. Pour ce genre de mère, les comportements de son enfant ne seront jugés bons que s’ils vont dans son sens à elle et si elle peut en retirer quelque chose personnellement. L’intérêt de l’enfant n’est jamais pris en compte.

Les enfants utilisés comme un soutien financier

Ceci est plus commun dans les cultures qui n’offrent pas de régime de retraite satisfaisant à leurs citoyens. Les parents ont des enfants afin que ceux-ci puissent les soutenir financièrement et même physiquement pendant leur vieillesse. Les parents voient leur enfant comme un investissement pour le futur, et si l’enfant se détourne du plan que les parents ont mis en place, ils sont sévèrement jugés. C’est l’opposé de l’amour inconditionnel. Ces enfants sont orientés vers des carrières qui rapportent plus d’argent comme médecin ou avocat au lieu de suivre leur vocation. De cette façon, ils ne seront pas un fardeau financier pour les parents mais au contraire pourront contribuer au bien-être matériel de leurs parents âgés. Un de mes amis a obtenu une licence en droit juste pour son père. Quand il a obtenu son diplôme, il a dit à son père « Ce diplôme est pour toi, maintenant, je vais faire ce que je veux » et il commença de nouvelles études dans une branche complètement différente. Quelle perte de temps! Un parent attentif se préoccupe avant tout du bonheur de son enfant, et non des avantages qu’il tirera de leur réussite matérielle. Bien que les relations transactionnelles sont nécessaires dans le domaine des affaires, la famille et l’amitié devraient être basées sur un amour inconditionnel. L’amour véritable est de donner sans attendre en retour. J’ai un ami qui aidait beaucoup financièrement les parents de sa femme quand ils se sont mariés. Ensuite, quand ils ont décidé de se séparer, elle a consideré que son ex-mari devait continuer à payer pour que ses parents maintiennent le même mode de vie! Elle poursuit en justice son ex-mari depuis 5 ans pour payer les frais exorbitants de garde d’enfants réclamés par ses parents pour passer du temps avec leurs propres petits-enfants! L’ironie du sort est qu’elle empêche aussi ses enfants de passer du temps avec leur père.

Comportements pseudo sacrificiels

Ces parents égocentriques déforment la réalité dans le but de manipuler leurs enfants afin qu’ils ressentent un sentiment d’endettement et de culpabilité pour mieux les contrôler. Une de mes amies avait une mère qui avait eu une liaison avec un jeune homme au cours de son mariage. Elle a dit à ses filles qu’il était l’amour de sa vie, mais qu’elle avait décidé de ne pas laisser leur père car elle devait se sacrifier pour sa famille. En réalité, elle n’avait jamais eu l’intention de divorcer comme elle appréciait la stabilité financière de son mari même s’il était froid. Ces pauvres filles se sentaient donc responsables du malheur de leur mère. Un grand nombre de ces enfants, une fois adultes, deviennent très soucieux dès que quelqu’un leur donne quelque chose car ils ne veulent rien devoir à personne à cause du traumatisme lié à leur mère. D’autres mères disent qu’elles ont sacrifié une belle carrière professionnelle afin d’élever leurs enfants alors qu’en fait, elles avaient peur du monde du travail. Les gens ne devraient jamais donner par sacrifice. Il est préférable de ne rien donner si l’on ne peut pas donner de bon coeur. J’ai entendu de nombreux adultes dire qu’ils auraient préféré ne rien recevoir de leurs parents plutôt que d’être constamment culpabilisés. Ils comprennent finalement que tout était manipulation. Ces parents sont passés maîtres à faire passer leurs comportements égoïstes pour de l’abnégation. Ils enseignent à leurs enfants qu’il est mal d’avoir ses propres besoins, et que la seule façon de satisfaire ses désirs est par la manipulation.

Le parent “hélicoptère”

Un parent “hélicoptère” est trop identifié à l’enfant ou s’immisce de manière exagérée dans toutes les expériences et tous les problèmes de l’enfant. Il s’agit là d’un mécanisme d’adaptation afin que le parent ne fasse pas l’expérience de son vide intérieur, de son manque d’amour de soi et de son insatisfaction quant à sa propre existence. Ils oscillent entre des états remplis d’affection, sur-protecteurs ou très critiques vis-à-vis de leurs enfants. Avec leur ingérence permanente, ils privent leurs enfants de leurs propres expériences et limitent la capacité de ces derniers à devenir autonomes. Les enfants élevés par de tels parents montrent de la difficulté à gérer leurs émotions car ils n’ont jamais reçu l’espace nécessaire pour faire face par eux-mêmes aux problèmes de la vie. Qu’ils se sentent tristes, en colère, déçus ou en détresse, le parent prend immédiatement le contrôle dans la résolution de leur problème, et pas toujours à bon escient. Ces enfants se sentent donc perdus une fois qu’ils quittent le domicile familial. Le parent a créé une dépendance excessive de l’enfant. Si l’enfant est en voyage scolaire, l’enfant insistera par exemple pour parler avec sa mère la nuit afin de pouvoir s’endormir. Cet enfant continuera à appeler ses parents tous les jours quand il sera adulte. Cet enfant ne coupe jamais le cordon ombilical avec le parent, ce qui a de lourdes conséquences quant à sa capacité à vivre sa propre vie. Ces parents sont omniprésents, et n’hésitent pas à débarquer à l’improviste dans le domicile de l’enfant une fois adulte pour faire par exemple de nouveaux aménagements comme s’il s’agissait de leur propre domicile ce qui ne laisse par conséquent aucune place pour d’autres relations intimes.

Le « cadeau » en tant que mécanisme de contrôle

Ces parents peuvent donner des cadeaux très généreux à leurs enfants mais ils peuvent reprendre l’objet désiré tout aussi rapidement quand l’enfant s’écarte de la ligne de conduite qui a été tracée pour eux. Une de mes amies avait un petit ami dont elle était très amoureuse. Il recevait un soutien financier important de ses parents qui n’aimaient pas le niveau social de sa petite amie. Ils l’ont donc menacé de retirer tout soutien financier s’il s’entêtait à rester avec elle. Il a rompu avec elle peu de temps après. Une autre de mes amies avait un chien quand elle était enfant. Elle adorait ce chien car elle recevait un amour inconditionnel de l’animal, ce qui contrastait fortement avec celui de ses parents. La mère qui n’appréciait pas que sa fille porte plus d’attention à son chien qu’à elle-même, a mandaté son mari pour dire à leur fille qu’ils ne pouvaient garder qu’un seul chien à cause de la taille de leur maison. Comme sa mère était très attachée à son propre chien, ils ont alors donné celui de leur fille qui en a été très malheureuse. La fille était alors si en colère qu’elle est devenue réellement cruelle avec le chien de sa mère quand ils avaient le dos tourné car malheureusement les comportements pervers se transmettent généralement à la génération suivante. Par conséquent, le chien a commencé à montrer certains comportements dangereux et ils ont dû également s’en débarrasser. La fille a alors développé une forte culpabilité d’avoir traumatisé cet animal et d’avoir fait du mal à sa mère. Une fois adulte, elle s’acheta à deux reprises des chiens qu’elle finit par donner à sa mère. Le deuxième chien fut acheté pour son fils mais elle se plaignit de ses aboiements et le donna également a sa mere qui en fut ravie. Ce n’est qu’en faisant une thérapie qu’elle compris ce qu’elle avait rejoué inconsciemment. Ce type de parent montre son omnipotence en indiquant clairement à l’enfant qu’il a la capacité de donner, mais aussi de reprendre. Dans la forme la plus extrême de ce schéma, il est fréquent pour les sectes sataniques de faire en sorte que des enfants s’attachent à un petit chat avant de le sacrifier de façon horrible devant l’enfant des mois plus tard. Ceci fait naitre chez l’enfant un profond sentiment d’impuissance afin qu’il devienne plus facilement contrôlable par la secte déviante. Lorsque l’enfant se rend compte que tout ce qu’il aime peut être enlevé à tout moment, il évite de se lier profondément avec quelqu’un ou quelque chose. Son isolement est alors utilisé par l’organisation toxique à des fins utilitaires.

Nuire aux relations intimes de l’enfant qui pourraient menacer la suprématie du parent

Il y a certains parents qui ne peuvent pas supporter que leurs enfants puissent montrer plus d’affection envers quelqu’un d’autre qu’envers eux-mêmes. Ils adoptent alors la stratégie « diviser pour mieux régner » afin de rester maître dans le cœur ou l’esprit de leurs enfants. Un tel parent critique donc le petit ami ou conjoint de l’enfant pour que l’enfant continue à montrer sa loyauté envers ses parents plutôt qu’au partenaire romantique. La mère d’une de mes patientes avaient laissé « par inadvertance » une boîte grande ouverte de comprimés pour la douleur. Le chien de ma patiente a mangé des dizaines de pilules et il en est mort. Ces mères toxiques peuvent même devenir jalouses de l’attachement de leur fille envers leurs propres enfants. Dans une autre situation, une mère a enlevé la chaise de sa fille enceinte où celle-ci s’apprêtait à s’asseoir. Comme elle n’avait pas remarqué que le siège avait été enlevé, elle est tombée brutalement et elle a failli faire une fausse couche. Ce genre de parents sont très habiles à diffamer toute personne qui deviendrait trop proche de leur enfant, que ce soit des partenaires romantiques, d’autres grands-parents, des amis, des animaux ou même des activités concurrentes qui pourraient menacer la suprémacie du parent narcissique. Ces parents ne connaissent que l’amour possession et l’objetisation. Il est aussi commun dans ce genre de famille que la mère devienne jalouse de la fille lorsqu’elle devient une belle adolescente qui attire le sexe opposé. Cette mère utilise alors son mari pour punir sa fille pour des raisons futiles. Cela lui permet d’atteindre plusieurs objectifs à la fois. Tout d’abord, cela rassure la mère quant à la loyauté de son mari. En second lieu, elle créé ainsi un conflit entre la fille et le père afin de rester toute puissante. Une autre mère ne manquait pas d’exposer les photos de son fils avec une ancienne petite amie chaque fois que son fils venait avec nouvelle compagne. La nouvelle petite amie se sentait alors insignifiante, ce qui ne manquait pas de créer un conflit dans la relation. Le but caché de cette mère est de veiller à ce qu’elle reste la figure féminine dominante dans la vie de son fils qu’elle ne veut pas partager.

Avant de pouvoir expérimenter le vrai amour, nous devons apprendre à identifier ce qui n’est pas vraiment de l’amour même si cela ressemble à de l’amour. L’amour narcissique peut présenter un grand nombre des attributs de l’amour véritable: la préoccupation, l’inquiétude, l’engagement, les cadeaux, l’affection et les compliments. Pour différencier l’amour conditionnel de l’amour inconditionnel, nous devons nous demander si le parent est en mesure de voir son enfant comme un être séparé de lui-même et de voir qu’il possède ses propres désirs, ses aspirations et ses propres rêves qui peuvent être différents de ceux du parent. Alors que nous venons dans ce monde dans un état de fusion avec notre mère, le processus de maturation de l’enfant veut qu’il développe sa propre individualité au fur à mesure qu’il grandit. Il est bien naturel d’être égocentrique et de penser que nous sommes le centre du monde quand nous sommes petits. Les problèmes commencent lorsque nous ne dépassons pas ce stade infantile en raison de traumatismes affectifs. L’amour véritable s’exprime lorsque nous choisissons en toute liberté de passer du temps, d’aider, de faire plaisir et de montrer de l’affection sans rien attendre en retour. Non pas parce que nous le devons, mais parce que nous le voulons.

Part IX – Transcendental mature coping mechanisms

Read Part VIII – Personal mature coping mechanisms

These are mature coping mechanisms that are transcendental in nature. They are followed by men and women who have realized that life is much bigger than the naked eye and what society has taught us. They are driven to explore their full potential, discover the meaning of life and find the God within themselves.

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  • Meditation 

Meditation has become a very popular and mainstream practice. San Francisco airport has a meditation room called the Berman Reflection Room. Companies such as Apple, Google, Yahoo and Nike offer relaxation and meditation rooms. The general public sees meditation as a technique as the wikipedia definition indicates. At the beginning of the spiritual, our ego learns meditation techniques in search of benefits such as relaxation, inspiration, happiness and inner peace however true meditation can never be achieved this way. As a young man interested in spirituality, I would often attempt to meditate. My personality knew that it was important to meditate to evolve spiritually. If I were to lay down trying to meditate, I would fall asleep most of the time. So I would sit, try various exercises or guided meditations. I was actually learning concentration not meditation. Both are generally confused for each other. While this was useful to acquire more control over my thoughts, after a while my body would bother me and I would stop. Not much insight would come out from these meditation attempts. In my mid-thirties, I got a concussion from a ski accident which made me very dizzy for a month. After I had recovered, as an act of grace, the nature of my meditation was completely transformed. I started to be able to meditate effortlessly for over an hour without my body bothering me. I was meditating from my heart for the first time. Previously, all my meditation attempts had originated from my lower mind. Meditation started to feel like taking a sunbath rather than something laborious to do. It became an act of non-doing. I started to feel my creator, my divine self, my body, my feelings and my thoughts. I realized that meditation was first an act of listening, feeling myself deeply and not a technique. Until we reach a point where meditation is done effortlessly from the heart, we do not understand what true meditation is. Meditation can open the channel of our higher self as long as our heart is aligned, giving us ecstatic states of consciousness. In meditation, we can listen to the subtle spheres and advance much faster on our spiritual journey. Meditation can also be used for this physical dimension. We can feel the people in our life, the potentials in our life and, as such, make much better decisions. I could feel my loved ones and their personal struggles. As a business owner, I could feel the state of mind of my employees so it was a very useful management tool too. Meditation helps us to stay aligned to live a life that feels good. Over the years, meditation has become my refuge or my conscious coping mechanism. When I am faced with challenges, I automatically meditate to regulate my emotions, calm my mind, evaluate a situation and get clarity and insights about what to do next.

  • Shadow work

We are all light and shadow, made of conscious and subconscious aspects or personalities. We are a multitude within ourselves. There are times where we feel stuck in an aspect that feels bad, or one that is completely numb. These shadows or dark aspects are created in 3 main ways. First, when we experience a trauma and we are not able to digest the experience, the mind would bury it into the subconscious so that we can get on with our life. For example, a woman who was sexually abused as a child could suppress her femininity because subconsciously she believed she got in trouble because of it. Others could become unattractive and overweight as a layer of protection against men. This aspect lives in constant fear of men and sees the world as threatening and predatory. Secondly, the shadow could be a protector personality from the traumatized inner child. Using the same example, there are many sexually abused women in their childhood who are hyper sexualized. To overcome their fear of men, they learn to use their sex appeal to take control over men to overcome their own powerlessness. However, because this process is unconscious, the individual has really two shadow personalities on top of each other. In this case, it would be a succubus protecting a terrorized abused inner child. In my case, as a teenager, I had developed a mean personality to protect my powerless and unloved inner child. This personality would say hurtful words to anyone trying to bully me. When someone is mean, it is always a protector personality protecting a hurt aspect of him/herself. There are no real perpetrators, only victims who cope in unhealthy ways. Third, shadow personalities are created from shadow aspects from our primary caretakers (transgenerational traumas). We have internalized unsavory aspects of our parents so that we could keep bonding to them even if they are hurtful. This is why, as we become conscious, we need to clear the traumas of our whole family line.

These subconscious shadow aspects act like magnets. They attract life situations or people with similar vibrations that feel terrible. The slow way of evolution is to learn from these painful experiences that we have manifested from our shadow self in this physical dimension. However, as we become more aware, we are able to identify early the feelings when we are taken internally by these dark clouds or pulsions. It feels gluey, similar to feeling possessed by a negative entity. We cannot think straight and we disconnect from our daily life. We feel horrible and out of control. Attempting positive thinking would do more damage than good in this frame of mind as it would repress these aspects even deeper into our psyche. The optimal approach is what we call shadow work. We use these times of torment to perform powerful healing. There are thousands of different soul retrieval processes, each one with their own benefits but the principles are always the same. First, we embrace the negative sensations and emotions instead of resisting them. This is the process of diving into the shadow without resistance. Secondly, we validate and show unconditional love & presence to this buried aspect so that it may fully come to the surface. Thirdly, the shadow aspect comes to expression. If this step is successful, a noticeable emotional release happens such as crying. Fourth, we bring unconditional love & presence for the healing to complete and let our extraordinary body perform its magic. Fifth, the mind can then analyze and understand what happened. This last step is optional. Shadow work is extremely powerful. When done correctly, after a couple of hours, we start feeling much better and can enjoy days of feeling much better.

  • Disciplined thinking

When a situation upsets us, our mind has a tendency to go all over the place. We may go to catastrophizing, stop sleeping at night or struggle to concentrate on our daily activity. All of our energy is usurped by the problem. As we sincerely attempt to start controlling our thinking process, we will realize how little control we have over our mind. We observe that thinking happens mechanically most of the times. Disciplining our thoughts and mental attention is a lifelong process. Progress is slow but well worth it. Here are the most important techniques I have used all over the years that have served me well. Let’s say that a stressful situation just entered our life and we feel overwhelmed. Not knowing what to do puts us in a very powerless state so thinking on how to respond is healthy. Putting all of our thoughts on paper, evaluate the pros and cons, the benefits and the risks, best and worst case situations can help us get clarity. Then we define a clear strategy for action. Despite this, our mind will have a tendency to wander, and we need patiently and consistently to bring it back to what we decided with our rational mind. At other times, we go to bed full of worries so we are unable to sleep. The circling worrying thoughts are what keep us awake. Stopping thoughts is possible but very difficult. Instead, I recommend we focus our attention on our body sensations to fall asleep. We focus 3 seconds on the sensations of our right shoulder, relaxing it if tensed, then 3 seconds on the left shoulder. If our mind wanders again, we immediately bring it back to the body part sensation without belittling ourselves for our short attention span. We follow the same process with the right thumb, index, middle finger, ring finger, pinkie, and every other possible part of your body. Depending of our anxiety level, we will feel automatically asleep within minutes. This practice gets better with practice.

When we go onto our daily activities, it is very important to do only one thing at a time, and not start something else until the activity is complete. In addition to making us more productive, it is an excellent habit to discipline the mind. This way, the mind will be stronger when we face really difficult situations. There are life situations that stretch us to the limit. For example, our wife is threatening us with divorce or our business is risking to go under or we are stuck at 15,000 feet in high altitude sick with no energy to go down. This came from personal experience. In this situation, we are overwhelmed with scary and self-defeating thoughts. My practice then is not to believe the thoughts. I watch them and let them pass. These thoughts would be « I am going to be alone », « I am going to lose my children », « I am losing everything I have worked so hard for », « I am unlovable. I am always abandoned at the end » or « I am going to be bankrupt », « I am a failure, a loser », « I am going to be the laughing stock of my business community », « My employees are going to hate me for letting them down », « I am going to lose my house », « I will never be successful » or « I am going to die », « I have so many regrets of things I have not completed », « I can see my own funerals and people talking negatively about me ». I let them run through the body. This can result in shaking, shedding tears, sweating or freezing. Then I go back to my resolve which could be « you are my wife, I love you and we will find a way », « I went through many challenges and I always overcome them. I will find a way », « I will put one step after another, and with God’s grace I will return safely » following the scenarios above. In the spiritual field, we talk much more about the heart than the mind. However both are just as important. A clear and disciplined mind is critical for our daily life and the advancement of our spiritual journey. And it only comes by working on it every day. The Buddhist religion offers a great variety of tools and techniques to still the mind for anyone willing to dive deeper on this topic.

  • Presence

Presence is a simple concept but a very difficult one at the same time. If we ask everyone if they are present, they would quickly respond affirmatively, not understanding what presence actually is. Presence was recently popularized to the mainstream by Eckart Tolle with his best-seller The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment but all spiritual traditions talk about it in some ways. When we experience true presence for the first time, we realize we have been asleep all of our life. Presence is a feeling state that is hard to describe. It is like shifting our consciousness to an observer who can see us and what we are thinking or doing at the same time. As a young man, I first practiced presence by taking some walks. As I was watching the surrounding sceneries, I was aware at the same time of the « I » that was looking. To keep my focus, I would keep my awareness on my breath, the sensations of my body or the impressions coming to all my physical senses such as birds’ chirping. Before we experience the revelation of presence, we live a very mechanical life. We are like a machine programmed by our upbringing, education and environment. We react mechanically to external stimuli and we are fully identified with any activity we perform. We have little self-awareness and introspection is superficial. We have little access to our inner world. Presence changes everything. It is the light that starts illuminating our internal life from the inside to start freeing ourselves from the programs so that we may know ourselves. At first, presence may come only a few times a day for very short moments but with practice and perseverance, we can increase how long we can be present every single day. It starts with the process of self-observation. Presence is a form of divided attention when we stay aware of our observer self, what we are doing or thinking and sometimes even our transcendental self. It is very difficult at first so it is best to start with uncomplicated activities such as walking, driving or exercising. Later on, we may move to more mental activities such as reading or writing a paper. As we start practicing presence, we become aware of the principle obstacles of achieving this state : scattered mind, undisciplined body, overwhelming pulsions and emotions, fear, identification to activities, attachments, exaggerated concern for other people’s opinions, limited energy, inner fragmentation, false personas and inner lies. Presence indicates our level of being and it is the best indicator of where we are in the spiritual path. People who have more presence have a distinct feel. They have natural charisma and an aura that affect everyone around them. People are naturally drawn to them. We cannot acquire more presence unless we work on all other unrefined aspects of ourselves. It takes personal efforts and perseverance to be more present. I recommend having practices in our life that increase self-awareness such as meditation, yoga or developing the habit to remember ourselves as we perform daily activities. However, true presence is always an act of grace. It is the non-doing in the doing. It can never be forced as we need to bring a sensitive feeling state that can only come from the heart. In the beginning of the spiritual path, it is often the ego who wants to be present to achieve all the benefits of enlightenment…with very limited results. Overtime, the ego gets smoother (and bruised) through life experiences, becomes more conscious of its limitations, and presence can be initiated from a heart space. Presence can be practiced anytime in any circumstances. This is the most important spiritual practice of all. Presence is the light of consciousness. As they go through hard times, the people who are committing to personal development naturally practice presence. This allows them to find the answers of how they attracted the current unpleasant states in order to step out of it. This is why it is a mature coping mechanism. The inevitable struggles of life become then a stepping stone to develop more presence.

  • Fasting

It is no surprise that a number of religions such as Islam are promoting fasting. Actually, fasting, statistically, shows the highest efficiency among physical methods of healing. When animals are sick, they have no appetite. And they will fast until they become healthy. Through my personal circles of acquaintances, I got to hear about a number of people who had terminal diseases and given only a few months to live and who were able to become healthy again by the simple act of fasting. Contrary to popular belief, many diseases are caused by eating, while fasting heals. Having gone through extended fasts, I can share my personal experiences. My definition of fasting is no intake of food but as much water as your body requires. I see fasting as a powerful detoxification process. The body saves tremendous energy by not digesting and can then focus on healing. The unhealthy parts of our body become then activated. This process can be uncomfortable but if we do not resist them and let the body perform its healing work, miraculous healing occurs. In addition of detoxifying the body, there will be the activation of suppressed memories, and a lot of difficult repressed emotions and internal aspects will then be released. This is why I recommend that people going through long fasts should do it in a safe and supportive environment such as a retreat with a skilled, medically-trained and compassionate facilitator. There is another reason why a holistic setting is ideal. Fasting gives its optimal benefits when the person is able to stay centered, introspective, relaxed, attuned and contemplative. Daily guided meditation combined with energizing exercises such as Tai Chi, Qi Gong or Falung Gong practices are extremely beneficial to facilitate the cleansing process. When we are not in a stressful environment and do not suffer from a major health condition, we have the ability to survive 4 months without food (but with water) so an extended fast of 21 days poses very little risk with the right environment. It is very beneficial and much easier than people think. However, fasting should stop immediately if there are any warning signs such as prolonged weakness or emaciation. This is again where having a medically trained facilitator is so important. Many medical experts are now recommending for people to do a full one day fast per week. Another very common form of diet is called the fast 5 diet that is followed by Wim Hof. With this diet, we eat everything we want everyday for only 5 hours a day (ex. 5 PM to 10 PM), and we fast for the rest of the day or the other 19 hours. For most people, this would be the equivalent of one meal a day giving our body a break the rest of the time. During my research, I found that streneous physical exercises at the end of the one day fast boost testosterone production which increases libido, muscle mass and energy levels. Working out on an empty stomach increases the production of human growth hormone up to 1300% in women and 2000% in men. HGH have enormous anti-aging properties, increases muscle mass and improves recovery. I have followed the practice of one meal a day with exercising before with extraordinary benefits. At 46, I am enjoying again the figure and stamina of my 20s. As an extra benefit, we feel extremely alive while performing our exercise routine. For all these reasons, I have included fasting as a conscious defense mechanism.

This concludes our series on coping and defense mechanisms. As life happens, we are always coping in one form or another. I invite you to use these articles first as a means for self-observation, and slowly to start upgrading your coping mechanisms to more conscious ones that better serve you. Before all, remember to be kind to yourself on your journey of self-improvement.

Part VIII – Personal mature coping mechanisms

Read Part VII – Interpersonal mature coping mechanisms

These are mature coping mechanisms that do not involve others and that are not transcendental in nature. They are acquired by wise men and women with the sincere desire to live to a higher level outside of any spiritual or religious affiliation. They constitute a higher path to deal with life struggles at a personal level.

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  • Introspection

Introspection is the most important quality of someone who is willing to grow as an individual. It allows us to reflect on the challenges of our life while taking responsibility for them. Someone who is introspective takes life as the ultimate teacher. We take refuge in self-reflection when we experience personal hardships as we understand that the outer world reflects the inner world. When attempting to change a situation, we reflect on our internal emotions and thoughts, without forgetting to take practical actions externally as well. Pain reminds us that we have more lessons to learn and we embrace the new struggle without resistance. We develop a new habit of developing self-awareness when life becomes more challenging. This way, we always make a profit no matter what comes our way. When life is good, we are enjoying it with gratitude and when things are tough, we focus on our personal growth. Journaling and meditation are activities that are the most conducive for introspection. Introspection can also be facilitated by a skilled therapist, a sympathetic friend or our life partner. Self-honesty and the willingness to see the truth about ourselves, no matter how painful it may be, is the healthy foundation for introspection. Our higher conscience has the ability to recognize truth from self-delusion. Truth has a very distinctive taste. It may hurt at first but only truth can set us on the path of liberation and healing. Introspection gives us the ability to ask the difficult questions about ourselves. After 15 years spent with a woman who was not introspective, I decided that introspection was the most important quality that I would look in a life partner. I am committed to personal development and my life partner needs to share the same desire. Genuine introspection is the best indicator for someone’s willingness to embrace change.

  • Acceptance

We are often faced with unpleasant situations. I am someone who would first try to alter the uncomfortable condition. However, there are times that no matter what we attempt and despite our best efforts, we keep hitting a wall. At that point, acceptance is the only path to inner peace. This is where experience and knowledge can be so useful as they can tell us what can be changed and what cannot be changed. All of us have a pet peeve with our romantic partner. They may be messy, snoring at night, not putting the lid down when they go to the restrooms, talking too much, being too negative, raising an obnoxious child or an annoying pet, eating differently than we do or dressing too casually for our taste. It is difficult for people to change so it is often best to accept the small flaws in our partner and continue to enjoy all the benefits of the intimate relationship. And this will encourage them to do the same with our own flaws. True love is first about embracing the imperfections of our loved ones, and paradoxically it will encourage them to change as they do not feel judged or pushed away. Accepting them does not mean however enabling our partners’ shadows. This is a delicate balance to achieve. Life is full of ups and down. We may lose a spouse through divorce, a house we love from financial hardships, a business because of a change in the industry or precious belongings from a fire or a burglary. The more energy we put towards the object of our desire, the more difficult it is to let go of it. After we have tried everything to remedy the painful situation, accepting the unpleasant reality is the only way to find peace again. I lost my two children to parental alienation 4 years ago. Five different therapists, three years of court battle, endless messages to my children led nowhere. I am not sure what can be more difficult in this world than losing our children. They are the flesh of our flesh. I studied in-depth the top parental alienation experts, listened to many other alienated parents’ tragic stories, went through many inner journeys to find answers in the personal tragedy I was experiencing. Though it felt incredibly unfair, and so damaging for my children I am unable to protect, there was a point where I had to accept the reality of the situation, and that both the mental health and justice systems are not equipped to deal with parental alienation in our society today. I had to accept that I have to wait for my children to mature, see from themselves the manipulation they were a victim of. I can only continue to work on myself to be ready for the time when we are able to reconnect, if this time ever comes. Resetting expectation is a useful tool to reach acceptance. We may have wanted to become a millionaire when we were younger, but life did not happen as planned. We may reset our expectation that having a happy and healthy family is more important. Or at the very minimum, we can simply be grateful to be alive. Life does not get easier, but gets much more challenging as we age. If we are able to live a long life, we are going to suffer the loss of loved ones, the decline of our health, drastic limitation in the activities we used to enjoy and whatever wealth we accumulated will not follow us into our grave. Acceptance is the antidote to the mental suffering caused by external or internal realities we feel powerless to transform.

  • Letting go
Letting go

Letting go is the process that allows us to reach acceptance. It is a process of elimination of the unnecessary. It is emptying one’s cup so that it may be filled with something new. Letting go is the act of moving from the limited mind controlled by the ego to open to the infinite wisdom of the universe that only our heart may access. Letting go is an essential part of manifestation. After we have expressed the intention of the manifestation of our desire, we need to take steps towards its realization but unless we are able to let go of the outcome, we will not get what we truly want. Our ego is an impostor. It makes us believe that it is who we are. It makes us believe that it is in control of our life and that it is the one that creates everything in our life. By doing so, it gets in the way of the abundance and effortlessness of creation. Letting go is the process of trusting life, understanding that life knows best what is good for us. Letting go is not to be confused with passivity and drifting. Letting go is the act of non-doing that needs to be joined with the doing. It comes with the understanding that we live in a quantic universe where everything is connected. As such, non-doing and letting go bring the necessary outside help so that our heart desires may come to fruition. To free the flow of creation and healing, we need to learn to let go of our ego attachments. First, we need to let go of our attachment to suffering, how we have been wronged and our personal misery. We felt so empty and alone that the identification with grief felt better than facing our inner void. Secondly, we need to let go of the illusion that we are in control. Our ego and personality have to realize their own limitations, and recognize humbly that they were created by a higher conscience. Third, we need to let go of all the lies about ourself and the world, and all the false personas we have created not to see the reality of who we truly are. There is nothing more difficult and terrifying than seeing ourselves without filters but truth shall set us free. Fourth, we need to let go of our need for comfort. It is impossible to growth unless we stretch ourselves to new limits everyday within reason. The ego mind is a powerful tool however it constantly wants to take roles that do not belong to him. It tells the body what to do instead of listening to it. It overwrites the heart desires. Letting go is the process of putting back the ego mind to its place so that we may become a unified body/mind/heart (heart is the path to spirit).

  • Faith or the power of belief
The power of belief. Faith

Faith has a religious connotation however it is simply the power of belief. There are many people with a strong faith in themselves without being spiritual or religious. When we are confronted with difficult situations, our mind often goes to self-doubt or pessimistic scenarios that weaken us. Faith comes from the higher partnership of our mind and heart. Heart brings self-love, self-esteem, higher intuition and the support of the quantic universe for manifestation. Mind brings resolve, consistency and true knowing. This is why we say that faith can move mountains. I used to be a consultant in Silicon Valley. When I told an associate that I wanted to create a successful small company with 30 employees, I was mocked. But I had faith and every day, I worked towards building my company. 7 years later, the company I had started had 95 employees and contractors. I fell in love with a gorgeous woman who was a YouTube star, both an artist and a spiritual teacher. I knew nothing about her apart from her YouTube channel. When I told some of my close friends about my romantic interest, they thought I was dreaming. It was quite a surprise to them when they received several months later a wedding invitation! Faith needs to be anchored with a sincere heart desire and a strong mind but perseverance and patience are ultimately what bring our dreams to reality. When our mind goes astray in face of adversity, it is natural to be assaulted by many negative thoughts. My practice in this situation is not to believe the thoughts, let them pass and remember my resolve. It is at first very difficult but it gets better with practice. The logo of my coaching business says « À cœur Vaillant, rien d’impossible » which means that nothing is impossible with a brave heart. I have faced in my life numerous challenges and I am the living proof that everything can be healed, digested and transformed into something better. It does not take special gifts but the sincere desire to work at it every day.

A coeur vaillant, rien d'impossible
  • Self-responsibility
Self-responsibility. Brian Tracy

After we go through a painful or even a traumatic event, the first sensible step is to validate the hurt inner child. At that stage, it is healthy and very healing to embrace victimhood, powerlessness, anger, fear, shame or any negative emotion we may be experiencing. Once the stuck emotions are released and diffused, the stage of self-responsibity is just as critical. We become introspective and ask why we have attracted or even created this painful situation into our lives? We look for the gift that lies behind the suffering. Self-responsibility makes us rise above victimhood, apathy and powerlessness. At the personality level, some of the situations we encounter are completely unfair and powerless. A child does not chose his parents or the environment he is born into. A child never chooses to be abandoned, beaten or raped. However, as adults, we have the choice to heal and get better instead of repeating the cycle of trauma. We have the choice to re-parent ourselves for everything we did not receive as a child. We may have no control of what is happening to us, however we always have a choice as an adult how we respond to even very powerless situations. Unless we take responsibility for our life and we understand that our external life is a perfect mirror to who we are internally, we cannot even start to make constructive changes in our life. Self-responsibility is what brings us to action and takes us out of powerlessness. Now, at a transcendental level, everything that happens to us, even the most horrific and unjust events, are something we have chosen as a soul. This is something I have experienced personally but unless you have the same realization, do not take my word for it as this belief can damage you if it is used as a form of spiritual bypassing. One of my interpretations of the Ho’oponopono prayer is the plea from the soul to the personality : « I am sorry for the pain you are experiencing. Please forgive me for creating this cruel event meant to lead you towards the path of perfection. Thank you for your courage and not giving up. I love you for everything you are and you do, and I will be always there watching over you ». After we fully realize that we are responsible for everything that happened to us since our birth, the most difficult step is to forgive ourselves.

  • Meaning
Meaning-centered therapy. Logotherapy. Viktor Frankl

It can be argued that life has no meaning or that the meaning of life is simply to be experienced and lived. When faced with the same traumatic event, different people create very different meanings. Some will say that they are damned and life is not worth living. Others will see the world as dangerous and will shut down to others and new experiences. A last category will see the gifts that came from the tragedy and would even say this is the best thing that ever happened to them. Actually, so many cancer survivors are talking this way about their terrible disease. If you Google « cancer is the best thing that happened to me », you will get 1,210,000,000 results! Who is right? Actually, everyone is right as we create our reality according to our beliefs. So why not choose a belief that may best support our happiness? Does it really matter if we are right or not? Isn’t how we feel in our heart more important? Why not become more detached with our judgments, and simply adopt beliefs that may serve us best in our present life. Once these beliefs do not serve anymore, we can let them go and adopt new ones that better serve us. Human beings are creators of meaning and this is one of the most powerful tools against adversity. Viktor Frankl created a new healing modality from this concept called logotherapy. Viktor was a psychotherapist in Austria, and he challenged the nazi regime by refusing the euthanize the mentally ill in the psychiatric hospital he was working at. He was sent to concentration camps with his family in 1942. Viktor, against all odds and while considering himself much weaker physically than many of the other prisoners, managed to survive while almost everyone around him, including his own family succumbed to the horror of the holocaust. He noticed that the ones who survived were often the ones who were able to create meaning from their suffering. Viktor had committed to write about the conditions of the concentration camps so that it may never happen again and this is what kept him alive. He saw meaning as the way towards happiness and self-actualization. Nelson Mandela was sentenced to life-imprisonment in 1964. The living conditions of the in-mates were brutal. They had to be up by 5:30 AM. They had a bucket with cold water for their toilet, and had to break stones until 4 PM. Food and living conditions were horrendous. His son died while he was incarcerated. Despite this, he transformed his prison into a university by educating himself as much as he could during his spare time. He grew his own garden with tomato, lettuce, radish and watermelon. He spent 26 years in prison and was only released when he was 72 to become the political leader that we know. He never lost sight of his mission and the belief he had to transition his country out of apartheid. He created meaning from every hardship he encountered to create an extraordinary life from the most powerless circumstances. We need to remember that we always have a choice. In parental alienation cases, targeted parents face the same powerlessness as the children are brainwashed by the narcissistic parent to be used as weapons of war. In most cases, the mental health and legal systems make things worse instead of protecting children to have both parents in their life. Even in this situation, the targeted parent can decide to grieve and heal to become the best version of themselves during this long period of separation. They can create the meaning that their children will greatly need them when they finally break free from the chains of the alienator. From this new meaning, they are able to transmute their personal tragedy into the most formidable self-actualization.

Part VII: Interpersonal mature coping mechanisms

Read Part VI – Immature ego-based coping mechanisms

Life brings challenges that often stretch us to our limits. Coping and defense mechanisms are necessary to help us survive these traumatic events. We can actually take advantage of these hardships to help us develop higher responses to life struggles and build our personal character. This process is essential to develop virtue, personal integrity, and experience inner peace. As we make these mature coping mechanisms second nature, our quality of life significantly increases and we develop higher self-esteem, self-confidence, self-control as we live a more compassionate life. The mature coping mechanisms listed below are connected with other people so we are calling them interpersonal.

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  • Undoing

Undoing is a defense mechanism in which a person tries to remedy an unhealthy, hurtful or otherwise threatening thought or action by engaging in good and repairing behaviors. When we extend sincere apologies, it is a form of undoing. If we feel we have been neglecting our wife, undoing would mean coming home with a beautiful bouquet of flowers with some chocolate. If we feel we punish our child too severely, we can organize a trip together to the local amusement park. At a collective level, the United States, the United Kingdom and many countries of the international community supported or did not oppose the take-over of Palestine by Jewish people after realizing the scale of the holocaust that took the lives of 6 million Jews. It confirmed Zionists’ claim that Jews needed a country to escape persecution and antisemitism. While undoing comes from a good intent, we need to become fully conscious of the consequences of actions meant to undo the previous wrongful deeds. As the old adage says, hell is paved with good intention. One of my best friends has two children with a ex-husband man that we will call John. John is 40 years old, but is quite immature and irresponsible. He still lives with his parents and can rarely hold a job more than 6 months. He behaves more like an entitled teenager rather than a caring father. His parents give him a monthly allowance and pay for any trip he takes with his children. During his custody time, he often drops his children with his parents as he indulges in parties, drugs and girls. John does not provide the structure and the stability that his children need, and his erratic behavior exposes them to unnecessary harm. John’s parents feel guilty towards their son as they are workaholics and were never present emotionally with him when he was a child. They do not realize their financial support is enabling their son’s bad behaviors and is preventing him from taking responsibility for his life. Along the same line, if we give a gift to our wife every time we hurt her, she may start hating our gifts as they will be associated with pain.  The donation of the state of Israel has been responsible for 75 years of war in the Middle East. While Jerusalem holds special significance, the Jews may have been provided with a territory that could have caused much less conflict and allowed them to thrive economically while living in peace. In the state of Utah which is mostly a desert, the Mormons represent 70% of the population. They are now the richest cult in the world and they are remarkably integrated. The Jews would have probably enjoyed an even higher prosperity and peace if they had been granted a territory that was not already populated. Undoing is useful but it is important to reflect if the repairing action will yield the positive results that we intended.

  • Compartmentalization

Compartmentalization is actually a form of repression that is mature. We may have been adversely affected by an event but the current situation may require us to focus on something external instead of working internally to process our raw emotions. It is mature only if we are making the conscious choice to commit to take time to process the compartmentalized difficult emotions once it is safe to do so whether through meditation, with an outside therapist, or with a skillful coach. Otherwise, this becomes repression and not compartmentalization. I remember a time when my partner was triggered but we had hardly any time to make our flight connection. We decided to take care of her emotions once we were settled in the next plane. Alternatively, we may be at workplace where it is not safe to process and share emotions so we wait until we can be alone or with loved ones at home who can hold a safe place for us. Or you may find yourself in a dangerous situation with your family. Before taking care of your own emotions, your focus needs to be rightly so on the safely of your loved ones. Compartmentalization gets better with experience and practice. It takes a double awareness, first of our internal state and second of our external environment. Then, we apply good judgment in prioritizing each. This is how we train our nervous system to become more mature. This is an exercise of balance. People who are too concerned about the external environment may be too repressed, and there are others that express whatever comes through them with no concern how it may impact other people. The codependent falls in the first category while the borderline falls in the latter. The conscious individual evaluates both his internal and external world to determine if s/he should compartmentalize or focus on processing his emotions.

  • Conscious emotional release
Conscious emotional release - public punching bag

Our society at large does not have a healthy relationship towards negative emotions. Actually, many people have made an enemy of negative emotions. They see them as unnecessary, and they do everything to repress or suppress them in themselves and other people. They just end up damaging themselves and others, and repression makes things worse not better. And the very thing they are repressing or resisting are then manifesting in their lives in tragic ways. While negative emotions are made of lower vibrational psychic energies, they have a very important purpose for healing. Their purpose is to help releasing traumas, grief and any perceived attack on our psyche. While it is possible to process and transform lighter negative emotions through meditation, introspection and right thinking, we may need to use our body’s incredible healing ability for a conscious emotional release. Once, I participated in a conscious emotional release session at the Pachamama community in Costa Rica. Loud music was played, and we were allowed to scream, cry, hit pillows and lash our anger using swimming pool noodles. The only rule was to keep each other safe and not damage the facility. I experienced my internal hate and anger in ways I did not imagine as I had developed a cover spiritual personality that had censored all these dark emotions. I allowed myself to go fully through the process however. While I was feeling down before starting the conscious emotional release, I enjoyed a blissful state of mind the following days as I had been able to expulse from my system much grief. Holotropic breathwork is also a very cathartic experience for the same reason. It helps to release all the past accumulated traumas in the cellular memories. The body may be crying, yelling, jumping around, hitting a pillow or even vomiting as it goes through its own purging and healing. In an even more intense way, an Ayahuasca journey is meant to help us purge and let go of past traumas and repressed negative emotions. The concept of the necessity of conscious emotional release is slowly becoming more widespread. Public punching bags were recently installed in New-York City in an attempt to stop people from taking their frustrations out on each other.

  • Altruism and compassion
Dalai Lama compassion for a child

Altruism is the concern for happiness of other human beings, animals and even plants. Altruism is form of selflessness which is the opposite of selfishness. It is a traditional virtue in many cultures, various religious traditions and secular worldview. Compassion motivates people to go out of their way to help the physical, mental, or emotional pains of another. Compassion is often regarded as having empathy, and feeling the suffering of others and it is based on the concepts of fairness, justice, and interdependence. Focusing on alleviating the suffering of others can be a remarkably effective to step out of depression and rebuilding self-confidence. Several years ago, as I was going through a brutal divorce, I had the spiritual practice to volunteer once a week in jail. I would teach meditation there, provide spiritual counseling and facilitate transformational emotional release with in-mates. While I would typically arrive tired, worried and frustrated from the day, helping in-mates elevated my state of being considerably. They were very receptive to my classes and we often had major break-throughs. This helped me regain self-confidence, feel a sense of purpose and break away from powerlessness and depression. I would come home late at night fully energized. Again, in 2018, after a painful break-up and losing my children through parental alienation, I set-up a healing house where I helped hundreds to work through and heal emotional traumas. It worked like magic to accelerate my own path of healing and recovery while being useful to the community. When we help others unconditionally from the purity of our heart, we are reminded of our true nature and the universe conspires for our happiness. Therapists, social workers and various healers are often people who have been serious traumatized in their childhood. They are looking to heal themselves by helping others. This is the archetype of the wounded healer. My vocation as a coach is following the same pattern. I can bring people out of their own misery because this is a path I have taken myself. By using the wisdom of our suffering to serve others, we transcend our limited ego and the illusion of separateness. The saints that are walking this earth see God’s mirror in every human being and in the whole of creation, and they are obsessed with improving the lives of anyone they touch as an extension of the self-love they feel from within. Selfishness grows from the hurt little boy or little girl in us. This aspect of us got emotionally hurt because no one was there to support us emotionally during a tormented time. We felt abandoned, lonely and we started to feel disconnected and separate from others. We started to perceive this world as dangerous and threatening. Fear took the place of love. We shut down emotionally to others and to the external world. In a desperate attempt to survive, we draw all resources to ourselves. Spiritual awakening is nothing else than moving from this disconnected hurt inner child to our divine child that knows itself as pure love. A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens, is the inspiring story of Scrooge who undergoes a spiritual illumination to move from selfishness to altruism.

  • Humor
Amber Dawn Lee stand-up comedy

Humor is the act of provoking laughter and providing amusement. The term derives from the humoral medicine of the ancient Greeks, which taught that the balance of fluids in the human body, known as humors controlled human health and emotion. Laughter and humor are indeed some of the most effective forms of emotional release and can help us eliminate toxic negative emotions. Many stand-up comedians are able to transmute their own traumas through humor. I have a friend Amber Dawn Lee who survived a childhood of sexual abuse from a deviant polygamous Mormon. Her brillant stand-up comedies have provided her with a creative outlet of this traumatic childhood. On a similar note, I attended last year in Salt Lake City the TEDx speech of Collin Williams. He expressed how stand-up comedy saved his life by helping him overcoming a childhood where he was sexually molested by a family member. In the same way as altruism, humor allows us to take distance from the traumatic memories. It allows us to disidentify with our limited ego and promote emotional healing. The attachment to our suffering is one of the most important factors that prevents us from integrating our painful past. Humor catalyzes us to stop taking our suffering so seriously. It goes without saying that only the person that underwent the abuse should be permitted to make humor about it. Also humor can only take place after we were able to validate all the painful emotions associated with the trauma. Unless genuine forgiveness has been reached, humor may just damage us emotionally further. Even as we go through the worst ordeals, we can tell ourselves « one day, I will be able to laugh about it ». Yesterday, a friend of mine was amusing us with horrific stories from his divorce 30 years ago. When we are able to laugh about a difficult past experience, the circle of healing has been accomplished. For this reason, I can laugh at my time with a cult in my 20s, some of dramatic past relationships or turbulent business experiences. But there are some still painful situations that I am unable to laugh at. This is a good indicator of what I have been able to heal fully and where there is inner work left to do.

  • Sublimation
sublimation of suffering

This is the highest form of coping mechanism. With sublimation, we take the most painful aspects of our life, and we take action so that other people may not experience the same tragedy. Ryan Thomas was an alienated child and did not have any contact with his father from age 10 to 25 as he had been used as a weapon of war against his own father by his mother and the parents of his mother. In his mid thirties, after fully understanding the dynamics of parental alienation that affected him so adversely, he left a successful corporate career to dedicate himself helping alienated parents and children. His teaching, books and sessions are helping thousands to survive and overcome parental alienation. Our society gets better by the sublimation of people overcoming and digesting their own pain to help others. In less than 100 hundred years, the place of women and minorities in our society changed radically for this reason. Many minorities were able to break away from powerlessness, challenge the status-quo and rise above victimhood to show there was a better way to live collectively. The sublimation of life’s deepest sorrow can serve as an engine for launching a career that we feel truly passionate about. Steve Hassan was a moonie (a member of the Moon cult or Unification Church). After a car accident, he was able to realize his own indoctrination and started to break free from mind control. He has dedicated his life to help people to exit destructive cults since 1976. A personal tragedy can become a stepping stone to change the status quo. What is or has been your deepest pain ? How can you use it to make this world a better place ? 

  • Asking for support
Asking for support

Many of us have learned to be overly self-reliant because we became so afraid of rejection. It takes courage to ask for help and support when we are facing a difficult time. When we are already feeling down because of the struggle we are facing, getting rejected on top of it may just seem unbearable. After my wife and I separated last year, I reached out to my friend Jacques and his wife Valérie to stay with them near Paris to get their support for my aching heart. I was definitely afraid to reach out out of fear of rejection but I am so glad I did as our week together was so important in my recovery. Parents can also be a great source of support. When this is not the case, it is critical to have access to a friend, coach, healer or therapist that can make themselves available on a short notice. Having a support system can be a life-saver in difficult situations. It is important to nurture this support system outside of personal crises so that it may be available when we need it the most. Thinking of birthdays, giving small gifts, keeping in touch through small attentions are part of that nurturing. Personal crises are also the time when we can differentiate real friends from acquaintances of convenience. When I divorced, many so-called friends became unsupportive and even antagonistic and they were influenced by my ex-wife’s propaganda. This is also why we should take any opportunity to help our close friends when they are in need. This will inspire them to do the same from the bottom of their heart when we need it the most. Moving from relationships that are transactional to ones that are more unconditional makes life feel so much better. Most people love helping other people when they feel valued and that their efforts are appreciated. It boosts their self-confidence and makes them feel good about themselves. Asking for support is more often than not a win-win proposition.

  • Humility
Humility quote

Humility is a liberation from the consciousness of the limited ego, a form of temperance that is neither having pride nor indulging in self-deprecation. Humility is the awareness to be simply dust in this infinite universe while understanding we are connected to the whole. Humility keeps us aware of our mortality and our limitations without feeling bad about it. On the opposite, it brings contentment and inner peace as we stop fighting for an imaginary sense of self. Humility is the protection against the inflated ego, the illusion of being higher and separate from other people. This sincere humility grows from our personal experience of hardship, tragedies and losses. This suffering makes us intimately aware of the wrongful actions that create strife and misery. It promotes the development of empathy, makes us closer to other human beings as we get inspired to stop the cycle of pain. Humility keeps us in touch with reality and our place in the world. I love tennis and Rafael Nadal is a tennis champion who shows great humility. Even though he is one of the greatest players of all time, he respects every opponent and never underestimates the opponent when facing someone with a lower ranking. He uses this form of extreme humility to help him deal with pressure and to stay concentrated on every match and every point. At this level, he is aware that complacency can be fatal. Additionally, humility is very much appreciated by other people especially after we attain a significant achievement. It continues to make us accessible and relatable to other people while our achievement distances us from them. Jesus said that others could do better than him “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father”. When it is heartfelt and genuine, humility only provides benefits. Paradoxically, it is indicative of a strong self-esteem. It shows the vulnerability of someone who has no false persona to protect.

Read Part VIII – Personal mature coping mechanisms

Part VI: Immature ego-based coping mechanisms

Read Part V – Immature impulsive coping mechanisms

ego melting

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In psychoanalysis, the ego is the part of the mind that mediates between the conscious and the unconscious and is responsible for reality testing and a sense of personal identity. It is composed of a group of personalities that projects our identity to the external world. It is located in our head rather than in our heart. It is the concept of who we are. So in this sense, ego is necessary as we interact with this physical reality. Ego is however perceived negatively because most of us do not have a “pure” or conscious ego that can act as a clear channel between the different aspects of our being. So ego becomes this imaginary sense of self that is based on separateness. Ego is a false sense of who we are. It is mostly preoccupied in hiding all the things it is ashamed of about oneself. It spends a huge amount of energy burying into the subconscious a lot of truths that are inacceptable, or bringing to the conscious lies that conform to our false persona. When someone is said to have a big ego, it means that they have an inflated sense of self that is not based on reality. One of the most important aspects of the spiritual path is the courage to see our shadows, and to feel ourselves outside of the filters of our ego. The following coping mechanisms listed below are just attempts for our false ego to hang on to its imaginary sense of self and resist the painful truths about itself.

  • Social comparison
social comparison

People have an innate drive to evaluate themselves, often in comparison to others. This comes from the fact that many of us did not come from a family with unconditional love. As a result, we believe we can only be loved or worthy if we are better than others. Because we do not experience true self-love, we see love as a scarce resource therefore we need to compete with others to get it. Many of us were raised in a conditional way and this reinforced that belief. When we did what our parents wanted, we were good (meaning lovable) otherwise we were bad or unlovable. There are two main forms of social comparison. With downward social comparison, we compare ourselves to others who are worse off than ourselves. Such downward comparisons are often centered on making ourselves feel better about our abilities. We might not be great at something, but at least we are better off than someone else. I was severely depressed as a kid, always feeling something was missing. In particular, my puberty started very late so I felt very ashamed about my small size. As a result, I had the obsession to always compare myself to others thinking this one was dumber than me or uglier than me. This was a hellish state. My habit of always comparing myself to others was simply a defense mechanism so as not to feel how unlovable I felt. With upward social comparison, we compare ourselves with those who we believe are better than us. This type of comparison may be inspiring to improve our performance, and work harder to achieve our goals. Unfortunately, most of us have too low of a self-esteem to handle upward comparison so we would typically put these people down because of envy. We would say of a rich person that he cheated to make his money, or that they are actually very unhappy people. Or we pick on the famous by going over everything that is wrong with their lives. This is why there are so many tabloid magazines and this is a multi-billion dollar business. Our ego is obsessed about being better, because it believes this is the only way to be loved. The ego is our false identify that believes we are separate from everything else. It feeds on the illusion of separateness. In truth, there will always be someone better and worse than we are. A healthy goal should be to be better than who we were yesterday, and to become more and more our authentic self every day. When we catch ourselves comparing to others, it is an indicator we need to work more on self-acceptance and self-love. This defense mechanism is similar to the cognitive distortion called personalization. Personalization is a distortion where a person believes that everything others do or say is some kind of direct, personal reaction to them. A person who experiences this kind of thinking will also compare themselves to others, trying to determine who is smarter, or better looking. It is just another symptom of low self-esteem.

  • Introjection

Introjection occurs when a person internalizes the ideas or voices of other people-often external authorities. An example of introjection might be a dad telling his son “boys don’t cry”. This is an idea that a person might take in from their environment and internalize into their way of thinking. As a result, they will repress their sadness to match that belief and we know how dangerous it is to repress negative emotions. It is also very common for children to have the same political views as their parents (if they have a close relationship) for the same reasons. Some mental health professionals believe that introjection is a protective strategy that children employ in order to cope with unavailable parents or guardians. By unconsciously absorbing the characteristics of parents, children reassure themselves that some aspect of the parent is present even if the parent is physically or emotionally absent. Adopting the same beliefs as our primary caregivers is very reassuring for this reason. It gives us a sense of belonging even when they are not there. Cults and religious organizations are attractive to people because it gives them belonging and safety by sharing the same beliefs with other people. Many people would rather feel controlled and exploited rather than alone and unsafe. Negative introjection can also be part of a cycle of abuse. A person in an abusive relationship, for example, might begin to believe the claims of a partner who is abusive and internalize feelings of worthlessness or failure. In some cases, the victim might introject the abuser’s personality so strongly that the victim then becomes an abuser. I have covered how this works in depth in my blog about transgenerational traumas. Introjection is a defense mechanism to protect the imaginary picture we have of the authority figures in our life so as to feel safer. In order to transcend introjection, we need to have the courage to see the objective truth about the people we have modeled after.

  • Cognitive dissonance
Donald Trump cognitive dissonance about global warming

The term cognitive dissonance is used to describe the feelings of discomfort that result when your beliefs run counter to your behaviors. People tend to seek consistency in their attitudes and perceptions, so when what you hold true is challenged or what you do doesn’t match with what you think, a new belief must be formed to eliminate or reduce the dissonance. A classic example of this is “explaining something away”. A smoker may be told that smoking is bad for their health. They would respond that Jeanne Calment the oldest woman who ever lived whose age was well documented (dying at 122) smoked for over 100 years ! Donald Trump is heavily favoring US energy companies that are liable to pollute the environment and accelerate global warming. He used an unusually cold winter in the US and Canada to dismiss global warming as showed in the tweet above. Or if you tell a meat eater that s/he contributing to animal cruelty, the typical erroneous responses would be that the animal is already dead anyway or that we need animal proteins to live (which is untrue). Explaining things away is nothing else than a lack of personal integrity. Cognitive dissonance is a coping mechanism not to experience the discomfort of the conflicting emotions due to the lack of congruence between our personal values and our actions. If we have the courage to sit with the discomfort of the lack of congruence between our values and actions, then we may be able to make much better decisions for ourselves, people around us and our planet. Let’s imagine that you value looking good and slim, but you find yourself fat and out-of-the-shape. Sitting with that discomfort will actually get you to start going to the gym. When we let go of the coping mechanism, and we have the courage to face the difficult emotions then we can change our life for the better.

  • Self-serving bias
Self-serving bias

A self-serving bias is any cognitive or perceptual process that is distorted by the need to maintain and enhance self-esteem, or the tendency to perceive oneself in an overly favorable manner. I had an acquaintance who was recently fired as an electrician. Instead of accepting that his qualifications and work ethics did not meet the expectations of his employer, he rewrote the story that he was unfairly targeted by people who were jealous of him.  We are all using this coping mechanism in small and bigger ways. It stems from a lack of self-love. We want to look good to others so that they may love us so we project a false persona. Every time something rather unfortunate happens to us, we are trying to rewrite the story to look better in it. Ask a divorced husband and wife separately why they split and you will get two very different stories where each one rewrites the story to look like the victim or give themselves the good role. Authenticity is about resisting this temptation and giving the most accurate description of the situation as if we were not involved personally. Unless we are willing to commit to the truth, we cannot learn from our mistakes and take responsibility for our life. Our addiction to this coping mechanism comes a lot from our education. As a child, if we behaved in a way that displeased our caretaker, s/he would likely say that we are bad therefore unlovable. Therefore, we feel we cannot afford to fail in our performance so we make up excuses. Our self-love needs to be independent of our external successes for this reason. Here is a good exercise to work on our self-serving biases. Let’s take the perceived failures of our life (i.e. divorce, lay-off, failed business, challenging relationships, poor health) and describe them from an objective perspective as if we were writing about someone for whom we had no emotional attachment.

  • Blind following of any person or human organization
Russian Jesus blessing his followers

I covered this topic in detail previously with religious cults. Following blindly any person or human organization is a way to avoid facing painful feelings whether it is confusion, loneliness, responsibility or powerlessness. On the positive side, religions have been important for men in their process of socialization. They are a vibrational improvement over human lives that are solely driven by impulses, instinct and selfish motives. They bring structure, meaning, community, an opportunity to open spiritually and to help others. However, they can also be a source of disempowerment and a coping mechanism. Religious cults know that the best time they may be able to recruit a new member is after a personal tragedy that makes them vulnerable. Faced with the inexplicable death of a loved one, profound loneliness, a debilitating disease or mental condition, we are in search for new meaning and the cult/religion has all the answers ready for us. So the cult can be used as a coping mechanism to avoid difficult feelings of confusion, uncertainty, loneliness (by getting new conditional friends), or responsibility (no need to figure things on your own anymore as you can just follow the cult dogmas to find salvation). Developing our own connection to spiritual dimensions without intermediary is the next step of maturity. We may then connect with and contribute to organizations dedicated to positive change with full autonomy and freedom. The most common place for this coping mechanism is however in families that are led by an individual with narcissistic traits. We previously explained why children need to make their parents right in order to feel safe. When this tendency is extended into adulthood, it becomes a coping mechanism not to experience unpleasant emotions such as loneliness, confusion or responsibility. Another common place for this coping mechanism is corporations. Are we aligning our personal abilities, and personal values with a business corporation in a symbiotic way or are we losing our own identity in the company mission not to face some uncomfortable aspects of ourselves? Unfortunately, we are largely programmed to believe that we need to let go of our opinions and free will when we receive money from an employer. The best employees are often those who can identify with the overall company mission and this means they will not be afraid of conflict with their supervisors for the benefit of the organization. This is unfortunately not always tolerated.

  • Spiritual bypassing
Spiritual bypassing

Spiritual bypassing is a tendency to use spiritual ideas and practices to avoid facing unresolved emotional issues, psychological wounds, and unfinished developmental tasks. The term was introduced in the early 1980s by John Welwood, a Buddhist teacher and psychotherapist. This is basically how it works. We become spiritual because we had a difficult childhood that made us hate ourselves, develop a poor self-image and develop addictions. We become interested in self-help & spirituality, and we start developing better habits, more positive thoughts and a better outlook on life. We start feeling better as a result so this encourages us to develop a separate spiritual personality. However, our ego that is so incredibly smart then starts manipulating this new spiritual personality to judge other people, deflect shame on others, avoid uncomfortable shadow work or become complacent. Here are some of the most common forms of spiritual bypassing. We would label someone as non-spiritual if they are to experience any form of negative emotions such as anger, frustration or despair, expecting people to deny their own human condition. Some use spirituality to put themselves above others while other aspects of their life are in complete disarray. This is very common for self-proclaimed « awakened beings ». And if they do not have the self-confidence to make themselves a guru, they would use their own weakness to place themselves above others. « I am too empathic, and receive too much information that I am unable to filter ». «  I am ultra-sensitive and unless people around me can create a sanctuary for me, I will be unable to fulfill my mission on this planet ». Others would abuse shamanic drugs as an escape instead of a powerful healing and self-awareness tool. Others become too dependent on external divination tools such as astrology, tarot, numerology or palmistry rather than trusting their own intuition. I have a friend who only dates partners from three specific astrological signs and simply refuses the idea to entertain a romantic relationship outside of that. Some delegate all their decisions to a spiritual guide that live in their head. Once I went to a Buddhist retreat with a friend and we got lost in the forest. She started invoking immediately Sathya Sai Baba for protection to help us find our way home. She did not like when I responded to her that Sathya Sai Baba’s pedophile tendencies were well known. It is similar to people going back to prayer every time something does not go their way. I am a firm believer in the power of prayer, especially when it originates from a pure heart. However I am rather doubtful with the type of prayers that makes God into mummy or daddy ready to give us some special treats.

  • Triangulation
caring mother reconciling fighting couple

Triangulation is a manipulation tactic where one person will have a separate and often opposite discourse with two different persons, antagonizing them against each other for their own benefit often by exploiting each person’s vulnerability. It is a strategy frequently used by narcissists but also by codependents. Triangulation is used widely because it is extremely effective to influence people for our selfish needs. If someone does something to upset us, we are likely to speak badly about them to others, amplifying facts or even making plain lies to turn people against them so as to get revenge on them. In case of parental alienation, the alienating parent triangulates their own children against the other parent. It is a form of parenticide that is criminal and causes severe psychological damage to the children. As a coach, I am often put in a position with risk of triangulation while helping a couple for instance. It is my responsibility to be equally supportive and tough on each person and not take sides. As long as they are in a committed relationship, my responsibility resides primarily in helping them both to heal their partnership so that they may get closer. If we are not triangulating then we should feel comfortable telling someone face-to-face what we are saying about them to an acquaintance behind their back. If we do not pass this test, it means we are manipulating. Playing politics is based on triangulation and is a cancer to any organization. I used to have a borderline girlfriend with the habit of demonizing her past partners. She told me some very alarming things about her ex, and I immediately came to her rescue as I did not question what she was telling me about him. A couple of years later, after we separated, she used her new husband against me in the exact same fashion. I realized I had been fooled and used as a weapon of war. Every single boyfriend/husband of hers has followed the same pattern.

  • Self-deprecation, magnification and minimization

There is a category of people who blame themselves systematically always focusing on the things in their life that are not quite right. They would say « I am so stupid/dumb », « I always mess up », « I am a big zero », « I am a jerk ». They were probably raised by people who would devalue them when they were younger. Boastfulness was probably unacceptable in their family home, only humility was. The habit may be so ingrained that they keep belittling themselves even when they live their adult life away from their parents. Self-deprecation is a form of defense mechanism in the sense that people are less likely to say something mean about you if you say it first. Most people would actually try to cheer you up instead which feels good. It is also a way for people to reduce their stress level by lowering expectations about themselves. For this reason, many students would say before an exam that they are going to fail or how badly they performed before receiving their grades. While at the end, they are typically getting good grades. They believe their worth as a person is determined by their grades so they cannot afford to disappoint their peers or parents with poor school performance. This behavior stems from low self-esteem too. I play competitive tennis regularly. Sometimes, I play against opponents who insult themselves every time they miss an easy shot. Competition to them feels like a self-flagellation exercise. Similarly, with magnification and minimization, one of two things happens: the importance of insignificant events—like a mistake—is exaggerated or the importance of something significant, such as a personal achievement, is lessened. In other words, a person’s problems are blown out proportion, while the positive aspects of their life are ignored. I had a romantic partner who was a performer. She knew her craft well and people really enjoyed attending her events. At the end of each performance, she would however always focus on her perceived mistakes and would get very anxious about them. While it is healthy to ponder on what could be improved, this can be done without losing sight of all the positives. She was raised in an environment where mistakes were considered completely unacceptable, and this contributed largely to her high anxiety. Mistakes are however simply part of the process of learning.

Read Part VII – Mature interpersonal coping mechanisms

Part V: Immature impulsive coping mechanisms

Read Part IV – Immature fear-based coping mechanisms

immature teen brain

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We love spontaneous people and we find them inspiring and full of life. While we like the free expression of positive emotions, we are weary of impulsive people. Impulsivity is a tendency to act on a whim, without thinking or consideration of the consequences. None of us were born to think before acting. This is something that is acquired through experience and this is something that differentiates us from the animal kingdom as they only act through learned impulses. Going to the other extreme and only being ruled by our thinking brain is just as harmful as we appear to others as a cold heartless machine. The ideal is a healthy cooperation between the mind and the heart. In this mode, the spontaneous heart energy flows without obstruction and we use our awareness to channel it appropriately given the external environment. The most harmful forms of impulsive behaviors have already been covered in our description of pathological and neurotic defense mechanisms such as addictions. We are going here over less harmful but still childish behaviors:

  1. Acting out
  2. Passive aggressive behaviors
  3. Venting
  4. Gossiping
  5. Endless chatter
  6. Forgetfulness
  7. Hurtful words
  • Acting out
acting out

Acting out is the direct expression of pulsions or raw internal emotions without any filters. Children who have not learned to regulate emotions are expected to act out and have temper tantrums from time to time. Acting out is seen as anti-social as it only focuses on the external expression of the internal toxic emotions for the preservation of the self without any consideration to the people around. When we act out our anger, we may hurt other people and regret it later. Acting out is unconscious and takes no consideration of others. Expressing emotions, even strong emotions may be perfectly acceptable and even desirable in certain situations. While this may be counter intuitive, acting out is still, in most cases, better than repression which has a negative impact on both ourselves and our social environment. It is critical for the sanity of the people who are unable to regulate emotions such as PBPD to act them out because otherwise their toxic emotions would make them sick. Acting out our pulsions is not however conducive to self-awareness. Whether we act out the difficult emotion into rage, yelling, crying or an addiction, the action takes the better of us and we typically recover our senses after the fact. We wake up with self-disappointment and guilt about the actions we have just engaged in. There are some therapy modalities such as gestalt therapy or breathwork that attempt to develop self-awareness when acting out. This can be done with the right therapeutic container with great benefits. It helps release the toxic repressed emotions with keeping full awareness during the release process. Learning to regulate emotions requires a certain level of self-control however too much control will make us repress our feelings and hinder the healing process. It is a fine balance to achieve and which comes with experience. It is about expressing these emotions in a way that is conscious of our environment.

  • Passive aggressive behaviors
passive aggressive humor

Aggression or rebuttal is considered antisocial and undesirable, so when aggressive or violent impulses are experienced, people tend to avoid them as much as possible. However, the remaining energy driving such aggression may prove to be more difficult to contain, and may manifest in other forms, known as passive aggression. A passive aggressive person may be uncooperative in carrying out their duties or other tasks, may deliberately ignore someone when spoken to and might adopt a negative view of their situation, such as their job, and of those around them. It is very common in intimate relationships. A spouse is acting irritated. When asked if she is doing all right, she responds angrily “I am fine”. She may be afraid to have an argument or another useless conversation, terrified to be vulnerable and lose control or not be able to resist hitting her husband’s head with a frying pan! The passive aggressive people typically feel very powerless so it is important to create a safe container to allow them to express freely their raw emotions without consequences. The passive aggressive person sends a mixed message. S/he desperately wants help while rejecting anyone willing to help them. They are very frustrating to deal with as you can never win with passive aggressive people. They oscillate between powerlessness and anger. Anger is a vibrational improvement over powerlessness. However instead of channeling it for positive change, they go back to feeling like a victim hence perpetuating a vicious circle. A while back, I moved to another country with my wife. We decided to move and employ her unemployed ex-husband to safeguard the relationship between her son and father. Once there, he complained he was not making enough money to make a good living and his earning potential was much higher in the USA. Several months later, we had to come back to the USA but he refused to come back as he said he was happy there. Then he demanded that we pay him monthly plane tickets to the USA to see his child as we had taken him away from him. Eventually his girlfriend had to come back to the USA so he went back with her, but swearing to himself never to follow us again.

  • Venting

Venting is a coping mechanism that allows a person to rationalize and validate their own fears, concerns ,worries, dreams and hopes. It is actually beneficial because it helps us release difficult emotions which is detrimental to the human psyche and can even provoke ulcers, depression, high blood pressure, anxiety migraines or fatigue. Someone hurt us so we call someone else to vent about this person and to receive validation on how badly this person behaved. A friend who is attuned or just want to stay on your good side will realize that you are not looking for advice or wisdom so will just validate you. Once you have expressed the negative emotion and you feel better, are you being introspective and asking yourself why you attracted this situation? If not, venting is for you just an immature coping mechanism not to see some unsavory aspects of yourself. The more we are able to be introspective with life events, the less we will need to vent to another person. We are then able to do the venting, the validation, the accountability phase and the learning all within ourselves through meditation. The key is to make the process of venting conscious. There is a very powerful communication technique that is called mirroring in intimate relationships. It allows the venting to become fully conscious through the unconditional presence of the listener so that the “venter” will be invited to come to a place of introspection.

Let me give you an example. John comes home and has just lost his job as an electrician. He confides to his friend “This idiot of a boss just wanted someone to control so he fired me because I was my own person. He can only manage young people who will not challenge him! I think this is because he is so insecure!”
Friend “I understand this must be painful to lose your job. You really had some big hope with this company”
John “Yes, someone wanted to get my scalp and told the boss they saw me drinking on-site”
Friend “That must feel horrible that a colleague would do something like that to you”
John “I guess I was not really fitting with the company’s culture. There were mostly young people there with very little experience”
Friend “Yes, you felt as an outside there”

Validation goes on for a while, John feels better then the friend tries to move to the accountability phase

Friend “Do you think there may be other reasons why they chose to let you go?”
John “I had a hard time getting along with my boss. We could not see eye-to-eye. He is the boss. He can do whatever he wants”
Friend “Yes, this is hard when we cannot get along with our supervisor. Work becomes a grudge then”
John “I did have a bottle or two on the job but these were very light beers. It really does not impact my ability to do the job though. I guess he had to make an example”
Friend “Yes, with all these young people on-site, he could not afford that you could influence them”
John “Well, I was a bit too lax with my schedule. I would often visit my girlfriend in the middle of the day. Considering I am paid much more than all these young folks, he probably did not see he was getting his ROI on me”
Friend “I understand. The reality of business can be really hard”
John “And a couple of times, they did not feel I did a quality job. They hired me as an experienced electrician so they had high expectations that I could not fulfill”
Friend “This is very brave of you to see this. I am sure you will do better next time as you gain more experience and get your electrician license”

  • Gossip

Gossiping is reporting negative stories or rumors about other people, involving details that are not confirmed as being true. Gossip is a combination of venting with displacement. Their self-esteem is too low to be able to share painful details about their lives so they focus on the painful aspects of other people’s lives as a substitution. I know a man who found a brilliant natural product to help his beard not to turn grey by rubbing his facial hair with an enzyme which takes the oxygen out of his hair pigment thus enabling his beard to keep its natural color. His ex-wife makes fun of him to anyone that would listen to her. The reality is that she is terrified of aging and she feels very ashamed with the transformation of her body. The combined revenue for the celebrity gossip industry — anchored by sites like TMZ and Radar Online, which often pay several thousand dollars for inside information — tops more than $3 billion per year in the USA, according to The New York Times. It is a big market because it allows millions of people to project their own shame, personal failures and insecurities onto other people. I used to be married with a YouTube star and I observed that there were a number of people who spent countless hours in gossiping about her in the most absurd way. In their conscious mind, they felt they were helping the world by reducing my ex-wife’s “harmful influence” but actually they were just projecting how they truly felt about themselves. Discrimination is healthy while gossiping is not. When we feel someone, an organization or a situation is toxic, discrimination helps us to turn our attention away from it. Gossiping does the opposite as it sucks our energy in. Gossiping is actually a form of reaction formation as we often secretly admire the very people we criticize.

  • Endless chatter
endless chatter

There are people we call chatterbox. They talk all the time about everything and everyone with very little substance. They cannot handle silence between people. It is almost impossible to have a conversation with them. First, it is difficult enough to find that second of silence when we can start speaking. Secondly, we feel they do not listen to us as they will just continue on their own train of thought independently of what we say. These people feel incredibly lonely but they are blocking the inner experience of loneliness through constant chatter. They are typically married to people who never say a word and like to keep everything to themselves. They both feel very disconnected with the outside world but with opposite coping mechanisms. Chatterboxes live in their own bubble and do not realize that people are just waiting for an opportunity to end the conversation but are too polite to do so. Their continuous chatting is a distraction to their own insecurities and every painful experience they have repressed. This condition can degenerate with the person constantly talking to him/herself. This is common with homeless people on the street or older people living alone. This is how they cope with the intensity of their loneliness and fear of abandonment.

  • Forgetfulness
forgetfulness humor

Some people may be surprised to see forgetfulness as a defense mechanism, but it is one that I often find in my coaching clients. That is why I strongly believe that having a tidy and organized environment is one of the first steps to gain back control over one’s life. Many of us disconnect from this physical reality to cope with our emotional traumas. We get lost in thoughts and spend a lot of our time unaware, lost in thinking fantasies. As a result, we lose our keys, misplace or leave our belongings everywhere. When I was 23, I was renting a room in a house. The landlord’s pet peeve was finding the toilet lid up and I kept forgetting about it. It really made him angry so I even put a sign in the toilet to remind me. Despite this, I would still forget it from time to time! He thought I was doing it on purpose and got very irritated with me, but I was not. It was an unconscious coping mechanism for my resistance in being in my body. My professional Silicon Valley career was very instrumental in grounding my first chakra, through project and people management, attention to details and improving my self-esteem. It actually takes a lot of dedication over many years to overcome forgetfulness and many people never do it. It is a defense mechanism that is very common with New Age people. Regular physical exercise, consistency in putting energy towards goals that involve a physical manifestation, keeping a schedule, keeping our house tidy and welcoming without going overboard, all help tremendously

  • Hurtful words
hurtful words

Words can often do more damage than a sword and it can be used as a powerful but immature defense mechanism. My puberty started only when I was 16 and I looked like an 11 year-old boy then. This contributed to my low-esteem and I was often put down and even bullied, especially because I had the best grades at school. I wanted to fight back but my classmates were often much bigger and stronger than me so this was not an option. However, I was intuitive enough to know exactly what to say to strike that cord that hurts the most and I used it. My classmates called me cactus as they knew they could get stung by my words if they attacked me. When we have an internal « hurt » little boy, we typically create a protector personality that is a « mean » little boy. If this « mean » little boy attacks an even meaner person, he may get support from people around which may motivate him to stop his hurtful behavior. However, this form of attack, even when it is motivated by self-defense, builds additional resentment from the bully who will feel justified getting back at you in even worse ways. Besides people may not want to associate with us anymore as they start seeing us just as a mean and dangerous person. Hurting someone intentionally unless there is a legitimate reason for self-defense can be seen as a form of self-hatred projected onto others. There are situations however where we need to share some painful truth to our loved ones. There is a good formula to follow to ensure we are not hurting the person out of this immature coping mechanism. But before sharing potentially hurtful words, we need to ask ourselves « 1. Is it true? 2. Is it good or kind? 3. Is it useful or necessary? ». This is the triple filter test from Socrates. If we get a « no » on anyone of these questions, then it is best to keep these words for ourselves. When we have a disagreement with someone, and they go on the attack by saying harmful things, it is best to ignore it. This just tells you how powerless they feel. They want to take back control of the argument by triggering you. In most cases, responding will unnecessarily escalate the argument as they are already triggered and unable to process any feedback, no matter how constructive it may be. Remember that the way people treat you is their karma but the way you respond is yours.

Read part VI – Immature ego-based coping mechanisms

Part IV: Immature fear-based coping mechanisms

Read Part III – Immature projection-based coping mechanisms

alligator attacking man

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Fear is an automated response to signal us a danger or a threat. It releases chemicals that cause a racing heart, fast breathing and energized muscles, among other things, also known as the fight-or-flight response. It provokes huge energy expenditure to increase our chance for survival. This is an appropriate response when we are running away from a predator but it is unadapted to the perceived threats of our modern life that typically requires clear thinking and awareness. We become consumed with stress when fear takes unnecessary control of our life. Fear is the most primitive defense mechanism and originates in our reptilian brain which allowed our race to survive for millions of years. Fear of heights, snakes or spiders was programmed into our genetics because these situations represented a potential danger. Becoming conscious means trying to understand what lies behind each fear.

  • Me first
black Friday

This is a very common coping mechanism for most of us. When we are under pressure, we become more selfish and focus on our own needs to the detriment of other people’s needs. This is driven by the fear of lack and the illusion of separateness. You will see most children acting this way. In a large family, if someone brings some chocolate or candies, there will be always some children taking more than others and some of them will inevitably cry, complaining that they did not get their share. While this behavior is understandable with children, it is unfortunately well too common with adults. In the USA, on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, people could push each other to get the best sale items. In survival situations, this behavior is amplified. For example, a kapo or prisoner functionary was a prisoner in a Nazi concentration camp who was assigned by the SS guards to supervise forced labor. The kapo would often be even more brutal than their SS supervisors towards other prisoners in exchange of better food, better clothing, absence of physical abuse or a private room. This was the way for the Nazis to turn victims against victims, and it was sadly effective. This is also the reason why people lose their mind when money is involved. Salespeople fight over good territories. Business partners embezzle money and end up sinking their own business. Money feels to them a scarce resource and they act unethically to get more of it. At a higher level of consciousness, we are one, so taking from someone is like taking from oneself. A more mature behavior is to allow the most vulnerable population to have priority access. We can witness this behavior when someone gives his seat to the elderly in a bus, with handicap parking spaces, or giving priority to children and women in rescue situation. Intimate relationships that are based on consumerism, basically focused on what we can get instead of what we can give never work. This is why it is so important to only get involved with a partner we truly love where both will be focused on each other’s happiness.

  • Leaving first out of abandonment fear
woman dumping man

Many of us carry abandonment traumas from childhood. It seems counterintuitive that people who are so afraid of loneliness would leave the relationship first. However, someone with an extreme fear of abandonment knows that they will not be able to survive being dumped so they will take the first step as soon as the relationship feels shaky. They will start demonizing their partner so as to detach emotionally, and then leave first. While this course of action still feels very difficult, the person leaving knows that they can survive it because they have done it before. However being discarded feels worse than death to them. This is why the borderline is well known to oscillate between « I hate you » and « don’t leave me ». Their whole mindset is driven by the fear of abandonment. For years, I had a wife who threatened me for divorce. One day, I agreed with her and we separated. Then, she turned it against me that I had abandoned the family and she punished me by using our own children as weapons of war against me. A mature person is able to share authentically his/her relationship concerns and work on it consciously with the other partner. If they cannot come to a meeting of minds, they find a way to split with decency. Along the same lines, a person may feel not good enough for their intimate partner. We have an ego defense mechanism that prevents us from confronting our insecurities as we see ourselves as “less than” our partner. This may mean that our partner is likely to leave us because we are not good enough so we will start criticizing them and bringing them down to a level that we perceive as ours. This quickly feels like an abusive relationship as we want our partner to make us feel better and not worse. For this reason, it is important for intimate partners to have a similar self-esteem.

  • Fantasy, magical and wishful thinking
magical thinking humor

Magical thinking is the belief that one’s ideas, thoughts, actions, words, or use of symbols can influence the course of events in the material world. Magical thinking presumes a causal link between one’s inner, personal experience and the external physical world. While our thoughts do impact our reality, the New Age community is taking it to an extreme and holds the naive belief that thoughts are enough in themselves for physical manifestation while forgetting that congruent actions, persistance, willpower, discipline and a conducive environment are even more important. It is another form of denial that originates in the fear of taking action, the fear of taking responsibility and our resistance of getting uncomfortable. A friend of mine has 15 children and needed some financial help to secure accommodation for her family. While some of her siblings have a very successful business and could have easily helped, they responded instead that they would pray for her and her children! I have another friend who is new to spirituality but heard from his New Age mentor that he needed to get uncomfortable to become successful and ensure that he has no backup plan. He quit his job, started going to trips and enjoying many wonderful adventures. He maxed out his credit cards and overdrew his bank account. He then thought to himself that his financial struggle came to him because he was not open to receiving so he started a GoFundme campaign asking for people to take care of his debts. It made a lot of his facebook friends angry, in particular the single mums who have to count every penny to ensure a roof over their head and food for their family.

  • The Rose-colored glasses syndrome
rose-colored glasses syndrome

Optimism and self-confidence are great assets but too much of it can lead us to making fatal mistakes, ignoring or minimizing important obstacles standing on our way. While positive thinking and focusing on the good aspects of people have many benefits, it can become another form of denial when pushed to the extreme. My ex-partner who has a controversial successful career has been working with an associate with this syndrome. He would often communicate with her worst detractors with the naive hope that he could convert them to like her, giving out inadvertently compromising information that may put her in danger. People with this syndrome are trying to avoid uncomfortable feelings of insecurity by turning potentially dangerous situations into a safe fantasy. The paradox is that they are making people around them far more unsafe as a result. They only focus on the best outcome and refuse to consider the worst case situation. They can only see the light but refuse to see the shadow in themselves and others. They failed to understand that all of us are light and shadow, and that shadow with awareness is relatively safe. It is when there is no consciousness of the shadow that it becomes problematic. A person who is unaware of their shadow is unsafe. It takes courage to see reality for what it is, and even more to attempt changing what we were afraid to see.

  • Panic attack
panic attack

A panic attack is the abrupt onset of intense fear or discomfort that reaches a peak within minutes and includes some of the following symptoms: pounding heart, sweating, shaking, shortness of breath, confusion, fear of death, powerlessness, and obstruction of rational thinking. A panic attack is an uncontrolled fear that we feel incapable of regulating. Phobia often includes a panic attack. In order to combat a panic attack, we first need to acknowledge the fear and validate it. When I was a teenager, I would get panic attacks before math exams because I associated not having the perfect grade with being unlovable. More recently, I had a panic attack climbing the top peak of Europe as I felt sick and incapable of going down on a very technical path. I was afraid of dying. We have defense mechanisms for a reason. The key is to make them conscious. Here is my personal technique to handle panic attacks:

  1. Recognizing we have a panic attack and accept the body’s reaction to it so that it does not trigger more fears (ex. fear that our heart will stop because it is racing too fast)
  2. Acknowledging the underlying fear (what am I really afraid of?)
  3. Seeing the part of us that is having the panic attack (ex. hurt child in us)
  4. Become conscious and slow down the breath. Connect to a higher aspect of the self
  5. Bringing unconditional love & presence to this traumatized part of ourselves from that higher perspective
  6. Self-talk of reassurance and helpful thoughts until we go back to a normal state
  • Procrastination
levels of procrastination

People who procrastinate are using avoidance to cope with emotions, and many of them are non-conscious emotions. We all have a six-year-old running the ship. And the six-year-old is saying, ‘I don’t want to! I don’t feel like it!’ When we resist an action, we need to ask the question what we are really afraid of. The most common resistance is our dislike of discomfort. This is easy to see with any physical exercise routine. With repetition, we can rewire our brain towards the benefits of performing the action instead of the discomfort while we perform the action. This is one of the great benefits of the Wim Hof method. It rewires the brain to associate discomfort with the elevated sense of feeling alive. Self-discipline is a very important part of personal development. Procrastination may come from the fear to fail but that will surely make us fail! It may come from our resistance to authority which is common if we have enmeshment traumas. When we procrastinate, we need to become conscious of the emotions we are trying to avoid and start an internal dialog with them. I like to make deals within my internal parts. Let’s say I want to finish a project but some aspects of me are resisting some of the efforts. I will tell them that once I complete the activity, I will let them have a reward such as watching a movie. As we learned at school, putting work first, and pleasure next is a good life habit. Another covert form of procrastination is to be become very busy doing things we do not need to do in order to avoid anything we are actually supposed to do! Not all procrastination is bad as it may be an indicator that you are resisting an action that you have some very good reasons to perform! You may have a toxic job and it may be time to change it. You may procrastinate seeing someone because this person is abusive to you.

  • Looking for a savior
Jesus saving superman

This coping mechanism is deeply ingrained since childhood. As we enter this world completely powerless, we need to rely on our primary caregivers to take care of us. This creates the belief that there is someone all powerful out there to ensure our survival. It is terrifying to take responsibility for our life so we always need to idealize an external person or spirit to feel safer. The passage to adulthood requires cutting the umbilical cord with our parents but many people are unable to do it. And when we do, after realizing the limitations of our parents, we often substitute them for another savior. We can discover who we have projected as our savior by asking ourselves who we are reaching out first when we feel desperate and in the midst of fear. It can be a parent, a spouse, a family member, a friend, a doctor, or a therapist. If we have been disappointed with people, we often turn to a spiritual teacher (alive or dead), a deity or our idea of God. While this is healthy to reach out for help in difficult situations, we can observe our own powerlessness in our desperate need for a savior. The truth is that our life is the perfect reflection of who we are, in positive and negative. This is what is so difficult for us to accept, especially if we started out from a difficult family environment. I believe in people’s ability to tap into their own resources and other people’s resources to improve their lives. This is why I am a coach and not a spiritual teacher. I do not want people to idealize me and disempower themselves in the process. I want them to feel that they can overcome obstacles just like I did because I am just like them. I can learn from them just like they can learn from me. Nonhierarchical relationships have so much more potential for growth. My goal as a coach is to make myself eventually unnecessary and ensure that my client has all the tools to heal and create a life that feels good on their own. When I climbed Mont Blanc, the highest peak in Europe, I got very sick close to the summit. I experienced a panic attack as I felt incapable of going back down through the same technical path I had been through. I was able to observe the little boy in me who wanted to be rescued by a helicopter. However, they only send helicopters in France if you have a broken bone and are unable to walk, not in case of sickness. At the end, I had to accept that no one was going to save me. I had to use the strength I had left and the diligent support of my guide to get back down. The walk down the mountain with a 104 degree fever was excruciating but I finally made it, and it reinforced the belief in myself. This is hard to accept but no one is obligated to give us support even when we desperately need it. When we look for help, we need to learn to ask for it without entitlement so that people would like to do something for us from their good heart